Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015 Gaming Year in Review Part II: Kickstarters and OGL!!!

This was the year a lot of Kickstarters came to fruition, and also the year Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls finally materialized. It was also a major year for consumers to finally wise up and start scrutinizing wayward Kickstarters, especially serial offenders like Ken Whitman (alias Ken Whitless) thanks especially to Erik Tenkar's research efforts. Some highs and lows...

HIGH: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls arrives

It almost missed 2015, but it did finally see release, and the Deluxe T&T core rulebook was a real pleasure to read and look at, a definite labor of love for both the authors, artists and fans.

LOW: The Ken Witman debacles

Not something I wrote about, but Tenkar's Tavern did a great deal to expose this serial con artist and his rampant abuse of crowdfunding, part of a long history of swindling and chicanery, it turns out.

HIGH: D&D 5E Gets Some Kickstarters

First Frog God Games did it in late 2014, with the fruit of their efforts coming out early in the year. Later 5E Kickstarters included Primeval Thule (which should be in my hands now if the Post Office can figure out how to forward mail....Sasquatch, remember to ask backers if there's an address change before shipping!!!), Tome of Beasts from Kobold Press, and more Frog God projects that seem to be experimenting with how much 5E interest there is (hint: a lot, but you need to make the Kickstarters easier to figure out and less risky).

Unfortunately all of the 5E books mentioned so far are produced on a more conventional fair-use basis because....

LOW: Still no OGL

I thought we'd see one by now, but maybe heavily modified with a lot of legal protection in place. Instead, we have no OGL going in to 2016, no word from WotC, and some suggestions from Kobold Press that maybe WotC is happy people are publishing without it, taking a bit of pressure off of the company to figure out how to support the game.

It's not bad in some ways; most 3PP have figured out now that you can produce your own content and publish it anyway, or are using the original OGL and just being careful.

LOW: Call of Cthulhu 7th

Call of Cthulhu 7th is not here. Backers might see it soon, in early 2016, but only because Chaosium is back on life support and breathing steadily, it seems. Will this Kickstarter come to pass? Was the Runequest 2 reprint another way to rob Peter to pay Paul (or whatever that expression is)?

LOWEST: Goblinworks Almost Goes Belly Up

Yeah I beat this dead horse last post, but it's worth mentioning because no one seems to be overly worked up about the fact that the Pathfinder Online game had two big, costly Kickstarters and ultimately ended up crashing Hindenberg style when Goblinworks admitted it missed its funding goal for completion by 75% and laid everyone off.....did Kickstarter backers ever actually get fulfillment on what they paid for? It seems to me this was not happening, not even close. For many (like myself) this was not a surprise....anyone who follows video game development could tell Goblinworks was designed to fail in their expectations and promises, but both Kickstarters had promised lofty goals, and I suppose did so cleverly....with one promising to fund a demo, essentially, and not the actual game. The other one fulfilled lots of print book promises, which apparently was what the backers really wanted. The Kickstarters ultimately felt very shady, in a "we met our obligations --technically--" sort of way....but if Goblinworks had been, say, Paradox Interactive or CDProject Red I think they would have been slammed, badly, for how they handled all of this. (Of course neither of those publishers would have done such a stunt in the first place).

PREDICTIONS: well, more Kickstarters loom (duh), as despite the bad ones there are many more success stories....and Kickstarters now are doing a better job of qualifying themselves by demonstrating prior successes. We will probably see CoC 7th in print but if there's still not CoC7 by the end of 2016 then I'll suggest it might be because Chaosium folded.....but the success of the RQ2 reprint Kickstarter suggests that shouldn't happen if they are careful. Meanwhile I predict that it will be shocking if Pathfinder Online is still, well, Online by this time next year.

Next: the more things change...

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