COVID-19 Update

Hello everyone, this is Austin MacKenzie, owner and lead designer of Valorous Games. I wanted to speak directly today to talk about the current situation, how it’s impacted us, and how we’re working through this. These kinds of updates are unfortunately common at this point in time, so I wanted to make sure to provide as much transparency as possible.
Some of our regular convention attendees are probably aware of this but others may not be – Valorous Games is a tiny studio and labor of love managed by myself and funded by my day job as a Procurement professional. I insist on a certain degree of professional production and design because that is the kind of product I want to make and deliver. In mid-February, just as the COVID-19 situation was starting to ramp up, I lost my job and haven’t been able to secure a new one at this point in time. This, combined with the cancellation of Sakura con which has always generated a great deal of revenue for us, has forced me to place development on a temporary hold. It’s important to note that I never ask for the full amount of money that I need for development, I always expect to fund at least half, often more of a product out of my own pocket and base my projects and available money around my monthly contributions so while the Kickstarter money has given me the ability to continue development a bit beyond the initial job loss, those funds have dried up and I have nothing available to replenish them with.
Fortunately, the state of Washington does have some money available for small businesses like ourselves who were impacted by COVID-19. The cancellation of Sakura con was by direct order of our Governor in response so we should qualify. I am working through an adviser with the Small Business Association to work to secure these funds, if we are able to do so it should theoretically cover the last bit of development (we have about 18 pictures left to complete and the final printing and import, so we’re very close). I don’t at this time have a time-frame as to when this will be completed as the state is, understandably, seeing a large amount of requests for this level of support.
With all this uncertainty, I am also exploring other options. I am working with the SBA to refine our business plan with the intent to court investors. It’s always been my dream to eventually work on Valor full time, and while we are still at the small startup phase today there are a number of actions I am looking into that could exponentially expand our reach and profitability – so long as I can receive the funding to carry it out. Beyond that I am, of course, still searching for a new day job, postings and interview requests are starting to pick back up and we are somewhat fortunate in that Washington State’s social distancing initiatives seem to have blunted the effect of the virus in our region which leaves me hopeful that securing a new day job soon isn’t out of the question.
In the interim, I am doing whatever I can to secure funding. That is why for the entire month of April, we will be offering a $10 convention-level discount on all hardcover and hardcover+ebook bundles on our store, as well as a $20 discount on the base Valor ebook – if you’ve been interested in Valor but on the fence, you can now obtain a digital copy from us for $5. Please allow up to 24 hours to receive it – our process for sending ebooks is at this time still 100% manual (our web infrastructure being about as good as I can afford through self-funding, which isn’t saying much). You can find the sales active now on our Storefront. The bottom line is I will get this book out come hell or high water, and I am working all of these paths simultaneously in hopes that at least one of them will pay off. Best in Class has hit me with so many unexpected production issues at this point I suspect it is driven by some kind of malicious spirit to thwart me, but said spirit underestimates my stubbornness. I WILL get this book out, one way or another.
And for those looking to try out a new system and taking advantage of this deal? I recommend Roll20. Roll20 is a great, free program for tabletop RPGs in general, and Valor co-creator Quinn Gordon has created a character sheet on it that will do most of the math and calculations for you, it makes creating characters and running the game so much easier and the online grid and voice features let you run RPGs even if Social Distancing has you housebound. We’re currently testing new content through this platform ourselves using this exact character sheet, it works great.
Finally, there are a few things I am looking into, as this situation has, if nothing else, given me an abundance of time. With the help of my lovely, talented and all-around wonderful wife we’re looking into an official Discord channel for Valor as a place for people to congregate and set up games together. Our primary concern is if a combination of bots and available people are able to properly mod it – if we were to host an official Discord it is imperative to us that all players feel welcome and included no matter their race, creed, sexual orientation or gender identity. Every Valor fan we’ve met thus far has been wonderful, and I want to make sure if we create this space you will feel valued and protected. The other thing I am looking at is, potentially, an early content release, perhaps through Patreon or some other platform, to get some of the finished material out sooner. The text from Valor: Villains, Creatures and Foes remains more or less complete although I am retooling the story text to make it more in-line with our setting as it comes together, so this would be a great way to release less polished but fully playable rules for people to test. I am also sitting on a fair few new mechanics for Valor: Tools of the Trade, the major book release I am working on for after Villains Creatures and Foes with expanded skills and abilities that I’d love to release to people sooner. I’m working on a few potential ways to release this and some of the content will likely be made available for free on our website either way, so there will be more information on that as we work on it.
If you are interested in any of what we’ve talked about, I’d love to hear from you! I’m opening up our [email protected] email to receive feedback, if you want to send some thoughts, wishes, or critiques please feel free to send it to that email. I understand folks are likely rightfully frustrated at the continued delay, as I am, and I want to make sure to give you the opportunity to be heard. It’s tough right now, but I am confident we will get through this, and I am doing everything in my power to deliver on what I’ve promised. Thank you to everyone for being amazing, and I’ll keep you all posted as things develop.
Note: This is cross-posted with our Kickstarter, there is no difference between the two posts.
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