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D&D 5E The Pitfalls of Success: Hasbro Success Story, Take 2


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1) Hasbro has already been mining the D&D IP for maximum profit. MtG has a Forgotten Realms themed set coming (last I heard, anyway), and we've already gotten 2 MtG settings for D&D. If the D&D movie is successful it might lead the way to a shared universe franchise, possibly including TV, comics, and video games.

2) I really don't expect this to change the types of products that much. This is a reorganization, not a franchise change.

3) Hopefully Hasbro realizes having overly optimistic projections leads to disaster. TSR originally had similar growth, and this growth is just as unsustainable. The game is great, and there are a lot of factors bringing in new players constantly, but trends change. While Hasbro isn't a tiny company the way TSR was in the early 80s, I do worry they'll fall into the same mistakes.

4) I assumed you were off your meds :p
 


payn

Hero
The 90's had multiple settings, novel liens, and Topps trading cards. I think D&D can certainly get beyond just an RPG.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
The 90's had multiple settings, novel liens, and Topps trading cards. I think D&D can certainly get beyond just an RPG.

True. Then again, for multiple reasons, it didn't end very well.

It's interesting, to me, what makes an IP valuable in terms of monetizing it.

For example, we all know about the easy examples- rich, complex stories that have decades of history and speak to archetypes as old as literature itself ... aka, comics.

But then again, we've seen other IP that people assumed were doomed to fail (Theme Park Rides, aka Pirates ...) also work out. Heck, as maligned as Transformers is today, it was a very profitable and money-making IP for some time which was originally just a toy and some cartoons to sell the toy.

The thing about D&D is that for most people, it is a very personal experience. Fewer people are huge fans of an established lore or set of characters than they are the game itself and their own experiences in it- although that might change. Look at Critical Role (for example).

It will be interesting to see.
 

payn

Hero
True. Then again, for multiple reasons, it didn't end very well.

It's interesting, to me, what makes an IP valuable in terms of monetizing it.

For example, we all know about the easy examples- rich, complex stories that have decades of history and speak to archetypes as old as literature itself ... aka, comics.

But then again, we've seen other IP that people assumed were doomed to fail (Theme Park Rides, aka Pirates ...) also work out. Heck, as maligned as Transformers is today, it was a very profitable and money-making IP for some time which was originally just a toy and some cartoons to sell the toy.

The thing about D&D is that for most people, it is a very personal experience. Fewer people are huge fans of an established lore or set of characters than they are the game itself and their own experiences in it- although that might change. Look at Critical Role (for example).

It will be interesting to see.
The major thing slowing down the D&D IP were the terrible contracts for film and video game rights. It was all over the place and none of the owners were in any shape to be good Sheppard's of the D&D brand. Now that most of that is in the past, there can be a focused approach. They are starting back at the starting line and we will see if they can build recognizable and marketable characters and elements of D&D to push it beyond a hodgepodge of settings and old novel lines.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Also, Ska is great, fight me.
Let Mortal Kombat commence!

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
The major thing slowing down the D&D IP were the terrible contracts for film and video game rights. It was all over the place and none of the owners were in any shape to be good Sheppard's of the D&D brand. Now that most of that is in the past, there can be a focused approach. They are starting back at the starting line and we will see if they can build recognizable and marketable characters and elements of D&D to push it beyond a hodgepodge of settings and old novel lines.

Perhaps! There is a certain alchemy that goes into this.

I think we tend to overestimate the general appeal of D&D's IP. But as I noted, it can be hard a priori why some things succeed (Pirates of the Caribbean, Fast & Furious Franchise) and other things flop (DC's interconnected universe, the Dark Universe, the Dark Tower, etc.).
 

payn

Hero
Perhaps! There is a certain alchemy that goes into this.

I think we tend to overestimate the general appeal of D&D's IP. But as I noted, it can be hard a priori why some things succeed (Pirates of the Caribbean, Fast & Furious Franchise) and other things flop (DC's interconnected universe, the Dark Universe, the Dark Tower, etc.).
Chicken and egg I guess. I think the problem with general D&D appeal is its never been presented as such. I think its possible to do, I just dont know how it would happen. Its part writing and part pop culture. All I know is its exciting whenever a new approach is being taken, even if there have been hilarious failures in the past.
 


MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Artists always work within limits. The only question is whether the artist chose those limits, or they were chosen for them.
No, the only question is how can they adapt to the limits and do something great. Sometimes unlimited freedom leads to an incomprehensible mess, sometimes some limits lead to masterpieces. Sometimes it is the other way around.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
No, the only question is how can they adapt to the limits and do something great. Sometimes unlimited freedom leads to an incomprehensible mess, sometimes some limits lead to masterpieces. Sometimes it is the other way around.
That feels more like a "Yes, and...". First to review a few limits. In no particular order, I am thinking of -
  • medium or format - a working designer rarely gets to choose this, and each medium offers its own limits
  • subject - a working designer occasionally gets to choose this, but not always, and it offers limits
  • treatment or framing context - although this is vaguely defined, there are generally limits on the treatments that a working designer can choose, and the chosen treatment offers limits
  • tools and other resources - a working designer always has some limit to their resources; especially because of the aim of extracting a return on investment, but even when a return isn't sought, no human has unlimited resources and no human today has access to technologies that might only come to exist in future
  • knowledge and skill of the designer - as humans, always limited; while a working designer shapes their skills, they are also shaped by what their company values, and in any case design craft is so deep that no one masters every part of it
  • culture and philosophy - there are broader limits to thinking, so that one sees marked (and welcome!) differences in the work of designers depending on their culture and philosophies; but also human patterns of thought are limited
  • audience - working designers are making things for an audience, and who that audience is imposes limits (language, age suitability, subjects of interest, forbidden subjects, etc)
So if a designer is working for Nintendo, they'll very likely be limited to Nintendo formats, and Nintendo disallow some treatments of their subjects. I did not mean "the only question" literally, but rather to as a figure of speech when framing a tension. As you say, another significant question is how well the designer adapts to the limits. I don't think any designer has unlimited freedom - no human has unlimited freedom - and I think they perforce opt into limits based upon their choice of medium, subject, etc.

What I've experienced very consistently is that limits - if adapted to - are typically inspiring. Design teams more quickly come to excellent outcomes when they can embrace limits, and even adopt limits for themselves (especially when such choices resonate with their audiences). Comprehending and choosing limits is an important tool in good design. Companies always impose some limits on their design teams.
 


MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
That feels more like a "Yes, and...". First to review a few limits. In no particular order, I am thinking of -
  • medium or format - a working designer rarely gets to choose this, and each medium offers its own limits
  • subject - a working designer occasionally gets to choose this, but not always, and it offers limits
  • treatment or framing context - although this is vaguely defined, there are generally limits on the treatments that a working designer can choose, and the chosen treatment offers limits
  • tools and other resources - a working designer always has some limit to their resources; especially because of the aim of extracting a return on investment, but even when a return isn't sought, no human has unlimited resources and no human today has access to technologies that might only come to exist in future
  • knowledge and skill of the designer - as humans, always limited; while a working designer shapes their skills, they are also shaped by what their company values, and in any case design craft is so deep that no one masters every part of it
  • culture and philosophy - there are broader limits to thinking, so that one sees marked (and welcome!) differences in the work of designers depending on their culture and philosophies; but also human patterns of thought are limited
  • audience - working designers are making things for an audience, and who that audience is imposes limits (language, age suitability, subjects of interest, forbidden subjects, etc)
So if a designer is working for Nintendo, they'll very likely be limited to Nintendo formats, and Nintendo disallow some treatments of their subjects. I did not mean "the only question" literally, but rather to as a figure of speech when framing a tension. As you say, another significant question is how well the designer adapts to the limits. I don't think any designer has unlimited freedom - no human has unlimited freedom - and I think they perforce opt into limits based upon their choice of medium, subject, etc.

What I've experienced very consistently is that limits - if adapted to - are typically inspiring. Design teams more quickly come to excellent outcomes when they can embrace limits, and even adopt limits for themselves (especially when such choices resonate with their audiences). Comprehending and choosing limits is an important tool in good design. Companies always impose some limits on their design teams.
Funny how we started with artist, then you shifted to designer. There are two way to see an artist, one is someone who only produces for their own satisfaction -and possibly in service of their pet cause- the other one is someone who produces master craft works that resonate on a deep level with others. Probably the latter is the one we all care about, but the former is tangled in it.

I remember in art school how "artists" used to look down on us wanting to be designers (there is a non-safe for work metaphor they employed and that would break the grandma rule, let's just say it was a commentary on the mercenary nature of design) because they were in love with the first idea. Obviously if you are in that camp, you wouldn't want any external restriction, but in my experience, wanting to go without restrictions usually leads to pretentious incomprehensible messes that are hard to parse and hard to even like. But notice that many of the great works are actually the result of mercenary work, and many times they were shaped by external limits. For example, Akira Toriyama, a lot of the way Dragon Ball turned out to be was because the input from his editors. Michelangelo hated painting -he preferred to sculpt-, yet he did the Sixtine Chapel, because it put money on his pocket. Eminem ended up doing two of his best songs because the studio forced him to do a follow up to his previous hit. In a similar way, the new corporate oversight could end up neutering D&D, but will likely force the team to innovate and find new ways to do adventures.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Funny how we started with artist, then you shifted to designer. There are two way to see an artist, one is someone who only produces for their own satisfaction -and possibly in service of their pet cause- the other one is someone who produces master craft works that resonate on a deep level with others. Probably the latter is the one we all care about, but the former is tangled in it.
Yes. Mindful of the OP's topic, I wanted to bring focus in to the kind of artist I am thinking most about - working designers. There is a useful distinction between designer and artist, which is not one of merit, skill or inspiration, but more of motivation and expectation, and of specific limits - commercial or customer-focused in nature - that may apply rather more to the designer than the artist (in the way I am using those terms).

But notice that many of the great works are actually the result of mercenary work, and many times they were shaped by external limits. For example, Akira Toriyama, a lot of the way Dragon Ball turned out to be was because the input from his editors. Michelangelo hated painting -he preferred to sculpt-, yet he did the Sixtine Chapel, because it put money on his pocket. Eminem ended up doing two of his best songs because the studio forced him to do a follow up to his previous hit. In a similar way, the new corporate oversight could end up neutering D&D, but will likely force the team to innovate and find new ways to do adventures.
It feels much like we are in furious agreement.
 


clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Except I disagree with discarding artist entirely. I prefer to reserve it for a high level of craftsmanship. Art - An artifact of high quality.
I'm really not sure what you are disagreeing with. I think there can usefully be some meaning to designer that is differentiable from artist, and that this difference is not a negative one and probably not even on the axis of art as you are using it. It is the addition of some concerns that an artist - as I am using it - does not have. Designer and artist blur into one another... albeit here we are distinctly speaking of an internal design team at Hasbro.
 

I'll add, corporate influence can sometimes (believe it or not), result in better quality art. George Lucas was given quite a few limitations when making the first Star Wars, including a limited budget and script re-writes. When he later made the prequels which he largely financed himself, he had near complete artistic freedom. Up to you to decide whether you like the original trilogy more than the prequels!
They're both better than the new trilogy, which was the most corporate of the trilogies
 

Chicken and egg I guess. I think the problem with general D&D appeal is its never been presented as such. I think its possible to do, I just dont know how it would happen. Its part writing and part pop culture. All I know is its exciting whenever a new approach is being taken, even if there have been hilarious failures in the past.
They'd have to just make an entertaining fantasy movie based somewhat loosely on, say, Forgotten Realms canon instead of doing something idiotic. Based on past D&D movies, that's a tall order.
 

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