[TSOY 2nd] Name of the game?

Started by Eero Tuovinen, December 11, 2008, 03:56:23 AM

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Eero Tuovinen

Well well, it seems that I'm going to start the actual writing of the TSoY book tonight. A question that's been plaguing me, perhaps somebody has insight for me:

Should the name of this book be The Shadow of Yesterday? At first I thought not, then for a long while I thought yes, and now I'm back leaning towards no. The competing name would be something like "Guidebook to Near" or some such. Factors:

I'd like for the game to sell pretty well. "Sell" in both the sense of making some profits (enough to get me to Gencon if they'll have it in 2009, to be specific) and in the sense of reaching the potentially interested audience. The old name is well established and has a good reputation among its target audience (of which I am one). Also, the fact of the matter is that this book is most easily understood in a nutshell by calling it the "new edition of TSOY", so not naming it that might be confusing.

On the other hand, there's the issue that fundamentally this is not a second edition. TSoY is a game with an integrated rules set and backstory and a limited scope. This new book will have a wider scope, it'll be more of a gazetteer or dictionary of Near than a game by itself. It'll be my answer to the question of how an intricate fantasy setting can be fruitfully used at the game table. This is a radically different goal, and calling the book "The Shadow of Yesterday" would be somewhat misleading - "The Shadow of Yesterday" is one of the campaigns that can be played by combining Solar System and this new Near Gazetteer (that's an old school name for it), but it's not the sole focus. Taking the name feels like it sells short the original book, which is quite feasible as a roleplaying game setting and product on its own. It seems like I'm being pushed towards adopting the name just for brand recognition and to cater to how roleplayers are used to interpreting products. Outside roleplaying it'd be obvious that I'd use some other name, but if I let go of "TSOY" as a name here, then roleplayers will get confused: the name of the game is still sort of TSOY, but there isn't a book out there with that name, just a rule book with a different name and a setting book with yet another name. It's like they published a new edition of the Dragonlance campaign setting and called it "Tales of Ansalon".

The cornerstone of this question is, what is that shadow of yesterday, exactly? It seems pretty obvious to me that the name refers to how the past haunts the future and strives to imprison and oppress it in Near. The player characters are by they nature a force for change and for a new beginning in this context. More concretely, the shadow that yesterday casts shows up prominently in Maldor, where the people are unable to let go of the imperial past. This'll show up in my book as the campaign framework called "The Shadow of Yesterday", where I explain how to play a Maldorian game, but I don't know if the same phrase should be the name of the book itself. Is this the basic nature of Near-based gaming?

This isn't a big issue by any means as of yet, as the book's not even finished, but perhaps an amusing one to speculate about. Fresh viewpoints are welcome.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


  I think you should call it Shadow of Yesterday.

  The primary reason is this:
  People still recommend playing TSOY, when that happens, people should be able to find it.
Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo


I think you are overthinking this :)

Of course it should be called The Shadow of Yesterday.

And you are right, it is not the second edition.

It is the third ;)

Eero Tuovinen

Ah, yes, I got tripped up by language - in Finnish "second" and "other" are the same word, so I sometimes mix them up in English as well.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


The Shadow of Yesterday – Expanded Edition?

Since you plan to add a lot of stuff...


What about a "double title" such as:

The Shadow of Yesterday:
a Gazzetter of Near

Raffaele Manzo, or "Rafu" for short. From (and in) Italy. Here's where I blog about games (English posts). Here's where I micro-blog about everything.


As an ode to Steven Colbert:

Eero Tuovinen Presents:
Eero Tuovinen's Shadow of Yesterday:
A gazetteer of NEar as told by Eero Tuovinen:
An authorized biography of Clinton R Nixon*
(*that is not on the Bavarian Illuminati's watch list)

  But in all seriousness, people need to be able to find "The Shadow of Yesterday" and buy it. Shouldn't that be your new version?
Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo

Eero Tuovinen

I suppose so, it'd be nice if people understood to get the new great thing. The thing is, though, that the rpg culture advocates an ahistorical view on games: if the common culture had its way, the publication of a new version of a game magically would make the old one disappear into the void. I think this is backwards when the new version does not really try to replace the old one in some sort of 1:1 relationship. Clinton will, as I understand it, keep his edition of the game available, and I think he should - mine cannot be its equal in all facets simply because I'll have a different approach and a wider scope that requires more reading from the reader to get the same tools you get out of Clinton's version.

In this situation having two books called "The Shadow of Yesterday" is a recipe for confusion. It's just in the rpg world where people try to kill the past with hostile revision; in the real world a work of this sort would be clearly differentiated as a separate product. For example, the new Batman movie is not called "Batman" to try to make people stop watching all the old "versions"; apparently the audience is finding the new movie and not getting confused with its relationship to the property.

Ideally I'd like to trust in people being smart enough to research the topic the tiniest bit to figure out that when somebody recommends TSOY to them, they mean to recommend the activity of playing TSOY, not necessarily the specific book called "The Shadow of Yesterday". I don't know if that's feasible, though. I also don't know if my using the exact same name (with perhaps a tiny note of "third edition" or whatnot) will much help the confusion, as Clinton's website is still going to draw people. At least with a different name a person who specifically wanted to direct another to my book could do so by referring to it by name.

I like Rafu's suggestion a lot, by the by: a subtitle might be a good compromise. It implies that the book is part of the same brand, sort of like how all Dragonlance novels have the Dragonlance logo, even while the books themselves are not named "Dragonlance".

Another approach would be a prominent edition tag - "The Shadow of Yesterday 3rd edition" or some such. The benefit in that is that roleplayers understand that very well from their experience with other games, and are even starting to be able to compare editions intelligibly without always going for the newest thing. Having multiple editions is even a slightly positive marketing message in the rpg scene, as it implies longevity and polish. The downside is the aforementioned ahistoricity - publishing a new edition is an unspoken claim of superiority, and I'm not sure if that's warranted here.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Rich F

I think you need to have TSOY in the title, as that is the hook.  You can assume your audience if at least semi-intelligent, and describe / explain the product on the back cover (side blurb) so I wouldn't worry about that.  A subititle will work well to differentiate the product, eg: Expanded Edition or Next Gen.

Paul Czege

If TSOY were a Hollywood movie franchise, the title of your book would be:The Light of Tomorrow

"[My Life with Master] is anything but a safe game to have designed. It has balls, and then some. It is as bold, as fresh, and as incisive  now as it was when it came out." -- Gregor Hutton

Matteo Turini

Weha, Czege said my word (wrote my text, actually...)!

"Having multiple editions is even a slightly positive marketing message in the rpg scene, as it implies longevity and polish." - well, i think that sometimes it only seems to players (like me...) that the holy fire went out, and the brand new ed. just fitted commercial needings - i'm sure that's just not your only point.

Well, maybe Rafu's suggestion would be the best (and that's what i was about to suggest too, if i'd be faster); you could also switch title and subtitle in something like this:

Landscapes of Near (or some...)
A Shadow of Yesterday compendium

Best wishes!
jtc - Matteo Turini

Graham W

Eero, I don't think I'd want you to call it "The Shadow Of Yesterday". There'd be something odd about that, especially since it's by a different author.

I'd suggest something similar to The Shadow Of Yesterday but not identical. The World Of Yesterday. The Shadow Of Tomorrow. Something like that.


Eero Tuovinen

That's my feeling too, Graham. "The Shadow of Yesterday" is a specific game that combines the Solar System with the setting of Near, and with the specific Maldor-centric view of that setting to boot. As I've dropped most of those qualities, it's really a somewhat different product, even if the game itself is mostly the same. Right now I'm leaning towards using "The Shadow of Yesterday" the same way TSR used to use "Dragonlance". There is no one book or product called "Dragonlance", there are just lots of products that use the trademark. So I'll probably put "The Shadow of Yesterday" on the cover as some sort of brand label, but make the name of the book into something clearly distinguishable. We'll see if I'm going to register for ISBN with "The Shadow of Yesterday: XXX" or just "XXX", but that shouldn't impact the marketing too much. I'll still be marketing a new TSoY book either way.

In practice I'll probably figure out the name later on, when I've written enough of the text to see what sort of push it really has. Something like "Landscapes of Near" wouldn't necessarily be inappropriate, but we'll see how many landscapes I end up with in the end.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


Due in part to White Wolf's influence on the market, and part to the structuration of the English language, the colon might be a way to resolve this.

(Cool and Evocative Title): The Shadows of Yesterday

Folks who are used to speaking about various game products are used to using the names before and after the colon with a degree of semi-sophisticated interchangeability, and its a place where even gamers have shown the ability to be highly contextual.

(For example, the local LARP group almost always calls "Vampire: The Masquerade" simply "Masquerade" but at conventions where there is going to be a masquerade ball, they call it "Vampire" without someone having to explain the possible confusion to them. Similarly, when the Changeling: The Lost players ended up next to the Lost the TV show fans they were able to sort out "Changeling" "the Lost" and "Lost" in short order.)

So if TSOY is the post-colon clause of the title, folks should be able to connect it to TSOY, but still have some idea that it isn't the same TSOY as the old one -- as the primary clause title is something different.

The one downside is the inevitable comparisons to White Wolf, of course.
- Brand Robins


'The Shadow of Near' combines the structure of Clinton's title with the world-spanning scope you're looking for.

(or 'Shadows of Near')

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