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Please clear you browser cache (03 Dec 2019)
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Arkham Horror: The Card Game
They went about it all wrong, IMO, but I've never launched a game line so probably don't know what I'm talking about.
Mr. White wrote:
Shellhead wrote: Like most boardgame companies, FFG isn't that great at creating interesting new settings.
It seems to really take the combined approach of rpgs, novels, and board/video games to get a setting to stick.
This has long been my biggest bone to pick with FFG. All the resources and talent they dumped into things like the WFRP/40K/Star Wars rpgs they could have funneled into Android and Twilight Imperium rpgs. It seems for a brief period in the early 00s, during the big 3e boom, that's the course FFG was going to take with Midnight, Fireborn and a few others. Had they supported those, Android, TI, etc with novels, boardgames, the works they could be building the next generation of game settings. They had the talent and resources.
In the end they went with the easy dollar of licensed games. I can't fault them for making money, but they don't leave behind much of a legacy if they're just pumping out IP works of others.
My take anyway.
I thought there were a few Android and Arkham Horror novels?
Mr. White wrote: On top of that, they took very popular games in beloved settings (Dune & DQ) and reskinned them into these paper thin settings which in turn caused more animosity for those settings.
With Rex, they changed the rules to make it more accessible, which I think ruined a lot of what I like about Dune. But I'm sure that didn't really contribute to its bombing, since the only people who care about that already play Dune anyway.
If you look at the really successful, long-running settings that people DO care about...the list is a) very short and b) populated by settings where the creators synthesized unique influences and created something NEW from them. Witness D&D. Gygax and co. took all that Vance, Tolkien, Howard, etc. and came up with some really new (for the time) ideas. Then they built and built and built on top of that so that there is an internal logic and structure. Games Workshop made something completely fresh from mixing up 2000AD, Starship Troopers, British fantasy, and WW2. With the GW stuff, it's like this complete fantasy history with a dizzying magnitude of depth and detail that is also expressed in the miniature design and the gameplay. There's nothing like that in any of the Runebound stuff, where the entire setting is pretty much built upon whatever their Todd McFarlane/Rob Liefeld/Manga inspired illustrators came up with. I've never seen anyone say "wow, Terrinoth, what a great setting". Who even really pays attention to it beyond it being a sort of vague fantasy world that makes Rune Age or whatever feel like a fantasy game?
Proprietary settings are, almost always, a waste of time, money and resources. For every Iron Kingdoms, there are a hundred new game settings that were supposed to anchor a product line that have been flushed down the toilet. If you are at Gen Con this year, find every game that promises a "new fantasy world" or whatever and notify the people at the booth that they're doomed. Because the hobby has never really supported a big range of settings, outside of the niche RPG market. Part of it, it turns out, is because board games alone are pretty lousy ways to communicate fully realized settings.
But anyway, back to the original topic, I could not possibly care less about this one.
Michael Barnes wrote: Games Workshop made something completely fresh from mixing up 2000AD, Starship Troopers, British fantasy, and WW2. With the GW stuff, it's like this complete fantasy history with a dizzying magnitude of depth and detail that is also expressed in the miniature design and the gameplay.
Mostly Moorcock. Warhammer owes a huge debt to the Eternal Champion stuff.
There was a very brief Twilight Imperium RPG, but once again it was pretty paper thin and very light on rules.
Android might be getting close with that 'World of Android' book they put out, and the timely 'Rise of AI' theme, but had they released it as an RPG with their current development staff it would instantly become the premier cyberpunk rpg on the market pushing aside both 2020 and Shadowrun. No doubt. Coupled with a top ranked card game, it'd be well on its way to being a top of mind setting for consumers. The boardgames, novels, etc would continue to establish the brand.
Android has a chance, but it may be taking too long. They really dropped the ball not having World of Android be an RPG. It's sold in the rpg section at my LGS.
I also think TI could have had a chance, but it's dead now. For the longest time sci-fi gaming was choked out by the grim dark of 40k. There was no, strong space opera setting. Now there's Star Wars stuff everywhere. All those SW games _could_ have been TI games. To me, the games would have been far more interesting then. I'd rather explore a universe and create my own legacies over sitting around a table quoting movie lines.
EDIT: Thinking about this...what are the 'originated as a game' settings that have had any sort of legs? Not mechanics. I mean, does Magic count as a setting? D&D? I'd say Warhammer Fantasy/AoS, 40K, Shadowrun, World of Darkness, Iron Kingdoms, Battletech, maybe that L5R thing or Pathfinder (is that a setting?). It almost feels like an rpg list. Which makes sense because minus the world building done from a movie, television or novel series...something like an rpg is needed to prop the setting up.
Exclusively board/card game settings? Almost none. MAGIC can make a claim, they do flesh out Phyrexia, the Brothers War, Rath, Innistrad, Kamigawa, &c &c. They exploit the "plane" idea though in order to keep things "fresh" (ironically, stale, because it's the same shit in a different plane or color or whatever). Games lack narrative. CATAN is not a place, for example.
Mr. White wrote: ]EDIT: Thinking about this...what are the 'originated as a game' settings that have had any sort of legs? Not mechanics. I mean, does Magic count as a setting? D&D? I'd say Warhammer Fantasy/AoS, 40K, Shadowrun, World of Darkness, Iron Kingdoms, Battletech, maybe that L5R thing. It almost feels like an rpg list. Which makes sense because minus the world building done from a movie, television or novel series...something like an rpg is needed to prop the setting up.
Video games have done a LOT more in this regard. Azeroth is a place. Destiny's Earth is a place. These worlds have structure even when the games played in them are small (cf GWENT from THE WITCHER).
Also, while we're on the topic of FFG's settings...I would love it if they just tried something new at this point. Hell, why not do the D&D thing and have different versions (Forgetten Realms, Dark Sun, Grewhawk)? Make a new Fantasy game and place it in an alternate universe of Terrinoth...where Gothic horror runs rampant. Or where people are mutants or some shit. I get that they like to reuse art assets and minis...but seeing every damn idea they have shoehorned into the same 5 settings is really wearing on me. The only reason their Cthulhu stuff gets a pass is because it's not their own...somebody else did all the legwork with the setting and they just ride the coattails of others.
jeb wrote:Didn't they shit all over themselves trying to make Terrinoth a thing (Battlelore moved there, right?) Moving DUNE to Mecatol Rex was a disaster. They went down this road and got burned. I think they learned a lesson.
Mr. White wrote: My take anyway.
Uh, you guys have been on this website for the past decade, right? I recall several lengthy conversations about Rex that were essentially pointless because the fact is that the Herbert estate wouldn't license the IP to FFG. They obtained the ruleset, but not the setting. In their desire to bring the game back to a wider audience, they adapted it to the only in-house setting that would really fit, which was TI. I don't see how that's their fault, unless you wanted a wholly original setting that simply aped Dune (and which would inevitably result in people complaining about how it was a half-assed version of Arrakis.) The problem with Rex wasn't the setting. It was the fact that it sits in the shadow of one of the best boardgames and story settings of all time.
Same thing with Battlelore. I don't recall 2nd Edition crashing and burning, since it's had 4 separate expansions released for it. It's actually a fantastic game and an improvement on the original, IMO. The fact that they adapted it to their Terrinoth universe is a simple fact of marketing. If people enjoy 2nd Ed. Battlelore, how cool would it it be to play the Uthuk Y'llan in Runewars or Rune Age or fight them in Runebound? What could possibly be wrong with that strategy from a marketing and profit standpoint, other than apparently pissing off the crowd that seems to think that every world created for a game should be on the order of Tolkien (decades in the writing), Herbert (8 years to write the first one; 20 to write the rest), and 40K (33 years in the making to date, derivative of more sources than can be counted, and the product of literally hundreds of developers and authors; does anyone remember how half-assed the universe was in the 80s? Space Hulk was often considered a direct ripoff of Aliens (and it essentially is.))
Mr. White, the reason that games like X-Wing weren't set in the TI3 universe was, again, a marketing decision. When you have an established IP that is dearly loved by a mass audience and provides a ready-made slot to place your game (What do people most remember about Star Wars? A series of dogfights.), you'd be foolish not to take it. Jeb, you're right in that videogame developers have been better in some respects in this fashion, but that's because it's easier to immerse people in your world when you can give them audio and a continuous stream of graphics to put them in it. And, speaking of derivation, Azeroth is a pretty decent model of it, at its roots. Blizzard built a company out of ripping off GW's material (Green Orcs, steam-powered Dwarves, Zerg(Tyranids)/Marines(Marines)/Protoss(Eldar.) That's why I cracked up a couple years ago when it leaked out that their next release would be called... Overwatch. Yes, Azeroth has been built into its own elaborate thing; all credit to them. But, again, I think it's easier to do that in some media than others.
As for the RPG angle, that's a graveyard. You don't think FFG would be pursuing that more heavily if it was actually, y'know... profitable? People can make their own RPGs in a thread on a forum. There's just no real market for it, anymore. Sure, a TI3 or Terrinoth RPG might have been a marketing angle to pursue, but if there's more money in other things (X-Wing), you might as well go with what works. In all honesty, there is a fair amount of backstory and setting in both the TI3 and Terrinoth settings, if people actually stop and read some of the stuff. But that's the trick, right? Videogames can show stuff just by being played. Compelling people to read and involve themselves is a whole other effort.
Jackwraith wrote: As for the RPG angle, that's a graveyard. You don't think FFG would be pursuing that more heavily if it was actually, y'know... profitable? People can make their own RPGs in a thread on a forum. There's just no real market for it, anymore. Sure, a TI3 or Terrinoth RPG might have been a marketing angle to pursue, but if there's more money in other things (X-Wing), you might as well go with what works. In all honesty, there is a fair amount of backstory and setting in both the TI3 and Terrinoth settings, if people actually stop and read some of the stuff. But that's the trick, right? Videogames can show stuff just by being played. Compelling people to read and involve themselves is a whole other effort.
In this context, I see the RPG angle as more of a loss leader than a graveyard. To make an analogy, comic books should be near death, with cover prices at $4.00 an issue, stories stretched thin so that you need to actually spend $24 to read a story, and continuities that have ballooned into hypercomplex nonsense. And the fanbase is aging out. And yet, comic book movies are still doing major box office, even the bad ones. So the comic books now serve as more of an early stage in the movie development process. Likewise, a game company could turn some creative writers loose to develop an rpg setting in support of a larger product line concept.
Besides, what was the last gaming universe that stuck? Iron Kingdoms? That was over a decade ago. Where are the creatives? The 70s-90s brought on a lot of great settings to game. Are we done now? Guess it's Star Wars, Cthulhu, Zombies, and Marvel from here on out...
Regarding RPGs... if they aren't profitable, why does FFG currently publish no less than _four_(!) SW rpgs? Imagine if even a fraction of those resources were put into a top flight Android game. Would be great. Besides, RPGs don't need to be their bread and butter. It's like Shellhead is saying. If a company has gone through the lengths to do all the internal world building of an rpg, then they have created for themselves, at the least, a strong framework to use as a guide for consistency in their lines of that world.
Mr. White wrote: All, clearly I understand why FFG went the licensed games route and produced X-wing and such. It's simply that as a fan/gamer I'm not inspired. I've never run a business, but here they're paying a license to Disney which must cut into some of their profit. Had they spent the past several years building up the TI brand they could have set their x-wing game in the TI universe. It still would have sold fine.
You underestimate the power of the force.
Jackwraith wrote: The fact that they adapted it to their Terrinoth universe is a simple fact of marketing. If people enjoy 2nd Ed. Battlelore, how cool would it it be to play the Uthuk Y'llan in Runewars or Rune Age or fight them in Runebound? What could possibly be wrong with that strategy from a marketing and profit standpoint... -snip -
I agree with the premise of your argument, but the problem is that there isn't much that's "cool" about Terrinoth. It's a fine generic fantasy setting, but it isn't interesting. It has factions for the sake of having factions. It's completely fine if the criteria is "it exists", and "it works", but it doesn't capture the imagination in any meaningful way.
It's great that FFG is leveraging the IPs that it has access to. We've had better Star Wars and Old World games from FFG than we've probably ever had. They don't need an in-house universe to be legit. But it they go the in-house IP route they best do better than Terrinoth.