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Software developers may start keeping eye on D&D


kristof65
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Very interesting article here:

MySQL isn’t going from open to closed-source. However, D&D is.

 

for those of you who don't want to read the whole thing, here's the best parts:

D&D “version 4.0” will soon be released, and many game beta testers believe the system has been radically overhauled and improved. However, this new system will not be released under the OGL. It will however, be released under the “Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition Game System License” (GSL).

 

The GSL license has not yet been made public, but there are rumors, speculations, and concerns, fueled by online posts made by the brand manager and licensing manager for Dungeons and Dragons, and relayed by the lead writer of third-party publisher Necromancer Games that the GSL will contain a “poison pill” clause – that is, in order to use the GSL, a game company must not publish anything under the OGL.

Even if you don’t have a huge interest in D&D – in which case, I envy your normal social adjustment and relatively less awkward adolescence – it pays to keep up with this developing situation to see how a fight to close an open-source software product might actually go down. Will Hasbro fail in its efforts to dominate the RPG industry, either shrinking their portion of market share or shrinking the size of the entire market? Or will Hasbro succeed with this business plan, and the publishers of Monopoly (the game) end up with a de facto monopoly (the economic term) on this niche industry?
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This came up on the excellent '2D6 Feet'podcast. They made an excellent point, that it is very unlikely that any company would be allowed to 'close' an OGL, since it would open the doors to the same thing happening in other areas, such as software. I think that this is a step too far.

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Sounds rather like Microsoft's plan to discontinue support for Windows XP after next month.

 

I still maintain 4.0 will be the Windows Vista of D&D. Furthermore, I think both Microsoft and Wizards have their heads up where the sun don't shine (and I don't mean Seattle, which is of course nearby to both).

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Sounds rather like Microsoft's plan to discontinue support for Windows XP after next month.

 

I still maintain 4.0 will be the Windows Vista of D&D. Furthermore, I think both Microsoft and Wizards have their heads up where the sun don't shine (and I don't mean Seattle, which is of course nearby to both).

Well, I may have commited an unforgivable sin by pre-ordering the 4th edition slip-case set of core books. I dont really care for Wotc but I love D&D(except 2nd ed.). Im willing to give it a chance, but I'm still setting up games and playing 3.5v.

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Sounds rather like Microsoft's plan to discontinue support for Windows XP after next month.

 

I still maintain 4.0 will be the Windows Vista of D&D. Furthermore, I think both Microsoft and Wizards have their heads up where the sun don't shine (and I don't mean Seattle, which is of course nearby to both).

 

That's not new for Microsoft. After every release of a new windows OS the old eventually gets to the point where Microsoft will no longer support it. And they are not exactly removing full support for XP after next month. It just won't receive any upgrades and at some point you will have to pay for tech support. They will provide that level of support for about 5 years.

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Sounds rather like Microsoft's plan to discontinue support for Windows XP after next month.

 

I still maintain 4.0 will be the Windows Vista of D&D. Furthermore, I think both Microsoft and Wizards have their heads up where the sun don't shine (and I don't mean Seattle, which is of course nearby to both).

Well, I may have commited an unforgivable sin by pre-ordering the 4th edition slip-case set of core books. I dont really care for Wotc but I love D&D(except 2nd ed.). Im willing to give it a chance, but I'm still setting up games and playing 3.5v.

Some people are being quite fascist in saying that "you must not like or buy 4E". I like much of what I've heard about 4E. The game that is; the business decisions surrounding it are another matter. But then, I'm capable of separating the two.

 

Ishil

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yeah this could get ugly in the software business. If WotC want to shoot their own foot over this then they have my blessing but the precedence they're setting could be trouble in the software world. Opening up development through a public license and then later trying to shut down that public license is just bad in so many ways.

 

Wonder what the various countries' courts would say about the legality of this GSL.

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4th edition sounds like it may very well be a good game; from all the talk, it seems like it will be closer to Savage Worlds.

 

Once you've gone Savage, this whole controversy just fades away regarding the D&D business.

 

As for the licensing and all that, I'll leave it to the courts.

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One of the local mailing lists linked to an FAQ on the license by WotC - unfortunately, I don't have the link handy today. Basically, WotC is trying to do it like this:

 

4e is GSL

3.5e is OGL

 

If a company takes a product and converts it to GSL, then they can no longer sell it under the OGL as well. If they're still selling a book in a 3.5 version, they have to pull it off the market in order to release a 4.0 version. In other words, no selling both 4e and 3.5e editions of the same book. But a company will be allowed to have some 4e products, and 3.5e products in their mix.

 

The only serious effect I see on this is with adventures and licensed products. FREX, if Mongoose were to take their Quintessential series and convert it to 4.0, all they'd really have to do to make it a seperate product is call them something else, and mix up the formatting a little. Enough changes, and WotC could have a hard time proving they violate the GSL. My bet is that the changes in the two rule systems, combined with some layout changes and a change in the name would be more than enough to differentiate the two products.

 

An adventure, however, would be quite a different matter, in that you would effectively have to be writing two different adventures. And licensed products would be readily identifiable by the name you're paying for - there is no denying that a 3.5e and 4e version of say, a Stargate sourcebook, are actually the same product, thanks to the name.

 

Overall, it looks to me like WotC realizes that pandora's box is open, that it can't turn off the OGL, so it's attempting to establish that 4e is a different product entirely. In the software world, this might be doable, simply by re-writing the sourcecode to not use anything from the previous version, and no open source portions. It looks like they're essentially doing the RPG equivilent here. What remains to be seen is the backlash and fallout. They're really betting the farm that enough people will buy into 4e to effectively kill 3.5 and the OGL off.

 

I think that's going to be harder than it was for 3e to kill off AD&D. After all, there are still people playing AD&D. This time around, there will still be companies supporting 3.5. As long as there is a market for 3.5, those companies will still be around. It should take a lot longer for 3.5 to die off than it did for AD&D. Essentially, what WotC is doing would be like VW giving Hyundai the rights to continue producing the Beetle while VW releases a new and improved version of the same car.

 

This is going to be interesting, that's for sure. I've heard some things I like about 4e, and some things I don't, but I have to say my real interest in all of this is going to be watching how the market reacts to it.

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kristof; thanks for enlightening me as to the specifics.

 

It's interesting what markets and businesses people watch for trends in the economy. Starbucks is an indicator of the direction the economy is going because if people stop doling out disposable income for overpriced coffee, you can bet the rest of things are going down too.

 

Now as to the whole D&D thing, we've got software companies looking into legalities of licensing, and I bet people are watching the whole games/miniatures/computer games market too for signs of where we're headed.

 

My friend ran a games and miniatures company for a time. His market analysis showed that whatever two games were on the decline, one was rising. This was looking at miniature games, pen and paper roleplaying, and computer games. I wonder what the graphs are going to look like in the coming months....

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My friend ran a games and miniatures company for a time. His market analysis showed that whatever two games were on the decline, one was rising. This was looking at miniature games, pen and paper roleplaying, and computer games. I wonder what the graphs are going to look like in the coming months....

I agree with that assessment myself. My friends and I launched our game company just as Magic: The Gathering came out - talk about bad timing - Magic was so much so on the rising, it hastened the decline of several games. Our game bombed because it was just another sci-fi minis game, and our company survived only by becoming a mail-order retailer - and guess what we sold a lot of - yep, Magic cards.

 

You're right about the economy factor that could change things, too. I had a long time comic book/game shop owner tell me once that in his experience, when the economy slumps, game sales go up, but when the economy is good, comic books and trading cards do better. The reason he found was that when people are looking to spend that $10-50, they want a long term investment - games make a good buy because you put the money into whatever game/game book, and you can use it indefinitely. Once you have the game in hand, it's yours to do with as you please.

 

Recently it seems that face-to-face games like RPGs and Mini games have been on the decline thanks to World of Warcraft and it's ilk. One only has to look at the focus WotC is placing on the online aspect of 4e to see that. However, if we do slide into a recession, how many people will abandon their WoW subscriptions, and use pen & paper RPGs and Mini games to fill the void?

 

This Gen Con should be interesting - the two big guys have new releases just before the show, so WotC will be there triumphantly promoting D&D 4e, while GW will be raving about 40k 5e. But it's just as likely some little upstart company could release the next big thing, and kill both their buzz.

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Good analysis, from real world experience. There's so much speculation in everything right now with all the economic indicators.

 

There was a minor row over on TMP (theminiaturespage.com) regarding the cost of present day models, and Hasslefree responded with their own break down of all the costs it takes to have their models produced. I suppose it was inevitable, but with the pound beatin' up on the dolla', that exchange rate's a tough go.

 

The more I read on the various forums, the more I feel sorry for the people trying to make a living with these hobbies of ours!!

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This Gen Con should be interesting - the two big guys have new releases just before the show, so WotC will be there triumphantly promoting D&D 4e, while GW will be raving about 40k 5e. But it's just as likely some little upstart company could release the next big thing, and kill both their buzz.

 

except for the part where GW doesn't support or attend GenCon. If they can't absolutely control it, it doesn't exist. Remember that what you do isn't miniatures wargaming, in their eyes it is "The Games Workshop Hobby".

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except for the part where GW doesn't support or attend GenCon. If they can't absolutely control it, it doesn't exist. Remember that what you do isn't miniatures wargaming, in their eyes it is "The Games Workshop Hobby".

Hmm - didn't know that. Of course, I haven't been to GenCon for 20+ years, well before GW hit the big time. But why doesn't that surprise me. I supposed I should have known, though.

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