lorraine williams (includes opinions from Gygax et al) - Page 7




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  1. #61
    Quote Originally Posted by rgard
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    To be honest though, if TSR had decided to allow derivative use material, but disallowed IP being posted, how would they have policed that? They would have had to employ an army of folks looking for the IP that was posted.
    To be honest, I don't blame TSR for overreacting, because in the burgeoning days of the Internet Explosion, no one knew how to act because of a lack of strong precedent for much of this stuff. But goodwill would have been preserved had they acted in a similar way to the way WotC deals with fan material (which is to largely look the other way unless some gross violations are going on). Then again, thanks to the OGL, they don't have to look hard at a lot of it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rgard
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    I remember in my early days of the internet (mid-90s) somebody had uploaded all the 1st and 2nd ed D&D rules. Naughty by most standards, so I can understand the lawsuit threat if the threats were directed at those who uploaded the rules.
    No, they're talking about campaign sites, sites that had original content using the D&D rules (such as new classes, spells, and monsters of their creation); stuff like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfspider
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    I could have sworn that the movie did depict the kids playing D&D at the beginning of the film.
    They're playing a fantasy RPG. There's no mention of the words "Dungeons and Dragons", and no display of any material that would be identifiable as a TSR product. One assumes that, had Gary / TSR approved what they'd been approached with by the producers, you would have seen PHBs and the like on the table.
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    Also, we should not forget that when TSR allowed fan material on a carefully controlled site (named MPGENet, maybe?), they required creators to abide by a code of ethics - an uniquely stupid and restrictive license which would have excluded almost all serious works of fantasy, legends, folk tales or classical mythology from acceptance.
    You can read the whole shameful nonsense here.
    "5. If they do not wish to take a few risks, their characters should stay home and become shopkeepers and farmers.

    Then wish them luck!"
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    Quote Originally Posted by francisca
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    Please elaborate on her creative contributions.
    I think any success during her tenure was in spite of her, not because of her.
    i think that is a bit too harsh, francisca. first of all, she didn't have to have any creative contribution, because she was a manager, not a game developer (and if her managerial ineptitude is any hint of her creative skills, i'm very happy she had very little input on the creative work! :P)

    on the other hand, i don't agree on the "in spite of her" part of your post.

    first of all i'm a creative person myself. i am a musician, i play in various bands and i am a composer. sometimes i do my own thing, but at least 50% of the time, i have a boss of some sort that i have to please. in all of my years in the music business (11, this year), i've seen countless acts breaking up because people were resentful of each other, or because their motivation to do whatever they did had run dry.

    i myself had such experience, in the past, and i can tell you that, at some point, i was close to move to another occupation, just because i felt that i was dealing with people i wouldn't have allowed in my house, and that believed that i was a big headed stupid. luckily i found new people and i moved on.

    now, let's make this a bit more general. if mrs. williams was indeed spending her days eating puppies and reminding some of the best designers in the business that they were worth nothing, that RPGs are for losers, and that the avereage gamer would buy a book filled by a money, i doubt that TSR would have lasted for some 7-8 years under her tenure. people would have just packed up and moved to another business (david cook did, but i'm not sure that mrs. williams has anything to do with this), or to another publisher and system.

    look at what happened to ICE and Palladium for examples of bad management. in case of palladium, you also have a big personality CEO who doesn't accept to listen to his fans (even though i never heard that he said that they are "inferior").

    on the other hand, look at what happened to companies like WotC, or Malhavoc, or other companies that have (or had) a history of fostering a good attitude in the workplace.

    it's just logical. even if you had to pay your bills, would _you_ really accept to work for someone who every now and then reminds you of how inferior you are?

    maybe, if we were talking about seven digit salaries, fame, or whatnot, maybe i would be convinced that people would have stuck to TSR anyway. but, by all the accounts i have, the RPG industry is like the unglamourous side of the music business: you're there because you are proud of what you do, not because you want the big bucks.
    (unless otherwise specified, the above post does not reflect my personal opinion, but a universal law of the universe. if you happen to disagree, you are welcomed to move to the next dimension. faithfully, spell)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
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    To be honest, I don't blame TSR for overreacting, because in the burgeoning days of the Internet Explosion, no one knew how to act because of a lack of strong precedent for much of this stuff. But goodwill would have been preserved had they acted in a similar way to the way WotC deals with fan material (which is to largely look the other way unless some gross violations are going on). Then again, thanks to the OGL, they don't have to look hard at a lot of it.
    i don't know... the OGL was a stroke of genius. otherwise, while many other companies without anything like the OGL "look the other way", i doubt everyone would act that way, especially if adviced by dumb lawyers that don't appreciate the importance of having raving fans that put on websites with optional rules, new classes, and so on.

    their argument would be that once the company has "turned a blind eye" to serious challenges to the copyright (which, to a non-gamer, might be meaningless stuff like saying: "you can use this with D&D", or using terms like "DC", or "AC", "Character Classes", or even worse using parts of your IP like names out of your campaign settings), then they would have a hard time to fight in court even the blatant copyright infringments of people that upload an entire manual on the net.

    nonsense to me, but i have heard this logic before, and i'm not that sure that people outside the gaming community would be able to appreciate the difference...
    if i have to judge by other entertainment industries, the old TSR did nothing more than what the RIAA is doing now. no surprise that the cd market is going down, like TSR did, and that RIAA is the kind of boogeyman that mrs. williams was (is?) in some circles.

    to bring this back on topic, i wonder how much the CCG phenomenon is important to understand the state of the RPG market in 1994-1996. personally, i remember many a company had a cash problem.

    i also remember than when magic hit my hometown, it suddenly became pretty much IMPOSSIBLE finding someone in my gaming club willing to even sit in a one shot adventure. in the end, i just left the club out of sheer boredom, because i wouldn't play a collectible card game, and nobody else would "waste time" with a RPG when they could have a quick and fun magic game.



    so far, it seems that lorraine williams is:
    1. a bad manager who happened to be around when the whole RPG industry was about to have a big hit by other forms of entertainments aimed at the same niche market.
    2. a person whose social skills could have used some improvement, especially when she didn't get her way.
    3. a person who has at least a famous enemy (gygax), that every other person loves.
    4. the head of the company who enraged a significant part of its online fans because of its narrow minded online policy.
    (unless otherwise specified, the above post does not reflect my personal opinion, but a universal law of the universe. if you happen to disagree, you are welcomed to move to the next dimension. faithfully, spell)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Orius
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    Anyway, it doesn't matter any more. It's been almost 11 years now since TSR crashed and burned, and there's lots of new gamers these days who weren't even playing back then. So I'd say she's largely been forgotten. These days when we want to bitch about suits ruining the game, Hasbro makes a far better target.
    I dunno. Hasbro pretty much let WotC run autonomously. All Hasbro has to do is sit back and watch the money WotC is making for them. The only two times they did meddle are assigning a former Coke ad prez to WotC and put Avalon Hill under WotC operation but that is it.

    More importantly, their products don't contain lead (not like that OTHER US-owned toy maker).
    Anyhoo, just some random thoughts...

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    Quote Originally Posted by WayneLigon
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    No, they're talking about campaign sites, sites that had original content using the D&D rules (such as new classes, spells, and monsters of their creation); stuff like that.
    I think Henry and I already covered that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spell
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    to bring this back on topic, i wonder how much the CCG phenomenon is important to understand the state of the RPG market in 1994-1996. personally, i remember many a company had a cash problem.

    i also remember than when magic hit my hometown, it suddenly became pretty much IMPOSSIBLE finding someone in my gaming club willing to even sit in a one shot adventure. in the end, i just left the club out of sheer boredom, because i wouldn't play a collectible card game, and nobody else would "waste time" with a RPG when they could have a quick and fun magic game.
    I'm not sure that's "on topic"; actually, I'd say it was the proverbial left-turn at Alburquerque.

    FWIW, I agree that the player acquisition model and churn rates for RPGs was greatly disrupted by Magic:TG in the 1994-97 period, and that this had a significant effect on TSR's fortunes. Dancey has generally argued otherwise and suggested it was all about too many product lines - production costs that were too high and sales that were too low == insolvency.

    He's right on the production costs side, but the role Magic:TG played in that "declining sales" side of the ledger has never been adequately publicly stated, imo, or at least not credibly explained to my satisfaction.

    Forgive me for saying so, but I do not think that the brand manager for WotC's new D&D line would ever be the most credible source of information in terms of the effect of M:TG on RPG sales. And that's not a knock on Ryan Dancey. That's just a statement that ANYBODY who held that position would not be putting that spin on the death of the product line they now owned.

    "Yes. The success of our M:TG product line essentially destroyed the player acquisition model for AD&D for four years and played a big part in sending the whole RPG ship down into the depths of the sea. We ended up buying the company at a fire sale price as a consequence. But hey! Love us now and buy our new D&D products please and thank you."

    That was not the sort of statement I would have expected to read from the D&D brand manager at WotC. More importantly, that was not an avenue of analysis that they would have been very motivated to pursue.

    Whether the CCG effect was critical or not - I don't know. But either way, I would never have expected them to say it - if it was true.

    [Edit: Yes I know that the role dead inventory, Dragon Dice, and the returns from the book trade played a significant role in the insolvency of TSR by 96-97. But a significant issue that has never been adequately explained to me is my perception that player churn disruption brought about by M:TG played a large role in declining sales for TSR's AD&D products.

    The financial chicanery by the time TSR tottered on the brink was brought about by declining sales earlier in the decade - not just by run-away production costs.]
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
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    To be honest, I don't blame TSR for overreacting, because in the burgeoning days of the Internet Explosion, no one knew how to act because of a lack of strong precedent for much of this stuff.
    I do. I blame TSR for targeting the websites of teenagers that contained zero game mechanical content, but merely contained a long detailed summary of game sessions along with references to certain products. Nothing even remotely close to lawsuit-worthy. I almost asked for a lawyer for my 14th birthday because of that cease-and-desist letter.
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