Wouldn't Troll Lord make more money by dropping SIEGE?

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DangerDwarf
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Re: Wouldn't Troll Lord make more money by dropping SIEGE?

Post by DangerDwarf »

gideon_thorne wrote:
No, cause the way the GSL is set up, it's not worth any money to be bent over and poked up the pooper.

I dunno, some folks pay high dollar for that.

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Post by Deogolf »

Whoa!! Did I miss something here!!
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Post by bighara »

seskis281 wrote:
And this I can tell you from personally querying Steve on the subject...

The C&C stuff sells great. Their d20 lines never sold nearly as well.

The business logic that if the "guerilla" of the market does something, all others must do likewise was proven wrong in the d20 bubble bust (take a read on Steve's article in latest Crusader)...

Third-party publishers succeed more when they hit the markets that are not being satisfied by the major, not by trying to copy or emulate them.

Edit: And also, why drop an elegent, simple game mechanic that is far more transferable and usable with all sorts of publications both TLG and otherwise for a very restricted, single form mechanic set that isn't backward or sideways compatible with other systems?

Steve and I talked a bit Sun AM before most folks arrived (I wake up too early). We were discussing Joe Goodman's situation re: 4e, among other topics. 4e makes sense for Joe -in Steve's opinion- because DCC modules are his flagship product. Riding 4e's coattails for market share works for that kind of thing. TLG is primarily a game designer. C&C is their main product. So it makes more sense to have 100% of the C&C market and support that with modules and supplements than be just another 3PP for WOTC's brand.

And while I am anything but a savvy businessman or expert on the RPG industry, I agree with his thinking.

PS- But it was great to play with Joe in Steve's game (he ran one scrappy gnome! ). I'm hoping he'll see how fun & easy C&C is and keep publishing DCC conversions.
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Post by gideon_thorne »

bighara wrote:
PS- But it was great to play with Joe in Steve's game (he ran one scrappy gnome! ). I'm hoping he'll see how fun & easy C&C is and keep publishing DCC conversions.

I don't believe he could do any more conversions. But NEW, independent C&C releases, that would be entirely possible.
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Post by Deogolf »

gideon_thorne wrote:
I don't believe he could do any more conversions. But NEW, independent C&C releases, that would be entirely possible.

Yeah, I do believe the GSL kinda kills that idea!! Bad GSL, bad!!
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Post by seskis281 »

bighara wrote:
Steve and I talked a bit Sun AM before most folks arrived (I wake up too early). We were discussing Joe Goodman's situation re: 4e, among other topics. 4e makes sense for Joe -in Steve's opinion- because DCC modules are his flagship product. Riding 4e's coattails for market share works for that kind of thing. TLG is primarily a game designer. C&C is their main product. So it makes more sense to have 100% of the C&C market and support that with modules and supplements than be just another 3PP for WOTC's brand.

And while I am anything but a savvy businessman or expert on the RPG industry, I agree with his thinking.

PS- But it was great to play with Joe in Steve's game (he ran one scrappy gnome! ). I'm hoping he'll see how fun & easy C&C is and keep publishing DCC conversions.

Hey Bighara, sadly I don't think I got to actually introduce and meet you at the con - we were always in separate games etc. Same with Valerian (although I got Ross/Rhuvein to point you out Val and was going to say hi, but you were engrossed in a discussion with Tim Kask so I didn't want to interupt) - but I'm glad you guys had fun!

PS - I got a shot of James running the Sun AM B/X game on my site - which one are you Bighara? http://johnwright281.tripod.com/id17.html
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Post by gideon_thorne »

seskis281 wrote:
PS - I got a shot of James running the Sun AM B/X game on my site - which one are you Bighara? http://johnwright281.tripod.com/id17.html

*chuckles* I had the same question. I think we need to have forum members send in their 'forum' name with their registrations next year. So we can put it on the badge and know just who the hell everyone is?
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Post by Breakdaddy »

gideon_thorne wrote:
*chuckles* I had the same question. I think we need to have forum members send in their 'forum' name with their registrations next year. So we can put it on the badge and know just who the hell everyone is?

Sounds good! Ill be Breakdaddy this year.
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Post by bighara »

That's me on the right with the goatee and stupid grin.
I did hand write "BIGHARA" on my badge since that's the only name most folks on the boards have for me.

@Gideon/Pete: You and I actually had several conversations during the con (I was sitting watching you sketch an orc one PM). I even bought some art from you. I was also the one asking about the pic of the spellcaster elf chick. I might not have had my badge on all the time though.

EDIT: Jeez! All these folks at the con saying "YOU'RE Bighara?!" and people asking "Which one were you?" I feel like I've blown my cover or something.
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Post by Telhawk »

I'm going to take this gentleman's question seriously: Why not get on board with a proven and profitable system? Doesn't it provide a stronger likelihood of your work hitting a larger audience and and pulling in a few extra bucks at the same time? Doesn't that make it a win-win for everybody?

There is indeed a strong line of logic for this kind of thinking; fortunately, however, human nature - and as a consequence, consumer market patterns - are not entirely bound by logic. Sometimes we end up taking a path "Just 'Cuz"...and end up on the winning side in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

This is reiterating an opinion I submitted a while back on a related subject, but I honestly believe that Troll Lord Games is a harbinger of the format that RPG companies will be adopting as the WotC domination begins its slow fade-away. World conquest? Meh - easy to dream about, a little harder to do. Better to find a place - and a system - that you believe in, that you love and support...because, no matter how much you work for it, there will be days where things don't go so hot. This is where the love comes in, and why it's necessary: the love is there to keep you going when material rewards are not there for the taking. And that, in turn, allows you to keep up the good fight for the days when things do turn around and the cash starts to flow back in.

The SEIGE Engine is a wonderfully adaptable piece of work; with very few exceptions, it's kept my brothers and I going strong with C&C for well over a year now, with no indication of endings in sight. When it comes to being one of those people who abandon their loves to sign on for the latest "hot thing" for pure profit ends, I'll quote Frank Herbert (through Duke Leto Atreides): "One cannot truly blame them for this; one can only despise them."

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Post by Taranthyll »

gideon_thorne wrote:
I don't believe he could do any more conversions. But NEW, independent C&C releases, that would be entirely possible.

I don't think that it would be possible. As I understand the GSL, Goodman games will no longer be able to publish material for C&C. If you agree to the GSL you henceforth give up the right to publish anything under the OGL.

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Post by bighara »

Taranthyll wrote:
I don't think that it would be possible. As I understand the GSL, Goodman games will no longer be able to publish material for C&C. If you agree to the GSL you henceforth give up the right to publish anything under the OGL.

Whoa.
That's harsh.
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Post by seskis281 »

Taranthyll wrote:
I don't think that it would be possible. As I understand the GSL, Goodman games will no longer be able to publish material for C&C. If you agree to the GSL you henceforth give up the right to publish anything under the OGL.

Actually no, rumors had it this would be the case but the GSL as released actually refers to specific PRODUCT LINES, i.e. a specific line like "Dungeon Crawl Classics," or a "Wilderlands of High Fantasy" line... it does not say the co. must produce ALL 4e if it produces ANY 4e, and there's the loophole.

Goodman is clearly going 4e with DCC. However, they have their own other system just going out called Eldritch which will be unaffected and as long as adventures produced for C&C were not "DCC" (i.e. conversions or called as such and formatted with the "remember when dungeons were..." kinda thing.").

There is also the question of just HOW Goodman is proceeding in relation to WotC - there is certainly something different going on as they are releasing 4e mods prior to Oct. 1 as has been brought up elsewhere on the boards.

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Post by gideon_thorne »

Taranthyll wrote:
I don't think that it would be possible. As I understand the GSL, Goodman games will no longer be able to publish material for C&C. If you agree to the GSL you henceforth give up the right to publish anything under the OGL.

This is not correct. Its not a company wide decision. One can either publish by the GSL or OGL on a product line by product line basis.
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Post by serleran »

I may produce something for 4e, by 4e. I think they call it exegesis in the medical field. ;)

But, seriously, I don't see there being a need for TLG to do what they clearly don't have a desire to do.

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Post by Harry Joy »

Deogolf wrote:
Whoa!! Did I miss something here!!

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Addressing with some logic and apologies to the OP

Post by Bowbe »

Dear Joela (sp)

As you probably noted the Troll message boards are home to fans of TLG who are quite verocious (and ferocious) in their favor of the C&C system the Siege Engine(not sieg totally different guy, tho Indigo adores him without measure ).

Undoubtedly you posted a question out of sincerity, curiosity and a basic straight up "why not make more money" curiosity. I want to give you an answer that is thoughtful, sincere, and without mockery or other un-fun un-friendly bullshit.

Many have answered but let me try to be clear as glass on the subject. Nobody has ever said Troll Lord Games will NEVER do 4e. That said, the current GSL and its very finely honed code basically forbids TLG from doing anything for 4e that is a repeat, revision, or outright update of pre-existing material.

It cannot be done unless some other version of the GSL were to suddenly materialize. This is not likely to happen. The 2nd possibility is for Wizards of the Coast to contact Steve, offer him an alternative deal that changes the language of the law in order to produce things that perhaps took place in the Trolls Home setting, or some other setting of their stewardship.

This is also unlikely to happen.

As for the "making money" situation. Best estimates are that WOTC themselves are reducing their advertising dollar in the wake of 4e's launch. Strange show of force or confidence in their new product one thinks?

Another issue is shelf life. 4e is out, as promised and on time sort of, with two books months early, and one book a month late.

I wrote my ass off for 3.0. Had nothing I could really call wrong with WOTC at the onset. Ownership changed hands, and several RPG companies I have worked for were stuck with the suddenly "old" 3.0 rules and product sitting on the shelves and a moderately revised version of 3.0 comes out called 3.5 to establish new ownership and identity of the parent company and the powers that be who were elected to steward WOTC's AD&D product line into the new era.

This totally killed a majority of publishers and coupled with Amazon.com and the rise of the PDF trade killed a Crap TON of so called "Friendly Local Game Stores". Dead in the water. Period. Chapter 11. Who wants to buy the old crap when new crap is out that alleges to be better? Nobody.

Steve has a great article in the most recent Crusader magazine that talks about Steve's feelings on WOTC and 4e and both are quite positive. Evolution, growth and excitement in "new" versions of games are good. People talking about Dungeons & Dragons in public venues instead of hiding their admiration for the qualities that have for years made the game great are GOOD for business. Everyone's business.

In the time since the bubble exploded on the 3.x market TLG took the time and used the good sense to develop its own brand based on the Open Game License (not to be confused with d20 license). Steeping the brand with campaigns, adventures, and lots of hot spice for the old school market to teach their new school children to play RPGs, the brand line (Siege Engine) and product lines (Zagyg, Aihrde, Haunted Highlands ect.) have grown and developed a small but very loyal fan base who has 100% bought in to whats going on around the Troll Dens.

Steve and Co. Now run the whole show themselves. No longer have to worry about foreign printing costs, hidden fees, and other things that once plagued them like it plagued so many other companies. While the bubble was bursting for others the Trolls shored up their infrastructure so that even selling numbers in the hundreds and thousands is adequate to keep them going strong as an RPG publisher. Something that a Lot of other companies do NOT have going for them.

Many rely on bulk printing (WOTC) or cheap printing in Asia to keep their costs down. TLG does most of its printing in house.

They don't have to rely on D&D X edition anymore to enjoy a piece of the RPG pie and if people find the constand shifting and changing of rules, rulebooks, the dissing of hardcore developers in favor of newer developers ect. ect. They plug away at their niche, and every year thus far the niche has grown.

I speak from hard experience. I wrote for 3.0, 3.5, and I write for C&C. I won't lie and say I will never write anything for 4.x edition but if and when I do it will be with a very strong contract protecting my intellectual property from any possible theft, discrimination, or legal hassle. Steve understands that sort of protection very well and wouldn't do anything to jeapordize years of hard work just to make the quick short buck and potentially lose out on the long dollar.

Certainly on the surface, parlaying to the hundred odd thousand fans who eagerly snapped up the PHB 4e, the NEW D&D offers the potential of a much larger market but the fact remains people who are interested in 3rd party materials supporting 4e product lines is small compared to that same number of fans who prefer the "officially licensed straight from the WORD file WOTC staff and freelancer stuff.

Truth is folks, most people who jumped in hard to 3.0 with really good quality product had their best sales average only in the low 10's of thousands (like 14k to be more precise). Alternative rules such as Arcana Unearthed fared better, perhaps doubling that number in sales. Everything else? 1-8k copies and they all thought they were rich beyond measure, to hear some of them talk, they still do, but they too have moved on to other games and other systems or other licensing arrangements with other properties.

We all know what happened when those numbers dropped don't we?

Case

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Re: Wouldn't Troll Lord make more money by dropping SIEGE?

Post by Troll Lord »

joela wrote:
"Why doesn't third party provider switch to supporting 4E? Won't they make more money than supporting their current OGL system?"

That's one of the biggest arguments 4E advocates ask about Green Ronin, Kenzer, Paizo, and Troll Lords. It's a good question. Isn't making money -- a lot of it -- all your company is about?

The problem with this very question is that it assumes a great deal without any substantiation. You assume we aren't making money now. You assume that we would make more doing 4e. You assume our motivations are about making money. These assumptions begin to become more complicated when you dig a little deeper. You assume that 4e will be a viable game that can generate more sales than what we currently have on the table. You assume The assumptions are many.

I will say this, nothing has been presented to me or to Davis that has convinced us that supporting 4e will net any substantial profit windfall. We are relatively certain that it could give us some short term gains, but the long term damage would be greater.

We've worked hard to restructure the company and diversify these past 18 months and both TLG and all those involved in the Crusade are just now beginning to reap the benefits: better product with better layout and editing, a soon to be monthly print magazine, 3 supporting conventions, and a release schedule that is much more consistent than it ever has been before. The thought of upsetting this apple cart does not sit well with me.

Now, we have not turned our back on 4e. We may do some stuff for it, but C&C continues to be our major horse and it will be the one that gains the lions share of our resources. In fact nothing is allowed to consume the resources that are needed to sustain this Crusade. And right now it, with LA and GFW, has our full attention.

So in answer to your question: No.

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Post by shadoes »

I'll take my CnC as it is with a few house rules tossed in from 4e and other places. Other than that I suspect my 4e books will collect dust. Pity as I had actually just bought them literally days before I discovered CnC(dang you bowbe!!) hahaha. Ahh what a difference a chance encounter at lunch makes eh?

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Post by Julian Grimm »

In all honesty TLG would not be TLG without C&C. It's like early TSR and D&D, they are too ingrained with each other. What point does that lend to this conversation? More than likely, none. I just wanted to express a thought.
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Genesis

Post by joela »

Thanks for the responses, Richard, serleran, bighara, Telhawk, Bowbe, Steve, and everyone else.

The genesis of my question is from this post, specifically "Pathfinder has a pretty good reputation and Im thinking since 4E has been pretty well received it might have been wiser for them to simply converted and continued to reap the benefits of providing D&D players with quality productsrather than trying to force fans of the game to make a choice." (Emphasis mine.)

I immediately wanted to lash out, making snarky remarks how the poster didn't understand how businesses worked, how companies consider other factors besides profit, etc. But I then got to thinking that, if such "benefits" were so important, how come well-established companies like Green Ronin, Kenzer, and Troll Lords didn't suddenly start declaring 4E lines. (I already knew Paizo's reasons.) Curiosity overcame my nerdrage and thus my OP was born.

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Post by papercut »

The OGL really did open the market up, a decade or so after it was envisioned the full fruits are finally ripe. It was written after the ideas behind open source software. Wotc really had nothing to lose at the time to try such a new approach. TSR had gone kaput and wel,l how do you recover from that?

Initially, the OGL allowed a buncha material that was not necessarily well designed from a business sense. After a few years of gestation though, the new OGL games (not d20 per say) have come to maturity with a complete business model and its own intellectual property. Hasbro is a little afraid of the cat being out of the bag, where back in the day Wotc was not. It may be too late for the cat to put the cat back.

Just look at the Trolls, their Siege Engine (key intellectual property) which is something created in the wake of the OGL, is being ported to all sorts of game genres. Whether superhero, sci fi, apocalyptic, steam punk, western, w/e- it is all possible, some of it is even already on the production schedule or licensed. This property allows them to explore many new avenues of revenue that are not limited by the traditional gaming market that the 4e rule set might limit.

Some companies may be benefited by supporting 4e, but the Trolls under the bridge in Are-kansas mayhaps draw a higher tariff by staying under the bridge (at least they know when it rains they won't get wet).
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Re: Wouldn't Troll Lord make more money by dropping SIEGE?

Post by The Highway Man »

joela wrote:
Isn't making money -- a lot of it -- all your company is about?

I sincerely hope NO gaming company would EVER answer by the affirmative on this one. But I know some do believe this down inside. Which totally, utterly sucks. Balls. Bloody and covered with icky, greasy gravy.

The 4E GSL is a freaking trap for any publisher foolish enough to bite into it. It gives WOTC control and oversight on entire game lines you own. It's so short-sighted I can hardly believe anyone would willingly publish stuff for 4E without being an half brain-dead fanboy to begin with.

I'm sorry. It's a bit extreme, but that's the bottom line. It's suicidal to publish under the GSL on the long term, without any backup plan. Unless you have very special deals with WotC behind the scenes (which Joe Goodman seems to have/negotiate).

RPG Game Design is supposed to be a Craft. Possibly an Art for the most gifted designers. It's not supposed to be the assembly line of half-baked, bland game mechanics for the mentally and imaginary challenged...

/rant

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