Bill Owen Q&A
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Post Posted: Sun May 18, 2008 11:10 pm 
 

robertsconley wrote:
Thanks and I appreciate talking with you about this stuff. I think we are cut from the same cloth as far as mapping goes.

Rob Conley


I try and try again. The first time is for my graphic training and 2nd time is fire for effect. I think a certain amount of doggedness helps (if you don't know what you're doing!)

When I was drawing the giant Victory In Europe map in the late 70's/early 80's, I made a giant light table out of my smaller sand table. It was 4x6' and with deep sides. I bolted several flourescent fixtures inside the table top and ordered a 4x6'piece of tempered glass (I think) and tried to mount it well enough so it wouldn't slide off and cut my legs off. Because it couldn't just be flat or slightly angled or I'd have to walk around and draw upside down. I mounted it with heavy door hinges to the rafters of the Franklin Mall (I had an apartment overlooking the mall street:
www.franklin-mall.us
...and proceeded to draw up a storm. Later when my father kicked me out because he'd rented my pad to a hairdo parlor, I didn't want to carry the glass with me so I gave it to him and he installed it in his new condo as a picture window between 2 rooms!

Then I moved with my brother's family and together bought the old homestead--a concrete bunker of a house (Miami Modern in central Illinois!) where I got started in wargaming and Bob moved in with me because he had to move from his place too! This meant we got to play a LOT of Hitler's War, A House Divided, Kingmaker and probably other stuff.

It was pretty retro because this is where Mark W and I used to play a lot of Anzio, shooting at tanks and ships with BB guns etc.


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Post Posted: Sun May 18, 2008 11:31 pm 
 

Rob,

I realize I may have insulted you when I said I couldn't figure why your map didn't have hexes. I tried to make it clear that that may not have been your choice but rather the guys who hired you.

But I'm such a gamer, I'd have hexagons on my toilet paper if my wife would let me. And probably should have a gag on my mouth!

I'm sorry.

I did say the map was beautiful!

robertsconley wrote:When I stumbled across a xerox place that had a blueprint photocopier. I had them xerox six copies of the player's and gm map of CSIO. Then I took the Player's map and drew the new alleyways and building. This wasn't radically different than the original I focused more on the changes that six campaigns of players made to my CSIO (1981 to 1985).


I just found out something interesting at our local blueprint place, they can scan at the same time they are making giant 'xerox' copies (3'x100' or whatever you need long!) and the price is right, the 1st copy is $.50 a square foot and 2nd is $.14 per square foot!

And if you scanning, then that's same cost as either pass (not in addition but in the place of if you need 0-1 copies).

You can send them a pdf (or whatever) and they'll output it at the same cost so I'm going to try them for a giant reference poster for Command Decision. The quality looks sharp (unlike blueprints which also literally stink).

The only glitch is that it does B&W scanning... do you know of anyone that will do giant COLOR scans of, say 17x22" or 22x34" for mouse-sized budgets? I ask re something I think JG fanatics would really like... a pretty definite purpose which is not at present disclosable

Bill


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Post Posted: Sun May 18, 2008 11:43 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:How did you first meet Bob?


I had met his cousin Dave Petrowsky and after buying D&D in 1974 I called Dave up to invite him to my 'dungeon' (sounds pretty uninviting, huh?)!

Dave was totally uninterested in fantasy and later always harassed us about how we were fixated on fairies and enthralled with elves. He was a historical miniatures magnate who ended up teaching school after leaving the railroad (they may have flung him off the train, not sure). But think of his lucky (boy) students... refighting at least 2 dozen (he may have more periods of miniatures than that though) battles as SCHOOL. He did want to play the Live Ring Game but mainly to depants people.

Anyway, he said that his cousin Bob might be interested so I called Bob and Marc Summerlott. Bob brought Dave's brother Mike along to my beautiful 3rd floor city apartment which my brother and I had transformed from slumlike torpor. Sitting in my front room overlooking the street, the 4 of us played a completely forgettable D&D game of my own making.

The turning point in history came afterwards when Bob quietly asked, "May I borrow the ruleset?"


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Post Posted: Mon May 19, 2008 12:04 am 
 

Bill Owen wrote:.......I just found out something interesting at our local blueprint place, they can scan at the same time they are making giant 'xerox' copies (3'x100' or whatever you need long!) and the price is right, the 1st copy is $.50 a square foot and 2nd is $.14 per square foot!

And if you scanning, then that's same cost as either pass (not in addition but in the place of if you need 0-1 copies).

You can send them a pdf (or whatever) and they'll output it at the same cost so I'm going to try them for a giant reference poster for Command Decision. The quality looks sharp (unlike blueprints which also literally stink).

The only glitch is that it does B&W scanning... do you know of anyone that will do giant COLOR scans of, say 17x22" or 22x34" for mouse-sized budgets? I ask re something I think JG fanatics would really like... a pretty definite purpose which is not at present disclosable

Bill


I am PMing you at this time.
Best Regards, Aneoth


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Post Posted: Mon May 19, 2008 1:45 pm 
 

Bill Owen wrote:I realize I may have insulted you when I said I couldn't figure why your map didn't have hexes. I tried to make it clear that that may not have been your choice but rather the guys who hired you.

But I'm such a gamer, I'd have hexagons on my toilet paper if my wife would let me. And probably should have a gag on my mouth!

I'm sorry.


Nah I understand your point of view completely. There was a time when I flipped from using a grid (square or hex) to using clear plastic rulers to measure things. Then I kept losing the damn things and I have flipped back to using grids for my own work. All my commercial work has been done with the full hard core JG hex style.



Bill Owen wrote:
I did say the map was beautiful!


Yes you did and also I didn't mention that I am deeply impressed with your normandy. One thing I haven't mastered yet is drawing a map of a real place.

The closest I came was for the live-action role-playing chapter I owned for a couple of years. I ran events for another chapter before buying my own. Running a LARP event is like having a hundred players and dozen co-DMs. One thing I was tired of what player saying "Well I will march to this town (in-game world) get X and march right back in time for the afternoon big battle.

So when I bought my chapter I was given a section of the game world the parent organziation (NERO) uses to for a common campaign world. A part of it fit Western PA perfectly. Western PA (Meadville) is where the chapter was located and where I live. So I decided to transfer as much of Western PA into the in-game map I could. Wherever the camp we used was at that was where it was on the map.

I found it pretty hard to get good detail and have it all fit. Finally I just went with one version that was fairly close. With more practice I think I can do it but haven't had to time to pursue it.

For what it worth it did solve the problem. The second or third event of my chapter a player did indeed try to say "I want to walk to X and get something" I said "ok we are here and X is near Edinboro. Think you can get to Edinboro and back walking from sunup to noon?".  (We were 30 miles away).




Bill Owen wrote:The only glitch is that it does B&W scanning... do you know of anyone that will do giant COLOR scans of, say 17x22" or 22x34" for mouse-sized budgets? I ask re something I think JG fanatics would really like... a pretty definite purpose which is not at present disclosable


Look for places that do poster printing or fine art reproduction. The fine art reproduction places are generally not cost effective for anything other than a one off. The poster places vary and may be open to negotiating better rates.

As for scanning, in recent years most places will take a PDF file on a USB Flash Drive. I know that not the same as what you are talking about but since most of my original work is done on computers it been a LOT easier getting something made since the advent of USB Flash Drives. Just remember to buy another flash drive so you can leave it with them if they can't do it right away.

I will look into seeing what my local blueprint printers have. If I can get my hand drawn maps scanned that will be great. I can not only make more copies but also stitch them together. If the only thing I can fine are b/w scanners than I will just get them scanned and use the scan to draw over on the computer so I can replicate my original drawings.


Good Info

Thanks
Rob Conley

  


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Post Posted: Mon May 19, 2008 1:46 pm 
 

Aneoth wrote:
I am PMing you at this time.
Best Regards, Aneoth


If you could send some info my way as well that would help me as well.

  

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Post Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 1:43 am 
 

Hi Bill,

I really got a nice laugh when I read some of your auction descriptions on eBay, particularly the ones noting the quality coffee and tea stains laid down by Bob across some book covers and pages.   :lol:  I guess I find it amusing that today we bag and board these suckers but back in the day these gaming materials were freely used and put in harms way.  Were these spills a frequent occurrence around the JG office?  Were they a frequent occurrence at the gaming table?

Also we know Bob was fond of the toasted style for his maps and scrolls ...were there ever any notable incidents at the table as a result of putting paper to flame that you recall?  Please share if you can as I'm sure everyone here is fascinated hearing about the early goings on around Bob's gaming table when he was DM'ing his Middle-Earth and CSIO campaigns.

Thanks!

  

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Post Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 1:53 am 
 

robertsconley wrote:
If you could send some info my way as well that would help me as well.


Anoeth's basic point is that cost-effective color scanners tend to be roll fed and that is a problem with ancient, delicate maps (my situation!) so he anticipated the likely glitch.

Fine art scanners are obviously going to run a lot more money since they are less common and oriented to super high quaity unneeded by blueprint service companies (some of which may have a color capable roll fed scanner--I should check locally).

So here's another idea, am I absolutely nuts to think we could take a photo of the old map? It's already mounted in a frame anyway but I think we could remove the glass and thus glare.

My wife has a 12-MB digital camera that's pretty darned good. I use a rather dumpy 5-MB because my needs are either eBay or travel photos for brochures I make regularly.*

This is a project to benefit Bob Jr's new JG efforts and I haven't even mentioned it to him yet (since I spend much of my time on the bleeding edge!) so I'd rather not say what it's about here and just yet.


*Here's a rather obscure JG factoid:  did anyone know that we took the original CSIO Guide art from an old drawing of Rothenburg-ob-Tauber in Germany? It's a real place, old, with a wall around it and on the Romantic Road between Frankfurt & Munich roughly. The streetscene is a famous view of the buildings that is featured on lots of travel posters and brochures.

Here's a sample photo; the spot is called Ploenlein:
http://travel.webshots.com/photo/108409 ... 2854mJngOg

I just sent a group of 39 people there today and just got back from seeing them off at O'Hare. So R-o-T keeps coming in and out of my life.

Now another couple of CSIO/RoT factoids: Bob drew the the guy coming down the street which we rubber cemented on the old drawing... to give it some life and if you look up on the clock tower, there is no clock! Just a grey tone that is too "even" in shade rather than textured like stucco or a wooden shutter. At the last minute Bob & I thought that a clock would be anachronistic and so we covered it up!

If you were going to take a vacation with the missus, she'd probably like it too (lots of neat shops and quaint stuff) and you'd feel like you're in the city state! (Sort of. Not many Orcs or sword fights that I saw).

When I thought my brother wanted to buy the travel agency, I took one last grand tour of Europe with my wife & daughter in 1999 before our agent privileges were histoire. I definitely included R-o-T, Lucerne's Chateau Gutsch, Brugges, Amsterdam, Munich, Venice, Rome, Paris, Madurodam. All old stuff and tiny stuff; we weren't looking for modern monstrosities! He ended up not buying me out but selling instead so we have kept on truckin'...

Assembling unique tours is what I continue to do for a living (since leaving Judges Guild, so 30+ years now) so if a couple dozen of you want to spend several thousand dollars on castles and old cities in Europe, I have the contacts in Europe through American Express etc. to assemble a custom tour... Judges Guild Comes Home To The City State Tour!


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Post Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 2:18 am 
 

islestrike wrote:Hi Bill,

I really got a nice laugh when I read some of your auction descriptions on eBay, particularly the ones noting the quality coffee and tea stains laid down by Bob across some book covers and pages.   :lol:  I guess I find it amusing that today we bag and board these suckers but back in the day these gaming materials were freely used and put in harms way.  Were these spills a frequent occurrence around the JG office?  Were they a frequent occurrence at the gaming table?

Also we know Bob was fond of the toasted style for his maps and scrolls ...were there ever any notable incidents at the table as a result of putting paper to flame that you recall?  Please share if you can as I'm sure everyone here is fascinated hearing about the early goings on around Bob's gaming table when he was DM'ing his Middle-Earth and CSIO campaigns.

Thanks!


Bob was a major coffee drinker so I know that the spills didn't come from me. He'd be working away on something and accidently throw a coffee slosh spell and say something like "oh dummy me!"

You know someone's made an enormous impact on you when they are gone and you find the words you use are his words... (wistful sigh) ...or when annoyed saying "what is this garbage?!"

We mostly didn't WORK together that much (oddly enough; I guess we were both solitary by preference) but when we did (which is to say, Bob would come up town to the public office), the one big table that was just covered with booklets and maps was a minefield for stable coffee cup placement.

Of course we gamed together a lot both before and after JG (but not during; where was the time?!) and so we had plenty of coke (me!) and coffee spills over games. He'd feel awful and I'd tell him don't worry, you may have IMPROVED this particular game!

Bob would play ALMOST anything so he was sort of the opposite of Mikey and the cereal. And he wasn't a quitter or excessive competitor. Just the other day, Mark was commenting about how Bob caught him off guard as he was making up some fake review about Harry Turtledove's alternate reality book, impromptu like he was reading it off the back cover, in a blase voice... but it was actually Bob's being sarcastic about how insane the author is/was.

Bob did that all the time when we were in his campaign, relaying news like he was a BBC commentator with slight nuances of presentation... he might have been a great Shakespearean actor because of his lack of overacting. But he'd be telling me about how the orc army had carried off Sumerlott's wife and chopped her up... and in a similar tone to over the back fence chat with a neighbor.

He'd get a giant kick out tieing our shoelaces together in game terms and watching us 'hop up and fall down'... he was pretty mischevious that way. And how he'd laugh!!!

I don't remember him making the toasted stuff (which I prized even then but how much of it got scattered or lost?!) while we were there but I can just imagine it (he told me with a pained look at least once about how his scroll artwork burned up while just trying to toast the edges) because I think  he did most of his designing up a stool at his breakfast nook next to the stove where he'd light cigarettes* and throw tea on after making a big, screwed-up face after drinking what was now horrible/cold coffee.

We'd be down at the dining room table rocking and rolling and cutting up. And he'd be saying things like "oh my poor monsters!"

I have fun and think a bit of therapy remembering these things but as Pope John Paul said, MUST GO TO SLEEP NOW.

*This was back before politically-correct, anti-smoking times when I actually took up cigar smoking as self-defense against the staves of stinking.


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Post Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 6:09 am 
 

Since we know Bob was the writer, did you ever get a name (NPC, place, etc) that Bob liked and included?  How much if any of the situations that happened in the games you played before starting the company made their way into the early stuff?

ShaneG.


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Post Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 6:19 am 
 

hey bill

back in the day, who got to DM the most?

and what kind of Dm-ing style was used? this kind of thing always interests me...

thanks

Al



  

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Post Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 8:51 am 
 

Bill Owen wrote:So here's another idea, am I absolutely nuts to think we could take a photo of the old map? It's already mounted in a frame anyway but I think we could remove the glass and thus glare.

My wife has a 12-MB digital camera that's pretty darned good. I use a rather dumpy 5-MB because my needs are either eBay or travel photos for brochures I make regularly.*


Just to expound on your comment.

No, you are not nuts.

Do you have some sort of frame or stand to set the camera in/on for verticle shots?
If so, then there are ways to rig the shot so that the resulting picture will be an almost exact copy (To scale) of the original subject.

One of the many aspects of Land Surveying includes photogrammetry.
Bascially, this is ariel photography for making detailed maps of the terrain to a specific scale.
The same process can be used for photos of objects, including maps.
This is commonly done in the restoration process for ancient books, maps and other ancient documents.


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Post Posted: Thu May 22, 2008 1:36 am 
 

Plaag wrote:Since we know Bob was the writer, did you ever get a name (NPC, place, etc) that Bob liked and included?  How much if any of the situations that happened in the games you played before starting the company made their way into the early stuff?

ShaneG.


Actually I did add to the writing/art but had forgotten it! Huberic of Haghill was my castle art. I only remembered this when I found the color map I'd done first. My memory is really fuzzy but I think it was when I was judging the Mirkwood portion of the campaign later in our D&Ding.

I also wrote up the section on Litigation Tricksters which came from my brother's relaying how lawyers were illegal in ancient China (he had masters degree in Chinese law which in the mid-70's was pretty hard to put into practice) and a bit about Talus caves which I wrote up in the Tacoma Washington library while waiting for my sister to get off work (another lawyer). We went backpacking a lot there in the Olympics or Cascades and of course I was always soaking up topography for fantasy maps.

The biggest transfer from our campaign to JG came via Tegel Manor. We had a great time with this one and I think Bob probably improved on it a  bit but one could estimate that it was 80% original. Most of the other JG material was either new or piecemeal recombined rather than being unibody construction like Tegel.

And this is partly guesswork based purely on faulty memory!

Bob didn't always pass out dungeon levels etc. after a game. In fact, he may have never done this EXCEPT in so far as I was taking over a portion of the campaign when he was in the 'delegating' mode. I think Marc Summerlott (which I assume is at least partly where Thieves of Badabaskor*) was another active delegate and possibly Mark Holmer and Craig Fogle but they will have to speak for themselves.**

*And if you don't recognize the knock-off mountain on that ones cover, then you need to rent Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The best part in that movie was the heat register screws!

**And if forgot someone I've known since high school, please forgive me because I have an old and capricious brain! And this delegation came rather late in our D&D campaign. I don't know if it lasted weeks or months.


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Post Posted: Thu May 22, 2008 1:55 am 
 

killjoy32 wrote:hey bill

back in the day, who got to DM the most?

and what kind of Dm-ing style was used? this kind of thing always interests me...

thanks

Al


Hi Al,

I kind of touched on this in my response to Shane but here's a succint answer rather than my usual digressions:

Who: Bob (who probably beat all the rest of us 10 to 1 combined!*)

Style: ???

Now the digressions!!

It's kind of too bad that he was so good at it! I think that he really would have enjoyed PLAYING in a game 1 in 3 rather than 1 out of 30.

He was great on several levels, namely the creation, the telling, the graphic design of items passed out (which were often in color not just black and white, rarely in lowly pencil) and an intuition for balance and kindly eye for judicious second chances.

Oddly enough his excellence and wide ranging ability made it intimidating to BE a judge in any proximity to him! I probably only agreed because we feared he'd keel over otherwise from overwork and we OWED him a boundless debt for all that he'd done to date.

As regards judging styles... I am stumped on how to compare and contrast because I was so provincial as to never (that I can remember; don't take it personally if I sat in on YOUR game--MY first D&D judging was forgotten by ME ALSO) play in anyone else's game.

The phase when we were delegates may have been short because we did such a mediocre job or the group was breaking up anyway. I cannot remember playing in their games and remember nothing really of games I judged. Wierd huh? But I have (or just sold) the evidence that it DID happen for a while.

So maybe when I'm walking through Wal Mart, I will suddently remember something significant to say about "style".


*But then when it came to miniatures or hosting bizarre boardgame variations, I was usually the organizer, referee, terrain maker etc. I judged at least 70 Tractics games in the first 2 years of the '70's. And countless other non-FRP stuff.

Alas, my style at times was pretty sarcastic and pushy about trying to keep the game moving. I'm NOT proud of the preceeding & trampling implicit but the truth will set me free.


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Post Posted: Thu May 22, 2008 3:17 am 
 

Bill Owen wrote:We and a lot of customers liked the classic, olden look of the maps. And I think it's important to remember how our level of quality may have impacted customer usage. What I mean is that if we'd provided extremely high quality (printing wise) materials especially if on slick, glossy paper, how many people would have felt comfortable or even able to mark them up with their own personalization.

I guess this is also a valid observation for game materials in general. A lot of the time, you look at them like museum pieces because they are so slick, well produced and professional that they are perfect without you. A bit of roughness keeps it more personal, more accessible, and since it needs your input, it also encourages and facilitates it.

A question: how many of the old dungeon levels survive? Lonely Mountain and Moria were mentioned as huge, many-level complexes; are these levels comparable to, say, an immense thing like Tegel, or more along the lines of Badabaskor's smaller areas?

  

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Post Posted: Thu May 22, 2008 10:42 pm 
 

Melan wrote:I guess this is also a valid observation for game materials in general. A lot of the time, you look at them like museum pieces because they are so slick, well produced and professional that they are perfect without you. A bit of roughness keeps it more personal, more accessible, and since it needs your input, it also encourages and facilitates it.

A question: how many of the old dungeon levels survive? Lonely Mountain and Moria were mentioned as huge, many-level complexes; are these levels comparable to, say, an immense thing like Tegel, or more along the lines of Badabaskor's smaller areas?


Melan,

1. A guy in Scotland got what was left of what I had of Bob's campaign. I don't know if Bob kept anything. He was more into piling than filing. Plus he was humble and my motivation was keeping a memento.

I had 2-4 levels from the Tower of the Elephant which was a big dungeon adjacent to Lonely Mountain which I think had a separate dungeon though it may have been connected.

The dungeon levels I can remember were "moderate in size" i.e. mostly sparse rather than dense and letter-sized (1/4" graph paper). But they were often many levels deep (i.e. 10-16); I don't if that's above average.

The giant sized dungeons were unusual and Tegel Manor is the only one can remember right now.

I have my Wales campaign materials ready to go up on eBay 'soon' (3-18 days). And there were some crude dungeons therein. I sell all this stuff with a satisfaction guarantee because they are generally unorganized and perhaps disappointing in terms of expectations. You haf been varned!

2. I bolded your comment about game being "perfect without you" ...a startling comment to ponder.

The younger one is, it may be surprising that most of our materials were a step up from the ransom-note style of graphic quality that was the norm in wargaming. And certainly color was very unusual. So having 2 color products was another step up.

I think that my natural tendency (as evidenced by the 35 Travel Catalogs I produced from 1991-2006) was to strive for constantly upgrade print quality. But despite having color printing in house, I have avoided glossy stock and high-tone look even though our tour groups run from about $3000-5000/person. I believe that glossy would connote unaffordably and off-putingly high end to most of our prospects.

It goes back to Stevens Publishing's founder "KK" who showed up on my door because he was prospecting for customers. He produced mostly weekly newspapers and catalogs... on newsprint or what I think was called high quality newsprint. He told me he wanted to get his son involved int the business and printing D&D materials (his high school aged son's current gaming obsession) might help him see how he could involve himself in both business and gaming. It worked Tom is still in the business after KK died young.

Anyway, he told me something rather important... people are most interested in what you have to say than how it looks. Self-serving perhaps but can you gold-plate crap and have it be more enticing?*

The other thing it did was allow us to publish much more materials for no more money. This was important for massive projects like Arneson's First Fantasy Campaign. We thought of it as giving more value.

I'll admit that I was less impressed by later JG stuff that had kind of a Comic Book colors, self-cover approach but I was long out of it by then. And my opinions were only as valuable as anyone else's! But the real issue was whether the product inside had value.

*Of course, the outward appearance must at least not repel you. Ideally intrigue the prospective buyer. Games that suffered by their graphic treatment include War at Sea and Victory in the Pacific. We thought they were ugly and didn't play them until much later... then realizing that they were gems in the rough and a lot of fun.


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Post Posted: Fri May 23, 2008 7:44 am 
 

Bill Owen wrote:*Of course, the outward appearance must at least not repel you. Ideally intrigue the prospective buyer. Games that suffered by their graphic treatment include War at Sea and Victory in the Pacific. We thought they were ugly and didn't play them until much later... then realizing that they were gems in the rough and a lot of fun.

I must confess to judging a book by its cover. I tend not to purchase items, or percieve them as having lower value, based on the care with which the publisher has taken in presenting his material. I was particularily fond of the original JG suppliments, The First Fantasy Campaign, Tegel Manor, CSIO and the Wilderlands Campaign materials. However, the later stuff, and even the re-covered versions of the original classics do not hold much worth to me. Tarantis is a case in point. A remarkably large piece of work, worth relatively little. The newer products just didn't have the 'feel' that was associated with JG's early works. I often find it hard to get past a lousy or garish cover, and will only venture within upon recommendation from others that it would be worth doing so. For that reason, d20/3/3.5E have completely passed me by.


This week I've been mostly eating . . . minestrone soup.

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Post Posted: Sat May 24, 2008 12:29 am 
 

One of the problems with shrinkwrapped goodness is that it can hide real badness inside.

Sometimes, the care taken with the cover...or the style and philosophy reflected by the cover art...is the only thing to judge a game product by before trying it.


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Post Posted: Sat May 24, 2008 12:35 am 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:I must confess to judging a book by its cover. I tend not to purchase items, or percieve them as having lower value, based on the care with which the publisher has taken in presenting his material. I was particularily fond of the original JG ... SNIPPED REST


We all do this sort of Judging! And thanks for the implicit compliment of your favorites. The design continuity, packaging and marketing was my area. And I indeed loved what I'd done... not very humble, I admit. But if I hadn't loved it, I would have done something differently!

Having a blank slate, we had an exceptional advantage by being first, we could set the tone. I think we overdid it because we worried (too much in retrospect) about giving enough material. We might have been smarter to pace ourselves with a smaller City State map and keep working up to ever bigger projects. Second guessing 30 years later is pretty ridiculous though.

Later projects had the challenge of competing with new entrants who could leapfrog us and do better in various areas we ignored or gave short shrift to. So I'm sure that Bob and his people felt pressures to make more eyecatching covers and (what may have been) excessive masses of material.

Another point to consider about JG's initial look & feel was that we were not 'first' when it came to wargaming materials. Since many of the initial D&D'ers came from wargaming, what we did was competing with fanzine material not professional publishing. And it was pretty good by that standard.

As TSR and others brought more professional graphic design into competive products that created stress on later JG designs. After all, we were GAMERS publishing for GAMERS. That's where we got a lot of good will--that seems to continue on in this forum--because they/you could appreciate if our material was useful or fluff regardless of the cover.

And initially there was so little competition, our material was the only game in town! Later on, as non-wargamers got into fantasy they came with expectations created by professional graphic design.

Here's something that we may have created and ever since I took for granted: the concept of Players Map. The Judges Map of the City State Wilderlands or Manor was something that a product had to have. But the Players Map being largely blank and like a vague "treasure map" is something we might have just omitted (and saved the money). But I think it added value and playability especially with such complex, huge products.

Now, maybe you can think of another company's product that had Players Map before mid-1976 and I'll search my memory banks as to whether we had even seen it... and thus was influenced by this.


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Post Posted: Sat May 24, 2008 12:41 am 
 

What would you consider to be the "must-have" Judges Guild products, from a historical or "roleplaying value?" That is, essentially, your favorite stuff.


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