[MUD-Dev] d20

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Fri Aug 17 22:04:36 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

Friday, August 17, 2001, 8:49:52 AM, Michael Tresca wrote:
> Travis Casey posted on Wednesday, August 15, 2001 10:17 PM

>> Actually, I was thinking of Chaosium, but I was wrong -- in fact,
>> *no* other companies have released a d20 RPG at this point.  Note
>> that I'm saying RPG, not supplement -- plenty of people have
>> released D&D supplements using the d20 STL, but no major company
>> has released an actual *game*.

> Submitted for your review:

>   http://www.alderac.com/corporate/produpdates.html

> D20 Farscape Role-Playing Game

Has this actually been released yet?  I haven't seen it in stores,
and it looks like that page hasn't been updated in a while...  and
while it's mentioned on Alderac's site, I can't find anyplace
actually selling it.

>   http://www.peginc.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=S&Product_Code=DD&Category_Code=DD

>   Deadlands D20

Interesting.  I'd heard from a normally reliable industry source
that this product had been cancelled, because PEG decided they
didn't like WotC's licensing restrictions.

Well, then, it looks like I have to go back to my original
statement: only one company besides WotC has released a d20 RPG.  At
most, two might have.  Still too small a sample to tell for sure
whether the d20 System logo will guarantee higher sales.

> Those aren't supplements.  They are struggling however because
> players are having difficulty understanding that they have to buy
> two fantasy RPG books to play a sci-fi or western RPG.

The fact that they're struggling would seem to indicate that a d20
license is not the wonderful thing that it was initially being
portrayed as.

>> Does anyone care about the "d20 System"?  We simply don't know
>> yet.  The "d20 System" materials that people are buying are D&D
>> materials.  We know D&D is popular and well-known, so the fact
>> that D&D supplements can sell is no surprise.  Would the "d20
>> System" logo help anyone producing a *different* game, though?

> See above.  Those are very different games from D&D. Early buzz is
> that D20 does sell and not just for D&D.

Above, you say that they're struggling.  And if you meant
"struggling" in another sense, note that one of them is a licensed
game for a popular TV show, and the other is a spinoff of one of the
most successful paper RPGs of the last five years or so.

> As a role-player, I enjoyed playing games like Temple of Apshai
> that allowed me to "solo" my character, then transfer them back
> into our role-playing campaign.  This was great if you came into
> the game late for some reason and wanted to adventure your
> character up to a level similar to the other PCs (rather than just
> make a character from scratch and slap a level on him).

> As I see it, the question is twofold:

>   1) Is D20 a brand that will draw RPGers to CRPGs?

>     I believe so, if it's done in a supplement format.  Any MUD
>     that wants to use the D20 system should take advantage of this
>     marketing point: "Compatible with your Dungeons & Dragons
>     characters!" Heck, if you're really feeling destructive you
>     could have PCs bring their characters into your game with
>     approval (good luck with that one).

Umm... most RPGers are already also CRPGers.  Those who aren't
generally aren't because they want things that existing CRPGs aren't
as good at doing, not because of problems moving characters back and
forth.  (Most long-term RPGers are used to not being able to take
the same character everywhere, because of different campaigns,
different systems, etc.)

>   2) Are RPGers a large enough market that they warrant a
>   RPG-brand in a CRPG?

>     I doubt it.  Another interesting facet of some of the "start
>     your own company" gaming seminars at Gen Con revealed that the
>     amount of overlap between gaming types (card games,
>     role-playing games, computer games, tabletop miniatures) has
>     some, but not much, crossover.

Yep, I agree on this.

> They're not in competition for players.  And as some posts
> demonstrated awhile ago, MUDders are not RPGers are not card
> gamers are not tabletop gamers.  There's no clear trend between
> the groups.  And then there's the "barrier to entry" in terms of
> pricing: buy one CRPG and start playing or buy three game books
> for the same price (or more, $60+) and spend a lot of preparation
> just to get the game started.

This ignores something -- namely, that the GM is the only one who
*needs* all three books.  The players at most need one book, and in
the RPG groups that I've played in, most didn't even have that --
there were just a couple of players who had it, and people borrowed
the book when they needed it.  Further, while the GM has to invest
the time to create a world, the *players* do not.  An hour or two
will suffice to learn the basics of the rules and create a
character, and then you can start playing.

The true barriers to entry that I see are these:

 - Greater effort required.  I'm not talking about just in terms of
   preparation, but also in terms of use.  Since you don't have a
   computer handling the mechanics for you, players generally need to
   know and be able to apply at least some of the game mechanics.

 - More imagination needed.  Paper RPGs don't generally have pictures,
   sound effects, etc.  On this part, they're much like text muds,

 - The need for other players.  With a standalone computer RPG, you can 
   play whenever you feel like it.  With an MMORPG, you can do the same.
   With a paper RPG, though, you need at least two people to play the 
   game, and groups of four or five are preferred.

> Over time, as game companies become larger and begin to merge media,
> we'll probably see more cross-seeding between game/entertainment
> types.  


> Except when it comes to movies.  The Dungeons & Dragons
> movie killed any hope of that.

Well, it was bad, but I wouldn't say that it killed any hope of it.
Note that the Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy movies went ahead
anyways.  And even horrible movies are eventually forgotten.

Travis Casey
efindel at earthlink.net

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