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K2 Review - Digital Eyes

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Just a brief note on overproduction and Kickstarter

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21 Feb 2020 11:18 #307342 by charlest
Yeah, I still distinctly remember randomly playing in an AD&D one shot with my best friend's uncle DMing back when I was 12ish.

I asked him what books we could use to create our characters and was floored when he said the core rulebook only. I think I had at least 20 supplements covering new weapons, talents, races, etc.
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21 Feb 2020 11:31 #307344 by n815e

Shellhead wrote: There have been some great games published thanks to Kickstarter, including one of my all-time favorites: Camp Grizzly. But there has also been a lot of dreck. And if you stop and think about it, Kickstarter is the best possible way to get a bad board game published. You get paid up front, the reviews are too late to impact sales, and then you can just slink away without having to maintain an ongoing business.


Pay Becca Scott to play it “on tv” and Undeadviking to “preview” it, make it Kickstarter exclusive, watch the dollars roll in.

In the year + it takes to deliver it, backers will have already moved on and many of them won’t do more than open it. Those that play will only do it once or twice.

I do have a couple of big Kickstarter games that I’m happy were made. The few others I’ve backed, or late backed, have been scams or mediocre games.
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21 Feb 2020 12:09 #307347 by Jackwraith

charlest wrote: I asked him what books we could use to create our characters and was floored when he said the core rulebook only. I think I had at least 20 supplements covering new weapons, talents, races, etc.


Yup. I still have some stuff from back in the day (Gamma World, Villains and Vigilantes, etc.) which were part of my best campaigns that actually made use of a decent amount of the material available. But almost none of them ever got even close to using all of it. In fact, the games we ended up playing the most were the ones I designed myself, but even those had a ton of places/characters/adventures that never got used and sit in Word files on my computer. I probably could have been more ramshackle about it (say, like a more "freewheeling" board game designer) and moved the story faster, but I wanted it to be done "right" (i.e. giving important things/people the proper setup, not just turn things into a dice-rolling exercise, etc.)
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21 Feb 2020 12:17 #307348 by Jackwraith

n815e wrote: I do have a couple of big Kickstarter games that I’m happy were made. The few others I’ve backed, or late backed, have been scams or mediocre games.


The only one I backed 'sight unseen', as it were, was Big Trouble in Little China. It was also my first interaction with KS. I had the money, thought it looked cool, and just dropped the coin. And, to be perfectly honest, it's only OK. It's not BAD, but I backed it before I had decided I really didn't like most co-ops and it's kind of clunky and has some "sameyness" elements to it. It looks great and the minis are cool (Plastic!), but I would certainly listen to decent trade offers, at this point, as it's not likely to come off the shelf very often.

Since then, I've only backed four things and they've all been expansions to games I already own or from a producer that has yet to have a failure for me (Gamelyn) and whose games only cost $23. Some of that reluctance is the weight of what's already on the shelf that doesn't get played. Some of it is wanting to put money into other things (in part, because those things don't get played and life is short) or the fact that I have no money to spend. But most of it is just a lack of interest.

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21 Feb 2020 12:48 #307349 by Michael Barnes
There are definitely still great board games being made, and lots of innovation. Gary Sax listed a lot of really great, innovative games. But they are a smaller percentage of the total market than ever before because of the sheer volume of production. "It's OK" is like the worst possible thing I could say about game these days. Most games are "OK". Even some of the rangiest KS trash is at least "OK". Most designs are fairly competent and playable, at the very least. But I'd rather play a screaming, crashing and burning failure than an "OK" game.

I think board gamers have some very dated thoughts about RPGs...I know because I did too. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, having those mountains D&D/Rifts/Vampire/Shadowrun books and a DM that had a novel's worth of background story written for the campaign became the expectation. When board games really hit their stride and blew up, suddenly people didn't want to bother with all the prep work, all the books, all the commitment. I get it.

But when I got back in to D&D last year - mind you this was 15 years since the last time I played D&D - I was shocked at how easy it was to get into and play. But it was also 5e, and that came with a ton of books, miniatures, cards, etc. like what Erik was talking about up there. When I started looking into OSR stuff, I was shocked again to find that...all of that wasn't necessary.

The first thing I picked up out of all of that was Mothership. It's a zine, not a $50 hardcover. The rules are simple. You aren't expected to pour your heart and soul into making a character. You roll on a random table to see what patches are on their jumpsuit and maybe that gives you a little character hook. The Warden doesn't have to prepare a massive, year long campaign. You can run Dead Planet, one of the best modules I've ever seen, right out of the book at the table. I spent about an hour reading over it. The story came from what the players did, not from some prepared bullshit. It honestly took no more time to get it together and play through the whole thing than a full board games day.

Knave is like 5 pages. It takes 10 minutes to get every a couple of characters rolled up and you can use Garden of Ynn with absolutely no preparation. This idea that everybody has to buckle down and prepare to play the same game and show up every week for a year to play an RPG is an outdated concept.

One of the concepts in OSR is that makes a big difference is getting away from the notion of the DM as a storyteller. The DM is a referee/judge that adjudicates situations and manages the non-player elements. The players create the story, using the hooks and leads and maybe keying into story beats or structure determined by the DM or the adventure.

Another thing is that so much of what is exciting in RPGs has nothing to do with any of the RPGs you can buy at an FLGS or on Amazon. It's tiny, micro press stuff. There are some bigger things, like Forbidden Lands and Fria Liga's stuff, but a lot of it is POD or PDF only.

Yeah, a lot of books you might get and not use. But I'm finding that I enjoy reading them and drawing inspiration from everything I've picked up. I do like collecting them, absolutely. But that comment above actually made me think about how much of the KS mentality is focused on collectors. Take Marvel United. All of those add-ons are more about collecting than playing. All the FOMO has more to do with collecting than actually playing. The mountains of add-ons, extras, stretch goals, accessories, and so forth is about collecting, not playing. Having it all is more important than if it's useful or playable.
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21 Feb 2020 16:11 #307351 by mc

dysjunct wrote: That is true, especially lately, but at least with RPGs there’s an option. You can get a PDF for a few bucks and be entertained for dozens of hours. With rare exceptions of P&P, there’s no options like that for board games — just expensive and super-deluxe-expensive.


Hell yeah. And that's not just KS either. I mean, there are smaller games - card games - but the old cheap and cheerful euro pricepoint has all but disappeared. Not to pile on but I'd be surprised if KS hadn't changed people's expectations and made them more willing to pay extra for non-ks games. Which, thanks.

PnP's are great though. It's not hard if you don't care about aesthetics. I'm only dipping my toe in really aND going through cheapass kind of stuff but there's some good gaming to be had.

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21 Feb 2020 16:21 #307352 by fightcitymayor

Michael Barnes wrote: Yeah, a lot of books you might get and not use. But I'm finding that I enjoy reading them and drawing inspiration from everything I've picked up. I do like collecting them, absolutely. But that comment above actually made me think about how much of the KS mentality is focused on collectors. Take Marvel United. All of those add-ons are more about collecting than playing. All the FOMO has more to do with collecting than actually playing. The mountains of add-ons, extras, stretch goals, accessories, and so forth is about collecting, not playing. Having it all is more important than if it's useful or playable.

I am certainly a card-carrying member of the "fuck Kickstarter in its gaping hairy anus" club, for sure, but if folks want to collect a thing, I can't be too bent outta shape about it. I don't have any affinity for Marvel comics, but I can see how some dude out there wants a shelf full of chibi Iron Man and whatnot, I guess. And maybe if the game blows, you at least have some fun little shelf toads (turds?) that you can display that perhaps "spark joy" in the Marie Kondo way.

It might be more honest if these plastic-pushers just said, "You know what, we're gonna do this KS and it's basically just for fun little toys. We're just gonna bag the game aspect (because we both know it will blow anyhow) so just be happy getting some fun little dudes that may or may not be difficult to purchase later. We hope you like them."

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21 Feb 2020 16:32 #307353 by mads b.
I've played plenty of games that were at the most OK before Kickstarter and also a few that were bad, underdeveloped and/or disappointing. It's not a Kickstarter thing. In fact I think the bar has been somewhat raised the past few years. Even without a publisher/editor getting help as a game designer is much, much easier know that just ten years ago. Blogs, facebook groups, forums, test groups, designer meet ups and whatnot.

Personally I would love if having a good layouter and 3D artist was less important for a good Kickstarter campaign, but honestly I don't find it that hard to sift through the different projects and pick what I'll probably like.

Also, on a sidenote: if you are into one shot rpgs I can recommend looking at the Danish convention Fastaval which is cutting edge when it comes to what I think you'd call free form and story now RPG. Every year about 20 new scenarios are made for the convention, and a lot of them are available in English. The bar is set at a ridicilously high level and I'll be happy to point you in the direction of a few games if you're interested.
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21 Feb 2020 16:37 #307354 by Michael Barnes
It might be more honest if these plastic-pushers just said, "You know what, we're gonna do this KS and it's basically just for fun little toys. We're just gonna bag the game aspect (because we both know it will blow anyhow) so just be happy getting some fun little dudes that may or may not be difficult to purchase later. We hope you like them."

I believe this was GW’s original business plan?

Mads- direct away, sounds interesting!

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21 Feb 2020 16:57 #307355 by mads b.
[quote="Michael Barnes" Mads- direct away, sounds interesting![/quote]

There are a lot of different games about very different subjects, but you can find a full list of those (mostly) available in English here: alexandria.dkhttps://alexandria.dk/en/data?tag=English . However, I don't think all of them have the game text in English, but maybe only the player materials. If you find something you like, maybe I can help. I have heard that Hope was the last thing in the box should be great (and was written by an American, so it's in English), but I'm also pretty happy with my own game Joan The Vampire Slayer which for some reason is on the list, but with the Danish text. I do have the translation if you want it.

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21 Feb 2020 17:09 #307356 by Shellhead
Heh, the second scenario on that list is directly inspired by the lyrics to a David Bowie song.

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21 Feb 2020 17:12 #307357 by Shellhead
And I Lost My Fangs is funny. The entire scenario is a group therapy session where everybody but the therapist is a famous vampire that has recently lost its fangs. Participants include Vlad the Impaler, Eli from Let the Right One In, and The Count of Sesame Street.

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21 Feb 2020 20:13 - 21 Feb 2020 20:15 #307359 by Sagrilarus
There's a sales manager that I deal with in my job that is just as slimey as they come. He's always got his game on, always pressing me to answer those stupid inane questions that advance his sales pitch and won't let it go when I try to not answer. I instinctively put my hand on my wallet when I'm stuck dealing with him.

Kickstarter is that guy. He's cock-blocking my hobby. In theory I can ignore him, but god damn if he doesn't just keep showing up and inserting himself into my conversations.

The video at the beginning of this thread is that guy's sales pitch. It's about commerce, not gaming.

Maybe it's just burnout after four decades of gaming. Dealing with the commerce has taken the fun out of it for me. I'd rather spend the time out splitting wood.
Last edit: 21 Feb 2020 20:15 by Sagrilarus.
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21 Feb 2020 23:04 #307361 by Jackwraith

Michael Barnes wrote: It might be more honest if these plastic-pushers just said, "You know what, we're gonna do this KS and it's basically just for fun little toys. We're just gonna bag the game aspect (because we both know it will blow anyhow) so just be happy getting some fun little dudes that may or may not be difficult to purchase later. We hope you like them."

I believe this was GW’s original business plan?


Pretty much. Remember Tom Kirby: "We're a model company that just has some game rules attached." Didn't matter that 90% of their audience bought the models because of the game and that particular model sales slowed or disappeared (3rd Edition Terminators, 3rd Ed Dark Eldar before the Wych upgrades, 7th Ed Dark Elves, 3rd and 4th Ed Rhinos, etc., etc.) when their rules sucked and then shot through the roof when they were improved. According to Kirby, people just wanted to paint models.

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22 Feb 2020 05:29 #307363 by san il defanso
I do a lot more roleplaying than boardgaming these days, and I have zero regrets. But it feels like Kickstarters for RPGs have ramped WAY up recently, and although they take up less space than giant board games, it's still spending money on stuff I will likely never use in the first place. I mean I could read countless other RPG books, but for all the PDFs I own I only have ever played one game that isn't 5e, and that's a recent starter set game of Call of Cthulhu.

Here's the truth: new innovative games are in the cool-to-have category for me, but my life just doesn't realistically have the room in it to take on anything besides what I already have. I have to continually teach myself this with everything, board games, video games, RPGs. I already own so much that I've barely explored, and the time, money, and room required to take on more is just not sustainable for me.

So I totally feel the complaint about really overproduced Kickstarters, but I feel it about basically everything these days.
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