Keeping JG World Alive
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Poll: If new JG adventures were produced would you buy them?

Yes 60%       60%  [ 26 ]
No, I like the original stuff 9%       9%  [ 4 ]
Might, I'd like some previews if possible 30%       30%  [ 13 ]
Total votes : 43

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Post Posted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:38 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:I wonder if we're talking about the viability of small publishing efforts...


It just enough extra work that it will consumes much of your hobby time. And there are other things I want to do as well. So when it all shakes out I find that I am publishing about a book a year.

Plus when you first plunge in you have a "backlog" of stuff that you can write down and organize. However once that gets out the door then you find that the extra time to create totally new material stretches out the process.

The good news there is little capital investment required with Print On Demand. The main investment is your time.

James gave it a good try but he was also going a more traditional route of actual print publishing. Basically doing what James Raggi over at Lamentation of the Flame Princess is doing.  That path can be rewarding but there are a lot of things that can happen that are out of your control. Going Print On Demand largely avoids those problems.

The biggest issue of Print on Demand is getting enough publicity so that people will see your product.  It is very long and drawn out process and can be extremely frustrating.

FormCritic wrote:Or the legal possibility of publishing small print runs of products with a Wilderlands tie-in.


That up to the Bledsaws. But there is nothing stopping a person from putting out their own hex crawl and related products.

  


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Post Posted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:41 pm 
 

leadjunkie wrote:
James also took money for subscriptions he never filled and never refunded.  He was also unemployed and trying to derive some income from his publishing.  We probably shouldn't look at AGP as a model for success in spite of the quality of the product.


Reading about him going through that is why I will never ever get involved in subscriptions as a publisher.

  

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Post Posted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:45 pm 
 

Zenopus wrote:In a nutshell: dwindling sales for each new product. ("100 Street Vendors of the City State, barring a handful of sales of Noble Knight Games, sold a grand total of three print copies").

Well I bought many of the titles in multiples of five and ten, depending on what I thought I'd sell. As for Street Vendors, I bought that in PDF. In fact I think I bought every PDF published by AGP. But, the point still stands. AGP's products were good quality, well presented, and in keeping with the JG brand image. So the question remains, "How can a new publisher do a better job and make a success of selling JG product?" That's essentially what Thork' is trying to find out, isn't it?

robertsconley wrote:James gave it a good try but he was also going a more traditional route of actual print publishing. Basically doing what James Raggi over at Lamentation of the Flame Princess is doing.  That path can be rewarding but there are a lot of things that can happen that are out of your control. Going Print On Demand largely avoids those problems.

Both produced good quality highly polished finished products. You just don't get that from Print on Demand. With a professionally printed product you get to proof the product before it hits the fress, You can check out the quality of the paper and the cover, examine the alignment of the pages, the margins, the positioning of the graphics on the covers, the width and alignment of the spine, etc. You can't do that with PoD. You send them a PDF and they print what the F they like and send it out in your name. You have no way of knowing why customers don't come back, and no way of addressing if you've just sold someone a book for $15 that was a piece of crap. You have no control over the quality of your product at all, and all that really does is telegraph to your customers that you want their money, but you don't care what you have to give them to get it. Why do you think publishers don't use PoD? It's a mediocre product for mediocre home publishers. Yes, some of them will be worth a lot of money to us collectors in a decade or two, but no, you'll never earn a living or a reputation for quality by going down that route.


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Post Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 7:30 pm 
 

While I understand your point about quality (Ian) regarding POD and small house "indie" publishers (guys like me, and others of my ilk),  without some kind of bankroll to support the upfront money needed, I do not see how small-time operators can offer their product without "it" (POD).


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Post Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:11 am 
 

You can print out PDFs to make sure everything is kosher, and then you can also order a copy before you put it live, and see the result. Sure there may be small variances from a single print to another, but those will be minor and rare. It's quite easy to do a quality control pass on PoD.

EDIT: While it is possible, as I mention, it's not to say everyone does this. That said, though, I've yet to receive a very substandard printed copy of a PoD book, and I've ordered close to 20 different books at this point, which granted isn't a significant number yet.


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Post Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:59 pm 
 

Zenopus wrote:You mean James Mishler's Adventure Games Publishing? He explained his reasons in detail when he closed shop. In a nutshell: dwindling sales for each new product. ("100 Street Vendors of the City State, barring a handful of sales of Noble Knight Games, sold a grand total of three print copies").

I guess I was the "handful of sales"...
Sadly - barring a few exceptions - good product seems even more to need swish full-color graphics and an aggressive sales attitude these days. :?


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 4:11 pm 
 

Thork N Hammer wrote:While I understand your point about quality (Ian) regarding POD and small house "indie" publishers (guys like me, and others of my ilk),  without some kind of bankroll to support the upfront money needed, I do not see how small-time operators can offer their product without "it" (POD).

I'd be interested to find out how publishers like Pacesetter, Pied Piper, AGP and Black Blade etc. publish. Do they use PoD? I get the impression they go to their local printers.
Burntwire Bro's put out a very high quality module, Insidious, and PPP put out CotSK and ToB, to name a few of the better products to have come out recently. Not to mention Raggi's boxed sets. Very collectable, premium products there with no compromise to 'lowering standards of professionalism' in any of the production steps. PoD has a habit of producing cheap feeling tat. You match that low quality printing with a lax atitude towards artwirk, cartography, grammer, editing and typesetting, and you end up with something comparable with any number of other products every one and their mother is putting out in an attempt to make a quick buck. JG had become a quality brand of recent years, and it would be a shame to see that deminished. The question really is, are you planning on using the JG brand to balster and increase the desirability of your product, or are you writing a quality product and think JG will benefit from the contribution? I've yet to see a PoD product of a quality that could sit of a store shelf, but like Busman, I've only experienced a couple of dozen, and most of those have been published by Lu-roll.


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 1:05 am 
 

I think the question, Ian--truly--is, is it more important to keep something "alive and going" in the community, or have it become extinct?

If keeping it going can be done with well written and enjoyable adventures/encounters/settings, while lacking Triple-A art and graphics that the new breed are accustomed to and expect(regardless of how well written it is)--is that not better than seeing "it" disappear into obscurity?

I already write on occasion (and have in the past) adventures "in the style" of classic JG. As I have in the classic TSR style.

I am beginning to feel as if we are dinosaurs and do not see the comet approaching. :cry:


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 5:10 am 
 

I'm not actually advocating big budget colour graphics for all printed product in order to be considered a 'quality product'. In fact AGP did it without a huge graphic input. Certainly nothing compared to products put out by mainstream publishers, and not in colour (except the campaign map), but IMO they got the balance of production quality right on the money. I spent a lot of money on those products as a result of what was being published and the quality I got for my money. But then that quality was a physical how it looks and feels in the hand thing, and not purely based on the written word.

Secondly, arguable JG did die and remain dead for 15 years, and then resurected itself, and in no real way did that deminish from either the product that was published in the 1970's JG style, or the quality of the resurected 2000s style. Yes, Mayfair got the rights to publish BS under the JG name, but that doesn't necessarily mean it was the right thing to do in the interest of keeping the brand going. Mayfair's crap did nothing to raise awareness or or resurrect the JG brand as far as I can see, and on the whole have contributed nothing the the JG world. I suppose the only upside is that they did not damage the name because they published under the Mayfair name and not under the JG name. Had they published their shite under the JG brand, maybe JG would have died back in the 90s.

The important thing is the quality of the finished product as a whole, and not the quality of the writing alone. Len Lakofka put out a fantastic piece of writing a couple of years back, a huge work, but in no way could it ever have been presented as a credible product to the market, because the editing was horriifc, the typesetting was shite, and the whole graphic, mapwork and presentation were just a joke. That does not detract from the quality of the writing, but to inflict that product on a company brand could do nothing but damage it, un;less that brand had been willing to take the writing and completely redraft and publish the product in a quality manner. I have read many product published over the internet in the past years that would make fantastic products, but I think in most cases the authors do not like the idea of a publisher getting involved because they lose control of the finished product and do not see the difference between the finished quality a publisher can produce and their own home brew stuff. Either that or they want the greatest piece of the pie, and figure a big piece of selling a few pies is better than a little piece of many pies. However, in most cases the publishers and their established writers survive in the industry for many years, while the little home publishers come and go with amazing frequency.

If I were going to write in JGs name, I'd speek to AGP and ask the impostant questions of them. Then I'd speek to the IP owners and ask what they's most like to see. Then I'd ask the market and find out where the gaps actually are in the current spread of playing products.


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:23 pm 
 

Reasonable comments, and suggestions all around.

Which is what I am trying to do--make contact. Thus far, no response/s.

Thus, the lid on the coffin may already be sealed for this one.


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 4:51 pm 
 

Thork, I started a Publishing 101 thread over on the Appraisal section, cos I'm interested in the actual mechanics of this and finding out what the governing criteria are. It also allows the subject to be explored without it being single product specific. Your thought and experiences as you go through these issues, and your past experiences with Lulu would be most welcome.

Thork N Hammer wrote:... the lid on the coffin may already be sealed for this one.

I get the same sinking feeling each time I e-mail or PM Basil about a Tortured Souls! Archive.


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:29 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:Thork, I started a Publishing 101 thread over on the Appraisal section, cos I'm interested in the actual mechanics of this and finding out what the governing criteria are. It also allows the subject to be explored without it being single product specific. Your thought and experiences as you go through these issues, and your past experiences with Lulu would be most welcome.

Thork N Hammer wrote:... the lid on the coffin may already be sealed for this one.

I get the same sinking feeling each time I e-mail or PM Basil about a Tortured Souls! Archive.

By all means, I will pay it a visit.


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Post Posted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 4:00 pm 
 

I propose that we create new Judges Guild products with artwork in the following manner:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXIQTlqAmsM

  

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Post Posted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:34 pm 
 

sauromatian wrote:I propose that we create new Judges Guild products with artwork in the following manner:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXIQTlqAmsM


Your Judges Guild pass is revoked!

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Post Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:19 am 
 

Plaag wrote:Your Judges Guild pass is revoked!


Then how about this example for something more on-topic: I recently acquired the GM screen for the aforementioned Starblazer Adventures game. It has a non-glossy surface with very rich colors like an art print. The 1980s originals are not exactly as amateurish as JG art, but my point being that it could be done for JG.

  

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Post Posted: Mon May 07, 2012 10:26 pm 
 

Has anyone here talked to Bob Jr. about this? And if so, did you get the impression that he was not interested?


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Post Posted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:03 pm 
 

Bill Owen wrote:Has anyone here talked to Bob Jr. about this? And if so, did you get the impression that he was not interested?



Hi, Bill.
Actually, I have tried to make contact through various JG sites, and have never recieved a reply. I assumed the sites were abandoned.
Also, I am one of the few that I am aware of, that has actually attempted to recreate the feel of the old JG materials; several being limited prints available only to Acaeum members, though I do have 1 or 2 at my store.
If you have access to Bob Jr., please feel free to convey to him our humble intentions.


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Post Posted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:27 pm 
 

Okay ...never assume lack of interest. May just be that the electrons went astray.


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Post Posted: Thu May 10, 2012 3:07 pm 
 

Re-creating the artwork of the late JG era would be easier because a lot of it was public domain clip art.


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Post Posted: Thu May 10, 2012 3:51 pm 
 

I ended up writing more than I intended! But because it may clarify some themes that my books didn't, here it is anyway!

The clip art was a later development after I left. Our early plan was to pack the products with game-specific data. I saw art as a mixed blessing and when I bought game stuff, I bought it for the information not the artwork. Obviously we felt that maps were crucial game data and certainly we pioneered frp areas that appeared to be untouched at the time--cities and the wilderness. When I could get Bob to draw up Tegel Manor, for example, for the cover then that was enough art. My concern about art is that even quality renderings (or especially) would limit rather explode the potential of ambiguous items (monsters, structures, milieu). I realized this during games when I found that what I assumed was grossly different than what other players envisioned... and each construct could have led to a totally different outcome if followed to its conclusion. And that would be more than okay, it would be ideal.

But this attitude about art probably was short-sighted from a mass market perspective and perhaps mostly a case of making a virtue out of necessity. Meaning we couldn't afford really nice art without raising prices more than we perceived would make the products affordable. We felt that much of what we produced was consumable. It never occurred to us that anyone would collect any of it--despite the fact that I already had a good sized game collection of my own! Which burgeoned further by my collecting my royalties in product. But when we went into business, at least I did not understand the exceptional distance that D&D would penetrate  the mass market. I saw it as a narrow wargamer specialty and my goal was to maximize the usable materials that gamers could get for a low price--because that's where I was. Bob having a different vision meant that there was a tension in our underlying assumptions. But Bob carried the intention of budget pricing which led him to clip art.

Whatever art Bob produced (and Bob Jr) I thought was 'right'. Yet I really think that he was overwhelmed by the burden of both having to pour out all this interior world on paper ...and the need to produce much more. Early on we started using Guildmember submissions and some was really good. Albeit not necessarily in a Bobbian character. It's obvious that when the number of Guild employees mushroomed, guiding this phlanx of gamers AND non-gamers was an overwhelming task too. I had nearly no impact on this mass of humanity although I did drop by the library to motivate Creighton Hippenhamer several times. I don't know why I did that other than it was convenient (both being downtown). But he was not a gamer and yet here he was developing a city?! It's a testament to his work ethic that he produced what he did.

But what does most of this have to do with clip art?! :) But I still have sort of parent's interest in seeing that the JG world thrives... even if I only watch from the front porch of the rest home.


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