5 Jun 2012

Tuesday Table Top Fun - Evolution or Death

*Shout out to Frontline Gamer. Drop this fine dude's site a look and tell him what you think.
Enough of the pandering, time to get back to work...

People who make table top games need to sell you what they make. As you buy things, they introduce more things to buy. This is needed for the company to continue to make the money it needs to do its job... sell you fun.

This is a downward spiral...

You see, only a few of us young people are truly trapped in the older money free bodies of older people. There is a slew of people who play table top games, but that number is finite. In other words, once we buy their stuff... we no longer have a need to give them our money.

So they make more stuff... sell or die

To sell you stuff they need new rules (if they sell rules, Corvis Bell is one that does not), models and extras... you know the fancy templates, markers and tokens.

This past weekend Lock and Loaded happened. It was a big deal for the people who play Warmachine, Hordes, Iron Kindoms RPG and the other various products of Privateer Press. They ripped off the NDA for Colossals and the interwebs were flooded with spoilers, bitches and praise. ‘Not enough new stuff, giant money grab, Unbound is too much like Games Workshop’... it just goes on and on.

Was Colossals a good idea?

Jury is still out but it’s a change that feels, as of now like an evolution rather than a full shift in the game. That I think is a good thing. Players love their games.

The game is their experience of fond victories and major failures. The game is their investment of time, money and effort. Learning and discovering new things in the world of rules and options.

The producer of the game evolves the relationship with the player to that of an agreement. I will make things for you to buy and these things will be fun and rewarding to you. The player buys the product supports it and the cycle becomes stable. Over time slow growth is more possible and less likely to break the game and the agreement with the player.

Yet if the game stays the same the players will run out of things to discover. They will no longer try. Evolution is the soft way to change the game. Harsh edition changes ala Wizards of the Coast abusive fun with Dungeons and Dragon and Games Workshops battery of their own IP are current evidence towards the negative reaction or harsher changes.

Softer changes will eventually call for a larger shift, but they may also weaken the core rules as what happened to the Third Edition of D&D. As more rules and options expanded the game to players it also widened the cracks in the game creating full on holes. Wizards of the Coast had to do a quick fix with D&D 3.5 before their addition started to pull apart the core elements of the game. Piazo took over and carried the lessons learned from 3.5 and evolved the game and have slowly expanded their rules... but the danger is there.

So Privateer Press has increased the load to their system. Lucky for them the system is pretty simple and as a result robust enough to so far have handled the variations used in the game. Even expanding the game into the new Iron Kingdoms RPG is going to be interesting to see how the core system of their game takes the new expanded load.

I also don’t think Privateer Press is going the route of Games Workshop. As their most compared competitor this fear/point comes up more and more often. I think Privateer Press is surviving, breathing if you will. The release of two new books a year with only a once every two month slender magazine is slow. It's nothing compared the rain dance instigated by the Wizards and Workshops. The constant flow of models spaced over a larger time frame may be annoying to players but as long the quality is kept up and possibly even improved there is no reason to pull out the torches.

Those may have been the tool to deal with the game companies of old but this new generation of table top games rely on much more then releases.

Hell other then Privateer Press and the odd duck, most have the rules for free online! Go ahead grab them up, these companies are selling models not a rules set. Look up Infinity as the leader of this strange pack. They've exploded due to a few factors I'll yammer about later, just know that one those high points are the quality of their product, the product being what they charge coin for...

We have so many options to deal with. Taking to the Internets and attack a company is useless. It's a war of attrition with your wallet. There is only so long they can live without your money. They will live and die by their own work. Collossals is a neat idea, a change. If anything it's a red light that makes other companies regard it as slowing down.

That may be a good thing. 

I think actually so far the most recent release is a good thing. It’s evidence that the company understands its limits and is willing to not drown its customer base in too large of a release. As you begin to expand rules, you don’t want to break them so a slow release with a level of higher quality. This is a demonstration of respect to the customers and the agreement with those same customers.

We call those customers players.

I’m a player.