In the Dark Ages, There Was No Skype (Monday Meeting Notes)

Dark Ages Screen

Not one of the Clan examples in this mock-up of the V20 Dark Ages Screen is on Skype in that illustration. Nor were Eddy and I earlier today for our planned Monday Lunch Meeting as our words kept dropping out and going all robot-y. So we canned that talk in favor of talking during the 1pm Onyx Path team meeting, also over Skype. Since they all could hear me fine but Eddy was still dropping out, it was obvious that the previous meeting’s issues were the result of Eddy’s bad connection. Logic proves that he, and not I, was the poo-head.

One of the things the team talked about was the value of reviews on all the various social media as well as on DTRPG, so here’s a shout out to all you folks: do you read reviews as a way to determine what you are going to buy? Are they something you listen to a lot, or just as another viewpoint? What propels you to decide to pick up and read or try out a game book?

We also discussed Halloween and how we wanted to celebrate it as a company. I just set up our participation in DTRPG’s Halloween Sale, and we’re going to do a special sale via a discount to our Onyx Path Mailing List subscribers to thank them for letting us ruthlessly market to them several times a week. (You too can join the awesome Onyx Path Mailing List by filling in the info it asks for to the right on the Onyx Path site screen.) We also discussed some sort of online costume contest this month for prizes. Dress like your character? Or any character? Or just coolest costume regardless of subject? Or best wearing of one of our t-shirts? We’re still working on ideas.

And of course we talked about our Deluxe V20 Dark Ages Kickstarter that funded in hours not a week ago and is now over 300% of our goal with a bunch of Stretch Goals under our belt. Very happy with how the project is shaping up. Earlier today I posted this Update to the KS, in fact:

Some Reward Changes

I want to let both our current Deluxe V20 Dark Ages backers, as well folks who are interested in backing but haven’t yet found the Reward Tier that calls out to them, know that we’ll be adding a few Reward Tiers tomorrow, Tuesday the 14th at 2PM Eastern US time.

Part of the fun with our Kickstarters is when the Stretch Goals start to come together in the creation of a new book we couldn’t have created without passing those goals during the Kickstarter. In this case, that book is the V20 Dark Ages Tome of Secrets. So far, we have sections for Koldunic and Assamite Sorcery, mass combat/medieval warfare, and Cainite Knightly Orders. Since we expect to keep going with the book through a few more Stretch Goals as we are less than a week into this KS, it seems like a good time to add some additional Reward Tiers based on now having the Tome of Secrets as a real, going-to-happen, project.

The new Reward Tiers are:

1) Another game run over Skype at the $1000 Reward Tier Level: Neall Raemonn Price has volunteered to help David Hill with this so that David can spread out his time on these and the Tome of Secrets.

2) We will add the chance for two more Consulting Developers to be on the nextV20 project, at the $800 Reward Tier level. Backers can then choose to be a Consulting Dev on the next V20 project OR the Tome of Secrets after the KS is over.

3) We will add a new $350 Reward Tier for 9 backers to be character models in the Tome of Secrets. This will have to be a first-come, first-in situation for folks pledging this Reward. Sorry for the land grab nature of this one, that is always an issue with adding Reward Tiers later in the process.

4) We will also add a new $325 Reward Tier for 9 backers to have David Hill create a new Thaumaturgy, Necromancy, or Abyss Mysticism ritual or Combination Discipline to spec, and named after your character for the V20 DA Tome of Secrets. (We reserve the right to edit all such entries for appropriateness).

5) This is not an added Reward Tier, but it changes the existing Holder of the Writ $275 Reward to include the NPC to PC letters as items we will include in the Tome of Secrets. When we do the Survey, we’ll give you a chance to opt out of having your letter in the book so that the Reward remains as written, but otherwise your letter will now be in an official book.

Phew!

 

 

And with that, here are some progress reports that were also reviewed over Skype today:

DEVELOPMENT STATUS FROM ROLLICKING ROSE (Projects in bold have changed listings)

First Draft (The first phase of a project that is about the work being done by writers, not dev prep)

  • Beast: the Primordial core book (Beast: The Primordial)
  • W20 Pentex Employee Indoctrination Handbook (Werewolf: the Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition)
  • Mage: the Awakening  2nd Edition, featuring the Fallen World Chronicle (Mage: the Awakening) – In Open Development
  • Fallen World Chronicle Fiction Anthology (Mage: the Awakening)
  • M20 How do you DO that? (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition)
  • M20 Book of Secrets (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition)
  • Cursed Necropolis: Rio (Mummy: the Curse)
  • Secrets of the Covenants (Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition) – In Open Development
  • Wraith: the Oblivion 20th Anniversary Edition
  • V20 Black Hand: Guide to the Tal’Mahe’Ra (Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition) – In Open Development
  • W20 Novel by Mike Lee (Werewolf: the Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition)
  • Exalted 3rd Novel by Matt Forbeck (Exalted 3rd Edition)
  • W20 Shattered Dreams (Werewolf: the Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition)
  • W20 Changing Ways (Werewolf: the Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition)

Redlines

  • Mummy Fiction Anthology (Mummy: the Curse)
  • Exalted 3rd Fiction Anthology (Exalted 3rd Edition)
  • Promethean: the Created 2nd Edition, featuring the Firestorm Chronicle (Promethean: the Created) – Playtesting
  • Arms of the Chosen (Exalted 3rd Edition)

Second Draft

  • Idigam Chronicle Fiction Anthology (Werewolf: the Forsaken)
  • V20 Lore of the Clans (Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition)

Development

  • Exalted 3rd Edition core book- From Holden: “We’re getting edits back and implementing them this week”. (Exalted 3rd Edition)
  • Firestorm Chronicle Fiction Anthology (Promethean: the Created 2nd Edition)
  • V20 Red List (Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition)
  • V20 Ghouls (Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition)
  • Werewolf: the Forsaken 2nd Edition, featuring the Idigam Chronicle (Werewolf: the Forsaken)
  • World of Darkness Dark Eras- Vampire chapter (WoD Dark Eras)
  • Sothis Ascends (Mummy: the Curse)

Editing

  • Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition core book (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition)

Development (post-editing)

  • World of Darkness Dark Eras core book (WoD Dark Eras)

 

ART DIRECTION FROM MIRTHFUL MIKE

  • White Howlers  Still waiting on the errata.
  • Book of the Deceived – In proofing. Still missing most of the final art, but that should be rolling in this week (headshots maybe next week).
  • Book of the Wyrm 20 – Out to backers. Have an art placement correction that is getting made…basically shifting it over a page.
  • DAV20 –  Layout is roughed in. Holding off on Appendix 2 as it’s all artifact and gonna leave me some room to duck and weave if necessary. Emailed late artists to find out what the deal is. Still missing stuff from 3 or 4 guys. Odds are one is getting the axe soon as I’m sure he hasn’t done anything for them yet. Right now, we are probably looking at a 480ish page book.
  • Anarchs Unbound –  Sent back proofs and everything is moving along. Going to put together a mockup jpg for a KS update.
  • T-Shirts – This week. I wanted to get some done, but Dark Ages, Umbra, & Deceived sort of put the brakes on that.
  • Art O’ The Changin’ Breeds –  Figuring out what text to put in. As I am not a wordsmith by any means, takes a bit of time.
  • Umbra – In proofing. Again, still missing some stuff but finished enough Stew can start going through it.
  • Ready Made Characters: Geist – Art in the works.
  • VTR II – Covers discussed.
  • Dark Eras and Second Editions – As the artists are wrapping up DA, Umbra, and various other projects I’d like to get them onto these before the holidays. Most artists won’t take on that many pieces during the Thanksgiving and Xmas holidays and all three of those titles are big books that will require quite a bit of art.
  • EX3- RichT here, once again tagging onto Mirthful Mike’s report, but art director Maria Cabardo is assigning art and I am looking at sketches and sending them on to the Devs, also reviewed the second and third batch of art notes from the Devs, and am pulling that together for Maria. With this many pieces, it’s a team effort.

 

REASON TO DRINK: Just to get warmed up- temperatures are a’ droppin’

 

102 thoughts on “In the Dark Ages, There Was No Skype (Monday Meeting Notes)”

  1. Wow, Arms of the Chosen redlined fast…

    Sorta rocking back and forth with anticipation for Book of the Decieved And Exalted 3.

    Kind of a general question: are you guys planning to do a God-Machine update for every limited game?

    Reply
    • Don’t quote me on this, but I think that Rich said at the Gencon panel that they’d like to do an update for everything, but it’s just a matter of time. Promethean and Changeling are on the schedule and being worked on, obviously. But there are only so many hours in the day so I think the plan is to schedule at most two of these a year. But I’d suggest checking the Gencon panel recordings for more info.

      Reply
  2. Woo! Mailing list coupons! Hooray!
    Review for me are for the swing vote. If a product description sounds unique and interesting enough and is from a company I frequently purchase from (like you guys), then I won’t even bother reading them. If however it sounds too similar to another product or just not interesting enough, but I still want to support the development company/publishing house (most video games), then good reviews will prompt me to buy it (eventually) and critical reviews will steer me away. (I would like to emphasize critical reviews; if its just someone putting up negative comments to whine or for the sake of doing so, I ignore it.)
    If however a product is just not something I’m interested in in the first place, the reviews alone aren’t going to change my mind; and unless I’m being pressured by my IRL peers to try and be interested, I won’t even bother reading the reviews.

    Reply
  3. Generally reviews act as a last chance dealbreaker. I generally find out about books and games from hearing about them, then I read about them on wikipedia (I’m surprised Mummy the Curse doesn’t have a wiki) or other sites (1d4chan is good, tvtropes too). So I get the gist about the game from there. If I’m still on the fence, when I’m reading the reviews they’ll tip me over. If they’re logically negative, I’ll curb my purchasing, but I might ignore bad reviews if they’re poorly written and (imho) biased. Some reviews seem like rants.

    That’s mostly for core books, but for supplement books (that wouldn’t have a wikipedia entry) I’ll check out Amazon reviews, reviews on rpg.net and the info and reviews on DTRPG. Some youtube videos have encouraged me to check out books I wouldn’t otherwise check out. When it comes to supplements, I’ve found getting the information out there seems to be the hardest part. I didn’t even know VtR’s Invite Only existed, but when I did I found it to be a great book I’ve never heard of.

    Reply
    • Picking up a healthy skepticism about overly negative reviews here too. Also, were those YouTube vids specifically reviews, or actual play vids, or something else?

      Reply
    • I agree and definitely read reviews. If the review seems less than professional, I don’t give it merit. Reviews do definitely push me over the edge when I am not sure.

      Reply
  4. Reviews matter to me up to a point but buzz on forums and from my friends matters substantially more. Reading over the open development for Forsaken, Mage and Promethean 2e have done much to spark my intrigue for these games as it has for NWoD Mummy. Perhaps what I most cherish are the Quick Starts that tease enough of the fluff and mechanics to give me a feel for what the game is about and how it plays out far more so than anecdotes from the forums or reviews. While the disposable income has, of yet, eluded me to make the purchases, the quickstarts for Blood & Smoke (aka Reap the Whirlwind) and Demon: The Descent did much to spark my desire to pick up these games. Funds are scarce these days and my curmudgeonly self wants a bit more of a taste of how things fit together and what sorts of stories there are to tell than the forums and blogs often have to offer in the way of teasers. In the case of the forums, information is just too scattered and sometimes corrupted by low memory scores and interpretation to get a picture of what a game is really like. 🙂

    Reply
      • I would, I always give a game at least that much of a chance.

        The first two “reviews” I saw of the God Machine Chronicle were very negative, but I ended up reading through the rules update, liked a lot of it, but not all. Got curious about the actual chronicle book.
        This lead to me asking around until I found someone who had a book (a PDF on their tablet at a RP-meet actually) and I sat down to read. And read more. I liked the actual theme and general content of the Chronicle, decided to buy it and didn’t look back.

        Similar story for demon; first things I heard were fairly negative, I ended up peeking in at the KS, found the document you guys shared on there, read it and then I jumped on board.

        So, to summarize, reviews are important to me, though I am skeptical of both good and bad ones and prefer to use them as a sort of vague guide rather than law.

        Reply
      • If I had enjoyed the company’s other products pretty consistently, I would still read through it. In the specific case of White Wolf / Onyx Path, every new game line stands on its own but also simultaneously contributes to a shared universe and a flawed game with intriguing concepts can thus still be valuable. Geist gets a lot of flak and I’m not entirely sure why other than the core is a little confusing to follow in places but its a game I’ve played and enjoyed both on its own and as a WoD crossover.

        Reply
        • Geist has a surprisingly robust fan following. I think people got past the messed up original book, especially after Geist was fixed for PDF/PoD, and started having fun with it.

          Reply
      • I would give it a shot if I had interest in it some. There are reviews and quickstarts that have brought interest to games I’d normally not look at. Again, if the review looks objective and educated only…

        Reply
  5. I generally don’t read reviews beyond asking people on forums I go to how they liked something. Generally if I see something I think looks interesting I’ll just look up what its about and see if I can find any previews. Best case scenario is I find something like the preview pdfs that you all put on Kickstarter projects.

    For supplements I’ll usually just ask around and see if anyone liked it or I’ll just take a leap of faith if its expanding on a line or topic I’m already really interested in.

    Reply
  6. I will add that the lack of a Quick Start for Mummy has been a serious deterrent to gambling with my cash up to this point. The blogs and Mortal Remains excited me but I think its probably going to end up at the back of the line on my wish list. Winning an award for game design is extremely impressive but in an age where you can’t sit down and flip through the book in the store before you decide to spend the money, its hard to justify buying something largely on word of mouth and faith in the company, even if its a company that has almost never let you down.

    Reply
  7. I’m all about the buzz, whether from fora or blog posts. I like to pretty well know what I’m in for before laying down cash on it, and seeing people raving happily about something (alongside previews, spoilers and open-dev, which you at OP absolutely have a handle on) really help me to know whether or not something is for me (with the answer invariably being yes, it seems.)

    Reply
    • Do you include formal reviews in that mix, or just any sort of raves that you run across? Forums, blog comments, that sort of stuff?

      Reply
      • Definitely! I have a couple of go-to’s (I can let you know which ones, if you like), and rpg.net hosts some pretty good reviews, too (luckily, you can normally tell the quality reviews from the dodgy ones pretty easily.)

        I definitely want more than just a “yay” or “nay” from them, though. I want to know what I’ll be getting.

        Oh, and actual plays! There’s no better to way to get a look at the nitty-gritty than actually hearing / reading someone play it (well, except buying and playing it yourself, I guess :p)

        Reply
          • Can do! 🙂

            http://philgamer.wordpress.com/ often posts Let’s Plays, where they give a -lot- of detail about a game, create a character, etc. I must say that I wasn’t really very sold on MtC until I read some of their thoughts about it.

            – The reviews on http://www.flamesrising.com/ are quite good. They’re less “blog”, more “mag”, I guess, but I trust their reviews.

            http://www.fandible.com/ are more about Actual Play podcasts, but their occasional review – or their thoughts about a game mid-play – are invaluable. They -completely sold me- on Fate, and will be posting the beginning of a new DtD AP Any Day Now.

            – Role Playing Public Radio (http://slangdesign.com/rppr/) is another one that I’m mainly in for the APs, but they have some interviews, reviews, etc. too.

            ….and I’m sure there’s more, but I’ve completely come up blank. 🙂

  8. I read reviews, especially on Amazon, for books that I don’t know exactly what’s in them. I don’t necessarily pay attention to what they were rated; instead what they contain when the description is too unclear.

    Reply
  9. I’ve been wondering, how come the Dark Eras Vampire chapter is in a different place in development compared to the rest of the book.

    Will be watching in the dark.

    Reply
  10. God, such a ton of great books being worked on right now… I will become a very happy poor man!
    About Dark Eras, its Kickstart will be after V20 Dark Ages right?
    Regarding reviews I usually don´t pay much attention to them, its the Description and the themes of the book that gets my attention.

    Reply
  11. Reviews? Honestly, it depends on the company. This might sound silly, but I purchase every Onyx Path book since I pretty much know what I’m getting. I know I will like it, and I know the quality will be top notch. In regards to other companies, yes, I absolutely do read the reviews and it is a factor in my purchasing decisions.

    Reply
      • Of course. That’s a huge part of it. The transparency you guys allow for your books is so refreshing in this day and age.

        Also, Rich I think I read someone post that they value reviews that talk more about the content rather than an actual rating(4 out of 5 stars, for example) and I definitely agree with that. Ratings are important, but I like reading reviews from people that discuss what’s actually in the book. Especially when there is a ton of detail.

        Reply
        • Yep- I understand that sometimes folks only have time to do the numbers ratings, or they might not be able to put their thoughts into words. I certainly can’t as well as I might- as long time readers of this blog know.

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  12. I don’t read reviews. I read these updates and start building my budget around it. There’s 9 books I’m going to get when they release. On the flip side I only ever get what I plan to no matter how popular a given book is.

    Reply
    • Budget discipline means sticking to it despite the bright, shiny thing. Good for you, even though I’ve spent a lot of my career trying to convince folks to get the shiny .

      Reply
  13. For reviews I only read them when I’m not sure if I should by or not. Mostly if I stumble upon a RPG game I look at the text describing it, at the title page and where possible at quick previews (like drivethru rpg has them most of the times).
    That mostly decides for me if I want to try out a game system or not. But at times I’m still unsure about it (was so for 3 game systems in the last year…..I’m a collector and I guess drivethru rpg is quite happy there although my purse is not -.-) and then I’m looking at reviews and read through them. I’m mostly prefering reviews I can read over reviews I have to listen to as I can read them anytime and anywhere without probs, but I guess most of the ppl nowadays are more into listening to review vids.

    Reply
    • That’s kind of what we at Onyx central were trying to figure out and these comments are confirming: people use and access reviews in a wide variety of ways and for different reasons.

      Reply
  14. Written reviews almost never impact my decision to buy an rpg product. For reviews, I mainly turn to podcasts.

    When is VtR 2e expected? I’m holding off buying the PoD.

    Reply
      • It’s not a trust thing, I just don’t generally browse for something to buy. I go to shop based on what I want.

        An audio review, like a podcast, I view it as entertainment. So I listen anyway. If the review is exciting/interesting to me, I go out and buy the product.

        Reply
        • So additional entertainment to lead into buying the RPG entertainment? And by trust, I wasn’t meaning to suggest that you have trust issues so much as picking at whether some folks no longer believe the written word vs a pod or audio cast, because those are real people.

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          • Actually, I seek out rpg podcasts because I don’t get enough real play time. So my rpg interest area leads me to rpg podcasts, which leads to buying more rpg books.

            I got where you were coming from with the trust thing. 🙂

          • @Chazz Yep, I read White Dwarf (up until their new two book format) because I like all the stuff, even though I haven’t played a game in years and years. My youngest loves play through videos of computer games he likes or is interested in. We get entertained from our gaming even if not actively playing, I guess.

  15. I pay lots of attention to reviews. Specifically the gentleman gamer. His reviews are a mix of critical close ups and unbridled enthusiasm and I really get on with that. I dislike reviews just around being mean. I believe he’s not doing reviews while he’s writing as he said people may see it as a conflict of interest. I respect that but its a bummer.

    Reply
    • Thank you for saying so! You’re correct though – I don’t want anyone to think that because I’m doing some freelance work for Onyx Path Publishing I’m giving them favourable reviews. Likewise, it would be poor form of me to publicly criticise a potential colleague’s work.

      Rich – Don’t take this to mean I shouldn’t get any more contracts!

      Reply
    • I think Matthew should avoid reviewing projects he is involved with directly, and caveat his reviews of projects created by people he has worked with. But beyond that, there are certainly ways to criticize without insulting and getting the point across without rancor. Real professionals should be glad to hear another viewpoint if it has thought behind it, not axes to grind.

      Reply
  16. I value reviews – and although they are not always the final decision maker for me they can do two things:

    1. keep my enthusiasm for a product if I couldn’t afford the game on release/during a kickstarter.

    2. if I do have some extra cash it helps me decide which book (of so very many) that I want to purchase. – I much prefer dead tree, but will go for a pdf if that’s all I have money spare for, so I usually read reviews, but also go over social media and forums to help me make a decision.

    However, I always like to read reviews on games that I really like and own already, just to see how my opinion compares.

    Reply
  17. I’m going to start out by saying that I really appreciate the hard work you all seem to be putting into the creation of products for the games I love. The Open Development style you’re running on some of the new products and the way you communicate with us is really great – in general.

    However, the updates regarding Ex3 are starting to become rather frustrating. I am nothing but happy over the fact that you have focused on doing the job right instead of quick, and I’m sure you’ll give us an edition that will blow us away.. but the Monday Meeting update for the core has basically been a copy/paste for three weeks now. It is really rather disheartening.

    When you during the Kickstarter update on the 22nd of August said that “once we have the text completely in editing, the Devs will be providing some significant excerpts,” I got really excited. You started to deliver on that with the update on the 25th of September, and I got even more excited. But since then it’s been quiet. It’s not like I expected to get daily or even weekly updates of that size, but I was expecting something to pop-up at least bi-weekly.

    The fact that I found out that the artist of the new map had posted a much better version on his webpage through a friend who saw it on the forum kind of makes the whole thing worse. It’s great to get the map, but it’s not that great that it wasn’t an update about it from you guys. It makes it feel kind of random and uncoordinated (which for all I know it might have been), instead of “cool, they’re delivering on their promise of significant excerpts!”

    Reply
    • If the Devs do not provide me with bigger excerpts to post, I can’t post them. And that map was not the final one, as some folks have already pointed out.

      Reply
      • My criticism wasn’t meant towards any particular part of the production chain, so whether it’s the Devs not making any excerpts or some other problem isn’t important… the issue is the fact that we’re getting a lot less in the form of updates and excerpts than I – and I’m sure I’m not alone in this – was expecting at this point.

        Reply
        • Which is my fault because I posted that there’d be more based on my conversations with the Devs. I really do hope they get some excerpted very soon, but I’ll be adding some art Updates at least.

          Reply
  18. I generally like reviews when I buy something (on amazon for example).
    With Onyx Path books I don’t need them as I know what I’ll get – either by experience or by the summary you write – you never let me down 🙂
    The only time I check on reviews that might concern you is when I browse the more obscure old White Wolf books (last done for WoD: Hong Kong) just to make cross check my expectations with the experience of an actual buyer.
    But I like to read a good review – it’s like non-annoying, honest advertisement.

    Cheers

    Reply
    • Thanks! Yeah, the older WW books certainly benefit from reviews. Have you ever left one on DTRPG? You should if you could for the very reason you mention here- it helps other folks, especially potential new fans, get a handle on what they are looking at.

      Reply
  19. My preferred way of getting info about products is to listen to discussions about them in the form of Podcasts and YouTube videos. If I hear a rave review of a product then it’s quite likely I’ll take a look (Invite Only for V:tR is a recent example).

    The best way to learn about new products is to listen to interviews with the developers, since they tend to be pretty good at communicating why they’re excited about their work (and thus why we should be excited). I find the depth that developers will go to in these discussions is much more effective at telling me what will actually be in the book than a short product description or Kickstarter video.

    Reply
    • Some developers are, I agree, the best evangelists for their projects. Some writers are writers for a reason though, and are not comfortable with communicating verbally and being recorded, to boot. have you ever heard a creator who turned you off a book?

      Reply
      • I can’t think of an example, but that might just be selection bias. I can think of a few examples where I didn’t think the interviewee was a terrific speaker, but in each case their passion more than compensated. Of course I don’t think that devs should do anything they’re uncomfortable with, but I do think that a person who is passionate enough to talk about their work in a public forum is probably, as you say, the best evangelist for it.

        If I were to encounter a creator who turned me off a book I would imagine that would be a pretty major blow to my prospects of ever buying it.

        Reply
  20. One thing I’ve discovered rather recently are Actual Plays, in the case of David Brookshaw’s Soul Cage and Matt McElroy’s Seventh Angel, while I suspect both were under 1e rules, the way they present the respective settings of Mage and Promethean give another feel for the direction they are going with their projects. While I’m not shy about deviating from “canon” at my own table, its interesting to see what developers are doing with the same tools and what their understanding of the setting is. The perception of “I can use this” is a strong motivator for buying.

    Reply
    • Yes, I love APs for just that reason. Plus, coming from a company that traditionally advised players to change the rules that didn’t work for them, APs put that advice into action and are great examples of how it’s OK to do it.

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  21. I find reviews a valuable resource. The reason I do mine in the way I do is because I think a display of enthusiasm from a gamer can be very infectious. When someone else is raving about how good a game is, I feel inclined to pick it up.

    Similarly, I interview the developers at Onyx Path because I think their incite into the games they’re working on can be quite thrilling to the viewer and prospective buyer. It shows from the comments on my videos that such videos help plant ideas in gamers’ minds that may not have existed before. The way Richard Dansky spoke of Wraith and C.A. Suleiman spoke of Mummy were especially good, in this regard.

    Open development, and previews of the text (such as for Dark Ages) help to circumvent the need for reviewers as you’ve got a try-before-you-buy facility right there. I think the flipside of that is the casual gamer may mistakenly believe it to be the finished product, and not pick it up because they find errors in the text or elements they dislike that’ll be excised come the final pass before production. I’ve never seen someone roll up to a convention with a printed preview text though, so I doubt anyone’s purloining the information and not paying for it, if they like it.

    Reply
    • Some people may be, but if not that text, then they’d have snagged a PDF online, or whatever. The vast majority are going to be thrilled to have our trust and a chance to get excited by what they are reading (or drop out of the KS because they don’t like it, which is better anyway. We don’t want folks feeling trapped into KSing something they didn’t really want).

      Reply
  22. Nice updates. 🙂

    Regards reviews – I ignore them utterly. I buy what I want based on a publishers or writers ability to convey a great idea. I don’t listen to Mr or Mrs Random blogging/tweeting/FBing etc. There could be hidden agendas, gripes, pointless issues etc. It’s all so subjective. Same reason why I completely ignore book, movie, game reviews etc. They’re pointless as a gauge as to the actual quality or merit of a given product/service and the like.

    Once I’ve purchased something I’ll then perhaps have a look at reviews though – but this is so very rare that I can’t remember the last time I did it. I only do it to see if others picked up on things I did or if I have the same problems or views.

    So – when I decide to pick up a book it’s usually based on my view of the company, the writers (If I know who they are, I normally don’t in fact …) the art and overall quality I can see from a non-owner perspective. If it seems good I’ll make the decision to become an owner of said item. 🙂

    Yes, this has lead to me buying some duff stuff that some people rave about that ultimately I ended up thinking was complete drivel and a waste of money. It’s also lead me to find some gems that everyone else thought were rubbish.

    Reply
  23. I don’t go for formal reviews, but I do usually read up some forum threads discussing them both on their website and rpg.net.

    I also like reading some actual plays, too, to see it in action

    Reply
    • Formal reviews being questionable in terms of what they deliver, like biases or agendas? Or is it just better to hear a lot of posters’ informal thoughts on something?

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      • Forum discussions are an evolving, organic discussion. Someone presents an opinion, another agrees, someone disagrees, they talk, and I get to see both sides of it.

        I suppose it sounds silly if I break it down like, “I’d rather spend two hours reading a thread than fifteen minutes reading one review.” But that’s the truth of it.

        Reviews are just a lengthy forum post. The latter is more concise and you get the bonus of a dozen other people

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        • Y’know, I keep asking all these questions because I think it is interesting how so many people here come at this from so many different directions- and why they do. Looking at how people relate to the value proposition of a review. Reading other people’s opinions is not only a wider net of thoughts, but even functions as additional entertainment as you look for that info about your RPG entertainment in that evolving discussion you speak of.

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        • I’d agree with how reseru has phrased it here, I too would rather “spend two hours reading a thread than fifteen minutes reading one review”. Some reviewers are worth a few forum posts, but these are well known reviewers with a history of good reviews, not a random blog review.

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  24. Regarding reviews, I would say that I very much do check out reviews, but I play close attention to the language of the reviewer. As said above some reviews are near rants. A negative review that reads like a proper polite analysis without invective would dissuade me from buying, but otherwise probably not.

    However I’d more so buy based on the emergent consensus view of people (with well written points) on various forums and the original ideas and content of the game itself.
    If the central ideas are very interesting, I will say that the forum buzz would have to be quite negative to dissuade me.

    Related to Jay above, I’m looking for great ideas served by systems that reinforce them. Too often reviewers are biased or get stuck in pointless minutiae and can often reduce to “Horror Game X. Review: I never liked horror, 1/5.”
    So yes, the online buzz is more important.

    The open development blogs are much more important to me, as they show enough of the ideas for me to judge for myself. For example, I’ll buy Mage based on Dave Brookshaw’s development blog alone, unless reviews say “Warning this game causes players to explode”.

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  25. Review are becoming less important in my decision making process. They used to be a key decider for me though, a couple years back.

    Now I typically use written reviews as a sanity check for expectations I’ve gained through my own research, the history of the publisher in question, the buzz coming from people far more into a particular product I’m considering than me, and so on.

    Written reviews though help me avoid making a bad purchase – so if the book quality itself was reported as poor, even if the mechanics / setting etc were great, I’d have a safety net.

    So I guess I typically only skim them when I’ve already decided to buy and am about to hit the buy button

    One thing – I can’t be bothered with video reviews. I find video interviewers irritating for the most part. I can barely get through 5 seconds of one of these things O_o.

    Having said all that with open dev process and things like G+ I’ve noticed my habits changing. I was all in on V20:DA on the basis of (in order of importance):

    1. David Hill’s G+ posts – his general posting style heavily influenced my “hey, i should buy something this guy/gal does” meter. This was a key point for me.

    2. The open dev posts on the OPP site, I skimmed a few of them to get a sense of the quality, but didn’t read every one in complete detail (I would have if the quality seemed off from an initial pass)

    3. Its OPP, there’s a proven history there so I’m relatively sure the end result will be worth it unless something strange happens

    4. That OPP dumped the document text online, even though I didn’t read it. That you were prepared to do that spoke volumes. I’ll read the nice shiny hardcover version when it gets here.

    Reply
    • Reviews as safety nets for non-subjective issues like tons of typos or missing text or such is another useful thing they can do. Thanks-

      Reply
      • No problem, you’re welcome.

        Apart from those items, its also for checking if there’s a bunch of complaints about layout issues, or cheap / poor quality art. You guys have a pretty high standard so I don’t feel a need to check reviews for that stuff with OPP products.

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        • It happens though. Having a review point out something was mis-laid out was one of the reasons we went to the early PDF release plan so a fan can point it out rather than it sit forever in a review somewhere.

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          • Oh sure, but OPP has a pretty decent standard compared to some of the products I’ve purchased elsewhere that have, apparently, been through a “thorough editing” (some are horrifyingly bad).

            Putting your products out there through text doc dump or early release PDF are great ways to get extra feedback, but also speak to your confidence in the product and generally has more value to me personally than reviews do. Like you said though, seems reviews are used a many different ways by OPP customers 🙂

  26. Since it’s difficult to find a local gaming store that actually stocks what I’m interested in as far as new releases, reviews by those who’ve read the books mean more to me than they used to. I used to seek out reviews when that wasn’t the case, but far less often, and not at all if I could find a shop that would let me flip through the book myself.

    Cost is another factor that makes me look for reviews more. I try not to spend money without a good idea about how and why I will use a book. A good review will cover enough details to let me know the high points, and from those I will be able to judge how likely I am to run the game. I also look for those elements I tend to enjoy most (cults stood out to me in reviews of Mummy, for instance) and any pet peeves I have.

    I do pay attention to whether or not the reviewer has actually played the system and whether or not they already have some chip on their shoulder as to the company, game line, or genre. I have seen reviewers start out with such a negative view that no game could have possibly brought them around; reading their reviews is just a waste of my time.

    The best reviews ideally hit a happy medium as to length and depth. I don’t have it in me to follow someone’s endless manifesto about every last thing they loved or hated. I also want more than a few sentences that blather on about how awesome it is without really getting at why it rocks.

    And since I’ve started working on some gaming products, I’ve come to value thoughtful reviews more. I look for reviews of my work and try to take valid criticisms with me, to be worked on in future endeavors. I also try to give better balanced reviews when I have the occasion, as well.

    Reply
    • Awesome that you are also leaving reviews when you can. Anybody else reading this, I heartily encourage more review posting! It really does contribute to getting the word out about our books, and helps counter those folks on the internet who are just so actively negative (you know some, I bet). I actually thought more folks would be using reviews as you do here, to get more info because the books aren’t just sitting on shelves in stores waiting for folks to thumb through them, because that makes sense to me.

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      • I started to look through my various purchases on DriveThruRPG, and I saw that a few of the books had NO reviews! I was shocked. So I am going through and adding where I can.

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        • That is phenomenally helpful and really, really appreciated! Anytime fans can find the time and jot down a review on DTRPG in particular really helps us get the word out there.

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  27. I always read reviews on DTRPG and RPG.net before getting a book. Reviews give you a good feel for the book’s content and strong points – better than the blurb on the back of the book.

    In addition, I will sometimes be deterred from buying a sourcebook if it has no reviews.

    Reply
    • Blurbs are sales text, not really a good idea to give a bulletpoint of:

      * And less info on your favorite sub-group than you want because we ran out of room!

      🙂

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  28. For the newer Onyx Path books, I don’t care too much about reviews. I get enough info from open development and impressions from forums (mainly the forum here). For the older books I often check reviews on amazon or DTRPG before I buy anything. This is especially true for old WW supplements, where I have already a core book and wonder, whether it’s worth buying e.g. a clanbook.

    Reply
    • The only thing I think is something to watch out for with the much older books are new reviews, like in the Let’s Read sort of threads, where modern game or cultural thinking is applied to older projects. If, as a Vampire fan, you are looking at a first edition Clanbook, there is twenty years of evolution of our society and gaming that has occurred. Big changes.

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  29. I usually look at reviews only once I’ve already decided that I’m buying something, and need to hone the decision of what to buy. I tend to ignore “I liked it / didn’t like it” and just mine for informational content. After I know I’m getting a corebook, how much do people think this supplement added? Are these books redundant? Which old edition of Deadlands or Paranoia or Shadowrun or whatever do I want to buy, for game lines that are very unique but have big differences between their editions…etc.

    I’m much more likely to buy something with several ratings of “two stars, too much fluffy setting writing, not enough crunch” (or other informational criticism that matches what I care about) than I am with no reviews at all. Likewise, “5 stars, great writing, mostly useful for players, not so much for STs” is not always persuasive. A review can say “this game uses this mechanic and I hate it”, and if the mechanic sounds cool to me I’ll still buy it.

    (Reviews about bad editing or table formatting are pretty influential, though.)

    Of course, the existence of preorders and kickstarters proves that reviews are only so important… demo versions are a great way to turn a questionable gamble into a sale though (see Book of the Wyrm, also see D&D 5th Edition). I wouldn’t have pledged as high without the BotW sample material, and Wizards of the Coast had all but lost me as a D&D customer after 4th edition until the 5e beta turned me back into a loyalist. I don’t think they are always necessary, just when there’s uncertainty over “what am I actually getting / do I need what this contains”.

    Reply
    • I agree, there are other methods of encouraging interest and reviews are just one of a spectrum of useful methods for us as publishers to get you interested. Sounds like they are more of a referential tool for you rather than something that determines your interest.

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  30. I find that reviews are, unfortunately, a waste of time. I mean, they are fine if you want to find out about something. A game I didn’t know about, new edition I missed, etc. I occasionally google about just to see what I missed in the RPG world. But as an actual tool to find out if I’ll like something? Absolutely not.

    I actually went against that relatively recently. A friend’s girlfriend wanted to get into RPGs so I looked at a couple of reviews to see which new game could be a nice starting point. Based on some reviews we tried Numenera. I realize some might disagree, but that thing’s nigh unplayable and we’re all counting our lucky stars that it didn’t make our newest RPG group member run away from the hobby entirely. Ended up having a pretty great Hunter: The Vigil chronicle afterwards.

    So quickstarts or actually getting the core book is pretty much the only way I’ll know if I consider something good or bad. Forums or general Internet chatter comes as a second best, but only in terms of establishing context (WoD fans seem to like [game x], if I like WoD that might be something to look into). Actual, proper, ending-with-a-numeric-score reviews, I find, have a tendency to be about the author of the review and not about the game reviewed.

    Finally, there are legal ways to read a book before buying it and, as I said, nothing beats actually reading it if you want to know if it’s any good. Demon’s kickstarter showed that freely available material is a great way to advertise. Eclipse Phase is Cretive Commons. My guess is the hobby is niche enough that having the material available can’t hurt the sales. It can only help if the material is actually good. If five of us can sit down and have a game session without spending money beforehand, and we end up having a great time, you can bet subsequent purchases won’t be lacking. I’d encourage any RPG publisher to seriously consider Creative Commons or at least something similar. Relying on reviews wouldn’t be something I’d consider useful.

    Reply
    • And here’s what would probably be one end of the usefulness spectrum, where not only do you really not value reviews, but the one time you recently did your own experience confirmed you shouldn’t have. That is always a drag, but its good to know that they just don’t help you.

      Reply

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