What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
Yarr! The Pirate ArrPG

Thursday, January 26, 2012

From 2011 to 2012 - Part 3

Well now... Where does all of this leave me and why is it taking so long to be introspective?

Arcana Creations came to be largely because of my knowledge and love of roleplaying games. I was first approached by John (Brave Halfling Publishing) to head up the editing and technical proofreading for the first C&C module BHP published. This was the early digest version of the adventure entitled 'The Secret of Ronan Skerry'. When we decided to take the module into wider distribution, Arcana Creations was born. Shortly after, a C&C version of 'The Ruins of Ramat' was released in digest form followed by 'A Trick on the Tain'. Arcana Creations had been slowly growing even though sales had decreased overall. With this last module out, work had begun, stalled, restarted, and changed for Victorious. Despite the best of intentions we all had going into the project, unexpected challenges at the start of the project continued to plague it until the very end when the Agreement was dissolved. Personal and real life issues towards the last quarter of 2010 and the first couple months of 2011 only prolonged this nebulous period.

Things had started to turn around in 2011 as I realized a need to work on a few cool ideas I had floating in my head. I also began anew to reign in and sort out some lingering issues with Victorious. Of course being just one man, When I perceived that certain things with Victorious had begun to get back on track and resolved, my other efforts (namely Ballista) got shelved to ensure a Fall release of Victorious.

Things did not go to plan.

As elements of putting Victorious were coming together, other things did not. The details don't really matter but I was committed to having this released in the Fall. Ideally, it would have come out towards the end of November (before the new Holmes movie was released) and, if I was lucky, surprise some people with the first issue of Ballista. Managing the release of Victorious would have been a great success for Arcana Creations.

As it stands, 2011 was an abject failure for Arcana Creations. No single product was actually released last year. Even my own campaigns are on hold. But I choose to look on 2012 as opportunity.

Instead of just forging ahead and releasing what I had for Ballista since, Victorious was no longer on my plate, I decided to hold back the release of Ballista for a couple of reasons. One, I just needed a break and some time to think. Two, having suffered what I view was a significant setback, was beginning looking at releasing what I had envisioned for Ballista in different ways.

Working on Victorious had started as something I really wanted to do but towards the end, other concerns forced my hand and direction on that project. The reason I got into doing this in the first place was my love for the game and finely put together projects. Just looking at the first module we sent into distribution and then the second one (Skerry and then the Tain module), the quality in terms of layout, art use, maps, etc were significantly improved. That's not to say Skerry was bad -- in fact Skerry was AC's best selling project. But ultimately, I enjoyed doing these even if they each had their challenging moments in putting it together. The challenges I kept on coming up against with Victorious kept on taking away any pleasure I was getting from the endeavor. Now that I have a chance to think about it, I can honestly say what, while I was still giving it care and was doing my best to put out a product that *I* could be proud of, it certainly was something that was not giving me any more enjoyment.

Quite simply, I really need to have some fun with this again and still put out material I can be proud of. I need to put out my own projects as well as some stuff that others have submitted that, not only would I want to play, but I genuinely want a hand designing. I also want to go back to my roots a bit.

With WOTC reprinting AD&D and putting out 5th Edition, I decided to change how I'm putting out Ballista. I've decided to take the opportunity and compile that material intended to be a series of rules options and replacements meant to be compatible with a variety of games and put out a single 'Rules Companion'. The Ballista Rules Companion is just that, a companion book which can be used and adapted with your OSR game of choice (or the games that various OSR efforts derive from) or, used as it's own little system. It's not meant to 'compete' with the multitude of options that now exist but rather complement and to be used in conjunction with. Ballista was originally conceived as a periodical which included articles and adventures and perhaps this may happen still but will save to support the Ballista system as well as other compatible games.

However, with 5th Edition and the reprints coming out way, Ballista may also serve as a complement to these efforts as well. Or at least, one can only hope anyway. By the sounds of it, 5th Edition is looking kinda promising (though similar to other things we have seen published elsewhere).

I also will be doing some more C&C specific material -- I love the game and I love the fact that it can be readily used with other similar games. And who knows? Maybe I'll be able to wrap up my 'Zombie Siege' game since part of the design uses some of the concepts the Ballista system has in place.

Well... there we have it folks. I spent time figuring this out because part of me genuinely wanted to toss in the towel after 2011. I will be doing a lot of cleaning in my own personal collection and plan on getting rid of some of this stuff. Books I just don't use for games I don't really play anymore. I'm cleaning house and getting back to basics and it's probably about time.

Thanks for reading!

M

Thursday, January 12, 2012

From 2011 to 2012 - Part 2

Ok, let's try this again...

Why does a new edition of D&D matter?

Well, the answer comes down to brand and brand recognition.  You see, when 4th Edition first came out, the game did pretty well.  It was the way the new game that was designed that caused sales to dry up quickly.  How they tried to address the problem with the Essentials line only served to frustrate and divde the existing 4th Edition customer/fan base.

Of course, a big thron in WOTC's side was it's previous edition which resulted in a very successful 'spinoff'.  Pathfinder gained may of the fans/customers who left D&D behind as the the 'new' D&D proved to be largely incompatible to its predecessors.  It wasn't an incorrect decision and, if the Pathfinder RPG had never been created, it could have worked.  However, the OGL gave rise to many other alternatives as well.  All of these, along with Pathfinder, have served to erode D&D's marktet share and Pathfinder now owns the larger market share in what happens to be a dwindling market.

Regardless of this, D&D is still the most recognizable brand when it comes to roleplaying games and generally the only one known to the uninitiated.  The decline of D&D is also a symptom of what has been happening with the hobby and not only due to the poor reception of 4th Edition.  Reasons for this are many and among these, Video Games and Computers are surely a factor.  For this reason, it is perhaps more important that D&D carries on, if only to act as a banner for potential new gamers to flock to.

For the rest of us, there are other reasons why a new edition matters.  While there are some of us involved in the hobby that don't care much beyond 2nd edition (if even that), we have been blessed with the OGL which gave rise to the style of games we might prefer.  Some of us are also comfortable with borrowing ideas and concepts from other systems.  There are even some that have borrowed from 4th Edition.  A new edition with perhaps a few new twists is not necessarily unwelcome, even if we won't play that game itself.  Like or not, it will be something that gamers will be taking a look at.  Besides, with a new edition being readied, things are certainly different this time around, and WOTC can ill afford to 'screw it up' though.  4th Edition strayed away from previous editions considerably and with OGL games flourishing, WOTC can ill afford to do he same with 5th Edition. 

D&D is a trendsetter for our hobby -- At best, success could mean a bit of growth in our hobby which hasn't been seen for a few years.

To be continued in Part 3...

M

From 2011 to 2012 - Part 1

I had been meaning to get to this for a few days now and we find ourselves on the 12th day of the new year. The past few weeks since around mid-November has been a period of reflection as I considered successes, failures, and whIch routes took me there.

Despite the regular periods of silence from me the past 18 months or so, one thing I have always done is to keep myself informed of what's been happening in our hobby and the industry. Of course, the latest buzz is the announcement of 5th edition D&D. The thing that amazes me but doesn't completely surprise me is the responses from the gaming community. There are a lot of sentiments like "I have all the D&D I need and it's called X" or "D&D hasn't really existed since Y edition" or "D&D? Oh, you mean Pathfinder...". There are other sentiments where people are hoping the WOTC will simply recreate what they feel is classic D&D (for them) if not simply reprint and repackage older iterations of the game.

Here is my thought. In whatever form it takes, the hobby needs this to happen. Even if none of us ever play it, it DOES matter.

My time is up for now... More to follow when time permits.

M
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