Friday, March 31, 2017

The New Talislanta is a Dead Game Walking

If the stupidity I've previously outlined using Rolemaster and D&D's Forgotten Realms continues, then the tabletop RPG business deserves to die screaming under massed Dalek death ray volleys.

There's a new Talislanta edition looking for money on Kickstarter. Never heard of it? That's because it's a D&D competitor whose appeal and marketing all boils down to "Don't like this about D&D? Play our game!" (e.g. "No Elves!") Everything I said about the importance of lore to actual play applies here, and that includes the appeal to this new version set as a prequel to the established era and its rising successor states to the former God-Like Mageocracies that rules. Instead, you get 60 Minutes After The Bomb: it's the barbaric post-apocalypse, meant to be more Conan than Elminster.

And I cannot be bothered to care, for the same reasons I laid out previously: they're doing sweet fuck-all to connect their customers together. It's the same mistake, because they still don't get that it's not the 1980s anymore; they'll say otherwise but they're actions prove it. Ryan Dancey nailed this over 15 years ago: what matters is the network of users, not the physical product. That is your business; you're in the business of connecting people together. Just as McDonald's is not in the business of making burgers (it's real estate), so are tabletop RPGs are not in the business of selling games (it's user network facilitation).

The value of the game is to attract users who want to connect with others over a shared interest. Your revenue comes from tools you provide to make that happen, happen easily, and happen conveniently. The rules? Give them away; you shouldn't devote significant capital to them anyway (use an open source engine or GTFO). The lore? Worthless without a transmedia strategy where a setting bible matters; if so, put it up into a Wiki and be done with it.

No one currently a major player has a fucking clue what the reality of this niche market is now. (The RPG Pundit is a minor player, and he's showing some understanding that the game's changed.) That includes the current Talislanta crew, so this edition won't do any better than the previous ones (which had far more friendly conditions for competition). No sympathy; all of you ought to know better by now to stop doing the same thing and expecting different results!

1 comment:

  1. It would seem to be relatively straight-forward to build your world online (or its framework), then ask others to come and participate, and help build it up over time. Wiki could be exported to PDFs (maybe multiple PDFs) if players wanted a snapshot for offline play. I'm sure that participation could be incentivized as well.

    How cool would it be if you had your Game built on a thumbdrive, rules and history built into say PortableApps, Wordpress, and XAAMP? And that was how you bought it from the designer. What if the thumbdrive or your NAS/Access point was what traveled with you to your games (with your dice), and you guest login'ed your players to their phones, tablets, laptops -- and all they needed was there, except the dice?

    Yeah, I can play this game you laid out here! I'm getting a taste, and as a player or a gamemaster, I think that would be cool.