Oct
16
2019

Open thread.

Hate doing it, but I can feel myself wanting to express opinions on stuff that I know can very easily drag me back to the land of bile and bad sleeping, and it’s getting in the way of other posts. So… open thread. And God protect the Republic.

15 Comments

  • acat says:

    Just gonna say .. yeah .. but it’s not 1959.
    .
    That’s the benchmark I use, anyway.
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    The future is still the undiscovered country, we ain’t there, we only get there by going through day after day ..
    .
    Days of insanity, banality, terror, steaks, ramen, television..
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    We only get through it by remembering to keep our family – however you ‘do family’ – close.
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    Don’t relapse, man. Step away from the twitter-pipe.
    .
    Mew

  • junior says:

    Idle curiosity, but…

    Ace just happened to have a post up today about D&D and the cultural attitudes of its current owners. Do your sudden desire to express opinions, and Ace’s post, both originate from the same source?

    • Moe_Lane says:

      I don’t *think* so, exactly: I’m getting seriously worried about how dependent the TTRPG industry is getting on the production capacity of a Communist dictatorship. That thing where they pulped that one gaming supplement bugs me a lot.

      • acat says:

        If you feel the need to argue it, go from the “eggs in one basket” side, ignore the nature of the basket ..
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        I guess I’m missing something. Tabletop role playing games don’t, or didn’t, back in the day, come with particularly fancy injection-molded plastic bits or precision milled metal bits ..
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        It’s mostly .. books. Has this changed?
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        Honest business question – has anyone looked at distributing a complete TTRPG as a .pdf, and approached FedEx/Kinkos (or Sir Speedy or AlphaGraphics) about including coupons for one printing-and-spiral-binding?
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        That would mean you buy the .pdf, you can print it at home (or .. misuse office supplies, if you work in an office) or you can go to a printshop and get a copy .. and if you spill Mountain Dew on a page, you can just print yourself another.
        .
        Mew

        • Compound says:

          Since Moe hasn’t gotten back to you yet, a couple things in reverse order.
          .
          First, yeah, PDF sourcebooks are very, very much a thing. And there are US based print on demand places for some of them. (Printing at Kinkos can still be an issue as print shops will sometimes balk because of possible copyright issues.) The POD stuff I’ve had printed looks indistinguishable from store bought products.
          .
          But that’s not where the problem is. The China problem manifests with book printing and with board games, especially those with fiddly bits. The cost of printing in China right now is so low that even after tarriffs got slapped onto PRC goods earlier this year, it was still cheaper to print in China and ship a book to the US than it was to print it here. Not to mention the scale. A lot of US places simply can’t print enough stuff to meet demand. Case in point- I’m following a miniatures company doing a Kickstarter right now. They’re retooling about 300 metal minis into plastic right now and helping them on that gets you a bunch of minis. The problem is, they need to sell a lot of minis to survive as a company, and they simply can’t physically make enough on their own to meet demand. So they have to farm the rest out to China.
          .
          Simply put, almost every TTPRG place is using China to print right now. And while I’m tempted to say “Screw it. Print in the US. That $60 game isn’t an impulse buy anyway. Print in the US and up the price to $80.” But at the same time, I’m looking at my copy of the “Starfinder” core book. It’s already got a “Printed in China” tag on it and it’s $60. And frankly, that was a tough pill to swallow. So my cavalierness on the price may not be something that folks will accept.

          • Moe_Lane says:

            Pretty much this. I was telling myself that if you want countries to industrialize, you had to accept the fact that it’s often a painful process (my own ancestors didn’t exactly enjoy it). But sweatshops are one thing; detained labor camps are something else entirely. And I don’t like giving totalitarians a veto over what I look at or buy.

        • Compound says:

          Since the other post was long, Bloomberg did a piece on the tariffs and gaming a few weeks back. The guy from Renengade used to own a game store near me and, while he’s gone TDS in recent years, I’ve still interacted with him enough to know that if he’s sending warning signals there probably is a problem. (And Scott? If you read this, dear lord. The prices on that Scott Pilgrim minis game. Yikes.)
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          https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-01/in-a-forever-trade-war-u-s-companies-take-cover-as-best-they-can

        • Compound says:

          One more thing.
          .
          When I talk “fiddly bits”, board games have gotten a bit more demanding in recent years. You can make a game like Zombicide, as a random example, with cardboard standees and paper maps but it’s not likely to sell well. The market kinda wants mounted cardboard maps and (checks) 71 plastic minis, plus 100+ cards on standard playing card stock. And getting that without getting into the price range of Kingdom Death might be not currently possible in the US with current technologies and a lack of China level wages.
          .
          Maybe it shouldn’t have gotten that far, but unfortunately it has.

          • acat says:

            I’ll just note that we’re right at the edge of being able to do some of this stuff at home ..
            .
            I keep waiting for the Glowforge / Makerbot equivalent of Fedex / Kinkos / Sir Speedy / Alphagraphics to spring up .. or for one of the aforementioned print shops to introduce laser-cut / 3-D print options.
            .
            Once we get *there*, the convenience factor gets *insane* ..
            .
            “Yeah, Larry, I know you can evolve your Pikachu into a Raichu, but I don’t have a Raichu figure. Let’s break here, I’ll drop you at FedEx and you can print one while I get subs from Quiznos.”
            .
            Mew

      • junior says:

        Ah. The post I mentioned was more about what the company itself is doing to its product, with no overt foreign influence required.

  • JustDave says:

    Portal 2 OST – 9999999. Just in case you ever want to link to a game soundtrack besides Mass Effect?

    .

    A lot of the Portal 2 OST is really good. Might help if you like that sort of electronic/ambient style, I suppose.

  • Compound says:

    FYI- Humble Bundle is doing a splat book bundle for White Wolf’s old stuff. A lot of “X City By Night” books.

  • Compound says:

    One more thing for the open thread here- for the non-gamers, Blizzard has a game called Hearthstone. During an international game, one of the players, after winning, made a pro-Hong Kong democracy statement. Blizzard banned the player and the duo hired to do play by play for the event. Gamers outside of China reacted badly to this. Every response made by Blizzard since then has made things worse.
    .
    Well, yesterday at a Magic the Gathering World international tourney, one of the players there made a similar statement for HK democracy. However, in this case Magic is owned by Wizards of the Coast, who in turn are owned by Hasbro. And their response was basically “We have no problem with this statement.” Now, WotC has its own issues, but the prevailing wisdom seems to be that they were able to do this because Hasbro is one of the few places in TT Gaming that doesn’t use Chinese printing (They print out of Vietnam and India mostly.) and are thus in a position to tell China to pound sand.
    .
    How this will sit with Epic though is another story, since the computer version of Magic is an Epic Store exclusive and Epic is 45% owned by Tencent, who are Chinese.

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