July 5, 2010

System on a more positive note.

Filed under: Business,Games — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 5:22 pm

So, what does all this naval gazing really get us? Not much at the end of the day but it may make for some entertaining reading. Recently Clash over at Flying Mice Games talked about system as a distinct set of components. In those he included things we would all nod our heads in agreement but added a few that we would most likely shrug at. In those, we have things like character generation, initiative, resources and abilities. Sure, we would probably say, you either rolling the dice for those or defining the dice you would roll. This is off course system. This is the toto of system, the alpha and omega. Or is it?

The problem here is we are looking at the trees, we are classifying them, defining the as the forest and not understanding how the moss, the brush, rivers and creeks, hills and vales all figure into it. We are leaving out what fundamentally gives system meaning. In a word, that is system.

System is the glue that binds, this is the elements that gives system meaning. System has no purpose, in and of itself. Setting though, this can exist without a shred of system. Wait! you might say, you have setting-less systems like DND!!!!! Not really. Sorry, but DND has a fantasy setting. Upfront. Very few systems are sold without a shred of setting. D20 Modern?!?! Well, a modern world setting. Palladium Fantasy?!?! Right there in the title. However, lets flip it around. Greyhawk? Sure, it was made for DND but it is not tied to it in the least. The many setting books by Green Ronin and others? You can sell a setting without a system because it is the glue that binds the system. It is the hills, vales, rivers and whatnot outside of the trees and types of trees. A truly setting-less system will fall flat because it boils down to a flat engagement of analytics. It does not engage our imaginations, it does not fill that craving for a story that we find so engaging. I am not saying setting equals story but that a setting engages the same area of our imagination and sparks the ideas for a story.

So, bottom line, how does the tripe above make for a better gaming experience for you, the reader. Going forward, assuming it had not already occurred to you, one could take the understanding of setting over system as a means to:
1. Present a setting to your group and let system work itself out. The group likes Palladium, then adapt it to your setting.
2. When picking a gaming product, look more closely at the setting, less at the system. The system, at the end of the day, can be replaced, setting, not so much.
3. When you are disappointed with a game, think about why that is. Is it really the system? It may well be. Is it the setting? If it is, you may have a much more fundamental problem with the product.

Good luck in finding a game you enjoy and Good Gaming!

December 23, 2009

New Tales of Gaea Hardcover from LULU

Filed under: Business,Games — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 10:44 pm

So, I took the plunge and put Tales up on LULU. Some things I was not surprised by:
– I needed to pay for a proof. Kind of ticks me off a bit but hey, I have dealt with worse.
– Some elements were not properly laid out. This is a difficulty when dealing with automation over dealing with a person in printing. I will adjust and hopefully the final version will be good.
– Man does it look great! Hardcover, 240 pages, good paper and clear printing. I have dealt with LSO (the guys who do the printing for LULU) before. In fact, the printed the soft cover of Tales about 10 years ago. That was a pain. Also, a vew of the LULU folks approached us at GenCon a few years back and the smaples they handed over were great.

Things I was surprised at:
– An HC priced at 29.99 that I still make a decent profit at via LULU.
– It got here in about 10 days. I was expecting it sometime in January.
– By the Gods, the cover is beautiful!!!!

So, all in all a pretty good experience. I will be posting pictures soon.

December 21, 2009

What customers “want”

Filed under: Business — Tags: , — bilbo @ 10:19 am

I have dealt with this for a long time. It often equates to “Wow! That would be cool!!” It is invariably true and honest. Unfortunately, it also seldom equates into a viable product. This is not a recrimination but it is an observation. I have had some very vocal customers insist that a supers game would be a great thing using Iridium. So, I made Supers Inc and it paid for itself but that is about it. Now, you might say, “Well, you made a sucky game…” and that may be so however, this was the game that these customers helped make, the setting they were interested in, and the one they bought when it was done. The point being, what customers say they want is not always a viable product for a company.

It follows then that the company may pass on it. This is not because they do not “listen to their customers” but more that they do, but they just do not think they can make a go of that product in the genre/system/niche described. I sometimes think folks are not aware of this and it then generates ill will that really does not exist.

December 15, 2009

Work on the Iridium Lite CHARGen (ILGen) begins

Filed under: Business,Games,General — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 4:06 pm

I have begin laying the foundation for the ILGen specifically creating the project in NetBeans and building the database. I am hoping to base it even more on rules based data-driven Model-View-Controller architecture than the CHARGen is. That is a tall order as CHARGen is very much designed using those principles.

My hope for this is a create a system that can be used to export data as well as import it in XML format but also I am considering a more graphic interface. Right now, the CHARGen is…utilitarian to put it mildly. I will keep you updated on the progress.

Oh, and any requests? I am tempted to have a GenGen where you can import any stats, any skills, any equipment all designed to be transported in XML format. Would that be interesting or an IP nightmare…?

November 16, 2009

My interview of Buzz from Chicago Gameday

Filed under: Business,Games — Tags: , — bilbo @ 12:41 am

This is a little 2 minute interview with Buzz, the organizer of Chicago Game day. I attended on Saturday and it went really well. I hope to have some info up on the Chevalier AP and how it turned out soon. I have to say, it was very good and very informative. The changes (professions skills, profession powers) sure seemed to work out well.

Here is the interview, enjoy!

August 22, 2009

ACD Game Day

Filed under: Business — bilbo @ 10:51 am

So, we passed on GenCon to go to ACD Open House (the official name but then most folks also call it ACD Game Day). Some things we are finding out in the planning.

  • There is only one day with a 6 hour exhibition hall.
  • There is about three times the amount of gaming time set aside.
  • There is an equal time set aside for Round tables.
  • Other distributors can exhibit.
  • Only retailers are attendees, not the public.

These points make it a good show to attend if you are in the three tier distribution system. Many folks forget that retailers are often gamers. There entire choice is not made on play experience but it can help persuade them. With that in mind, I am putting at least as much effort into game prep as I am the booth presentation.

Why are we doing this? We hope to bring up our presence in the three tier channel and showcase our partnership with ACD. We had a larger presence in the past ad I believe we can have a larger one than even before. The reason here is distribution can offer a lot of quantity for little effort and expense. Sure, I make closer to 85% in direct sales than the 40% I do through distribution but I also sell 20-30 times as much product in a single go and have far less overhead. So, ACD Game Day makes a lot of sense for us.

I will take notes and pictures and share them after the Open House in September. It will be held at ACDs warehouse in Madison.

July 17, 2009

Predicting the Industry

Filed under: Business — bilbo @ 5:25 pm

A popular sport of all time it has now become a bit of a frenzy. Part of it is he said this and part of it is that person questioned that with a big dose of every one questioning everyone else’s cred. The end result is rather comical in the worst kind of dark humor that reveals more about the “seers” thank anything about the future of the RPG industry. I have been involved in the industry for a long time. Longer than most people realize. I generally do not wave it about like a badge of honor or anything mainly since most of it is stuff that the vast majority of people either would not believe or choose not to believe. I have heard the “end of the industry” along witht he “end of the hobby”. When magic came out, industry folks in the know said that was the end for RPGs. Late 90s, CCRPG would kill the industry in 5 years. In 2000, it was MMORPGs.

My father once told me, “Bill, whatever you do, never believe your own bullshit. If you do, no one will be able to convince you otherwise and you will end up on the loosing end.” This is, I believe, the heart of it. Folks decide that the ideas they have are right and just push on to reinforce it more and more. You end up with proclamations of the end of times every 5 years or so (sometimes more often).

What will happen, as it always has happened, new methods of doing business will arise. Some folks will adopt them and fail, some will adopt them and succeed, some will not and fail and some will not and continue. You have companies that are still around 20 or more years into this. Some that are brand new. A great example of this is the retail tier of the industry. Here you have an original start with hobby stores. RPGs being sold next to model airplanes. Then you had athe first dedicated game stores. Then you had card/RPg hybrids. Now you see all manner of new models arising including online and entertainment models. The industry will go on, but it will evolve. Into what, I cannot say (if I could I would be WotC).

On a side note, a lot has been thrown up about “needing” the industry. Gamers do not need the industry on several levels. If the need a rules set, there are more than enough out there and will continue to be remainders sitting on pallets for the foreseeable future. Rule books are not consumable. Sure, 50 years after the last RPG book is printed you might have an issue but not in the foreseeable future. Couple this with the ability, nay, the inherent nature of RPGs to be customizable and you reduce any need to a convenience. Mind, for some it is pretty highly valued but still not a need.

Now, here is the thing, what we as publishers should do is look for ways to provide that convenience. In some cases it is a case of system rules, in some cases settings or adventure ideas. In all cases it needs to keep with the easiest means to access and use the rules books. Things that seem to be after thoughts to some publishers like bookmarks in digital copies or indices in print copies, looking at the book in terms of entertainment but also remembering it is a reference book.

In the end, as I have said before, the industry is evolving. There will be pain. More importantly, it is academic. As a company you cannot control it but you need to react to it. As a customer, you can only vote with your dollars.

June 16, 2009

Generating New Revenue Paths

Filed under: Business — bilbo @ 10:40 pm

This is a concern for any small business. In the RPG business it can cost anywhere from $400 to several thousand (small business, with larger publishers you end up int he 100Ks). For instance, we are looking at the squirrel dice game. Why? Because dice games are evergreen if they are successful. They supply a steady stream of cash and can build as time goes on. RPGs tend (not always) to go theo other way and the returns fade as time goes on. The reason is that dice games are viral in that if you play with a guy, you want your own set. Sure, they do not wear out but you always have new people exposed (remember, we are are talking successful game). With RPGs, you often get one GM buying the book and sharing with the whole group. So, Sales show a spike but then bottom out quickly.

Opening new revenue streams are inportant and take a critical eye. I would suggest no one just decide to go into a new market but instead talk to the people already there, the people who will be selling your product and the people who will be buying it. Then, once you have some information begin reseach on the feasibility of the product. How much does packaging cost? Shipping tot he distributor or off your own site? Manufacturing costs? And how the branding will fit into your other lines. There are many factors to consider efore taking the plunge.

May 13, 2009

User Base

Filed under: Business — bilbo @ 6:56 pm

So, I have been looking at True20, Pathfinder and OpenD6 for possible conversions. When I do this sort of thing I usually look at:
1. The customer base
2. The possible freelancer base for the conversions

The last thing I look at and it is usually not a real concern is whether “the system is a fit” for the setting. As I have said before, I just do not see systems in this light. I prefer to look at it and say “does this system provide different elements not offered in other conversions”. So, with True20 it was all the elements that D20 offered. My D20 dual statted modules are likewise. With D6 I am not so sure. I think there is considerable overlap between D20/True20, Pathfinder, D6, and Iridium. I coudl be wrong as D6 does have a lot of pool type elements to play. In the end, I think I will need to dig a bit deeper.

In the end, part of it will be answered by the larger question of “viable market” in terms of the size of their community.

May 6, 2009

What is Coming Up

Filed under: Business — bilbo @ 10:32 pm

Well, now that the massive ACD order is out combined with a lucretive new retailer account’s first order, I can get back to work on the next writing projects. So, where am I in the dev process?

Infected/Zombipocalypse – I am thinking of a new title again, Infected : Zombipocalypse. It is serious enough and kind of sums up what the hell the game is about. I have also decided to pull back ont he setting a bit and focus on Chicago and surrounding areas. This give the ability for me to come up with some really good adventures and seting elements. A scenario set in Museum Park in downtown Chicago would be cool from no other stand point than what you could do with the Science and industry museum. Also, down the road, if the title is successful, we can add source books.

Nebuleon SE: I have Alan’s Ulvar race in FM (contemplating an upgrade) and working through the editing and layout. Looks good so far. In general, I am still kind of wondering about Nebuleon True20…Roma True20 did very well for us. Generally, I have to look at how ship construction goes and look over Iridium V2. Christian from Germany has sent me about 300 points that he wants addressed. So, this one is kind of stalled.

Things I am considering:
Roma Pathfinder
Shades d6, Neb d6, Roma d6
The sequel to Turris Lemurum. Possible tri-statted between Iridium, d20 and True20.
Future Skein

Man, I need to focus. 😉

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress