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So, has started up its own discussion with the G+ diaspora that's started boards everywhere. And I've used it before, but really only for computer games, though I've dipped my foot into the ttrpg waters there before. I never had the time for a programming game jam, but am thinking of signing up for one.

Anyone have any experience with them? I never realized that there were so many and that they were so frequent!

#TTRPGs #GameDesign
I'm curious the effect that this and similar phenomena are having on game sales. With so many people taking part in shared development, so much material available for free, what is the future of retail games at the high and low ends? I can't see D&D being severely impacted by this, at most suffering a percentage point or two of decline in new customers, not enough to do more than slightly annoy them, but companies like FASA, that are surviving one release to the next, could lose enough new customer influx to seriously hurt. (Yes, FASA was an industry powerhouse twenty years ago. With its restart six years ago, FASA has effectively been a new startup, having to build a customer base and multiple product lines from the ground up, with its only serious startup capital being its name and the Earthdawn product line.) I don't want to discourage people from freely sharing their ideas - far from it, information wants to be free - but as a line developer, I have to think about the effect on my own work, which is closed-source and published in a more traditional model.

@Andrew Ragland - I think that most publishers (as you said D&D isn't really going to be affected) are going through the same thing that many software companies did with FOSS. There's some really good things out there for free, and what can a company do? I think the most successful of the smaller companies do what the software companies have done in many cases- support these initiatives. If you open up the system to be used rather than holding on to it, and fuel these new designers, then your product can take on a life of its own where it is just the base product, and others refer to it and use it. And then from that outreach, the money flows back into it from word of mouth, and necessity for the base rules or curiosity about the same. There are those companies other than D&D who can survive on the old model, and I think that there will always be a place for those. But we live in a golden era of content creation, and its good to keep an eye on the pulse of the industry and move with it.

This aligns reasonably well with the direction I've already taken. FASA is not going OGL at any point in the near future, but my own line, 1879, is opening up the toolbox considerably with the next two books. The 1879 Players Companion, already in layout, includes the mechanics for creating new character Professions, how to build new Skills and Skill Knacks (that extend existing Skills), how to build new Base Spells and Known-As Variants for the magic system, and deriving from all that, how to create new magical Lodges and introduce new Faiths, Weird Science Schools, and Mage Orders into your game. The 1879 GM's Companion, getting two chapters revised and two written, opens up the mechanics for Spirits and Creatures, showing how to expand the astral and physical Bestiary, and provides a few other tools for GMs to expand the game (spoilers!). To build on your FOSS metaphor and possibly run it into the ground, we're not releasing the source code, but we are releasing a lot of APIs, and documenting our system calls, so the players can instantiate new objects using existing classes, but... Show more...

From the bits I've picked up, the culture at itch seems to be "pay what you can, even if it's free", as opposed to "pay what you want, otherwise it's free". So for small games, that's a pretty good model.

The game jam set up gives you a marketing tag and fellow creators who will get excited about your work and hype it, so it's maybe like communal marketing? However, I don't know what the long tail looks like.

@Andrew Ragland The model is going to change whether folks in your position want it to or not, so what you should be thinking about is how to adapt and grow. I hope that you will be able to do that and succeed, because while I respect you I would never hold back from something like this simply because it might be a threat to your business.

I wouldn't expect you to. The trick here is to not be a buggy whip maker insisting that the business model be protected as people switch from horse-drawn carriages to steam and electric cars (petrol came later), but instead be a saddlemaker who switches to making mail bags for railroad delivery of the post (to use a real-world Victorian example).