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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

If a Product Is Free, But In a Format You Can't Use, Does That Make It Crap?

(damn Blogger's iPad app - sent to wrong blog - sigh)

I ask, because it came up in regards to White Haired Man's release if The Hideout in ePub format. Which means it was aimed at gamers with ebook readers that use ePub (all but the Amazon Kindle line).

There are lots of freely available stuff in the world that I either don't need, can't use or would use, but for some reason I can't. It doesn't make it useless, it doesn't make it worthless, it just means it's not for me, time to move on.

The world was not built for me. Amazingly, I am NOT the center of the world.

I don't expect every RPG product, especially the free ones, to be of use to me (or even usable by me). That's life.

I just don't see the anger that was directed at a free product as being viable. Then again, the reviewer may have been bitching about ereaders in general, but as the product is a digital product sold at RPGNow, which specializes in digital products, I fail to see the surprise.



11 comments:

  1. I probably wouldn't use an epub. I have a tablet, and I read epub books on occasion, but for gaming I'm just accustomed to PDF and am unlikely to go out of my way to try something different unless it was something I was already very interested in.

    That being said, I also wouldn't be mad at anyone that released something in epub. Totally their decision.

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  2. I understand the epub is actually better for viewing on a tablet (if you modify the font size, it'll fit accordingly). The problem is that it does not handle tables -- and rpgs usually use a lot of those.

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  3. @Tables in ePub: oh, it'll handle them just fine - it's basically an HTML file just like the web pages you're looking at. It's just that most *editors* don't handle them so well to produce clean HTML. As such, some actual hand-coding is needed to pull of a table that comes out right...

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  4. I'll be the first person to admit to loving PDFs. I also know that ereaders using PDF reflow screw up any file with tables.

    Most ePub files don't have that problem.

    I admire WHM for pushing the RPG digital published envelope. Even if I personally don't read all that much currently in ePub format

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  5. The only problem I have with epub is the readers. Flipping through pages is too slow. With a 200 page book it takes forever to get to the page you're searching for. Even if you can land somewhere in the vicinity, searching back and fourth is slow.

    I think the more useful idea for an epub on an eink reader is to make a quick reference with information similar to what you'd put on a GM screen. That's what I did for my game. I did have to hand code the tables, it would be nice if there was an editor out there that natively did tables. Still I suppose you could make them in a HTML wysiwyg and then just cut and paste the HTML into the epub editor.

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  6. You can use Calibre (free, open source) to convert ePub to PDF and vice-versa. There's also a Firefox browser plugin for reading ePubs. They're not as popular as PDFs, but they are flexible for viewing on a variety of devices.

    fwiw, WHMs The Hideout ePub is top-notch design for an ePub. But it has a fair number of colour graphics and text highlights, which means that eInk-based devices may not render it well. (my reader only displays 16 shades of gray :/ )

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  7. We created The Hideout ePub last July as a means of learning how to create an ebook. I agree with gregarious monk that color poses a problem for some readers, and we're still thinking about whether black and white should be a bigger part of future ePubs.

    For myself, I think good B&W art has a big impact. Would The Maltese Falcon be as good in color?

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  8. Black and white with good shading outshines most color art for effect IMHO.

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  9. My goal is to eliminate the format issue in roleplaying. For example that ePub is a taste of what is to come for all of our adventures, in ePub format. Adventures are shorter than full blown resource books and ideal for holding in your hand while GMing.

    That said, WHM has not abandoned the PDF format. We are currently laying out the Kith'takharos line in a new PDF format. This will of course be free to anyone who purchased earlier PDF versions. My goal as the designer is to make these new PDF's work well for self-printing (IE no background art) and Print on Demand through RPGNow. The Print on Demand option will sport a color cover and B&W interior pages due to cost. My goal is to offer our products in print under $10. About half the cost of a Paizo Pathfinder adventure product.

    Summary. WHM will be publishing adventures for Savage Worlds and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game System in three formats: ePub, PDF, and POD.

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  10. woot! ice to hear. This may deserve a post of it's own later!

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