Let's make an interview with Tim Kask!!!
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 4:37 am 
 

As others, I emailed Tim Kask and I asked for an interview. He graciously agreed (luckily he didn't ask for a 'phone call' as other people did - from Italy, that would be costly  :D ). I was thinking about the questions, then an idea surged: why don't I ask for questions from The Acaeum regulars and make this a 'group' interview? A truly multilateral, European approach  :wink:  instead of that brutal, Americanish way of interviewing (I'll do all the questions! Now!  :D) . So, if anybody cares, please send me the questions and I'll credit everybody in the interview as soon as it's posted (I suppose on EN World in English and on DM Magazine in Italian). There is no money in it, but it could be fun, interesting and - who knows? - becoming a regular feature...

  


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 9:48 am 
 

Burning questions...

1) Is it stupid to pay $500 for a white boxed set?

2) Is Ebay sniping ok?

3) Is it ok for D&Ders to wear female "Hello Kitty" underwear?

:-)

  

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 11:11 am 
 

jagd wrote:Burning questions...

1) Is it stupid to pay $500 for a white boxed set?

2) Is Ebay sniping ok?

3) Is it ok for D&Ders to wear female "Hello Kitty" underwear?

:-)


Hmmm... I'll reserve myself the right to make unilateral actions in defence of my interview  :D  :D  :D

  

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 11:19 am 
 

Welcome to the coalition of the willing! :D


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

New modules for your Old School game http://pacesettergames.com/

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 11:50 am 
 

This sounds like fun.  I'll post my questions here so people don't duplicate their effort.
:wink:

[1]  What is one of your favorite memories from your time as the editor of The Dragon?

[2]  Do you still collect games, or edit gaming materials?  What are your current interests?

[3]  Whatever happened to Finieous Fingers?

[4]  And whatever happened to Dave Trampier?

  

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 11:55 am 
 

darkseraphim wrote:This sounds like fun.  I'll post my questions here so people don't duplicate their effort.
:wink:

[1]  What is one of your favorite memories from your time as the editor of The Dragon?

[2]  Do you still collect games, or edit gaming materials?  What are your current interests?

[3]  Whatever happened to Finieous Fingers?

[4]  And whatever happened to Dave Trampier?


I'd like to commend Dark Seraphim's efforts in my own War on... er... FOR gaming knowledge  :wink:

  


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 1:25 pm 
 

Here's what happened to DAT:
http://newshound.de.siu.edu/online/stor ... eader$1382

More Qs for Kask:  
  • was Dave Anderson as terrible a writer as I've heard through the grapevine?
  • is Tim involved with any of the 30th anniversary planning for D&D?
  • has Tim kept in touch with any of the other old hands at TSR---EGG, RJK, REM, Len Lakofka, David Sutherland, etc.?
  • what's Tim up to now, and what has he been up to since leaving The Dragon?

When I think of more, I'll add them!


Allan Grohe ([email protected])
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https://www.facebook.com/BlackBladePublishing/

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 1:50 pm 
 

I really only have one question for an insider:

How on earth did (whoever was running TSR) run the company into the ground?

I'm not being offensive, just American. Yeah, I read the History of TSR. Please...what a crock. This has got to be the biggest single event in gaming history, and nobody has ever addressed it with any element of truth.

I have always thought the buyout was the biggest embarrassment in the gaming business world (with the exception of those Live Action RPGers). I mean, how on earth does some piss-ant company (WotC) buy out the leader of RPGs? Yeah, I know MtG was making boatloads of money; so what. TSR had been around for nearly 25 years and controlled about 80 percent of the wargaming market at its zenith.

Who was captian of the TSR boat and what the hell happened?

In truth I already know the answer...albeit to a limited extent. TSR's product line was mosty crap. Too many campaign lines (most of which had no business being a complete and individual line), Spellfire - oh my god what a piece of absolute garbage, stupid boardgames that nobody bought, a revised edition of AD&D that fell flat (alienated lots of people), and on and on.

Every company makes mistakes. It is part of doing business and risk-taking. But for Pete's sake, how could TSR make so damn many mistakes in such a short time period. Ego, yes. I am not star-struck by many of the management staff in the failing years. I met many of them at Gen Con and through other ventures. I think many believed that they should be included in the next edition of Dieties an Demi-Gods! I saw the way many gamers fawned over these people at Cons, it was sickening.

I am curious. What will Tim say? He surely has insider info. I would not blame him for ducking, ignoring, no commenting, on the question. Don't speak ill of the dead, as they say. But it is a fascinating question nonetheless.


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

New modules for your Old School game http://pacesettergames.com/

Everything Pacesetter at http://pacesettergames.blog.com/

 WWW  

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 2:06 pm 
 

bbarsh wrote:I really only have one question for an insider:

How on earth did (whoever was running TSR) run the company into the ground?

You can read Gary Gygax's version of the story behind TSR's bankruptcy at EN World RPG News & Reviews - Morrus' Daily News Blog (check the Interviews section). It's pretty long, but it's extremely classy and well done. Did I mention I did the interview?  :D

  


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 2:44 pm 
 

And here's Ryan Dancey's tale of the TSR takeover, which is pretty harrowing.  Together the articles paint a rather grim picture.

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 3:19 pm 
 

Questions:

Historical;

How did you get into gaming back in the early days?

Was Dragon your first 'game related' job? What did you do before that?

Have you stayed involved in the gaming industry the whole time or in a related area?  If not, what do you do now? Since Dragon?

What were the EARLY days like at TSR.  Did they know they had a great thing going or were they oblivious to the road ahead?

What was the best Dragon feature you put out under your tenure.

Topical:

What's your opinion of 3.0/3.5?  The OGL? D20?

Do you think that people who play RPGs today are different than the old D&D'ers of old?  It's my opinion that the 'new comers' are far more likely to be powergamers than those of old.  Do you agree?  

Do you think the industry will be around for another 30 years?  Is it stronger or weaker than it was in the late 70s early 80s?

What's your favorite AD&D adventure of all time?

What's your funniest tale from the game table?

Tell us about your favorite character in as much detail as you like.

Do you collect old D&D stuff?  Do you want to buy some? :)

What's the COOLEST D&D related artifact that you have from days of old?(IE, Gygax's original dice set, Arneson's DM notes, The first scrap of paper ever with the words 'dungeons and dragons' on it..etc.)

Was gaming EVER a good way to get girls?  Will it EVER be?

What do you think of Dragon now, run by Paizo and the current crop.  My feeling is it's kind of like Saturday Night Live.  Same label, not bad.. but it'll never be like it was.


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 6:00 pm 
 

You can read Gary Gygax's version of the story behind TSR's bankruptcy at EN World RPG News & Reviews - Morrus' Daily News Blog (check the Interviews section).

The link to the interview is no longer active.  Can you cut and paste it or provide a direct link to it?

The Ryan Dancey interview was very interesting.

  

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 6:48 pm 
 

Just read the R. Dancy column via the above link. Wow.

I know I was ranting in my earlier post, and just had a few hunches. But damn it, I think I was close to reality. But what is fascinating is the fact that TSR had no marketing department to speak of. How in the hell can you have a retail-based company of that scale and have no connection to your market? Let me say that again. Ego.

I really want to read the Gygax article. I have spoke to him lightly on the subject - about 8 or 9 years ago. He still had some ...eh...uh...angst. Of course, who could really blame him?

I do find it ironic that WotC made the connection the D&D is at its best when it let's the "players/DM" feel they are in control, then they came out with the most complex rules system I think I have ever seen.

First edition AD&D was so popular because it was extremely flexible. That flexibility came from what was not there, more than what was there.


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

New modules for your Old School game http://pacesettergames.com/

Everything Pacesetter at http://pacesettergames.blog.com/

 WWW  


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 6:54 pm 
 

Is Gygax's site down?
:?

Here's an archive of some of the material I remember.
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 10:27 pm 
 

Yes, Gary lost his site because his web master did not renew his name. That sucks for him. He has had so many things go bad for him, as far as business is concerned. Of all the people, he deserves a break sometime in the near future.

Here is an interview that is also very enlightning about many things concerning TSR, including the ouster of Gygax. I would have to say it is indeed the "Ultimate Gygax" interview:
atlasofadventure.com/Archive/gygaxinter ... erview.asp

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Post Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2004 1:58 am 
 

Here is a couple of questions for Tim Kask:

Does he remember refereeing the D & D tournament at Origins II in Baltimore?

The tournament was later published as S3 - Barrier Peaks.  I always thought it was a precurser to Metamorphasis Alpha as well.  What did TSR do with those tournament materials after the convention?  That would be an interesting collectible.

I believe Tim was the referee for my group by the way.

  

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Post Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2004 9:35 am 
 

Just finished reading the Gygax interview from the above link.

Again. Wow.

What the hell was going on up there (Lake Geneva). It's like a bad soap opera.

Ok, I'm no Donald Trump, but I do own a construction company. I build 8-12 new residential homes a year. The price range is $350,000 to around $450,000. I have to be focused, up to date and in constant contact with my customers and industry or I am done. I have to know what customers are looking for, how much they are willing to spend, current trends, etc. Something I knew very little about when I started. But you learn real quick in this business that trend (and location, of course) is everything. When one of your spec houses finishes and sits for six months, you take notice.

The bottom line is, when in business you need to know your customer and your market, even if you have no desire to do so. I like building houses, not tracking hot trends in flooring colors. But that is part of the business. TSR never seemed to grasp this very simple rule. Gygax had a handle on it; but only because he got down on the gamers level...he loved to game... and that gave him insight.

Next comes the really boring but highly critical stuff. Who is tracking the money. Yep, I mean the accounting end. Accounting sucks. It is boring, difficult to fully grasp, filled with tax BS, and did I mention it sucks? But again, it is key to business survival. I have my books checked quartely by my accountant. I don't think anyone in that company knows the first thing about construction. But they know cash flow and taxes. Without them, I would have gone belly up years ago. It is key to know how well your business is doing on every level. Accounting does this. You may think you are making money, but the reality could be the opposite. TSR, again, had some serious problems here.

Gamers running game companies seems to be a bad formula. Without professional business advisors, the messes abound.


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

New modules for your Old School game http://pacesettergames.com/

Everything Pacesetter at http://pacesettergames.blog.com/

 WWW  


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2004 10:14 am 
 

bbarsh wrote:Gamers running game companies seems to be a bad formula. Without professional business advisors, the messes abound.


I disagree. In the 90's, TSR wasn't run by a gamer, but by Lorraine Williams. She was a complete outsider to the gaming world when she took over TSR from the Blumes. She did not even like gamers.

Also, WOTC was a very successful company when run by Peter Adkinson - a gamer. TSR was financially successful when the gamer Gygax was member of the board (before they sent him to California).

Finally, it won't help a company to hire business advisors if the management has no knowledge on business management. At leats not in the long run. What you need in upper management is someone who not only knows the market, but has serious business knowledge, too.

A gamer with MBA would be perfect as CEO for any RPG company...


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2004 1:51 pm 
 

Ralf, you missed my point. Gamers should absolutely run game companies. Just like lawyers run law offices, doctors run doctors offices, etc.

But companies need, no, require professional advisors, accountants, tax planners, marketing groups, IT departments, etc to run efficiently. TSR was a management nightmare. WotC is a corporate machine, not some guy in a office playing Magic all day long. WotC clearly figured out how to operate after its success with MtG; prior to that it was a basement operation. WotC capitized on its success while TSR destroyed itself. The difference is a sound business plan backed up by professionals.

The most successful companies are the ones who realize they need help, then they go out and get it. TSR was a joke. They were so tied up in who had more controlling interest than who, it destroyed the company. No one was listening to the supporting infrastructure, though it really seems there was no supporting infrastructure to listen to (which is worse, yet).

I'll let you in on a little secret. It doesn't matter if you are selling cars, books, houses or popcorn, your business needs to function as a business. Find your niche, create a good product and drive on. Be creative and do what you do. But gosh darn it, listen to the business pros. Or you can join the other 75% of new businesses that fail.

It takes a lot more than a good product to be successful. And that is the sad, boring, unsexy truth behind any business.


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

New modules for your Old School game http://pacesettergames.com/

Everything Pacesetter at http://pacesettergames.blog.com/

 WWW  


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2004 2:54 pm 
 

bbarsh wrote:But gosh darn it, listen to the business pros.


Yes, or better yet, become one yourself! In the beginning, all that matters is the product, if the product is good, people will buy it, the cash flow will grow. Then, after a certain point (when the company has grown big enough), highly professional structures are needed. That's where I totally agree with you. I wouldn't so much listen to them consultants, but the knowledge must be within upper management. Like, when Arneson/Gygax invented roleplaying, it was OK for Gygax to run the company - until a certain point. Same story with Adkinson/WOTC/MTG.

That's the ideal constellation for any young company - someone who knows the product and someone who knows how to run a business. Perfect, if it's one and the same person.

Would you agree?


- "When the going gets weird, the Weird turn pro."

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