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The Diversity of Publishers and Games

Reynard

Legend
I am currently listening to the audiobook edition of Shannon Applecline's Dungeons and Designers and I am almost shocked at how many different publishers and games there were even in the early days of the hobby, and how many of them survived into the 90s or even 00s. I am almost done with the 70s volume (the chapter on Chaosium actually inspired me to buy and run CoC for the first time) and will be following up with the 80s (which will have a lot of the companies I came into the hobby watching and playing their games).

I love D&D and it's huge installed player base is great to have on hand, but I sometimes forget how big the hobby really is and how many great games and companies are out there. I hope that the current trend of kickstarting 5E compatible books of every sort will do what the d20 boom did and create a few strong companies that eventually go their own way.
 

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aco175

Legend
Some of the names you hear about and some never get off the ground. Like most new inventions, a lot of people jump on trying to create a buck. Some helps propel the original to be better or takes over since they are better.

I think lots of industries do this. How many computer companies tried to break out in the 80s, or car companies over the years? I hope the meat that is not a meat craze gets sorted out before I grow a 3rd ear or something.
 

Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
In the early days many companies who already published wargames (hex games on boards mostly) tried their hand at rpgs. It was the new thing. Some rpgs were memorable others quickly forgotten.
 

Yora

Hero
I believe many of these RPGs companies were and are really just one or two guys with a day job who work from their home.
I believe Tim Kask has some stories how in the early days of TSR, their office was Gygax' living room before the success of D&D allowed them to rent offices.
 


Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I believe many of these RPGs companies were and are really just one or two guys with a day job who work from their home.
I believe Tim Kask has some stories how in the early days of TSR, their office was Gygax' living room before the success of D&D allowed them to rent offices.

And 40 years later, most RPG companies are still just one or two guys with a day job who work from their home.

I feel called out ;)


In all seriousness, how else am I gonna fund my projects lol. I will not be one of those publishers who collect money from people on something I haven't come close to completion, making promises only to keep failing to deliver. My reputation matters to me. So I end up funding 99% of my work myself, then use profits to recoup those costs and hopefully help fund future ones. And more often than not, that funding comes from my day job.
 

Yora

Hero
Writing is not generally work that requires a large upfront investment in resources. Once you have a complete manuscript, then you can start asking people on an advance to commission illustrations.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Writing is not generally work that requires a large upfront investment in resources. Once you have a complete manuscript, then you can start asking people on an advance to commission illustrations.
It can be if you use editors (you should) and sensitivity readers (you should). Those costs can easily reach into the thousands $. Illustrations (and layout after that, and marketing after that) are just part of the total costs.
 

Reynard

Legend
I believe many of these RPGs companies were and are really just one or two guys with a day job who work from their home.
I believe Tim Kask has some stories how in the early days of TSR, their office was Gygax' living room before the success of D&D allowed them to rent offices.
That's actually more common now. According to Applecline, most of these people made real efforts at creating companies and many of them succeeded, for a while anyway.
 

It can be if you use editors (you should) and sensitivity readers (you should). Those costs can easily reach into the thousands $. Illustrations (and layout after that, and marketing after that) are just part of the total costs.
Absolutely true, but I think it can be legitimate to use Kickstarter to supply editing and art costs once you already have the rough of the MS done. You can still have issues where external problems (i.e. editors and artists flaking on you) slow things down, but that's just a question of making sure you leave yourself enough slack on estimated delivery times.
 


MGibster

Legend
I am currently listening to the audiobook edition of Shannon Applecline's Dungeons and Designers and I am almost shocked at how many different publishers and games there were even in the early days of the hobby, and how many of them survived into the 90s or even 00s. I am almost done with the 70s volume (the chapter on Chaosium actually inspired me to buy and run CoC for the first time) and will be following up with the 80s (which will have a lot of the companies I came into the hobby watching and playing their games).
Once in a while I discover a game that was around, sometimes for quite a while, and I had never heard of. En Garde! has 4 editions published from 1975-2005 and I don't think I ever heard of it until this year. I thought Traveller was the first science fiction RPG, but apparently Metamophosis Alpha came out in 1976 beating it out by a year. I don't know how comprehensive it is, but you can find a list of RPGs by year published on Wikipedia. There's a lot of games I have dim memories of seeing at the game store back in the 1980s.
 

Once in a while I discover a game that was around, sometimes for quite a while, and I had never heard of. En Garde! has 4 editions published from 1975-2005 and I don't think I ever heard of it until this year. I thought Traveller was the first science fiction RPG, but apparently Metamophosis Alpha came out in 1976 beating it out by a year. I don't know how comprehensive it is, but you can find a list of RPGs by year published on Wikipedia. There's a lot of games I have dim memories of seeing at the game store back in the 1980s.

There were a lot of things that had, charitably, hit or miss distribution back in the day. I remember seeing what appeared to be at least a semi-professional looking Earthsea game someone had (its production values were at about the 2.5 tier publication for the time) but it appears unlikely to be official, which doesn't mean it didn't end up in stores or sold at conventions; but I've never even seen a reference to it anywhere else. And of course you had things like Ken St. Andre's Starfaring.
 


MGibster

Legend
I find it really interesting to look at the variety of ads in the old Dragon magazines.
I remember an ad for an RPG that appeared in multiple Dragon magazines in the late 80s or early 90s. All I remember is that game used a d16. Was it fantasy, science fiction, or something else? I can't remember.
 

Hussar

Legend
There were quite a few fairly large RPG companies back in the day too. Palladium, FASA, and others. There have always been a pretty wide range of games catering to different ways to play.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I remember an ad for an RPG that appeared in multiple Dragon magazines in the late 80s or early 90s. All I remember is that game used a d16. Was it fantasy, science fiction, or something else? I can't remember.

I really hope someone posts what it was soon so I don't start going through old Dragons to find it...
 


Once in a while I discover a game that was around, sometimes for quite a while, and I had never heard of. En Garde! has 4 editions published from 1975-2005 and I don't think I ever heard of it until this year. I thought Traveller was the first science fiction RPG, but apparently Metamophosis Alpha came out in 1976 beating it out by a year. I don't know how comprehensive it is, but you can find a list of RPGs by year published on Wikipedia. There's a lot of games I have dim memories of seeing at the game store back in the 1980s.
Starfaring (by Ken St. Andre) was released within hours of Met Alpha. Same convention.
 

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