2012/05/18

A remedy for the AD&D malady

I'm not dead.
After almost three weeks of silence, i come back to this blog. It's good to have a pause, you see everything differently after a pause.

What is the greatest benefit for the future generations of players, the greatest benefit that may come from us- so called grognards?

It would be to give them the chance to choose, the chance to examine and EXPERIENCE every fantasy rpg ever published. But that is impossible to achieve today, sure there are some of them which are constantly popping up- i recently heard about the re-release of Wizards'world (which i offered on this very blog some months ago), and then maybe Heroes by Millard is going to be republished again, so something it's moving.
But there is still too much to do.

My blog is, among the other things, a little and humble effort to shed light on some of these forgotten rpg's.

Recently i wrote i was going to write about the ten most "spellbinding" fantasy rpg ever, and i didn't forget about that.

Will we ever get free from the Dungeons & Dragons malady? I don't think so, but even so there must be people around to counter that, and talking about the other fantasy rpg's which are lying in the dark will suffice, because the aim the goal here is not the impossible (and futile) one, that is: to try to destroy AD&D.

 Why? I hold it in great esteem, it is a beautiful fantasy rpg, the only problem is that it overshadows not just one, but MANY fantasy rpg which in several respects are more beautiful ( i say agan, more "spellbinding, enchanting") than AD&D.

And again, i find myself thinking about the future generations. What i would like to see accomplished?

I would like to see a community on the web dedicated to each fantasy rpg of the past, giving the chance to the guy of the future to download all the books pertaining to that rpg for free. Much as it already happens with the Powers & Perils website.

In that case i would cease writing.

A remedy for the D&D malady can be achieved, at least partially. More to come.

6 comments:

David Macauley said...

People drink coffee not because there is no other choice, or even a lack of choice, but because they like it.

The solution is to make those choices available, such as with Dan Proctor republishing the out of print Wizard's World. And then if people like the flavour, they'll drink the beverage. But don't be surprised if they keep drinking coffee...BECAUSE THEY LIKE IT...and just maybe, because they prefer it.

Anonymous said...

The coffee analogy is flawed - People like CAFFEINE, not the coffee; The coffee is just a caffeine delivery system. Take the caffeine out of coffee and all you are left with is an overpriced flavored drink.

D&D succeeded the same way most such products succeeded; They hit the market "sweet spot" in terms of pricing, availability, ease of use & quality.

Also, D&D succeeded because of the exclusivity factor; Once someone has invested in one system, they are not likely to invest in others (ex. VHS vs. Betamax, Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD).

The resurgence we see in pen and paper RPGs is, in part, because material costs to produce such a product are pathetically minimal; Do you have a computer? A program that exports to PDF format? Congratulations - You have everything you need to make a pen and paper RPG. Shipping and printing costs are non-existent. Any two-bit programmer can create a program to simulate dice throws of any type and I'm sure you can find an "app" for that as well, so that barrier is gone, too. The only significant cost factor remaining is talent.

The only way pen and paper RPGs will succeed nowadays is to creatively force human interaction; "Magic: The Gathering" succeeded because cards can't be copied with ease (and card games can't easily be played over the Internet) and their business model of "you can't decide what you'll buy" forced multiple purchases and encouraged independent 3rd party business selling individual cards.

The problem with the card game genre is that it is too saturated and diverse to encourage the entry of new players; To get a good "deck" takes a significant amount of time and financial investment. In short, the card game genre is going through what the pen and paper genre was going through about 20 years ago.

David Macauley said...

Actually Anonymous, your criticism of my coffee analogy is flawed. I love coffee, with or without caffeine. I enjoy Decaf as well as the real thing. I prefer both to any other hot drink. For health reasons I drink very little caffeinated drinks, but the occasional Decaf still gives me that flavour I love.

Nor do I agree with the reasons you have given for D&D's success. Firstly, D&D was first published in 1974. It was expensive, $10 in fact, which was a lot of money back then. It wasn't readily available given that Gygax was producing it in his garage or basement or whatever. And if you've ever seen the three original booklets you would know that "ease of use" is not a term anyone would use with them. As for quality, as a published item it was downright amateur.

Holmes Basic D&D in '77 and AD&D over the next couple of years after that improved thing in some aspects, but hardly match your description. It wasn't until '81 that TSR got it together to produce a version of the game that might match your criteria, and in the mean time a multitude of other RPGs had been published, many of them vastly superior to D&D in clarity and format.

I don't buy your exclusivity factor argument either. Most gamers I come across are also collectors and have a multitude of different RPGs. But the fact is despite decades of experience playing a multitude of games, a great many of them return to D&D as their preferred game - favourite game. But in the meantime they continue to buy other RPGs to add to their collection.

Finally your analysis of the reasons behind the resurgence of tabletop RPGs is too simplistic and missing a large part of the story, but it's after 1 am and time I went to sleep.

Anonymous said...

David, you're entitled to your own opinions, not to your own facts.

I usually don't "argue" anymore with netizens (like it ever makes a difference) but, considering that can actually use the phrase "I was there" in many of these cases and spoke with some of the people who made this all happen, I have a perspective that you might not. It's just that simple and if you won't (or can't) appreciate it that, that's your problem and not mine.

Could I have elaborated on my points for another 60 pages and given references? Absolutely. In fact, I'm cannibalizing on two books that I never published about the pen and paper RPG industry. I figured that all that research should go to some use.

However, to briefly counter your points:

* Coffee is a socially acceptable drug that has a long history. People flavored their coffee so that they could get to caffeine's main effect. It is sort of like non-alcoholic beer; What's the point of drinking beer without the alcohol since beer traditionally is not a great tasting beverage.

* David, learn economics. You look like an older guy in your picture so maybe there's a community college option available to you but I'm not going to into depth about this point. In brief, something doesn't have to be CHEAP, it just has to be CHEAP ENOUGH. If someone offers you a Ferrari for $100,000, that's not cheap. If someone offers you that exact same Ferrari for $10,000, that's cheap. If someone offers you a hairbrush for $10 dollars, that's not cheap. If someone offers you that exact same hairbrush for 10 cents, that's cheap. Now, to expand upon that example, suppose I could convince someone that I was selling a magical hairbrush that caused the person using it to never lose their hair and I was selling it for $1,000, then guess what? To a lot of people, that hairbrush is not cheap but an absolute steal. See? Economics.

* Most gamers today are collectors because they can afford to be collectors. Were those same gamers collectors back when the industry was still relevant to the mainstream market? Probably not. The products were higher price and the collectors had other prevailing interests. Also, the games could be thought of as "languages" - How many languages is a person going to take the time to learn and be proficient at enough to experience some pleasure in using the product?

You know what? Screw this. You're right, David. Right about everything. Why I bother educating anyone about anything on the Internet is beyond me. I'm late for breakfast. Good riddance.

David Macauley said...

Shame on you Anonymous, I replied to your comment without being sarcastic or making personal slurs, it's a pity you decided not to show the same courtesy.

In respect to the game D&D, I stated facts not opinion, those facts are history not something I plucked out of my arse.

I have a perspective that you might not. It's just that simple and if you won't (or can't) appreciate it that, that's your problem and not mine.

It's not a matter of appreciating anything and I certainly don't have a problem at all. I was merely giving a contrary viewpoint in conversation, not arguing, not getting upset. I don't agree with what you said, but it doesn't bother me that you have a different opinion. I fail to see anything problematic in that. It happens all the time.

David, learn economics. You look like an older guy in your picture so maybe there's a community college option available to you...

Thanks for the patronising sarcasm, it's very revealing.

Most gamers today are collectors because they can afford to be collectors. Were those same gamers collectors back when the industry was still relevant to the mainstream market? Probably not.

Now that there is an opinion, not a fact. From my observations of what is commonly said by 30+ year veterans of RPGs, most will admit to being voracious collectors from the word go. That being the case my opinion is based on the evidence that I have seen.

As for your language analogy, that is the most sensible thing you said in either post.

You know what? Screw this. You're right, David. Right about everything. Why I bother educating anyone about anything on the Internet is beyond me. I'm late for breakfast.

No-one asked you to educate anyone, I would suggest that is a role you have chosen for yourself, although I must say you seem to lack the patience for it.

You publicly, though anonymously, stated an opinion, I gave a contrary one, you responded with a comment laced with sarcasm and thinly veiled abuse even though I had spoken politely and calmly. And so I am bemused by your over-the-top reaction.

If you thought my 1 o'clock in the morning comment was snide, check the time I posted it and compare your local time to Australian Eastern Standard Time, you'll see it was indeed around that time I posted my comment. I wasn't being sarcastic, simply not willing to expand on your last point at that time of the morning. I apologise if you took that the wrong way.

Bottom line is Anonymous, it really doesn't matter what you think as your second comment has demonstrated that you're immature and sly, and therefore anything you say is of little value to any serious conversation.

Good riddance

Indeed matey.

A Mutant Biker of the Atomic Wastelands said...

Hmm. Sorry to see sniping on Mesmerized'. Good on you, David, for a balanced, reasonable set of responses.

From elementary school to family man, I've always bought as many different games as I could afford... though my curiosity vastly exceeds my play time, and sometimes I buy something just to encourage a fledgling designer.

As far as coffee goes, I'm not prejudiced... I love it both for the flavour and the caffeine :) But what I pay for when I buy a $20 pound of is $17 of flavour.

Readers might consider wine (or whiskey, for that matter) which, if people were merely buying it for the alcohol, one could hardly explain a price range of $5 to $15000 per bottle (not even considering special auctions!).

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