Saturday, May 19, 2012

Selling Out

For those looking for further evidence that I've sold out to the Man, here's a link to the second of a series of articles Wizards of the Coast has asked me to write about the history of Dungeons & Dragons and its various elements (literally, in the case of the first article).

Alas, for the conspiracy theorists among my readership, this does not mean I've had any connection whatsoever with "D&D Next" (have I mentioned how much I dislike that name?). In fact, if what I've heard about the "online playtest agreement" one needs to sign to participate in the upcoming playtest is true, I won't even be involved in that.

Despite that, I do want to say that WotC pays well, pays quickly, and has been almost completely hands-off in the process of writing these articles. I haven't been asked to change what I've written or insert plugs for 4e products or anything of the kind -- quite the opposite in fact! That they're willing to pay me to write articles about stuff that doesn't directly translate into sales of any product they're currently selling has earned them my respect, if not my love.

74 comments:

  1. The two issues that don't sit well with me are that 1) to get access to the playtest draft, you *must* provide feedback in return and 2) the possibility of signing an NDA. Number 1 is not wholly unreasonable, but it's not what I'd prefer, which is to be able to look at the draft without any expectation that I'll provide anything to WotC whatsoever. Number 2 is more worrisome, since it may limit what and where I can talk about the playtest draft.

    I guess my notion of what "open" means -- it's conducted out in the open with no strings attached -- and WotC's -- anyone can participate if they follow our rules -- are quite different.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great article. 

    "Gygax, writing in issue #13 of The Dragon (June 1979), stated unequivocally that AD&D was a “different game” than OD&D."

    Pedant alert: Your Gygax quote is from Dragon #26, not Dragon #13. The essay is "From the Sorcerer's Scroll: D&D, AD&D and Gaming."

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't think the intent of section 3 is to force you to provide feedback. Even if it was, how could they enforce it? Wouldn't filing, "5e is terrible. I suggest cancelling it and bringing old editions back into print instead" meet the requirement?  I believe the intent is to clarify how and where you're to file feedback.

    There may not be an NDA.  Where the agreement is currently being used, for the new D&D miniatures game, there isn't an NDA.  You agree to the agreement and you get a download link to the game's text. With a playtest likely to be thousands, if not tens of thousands, large, an NDA may be silly. If there is one, yeah, it will limit what and where you can talk about it. If your primary goal is to be able to write about it, that's probably a deal breaker. Depending on the specifics, it may be a problem for others, including me.  We'll know in a week or so.

    As for "open," I'm pretty sure they're using the term the same way video games  have "open" playtests, as opposed to closed playtests.  "Open" means "anyone willing to sign up can."  Definitely no connection to the Open Gaming License, similar Open Source agreements, or the general idea of openness in communications.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just don't understand the OSR anymore. I thought I did. I mean, why are we out here doing what we have been doing for years just to roll over and fetch bones for Wizards?

    Who CARES about this project? Why does it matter? Mind you, I have read posts from OSR blogs for YEARS about how much they hate Wizbro and how they ruined the game and it would be a 'cold day in hell' before they get support from the OSR community.

    James, don't you feel the least bit hypocritical about flying that OSR flag up there? And I'm not trying to be an ass. I'm asking an honest question. The only reason they are using bloggers the way they are is because they realized how many followers read those blogs everyday. Most people are doing all this promotion for free. At least you are getting paid.

    And when this whole thing turns out to be another mess it spells the end of this scene because Wizbro will say 'Well, you guys helped make it' and then what is your comeback?

    I can't take anybody seriously anymore. Over the past 5 months I have watched numbers dropping, blogs disappearing and more and more OSR folk jumping all over the bandwagon.

    Can someone explain to me what happened? Did slipping people a fiver really kill the OSR? Because by the end of the year there won't be an OSR at the rate we are going. How can anyone turn around and bad mouth these guys after accepting money from them. All the Bloggers who seem to be getting tapped by Wizbro have enough clout to make money from gaming without resorting to helping keep afloat the very boat everyone seemed to want sunk a year ago.

    Seriously...can anybody reading this explain this to me?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can explain it to you: You didn't read any of James' articles at Wizards and you didn't read the part where he isn't participating in D&D next.

      There. That was easy.

      Delete
  5. Stephen TeixeiraMay 19, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    No reason to be apologetic, you are now a small part of the history of D&D, congrats!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thinking in terms of the Man and selling out is missing the point, as is a benefit to WotC in direct sales - assuming any visit to the WotC site via the links in the article doesn't in fact lead to any sales. Mutually beneficial relationships bringing prestige, power or plain old money can be far more subtle than a rallying cry allows for.

    For example, given the readership of Grognardia in terms of numbers and interest, any relationship with WotC into which James Maliszewski enters could be worth a great deal, with the links and the positive comments presumably fine extras. Implicit acknowledgement, acceptance and support could be plenty, without the explicit.

    Am I remembering rightly that Zak Smith is also or was being paid by WotC? I find the idea Zak and James might both be receiving money from WotC surprising given the way things have developed over the past few years, and the impressions I got on views from reading the blogs.

    Here's a thought, and a question. If centres or opinion formers with a larger reach appear within a community, that community can presumably be engaged more easily by adjacent interests. If this is so, is the radicalism of a community like the OSR sustainable?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Is it me or are both links going to the 1st article? (Congrats on getting online-published, btw!)

    ReplyDelete
  8. You are in love with a company? Seriously?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Take the money and run! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Like the true meaning of Christmas, the OSR lives in your heart. So long as people are enjoying OSR games, nothing WotC can do can kill off the OSR.  Have faith in the genuine appeal of old school games to keep the OSR alive and vibrant. Have faith that the bloggers who chose to become what was once lone voices in the wilderness aren't going to be bought off for 4¢ a word and a shiny new 5e.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I said WotC has earned my respect, if not my love. 

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for pointing that out. I've fixed the link.

    ReplyDelete
  13. You're right. I wonder how the heck I made that error. I'll see if I can get it fixed.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  14. That's the thing: there's simply not enough more or fame in this hobby to truly make "selling out" an option. If WotC asks me to write a short article on Topic X, makes no demands on my shilling for them or their products, and pays me more per word than I made when I was working full-time as a freelance writer, why wouldn't I take it? I don't see the problem at all.

    ReplyDelete
  15. You're almost certainly right. It's simply that, after both the Pathfinder and DCC RPG open playtests, I expected that WotC would follow suit and make the rules freely available with no strings attached. Maybe it's unfair of me to expect that, but that's what it'll take to get me involved.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh wow. I'm pretty new to the whole OSR scene, and apparently I'd completely misunderstood it.I had thought the Old School Renaissance was about playing campaigns with Old School RPGs, or systems derived from them, and sharing one's own rules tweaks and campaign info within that context. Additionally, interest in the history of the hobby seemed to be a substantial aspect.It had not occurred to me that the primary and defining requirement was a frothing hatred of Wizards, and that actual gaming preference was secondary to that.Snark aside, are you seriously suggesting that a handful of articles about the history of the hobby invalidate all the work he's done exploring the origins of the hobby and sharing his Dwimmermount work and promoting other OSR projects, just because those articles happened to be paid for by  Wizards?

    ReplyDelete
  17. It could be that the extra per word is for the number of people in a particular group you might be bringing to the party.

    ReplyDelete
  18. This whole myth about how small and under-monetized the gaming community is I think is really going to fall apart very shortly. I feel that this is the myth propagated by Wizbro in that, because they are losing players and sales are down, that gaming is shrinking.

    I think Kickstarter is proving there is no lack of interest in gaming...just bad game systems:

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brettski/westward-a-steampunk-western-rpg-a-cinema6-experie

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1089664561/new-fire-the-aztec-inspired-rpg

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/froggodgames/rappan-athuk

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/350683997/midgard-tales-13-pathfinder-adventures/

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jamiechambers/metamorphosis-alpha-roleplaying-game

    And while not an RPG per se, this was very interesting:

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/500894669/serpents-tongue-a-new-magick-experience

    And of course the high roller of late:

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/847271320/ogre-designers-edition

    Nearly a million for what was once a $5 mini game?

    There is no lack of players or money in the hobby.

    I just feel like we are all getting played by a company that has proven time and time again that they are at a total disconnect with the gaming world.

    ReplyDelete
  19.  James, and anybody else who works in the RPG industry (however infrequently) shouldn't feel any reason to do anything based on other people's feelings about what OSR support means. What business is it of other people if he wants to write an article for WotC, which can help pay the bills. Nobody that I know of has ever signed a contract with the OSR community to only do one thing, support one thing, think one way, etc.

    Nice one James, you have a lot of knowledge to bring to the table, and I'm sure WotC appreciates that. And I don't believe they are stupid enough to think you are going to suddenly start supporting 5th edition just because of two articles - in fact if they do anything wrong (in terms of what the OSR community wants), we all know you'll be all over it.

    I'm a full time illustrator who was worked for them many times, and I don't see how that is any indication of my 'loyalty' (like it matters anyway) to any version of D&D (I prefer anything pre 2nd-ed to be honest).  It may surprise some people, but not everyone who works at WotC is an out-of-touch madman with wierd ideas about game design. Generally they're a mixed bunch with all sorts of tastes and ideas; they're professional in their business dealings; and they're human beings with families to feed and jobs to do.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Some people are just wound up so tight. Its a game, people. Pretty sure everyone has their own version of the game they love by now anyway. For me its 1979 Ad&d, but some other people may love other versions.
    The chances of wotc making your, or my, favorite set of rules again as a NEW game is zero percent, and no amount of bellyaching and complaining is going to change any of that at all. If James wants to do articles about D&D history and make some cash on the side. Awesome!! You know some of those new pups that read that are going to hit ebay and check out some old stuff that they may not have thought available.
    You think 5th is gonna kill osr? Did 3rd? Or 4th? If anything it just makes it stronger. Am I gonna buy 5th? Nope, but im not gonna badger people that do. Let them play what they want. I sure wouldnt want 3rd, 4th, or 5th players constantly harrassing me about MY game and neither would anyone else.
    People really need to take their blood pressure meds and relax.
    James, I read your blog , as well as a few others, and I do it for enjoyment, or a laugh and a good memory being brought back. I get it...
    Some comments I've seen on here are real downers. There's a few posters on here that I'd love to meet and some I'd prefer to avoid, and if youre thinking "is he talking about me?" then chances are I probably am.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Honestly, I was unaware that people over the age of 19  were allowed to call others, or think of them as, "sell outs." Beyond that, frothing hate for WoTC  (and often by extension, people who play their games) is the most tiresome and counter productive thing the OSR has to offer.  Every time someone posts about such things, we all collectively slide further and further into what I like to think of as the Mom's basement of our discontent. That's no place to go. And I say this as someone who thinks B/X was as far as things needed to go.

    ReplyDelete
  22. As far as your involvement with Wizards, I'll repeat here what I said on G+...Ummm...who'd be better to write about the history of D&D than an OSR guy?  You don't send an apostle into a land where everyone already has received the message.  It was a good bit of writing that probably reached some folks that needed to know the history. Good on you, James! :)

    ReplyDelete
  23.  "Selling out was the entire point"

    attributed Marilyn Manson

    Anyway congratulations on the article, James. Thats a nice coup.

    For an arm of such a large company WOTC is an excellent corporation. They make mistakes like all companies but on the whole they straddle the line between corporation and hobby quite well.

    Steve Jackson Games, not as large and more of a card game company these days is another such corporation. I've done D20 and Car wars stuff for them and it was good business.

    As to what ADD Grognard said, I kind of agree, I have more games than interest me to collect or that I can play already. Buying more makes little sense.

    However there is  money there , its just not enough for a full time hobby in the sense we expect it. Its pretty hard to have a company with staff that can keep up the churn.

    The demand just isn't that high.

     The peculiarity of this hobby is that companies need to act like a company that can sell you the razor (rules)  and have you come back for the proverbial blades on a regular basis

    Unfortunately for them, the razor is ever sharp and people are all blacksmiths ...

    OK that was really strained but you know what I mean ..

    This makes Kickstarter  a powerful tool, you can reach fans directly and worry only about them allowing moire creative freedom and products people want.

    I think its great.

    ReplyDelete
  24. People usually accuse someone of selling out when they are jealous.

    ReplyDelete
  25. So about 1,500 RPGs have been pre-ordered across 5 products. TSR was moving tens of thousands of copies of D&D every month during its heyday. In book publishing in general a book that sells 10,000 copies is a failure. So, yes, tabletop RPGs are a microscopic community. Old school fans are a subset of a microscopic community. Compared to the "good old days", damn few people can make a living writing RPGs.

    But so what? Work to grow the hobby as you can. Enjoy what you have. Take solace that thanks to the internet, PDF sales, and print-on-demand, it's easier than ever to share our creations with each other. Stop worrying about Wizards of the Coast. If you have no interest in 5e, then they really don't matter to you.  They certainly can't hurt you. They aren't attacking you. The OSR does not exist because WotC allows it to.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Ok, first I am a capitalist and fully believe in making money...it was just a few weeks ago I posed the question 'When did the OSR become a bunch of commies?' whenever I have mentioned monetizing the hobby, like it used to be, and been accused of being a profiteer because 'everything should be free' according to most responses I have seen.

    I'm talking about working for Wizbro. I mean if it's just about money I guess it's ok to work for the Ku Klux Klan or the Modern Nazi party...right?...cause it's just money...

    And this statement is not directed at James, but at a community that for YEARS that has ran this company in the ground and will start all over again at launch.

    It just seems hypocritical to sit and watch a group of people you thought you had at least a small clue about how they felt about this issue and then wake up and find everybody posting nothing but free PR for what they have called the devil for years.

    That's the part I have a problem with. Or is it ok to work for the Nazis if you just do it part time?...See how that sounds?

    To a lot of folks that's kind of what it feels like we are hearing.

    I'm a grognard and damn proud of it. I started wargaming when I was 9. I am not against modern games and play a wide variety of material from video games to Pathfinder, Arkham Horror, etc. That is not the issue. The issue is WotC and their parent company and the manner in which they have handled this property (as someone said, where is that VTT they promised us?...for 4e no less)

    I guess my question is when does one get off the BS bus? 5e? 7e? 37e?

    I thought we had a good thing going out here. I must have been wrong. Everyone just needed something to do until the next abomination came along.

    My bad...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe I misinterpreted. You don't care what the articles are about or what the stance is on the new game, you just don't think any OSR people should have anything to do with Wizards now as you feel there is implicit sanctioning?

      Delete
  27. I've been enjoying your articles quite a bit and look forward to the next one.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Well I can tell you as someone who downloaded the play test materials for Dungeon Command but never actually managed to get a chance to play it. I didn't provide any feedback and... nothing has happened to me so far.

    ReplyDelete
  29. hell yes, i didnt even know about these. thanks for posting the links. 

    ReplyDelete
  30. Oh come on, ADD G. - not the "reductio ad hitlerum" argument again... That's a game company we're talking about, right? However wrong you feel Hasbro has done to D&D, please think twice before comparing it to Nazis, KKK or the like - if you've been playing wargames since you were 9, you're supposed to be an adult now... unless of course you're 10 ;-) 
    I especially *like* your comment that, while you compare people who write for WoTC to nazi followers, "this statement is not directed at James"... Nooo, who'd think that? What the internet allows is such rude behavior - would you imagine saying such a thing to James face-to-face? You would, really? Hm?
    Come on, get a life, man...

    ReplyDelete
  31. Maybe they were drinking Pepsi Next in the boardroom when they came up with that name. Sounds like a great job to have.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I dont know if my post made it through so here's a second try...

    I dont have a problem whatsoever with writing articles for WotC. I would fo the same.

    However, the issue of timing cant just be explained away either. Why werent they beating down the door of select bloggers at the outset of 4e? Why not halfway through that edition? Why now? The answer is petty simple to my mind and the whole thing is ass backwards. If you want OSRians yo buy your game, then make a game we want to play.

    ReplyDelete
  33. @ kiltedyaksman
    Good ren and stimpy ref, man! Ha!

    ReplyDelete
  34.  I have a life. I am an adult. And when I say something I don't turn around tomorrow and do a 180 because somebody shoves money in my hand.

    And my comparison to fascism is to reflect (you do know that corporations are historically at the center of fascism...right?...just checking) on the tactics being used. I'm quite certain that when I have tried to make a point and shown evidence of how this company acts, by fear and intimidation tactics on shop owners, that you have just passed right over that. That for 12 years it has been bucketful after bucketful of the same old rhetoric. Even now they are doing it again but the rose colored glasses have been firmly positioned and here we go again.

    And I'm not comparing people who write for WotC to nazi followers. Don't take things out of context. I'm saying where do you draw the line for money. I mean if the message is so important do it for free. Refuse payment. Send back the check.

    WotC is killing 2 birds with one stone. They are dividing the OSR by offering token acknowledgement of certain figures in the community who think they are being handed an olive branch when in fact its a rotted carcass of bad corporate gaming and when it goes south the OSR will blame their own for participating. It is a masterpiece of marketing.

    As for not directed at James, yes I would say the same to anyone's face that I say on the internet and I wanted him to understand that this is not a personal vendetta against him or whatever I will be accused of next. It's about ANY OSR member participating in this farce. Play testing or otherwise.

    I'm not the only one who feels this way...strap on your flack  jacket and get a load of this post:

    http://moldyvale.blogspot.com/2012/05/survival-guide-for-may-24th.html

    ReplyDelete
  35. Well, im glad to know that trolls hunt in packs.. Congrats for your new union of internet know-it-alls that ruin a good time for everyone cuz they are bitter, and arent happy unless they make everyone the same.
    Hey, Are you my ex-wife?

    ReplyDelete
  36. It very similar to other companies.

    ReplyDelete
  37. James. Congrats. Well deserved.

    As for everything else. Eh. Ignore it. Not even important.

    For me, I am going to play Next (I hate that name too) and I am looking forward to it. And if I am still around for 37e I'll play that too.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Good for you and good for the hobby James! :)

    ReplyDelete
  39.  Dude, 4e is not my cup of tea but its been a lot of fun for a lot of people and that is all that can be asked of any game. I suspect 5e will be the same.


    I am as conservative as any Grognard  in my game tastes but I can't see
    anything that Hasbro did that was a betrayal of D&D, of Gary or Dave
    or anything else.


    Diet Soda, Buddies, Snacks, Imagination and Friendship didn't go away when At Wills, Dailies and  Encounter Powers came along. and they won't leave with 5e either.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Or when they sell out.  It's a very specific thing. 

    It's when you take something you're passionate about creating and make it worse for money.  For example, if an RPG writer decided to make his game 4e compatible, just because he thought it would sell better, even though he considered the result objectively worse than his initial vision... that's selling out. 

    It's objectively bad.  Bad for the long term health of whatever market too, because bad products will tend to do poorly in the long run, even with that fast buck.  Like WotC, they're insisting 5e be crunchy and rules heavy so they can sell more books to the people who do play, ignoring that hardly anyone plays anymore compared to the rules-light glory days of the basic set.  The result?  No creative freedom for the designers, no passion, a bad product, an unhealthy market.

    It's the reason I rejected the wotc editions.  I see dollar signs behind too much of what they do, like Dilbert's Le Canard Bleu, money dictates the game's design. 

    ReplyDelete
  41. Happy for you that you can get paid for doing what you love.

    Not interested in a closed playtest that calls itself "open". Open playtests are forums for comment by the public. Playtests hidden behind NDAs and contractual agreements are corporate shenanigans.

    Dubious, but hopeful, about 5E/"D&D Next". Also hate that name. Still not fond of any WotC edition to date, or for that matter of the last TSR edition (the so-called "2.5").

    In other words, nothing has changed except that you are getting a decent paycheck out of the hobby. Which is a good thing.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Hi people.
    In my humble opinion, yes, this is a sell-out. No doubt whatsoever. But who am I to judge others? What do I know about paying James's bills and whatnot.

    Sell-out, yes. End of the world? No.

    ReplyDelete
  43. You take this shit way too seriously.


    Relax.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Oh man, what have I got myself into? So this no game... Fear, intimidation and loathing, rotten fascist corporations aiming to divide the OSR... On the other side, the True Grognards, who'll fight the Enemy to the end and never surrender. And, worst of all - the traitors, those who would pass to the Dark Side for money... It all sounds like it's wartime - or some kind of guerrilla... And all I wanted was to have a bit of fun with my friends, back in '84...
    Please, grow up. A bit.D&D is a game. A hobby. Having fun. It's not a religion. Nor is the OSR a cult. Nor a political-revolutionary-ideological-whatever-you-want organization. So maybe calm down a bit, put your AK-47 back in the closet and try to do your own version of the rules if you think the WoTC ones are such a "rotten carcass" and an "abomination"...And please, don't compare anyone to the Nazis - regardless of context. Unless you're talking about WWII, of course...;-)

    ReplyDelete
  45. What they release later this month to the public isn't going to be a game it looks like it's just a playtest.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Doesn't sound like you've thought this through very far.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I totally agree, I've been playing D&D since 1980 and am a big fan of the OSR. I'm also one of those people that got some fun out of D&D 4th Edition. But like you said, I'm not in it for the rules. I'm in it for the friends, socializing and good times. That's what gaming is about.:)

    ReplyDelete
  48. You know that pretty much every playtest run by a company is covered by an NDA?   And many are not open and some are invite only.

    Compared to what I have seen from some other companies in the last 15 years WotC is practially BEGGING people to playtest here.  

    So for a free set of rules you have to send in your comments? Gasp! How awful.  

    People are looking for controversies where there are none.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Neither Paizo nor Goodman Games required an NDA for their open playtests, so I don't think it's at all unreasonable to be disappointed that WotC wouldn't require an NDA. 

    ReplyDelete
  50. I'm in Tim's camp.

    My main gripe is the willingness of people to skewer rules and a company before they've seen anything.  I've done an enormous amount of playtesting and the lack of NDA for Pathfinder & DCC RPG were the exception, not the rule.And neither of those companies were owned by Hasbro.I'm currently under NDA, but I really hope everyone decides to take a look at 5E.Even if it means waiting a bit for character creation rules.  Feel free to label me a sell out.  I sell games for a living anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I know that just because someone "goes there" doesn't mean I should follow them, but this is the internet and I can't help it!

    My problem with the Nazis might be the opposite of my problem with WotC.  Although I very much don't like later versions of D&D, it's not because they advocate and organize for the killing of millions of people. And the problem with swastikas is not that they look bad.

    I think it's great that WotC asked James to share his perspective on D&D with therir very large audience.  I'd be disappointed if he'd declined. 

    ReplyDelete
  52. SjG, Eden, Cubicle7, Palladium, and every game company I have ever worked for does.   Paizo and Goodman are the exceptions in my experience over that last 15 years.

    ReplyDelete
  53. First, I was a regular playtester for Steve Jackson Games for years. I never once signed an NDA, nor was I required to sign a contract. I read the draft, sent in my comments, and they sent me a copy of the published product, which included my name in the credits and frequently incorporated changes occasioned by my comments (as well as those of others). Those were open playtests, not corporate focus groups with discussion closely circumscribed by lawyers. Lest you think that SJG was the only company that did so, I've also playtested for some other, smaller companies that used similar procedures.

    Second, a playtest is not a "free set of rules". It is a discussion regarding the current draft of a set of rules with an eye to learning how the audience will perceive and interact with the rules document, and then fine tuning that document to better reflect the intentions of the authors.

    There is no controversy. A term is being used in a way that is opposite to the way that I and others in the gaming industry have used it. I commented on that fact. Doesn't matter much to me, I just don't intend to involve myself due to the fact that the reality, separated from the difference in usage, is not the way that I want to interact with the design process. If you want to, go for it.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I was under the impression that play-testing for SJG was contingent on a selection processes from a pool of e23 customers that have spent a certain amount of cash ($50) over a time period. That is what it says on the web site anyway. Sounds more like clever marketing than an open play-test to me.

    Green Ronin's Dragon Age 3 beta on the other-hand is what I'd call a open play-test.

    ReplyDelete
  55.  You know, I'm seeing a lot of people talking about the "Open Playtest" but I'm not seeing the term actually being used by WoTC. Is a Public Play-Test the same as an Open Play-test? Or am I just not seeing it?

    ReplyDelete
  56. Selling out?  I don't think so.  And even if you did have a connection to D&D Next, so what? 

    For everyone:  We're talking about games here. 

    Do you think avid Monopoly players get into arguments about whether the Original Board is better than the Family Guy Board or the Star Wars Board?  Do spades players bash on Rook players?  Do you think Operation purists turn their nose up at the SpongeBob SquarePants version? 

    This is supposed to be a fun hobby, not Version Jihad.  Oh yeah, and companies are in the business of making money, but you get the choice to vote with your dollars or not.

    But I get it, it's fun to debate.  Maybe I'm taking some of these posts too seriously.  Perhaps in this post I'm doing the very thing that I'm railing against.  Oh well.

    ReplyDelete
  57. "Likewise, Gary Gygax’s sesquipedalian writing style elevated their texts above mere game books, in the process sending a whole generation of gamers scurrying to their dictionaries to look up words such as “milieu,” “dweomer,” and “puissant,”—not to mention Latin abbreviations, such as e.g., i.e, and q.v.—to cite just a few examples I still remember to this day."

    I had to laugh at this, since "sesquipedalian" sent me scurrying to the dictionary. Good article, I'll be interested to see what else you have in store.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Exactly what did you think the OSR was about, because I never got the impression it was about damning WotC or Hasbro to languish forever, or ignoring every thing that was BECMI, or 1e, or 2e. Hell, I never even got the impression that it was about ignoring 3e or 4e either. I always got the impression it was about a style of gaming, and an interest in preserving the roots of the hobby. Certainly I never got the impression it was some holy war against any new editions of D&D.

    ReplyDelete
  59. That's what it is now. This replaces the earlier requirement that one subscribe to Pyramid Online (and before that, it was similarly easy, though I forget the specific requirement - it may have been simply participation on their online forums, but it's been a while and there may have been other requirements I've forgotten), now that they've changed to a different model for that magazine. That they no longer do open playtests is one of the reasons that I no longer playtest for them.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Unless you equate the nostalgia with the reprint of old editions for sale...

    Nah! It was educational beyond belief and disappointing to many when the future generations of the game were not.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Christian de la RosaMay 21, 2012 at 5:14 AM

    An interest in official WotC D&D [whatever ed.] will also benefit the OSR community, as a rising tide lifts all boats. 

    As for you selling out to the man: I strongly approve of creative people actually getting paid for their work, instead of them building cred for free while their kids starve. Let a thousand neckbeards wail!

    IMO, YMMV, etc, as usual. But seriously, comparing the WotC staff to nazis? Get the fuck outta here!

    ReplyDelete
  62. I think the term sellout is thrown around way too easily in this case. Writing two articles (neither of which really promotes any edition) for a bit of cash, does not make James a sellout.

    Now if he suddenly starts praiseing the latest version of D&D spewing endless amounts of dreck about its greatness, denouncing all other editions while stuffing huge wads of cash in his pockets then yes he sold out, but as far as I can tell that hasn't happened.

    Even if James does decide sellout down the road, so what? It's not the end of the world or the OSR. The OSR will continue to exist as long as there are people who enjoy the older editions.

    ReplyDelete
  63.  I  thought this was extremely well stated.  I couldn't (and haven't) said it better myself.

    ReplyDelete
  64.  WotC is, at least sometimes, referring to it as an "open playtest." See, for example, https://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ro3/20120522#80412 (search for the phrase "open playtest")

    ReplyDelete
  65. Antonio EleuteriMay 22, 2012 at 5:03 AM

    Nice articles; to hell those who cry foul.

    ReplyDelete
  66. What I think you're missing, James, is that being 'involved' necessarily means taking part in the discussion/feedback, and not just the 'bickering on Twitter' nonsense that WotC would get nothing out of. The 'test' part of 'playtest' is important.

    There's no reason anyone should give a damn whether you get to read the materials now or with the 80% of readers/players who won't join the playtest, of course. They don't need to 'get you involved.' Either you're involved in the development of the game or not.

    Pathfinder's 'open playtest' wasn't nearly as 'open' as you've been led to believe, in any case -- ask the hardcore participants how much their feedback to Paizo mattered at all...

    ReplyDelete
  67. " Do you think avid Monopoly players get into arguments about whether the Original Board is better than the Family Guy Board or the Star Wars Board?"

    I've seen it happen, so yes.

    "Do spades players bash on Rook players?"

    Good question. I do know that poker and blackjack aficionados look down on pretty much every other game in the world, possibly excepting chess, as being unimportant and a waste of time. Chess players, on the other hand, think that anyone who doesn't play chess is, by definition, an idiot.

    "Do you think Operation purists turn their nose up at the SpongeBob SquarePants version?"

    I think that I would love to meet an Operation purist. And, yes, I think that they would, indeed, sneer at a version of the game marketed at a particular fandom that isn't Operation fandom.

    ReplyDelete
  68.  At least as I understand the phrase, "selling out" means compromising your principles for money.  James's articles don't seem to compromise his principles in any way; he's speaking of pre-WotC D&D as he always has.  Accepting money from WotC also does not seem to compromise his principles; he has never said that he would have nothing to do with WotC.  So where's the sellout?

    ReplyDelete
  69. So the playtest is open, and the final agreement is up.  The weird bit about you "will" file feedback has been replaced with "may." It still says the only reason you get to download the documents is to playtest and give feedback; so if ones goal is to write about it you're out of luck.

    Something I hadn't noticed before; they're claiming feedback is "work for hire." I doubt that would hold up  in court, since they aren't really paying you for your time (a one time free PDF is unlikely to count). However, I respect the intent: if you give them feedback, they should be able to safely use it.

    ReplyDelete
  70.  Quoth Wizards of the Coast:


    > Can I blog/post/talk about my playtest experiences with others who may not be in the playtest?


    >
    > Yes. You may publicly discuss your thoughts about the D&D Next playtest materials and your experiences while playtesting.

    https://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4news/dndnextfaq#80439

    ReplyDelete
  71.  Thank you for the pointer! But I was looking for an official WoTC statement, from the Suits. Doesn't really matter now, after a good night's sleep I'm pretty sure "Open" and "Public" refer to the same thing. It just struck me a odd that the official WoTC statements where using a different term.

    ReplyDelete
  72. Rest assured that the ilk that reside at Knights & Knaves are jealous the lot of them. Good luck at WOTC.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.