Keep a social journal of your work progress as you make and learn things.

May 2017

  • Published a new article on the site.
  • Early days but I’d say there’s been a small decrease in sales since the price rise. I need to work out if it’s a net win or not!
  • Yesterday I created a feature locally for better admin login and then spent a long time getting it to work on the staging server.

Capistrano was failing to install bcrypt. Somehow the bundler cache on the server didn’t have write permissions. Deleting the folder fixed it. But it took hours to discover that solution.

Adding: set :bundle_flags, '--deployment --verbose' to deploy.rb pointed me in the right direction.

I know my tools are out of date know and ansible is what people use but I really don’t want to update :)

I’ll try and move these changes to production tonight. Hopefully that will go smoother!

April 2017


Had a sale at the new price point so that’s nice to see :) (When I first released, I had a couple of people who bought it, tell me they thought it was worth more, so I wasn’t too worried about the increase).

Last week I finished up some freelance work.

Currently I’m doing some coding that I know isn’t the most effective use of time regarding the book, but I personally find it interesting :) I don’t want to get too sidetracked though, so I’ll and wrap it up in the next two weeks.


Increased the price of the book which was one of my goals at the start of the year.

My test notifying visitors that this was happening had unexpected results (for me anyway).

Saying that “It’s good to buy now, because the price will rise” actually resulted in lower click-through for the buy button! (10-20% down)

I added a new A/B test for a money back guarantee.

I really need to redo the entire landing page but probably not today!


Been a while since I last updated.

  • visited Greece for work
  • editing for book finished + updated version released
  • sent a notice I’ll increase the book price to the mailing list
  • opened a UK bank account for the book (and let’s me deal with tax more efficiently)
  • published a couple more articles to the site

Currently working on a more involved article.

  • Update the price next week
  • Update the landing page soon

March 2017


Today I did a task I’ve been meaning to do for ages. I submitted a “guest post” (kind of) to Gamasutra. It’s a big website for game developers and aspiring game developers. I reused part of the introduction of the book, did some light editing and added pictures. It’s awaiting editor approval.

Editing for the first full part of the book is finished. Two parts to go. I’ll upload the second part later today.


February 2017

  • Totally caught up on emails
  • Started playing around with new article focused on a keyword.
  • More edits fed back into the book.

Editing is going fast but it’s going to take at least a month and the cost is certainly going to be over $1000, maybe 3k. This is because the book is so lengthy.

28 February

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  • Reset my A/B test on the homepage with some tweaked text.
  • Published an article on the site

Still today I need to review the next batch of editing and send the payment over to the editor. And there’s also one email I haven’t replied to.

26 February

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Editing is now underway, I’m using Google docs with revision history. I need to start pulling the edited google docs back into my local files.

Also had a nice email from a programming teacher and I’ve asked if I can use some of text of that email on the website (which I never feel super-comfortable about doing but most people are more than happy to oblige). I keep all my “endorsement” quotes in a file but I’m only using a few on the website.

A/B testing news: The warning about an imminent price increase seems to reduce click through. Possibly framing or people feel they’re being pressured in a negative way - something to tweak!

24 February

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Finished a first pass on my current article. It needs a few review passes but hopeful it will go up this weekend.

23 February

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So far this week:

  • Answering emails (still behind on this)
  • Finally contacted a freelance editor to go through the book
  • Continued writing my next article for the site
  • Working on a freelance project

I definitely don’t feel as focused as when as I was working on the book, but I’m happy with where I’m heading at the moment.

I’m below my target for sales (currently 39 for this year) but it’s a nice baseline. I’m hoping to boost this later, with ads.

22 February

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Removed the AB test on one of the titles on my main page - neither option came out a winner. Replaced it with a new AB test, that tests a message saying I’m going to increase the price the first half of this year. I imagine this one will convert better but we’ll see! (It’s also a useful notice to get out there)

18 February

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First new post of 2017 on the How to Make an RPG site.

… that took a while! I blame the flu I had in January :)

The second article shouldn’t take as long I hope. I’ve not done any more adsense stuff, yet as there a couple of things I want to look into.

I’ve also taken on a bit of freelance work, that I’m sure will slow me a little.

18 February

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I fiddled a bit more with the adsense stuff. If my conversion rate is 5% (which apparently isn’t particularly unusual with direct ad-traffic) then the numbers work.

This morning I’ve been mostly answering email. I’d let it build up a bit but I also seem to have received more this month. It’s something I should record but currently don’t!

06 February

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Started a very brief Google docs sheet to look at ads. If I take the current conversion rate from my landing page - the numbers really don’t work!

My cost per click (from the keyword planner) seems to be around 80c.

But there are a lot of variables so I need to investigate further.

01 February

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January 2017


Added A/B tests to both my landing pages. I don’t have any conversion tracking code but running A/B tests gives me conversions numbers for free :) It also starts me off testing which is good.

The landing pages are now ready to go. I need to learn more about adwords next. I also have a few pieces of mail from last week I’ve not replied to! gah.


This weekend:

  • Added a second landing page to drive traffic to
  • New A/B test, to try out various sprites on my mailing list sign-up

I want to get new A/B tests ready to run on both my landing pages. I also want to make a simple excel sheet that gives me some spreads for ad costs. (Cost per click rate, conversion rate etc.)

Then I need to do some research about Google Adwords (or any ad service).


I added a new landing page, it’s a copy of my root page with the articles link removed. This is a hidden page that I only intend to use for tracking ad conversions (which I haven’t setup yet).

The recommended way seems to be:

  • Drive to landing page
  • Collect email
  • Send valuable content
  • Make offer

But that’s too much work for me! I’m going to try a much shorter funnel:

  • Drive to landing page
  • Make offer

I’ll experiment with this and perhaps slowly migrate to the email one.


Took out some A/B tests I was running.

Having an image on my mailing list sign up converts a lot better (>~180%). I thought an image would be better but I want to get into the practice of using my testing framework.

(If you sign up to my mailing list you get a pack of RPG sprites. I used one of these sprites on the call to action box)

Next, for the mailing I’ll try varying the image and see if any converts better than the others.


Now I’m starting to feel human again - back to work! I renewed some of my domains this morning. Before the end of January I want to get some landing pages up read for testing ads.


Last week I was away a full week from Sunday to Saturday for work. I seem have brought back a terrible cold.

Not much forward progress. Hopefully I’ll be 100% again soon!


Yesterday: working on the article and updating the website’s FAQ locally with questions people have recently asked. This morning: working on the code to create my example diagram.

I had two more sales overnight that were correctly tracked. I need to set up some landing pages and decide what terms to runs ads for. To start with I want the terms to simple and straightforward, then I’ll iterate.

  • Tracking code is still working because it correctly reported a sale overnight
  • Writing code to produce an illustration for the article I’m writing

A good day for getting back on track with doing a little everyday.

  • Started writing a new post
  • Switched pricing plan on Gumroad (how I pay for Gumroad’s services). For this year at least it’s better.
  • Tweaked my tracking pixel code because it failed to correctly report a sale. (I was waiting for onDOMContentLoaded and I don’t think I need to)

December 2016


> My 2016 Review Post <

Other things I did:

  • Wrote code for a tracking pixel. The pixel image is requested after purchase and gives me a way to track conversions (via cookie).
  • Updated the game engine with a couple of new features and ease-of-use changes.
  • One more small article for the site.

30 Dec 2016

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This week has been a wash. Can’t really say why! Managed to finish off an old article I was half-through. It’s about improving one small area of the game presented at the end of the #rpg_book.

Heading back to my parents for Christmas on Tuesday. I won’t be doing much more until the new year.

If I don’t post before: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone :)


This morning: made some small moves to picking up an article I was last writing a few months ago.

Over the weekend I got most of a 2016 review article done. There’s still a few sections to finalise, then it should be ready to post for the new year.

12 Dec 2016

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Published a new article about game design yesterday. Replied to an email helping someone diagnose an issue. This morning reading and updating some notes. I want to start preparing a 2016 review post

09 Dec 2016

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Continuing to edit the article I want to publish this week. Maybe tomorrow?

I also replied to a few emails related to the book.

07 Dec 2016

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Yesterday morning I had something else I needed to get done, so I didn’t make any progress.

This morning - finished the first draft of next article. It’s needs some editing and then I’ll publish it, sometime this week.

I also need to release another update of the book as some corrections went in a few months ago and they haven’t made it to the release copy!

06 Dec 2016

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Added two new AB tests for two different “funnels” - the book purchase and the mailing sign-up. The first tests a title change, the second tests adding an image to the mailing list call-to-action.

I spent far to long fiddling with CSS to get the image where I want :(

I’m adding tests to help me become familiar with the AB framework I use. I don’t want to buy traffic until I know I can optimise and measure it’s performance.

04 Dec 2016

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This morning: Removed the cart icon from the buy button. Continued writing my next article - I’m happy with how it’s shaping up.

02 Dec 2016

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This morning I checked the A/B test I setup months ago … it says people are more likely to click the “Buy Now” button if I remove the shopping cart icon. Interesting. I think I’ll remove it then. But it’s important to state: this test doesn’t mean removing the icon will increase sales. Maybe people who aren’t serious about buying will click a button without a cart while they wouldn’t click one with a cart.

I use gumroad for sales and distribution and I haven’t figured out how to get this data into my site’s funnel. (Though I don’t make enough sales to run this kind of A/B test anyway :D)

I started writing a new article about game design - drawing on some of the problems we faced when making the game in Hong Kong. (But I don’t reference it directly :)).

I wish I could figure out a way to measure the effectiveness of articles. I’m sure my articles on rpg-stats has accounted for ~100 sales but I don’t how to record the attribution on the back-end.

01 Dec 2016

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November 2016


It’s been a while!

I’m now based in Brighton, UK - definitely feeling the start of the UK winter after Hong Kong!

My side project How to Make an RPG has sold 798 units since January. My 1000 unit goal for year-end, seems unlikely :). I have done nothing since September but, even so, I’ve averaged 1 sale a day.

I’m easing myself back in this morning. Patching the server and getting some notes together. I’m not starting a new project yet, I’m going to do marketing work for this one.

An old article, Not Your Problem, hit hackernews and reddit earlier this month. It’s now the fourth most linked to page on my site. This makes me rethink a few things, as I’d considered this type of article as a failure and not worth writing :)

I’ll do an hour each morning mostly concentrated on content marketing until I find my rhythm again.

30 Nov 2016

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September 2016


Updated my dashboard to let me see the details of each purchaser for #rpg_book . I display the total sales and gross profit for the last full month. The purchase model has a refund field to let me mark off people who’ve requested a refund (2 so far). While doing this I noticed one guy had purchased the book twice last week. So I refunded him the first purchase and sent him a mail letting him know. (He didn’t open the receipt for the first purchase but had for the second) - which puts my refund total to 3 :)

I’m in-process with a few companies for my next role, another couple of weeks and I’ll have a better idea of where I’ll be.


I’m in the midst of applying for new jobs at the moment. I’m looking for something away from the frontlines of gamedev and with some stability. I was putting off applications until I visited the dentist as I thought I might need some wisdom teeth removing - but everything is fine!

  • Visited Copenhagen, Vilnius and Warsaw the week before last. All very nice and sunny.
  • Received an art commission back
  • Used the art as a mailing list incentive (and I’ve just “launched” that today)

My AB test is looking like a null result but I have plenty more tests to try.

07 Sep 2016

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August 2016


Yesterday I pushed a new article to site that answers a reader’s question about extending one of the games introduced in the #rpg_book. I think this may also be of interest to people considering buying the book as it digs into the code and shows the RPGs they’ll make.

My first AB test is still running. I want to wait until I’ve had 1000 participants before I use the result.

After Wednesday, I’m away for a week, joining some old friends for a small trip.


Yesterday I opened my site in the Chrome and noticed the “https” was red and had a strikethrough :(

The site is written rails. The compiled CSS file was being served over https but a reference to a font was http. This was the issue. I “fixed” it by serving all fonts over https.

The artist got back to me about new art, so that’s now got a timeline.

I pushed an A/B test live. This is more a proof of concept to see if the A/B test system works :D I’m trying the “Buy” button with and without the shopping cart icon.

19 Aug 2016

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The email switch, decimated my list numbers - in the literal sense! Still I think I’ll be able to build it up again, this time on more general terms.

  • Published three articles.
  • Contacted one of the artists about creating new artwork. I intend to use this as a mailing list signup incentive.
  • Updated some of the google analytics on the site. Unfortunately I used events which can’t be used in funnels, so I’m going revisit that in the future.

17 Aug 2016

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  • Email to mailing list scheduled for tonight

Turns out, in mailchimp, if you turn-off link tracking then the URL escaping in hyperlinks doesn’t work. So I turned that back on :)

My mailing list is >3K people after this … maybe 1k? Still they’ll be the people super interested in what I’m doing. I also expect this mail blast to catch a few people who missed the books release and result in a few more sales (certainly enough to cover the cost of sending the mail).

11 Aug 2016

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  • Updated some of the game maps that had a layer error
  • Created the mail to invite users to switch to a new mailing list

Inviting people to switch from one list to another means I’ll lose people. That’s just how it is. I can lose less people by making the switch easy. I created a special URL and use mailchimp’s merge tags to create a custom link for each subscriber to switch with one button press.

Basically I invite subscribers to visit a page:[name_goes_here]&email=[email_goes_here]

Then that page auto fills in a form and has a button to switch the user. I’m ready to go on this but there appears to be a bug. Mailchimp isn’t correctly URL-escaping the name and address I’m waiting to hear back from a support ticket.

10 Aug 2016

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