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Author Topic: OGL vs The Forge - Random musings  (Read 1721 times)

Lawbag

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OGL vs The Forge - Random musings
« on: November 29, 2011, 12:53:21 PM »
Whilst its clear that the Swine and the Forge have harmed internal perceptions of gaming, instead I put it to you that the OGL and subsequent glut of D20 games and products did more harm to RPG than good, even more so than the damage that the Forge did.
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crkrueger

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OGL vs The Forge - Random musings
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2011, 12:57:04 PM »
You gotta at least say WHY.
Even the the "cutting edge" storygamers for all their talk of narrative, plot, and drama are fucking obsessed with the god damned rules they use. - Estar

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Lawbag

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OGL vs The Forge - Random musings
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2011, 01:08:36 PM »
Reason...

The Indie publishing industry 'created' by the Forge is considered by those in the know to have splintered the RPG industry unnecessarily and pushed back the industry's perception by years. But I believe because of the Forge's very nature, independent, none of the games it ever published received exposure beyond a few thousand gamers at best, and sales would be even less, and for those who actually played them even less again. (I think we all own some quality games that we'll never play.)

With the advent of the internet (and the collective moronic mutual masturbation that is the Forge), anyone with an idea (good or bad) can publish their RPG and give it away or sell it as they see fit.

Using the thin veneer of respectability of OGL any hack or amateur could publish a product that makes a mockery of any intended seal of approval, thereby exposing their inconsistent outputs to far more gamers than the Forge could ever dream of.

Suddenly any person with Microsoft WORD and a PDF writer could suddenly release a module or a supplement and they did. The sheer volume of publishers who appeared over the life of D20 was phenomenal, matched only by their disappearance the moment the OGL disappeared.

D20 homogenised the RPG industry. We witnessed painfully inadequate and pointless d20 versions of already existing successful RPGs whilst at the same time good games and ideas were shoehorned into the d20 ruleset without regard for a worthwhile fit. It gave anyone an easy entry into becoming a RPG game designer, substituting games design for a ready set of gaming tools, it was supposed to remove barriers to making new games, but instead removed hurdles that enabled the idea-bereft to release games with no substance.

OGL and d20 compatibility was meant to be a badge of honour, a sign that there was something good inside. This couldn't be further from the truth.

Nintendo learnt this to their detriment in the early 1990s with their SNES Console. The console became home to some of the worst examples of licensed games glut, all of which bore Nintendo's proud Seal of Approval. In reality all the seal meant was the game wouldn't crash and was 100% compatible with the SNES rather than some dodgy knock off.
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Grymbok

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OGL vs The Forge - Random musings
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2011, 01:16:54 PM »
I agree that D20 damaged the industry, but I disagree on why.

Between 1974 and 1999, all D&D editions had significant mechanical overlap. You could buy any D&D supplement/adventure and use it with your preferred version of the rules with minimal changes. D20 broke that, and 4e broke it again.

That meant that unlike other boxed game perennials like Monopoly or Scrabble, parents can't go out and buy "the game I used to play when I was your age", because that version of the game doesn't exist anymore.

Also, anyone who wasn't interested in the new versions of D&D was cut off from the mainstream of the hobby (which is what eventually lead to the OSR).

estar

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OGL vs The Forge - Random musings
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2011, 01:23:11 PM »
Quote from: Lawbag;492517
Using the thin veneer of respectability of OGL any hack or amateur could publish a product that makes a mockery of any intended seal of approval, thereby exposing their inconsistent outputs to far more gamers than the Forge could ever dream of.

Suddenly any person with Microsoft WORD and a PDF writer could suddenly release a module or a supplement and they did. The sheer volume of publishers who appeared over the life of D20 was phenomenal, matched only by their disappearance the moment the OGL disappeared.


God forbid the benighted masses should actually publish something. Only properly trained writers should be permitted to release roleplaying game material.

Also your facts are wrong the Open Game License hasn't been discontinued. The d20 trademark license has.

estar

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OGL vs The Forge - Random musings
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2011, 02:01:13 PM »
On a more serious note, the RPG industry weakened because the second great fad period wound down during the 3.5 era. It plummeted to a lower level because of increased competition for gaming dollars. To wit

  • Alternative form of Roleplaying notably MMORPGs
  • Eurogames igniting a wave of quality boardgames
  • Miniature wargamming completing their recovery and continues to grow in popularity
  • The ability of the Internet to foster small hobby niches. While not gaming related is competiton for leisure time.
  • The dependence of the RPG Industry on a healthy D&D brand. Currently under competitive pressure from Paizo compounded by missteps by Wizards.


The competition for leisure time is only going to get worse. RPGs will collapse to a lower level and then be sustained at that level because of low capital cost of print on demand, and the internet. Basically what happened to Hex and counter wargames but on a slightly larger scale.

trechriron

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OGL vs The Forge - Random musings
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2011, 02:02:27 PM »
This whole idea is bunk.  Also, old - tired - beaten - dumb.

1)  The Forge and Indie games did not fracture the industry.  People who like Story Games/Indie Games bought them and played them. Those that didn't, kept playing their game of choice or found other games to play that met their needs. Nothing was fractured. People play the games they like. You didn't lose any players because of an Indie game.

2)  Yes, any "Yahoo" can publish an OGL game.  Doesn't mean everyone is going to buy it. The "D20 Glut" worked out the same way most free markets do. The cream of the crop made sales and stuck around, the rest died off or disappeared. The most significant impact the glut had was on retailers who bought piles of stuff that later didn't sell. This is the same risk EVERY retailer deals with regarding products. It sucks sure, but you can recover if you are agile and savvy.

3) The InterWebs people like us represent a fraction of the actual market. All this debate and arguing had little to no impact on most gamers.  If you visit your local FLGS and ask about common memes here like "swine" and "Indie" and "d20 glut" most people will look at you cross-eyed.  "Huh?" will be a common response.

Neither Indie Games nor the d20 Glut have had a fraction of the impact on our "industry" as the general downturn in the economy. People are spending less money because generally they have less money and/or are saving up for emergencies and/or helping out friends/family who are struggling, etc. Less spending cash = less sales = downsizing and slower production.

Period.
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daniel_ream

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OGL vs The Forge - Random musings
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2011, 02:13:36 PM »
I agree with Lawbag on this one, although I think it was the combination of PDF publishing and the OGL that did it.

Let's leave quality aside for a moment, although I think that's really what did in the d20 market.

Before open game licenses, if there was customer demand for a product on, say, ships and sailing in D&D, there was only one place to get it: TSR.  Prospective writers had to submit their proposals, TSR would select the stuff they liked, assign an editor and a product lead, and you'd eventually have a product.  Good quality or bad, playtested or no, there was one book.  All the potential market for such a book went into one place.  All subsequent books only had to be compatible with that one book.

With PDF publishing and the OGL, any schlub could produce such a book.  I own at least eight third-party 3.5 books on ships and the sea (and three just on airships).  None of them are compatible with each other mechanically.  And then there's Stormwrack, which came along at the end.  Regardless of quality, the market's been diluted by a glut of products on the same topic.  Each publisher is getting a fraction of the profit a single publisher would have, and thus it's harder for any of them to produce a quality book, as talent costs money.

Worse, old third-party products no longer vanish to moldy basements and eBay when the initial print run sells out; they hang around in PDF form forever, competing not just with the current official Ships and Sailing book and each other, but with any future Ships and Sailing book that might get published.
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Benoist

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OGL vs The Forge - Random musings
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2011, 02:21:18 PM »
Quote from: Lawbag;492511
Whilst its clear that the Swine and the Forge have harmed internal perceptions of gaming, instead I put it to you that the OGL and subsequent glut of D20 games and products did more harm to RPG than good, even more so than the damage that the Forge did.
I could not disagree more.

First, before d20 the hobby was dying in my neck of the woods. d20 brought back D&D, and the hobby along with it, as far as I'm concerned.

Second, non-gamers don't give a flying fuck about the "d20 glut" or any of those inbred industry concerns. What they do care about is when a game is a pretentious, pseudo-intellectual, fucked up affair that is no fun to play when they sit at the table. Ergo, the Forge and before it, the embryos of story-everything in various role playing games, did more harm to the hobby than d20.

Garnfellow

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OGL vs The Forge - Random musings
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2011, 02:23:43 PM »
The thesis is shit from top to bottom. POD and PDF publishing were coming to the RPG industry with or without the OGL. The hoi polloi were always going to be self-publishing their games and variants on games, and for that matter they always have. As long as RPGs have existed so have amateur labors-of-love, photocopied fanzines, cheap ass knock-off products, and so on.
 

daniel_ream

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OGL vs The Forge - Random musings
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2011, 02:50:31 PM »
That's true, Garnfellow, but without an open license the trademark owners always had the option of cease and desist letters.
D&D is becoming Self-Referential.  It is no longer Setting Referential, where it takes references outside of itself. It is becoming like Ouroboros in its self-gleaning for tropes, no longer attached, let alone needing outside context.
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estar

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OGL vs The Forge - Random musings
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2011, 03:00:58 PM »
Quote from: daniel_ream;492562
That's true, Garnfellow, but without an open license the trademark owners always had the option of cease and desist letters.


Garnfellow wasn't talking about people violating copyright. Back in the day people managed to publish products without trampling over the major publishers copyrights. PDF and PoD will make it even easier.

If the d20 SRD was never released under the OGL, likely Fudge or similar open RPGs would have a slightly bigger hit and generate a slew of publishing efforts.

Likewise, with the GNU License and Creative Commons out there likely one of the older RPGs would have been republished under an open license and ignite a mini-boom. As it worked out the World's Most Popular RPG, D&D, did at the right time and sucked the oxygen out of the room for other open systems.

Now that the d20 boom waned other open systems are getting more attention notably Fate.

TristramEvans

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OGL vs The Forge - Random musings
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2011, 03:27:04 PM »
Is the Forge or any of the games that came out of it even a blip on the rader of the consciousness of anyone who isn't already heavily into the gaming hobby? I can't imagine that it's influenced public perception of RPGs whatsoever.


AFAIK, the general public still thinks RPGs = D&D, and that it's either a game for antisocial geeks or devil-worshipers, depending on how far south in the Statess one asks.
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Arminius

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OGL vs The Forge - Random musings
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2011, 03:36:56 PM »
I don't think either the Forge or the OGL has seriously harmed the overall hobby, although the Forge has harmed critical analysis while also encouraging it (by drawing attention to it) in ways that might bear fruit over time.

I agree with Rob when points out the increased competition for attention.I've argued the same thing, adding in vastly expanding sources of entertainment such DVDs and streaming media.

The other problem, if it is one, is lack of major critical fora--trend setters who have enough sway to guide large amounts of the gaming population toward the best materials. Maybe I'm projecting, but I feel like the miniatures community has a much stronger consensus on the contemporary "canon", which will allow a newcomer to quickly avoid stuff that's either inherently mediocre or just not popular enough to be viable.

Back in the day, this role was provided by magazines like Dragon, The Space Gamer, and Different Worlds. Some of them were house organs (like Challenge) and that's okay, too.

These days the closest things I can think of are Story Games and the various old school fora. There are also the generalist boards, including this one and RPG.net. But many of these are dominated by flavor-of-the-month consumerism rather than the sort of discourse which provides evidence that actual gaming is going on.

Fight on! and Knockspell might also provide some of this function but I don't think they have very high profiles outside of the communities that spawned them.

Arminius

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OGL vs The Forge - Random musings
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2011, 03:38:12 PM »
Oh, and I think there may be something to Pundit's thesis that whenever D&D stumbles, the whole hobby suffers.