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Monday, May 18, 2015

Rant - Comparing What is To What You Might Have Done But Didn't Do is Just so Much Bull....

I hate when someone says: "I had the same idea 5 years ago, but back then I thought it was lame. Or I was lazy. Or uninspired. Now someone else has done it and it's hot as shit on a stick. But I thought of it first so this thing NOW is a pale imitation of this thing THEN that never was."

It's like comparing apples to... the thinking of an apple. Well, I mean thinking about an apple. Until it is an apple it doesn't exist. Thoughts are fleeting and for the most part private.

It's the person claiming credit for a screenplay of a box office smash that was never submitted but he had the idea first but never showed anyone.

Someone else striking gold on a claim that you investigated but you never bothered to claim and being bitter about it is just... sad.






34 comments:

  1. Sour grapes.

    My favorite is when you do something you're really, really proud of and one of those nasty farts comes creeping up beside you and says, "I could have done it better myself." Oh really jackass? Then why didn't you?

    Pricks, Holmes, pricks all around us.

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    1. I run two open game nights at my house each week (plus an organized play event on most Saturdays). Our library is the work of all attendees and my wife and I slowly adding to the collection. We have a RPG room and a board game room full of games. It's not like we toot our own horn, or say it's hyper impressive, but it's been the slow and steady work of a couple years by a few dozen locals. But I have had a few people walk in and the first thing they say is something like, "I've seen bigger."

      It boggles the mind. You just walked into a home full of people who invited you to play with them, you're shown rooms full of games you're welcome to play, and your first reaction is to slight the work they've done to put together a cool gaming space. Later on, seldom do people criticise the pot luck dishes that people bring... but it's really the same kind of gaffe.

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    2. They're pricks, and that's the reason why they should never be re-invited. That sort of ingratitude and self-importance can get the hell on up out of my house.

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    3. That is exactly what happened when my wife and I revealed the Game Tavern. 99% of the community gave us the thumbs up but there is always that 1% that feels the need to talk out of their third point of contact.

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  2. It's endemic. I grew up in an artist family which would attend gallery events and art shows a couple times a month. The most common "off comment" by passers-by was "I could do that easily," or "That's nothing, I could make something so much better." Basically not unlike the "I thought of that years ago!" comment.

    As artists selling product you grin and bear it, but I remember my dad muttering once "Well then why don't you get off your ass and go make it?" Will never forget that. Heh.

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  3. I have a friend who is very bad about declaring in regards to any author he does not like "He can't write worth a damn." or something similar. My response is typically, "And how many books have YOU sold?" It shuts him up for a few minutes.

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    1. Not really the same thing. By your standard every movie is great because the audience didn't make one to compare to it. There is a difference between saying "This sucks" and saying "I could do better ."

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  4. I'm assuming it's about this:

    http://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com/2015/05/white-hot-star.html

    Which, is not really what he is saying. He is couching it in terms of the issues he sees in White Star and how he dealt with them in a similar project that never really got off the ground.

    Relax.

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    1. " The equipment list as well (though I had "shielded" weapons occupying the spot of him "monofilaments" and I had a catchier name for my lightsaber knock-offs)."

      " There's a reason I didn't publish something like this: it wasn't good enough. Even if I'd had the artwork and professional design layout, the content wouldn't have been good enough. And I suppose I'm disappointed that this is the best someone can come up with after all these years. Production-wise, it still doesn't hold a candle to FFG's Star Wars series of RPGs."

      But the Kicker: "And anyway, he's making his money: White Star is #36 on the DriveThru RPG sales."

      So yeah, "I could have done it better" but damn this product is making money.

      Are some of his criticisms valid enough to debate? Sure. But to claim your never released project was better than this one and your's wasn't good enough to release isn't fair commentary or comparison. It comes off bitter as hell and JB should be better than that.

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    2. I don't know man, I think it's pretty valid. He discusses in detail what doesn't work, an alternate way it could have worked, and then surmises that even with these changes in place he wouldn't consider it good enough.

      Is the tone unintentionally bitter? Maybe.

      But I think the review is pretty thorough, and certainly raises enough concrete game issues to rise to the level of valid criticism. It was definitely an interesting read, and with the discussion of a similar game of his (note, he also compares it to X-plorers and SWN) it had this sort of engaging post-mortem report feel to it, so I enjoyed it.

      It was also nice to see a more critical take on this game as in alot of corners of the RPG blogosphere in the past couple of weeks has turned into a sort of "Look how great White Star is" echo chamber (not just here). It's always good to see the other side, somebody who is not drinking the kool aid.

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    3. After reading the post from JB I'm with Tenkar on this one. It does come off a bit like a "This thing I never released was way better than this one that came out and is eerily similar to the thing I never released so he must have being all up in my head stealing my notes" vibe.

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  5. His criticism and critique would have come off better without spending most of his post showing how he did the same but better but never released it.

    JBs expo critique is valid (but it's the same problem i've had since I started gaming 35 years ago) But it gets lost in the noise of "I did the same but better ."

    And really. Comparing production value of a self publisher to FFG? How is that even a thing? Should we compare JBs self published releases to WotC or Paizo?

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    1. It's interesting, because if one were to edit out all his self-referential baloney, some of his critique is quite valid.

      It's an otherwise insightful review ruined by his passive-aggressive sour grapes (which is clearly him kicking himself for not being out there first).

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    2. I get the impression that most of the "bitterness" is probably at the life circumstances that have led him not to be involved in indy game publishing the way he would like to be.

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  7. Bearing in mind that although my initials are JB I'm *not* the JB who was the apparent inspiration for this post. :-)

    I also had the same sort of idea for Adventures Dark and Deep. Do a supplement with new sci-fi classes and races and equipment and such, and use the basic ADD rules. But I am more than happy to say in my case it wasn't that mine was so much better but I decided to not publish anyway, but in my case it was because I just never got off my ass and finished it, and James had the same idea (before or after I did, it doesn't make a lick of difference) and got the job done in a really great way, and is getting a great response. So I'm taking the stuff I did write, and am going to riff of what he did, and make something new.

    So I'll gladly compare myself to James, not in my would-have-been game against his got-it-done game, but in my work habits against his, and I come up wanting. :-)

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  8. "Could have" always loses to "Did." It's as simple as that.

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  9. I had a dream. Then reality crushed my dream. My dream was better than reality. Therefore, reality sucks. I wish I lived in my dream.

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  10. Sales. Revenue. Product/Brand Retention. All trump a good idea.

    Trademarks and copyrights help, too.

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  11. Sales. Revenue. Product/Brand Retention. All trump a good idea.

    Trademarks and copyrights help, too.

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  12. I was going to start a blog and make a post like this one a few years ago, only mine would have been better than yours. Never got around to it but you stole my idea.

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  13. Hm. I'm seeing just as much the possibility of "sour grapes" from JB's post as I am of "You're pissing on my favorite new Wheaties" here. In all honesty. I think his criticism of the new game is fair from his point of view., and I wish it was something I saw more of in the echo-chamber. That was one thing that I liked about some of the older blogs, and even something I've liked about your Kickstarter reviews - calling it for what it is.

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    1. I see JB's criticism of the expo system in particular to be fairly accurate, but as White Star is a direct descendant of White Box understand why it is what it is (as I've never done expo BTB in all my years of gaming, it didn't stand out to me.)

      It was very unfair to compare production qualities of a small publisher to FFG. That was apples to onions.

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    2. You know, I wrote about this 4 or 5 years ago... where is our EPT, our Blackmoor? That came out of what I guess you could call the "first wave" of the retroclones and the going back and seeing what the original desigenrs were about and where could we go now with it. I see S&W as one of the better examples of that.

      I know there are some interesting games that people will more than happily show up as exemplars of something good that came out of all that, but the point I was making was "go somewhere completely new and different, like Barker and Arneson did."

      I think it holds true to this day and, to JB's credit, that is what I took away from his post... that this game may hit a lot of geek sweet spots (and like him, I'm curious why XPlorers never did that, timing, maybe?) but does it really go beyond a reskin?

      I think at the end of the day, that's the discussion to have, not if JB was "fair" or if Wheaties taste good with criticism.

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    3. As a side note - if I plug in some of the games I've seen come out lately in place of Adam's Whitebox deriviation, this post still stands: http://oldguyrpg.blogspot.com/2011/01/wheres-our-ept-and-blackmoor-is-osr.html

      I think that's where some of us snap (and still snap in painful ways) when we see a reskin as the "next best thing."

      However, this whole thing, and your post, has led me to remember Urutsk and I need to go reread that now... cheers!

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    4. "WHITE STAR is designed to capture those fast and free halcyon days of
      interstellar adventure using Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox."

      "The rules of WHITE STAR, like Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox, are meant as a
      guideline. They’re fast and loose, like space opera itself. You won’t find a standard
      campaign setting. Instead, use these rules as a toolbox to design your own thrilling
      adventures in a galaxy that never was – and if you can’t find a rule in these pages
      then just make it up!"

      This is from James' introduction. Did he succeed in presenting what he hoped to? Did he achieve his stated goals?

      White Star is a direct offspring is S&W White Box - that was always the intention. It moves familiar rules to a sci-fi assumption instead of a fantasy one. It succeeds in this extremely well, not by large steps of innovation but small changes to those familiar rules.

      No one, especially James, is making claims that White Star is the next EPT or was intended to be such.

      It may well spawn the next EPT, as it has gotten numerous content creators invigorated. Time will tell.

      I do think the familiarity to it's source material is what has driven much of the community to embrace it.

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    5. Move beyond White Star for a moment... how do we encourage the next EPT? The thing that really goes beyond the same "orc and pie" or "dusty corner with 2000cp" ad nauseum? When do we get away from the D&D that has been trod and retrod and just "small changes" and really push for the stars? How do we encourage that, grow that? Do we focus on the reskins or do we take those really unique finds and give them the limelight?

      You're the guy with the blog, which is why I'm asking.

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    6. Damn good question and I'll pose it to the community. After 40 years, how much is / can / will be truly new.

      BTW Mike, I encourage guest posts at The Tavern. If you ever want to borrow the "soapbox" for a post or two, just let me know.

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    7. Michael: The games products you're talking about are exactly the kind that I'm interested in making. If you haven't seen it yet, there's Arrows of Indra, and within a month or two we'll be releasing my new book, "Dark Albion: the Rose War", which will be D&D for deep-historical gritty European fantasy. It's going to be 280 pages long give or take, I've seen the second-to-last layout proofs and its beautiful, and it really won't be like any other D&D setting I've ever seen.

      So again, maybe you just haven't noticed that those types of products that go beyond the "2 giant rats and 2000cp" rut that a lot of the JMal-branch of the OSR gets itself stuck in is _already here_?

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  14. Thing is the way. White Star and other OSR games are structgured it is very possible to just do it your way in supplements or an advanced game.

    I like white star becasue it provides an identifiable framework with familair rules to add on to. It's as easy as pie to shift from the quasi star wars vibe by dumping Star Knightd as a PC.
    as you can easily grab classes from other games and add them to a campaign.

    There are tighter OSR compatible games out there but in being tighter they are tied closer to their implicit setting and doing somethig else bends them out of shape.

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  15. Thing is the way. White Star and other OSR games are structgured it is very possible to just do it your way in supplements or an advanced game.

    I like white star becasue it provides an identifiable framework with familair rules to add on to. It's as easy as pie to shift from the quasi star wars vibe by dumping Star Knightd as a PC.
    as you can easily grab classes from other games and add them to a campaign.

    There are tighter OSR compatible games out there but in being tighter they are tied closer to their implicit setting and doing somethig else bends them out of shape.

    ReplyDelete