I was pinning pics on my Pinterest boards and came across this image above, from a D&D 4th Edition sourcebook. It looks awesome but it made me think of what my problem with D&D is.
I see that image on the cover of a book–I see similar images on many D&D book covers–and I think to myself, I wanna be that guy in the game. I wanna be the warrior wielding a flaming sword, attacking a displacer beast, as we both free-fall, in a no-holds-barred fight! Yeah!
The problem is, when we play, this doesn’t happen.
Because Passover starts tomorrow night, I don’t really have the time these two news coming out of Wizards of the Coats last night deserve to be fully unpacked, and I especially don’t have time right now to record an episode of The Digital Front Podcast. That said, here are some quick thoughts.
WotC announced that they had sued eight people (in the US, Poland and Philippines) for piracy of their new D&D book, Player’s Handbook 2. Whatever outcome can come out of that, I actually find myself applauding WotC’s decision to file the lawsuits and make a statement and precedent. Piracy is a reality for any media these days, but it is nevertheless a crime, one that needs to be dealt with so that people will begin to associate that downloading a pirated book is the same as stealing it from Borders. If anyone in the Hobby Gaming Industry has the clout and resources to do this, it’s WotC, so I am quite intrigued how this will develop.
Of course, this announcement comes out at the same time as WotC decides to end all sales of their PDF products and to have them pulled from all stores, such as RPGnow.com (see image to the left), DriveThruRPG and Paizo.com. The reason? They cite piracy of their digital products as the reason for this drastic and quite sudden move. The internet is literally aflutter because of this (just check out Twitter and RPGBloggers.com for a sampling), and with good reason: it’s a poor idea.
I hate to point out the obvious, but eliminating PDFs from legitimate download sources only hurts the legitimate customers, the ones sending WotC quite a nice amount of cash on a monthly basis (considering WotC has consistently been one of the Top 3 vendors at RPGNow/DriveThruRPG), not the pirates. They already have copies floating around, and will continue to do so now that WotC has eliminated the legal sources. Add to that the fact that before PDFs were widely available, there were already scanned pirate copies of books running around, and the piracy argument looses steam really fast. This isn’t eldritch lore, folks; it’s business and marketing info that’s out there.
I write all this fully mindful of what happened with one of my previous mentions of WotC in my blog. I stand by it as well.
Of course, let’s not lose sight of this last quote in the news release:
WotC is apparently not ruling out digital delivery of its products using a different format or model. “We are exploring other options for digital distribution of our content,” the spokesperson said.
Considering how poorly the D&D Digital Initiative has been going (to wit: Gleemax cancelled, Character Builder delayed though now operational, Character Visualizer TBA, e-Tabletop Application TBA), bringing in the exclusive distribution of their own digital products makes a ton of business sense, though the way they are going about it is just dismal. It does continue their abysmal performance in the Public Relations arena during the D&D 4e era.
I look forward to more developments, and after Passover I’ll try to sit down and record with whatever info is available at the moment.
Though I mentioned it on Twitter, I never did so here: last fall, I applied to a Senior Editor position at Wizards of the Coast. I’m looking to move to Seattle, and hey, is there a better place for a gamer looking to settle in the Emerald City?
Over the last couple months I’ve answered a few questions here and there, and I’ve made it through some rounds of elimination, which makes me feel pretty good about my resume and experience. On Thursday, January 15, I had my phone interview, part of one of the last rounds of interviews from what I was able to gather, done by Chris Perkins. He was very nice, polite and made me feel good during the interview, which was very welcomed seeing how a phone interview can be a bit impersonal. He asked me questions about my editing experience and I answered as well as I could.
Then he says he has a question that may put me a bit on the defensive, which immediately does, of course, though I sought to downplay it. He asks about something I said in a blog post I made back in June, 2008 (D&D 4e GSL), specifically, “Wizards of the Coast continues to become a company that I more and more do not want to support with my dollars.” I answered that yes, at the time I did feel that way due to the circumstances I mentioned in the post, though I had certainly changed my mind, evidenced by my purchase of the 4e core books and my stated desire to play 4e.
We spoke a bit more, the interview finished and we hung up. I felt OK about it (not great, but OK) and now it’s just a matter of waiting.
I found it interesting, and a bit creepy (an opinion shared by an ex-WotC employee I contacted for tips before the interview – no names now), that they went digging around my blog for mentions of WotC/Wizards of the Coast. I understand it, and it makes me wonder how widespread is this practice. I don’t know that my comment from 6 months ago hurt me now, and I make no apologies for being honest on my own blog and standing by my opinions as stated at any given time, based on the information I had at the time. But it does make me very much more aware of what I write now, because now I know, for sure, it can come back to the forefront in the future.
There’s a lesson there for all RPG bloggers: write what you may, but be ready to defend words you wrote if you seek to translate your gaming blogging into anything within the RPG industry.
And for the record, I didn’t get the Senior Editor job.
G4 has been playing all day the press conferences coming out of E3 in California. I got to see/hear the presentations from Sony and Microsoft (I missed the Nintendo one thanks to a storm that made my DirecTV go blank for a couple of hours), and they were both interesting and informative as to how a larger-yet-similar industry to my own Hobby Gaming one handles this type of event and process (answer: much better than what I have seen at GTS and Gen Con, and not only because of the much larger budgets).
What really called my attention was how in each of the presentations, the big companies, the big market leaders, lauded and constantly thanked and showed appreciation for the 3rd-party publishers working with them to make their own systems a better value in entertainment and for the betterment of the industry as a whole. Seriously, it was a constant thing, with mentions by name of studios like EA, Ubisoft, Bungee, and even references to smaller design studios as well.
I just could not help but draw a comparison between the positive attitude towards 3rd-party publishers I was seeing from the video game industry market leaders vis-a-vis the way the hobby game industry’s market leader has behaved towards its 3rd-party publishers, specifically with the release of the GSL, a license that is so restrictive and controling of not only their IP, but also of the signatory parties, that more and more companies are simply not putting up with it.
As of today, three companies have publicly announced their intentions to not sign the GSL, these being Kenzer & Co., Adamant Entertainment and Green Ronin Publishing. Of these, Kenzer and Adamant have both already released 4e-compatible material using standard copyright law. In addition, Necromancer Games, though they have stated they will indeed be signing on, have stated that the terms of the GSL prohibits them from publishing the book they most wanted to, the Tome of Horrors, as they don’t want to lose that IP to Wizards via the control ceded via the GSL terms. Goodman Games remains mysterious in what their plans are; though they are indeed releasing 4e material, we don’t know if it will be via the GSL or via copyright, as Kenzer and Adamant have done. To this you can add a great number of small PDF publishers, like myself, that have also declined to sign the GSL.
E3 showed me a glimpse of what it is to have market leaders that value the contributions and innovations of their 3rd-party publishers, and made me wistful that we in the hobby gaming industry do not have such a market leader of our own.
Hey all. Just sending a quick hi from GTS in Las Vegas.
Yes, those are slot machines in the airport, right outside my gate…
What a weird place this is; so fake, so constructed, so artificial. Everything is AN EXPERIENCE!!! But it’s just a facade, and honestly, a very thin one, too. I’ll have more to say once I get back; right now I have to use the most of my time here for biz stuff (and I start my Day 2 account with a quick trip to Kinko’s to print business card, since I left mine in Miami – doh!).
The trade show is going good, and Pulp Gamer has been kicking ass in getting awesome podcasting coverage. Today I will be doing some interviews as well (hopefully). Fear the Boot’s Dan Repperger is here as well (schmoozing like a pro), as is Ed Healy from Dark Whisper (or as he is better known, the Kobold Quarterly Ad-Pimp Master), Fred Hicks from That’s How We Roll, The Butcher Block and Evil Hat, Chris Hanrahan from 2d6 Feet in a Random Direction, and Allan Sugarbaker from OgreCave Audio Report. A podcaster takeover could very well happen; watch the gaming news just in case.
WotC is being tight-lipped about the 4e GSL and its ramifications, Paizo is secretly dancing the fandango, Green Ronin is cursing WotC for out-staging their press release about the True20 open license, and the World of Warcraft pre-painted minis are OMG incredible.
More later. Have fun.
From Figures.com and the New York Toy Fair, check out the full spread of D&D Miniatures size categories, as well as a sneak-peek at the Colossal ($75) Red Dragon.
I am not a Magic fan by any stretch of the imagination. I used to play back in the day, but (except for three games when I went to Puerto Rico a couple weeks ago) I haven’t touched a Magic deck in 5 or 6 years unless it was to search for a Rebecca Guay card for my collection. I state this caveat to make clear I am not a Magic fan, afficionado, or even a casual interested party and that my statements from now on are not those of a crazed card flopper.
RAVNICA looks awesome!!!
The first I read about it stated that Ravnica was set in a world that had been overrun by one huge metropolis (Ravnica); a world where nature had been incorporated into the architectural landscape, pushed underground or erradicated; a world ruled by ten world-spanning guilds that had been locked in a strained peace for the last ten thousand years. The copy sounded like the world was either very interesting or very lame. I followed the link in the story back to Magic’s website and I beheld the artwork for one of the basic lands, the Ravnica Forest:
I was hooked. The art for the basic lands alone told me tons about this world, and gave me a dozen ideas in a second, more than any recent RPG product has done. (Top to bottom: Plains, Mountain, Island, Swamp – click on each to see a larger version, it’s worth it.)
The artwork is incredibly evocative, and truly captures something I’ve always wanted to see/do in a game, a fantasy megapolis of truly epic proportions. The more I read about the setting, especially about the ten guilds, the more I’ve gotten hooked on the setting (heck, I’m even enjoying the articles on the design of the set!). Though I don’t see myself buying cases and cases, I might buy a deck or two and then steal all the flavor from the online card database for this and the next two sets in the block. This is a world where I would like to run a game, where I can see myself developing stuff to fit the setting; in short, the first time I wish WotC would do a cross-over and release a D&D setting of their Magic material.
I invite everyone to check out the various articles on Ravnica at www.MagicTheGathering.com (both the Archives and the Ravnica section), if only to see the awesome artwork and the ideas they can spawn.