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News Digest for the Week of May 7

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! Previews of Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, new D&D Live event with G4 announced, the D&D film is now officially shooting, Awfully Cheerful Engine coming soon, and more!

Don’t forget, you can get all the news every week with Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk! This week, Morrus and Peter are joined by Little Red Dot, Twitch streamer and content producer for Kobold Press to talk about the production and business side of Twitch streaming.


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In case you missed it elsewhere on EN World this week:
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With the Ravenloft campaign setting book Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft just over a week away, there’s been a lot of new information about what will be in the 256-page book. First, a collection of 30 art pieces from the upcoming book came courtesy of SageAdvice.eu. Then DMs Guild Brand Manager Lysa Penrose shared a look at the Table of Contents so we know what to expect from the book. The page indicates seventeen of the Domains of Dread will get full write-ups of between two to five pages along with brief coverage of an additional 22 domains, plus three new lineages, two new subclasses, new backgrounds, rules for Dark Gifts, a chapter on how to run a horror campaign, another on creating your own Domain of Dread within Ravenloft, and more than twenty new horror-inspired monsters. And if you want a deeper look at the new takes on the Domains, three of them – Dementlieu, Lamordia, and Har’Akir – have feature previews available with various websites. The new hardcover will be available on Tuesday, May 18 with a retail price of $49.95.

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Wizards of the Coast and the resurrected G4 announced the next Dungeons & Dragons live streaming event set for July 16-17. The announcement promises four “star-studded” games over the two-day event along with the usual new product announcements, interviews, DM roundtables, and “exclusive giveaways for those with high enough INT rolls.” G4 was an American cable television network focused on video games and tech culture which merged with TechTV in 2004 to form G4tv with well-regarded programs such as the video game review show X-Play, the tech news and comedy variety show Attack of the Show, the tech news broadcast The Screen Savers, and popularized the Japanese gameshow Ninja Warrior and its American counterpart, American Ninja Warrior. The network was purchased by men’s fashion magazine Esquire in 2012, which attempted to pivot the network to travel and cooking, but ended up just showing nearly nonstop reruns of Cops before shutting down in 2014. G4 announced last year that the network would return to its technology and gaming culture roots with a revived network. The D&D Live event will be at the forefront of the relaunched channel as its first big event, with more relaunched and new programs expected later this year.

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The Dungeons & Dragons live-action film has officially begun shooting. That’s literally all there is to the story, but let’s use this as an opportunity to recap what we know so far. The script is by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who wrote Spider-man: Homecoming and wrote and directed Game Night. Daley is also known as an actor for his roles in the television series Freaks & Geeks and Bones. The film’s Director of Photography (the person in charge of the camera, lighting, and overall look of the film) is Barry Peterson who has worked on films including Game Night, Zoolander, and 22 Jump Street as well as the pilot episodes of the TV series Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place. The cast features Regé-Jean Page (Bridgerton, For the People), Chris Pine (Star Trek Kelvinverse films, Wonder Woman), Michele Rodriguez (Avatar, Lost, Fast & Furious franchise, Resident Evil franchise), Sophia Lillis (It and It: Chapter Two, Gretel & Hanzel), Justice Smith (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Detective Pikachu), and Chloe Coleman (a thirteen-year-old actor with several television roles and who has been cast in Avatar 2) in unknown roles. Hugh Grant (every American rom-com with an English lead from the 90s and 00s such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Nine Months, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and the currently highest-reviewed film of all time according to Rotten Tomatoes (following a slip by Citizen Kane), Paddington 2). The film is currently scheduled for a release on March 3, 2023.

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Are you ready for EN Publishing’s new game system, the AWFULLY CHEERFUL ENGINE? The fast-paced, story-focused game uses a streamlined system to tell cinematic stories in any genre. How simple? The character sheets can fit on a business card and the sourcebooks and adventures are the size of comic books. What kind of stories can you tell? Well there’s the Spirits of Manhattan where you’re working-class paranormal investigators busting ghost – err, apprehending spirits, Montana Drones as the early 20th Century treasure-seeking archeologist adventurer with a fedora, and of course the small town made of SCIENCE! (spelled in all caps with an exclamation point) where you might go back in time, cross over into another dimension, bring a woman to life to solve your relationship problems, prevent the military from creating an orbital space laser using popcorn, and more in Walden Falls in the book Strange Science. And that’s just what’s been announced so far. The Kickstarter page is up now if you want notifications when it goes live on May 18, and Morrus is seeking feedback on the project page now.

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OneBookShelf (the company behind DriveThruRPG, DMs Guild, and more) announced they are changing the printing methods for their print-on-demand products. Lightning Source, the company that fulfills printing for OneBookShelf orders, is in the process of scrapping older machines, forcing a move to newer technology. The good news is that the move to new printing presses could bring down the cost of the premium color print-on-demand books as much as 6% (a savings to the customer or additional profit for the publisher of just a couple of dollars on a $49.95 hardcover). There is concern that the new methods may cause a decrease in quality. Speaking to GeekNative, Scott Holden, director of marketing and publisher relations for OneBookShelf, said:

“Our motivation is always to mitigate changes from the printer so that they will have minimal impact on publishers’ titles and sales. Ideally, most publishers will barely notice a change except to find that their print color books become slightly cheaper to produce. But if the quality of printing drops significantly for only a slight improvement in price, then we may have to consider more significant changes, up to and including moving our printing services to a new provider if necessary.”

While these changes are on the horizon, it is still in the early phases and won’t affect prices or production in the immediate future.

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While the Royalty-Free RPG Game Developer Assets Bundle on Humble Bundle is meant for video game development, there’s still a lot to want for tabletop gamers. These asset packs are full of sprites, tiles, icons, portraits, and more perfect for virtual tabletops and map creation. And, because they’re royalty-free licenses, you can use these assets in module sets to sell on your favorite VTT marketplace. This bundle benefits Child’s Play and Able Gamers, and runs until Thursday, May 27. And there’s still a few days left for aspiring YouTubers and video makers to pick up the Humble Bundle Vegas Pro Bundle, featuring over $750 in video and audio production software. The top level is only $30 and includes Vegas Pro 16 Edit, Sound Forge Audio Studio 13, Music Maker Score Edition, and a selection of tools to enhance your video productions. This bundle benefits Stop AAPI Hate and runs until Thursday, May 13.


That’s all from me for this week! Don’t forget to support our Patreon to bring you more gaming news content. If you have any news to submit, email us at news@enpublishingrpg.com, and you can get more discussion of the week’s news on Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk every week. You can follow me on Twitch to get notifications when I go live, subscribe to Gamer’s Tavern on YouTube for videos on gaming history, RPG reviews, and gaming Let’s Plays, or you can listen to the archives of the Gamer’s Tavern podcast. Until next time, may all your hits be crits! Note: Links to Amazon, Humble Store, Humble Bundle, and/or DriveThru may contain affiliate links with the proceeds going to the author of this column.
 

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Darryl Mott

Darryl Mott


Olaf the Stout

Adventurer
G4 was an American cable television network focused on video games and tech culture which merged with TechTV in 2004 to form G4tv with well-regarded programs such as the video game review show X-Play, the tech news and comedy variety show Attack of the Show, the tech news broadcast The Screen Savers, and popularized the Japanese gameshow Ninja Warrior and its American counterpart, American Ninja Warrior. The network was purchased by men’s fashion magazine Esquire in 2012, which attempted to pivot the network to travel and cooking, but ended up just showing nearly nonstop reruns of Cops before shutting down in 2014.
How the heck did the people in charge of changing a TV network’s focus from tech and comedy to travel and cooking think that was going to work?

I can’t imagine that there is a lot of demographic overlap between those 2 groups. No surprise it failed.
 

Sunsword

Adventurer
How the heck did the people in charge of changing a TV network’s focus from tech and comedy to travel and cooking think that was going to work?

I can’t imagine that there is a lot of demographic overlap between those 2 groups. No surprise it failed.
From my perspective, Esquire has a pretty specific market and its not gamers.
 

Abstruse

Legend
How the heck did the people in charge of changing a TV network’s focus from tech and comedy to travel and cooking think that was going to work?

I can’t imagine that there is a lot of demographic overlap between those 2 groups. No surprise it failed.
It happens more often than you think. Or happened, at least. I'm not sure how it works now, but for a long time, there was a long process to get your own channel, even if it's just a cable channel. Regulatory hoops and making deals with all the different cable and satellite providers to carry your channel and buying the equipment to broadcast...and that's just for a channel that's just airing material, not even producing it. That requires studio space, camera/lighting/sound equipment, editing and post-production facilities...

...or you can just buy an already-existing channel that's not doing too well in the ratings and rebrand them.

G4 was already considered a "lifestyle" channel because of its focus on geek/nerd culture, and wasn't doing great at the time (this was just before geek culture stuff really started taking over mainstream media, the MCU was just ramping up, big shows like Game of Thrones and Walking Dead had just started and hadn't started building their audiences, and so on. There was a segment of mainstream entertainment people who thought the whole "geek" thing peaked with Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and expected it to start tapering off. Plus, as you get with nerds, there was a vocal minority of people who hated G4 because they replaced The Screen Savers with Attack of the Show as their primary variety talk show. The former focused more on technology news while the latter focused more on culture stuff like movies, TV, and games.

So you've got a lifestyle channel that the owners think is doing poorly and will only get worse and Esquire steps in wanting to pivot the lifestyle network covered from "geek/nerd" to (this is their words not mine) "metrosexual". To the owners, licensing the channel seemed like a good deal. So G4 was stuck in a "holding pattern" with all new content suspended so they became a venue for Cops re-runs airing during the day and wall-to-wall infomercials at night. Except the Cops re-runs got pretty decent ratings. And NBCUniversal (who owned the network) decided "Hey...we already have a channel that covers fashion stuff...it's called Style...are we going to be competing with ourselves?" And the Esquire rebrand went to that instead, and G4 was left in its holding pattern for a couple of years before they just killed it.

Some other examples off the top of my head are:

Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network getting purchased by Fox to become Fox Family which was purchased by ABC to become ABC Family which they pivoted to Freeform.

The Nashville Network (which focused on country music and southern culture variety shows) getting purchased by Viacom and changing to The National Network, signing a deal with WWE and becoming SpikeTV and pivoting to "The First Network for Men" then pivoting again to The Paramount Network.

A less extreme example, CourtTV originally launched as showing a bunch of video footage from actual courtroom trials. You'd turn it on and see grainy consumer-level cameras in fixed positions as lawyers droned on with overdubbed commentary. Time-Warner bought the network out from NBC (they had been partners since both tried to launch "courtroom footage networks" at the same time and decided to partner instead of compete) and pivoted to truTV to focus on more general documentaries and dramas about true crime.
 

Olaf the Stout

Adventurer
It happens more often than you think. Or happened, at least. I'm not sure how it works now, but for a long time, there was a long process to get your own channel, even if it's just a cable channel. Regulatory hoops and making deals with all the different cable and satellite providers to carry your channel and buying the equipment to broadcast...and that's just for a channel that's just airing material, not even producing it. That requires studio space, camera/lighting/sound equipment, editing and post-production facilities...

...or you can just buy an already-existing channel that's not doing too well in the ratings and rebrand them.

G4 was already considered a "lifestyle" channel because of its focus on geek/nerd culture, and wasn't doing great at the time (this was just before geek culture stuff really started taking over mainstream media, the MCU was just ramping up, big shows like Game of Thrones and Walking Dead had just started and hadn't started building their audiences, and so on. There was a segment of mainstream entertainment people who thought the whole "geek" thing peaked with Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and expected it to start tapering off. Plus, as you get with nerds, there was a vocal minority of people who hated G4 because they replaced The Screen Savers with Attack of the Show as their primary variety talk show. The former focused more on technology news while the latter focused more on culture stuff like movies, TV, and games.

So you've got a lifestyle channel that the owners think is doing poorly and will only get worse and Esquire steps in wanting to pivot the lifestyle network covered from "geek/nerd" to (this is their words not mine) "metrosexual". To the owners, licensing the channel seemed like a good deal. So G4 was stuck in a "holding pattern" with all new content suspended so they became a venue for Cops re-runs airing during the day and wall-to-wall infomercials at night. Except the Cops re-runs got pretty decent ratings. And NBCUniversal (who owned the network) decided "Hey...we already have a channel that covers fashion stuff...it's called Style...are we going to be competing with ourselves?" And the Esquire rebrand went to that instead, and G4 was left in its holding pattern for a couple of years before they just killed it.

Some other examples off the top of my head are:

Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network getting purchased by Fox to become Fox Family which was purchased by ABC to become ABC Family which they pivoted to Freeform.

The Nashville Network (which focused on country music and southern culture variety shows) getting purchased by Viacom and changing to The National Network, signing a deal with WWE and becoming SpikeTV and pivoting to "The First Network for Men" then pivoting again to The Paramount Network.

A less extreme example, CourtTV originally launched as showing a bunch of video footage from actual courtroom trials. You'd turn it on and see grainy consumer-level cameras in fixed positions as lawyers droned on with overdubbed commentary. Time-Warner bought the network out from NBC (they had been partners since both tried to launch "courtroom footage networks" at the same time and decided to partner instead of compete) and pivoted to truTV to focus on more general documentaries and dramas about true crime.
Ok, buying a cable channel simply because it’s easier to do that than get regulatory approval to start one from the ground up makes a bit of sense. Sounds like they still found a way to well and truly stuff up the rebrand though.
 

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