So, the last week or so has been hard for Paizo. They offered a ton of products to a pay-what-you-want charity site called HumbleBundle, and they were wildly successful. The charity is making a ton of money, HumbleBundle is getting a good cut so they can keep doing their great work. Paizo is getting a ton of new customers. 

Then everyone that bought pdfs from the HumbleBundle sale went to Paizo's site to get them, and it all came crashing down.

Paizo's download page just wasn't set up to handle so many people downloading so many things at once. Nobody could get anything to download. New people who paid for the HumbleBundle downloads were frustrated at Paizo's "bad", "slow" website (despite Paizo and its regulars insisting "it's not always like this!"), and regular users weren't able to download their stuff, either. (Like me: I couldn't download the latest Pathfinder Society Guide before a game I went to this weekend, so I risked having an illegal character as I didn't have the right rules.) Paizo's hurting from a bad rep on this with old and new customers both.

But here's a way that Paizo is hurting, just a little bit, that probably isn't on anyone's radar. As a prolific Paizo writer, I've been given access to every pdf Paizo has produced. It's an incredibly useful tool for me to write for them: I've got to drop in something about Iomedae's 11 holy acts, and they're listed in Inner Sea Gods. I download that and take a look (other websites have this information, but looking in the book means I'm looking at the original source that's both complete and correct. Websites like Archives of Nethys and Pathfinder Wiki are great, but can't always claim this). Turns out one of the acts took place in Senghor. Where's Senghor? Oh, it's detailed in Heart of the Jungle. Download that and look it up. Oh, that city has some pretty critical relationship with the nation of Sargava--if I drop that in, it neatly ties a lot of canon together. So I download Sargava: the Lost Colony to make sure I've got everything correct, then move on. 

I've got a writing assignment due tomorrow. It's a 4000 word article that has to follow other articles of that type--and I can't check those because I can't download anything. My article has a lot of separate canon elements in it, and I can't get at any of the downloads to check most of what I need. My article calls back to other adventures, but I have to be vague about what happened in them because I can't look. Let me give a specific example.

Arazni the Harlot Queen lives in a city called Mechitar. What's it like? I can't check because I can't download the book it's described in. She's connected to an artifact called the Bloodstones of Arazni. How, and what do they do? Can't check. These things could matter to make anything I say about Arazni make sense. I'm saying that Arazni is asking PCs that come to Mechitar to seek out the Bloodstones of Arazni. Maybe she already has them. Maybe Mechitar has an "undead only" palace that PCs can't enter.  I risk a pretty silly turnover, and that risks errors getting into print.

So I have three choices. I can either wait until this all clears up and miss a deadline (making me no developer's friend, and risking a slippage in their product line) or I have to just be vague (making a product that's unclear) or I have to guess and risk being wrong (creating continuity errors that a developer has to fix instead of working on other things). 

I don't mean to imply that I'm paralyzed. I have workarounds--I own hard copies of some of the products I need, and others are still in My Downloads on my hard drive because I looked at them a few months ago for a similar project. I even spent some time at my game store today flipping through books I knew had some of the answers I need, and making notes on my phone (although hard copy reading made me long for a text-search feature!). I think my turnover will be fine, and even pretty neat. I was really excited when I got it, and I'm still excited to be turning it in. I'm just really frustrated that it's harder to do my job, and I now really appreciate how much I value the access Paizo has given me to write for them.

I can't be the only Paizo freelancer facing this issue, so I wonder how much this incremental delay and frustration adds up in their products.