Idea: Story Games Collection Hardcover

edited August 2010 in Story Games
Gamers love big, hardcover tomes they can use to kill anything from spiders to stray cats with. But most Story/Indie games are small, digest-sized books or sometimes even pamphlets. Has anyone considered consolidating the cream of the crop of these smaller-size game books into a big hardcover? Maybe focus on out-of-print classics? I know I'd buy it, even if I own most of the games already.

Comments

  • I think it would be a good idea for unknowns to do something like this, to all pool together their collective marketing abilities on selling one thing that had content from everybody, but I can think of a few story games that are pretty big...
  • The No Press Anthology was such a thing, several years ago. I don't know that anyone's doing it right now, though.

    I know that Emily Care Boss plans to one day bind her Three Games About the Human Heart into one beautiful volume.

  • edited August 2010
    Posted By: masqueradeballI think it would be a good idea for unknowns to do something like this, to all pool together their collective marketing abilities on selling one thing that had content from everybody, but I can think of a few story games that are pretty big...
    I have to disagree - all of these games are unknown to the vast, vast majority of gamers. That's not to say that Vincent Baker and Luke Crane would benefit from such a compilation - I have no idea -
    but I do know that most gamers have never heard of them or their games.

    But that's not really the point. It would be up to an editor to pull together a number of games, make deals with those authors, and make those kind of decisions. Maybe they'd have a theme or focus, but maybe it would be just the best games they can get. I think it would be cool if it were a kind of history starting with really old stuff and leading up to Remember Tomorrow or something equally now.
  • Posted By: Joshua A.C. NewmanTheNo Press Anthologywas such a thing, several years ago. I don't know that anyone's doing it right now, though.
    Thanks for that link, I hadn't seen that. I also have never heard of any of those games. I was thinking more along the lines of Dust Devils, Sorcerer, PTA, Polaris, IAWA, etc. I'd like to see a BIG book - choke a mule big!
  • For annual game design contests, a neat outcome would be that the top three games get bound together as an anthology and sold (though, that would still probably not warrant a hardcover). That way you could collect each year's winners.

    I wonder if you could do something to tie the games together? Perhaps a new, common setting that all the games could be run in...

    There probably needs to be a theme or hook or reason for those games to be bundled and bound.
  • I'd definitely go for ones that are out of print, although again, it'd be fairly challenging to pull some of it off. Some books come in digest form, others in textbook form - it'd be a layout challenge if you take small form books and put them in a thick hardback, as it gets unwieldy, but changing the layout to fit a standard textbook size would also be a significant undertaking.

    Also, how many games would get included, and what would the cost be? I'm thinking in all likelyhood I'd want to see 15-20 games and have it come in under $40 to consider getting it, as in all likelihood I'd be really interested in 3-4 of those at most. There are a couple of the NoPress Anthology that interest me, but it's only slightly piqued, and at $20 it seems a bit much without really knowing if I'll get anything out of it.
  • Posted By: scottdunphyGamers love big, hardcover tomes they can use to kill anything from spiders to stray cats with. But most Story/Indie games are small, digest-sized books or sometimes even pamphlets. Has anyone considered consolidating the cream of the crop of these smaller-size game books into a big hardcover? Maybe focus on out-of-print classics? I know I'd buy it, even if I own most of the games already.
    I don't love big books -- I like my games to be digest size or smaller. To me, this is one of the good things about many recent small press games. Small books can be conveniently read anywhere, like in line or while waiting in the car. Big books are a pain.
  • There has been talk of Game Chef or other contest books in the past.

    In general, though, all anthologies previously considered have run in problems based on the fact that these are creator-owned games with creators who have very different ideas about publishing goals, creator ownership and control, etc. Maybe the folks who write great games for Game Chef would rather develop their games into individual products, rather than combine them into a single publication, for example.

    Even when I was publishing Push, the journal/zine about indie games, paying contributors was a huge hassle. You had to calculate sales (from about 3-4 different channels) and then subtract costs (which were different for each channel), and then split it multiple ways and then get checks to contributors and the like. Giant hassle. I should have just paid every contributor a flat fee, but that doesn't really make sense for an anthology. How much is a multi-year license to print Dust Devils in an anthology worth, anyway? Probably more than I have on hand, I would bet. Better to pay a percentage of sales, but then you have the hassle again.

    I also really, really doubt that the creators of the landmark indie games you are talking about would be interested in having those games be featured in an anthology. It would be way better, I suspect, to do a kind of "Year's Best Indie Games" book that contained samples from all of them (but not the full game) or short games written by either old farts or up and comers.
  • It is also possible to make this anthology the driver, rather than make older games the driver. In the spirit of wikis: Just Do It.

    Work up a payment model (percentage, probably), decide on form factor (digest might be cheapest; Letter might be necessary for thickness, per above), write up all the legalese (print permissions), and put out a call for submissions on all the design channels that you can. If Game Chef folks want to be in it, so be it. If someone with an old game they'd like to get seen wants in, so be it. Be sure the games are tested and not obviously broken, and then BANG: lay it out and head off to Lulu.

    I've considered trying to do that for Icehouse games, but SO many of them are CC (and the rest have full copyrights) that there's no way to make it in any way profitable (literally--the book would have to sell for print cost; what's my motivation to do 100 pages of layout and editing, again?).

    But just do it--put out the call, have a good proofreader standing by, set a deadline, and go to press. Give yourself a nice percentage for handling the organization (10-20% seems fair, similar to an agent's fee) and cut the rest out to the writers on a quarterly basis. It would be trivial to make spreadsheet that would calculate it all.

    And, hell--I'd have a submission. :)
  • One solution might be to collect only first time authors. This way no one has the expectation of being paid more and people are not purchasing the book based on work of only one or two contributors.

    A decent way to split the profits would be to compare the .pdf price of each game included. Simply sum the .pdf prices of all books and see what percent comes from each author.
  • Posted By: mease19A decent way to split the profits would be to compare the .pdf price of each game included. Simply sum the .pdf prices of all books and see what percent comes from each author.
    You can see how that's gameable, though, right?

    I'd say that, if you do anything other than an even split of profits after costs (and the agent's percentage) then you should base it on word or page count (basically the same, if consistently typeset and laid out). But even THAT's gameable if someone's getting greedy. Plus, it might be sort of unfair to "elegant" games that work with few moving parts, when compared to "chart monsters" that have tons of setting or details (or charts and tables).

    I'd just make it even split and if folks don't like it, they can go to press on their own. The value add for someone submitting are several (thinking of my idea, mainly, but applies to the games-first idea):
    * Professional layout and proofing, including working with the designer on the "feel and tone" of ephemera like headers, rules, type, etc.
    * (Maybe) Coordinating art to suit the above, for those writers who don't provide their own. (Offshoot Idea! Also a chance for emerging artists to be showcased, paired with content that suits their styles!)
    * Coordinated, consolidated marketing and promotion (product web site, forums, cons, etc).
    * Profits without management (no need to hassle with a Lulu account, or do layout, or deal with customer refunds for bad copies, or make a product web site, etc).
    * Co-branding (if you theme each compilation), which means their games will tend to be see by fans of their games' genre.

    It's a hell of an idea, the more I ponder it. Wonder how many folks you could get to sign on? The number (and quality) of submissions will dictate the ability to theme it and decisions about form factor (mainly book size).

    I'd say do it! (Or maybe I should...?)
  • There was a Game Chef collection one year, too. I think Sandy Antunes was behind it (?)

    This sort of project only gets easier with each passing year.
  • What about a large slipcase that comes with the full books? Most of them are in 6x9 format, so have it be like the D&D4e bundle, or like the Narnia boxed sets you can get. That way there isn't a huge deal of effort put in to doing the layout, but you still get the collection, and also the discount for getting a large number. It should also be reasonably easy to figure out costs and distribution of profits.
  • edited August 2010
    Posted By: David ArtmanI'd say do it! (Or maybe I should...?)
    You should, I'm not that guy. I know nothing of these things beyond my desire to buy a big, bound book of compiled Story Games.
    Posted By: Jason MorningstarThis sort of project only gets easier with each passing year.
    Exaclty! With diminishing returns on "classic" Story Games, maybe it's possible to get some big fish in that boat. It's a bit like a D&D Rules Compendium in that respect.
  • edited August 2010
    Posted By: scottdunphyThat's not to say that Vincent Baker and Luke Crane would benefit from such a compilation...
    "Hey, you, gamer there. Would you like to buy this nice hardcover volume compiling Apocalypse World designer Vincent Baker's previous games kill puppies for satan, Dogs in the Vineyard, In a Wicked Age, and Poison'd (and maybeMechaton?) for $40, even though you already own a paperback or PDF of three of them?"

    Why yes, friend retailer. In fact, I would give you $50 for such a wonder! Would you be so kind as to give some of this money to Vincent Baker, so that he might benefit?
  • ccreitz: Certainly, this would be a much easier feat if only one author's work were included. I too would shell out for that particular item.
  • Dang, you money guys and your money talk.

    Make it a charity thing and:

    1. All those stupid problems go away and
    2. The net good in the world increases

    I have had some success with this approach and recommend it.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarDang, you money guys and your money talk.

    Make it a charity thing and:

    1. All those stupid problems go away and
    2. The net good in the world increases

    I have had some success with this approach and recommend it.
    Smart!
  • A charity work would limit the number of submissions, though, no? I mean, it's a great idea and all. But a limiting factor.

    But, yeah--it eliminates nearly all of the post-publication management. Hell, just have the payments from Lulu sent to the charity itself--can you do that in Lulu: set a different recipient for payment than the "store" creator/manager? If so, then it's fire-and-forget (aside from all the promotion and reviews and such).

    Just kind of a different product. Ooo! But wouldn't it be a neat theme for a Game Chef: determine a worthy charity, and the Theme for the GC would be that the game has to reflect that charity's goals, beneficiaries, region or culture of impact (e.g. a Haiti Relief charity), or history (e.g., a Red Cross theme). THAT would be SWEET, and it could get some non-gamer buzz in news and what-not.

    That's right up your alley, Jason. And you're not too busy these days, right? ;) :P
  • Pay the designers up front and do a limited quantity print run; you can probably get any classic indie games you want, and you have none of Jonathan's ongoing payment nightmare.

    Paul
  • Limited quantity run has some issues too - sure it's neat to have something that's limited edition, but if you're thinking about spreading the games to a bunch of people, having a limitless run and having more people exposed to them should be pretty valuable, and if you're doing a charity that lets as much of it as possible go to it. The limited run with up front payment strikes me rather like the Dragon Warriors licensers increasing the fee some twelve-fold and ending up with nothing as a result.

    Is this supposed to be just another opportunity for devs to make some money? Or is it about suppling the community with more games to play? Or is it about expanding the community and bringing more people into it?

    Whichever one it is would probably change how people feel about the money. I'd think in cases where certain games aren't selling much anymore, and most of the money that's to be made has already been made, just getting them in the anthology would be good enough, particularly with subsequent games potentially getting a spike in sales. Rather like certain video game devs releasing older games for free as marketing for a newer game in the series.
  • If it turns out you need to do another print run, ask the designers if they want another payment. If a designer says he wants more money, replace his game with a different classic RPG from a different designer.

    Paul
  • I've seen board game companies publish expansions for a number of their games. Perhaps a hardcover with expansions to a variety of games would work better in a profit sharing model.
  • A bit tangential, I was thinking I'd like to see a book that combined a lot of the theory about good, modern story-gaming and GMing that is currently spread out in dozens of different games and on here and the Forge and Vincent Baker's website and Graham's book...and get them all into one place...and such a book would have some free games within it such as Lady Blackbird, Ghost/Echo, The Pool and its variants. It would be called something like "Story Games: The New Way To Roleplay." But I'm a n00b to this stuff and not the one to write such a book.
  • Posted By: jdfristromA bit tangential, I was thinking I'd like to see a book that combined a lot of the theory about good, modern story-gaming and GMing that is currently spread out in dozens of different games and on here and the Forge and Vincent Baker's website and Graham's book...and get them all into one place...and such a book would have some free games within it such as Lady Blackbird, Ghost/Echo, The Pool and its variants. It would be called something like "Story Games: The New Way To Roleplay." But I'm a n00b to this stuff and not the one to write such a book.
    That could be done through introductions written for the games in the tome. I like it.
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