Changing of the Guard?
There’s been a lot of talk about the state of the gaming industry of late and I’d be derelict if I pretended to ignore the plight of some well established companies. Guardians of Order has had some difficulties in the past and continue to do so. I shall not even venture to speculate. It’s not my business, nor do I have any sort of inside information. I just read some stuff on the internet easily accessible to any of the rest of you.
Which leads me to this.
Palladium is in trouble. If you’re a gamer, go to any forum whatsover, you’ll have heard this. I played the Paladium RPG back when it originally came out in the mid-80’s. I found it to be well written at the time and had a lot of cool, exciting ideas and some awesome alternate races and concepts. It broke the paradigms down by not being a D&D clone game. Now, Kevin Siembieda is pleading to gamers to help bail the company out. If you’ve got some extra cash, you should buy my stuff and then if you’ve got anything left, and you like the company, lend a hand.
Here’s where we get into an interesting realm that I really want to focus on for this week and it’s about paradigms and paradigm shifts. A lot of people talk about there being a shift in the industry. What the shift is, it seems is to an ephemeral something different. D&D began as a very much counter-culture gaming movement evolving from the miniature rules called Chainmail. This isn’t a history lesson, I promise. I’m getting to a point. D&D evolved and, like many businesses, became absorbed by a large corporate entity and then another. You can find the actual details on Google. Work with me here, I’m almost at the point. Some gamers balk at big business running the game scene. Some computer users balk at Microsoft too. Others see this hunger and step in and provide a new need. Those who step in and become established can grow entrenched or try to stay a little bit hungry and keep a team of creative minds to look at ways to evolve their consumer base without bleeding them dry. It’s a matter of perception. You can’t make everyone happy. Some people look at all the D&D books and find it impossible to afford them all. Others find the choice thrilling. Then when other games are introduced, the opposite is true. There aren’t enough supplements and then there are too many. It’s a fine balancing act. Something I do see and have incorporated into my developmental plan is the need to have a dual approach of releasing both items for print and pdf. It just make sense. Some companies feel that it leads to rampant piracy, but, honestly, I think it leads to good business. If you have a high quality print job, most home printers cannot approach the quality.
So getting to the point, I think the introduction of PDFs is something a person must consider in their business model and I also believe that the shift in what people are looking for in games is essential in determining what to design. The shift, I think, is not so much corporate versus indy, but complicated versus simple. Life is busy. Games compete for entertainment time with movies, comics, books, and, ah, you know the drill. People don’t want to spend a long time learning how to play something, they want to have fun. They also don’t want to be insulted with rehashes of the same thing over and over, like 200 Slipknot Feats for AB&C. There is a happy compromise each gamer has to decide. In our roles as designers, we have to read the thoughts of folks and figure out a happy medium. Flexibility is key in this. There, that’s a bit of game design theory for you to mull over. Go find something productive to do with it. ;)
I’ll revisit this topic again in the future. I’ve got more to say, but I’m sleepy.