Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Advice To WOTC Now That 5e Has Been Rolled Out

First thing to acknowledge:

People talk a lot as if Hasbro cares a lot if 5e does well: They kinda don't.

It's the same as how Disney doesn't really care that much if Marvel sells a lot of comics and Warner Bros doesn't care that much if DC does. They care about them as research and develoment and as intellectual property--the books don't make that much money.

As they used to say "DC can sell anything with Superman's face on it except the comic."

To the degree D&D might ever make Hasbro-Cares level money it'll be as a video game, movie or TV show--until then they just want WOTC to not embarrass them and if it spits out a few good ideas or people they can use later, that's awesome but not a requirement.

This leads to two rarely-considered effects:

-The independent RPG people are way more motivated to care about the state of the industry than the major players are. They don't even have to make that much money. Just exist.

-WOTC can afford to fuck around a little.


So what do you do? Let's take comics as an example:

The Avengers movie is like the third highest grossing movie of all time or something and Iron Man is right up there. Spider-Man is no slouch. The X-Men movie was a hit as were most of the Batman movies. This is some successful-ass IP.

But what was it built on?

1. Years of customer buy in from people who fans who are, by now, of all ages.

(For D&D? Check!)

2. Well-regarded filmmakers and media people who have a personal connection to the material--Joss Whedon for Avengers, Bryan Singer for X-Men, Tim Burton for Batman, etc.

(Check!)

3. A zeitgeist that was ready for the movie and ready to throw money behind it

(Check, these are the days of gambling on fantasy and sci-fi--even Pacific Rim got made)

4. Things that set it off from the competition in the genre

(No Check! The average viewer will, in 2014, see a D&D movie as a cheap and generic excuse for a Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movie. The brand is not differentiated in the public's mind there.)

5. A relatively recent body of work in the original medium that explored the possibilities a movie could exploit and made older fans believe the material could be handled in a way that wasn't as cheapshit as the cash-in attempts they'd seen before. Burton and Nolan's Batman were made possible not by the 60s Batman show but by Miller's Dark Knight Returns, Singer's X-Men came from Byrne, Silvestri, and Lee's work with Chris Claremont on the comic, the Avengers movie (done as a banter-heavy ensemble piece) is clearly built on Brian Michael Bendis' work on the title with Leinil Francis Yu and others. 

(No Check! Despite D&D being much in the news lately with lots of genre-oriented sites talking about how cool 5e is and respected authors talking about how it influenced them, if you heard there was a new D&D movie out tomorrow, nothing WOTC has done in the last 30 years would convince anyone it was anything but another schlocky cash-in. When the Avengers movie came out, the fans were ready to believe it might be good--can D&D say the same? And perhaps more to the point: what would you show a studio exec to explain the possibilities of the franchise to a modern movie audience? Keep On the Borderlands? Fuck no. Maybe Monte's Planescape, but that's pretty far from the center of D&D.)

Put 4 and 5 together and what do you get?


D&D needs some modern classics.

If Bob Kane's Batman was the only Batman, there'd have been no Batman movies since the '60s. D&D, as a brand needs a Dark Knight Returns--something that says what--to savvy kids and obsessive grown-ups--makes what D&D can do different from what The Hobbit or Harry Potter can do.

Right now the buzz about D&D from mainstream authors and directors is based on D&D as a process and a tool--as something that sparked their creativity as kids, not D&D as a set of unique, cool ideas that stand on their own.

Now right off the bat I'll say this is a self-serving solution--what adult D&D fans, the kind who write blogs about D&D want--is exactly that: high quality auteurish content. And what I am saying is good for the company is that same thing.

So take it with a grain of salt. On the other hand: since WOTC can afford to fuck around--what have they got to lose?  They've tried everything else.

If we're in a cultural moment where Serious People are looking at D&D, why not make something Seriously Cool to show them how vital it is? When Maus made people look at comics in the '80s, comics could show them Watchmen. What can you show them?

But you can't just hit people over the head with it and expect us all to believe whatever you have planned next is totally the shit--you have to build to it.


How I'd Build Up To It If I Was The Boss Of You

The main reason to use D&D instead of another system has always been its flexibility and Lingua Franca status. Parlay that into creating some fan goodwill about what D&D can do now.

The first thing I'd do if I was WOTC is publish an awesome 5e Camelot supplement. Why Camelot? It's public domain, it isn't Tolkien, it isn't core D&D and you've got Greg Stafford right there ready to write half of it. Show whoever's paying attention that D&D can do knights and damsels and a classic story it hasn't ever done right before. And don't do a cheesy D&Dified version of Camelot with a different name (you can always do that later) just do Camelot with King Arthur and everything.  Just establish that you can put out cool stuff. This is low-hanging fruit. Get someone British and distinctive on the art and it writes itself: you have people who can write it, you have an audience that'll buy it, it won't cost any more than what you were going to do anyway. 

It won't get much mainstream press, but it will spark fan interest. Fans will go Hmmmm....

Second supplement is an awesome Wuxia supplement with Completely-Out-Of-Left-Field anime-influenced art. Do not worry about maintaining "the D&D look" establish that D&D Owns Fantasy Roleplaying. Period. In any style or genre. If it has a sword, D&D does it. This is The Game, we own the market.

Those are easy, right? The usual fanboys will buy them because everything from D&D right after 5e comes out is exciting and the snobs like me will take a look because they're so different.  So we've generated some good will and, by doing the Camelot supplement early and right, we've proven this D&D is dedicated to doing truly new things.

(And yeah, yeah, you do the things people always say to do: make plushie beholders and more board games and try to get decent actual-play films of people playing D&D. But that's obvious...)

Now this is a little harder and will cost a little more: Once those two supplements impress everyone, go ask Hasbro to snatch up some rights that've been floating around--put out a sword and sorcery supplement that shows how to make characters and stuff from Lankhmar, Conan & Red Sonja, Elric, and Jack Vance's Dying Earth. If you don't publish something about those guys every 10 years, someone else will.

After that--go for Bas-Lag and Tolkien if you can.

Ok, now you've done three things in a row that:

-Are as likely to be successful as anything else you were doing

-Didn't cost any more than what you were going to do anyway

-Didn't fuck with your core brand in any way

and

-Proved you really could do new things with D&D if you wanted

...NOW you go ahead and take a risk: you give your writers and artists (AND GRAPHIC DESIGNERS!) the same deal DC gave Frank Miller with Dark Knight Returns--you give them the money and the time and the freedom to go completely nuts with the core D&D IP. Let people with real talent loose on Dark Sun, Eberron and the Planes. Give someone the opportunity to make a beautifully intricate, beautifully illustrated Forgotten Realms sandbox with gorgeous cartography using every monster in the manual.  And for god's sake get someone to make a campaign based on whatever the fuck the world of Magic: The Gathering is.

Did you split the audience by creating 5 different lines of products? So what. You need to make compelling work, and let the licensing division worry about profit. Maybe it's easier to sell people one line of supplements than 5, but it's way easier to license 5 things than one--and that's where the money is anyway.

And these are the things you show to the studio execs to prove that D&D can be a compelling and original world for the average moviegoer. And we'll back you up and believe it and carry the signal, because we all now believe things are gonna be done in a new way.

The other option is to just keep on keeping on and let us out here in indie land do all the heavy lifting. But if there's a decent Numenera or 40k or Night's Black Agents  (or, god forbid, Red & Pleasant Land) movie before there's a D&D one, Hasbro is not gonna be happy.

TL;DR: Invest in real quality. Now is a rare moment where the market might actually notice and then do something about it.
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90 comments:

Travis Diskin said...

Well put. An exciting proposal.

Oakes Spalding said...

Tell me again why you haven't been hired by WOTC as a strategic planner?

der eisenhofer said...

Funny, just tonight I thought about how to make summoner spells from Magic creature cards.

And, well said. I often wonder why WotC isn't creating tons of high quality movies because any story could be told in D&D land betterer.

BenTheFerg said...

Beautifully illustrated, dramatis personae driven adventure books in mythic settings are the way to stretch people's imaginations and get their creative juices going. With plenty of awesome art. Ideally boxed sets with art prints to show the pcs. Bespoke GM screens or playmats ala the one in the forthcoming Numenera boxed set...With fantastic side bars, clear layout. ..learning from top industrial standards. Yeah. Hell yeah!

With the Camelot game I would recommend a dark celtic/ fey feel to differentiate it from Pendragon. And to allow deviation entirely from the metaplot / just have a sandbox.

I hope you are telling this directly to Mike Mearls and his team. At the moment the creative direction of D&D beyond 3 great core books seems rather washed up. The lost mines of Pantsdelver are good fun. Especially since El Kel (Kelvin Green) is not running it in FR. But Hoard of the Dragon Queen was terrible. A terrible railroad. .. and for the moment I see no creative gaming material on the horizon within WotC either. Your are spot on. All the creative heavy lifting is being done outside WotC. They need now than one licencee to help them. They probably need a better deal for licencees too.

Rafa Falopowel said...

Ok, Greg + Camelot + D&D. Now you have my attention for the whole licensing. It should be great, also, recover old classic dungeons (such as Barrier Peaks, or White Plume) and addapt them to the 5th edition system, as an additiinal product line.

Nagora said...

The core to this is how much is WotC making? If it's a big number then Hasbro will let them get on with it. If it's not, then Hasbro will call all the shots and those shots will all start with "Peter Jackson has shown..." or "Game of Thrones has shown..." and not "No one has tried..."

Camelot has a chance because it's an established "brand", but unless WotC have some serious success behind them, after the debacle of 4e, they'll probably hear "old fashioned" "too British" and other sorts of bollocks one reads about execs saying in film magazines.

And even if WotC reached the dizzying heights of success that TSR did when RPGing was novel, WotC will never, in its own right, have the money to make a modern fantasy movie and if they approach anyone in Hollywood they're going to hear the same routine, again unless they can slap a great big load of sales figures on the table. And even then, probably not. Hollywood has a bizarre habit of buying ideas or hiring talent so that they can be used to churn out the same old same old.

The reviews of Dragon Queen have not filled me with great optimism for the future of WotC and for now I remain convinced that material by independants such as Death Frost Doom and Vornheim remain and will continue to be the only hope for real quality that's uncompromised by the need to pass through the collective alimentary tract of a committee.

But, so what? At the end of the day, D&D was created as a "do it yourself" kit. Commercial needs have continually flown in the face of that original intent from day 1. Let WotC fly or die; there's dozens of really good adventure designers out there making stuff, and the books continue to have everything that's needed to do your own. Companies exist to exploit; only artists genuinely exist to create, and every GM is an artist.

Sean Bircher said...

Savage Worlds has the Lankhmar rights, so that's out.

Otherwise, now is definitely the time to cash in on wuxia. It is an up-and-coming part of the zeitgeist. 2014 gave us Netflix's Kung-Fu version of _Marco Polo_; 2015 will see the long-awaited sequel to _Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon_ and the AMC series _Badlands_. Every RPG company with an appropriate system should be prepping some wuxia.

Squid said...

"Show whoever's paying attention that D&D can do knights and damsels and a classic story it hasn't ever done right before."

Zak, what's wrong with Pendragon? I haven't played it a lot, but from what I read in the rulebook and in the Great Pendragon Campaign, they're pretty much Arthurian stuff done right.

T. Woolley said...

Yes, KAP is an awesome game that does what it says on the tin very well, but it is not D&D. While it isn't a hard game to learn, it is not D&D. By virtue of it not being D&D there are people who won't play it. It is also pretty much only found through print on demand and used bookstores, and is not widely known. D&D is in chain bookstores and gamestores and used bookstores. It has brand recognition. It is the lingua franca of tabletop rpgs. D&D Camelot could be as simple as, "everyone is a knight and wizards are NPCs," or it could just as developed as KAP, but still D&D.

Could a DM do this? Easily, but if WotC did it they would still sell that book.

Malmsturm said...

just make a Dark Sun game like Read Dead Redemption or GTAV or Farcry3&4 - or a Forgotten Realms game like Skyrim or Dragon Age - or even a Planescape game like Bioshock or The Last of Us...

Scott Anderson said...

Camelot and alice in wonderland. Someone just did something d&d ish with Alice in wonderland that looks pretty neat.

Artifice said...

The first thing that I thought when I read this was 'why?'. I don't mean that in a snarky, shitty way, but I'm not sure what the culture of gaming stands to gain from the mainstreaming of RPGs. Maybe I'm jaded, but it seems like things on the fringe of culture tend to have some of the magic sucked out of it at the expense of commercialization. Like when I was 14 and wondered why the hell Black Flag wasn't on the radio, then later realizing that if they were, it wouldn't be them. Part of the wonder and magic was the difference between the mainstream and the things outside of it.

I just happened to watch Zak's interview on Dorkland! last night, and something he said resonated with me, and it plays into this. At some point he said that by definition, RPGs aren't for everyone. So does bringing gaming into the mainstream mean that a bunch of people that probably don't have a real vested interest in really enjoying them are now at the table, because it's the new and cool thing? Is that good or bad? I'm not sure.

I don't want to suggest that RPGs are only cool if only my friends and I know about it, or some other hipster-ism. I love turning people on to gaming, and seeing it click with them. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Maybe the post was just a thought exercise about capitalizing on fringe media, which is fine, because everyone has to make a buck. Or maybe it's just about motivating a once great IP to make something truly awesome again. That I can get down with.

So here's the opposite exercise. What if WotC and Paizo and every other majorly held game maker went tits up tomorrow? What would the hobby be like? I think you could make the argument that it'd actually be a good thing, in that the people that are operating outside the larger market would work that much harder, produce that much better stuff, to try and get a hold of a share of that vacuum. If WotC never published anything else, I don't think the OSR folks would care. Or maybe the hobby would dry up and die, as there isn't a highly publicized 'gateway game' to get people interested. Again, I don't know. But it's fun to think about.

The Badger King said...

I have been PRAYING that WotC brings out a campaign setting based on the locations of Magic the Gathering. There is SO MUCH stuff there, and it covers pretty much every genre of fantasy gaming. It is CRYING OUT to be made!

Joe Kushner said...

I think you're wrong on several levels here.

1. Wizards of the Coast may not give a shit about D&D in terms of it's financial viability but evidence, such as a 5th edition 'so soon' after 4th edition, suggests otherwise. The cutting of the staff to the bare bone levels, the dropping of full time persons, such as outsourcing numerous adventurers (the two in print currently and the next batch), as well as the lack of any regular digital content delivery via Dungeon and Dragon, the attempts to use the brand to cash in on the miniature side of things again, and the dropping of Morningstar when it looks like they needed 'real money'.

2. If WoTC was going to do anything movie, carton, etc..., they have excellent resources in their New York Times bestselling authors like Ed Greenwood and more than likely, R. A. Salvatore. There are people who have grown up on those books for the last... oh, let's say 30 years. WoTC, currently at least, took the setting branding out of their fiction line and put the D&D branding on it.

In terms of 'licensed' settings? I love Fritz Lieber. His stuff goes out of print all the time. It's only recently made it into Kindle format now. If they could pick up anything for a song, yeah, that's possible, but since they have NO STAFF to actually make anything, don't see that happening.

It looks like the production schedule is an adventure, maybe a pair of adventurers, and a sourcebook every quarter or something?

Now on the other hand, I agree with you on the Magic the Gathering front. Sadly we'll probably see a Magic the Gathering series well before we see a D&D one.

Robert in New Orleans said...

The most obvious subject for a D&D film is the first Drizzt trilogy. He's their most recognizable character and even though the books aren't classics, they contain a lot of plot and source material for the movies. The setting is dark and horror tinged which I think would suit the current mood of moviegoers. I'm not saying I think Drizzt is awesome or anything just that it's their most marketable character.

Chris A. Field said...

Nice suggestions! I especially like the Camelot suggestion, because I've been a huge fan of all versions of that myth and would love to see D&D tackle it in a meaningful way. I would just love a bestiary with illuminated manuscript style art focusing on all the truly bizarre legends and folk superstitions of the era. Now, would the ideal version be Excalibur or Mists of Avalon flavored? Because I'd love either.

I've been asking for a Magic:the Gathering style campaign book since I first heard WOTC took over the brand. I don't play the game, but I'm in awe of the art and the excellent job of world building they do in the 1-2 line quotes on each card.

I gotta agree with Robert- a Drizzt movie would be a huge seller for Hasbro. I've been wanting a good Forgotten Realms movie, preferably by Del Toro, ever since I saw Hellboy II. Watch that movie,and tell me Nuada (skin tone aside) doesn't perfectly match your mental image of Drizzt and his combat style.

Zak S said...

I don't understand what your litany of facts is pointing out I'm "wrong" about.

Zak S said...

If I don't care about Driz'zt my guess is a general audience won't

Dan said...

I think the right approach to a D&D movie and IP would be more similar to the Lego Movie - in contrast to comic superheroes, both have fans with decades of shared experiences but no universally recognised characters or plots to be adapted. D&D could go for a similarly self-referential move where the system itself becomes part of the story (but this is incredibly hard to do with fantasy without it feeling horrible - it would have t be very subtle indeed).

Some ideas on how to do this without being too cringe-inducing: 1.have a 'DM' character. 2. set it mostly inside a dungeon. make it claustrophobic. Something like the original 'Cube' movie . 3. Make careful use of spells and other resources a major part of the plot. 4. stay away from Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance.

For my money, Planescape is a good bet. Why? The Lego movie showed several difference 'worlds' of Lego (because that's one of the cool things about Lego), D&D should do the same (because that's one of the cool things about D&D). Planescape gives you the ability to show several different flavours of fantasy world in one round trip and Sigil itself is a fantastic opportunity for an exotic 'melting pot' ensemble cast (people love melting pots full of weird extras that aren't always trying to kill the main cast - see Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars for proof).

Other thoughts: Illithid good idea. Orcs and goblins bad idea. Choose monsters that other fantasy IPs just can't provide and saty away from the ones they can.

(Also, there needs to be a D&D range of Lego.)

Ben said...

I agree with Zak. If anything, you've just pointed out there's a huge canon of Drizz't material to draw from.

Marty Walser said...

Hasbro owns Kreo... so there will never be D&D Lego.

D&D Kreo, on the other hand, is already being made.

Marty Walser said...

Zak - I think you have some good points, but don't think WotC has the flexibility or the right knowledge to develop IP just for the sake of a D&D movie...

That aside, I think WotC already has IP it can utilitze:
http://ragingowlbear.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-right-ip-for-dnd-movie.html

Zak S said...

You seem to have not really read the post you're commenting on.

-I don't want a d&D movie, I just think it's to WOTC's benefit.

-Regardless of whether WOTC officially is in charge of developing movie-able IP, it is whether it wants to be or not, as I lay out in detail above (and which part I guess you just skimmed)

-Dragonlance, without further and much better development, will strike a general audience as merely Tolkien-lite. It is not ready for prime time.

Christian Kell said...

Dark Sun...

Marty Walser said...

Except that Hollywood wants exactly that -- retreads of existing stories and tropes.

Or we would have a dozen Batmans, several Iron Man / Cap America / Hulks, a dozen Star Treks and seven Star Wars.

There's nothing wrong with Tolkien-lite if it's done well and makes money.

Marty Walser said...

... we would NOT have a dozen Batmans... is what was meant to be stated.

Zak S said...

The public instantly can tell the difference between the Hulk and Batman.

Not so Dragonlance and Tolkien. There is literally no distinctive idea about Dragonlance in the public's imagination.

There's no Dragonlance shampoo

Marty Walser said...

Now you're the one not reading what is being said.

My point had nothing to do with the difference between Hulk and Batman.

What I said is that Hollywood and audiences are willing to pay again and again for the same story and tropes.

I.E. -- We have a dozen Batmans and Star Treks.

It doesn't matter that we don't have Dragonlance shampoo. People who don't know D&D won't care or not whether its different from Lord of the Ring if it looks cool and has dragons. Creating new D&D IP won't change that situation *at all*.

People who do know D&D will like that a familiar well-loved IP is being resurrected.

Zak S said...

I'm not talking about what people will pay for, I am talking about what studio executives will put money behind so that a well-produced film will make it in front of those audiences.

The article explains that TURNING BORING THINGS LIKE DRAGONLANCE

in

to

_more interesting IP_ (like Dark Knight did with Batman)

is


an

essential

step

in selling the IP to someone who'll make something good with it.

Marty Walser said...

Except that none of the IP you mentioned is more interesting.

Why would the studio want to by D&D King Arthur when "King Arthur" is in the public domain?

Why would a studio want to buy D&D Lankmar when it could go directly to Lieber's estate to license the movie rights?

Same with Moorcock, Vance or any other authors you name... Why would the studio go through Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast when they can go directly to the IP owners?

None of your ideas help leverage the D&D brand in any way.

Joe Kushner said...

That WoTC D&D doesn't have it's own 'brand' already? Now perhaps you don't like Elminister, Drizzt, and the other host of New York TIme bestsellers, some of which have been adapted into audio books and graphic novels, video games and board games, but that's a pretty heavy denial of things that have already happened.

In terms of 'leveraging' known properties like Arhturian and S&S, you mention building the D&D brand and then talk about licensing existing properties to show how expandable it is.

Taking existing material and putting it into your game is what GURPS and Hero and other generic rule sets are good for. Even back in the 1st edition days when Stormbringer killed you 50% of the time or took half your levels the other 50% of the time, AD&D was a poor fit for many of these genres. Not saying they couldn't be done, as I owned the Conan, Red Sonja, and enjoyed the Nehwon series of AD&D modules, but they were always a poor fit.

In terms of 'proving' things about what you could do with D&D, if you seriously are looking at the full range of settings and options and think you need, for one second, to step outside already existing and already owned material, we'll disagree.

Greyhaw, Forgotten Realms, Mystara hold the whole generic fantasty down well.

Draognlance is about dragons. You may disagree with it being distinctive in that 'it's generic tolkien' but draconians and other bits would look fantastic on screen, plus a LOT of dragons as opposed to Smaug, I'm shot in the heart, the destroyer. In addition, movies are about character and if they can get good actors for the brothers, that takes care of the biggest issue of showing the series.

For horror they could do Ravenloft.

For pulp-noir, they have Eberron.

For the explorator or odd they have Spelljammer and Planescape.

For sword and sandal, aka planetary romance, they have Dark Sun.

For political maneuvering, made very popular by Game of Thrones, they have Birthright.

You seem to be saying WoTC needs to expand it's range, i'm telling you they don't.

Green Ronin didn't become a huge engine of awesome because they had Black Company and A Game of Thrones as licensed properties. Cubicle 7 isn't having cash fights thanks to the rights of The One Ring. Licensed properties always have the problem in that they're licensed.

Hope I was able to clarify some of my thoughts on the matter. I know the internet, at the best of times, isn't the most reliable method of communication.

Zak S said...

You

Didn't

Read

The

Blog

Entry

Marty

The point of using Camelot or Lankhmar isn't togo to the studio withthat stuff--it's (read the damn blog entry) to build trust within the existing D&D audience that WOTC is trying to do something new. And make money doing it.

THEN AFTER they do that with the other properties, they can return and do things like Dragonlance (only this time: newer and better than before) and people inside the hobby will be prepared to appreciate a new and interesting version.

Once a version of (say) DRagonlance that isn't completely schlock builds steam _inside_ the community, then it can be taken out to other people.

It's really fucking obnoxious to repeatedly write comments on a blog entry you didn't bother to read, Marty. Don't ever do that again.

Zak S said...

"You seem to be saying WoTC needs to expand it's range, i'm telling you they don't."

NO.

Yeah, you totally missed the point, Joe, just like Marty below.

While all of those properties you list:

-Exist

-Have fan bases
and

-Have elements you could make a movie from

None of the properties you listed has a single classic, well-executed piece of game material behind it. The existing stuff is schlocky and poorly-written and not differentiated in the larger public's mind from what already exists.

Again: it's like Batman before anybody had done a decent Batman comic: there are ideas there but ABSOLUTELY ZERO decent explications of those ideas.

Right now the internal RPG audience has no faith that any of those properties is going to be handled with the care Jackson put into LOTR or Whedon did with theAvengers since they've all been treated like disposable mass market bullshit over and over for 30 years.

If what existed was sufficient to generate the interest to get a great movie made, there'd likely be one. There isn't.

So they need to change how they deal with these properties and approach them as if the authors were actually going to use the books they are writing.

WOTC doesn't need to expand it's range, it needs to DO ACTUALLY GOOD THINGS FOR ONCE with its existing range.

Expanding into (for example) Camelot, is just a low-risk way of showing the D&D audience that they are actually interested in doing new things.

Joe Kushner said...

"The point of using Camelot or Lankhmar isn't togo to the studio withthat stuff--it's (read the damn blog entry) to build trust within the existing D&D audience that WOTC is trying to do something new. And make money doing it."

WoTC doesn't need to do this. Their own IP has been around for 30 years at this point and is more popular and well known then Camelot or Lankhmar. Spending money to prove 'trust' within the existing D&D audience when you already have the IP that fans have children that grew up with, is pointless. If it wasn't, Mongoose that did have Conan, Hawkmoon, Conan, and other bits like Nehwon, would be top dog. Just because you don't agree doesn't mean people aren't reading what you're writing in the imperfect medium that is the internet.

Joe Kushner said...

"If what existed was sufficient to generate the interest to get a great movie made, there'd likely be one. There isn't."

Uh... no. What needs to happen, and I think recently has, is that WoTC needs to get all of it's IP rights back under it's own umbrella.

We're now getting to disagreements about opinion as well since you think that none of the properties is a well-executed piece of game material.

Brom has become iconic for his work on Dark Sun for example.

If you think that the Gray Mouser and Fafrd are going to reach a wider audience than Drizzt or Rastilin, we disagree.

Perhaps in the circles you hang with, there is no faith that any of these properties is going to be handled well, but that's not even up to the studio. That's up to whoever gets behind the property. Even great directors make crappy movies and even then, those cappy movies split the audience. I thought Man of Steel and Promethus was crap but there are people who love them.

The fact that there isn't a good D&D movie just means that there isn't a good D&D movie. There aren't a lot of good fantasy movies at all. The Lord of the Rings is fairly well regarded. The Hobbit, despite the money it's made, is not. I think WoTC would be happy with Hobbit like sales even if people came away from it and said, "Man, they completely screwed the whole Circle of Eight in that movie and it sucks!"


Expanding into Camelot would be great to read about because I'd love to see how WoTC would handle the weapons and armor of the era in the new game.

However, I also like to think that I keep one foot in reality and the if WoTC was going to do anything with knights, they'd probably take their knightly setting in the Forgotten Realms, Corymy or whatever it is and expand their own IP.

They'd do this because unless someone is giving it to them for free, as I mentioned originally, it appears that WoTC gives less then 2 shits about D&D in its game form as they've cut way back on keeping staff and keeping the fan base engaged.

Again, you may disagree with that or just be going, "Hey, this is just a wishlist of things I'd love to see WoTC do" in which case, yeah, sure, let's also see a Call of Cthulhu Bestiary while we're wishing.

Zak S said...

"WoTC doesn't need to do this. Their own IP has been around for 30 years at this point and is more popular and well known then Camelot or Lankhmar. Spending money to prove 'trust' within the existing D&D audience when you already have the IP that fans have children that grew up with, is pointless."

No, it does need to do it and that isn't pointeess.

Right now when WOTC puts out a supplement about any of those properties we expect it to be crappily-produced business as usual and we are always right.

That IP maybe a big deal to people_inside_ D&D, but it's meaningless to anyone _outside_ D&D. Because D&D has no classic interpretations of these ideas--just stuff nerds can do stuff with if they try real hard and squint.

That's

Why

Nobody's

Ever

Made

A

Great

Movie

With

It

Mongoose may have a lot of properties, but it doesn't have D&D. Which is like IDW or Dark Horse: they mayhave the Star Wars license but don't have Marvel.

D&D right now is like DC comic before Dark Knight: they have a bunch of interesting properties that have never been represented well.

Ever.

So D&D needs to concentrate on making games worth playing using new art worth looking at and new writing worth reading. Once they manage to convince players they can do that they MIGHT be able to convince someone else to do it.

Joe Kushner said...

And this is where I think a disconnect is coming from. Drizzt is 'old' already. He's well known. He's had board games, graphic novels, and audio books, outside of his numerous New York Times best sellers listings. For you to keep insisting that it's terrible showcases that you're definition of 'good/quality/mass market consumable' and what everone else considers in the field, are very far apart.

And that's not saying that isn't room for different character,s themes, or ideas, but having a product that is arty and sells 2K copies on one hand and a shitty but well consumed product that sells 100K on the other hand, well, I know which one the corporation is going for.

Joe Kushner said...

Uh, what point would it be a big deal to people outside of "D&D"? What metric would satisfy? How many board games sold? How many novels sold? How many audio books sold? What do you consider the 'D&D' pool that needs to be escaped from, so small is it's numbers.

And we're going to disagree on the movie thing again. Just because no one's made a great movie with it doesn't mean a great movie can't be made with it. shitty directors are shitty. shitty actors are shitty.

Zak S said...

"We're now getting to disagreements about opinion as well since you think that none of the properties is a well-executed piece of game material."

My opinion's supported by the outside world's reaction to it (ie no reaction at all) yours isn't.

"Brom has become iconic for his work on Dark Sun for example."

30 years ago. And almost none of the Dark Sun products actually build on the Brom artwork--the actual pieces are few and far between.

"If you think that the Gray Mouser and Fafrd are going to reach a wider audience than Drizzt or Rastilin, we disagree."

Again: this is something you could only write if you didn't read the article carefully. D&D should use existing pulp properties not because they'll be popular but because they'll show the internal d&D audience they're capable of (finally) doing some good work, then use that goodwill to attack existing D&D properties.

That's the 4th time I've repeated that.

Please read before commenting this time.

"Perhaps in the circles you hang with, there is no faith that any of these properties is going to be handled well, but that's not even up to the studio. "

I don't understand what that's supposed to mean.

Let me restate what I am saying another way:

The Watchmen script had been bumping around Hollywoood for almost 30 years before it got made. But it eventually got made.

Why?

Because people _besides_ comic book nerds could see Watchmen was cool. The graphic novel sold itself over and over to a variety of different directors.

D&D doesn't have any product like that--only a bunch of half-assed things.

This is attested to INSIDE the community in that these properties don't (unlike Watchmen) aren't consistent moneymakers by themselves--D&D has to re-package them over and over to sell them, then they do, then sales flag, thent hey go away. In other words: they don't sell the way classics do. They don't act,in the market, the way classics do.

If D&D wants to make something which will survive the vicissitudes of the development process it will need to create something that works so well, even non-RPG people can see the appeal.

It doesn't have that yet. If it did, 4e Dark Sun would've brought thousands of new people into the game on name alone. IT didn't. Why?

Because 30 yrs later "DarkSun" means fuck-all to people outside D&D while Watchmen is taught in college classrooms.

Zak S said...

Driz'zt isn't taught in college classrooms. Watchmen is.

Clearly they haven't done Driz;zt right yet.

Zak S said...

"What point?"

Here are some metrics Watchmen satisfied even before the movie:

-I can say the name to a non-D&D/comics person and they know what I'm talking about

-It's taught in colleges as a classic

-It's perenially in bookstores

-It sells, un-updated and unchanged, year after year

-People outside the genre is willing to attest to it having some kind of literary or artistic quality

...Driz'zt has none of that. Dragonlance has none of that

Marty Walser said...

Zak - Just because I disagree with your premise doesn't mean I didn't read your post.

You wrote "That's Why Nobody's Ever Made A Great Movie With It."

This statement shows that you are ignorant of the movie rights issues that Hasbro/WotC currently has.

No one has ever made a good movie with D&D because TSR made a TERRIBLE contract with Sweetpea Enteratinment that gives that studio exclusive rights to the D&D movie IN PERPETUITY as long as they put out something every few years.

Because Sweetpea has held the rights, they've put out schlock D&D movies every 5 years because that's the only way they can keep those rights. Sweetpea (Courtney Solomon) only knows how to make schlock.Check his wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtney_Solomon

The fact that a quality movie has not been made has NOTHING to do with the D&D brand and the quality of the IP held by Wizards of the Coast and it has everything to do with Solomon wanting to hold the reins of D&D movie-making for himself.

There are actually 2 movies in the works as Hasbro wants to work with Universal whereas Sweetpea has contracted with Warner Brothers on a new D&D movie. Hasbro is suing Sweetpea to prevent them and win back the rights.

If you had done 5 minutes of research on this topic before writing about it, you would have known this.

Marty Walser said...

" I'm not sure what the culture of gaming stands to gain from the mainstreaming of RPGs."

New players and the continued existence of the hobby?

Joe Kushner said...

That's an interesting take on it.

I disagree that to have a viable movie Drizz't needs to be taught in the theaters.

There are numerous examples of media that has made it to movies that aren't taught in theaters. That's a weird specific and odd point and criteria to hold as 'success'.

Joe Kushner said...

"Because people _besides_ comic book nerds could see Watchmen was cool. The graphic novel sold itself over and over to a variety of different directors."

I'll agree that getting out of the fantasy ghetto is going to be a tough job for any brand, not just D&D. Thinkin about it, in the last ten years, I can't say there have been five good fantasy movies that were blockbusters that top to my mind outside of say, LoTR/Hobbit/Harry Potter bits. Or at least that were Western in style.

Zak S said...

WRONG

Because you missed an obvious question:

Why did TSR agree to make such a crappy deal in the first place?

Because D&D wasn't worth as much as, say, Watchmen or Batman. Because nobody'd made anything with it that had crossover appeal.

So, Duh. Try again.

Zak S said...

That's why D&D needs to start by focusing on making something that truly works as a crossover hit with the properties they have. (As Potter and LOTR do.)

Zak S said...

I'm not saying "a movie period" I'm saying "a _good_ movie" with real talent on it.

I have no doubt a Driz'zt B-movie as lazily thrown together as Masters of the Universe could get made tomorrow.

But if WOTC wants a movie at the level of like Avengers or LOTR or Iron Man or Dark Knight or Hellboy to get made they need to spark the imaginations of people with genuine pull or genuine talent then they need to put out something that is better-regarded among creative people than Driz'zt's adventures so far.

That is: you can PAY PEOPLE to make a Driz'zt movie. Or any movie.

But what you want is a movie that great directors WANT to make. And I don't see Benicio Del Toro or Terry Gilliam or anyone else lining up to work with Driz'zt in current form.

The property needs polishing.

Zak S said...

...and why has nobody ever bought Sweetpea out?

Same reason.

Joe Kushner said...

It's interesting you put Hellboy into the mix here as I don't think WoTC would be happy with a Hellboy level performance. It's a great movie and I'm hoping a third one gets made, but I think WoTC would be happy with the money if a schlock movie was made and it made its money back.

Joe Kushner said...

I find it interesting on one hand you say, "Right now when WOTC puts out a supplement about any of those properties we expect it to be crappily-produced business as usual and we are always right." and then on the other hand "The point of using Camelot or Lankhmar isn't togo to the studio withthat stuff--it's (read the damn blog entry) to build trust within the existing D&D audience that WOTC is trying to do something new. And make money doing it."

Either WoTC is incapable of making something that isn't schlock, or they've already done it and it simply doesn't appeal to you maybe?

Heck, the novel Night Watch, about a city watch in Greyhawk, might fit your bill of not being schlock, but it didn't sell. Quality != quantity.

Marty Walser said...

You pretend to know a lot about these things, but you don't actually seem to.

"Ahead of this trial, Warner Bros purchased Solomon and Sweetpea’s D&D rights for around $4 million plus another $1 million for legal fees."

http://deadline.com/2014/09/dungeons-and-dragons-trial-ends-movie-sequels-839985/

Just to secure the rights Warner Brothers has already paid $5 million and that's without a final script or a guarantee that a movie will even come out of the deal (and knowing that if the lawsuit goes against them, they will lose at least $1 million on the deal and likely more). That's just a $5 million bet to make one D&D movie.

Your whole claim that studios aren't clamoring for the rights to make a D&D movie is bogus. Universal and Warner Bros are both willing to spend millions just on the rights.

Marty Walser said...

"Why did TSR agree to make such a crappy deal in the first place?"

Because they didn't know what they were doing. It had nothing to do with the value of the IP.

Zak S said...

@JOE
"Either WoTC is incapable of making something that isn't schlock, or they've already done it and it simply doesn't appeal to you maybe?"

Incorrect. Talk to anybody in the business: they aren't always given time and money to do their jobs right.

And, as an audience, most people aren't primed to expect it coming.

@MARTY
"Your whole claim that studios aren't clamoring for the rights to make a D&D movie is bogus. Universal and Warner Bros are both willing to spend millions just on the rights."

So that tanks your whole argument, Marty,

YOU JUST SAID there wasn't a movie because of the Sweetpea deal..

THEN you said Warners has it.

So: What's the _real_ reason there's no movie?

Because nobody has a decent pitch. Because there's no well-regarded D&D property to make a pitch out of.

Chris A. Field said...

I don't think there will ever be another movie called "D&D" in theaters, because that particular name is toxic based on the crappy Wayans Brother movie from 2000 or 2001. I do think sooner or later there will be D&D based content in theaters, but it'll be named after a specific campaign world: Dark Sun, Forgotten Realms, or specific storyline, Legend of Drizzt, Dragons of Autumn Twilight or whatever.

Joe Kushner said...

Hola Zak S. Threw a question on RPGnet quoting your bits about what it would take to 'push' a brand for DnD out like Watchmen on RPG.net. I know you're over there ever now and again and I thought I'd drop a link to it. Please let me know if there's anything there you'd like me to change! http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?745251-Science-Fiction-Books-Reach-vs-D-amp-D-Gaming-Reach&p=18593017#post18593017

iron said...

If general, movie-going audiences actually cared about " bad" films that were made 15 or 20 years ago, then reboots like "Transformers" or "Lord of the Rings" wouldn't of become the mega hits they are.Same goes with the (eventual) D&D movie, if it has the budget and talent and there is a large enough population willing to fork down cash to see it, it'll do extremely well no matter how many gamers hate it.

Justin Alexander said...

This is a bizarre little reality-bubble you've constructed for yourself, Zak.

You want WotC to develop adaptable IP by creating a sourcebook based on public domain material. This makes no sense.

You claim that an Arthurian sourcebook for D&D would demonstrate that WotC was willing to do stuff that had never been done before. Except it has been done before. By TSR. TSR also had an entire line of Historical Reference Books which included adapations of public domain legendry. It's apparently not a magic bullet.

You claim that the reason Tim Burton made Batman is because he had a "personal connection" to the material. But he didn't: He'd never read a comic book before.

You claim that the road to the Avengers movie was Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. It wasn't. The road to the Avengers movie was the commercial success of Blade, Men in Black, and X-Men. Those three movies all succeeded for very different reasons, but their success created the perception that Marvel's properties were worth licensing and making movies out of. That led to the record-breaking Spider-Man and that led to a string of licensing deals that eventually gave Marvel enough leverage to finance their own film. Producing a string of unremitted hits was then the final step leading to the Avengers.

You want to duplicate that success? Get a lucky hit with a decent movie star (Snipes). Get a huge hit with a brand new movie star at the height of their box office power (Smith). Then get a high quality director to create a third hit in 3 years (Fuller). Congratulations, Hollywood is now eager to license your creative properties: They'll be coming for D&D and Magic, but you'll probably be able to spin some deals for stuff like RoboRally and Betrayal at House on the Hill.

Zak S said...

You're confusing

Zak S said...

You made several mistakes, Justin:

1. "You claim that an Arthurian sourcebook for D&D would demonstrate that WotC was willing to do stuff that had never been done before. Except it has been done before. By TSR. TSR also had an entire line of Historical Reference Books which included adapations of public domain legendry. It's apparently not a magic bullet."

I didn't say "they never did it" I said "they never did it WELL"


2. "You claim that the reason Tim Burton made Batman is because he had a "personal connection" to the material. But he didn't: He'd never read a comic book before."

That doesn't mean he didn't feel a connection. Duh.

And Sam Hamm--who wrote the script--certainly did.

3. "You claim that the road to the Avengers movie was Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. It wasn't. The road to the Avengers movie was the commercial success of Blade, Men in Black, and X-Men."

First: CITATION NEEDED

Second: X-Men was made by Bryan Singer--who believed in it.

Third: your story lists a bunch of commercially but in no way creatively successful films, and so, if it even applies, applies only to Marvel and not to Hellboy, LOTR etc.

So, please don't come around my blog and do that uninformed-but-condescending thing ever again, Justin.

Zak S said...

And of course it can be both:
Otherwise in your crazy interpretation it's
apparently it's

pure coincidence

that all the Batman movies are based on Frank Miller style Batman, and that the Avengers sounds like Bendis Avengers and Watchmen was apparently fought over for 30 years because Terry Gilliam and Zack Snyder picked it out of a hat.

Marty Walser said...

Zak - CITATION NEEDED. I said no such thing. I said there were no GOOD movies because of the Sweetpea deal... Not that there were no movies.

Nice misquote to try to prop up your straw man.

Zak S said...

Here is your quote:

"No one has ever made a good movie with D&D because TSR made a TERRIBLE contract with Sweetpea Enteratinment that gives that studio exclusive rights to the D&D movie IN PERPETUITY as long as they put out something every few years.
"

And then here is a quote that completely refutes your own point

(your point is: "No good movie beause of the sweetpea deal")

"Ahead of this trial, Warner Bros purchased Solomon and Sweetpea’s D&D rights for around $4 million plus another $1 million for legal fees."

So.....

Your _own explanation_ of why there's been no good movie is refuted by _the very evidence you just gave_ .

There must be some factor OTHER than the Sweetpea deal preventing a good film being made.

Artifice said...

I don't think so. If WotC never publishes anything ever again, the hobby will still be there. I know I won't care - I don't buy much of their stuff anyway. As I mentioned in the post, I'm not sure that attracting new table top players via mass media like a big budget movie is good for the hobby. You can attract people for all the wrong reasons, and it's a slippery slope to having people at the table because it's cool, not because it's fun.

As an extreme example, if no RPG material was ever printed again, by anyone, would people stop playing? Would you stop enjoying them? Would you stop telling people about them and enticing people to play that you thought would enjoy it? I wouldn't, and I don't think other people would either.

I agree with the post that there are good ways for WotC to leverage their brand and materials to a wider market. I just don't think it's necessarily good for anyone but WotC.

iron said...

What don't you understand.

Kobayashi said...

Why go with Camelot when you can go with Camelot 3000 ? Huh, well, don't answer that. But still I'd like that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camelot_3000

Barking Alien said...

To play devil's advocate Marty, did they not have that before? That is, if it hasn't 'gone mainstream' yet, and I see new people playing all the time, does it need to go mainstream to find more players, or does it just need to reach its target audience of creative, nerdy types with a bit of disposable income?

It's like the old Richard Pryor bit, "They say drugs are addictive. I know people who've been doing drugs for 25 years. They ain't addicted yet."

I've been gaming for 37 years. If it needs to go mainstream, and it hasn't so far, where have all my new players been coming from?

Zak S said...

nothing, it was a mistake

David Given Schwarm said...

This is fantastic.

Is it possible for WOTC to make Intellectual Property from the Creative Process that D&D Nurtures and then profit from that? In other words, rather than making a D'riZZZZZt movie, can we make a PD&DwPS type movie in which real people interact with a fantasy world in a meaningful ways--Gamers & other web stuff has done this & I think it is fairly successful and a relative newish genre which may be ripe for creative exploration in a way that a Dr'ZZZt movie is not...

Jeremy said...

I liked your ideas Zak, but I kept thinking "Why does this sound vaguely familiar". Couldn't think of it, but kept stewing on it.

Then, I remembered Dragon 274 (the first 3e issue). They dedicate several pages to a Robin Hood 'campaign setting'. It's not particularly well written or even very interesting. But It was public domain and certainly a classic. But, the same issue dedicated at least as many pages to promoting the first D&D movie.

In a sense, it is an ass-backward, poorly executed, and jumbled attempt at the tasks you advise. It was almost as if someone back then said "Guys, here's what we should do..(read Zak's advice)", and then Wizco and related companies did it in the most confused and sloppy manner imaginable.

Marty Walser said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marty Walser said...

You didn't read all of the news. The Warner deal puts Courtney Solomon as the Executive Producer. So, if Warner wins the case, Soloman will make another shit-tastic movie.

You seem to have a fatal inability to admit you don't know what you are talking about here as you haven't read up on any of the D&D movie history.

Zak S said...

You claimed a cause and effect and can't prove it.

None of your infodumps prove your point.

If someone valued the D&D property as much as they did other properties, they'd buy their way COMPLETELY out of any legal problem surrounding it.

They don't value it that much, so they have not.

You next answer must _address that point_ (you need not agree, but you must state your position on it and then give reasons why you think it's true or false).

Marty Walser said...

Baloney. The IP for D&D is valuable, but that is not all there is to consider about making a successful movie franchise. You make it sound like it's as easy as striking a check. It's not. Movie rights are a very complicated beast and knowing that you are going to profit from a movie or not is seldom a sure thing.

Here's why no one has had the desire/ability to "buy their way out" of the deal.

Money. Lots and lots of it.

D&D is not Lord of the Rings. It does not have a decades-old set of novels that define a cultural movement, like LotR defined the fantasy genre in literature. You can't create that kind of IP value out of the air. D&D created the fantasy RPG culture, but it doesn't really have a touchstone story (unless you consider something like Dragonlance).

Keep in mind that it took almost 20 years to get the Hobbit made into a live action movie. Jackson first pitched making the Hobbit in 1995 prior to Lord of the Rings, but the dispute over the production rights versus the distribution rights led him to abanondon that idea and pursue the Lord of the Rings instead. It was only after Lords of the Rings was so successful that all the parties tied up in the Hobbit dispute finally decided they would make more money cooperating than by litigating and settled the deal.

20 years.

The D&D rights are tied up in the Sweetpea contract. Courtney Solomon is not interested in selling them if he is able to option those rights every few years for chunks of cash (i.e. - the Warner deal). Why would he sell those rights back to Hasbro? Those rights could be worth shit-tons of money to him over the long haul. It would be like emptying your 401K now. You'd be selling off your future for a little bit of cashn in the present. Solomon may not be a good movie maker, but he's not stupid.

The reason no one has offered (with the exception of Warner, up to now), is that making a D&D movie is a huge gamble. Between the cost for production and the cost of litigation without guarantee that you'd even have a success, why as a movie studio would you take that chance?

First, you have to offer Solomon lots of money for the rights to make the film. But you still have no story, script or possibly even the true rights to make the film without involving the lawyers. This is what Hasbro is counting on. If the rights revert to Hasbro, they can shop the D&D name around, but they sure as hell are not going to pay Solomon a crap-load of money just to get their own brand back when they can use the lawyers to do it instead (or try to force him to settle the rights out of court, which is what they're likely hoping given that the case is not necessarily a slam dunk in their favor).

(continues)

Marty Walser said...

So, if I'm a movie studio here's what I know about D&D:

1) I could pay Solomon a crap ton of money, but that doesn't even guarantee I will be allowed to make the film.

2) It's going to take at least $200 million to make a film on par with a Hobbit/LotR movie. If I start production on a film to which I may not even have rights, I'm now committing hundreds of millions of dollars to buy a lottery ticket that I'm not even certain will pay off. What insane movie executive would agree to that? Industry executives get fired for decisions like that.

3) Even if I commit to that massive gamble, I don't yet have a story to tell. I either need to option the rights for a D&D Novel (which would be impossible because Hasbro would not allow that), or I have to hire someone to write a completely new story.

4) If I can completely write a new story, why not just do that and take a chance that I can sell "generic fantasy story #409" without the D&D brand attached? Or better yet, find another fantasy author to which I can option the rights and forget D&D for now? Why not work directly with Robert Jordan's estate? Or Frtiz Leiber's? Or Robin Hobb? There are probably dozens of fantasy authors pining for a movie deal.

Here's the thing you failed to establish.

How would creating more genres of D&D add to its IP credability? You need a story to sell. D&D is already THE brand for heroic fantasy RPGs. Adding Wuxia or King Arthur or Space Cowboys doesn't do shit for me as a movie producer. Just because that's what *you* want Wizards to do with it's product line, doesn't make it a good idea... and it's an entirely the wrong idea for selling D&D as the fantasy brand because you would be watering down the brand with things that D&D ** is not **.

Marty Walser said...

On top of all that, Sweetpea has damaged the D&D movie brand.

I'm saying the D&D rights are very valuable. The IP is very valuable, as is, even with the damaged reputation.

But as a movie executive, it's also a gigantic gamble to pursue right now until the rights are settled between Hasbro and Sweetpea.

This is why no one has pursued it enough to make a LotR-sized epic. It the sheer volume of money that would be required to make sure a movie that makes D&D a hard sell.

Adding more genres to D&D does nothing to solve that problem.

The resolution of the Warner-Hasbro case will go a very long way toward solving that problem if Hasbro wins. If Warner wins then we're still guaranteed to have shitty D&D movies for a long time to come.

Zak S said...

"Here's the thing you failed to establish. How would creating more genres of D&D add to its IP credability?"

GOOD QUESTION!

That's why I wrote a post about it!

To recap the post you're allegedly commenting on:

(It's multi-step so try to pay attention_all the way through_, Marty)

Creating something new would convince a segment of the INTERNAL WOTC audience that remains unconvinced that WOTC is dedicated to doing something new. It would NOT improve the value of the IP in Hollywood on its own.

However, then AFTER you've proven to the internal audience that WOTC is capable of doing new things (or just, really, any surprising things) THEN there's a next step.

What's the next step? Now that both the previously-convinced AND currently-unconvinced audiences are paying attention, WOTC then puts out new products that _are of higher quality than what they usually do_ .

These (as I said above)
do


not


have


to

be

wholly new properties--they can be based on the old D&D IP, only totally earnestly written and graphic designed for once. By people with talent.

Note: EVEN THIS step will not improve the value of the brand. Because even if they are successful in doing that, the internal audience isn't Hollywood.

However then a THIRD thing happens: because the WOTC product is both new and good, people start to talk about it--even ones outside the industry. Like how Mikal Gilmore started writing about comics for Rolling Stone once they started doing new and exciting things in the 80s.

THIS--the buzz around the new classics, improves the value of the IP and overcomes the many money problems.

Now:

Address that argument.

Marty Walser said...

The problem with your idea is that adding new genres to D&D does nothing to add to its value as a fantasy IP. D&D is already the established brand in fantasy RPGs. Creating Wuxia D&D or King Arthur D&D doesn't help sell the brand as a movie identity.

You need a story to sell a movie franchise -- Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Dune, Hunger Games, Da Vinci Code. Do you see the pattern? You don't sell genres to Hollywood. You sell stories. Novels that can be easily transformed into screen plays. And your IP is even more valuable if you have a whole series of books that can be turned into a movie franchise rather than a single film.

Dragonlance is that franchise... Perhaps other FR novels (although there are few that are as well known). You can't do Drizzt because you have the problem that [literal] "black people" are all bad guys. 

Zak S said...

You didn't read what I wrote or address it.

You skipped the steps again.

Please do not respond based on shit you half read while drunk.

Zak S said...

"Creating Wuxia D&D or King Arthur D&D doesn't help sell the brand as a movie identity."

Really:

READ

THE

THING

BEFORE

YOU

COMMENT

Marty Walser said...

You should do the same.

Zak S said...

That's not a response, Marty.

I explained how expanding into King Arthur or Wuxia doesn't help sell the brand identity but is the first step in a process you failed to comment on, instead going on a tangent/

So comment on what I said now or else type:

"I am sorry, I--Marty Walser--am stupid and should not have bothered you"

Marty Walser said...

Nice ad hominem -- the tactic of a debater who has no argument on which to stand.

You have utterly failed to show how your "great idea" would do anything to amplify the brand value.

Just because your idea sucks, doesn't make me stupid.

Marty Walser said...

Here's the irony. TSR already did this with D&D and it basically put them out of business. They had so many D&D campaign settings, it ruined the company and allowed Wizards of the Coast to purchase TSR.

Let's list a few of them and see how many were on your list:

Pelinore - AD&D King Arthur setting
Birthright - Chivalry & Sorcery style kingdom-building campaign setting
Lankmar - Yes, there already was an AD&D Lankmar setting with Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser
Al-Qadim - Arabian Nights
Ravenloft - Horror
Masque of Red Death - Victorian era horror
Spelljammer - D&D in Astral Space
Planescape - Multiverse D&D
Dark Sun - Desert planet
The Horde - Mongol barbarian setting in the Forgotten Realms
Maztica - MesoAmerican (Aztec/Mayan) D&D
Rokugan - Oriental Adventures meets Legend of the Five Rings

You know what all these settings had in common? They completely failed to sell well and put TSR out of business.

And you are suggesting WotC do the SAME THING with 5th Edition.

You have no idea what you are talking about and you don't even bother to research the history of D&D before you spout off like you know everything.

geek-related.com said...

Agree in general with the article. I think WotC has already whiffed at one strike, though, by not learning from Paizo and having a strong roster of iconic characters with 5e. The branding and cross-product appeal of Pathfinder is driven by those characters as much if not more than their game world - they appear in the rule books, adventure illustrations, star in the comics and other adaptations they do (like the audio-dramas of Rise of the Runelords)... Or even a general monster, like the much-loved goblins that fuel stuffed animals, etc. for Paizo. Their new first out of the gate AP features kobolds but not at all memorably, just as faceless sword-fodder.

The only "name" people they tap are villains. So they trot Tiamat out for the new adventures at least, but haven't shown a lot of savvy with that in movies etc. in the past - instead of squaring off against Strahd or Bargle they just make up purple-lipped goons.

A successful cross-market strategy in areas where Hasbro would actually care about making money - toys/movies/tchotchkes - needs something *visually* striking to hook into. Maybe "that's coming later" but why would you bury the lede?

Anyway, I'd like to see them succeed at this but I'm not sure they are positioned in a way to head that direction ATM.

Marty Walser said...

What?

No

pithy

response

with

extra

line breaks

to

make

yourself

look

smugly

superior?

(which only makes you look like a bigger ass, by the way).

Zak S said...

Of course there's a response--Mandy & I were inthe hospital.

So, you missed this:

TSR DID NOT carry out my plan--

They did step one (branch out) and step two (do licensed properties) then there's a third step (the step you're apparently too stupid to remember or comment on--I guess because step one incenses you SOOO much it makes you forget what you just read)

Let's test if you're actually able to read:

Marty--After Step One (branch out) and step two (include licensed properties again)

What

Is

Step


Three

that I describe in my article?

If you can correctly identify it then we'll have established you are actually reading and I can move on and handle the rest--including why insulting you casually after you repeatedly dodge the question is different than an ad hominem argument.

So answer the question.

Marty Walser said...

I read it all. About letting new artists go crazy with the IP and showing those end results to studio. It's still not a good idea.

"Did you split the audience by creating 5 different lines of products? So what. You need to make compelling work"

See, there's where you go completely off the rails.

Wizards can't f*ck around with profitability. That's what sunk TSR. Why would Hasbro let them go all experimental again when that destroyed the prior company?

Your idea makes absolutely no economic sense (or any other sense for that matter).

And I'm tired of arguing with dicks on the Internet. My life is too short to spend time talking with people who are just jerks and are incapable of having a civil debate just because someone disagrees with them.

I made my points. Your idea is entirely ridiculous and has no grounds in economic realities.

Zak S said...

GOOD! You finally demonstrated you could read.
Let's take the next step:

1. About letting new artists go crazy with the IP and showing those end results to studio. It's still not a good idea.

Now Say Why Not. You haven't done that.

2. "Why would Hasbro let them go all experimental again when that destroyed the prior company?"

First: TSR never went experimental in this way (i.e. gambling on quality)

Second: Here's why: because TSR had to make money to survive. WOTC, being part of HASBRO, only has to do what feeds the larger organism, as I explain in my earlier paragraph. Many conglomerates accept that small parts of them are not immediately profitable (or ever profitable). Hell: WOTC could profit off Magic and just break even onD&D and still be useful so long as Hasbro thought the IP would _one day_ be useful.

Music companies do it all the time: they have huge hitmakers and then use the profit to fund Classical divisions which often operate at a loss for decades, but they keep it up because having the contracts has longer-term benefits.

So your points were totally refuted.

You need to address those things now or admit you were wrong.

Renegade Paladin said...

I'm pretty sure Games Workshop has the Tolkien game adaptation licenses and prying them away to make a D&D setting would be difficult.

At any rate, after the 4e fiasco, Hasbro pissed away a lot of customer goodwill - my gaming group jumped ship to Pathfinder soon after its release (and as a longtime paladin player I've never looked back), and we're not alone; Paizo is in the running to be the market leader, if it isn't already (neither company releases sales data so its hard to say for sure). I thumbed through the 5e Player's Handbook and it looked interesting, but I don't think the whole club is going to change editions yet again after being burned by 4e. I don't have hard data on any broader trends, but I would be surprised if that was an uncommon sentiment.