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General Forge Forums => Independent Publishing => Topic started by: Amadeo on March 11, 2009, 02:02:01 PM

Title: Patronage and Publishing
Post by: Amadeo on March 11, 2009, 02:02:01 PM
I just took a look over at Monte Cook's new Dungeon-a-Day project and its got me thinking. What does everyone think of patronage for game designers? Wolfgang Baur did it with his Open Design, and now Monte Cook is doing it with Dungeon-a-Day. Is this a fad, or do you think it will become a tested and true path for development? I certainly envy them for being able to make a living and still incorporate the wishes of their audience, but I want to know what everyone else thinks of this avenue of game design?

Title: Re: Patronage and Publishing
Post by: iago on March 11, 2009, 02:34:26 PM
I'm not privy to all the patronage-ly aspects of Dungeon-a-Day.  Can you provide broader information here?

Title: Re: Patronage and Publishing
Post by: Amadeo on March 11, 2009, 02:50:34 PM
Both Dungeon a Day and Open Design offer game content where the subscribers have a heavy hand in deciding what content comes forward. In particular Dungeon a Day offers essentially a campaign for use in dungeons and dragons 3.x edition, but so far it has been truly easy to convert to 4E and I've heard talk of converting things to Pathfinder, Rolemaster, and Castes and Crusades. There is a forum where Monte Cook has been known to ask questions of what we want to see. And we are encouraged to e-mail him ideas as well. Over at Open Design Wolfgang continually polls his subscribers to find out what kind of project they want, and then working with those subscriber's he creates the product. One of his best in my opinion was Empire of the Ghouls, a mini campaign for D&D.

So far both writer's are doing what they are best at, creating content for Dungeons and Dragons. But what I really wanted to know about in this thread is what people thought about having paying subscribers who you polled for what they wanted, and then designing to their tastes.

So, to be more clear, what do you think about creating content exclusively for paying subscribers who have an equal share in the decision making process of design?

Title: Re: Patronage and Publishing
Post by: Vulpinoid on March 11, 2009, 08:08:18 PM
I think it's a great idea and I wish I had the name to capitalise on in order to make a go of it.

Alas, my name isn't a household term among gamers, and while D&D has the fan base to make something like this feasible, I'm not sure that this sort of thing would work for an independent game.

Maybe once I've finished my Game Mechani(sm) of the week, I might open up a wiki dedicated to exploring unusual concepts in roleplaying, and new ways to develop ideas within the medium (with people adding ideas that they'd like to see explored through the wiki, then pages sealed off once the exploration has been well developed). I don't know if it would be feasible to make people pay for a subscription membership to such a site though. It stinks a bit of the whole 4e subscription, and while that notion gave me an instant "gut-hatred" I can see that it's starting to spread.

So I guess I'm at a bit of a dilemma on the issue, but I can see pros and cons on both sides.

If you're going to produce good quality supplements that cater to the desires of the masses, then I can see it as a good new medium for commercial development.

If you're going to make people pay money to simply keep up with the basics (or read stuff that will be freely available in the next couple of months), then I personally think that's just another way to milk the industry dry and turn people off the hobby.

Just my 2 cents...


Title: Re: Patronage and Publishing
Post by: MatrixGamer on March 12, 2009, 11:42:55 AM
When I first looked at your title I thought of Patron in the older sense of the term (Queen Elizabeth was Shakespeare's patron). That model still works fine - if you can find a patron (or get a government grant!)

Focusing on the customer is a different matter all together. I see problems related to where a game is in its life cycle. D+D 1974 vs D+D 2009. Once a large body of customers exists you can do it - until then the designer is guessing what the customers will say w/o any confirmation. The closest thing to that kind of community that I know of is here and I'm not certain it would yield good results. Design by committee would risk having generic output.

There is something to be said for a lone creator developing their own unique vision. While it can miss the mark completely, when it hits its really fresh and cool. In the end though we have to start where we are no polling technique simplifies design work.

The other thought I've often had is questioning my own goals. I always wanted to have my games be as popular as D+D or old Avalon Hill board games. For most of the years I've worked I didn't have a way of doing that. I don't really now either but I can make nicer stuff than before. POD and PDF sales allow for a very cheap buy in so anyone here can learn how to do that. The buy in for organizing lots of people is potentially much higher. I'm not saying don't do it but know that it will take a lot of work and several years of your time.

Good luck with your endeavor!

Chris Engle