Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Project Yore

The reprints of the Gygax-penned AD&D rulebooks are due to appear in a couple of weeks. Even if you're not going to buy copies of these books, you might be interested in a little background on how they were made. If so, take a look at John Schindehette's article and be enlightened. It's actually a very fascinating article, since it discusses some of the logistical problems in doing a reissue of a book originally published before the advent of the personal computer.

26 comments:

  1. Very nice article, thanks for linking that. The end product does look quite nice, thumbs-up here.

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  2. Thanks for posting this. It was an interesting article. For some reason I thought they were just going to use some high quality form of photocopying for the pages.

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  3. Yeah same here. It hadn't occurred to me that they'd actually recreate digital versions of the books.

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  4. Great article! Thank you for pointing it out.

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  5. It would be REALLY nice if they sold said digital copies of those books.

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  6. Oh, I bet this was a production nightmare. It is hard enough to produce books from electronic formats. Did they OCR the original and then fix the errors by hand? Ugh. One nit that I have with the old Dragons and D&D books is that there was the margins were too narrow in places.

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  7. I hear ya... I like writing notes in my ad&d books since i've been using them for eons. Tight squeeze in most parts. My monster manual is FULL

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  8. Antonio EleuteriJuly 5, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    The most important thing I think is that in this way the books will be preserved essentially forever now that they have digital copies. Brilliant work WotC!

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  9. The_Shadow_KnowsJuly 5, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    "Probably the hardest part of the project was figuring out what to do about the cover art."
    I think this quote could stand as the epitaph for WOTC. Style over substance (and dreary-looking style at that).

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  10. The_Shadow_KnowsJuly 5, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    According to the article, they retyped the text by hand. Let's hope they didn't decide to "fix" any "errors" while they did it.

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  11. I don't use defend WoTC but... it's a reprint! You can love AD&D or not, but if it is a reprint, the substance will be an old text that you cannot change. You can improve cover art, you can improve papel quality, but if you "improve" text it won't be a reprint anymore.

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  12. I assumed so as well. I still own the originals and so wasn't going to buy these reprints anyway. But this lengthy discussion about re-typing the entire text and changing the formatting actually made me less interested in them, not more.

    Why not simply scan the original pages and re-print the books based on those (cleaned up) scans?

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  13. Aren't these books already "preserved essentially forever" by ebay?

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  14. I totally agree.

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  15. Negative negative negative... Man..

    You know if they just scanned the books like they were people would gripe, and if they painstakingly retype every word to make the highest quality product they can people still gripe.
    I think a lot of people seem to forget these were due in april. They hit a few snags and it took longer as is obvious.
    Does anyone out there really think wotc are profiting one red cent on this production of these books with amount of work that has been done on three limited production books?
    This whole thing was a labor of love from the beginning and now even moreso. They could have just pulled the plug and said "sorry" when the project got more difficult and time consuming, but they didnt.
    Yes, ebay still has copies, but has anyone noticed theyve been going up recently? With these releases just around the corner and it splashed all over the main d&d page more and more people will snatch them up because the premium edition run is already dried up. Dont believe me? Try to preorder them then...
    I realize im in the minority here, but im thankful they went through with this and are giving me (because i already ordered two sets!) the best quality i can get. Guess how much money they are going to make on it? Zilch... Nada...
    Labor of love, but a lot of people dont appreciate the work that was done to preserve these books. Some people are always going to be negative no matter what. Im old enough to realize that, but man.. What a bummer to see it all the time especially when people dont realize what went into these books.

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  16. No. Used books are often grungy and damaged. I paid a little extra for good condition and I treat them like delicate artifacts from another geological era. (Hell, they're older than I am.) Actually, that's probably the reason I'm still playing Labyrinth Lord instead of AD&D, I'm not afraid to beat up the books!

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  17. I'm still not clear on if these covers are going be leather or just look that way.

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  18. Dave who?

    Nice to see he's been removed from history; keeps the premium identity of the D&D brand unsullied by any past history. God bless WotC for getting rid of that pesky Arneson fellow!!!


    -Disgruntled in Minneapolis

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  19. Christian LindkeJuly 6, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    Chirine,


    Your complaint is more with Gygax than with WotC. One of the reasons there was a D&D brand and an AD&D brand was legal issues regarding that Arneson fellow. Arneson received royalties from D&D materials, but not AD&D materials.


    http://www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discussion/300535-arneson-vs-gygax-lawsuit.html

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  20. Didnt wotc start the war of 1812? Oh wait! i think they were responsible for the irish potato famine, the black plague, rising gasoline costs, the 4th indiana jones movie, gum that sticks to dental ware, etc... Yeah.. Those guys are always up to no good, sheesh.. Darn those pesky people for getting rid of his name on books that he didnt even write. Those wotc guys even kept it off the original ad&d books back in the late 70's. Can you believe the nerve of these guys? Always screwing up the world.

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  21. If they tried to fix errors in AD&D, they'd quickly come to a conclusion the DMG needed a total rewrite, new layout, and oh, I don't know, an actual pass by an editor.

    Say what you want about AD&D 1E, but its layout wasn't state of the art when first published, let alone today, and the 1st Ed DMG absolutely cries out in pain for an editor who knew what the hell they were doing.

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  22. I hope someone does a premium reprint of Adventures in Fantasy.

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  23. The_Shadow_KnowsJuly 7, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    I had no trouble following the DMG when I was 10 years old. But I will concede that WOTC probably has a better idea of just how much something needs to be dumbed down so a modern 10 year old can understand it.

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  24. The_Shadow_KnowsJuly 7, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    I was speaking more in general, about all of their products. Obviously I don't want to see WOTC "improving" Gary's text. That would be like a blackout drunk wino* with schizophrenia trying to "improve" Einstein's equations. And while it's obviously true you CAN improve cover art, it's also true they DIDN'T. The books are pretty much 90% a dreary brown color, and faux leather covers with fake gold foil on a D&D book demonstrate a ghastly failure of taste and proportion. I think it even verges on Liberace levels of bad taste. But that's par for the course from WOTC.

    * - I apologize for using this term. I should have said "Hobo American" or "differently sobered".

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  25. Actually, my complaint is with the Blume brothers; they started the whole mess in the first place, messing around with both Dave and Prof. Barker. They both got censured by the federal court in the case, as Mike Hirsch (Dave's lawyer) was able to prove that large sections of AD&D were directly copied from D&D and that a pretty clear-cut example of plaigarism had occured. I knew both Gary and Dave, and was there for the whole mess at the time (yes, I'm one of the dinosaurs), and gary told me later that his biggest regret in his career had been not to keep the Blumes firmly in check.


    What I do fault WotC for is not abiding by the provisions of the final disposition of the lawsuits, in which the judge ruled that Gary and Dave were the co-authors of AD&D and that new editions of the rules had to state that. If TSR could redo the covers, why not WotC?


    My thought is that it's more about 'brand identity' and marketing then it is about actual gaming. With WotC expected to bring in $200,000,000 in revenue for Hasbro (Hasbro CEO, at recent stockholders' meeting) from the D&D brand, the folks at WotC are struggling to come up with ways to make money. Removing DLA from the history make it easier to market a simpler brand identity to what's going to be a very different market demographic going forward is what's behind this.


    It's just annoying, but in the end it's meaningless. There is, after all, such a wide gulf between the gaming hobby and the gaming industry that nobody will ever know what actually happened. Or will care, for that matter...


    -chirine

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  26. Christian LindkeJuly 9, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    Thanks for sharing your first hand insight into this. I was under the impression that the AD&D thing was a Gygax & Blume thing and not a mostly Blume thing. Given his exclusivity in the late 70s/early 80s -- including the Blume/Gygax demand for a code of content at GenCon -- I figured he was equally to blame for this. Though reading back issues of Space Gamer and the opinion this gave me of the Blumes aligns more with your presentation here than my initial assumptions.

    I have to admit though that I am pretty skeptical of Gygax's own self-praising gossip and am still likely to believe that Gygax was a part of that decision making process.

    That said, you are right that WotC/Hasbro should abide by any rulings and add Arneson's name. Heck it's in all the 3/4e stuff, so it should be in AD&D anyway.

    As for "who cares"? I do, and I would love to read more about your experience in this regard. I'm open to changing my opinions about Gary and exclusivity, but I'd like more points of data and you sound like a great one.

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