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Author Topic: OGL, subscriptions, and other things in one weird package  (Read 4281 times)
jdrakeh
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Posts: 120


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« on: July 09, 2004, 10:17:18 AM »

I've come up with a rather unique (in the sense that, AFAIK, it's never actually been implemented before) publishing model for Formless. It'll likely either produce fantastic results to horribly bad results. I'm not really sure of which, as it's... uhm... unique.

First, sections of Formless are being released under the OGL (yes, *that* OGL) - a thing that I haven't seen any other independent, non-d20 games do. And I can't see a downside to it, frankly. It associates your property (at least superficially) with the most popular roleplaying game on the market and opens your ideas up for others to build on.

For whatever reason, a lot of independent publishers seem dead set against using the OGL (some because they're under the impression that it's only applicable to d20 System games, others because they think that they'll lose 'street cred' for 'selling out'). I think that the hobby can only benefit from more wide-spread use of the OGL, so maybe I'm missing something.

Do tell me if that's the case.

Second, Formless will be a quarterly game. That's right a quarterly game. You'll be able to buy one year subscriptions (four issues) to an RPG line (in .pdf format - unfortunately, that's what I'm limited to currently). You get a debut issue, plus three more issues for the first year and four issues a year thereafter (if you renew your subscription, of course). Naturally, if you so desire, youll be able to buy individual issues (including the debute issues - there are two of them, different covers by different artists), but the subscription offer will be easier on your wallet.

The plan is to release (after the debut issues) one rule or setting supplement each quarter, thereafter. The debut issues are, naturally, just me (for writing and design) and two very talented artists - but, if I see enough profit from the debut issues and the first year of supplements, I plan on seeking out some submissions from other independent game designers and/or artists - especially as yet unpublished ones (because, dammit, there are some great minds out there who deserve some exposure).

That said, if the first year isn't successful, I'll probably fold Formless - but it will, at the very least, be interesting to test the validity of a subscription-based RPG and a non-d20 System OGL RPG. In fact, I think that whether Formless takes off or sinks like a stone, exploring both of these publishing options will be worth it.
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Sincerely,
James D. Hargrove
Keith Senkowski
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On A Downward Spiral...


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« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2004, 11:15:10 AM »

Hi,

I'm not sure I understand why you are releasing it under the OGL.  This might be because I am not all that familiar with the details of it.

I do have a few questions about this interesting publishing model of yours.

1) Why did you choose this subscription model?
2) How large are each of your issues?
3) Are you concerned about people not willing to subscribe to a company that has no track record?
4) Do you plan on selling the individual issues outside of a subscription and if so is there a mark up?  Also what happens if I find out about your game late (3 issues in), do I still get those older issues?

I'm really curious about this.

Keith
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Conspiracy of Shadows: Revised Edition
Everything about the game, from the mechanics, to the artwork, to the layout just screams creepy, creepy, creepy at me. I love it.
~ Paul Tevis, Have Games, Will Travel
jdrakeh
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« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2004, 12:04:33 PM »

Quote from: Bob Goat

I'm not sure I understand why you are releasing it under the OGL.  This might be because I am not all that familiar with the details of it.


Well, it can effectively stand alone as its own game or be used as a kind of "cap system". The decision to make portions of it available via the OGL has more to do with this latter aspect of the system than the former. Also, why not open up material for others to use? I can't think of any good reason not to.

Quote
1) Why did you choose this subscription model?


It's something that I've talked about on again/off again over the years. I really dug the vampire hunting game released in Shadis following a similar model, and have never been more satisfied with past RPG-related purchase than I was with my subscription to Random Order Creations.

From a consumer standpoint, I just really like being able to drop a few dollars on a subscription and then put it out of my mind. I don't have to hunt down copies of RoC at the local game store, or pester a retailer to carry products - they come directly to my mailbox, ready to play right out of the... erm... envelope.

From a publisher standpoint, I like the model because I have a defined structure to work around for releases. My customers know exactly how many releases a year to expect, and roughly when to expect them. I don't have constantly changing deadlines or pressure to 'pump out' a lot of new material at random intervals.

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2) How large are each of your issues?


As a rule, I aim to keep each issue under thirty pages in length with a minimum page count of twenty pages. You're looking at about $8.00 (this isn't a definite price quote yet) for a one-year, four-issue, subscription. So about $2.00 an issue for subscription holders).

Quote
3) Are you concerned about people not willing to subscribe to a company that has no track record?


A bit. I'm hoping that the excellent artists that I'm working with, combined with what I feel is strong writing, will be received in a positive light. Further, I plan on gifting certain individuals with free review copies of the debut issues in hopes that some press exposure will help sales (negative or positive, it's all press). In short, I think that Formless will be strong enough to stand on its own merits, and hope that I'm correct ;)

Quote
4) Do you plan on selling the individual issues outside of a subscription and if so is there a mark up?


Yes and yes. Subscribers will receive their issues first. About three to four weeks later, individual issues will be made available to consumers for roughly $3.50 an isssue.

Quote
Also what happens if I find out about your game late (3 issues in), do I still get those older issues?


Back issues will be available per the above arrangement. Subscriptions start with the then current issue, and include the following three issues. Also, I'm going to look at doing a once yearly omnibus that collects all four issues from a given release period under one cover.

[Note: The above quoted prices are not yet set in stone, nor has a definite release date for the debut issues been set. The projected launch date for Formless is currently August 2004, though this may be pushed back to September, as there are several details that still need to be finalized.]
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Sincerely,
James D. Hargrove
madelf
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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2004, 07:59:19 AM »

D20 isn't  the only OGL game system. There's also Action! System that's released under the OGL. And there are several D20 OGL derived games that are barely recognisable as coming from D&D.

Plus don't forget the other open licenses that have games released under them.
Creative Commons, Dominion Rules, etc.
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Calvin W. Camp

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jdrakeh
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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2004, 08:36:29 AM »

Quote from: madelf
D20 isn't  the only OGL game system. There's also Action! System that's released under the OGL.



Actually, I had no idea that Action was released under the OGL (thanks for pointing that out). That said, I think it's the only non-d20 product (or at least the only one with very much exposure) that has been released under the OGL.

Quote
And there are several D20 OGL derived games that are barely recognisable as coming from D&D.


Well, I never claimed they were all similar to D&D, but I think that the vast majority of them are clearly derived from d20 (as presented in D&D). I own a lot of them (M&M, OGL Horror, OGL Ancients, Conan, etc) and find this to be the case.

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Plus don't forget the other open licenses that have games released under them.Creative Commons, Dominion Rules, etc.


Oh, I haven't forgotten them, and these are examples of open licenses - but not the Open Gaming License (hence why I didn't mention them). I was talking only about the Open Gaming License (the license made available by WotC). Perhaps it would clear up the confusion if I referred to the OGL as the WotC OGL.
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James D. Hargrove
philreed
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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2004, 10:34:11 AM »

I'm currently running a DM's subscription service for D20. 5 times a week subscribers are sent one "thing" through e-mail and once a month they're sent a PDF of the previous month's sales.

There are currently:

1-year -- $16 -- 42 subscribers
3-month -- $6 -- 11 subscribers

That should give you some idea of the market for OGL-based subscriptions. A lot of people still don't trust PDF and those who do have a hard time paying for the promise of something in the future.
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madelf
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« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2004, 10:58:50 AM »

Quote from: jdrakeh

Oh, I haven't forgotten them, and these are examples of open licenses - but not the Open Gaming License (hence why I didn't mention them). I was talking only about the Open Gaming License (the license made available by WotC). Perhaps it would clear up the confusion if I referred to the OGL as the WotC OGL.


I wasn't so much intending to suggest you weren't aware of them (though it does sound like that re-reading it) so much as to point out that if someone wants to release an open game, OGL isn't the only license in town.

In fact, with the proliferation of "OGL this, that, and the kitchen sink" all meaning (and more importantly recognized as) "d20 but they didn't want to use the STL"... I'd have to think twice about releasing a different system under the OGL. As it is, I've read reviews from what seem to be otherwise knowledgable people who seem to be operating with the misunderstanding that Action! is supposed to be some sort of variant D20 product that is strangely incompatible with other D20 products.

This adoption of a skewed meaning  could result in a situation where someone buying a new OGL product may be disappointed to realize that it actually isn't D20 with the numbers filed off.

Just something to think about.
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Calvin W. Camp

Mad Elf Enterprises
- Freelance Art & Small Press Publishing
-Check out my clip art collections!-
jdrakeh
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2004, 11:29:05 AM »

Quote from: philreed

That should give you some idea of the market for OGL-based subscriptions. A lot of people still don't trust PDF and those who do have a hard time paying for the promise of something in the future.


I guess we need to crack that market open then, eh? That is, given the proper amount of effort, nearly any obstacle can be toppled. Thanks for the insight, though (it gives me a better idea of what I have to overcome).
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Sincerely,
James D. Hargrove
jdrakeh
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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2004, 11:41:47 AM »

Quote from: madelf

I wasn't so much intending to suggest you weren't aware of them (though it does sound like that re-reading it) so much as to point out that if someone wants to release an open game, OGL isn't the only license in town.


No, OGL isn't the only license in town, but it does command a degreee of recognition that no other open license does. That's an important marketing point.

Quote
In fact, with the proliferation of "OGL this, that, and the kitchen sink" all meaning (and more importantly recognized as) "d20 but they didn't want to use the STL"... I'd have to think twice about releasing a different system under the OGL.


Thanks for the concern. I've thought twice about it. The thing with Formless is that it isn't only a standalone system, but a framework that can easily be grafted onto other games that already exist (truth be told, I use the social contract as defined by Formless in pretty much every game that I run).

Quote
As it is, I've read reviews from what seem to be otherwise knowledgable people who seem to be operating with the misunderstanding that Action! is supposed to be some sort of variant D20 product that is strangely incompatible with other D20 products.


Some people are dumb. It happens. Formless is compatible with d20, though, so that shouldn't be a problem here.

Quote
This adoption of a skewed meaning  could result in a situation where someone buying a new OGL product may be disappointed to realize that it actually isn't D20 with the numbers filed off.


That is true, but given the nature of Formless, I don't forsee it being much of a problem. Thanks for the heads-up, though ;)
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Sincerely,
James D. Hargrove
madelf
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Posts: 236


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« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2004, 01:27:31 PM »

Ah, well...
If your stuff is going to be compatible with D20, then the potential problem becomes a benefit. And from a marketing standpoint, the OGL would certainly be the license of choice.

So definitely ignore everything I've said so far.
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Calvin W. Camp

Mad Elf Enterprises
- Freelance Art & Small Press Publishing
-Check out my clip art collections!-
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