GenCon Update – d20 Trademark License.

Went to the “publisher’s meeting” about the future of the OGL and d20STL yesterday evening. I had quite a few problems with how it was handled:

1) No effort was made to get the word out to publishers. Those of us in attendance had to find out via word-of-mouth.

2) They scheduled the meeting for 6. The dealers hall (you know, where the PUBLISHERS ARE) didn’t close until 6. So, those few publishers who DID know about it, weren’t able to show up until well after it had started.

3) At the room, the meeting was billed as an “Open discussion of the future of the OGL” — in other words, not specifically for publishers. 80% of the room was J. Random Gamer, who of course took up most of the time offering their important opinions on our business model.

4) For a product that is launching in May, I expect to hear more from the Brand Manager than “we really haven’t decided how we’re going to handle the STL — What do you guys think?” No, I’m not kidding. That was a direct quote. Which, of course, was then turned over to the floor, where most of the time was spent hearing what non-publishers thought should be done……about publishing issues.

Sweet cheese-flavoured Jesus on a low-sodium cracker.

Finished the evening by attending the ENNIES (enjoyable, if overlong), and having a few discussions which are making me consider asserting my creator’s rights to HONG KONG ACTION THEATRE!, to get it back in-house, where I could release a third edition.

Lots to think about.

10 Replies to “GenCon Update – d20 Trademark License.”

  1. So, they’re either incompetent or deliberately be cagey with their plans?

    having a few discussions which are making me consider asserting my creator’s rights to HONG KONG ACTION THEATRE!, to get it back in-house, where I could release a third edition.

    You think potential sales of an HKAT 3e would warrant any blood/sweat/tears?

    CU

  2. Yeah, heard similar comments on this session from others.

    Sounds to me that Wizards are keen to genuinely engage with other publishers – but that it’s also waaaay down their priority list. Which suggests that a fruitful, if work-intensive, approach would be to present Wizards with a “here’s how you should handle this” communication signed off by a bunch of publishers. If you do the work for them, when they can’t get organised to do the work themselves, then odds are good they’ll just accept whatever you’ve done and run with it.

    The significant downside is that it requires one or two people (who must have enough status in the publishing industry to motivate others) to step up and do the work assembling and collating opinions and soliciting signatures from all sorts of people with different views; and to do this knowing that all their hard work could be rendered irrelevant at the whim of Wizards. It ain’t a job I’d want.

  3. You know, these people are also busy. There probably was not a lot of forethought to the time. I bet they figured if the publishers want to be there they will make time to be here. I don’t think that they planned on doing it at 6pm to make sure publishers couldn’t go. I don’t think there was a “master plan”, that is just when they scheduled it.

    I just hope the license will be available the same way it is now and I bet they don’t even know for sure how they are going to implement the new OGL content for 4th edition.

  4. I don’t think it was a “master plan”, I think it was a huge cock-up. As you say, there appears to have been very little forethought on any of this (Case in point — announcing 4e when, as confirmed by Bill Slavisek, they don’t even have a final version of the rules completed).

    “Not a lot of forethought” on a lynchpin product launch is something that is unacceptable from a small publisher, let alone the largest publisher in the industry.

    Every aspect of this, gleaned from every WOTC employee that I’ve spoken to this week, paints a rather disturbing picture of a completely half-assed, unprepared launch announcement. Which simply fucking STUNS me.

  5. RE: Completed rules…

    I’m not sure that the lack of a ruleset matters. They seem to have priorities in order, the covers art/branding is finalized. At a 4th edition I’m not sure that rules are what sells the product anymore.

  6. I have the audio of the OGL/d20 panel and it is ok enough to be put out. Gareth, email me if you’d like a copy of the entire panel. I will be posting it to the general podcasting winds later on and broken apart.

  7. Addendum – As much as I think it’s cool they have this kind of conversation with the general public, I also wish it had been only publishers and other directly-affected parties at that panel. We wasted so much time with well-intentioned, but ultimately useless opinions from John Gamer. I think Wizards wasted a unique opportunity to get a crapload of us in one place at the same time.

  8. Yeah. I can see the forethought situation – This does seem a little half ass in some spots. The main thing I hear is “We aren’t going to be talking about mechanics.”

    I figure that is because they are bound to change. I am really concerned about a .5 coming out a year after release or a huge errata. I just hope that in little more than half a year they can hammer the kinks out and release something good.

    I have actually been pulling away from wanting to release anything OGL for fear that people are going to be abandoning it. I have like 5 or 6 unfinished products and now I just think that I will wait and see what this 4th edition license is.

    There were a lot of writers and publishers at Gencon and it really does surprise me that some of the major publishers never even received a notice. I mean if they get major publishers and even minor publishers in on the floor with them it will help them in the end. First, everyone will come flocking from the publishers to find out what this 4th edition is. Second, publishers themselves will back WotC.

    I am worried about RPG’s in general and I am probably going to sit the fence on this one. Maybe I will just make a game and call it quits on the major publishers and WotC and just play my own.

    I just feel jaded about the whole situation and I feel like everyone is standing around nodding because everyone else is.

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