The Lazy Designer

Lazy Designer: Pricing

Okay, this is perhaps a strange blog post but I’ve been spending some time thinking about this and figured I’d solicit opinions from the readers out there.

(And yes, I’m sure I’m overthinking this).


To reward (or at least avoid punishing) those of you who purchase my Lazy Designer books as they are released I am considering adjusting their prices. Not right now, but down the road when the third and fourth books are complete. What I imagine will happen at that point is that I’m going to want to combine all four books into one convenient (albeit higher priced) book. This was my original intention with the Lazy Designer series.

Such a book will likely need to be priced less than what buying the books separately would cost a reader. Why less? I just feel that there’s a certain price point on Amazon that once you pass it, it becomes more difficult to convince readers to part with their money. I might be wrong. Anyways, I do not want existing readers to feel like I am punishing them or that it is better to wait until all four books are released together.

So what I am proposing to do is to raise the prices of the existing books somewhat once the combined edition is ready. The prices would stay at what they are until the combined edition is available (probably not until late 2013 or early 2014). At that point the price on all of the separate volumes would increase by a dollar or so, each.

What I’m hoping to do is to maintain an incentive for readers to buy the separate volumes now but to encourage new readers to purchase the combined edition over the individual volumes, when it is available.

Other solutions include never releasing a combined volume or offering some sort of additional (non price related) incentive now. I could also consider removing the separate volumes once the combined edition is released.

Any thoughts?

Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.


  • Mordi Peshkess

    I remember talking to a [fairly¬†well known] game developer and he he had some very interesting stuff to say about¬†aspiring¬†game developers. The first thing outa his mouth was “Don’t go to video game schools”. He said it’s an almost universal “PASS” when going through resumes. He said the most important thing thing to have is tenacity. He said that most of the times companies look for people who are good at a¬†specific¬†type of profession, wether be it programming, art, or design.¬†

    he said to just build a¬†portfolio¬†of your work even if has nothing to do with game design as long as it’s well done and in the school of craft you chosen then you have more chance then anyone who went to 6 years of game design schools.¬†

    The main thing I gather that it’s very closed group. Almost clan like. Hard to get in but once accepted then you are a part of the family.¬†

    Do you agree with him or do you have different views on the subject? 

  • Brent Knowles

    To be honest I felt for most of my time at BioWare that video game schools cost too much money for the skills they gave the designers. I wouldn’t say I was negative on them but I didn’t seek them out either. That said, during my last few years with BioWare, some ¬†higher quality employees came to us from the Vancouver game school. We were very pleased with them.¬†

    I still feel the money is better spent on a computer science degree though… most design skills can be self taught, and with a strong technical background, a designer can work at a variety of roles in a company. Unless the school has a placement program with a company (i.e., setting up internships), I’d be cautious.¬†As for the “closed group” thing, I suspect in some locales that might be the case (i.e., everyone on the West Coast knows each other). But BioWare was unique, because a large number of the first hundred or so employees were relatively new to the industry. So I had a different experience I think than developers elsewhere would have had. I hired a lot of people who had never worked in the games industry before.

  • Mordi Peshkess

    What based your decision to hire those people who had no previous experience. Was it that they showed great promise or was it because you have easier time teaching someone with a blank background?

    You know, I played around with the idea of trying to get myself into that line of work but my biggest fear is that once I will get exposed to the inner working then my desire to play them will be¬†diminished¬†because, knowing myself, I’ll start over¬†analyzing¬†other works. Or worse. I fear that if I find it frustrating then my love for games will be gone. Look at how long it took you to get back to playing games after you left Bioware.¬†

    If you don’t mind I have a DAO question related. What was, or were, the most frustrating parts of making DAO? Was it more to do with the long development cycle that game or was it more to do with dealing with the publisher. Come to think of, did DAO even had a publisher before EA came into the picture? I guess that’s two questions…Sorry…lol.

    PS: I love how directly connected you stay to your fans. Keep up the good work and I can’t wait to get my On Spec sub for Christmas.¬†

  • Brent Knowles

    I don’t actually remember what prompted the hiring. I may not ¬†have been involved in hiring them :) ¬† (I know one came in on a different project and was eventually transferred to me). Once I was sucked into the Dragon Age vortex I wasn’t as involved with hiring designers (across all projects) as I had been previously.

    In general though it was always good to have a mix of new and experienced employees, both for practical considerations (i.e., difficult to find/salary/et cetera) but also because newcomers are flexible about learning (and more excited about learning) new systems and whatnot.

    Also many of the designers had to wow us with a Neverwinter Nights module as part of their application. Generally we knew from that whether they would be a good fit (so in this case the portfolio, more than any qualifications, did heavily influence the hiring decision). We then also brought them in for a on-the-site interview and they had to make another adventure during a high-stress situation.
    >> What was, or were, the most frustrating parts of making DAO?

    I might be contradicting myself because my memory is becoming foggier about the Dragon Age Years, but it was the length of time it took to make the game that was most frustrating. Almost all of the lead roles were vacated and then filled by new leads (sometimes several times) and so there was a constant cycle of going back and revisiting everything and bringing all the newcomers on board with what the project was about. That became tedious at times.EA was the only publisher for Dragon Age and they had little role in the game (at least at my level of responsibility). I was only involved in a couple of higher level meetings with senior EA execs.- Brent
    Hope you enjoy your On Spec subscription!

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