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Thread: Steam for RPGs?

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    Default Steam for RPGs?

    (Inspired by this post and the thread around it.)

    Video games and tabletop RPGs (herein referred to as VGs and RPGs, for brevity) have a lot in common. Both are more interactive than older media, blurring the line between audience and author in a way that enables new avenues for storytelling. Both got their start in the last decades of the 20th century, gaining an ever-broadening popularity as new publishers came up with new games. Both began simple, but eventually started tackling heavier topics1. And yet, today the two media have taken drastically different paths. VGs have broadened to mainstream popularity, not only with Wiis and Angry Birds but with games of all types. On the other hand, RPGs struggle to not be a niche product, overshadowed both by VGs they inspired and by the card and board games their parent companies print. Why? Why have these media taken such different paths? There are a few potential answers, but I'd argue that the biggest one is, perhaps, the simplest—innovation.2

    In the 21st century, VGs have never stopped innovating. Whether through overtly novel mechanics like motion controls and touchscreens or through thematic and thought-provoking exploration, each console generation (and the corresponding "generation" of PC games) has been more varied and deep than the last. Breadth and depth. Yet, more and more, D&D is the RPG. Sure, old players like GURPS and Shadowrun are being printed, and there are a fair number of indie RPGs—even innovative ones3—being developed, but when was the last time you saw something other than D&D in anything but a dedicated gaming shop? Even they often have more D&D books than all other RPGs combined. If you want to play another game, you'll probably need to search for it on your own—and that's if you've heard of it.
    While VGs have a healthy and well-cultivated bed of indie and "AA" games where innovation flourishes, and from which AAA titles can take inspiration, RPGs...don't. Oh, they have a few developers experimenting with what RPGs can do, but without a fraction of the players even the shoddiest indie VG can find, how can any of these seeds of innovation take root? This is bad, not only for the market as a whole but for the big games. Look at the original Legend of Zelda and Breath of the Wild; how many of the mechanics that made it great would have been considered without the last decade or two of gaming experiments and innovation, even with technological advancements? Now compare AD&D with D&D Next; while the rough edges of the mechanics have been sanded off, the core gameplay is almost unchanged.

    Hopefully, you'll agree that this is bad. RPGs have much unexplored potential; even with the increasing flexibility of computers and ambition of VG writers, not to mention the increasing popularity of card and board games, RPGs still have the ability to do things that no other games can. It would be a shame if RPGs vanished due to a stubborn refusal or simple inability to change. Many of the elements needed for RPG innovation are there; there are writers wanting to make a change, and gamers looking for one. But not enough are finding each other, and not enough of these innovations are making their way outside their narrow fanbases. How could this be solved?
    Enter Steam—or Itch.io, or GOG, or Humble Bundle, or Google Play, or whatever digital distributor of semi-obscure games you feel like. These have had a major impact on the gaming community, simply by enabling games to be played by people who couldn't otherwise access (or, perhaps, discover them). There are naturally other factors in this process, such as YouTubers showing off VGs they enjoy, but a good digital distributor would be a good start for an RPG revitalization. And to even think about this having an impact, this distributor would need to fulfill three of the vital roles that Steam provides for video gamers: ease of discovery, ease of acquisition, and ease of play.
    Ease of discovery is, arguably, the simplest. Between its organized storefront, discovery queue, wishlists, and more, Steam makes it easy to find games you might be interested in and find plenty of information about them—trailers, reviews, maybe even links to LPs if you're lucky. Ease of acquisition is simple in theory and only a bit trickier in practice; Valve simply streamlines the process of buying the games, on both the consumer's end and (I believe) the producer's end. Money flows in, money flows out, everyone is satisfied. Easily the most complicated—especially for RPGs—is ease of play. Steam has made a program which allows you to easily download and boot up any game you've purchased on their site, even ones originally designed for defunct systems. But creating something like that for RPGs would be...tricky.

    I'm running short on time, and don't have any great answers for that last part, so I'll leave it there for now. Maybe I'll pitch in my $0.02 on how ease of play could be achieved, but I hope this bit is interesting on its own.
    EDIT: I did, with the realization that that point is kinda critical to understanding what I tried to say.


    1: You've probably heard of a couple of video game examples, but you've probably never heard of supplements like Charnel Houses of Europe: The Shoah. Which is kind of the point.
    2: As it so often is.
    3: Insert excuse to mention New Gods of Mankind.
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    Default Re: Steam for RPGs?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    ....when was the last time you saw something other than D&D in anything but a dedicated gaming shop?

    In the 1990's chain bookstores (Barnes & Noble, Borders) has no D&D that I remember, instead it was mostly World of Darkness stuff.

    Before that?

    Um..

    I first saw the D&D "Basic Set" at a shopping mall toy store in the 1970's, and I remember a Comic book store having lot's of Space 1889 stuff in the late 1980's.

    Otherwise yes dedicated game stores, and now they have a lot less space devoted to RPG's and more to board games.

    As far as video games go, my son used to play Minecraft and a Naruto videogame, but I really haven't had much experience with them since the early '80's.
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    Default Re: Steam for RPGs?

    1. The main reason that VGs have more mass appeal than RPGs is because VGs require little to no time investment to jump right in.

    2. How would it be different from DriveThruRPG? DriveThruRPG basically is the Steam of TTRPGs.

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    Default Re: Steam for RPGs?

    First off, yes I have heard of the 'how the Holocaust affected ghosts' supplement, I've heard it's fairly respectful. In terms of obscure RPG books it's relatively well known, I'd argue only a bit below the Book of Erotic Fantasy.

    I was also going to bring up DriveThruRPG. It's where I do most of my games browsing, and it's the anti Waterstones (main book chain over here), everything but 5e D&D.

    For the 'last time you saw a non D&DRPG book in a normal bookshop' question, two to three years ago my local Waterstones had quite a bit of Black Crusade and New World of Darkness by its standards (like three to five books each), basically gone now though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
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    Another vote for DriveThruRPG being the closest thing (right now) to Steam for RPGs.

    I think D&D's current status is actually pretty unhealthy for the role-play gaming community as a whole. It is big enough that very few others can gain presence under its shadow, and at the same time it can survive using its name instead of quality. So it doesn't have to improve or innovate. Perhaps more importantly, when it tries to it makes a lot of people unhappy because it can't improve without leaving something some people liked. Any when it has such a large and diverse player base, everyone wants something different from it. Actually if it lost a lot of popularity, or split into several lines or something, it might give the system to improve.

    A weird elitism is also is part of the story... but I'm not really sure how to describe that other than "Back in the good old days, we used unnecessarily complex math for attacking and liked it!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I think D&D's current status is actually pretty unhealthy for the role-play gaming community as a whole. It is big enough that very few others can gain presence under its shadow, and at the same time it can survive using its name instead of quality.
    I disagree. It's in a pretty standard market leader position. And it's presence is what brings a lot of new blood into the hobby, and some of them branch out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    So it doesn't have to improve or innovate.
    Yeah - they should come out with new editions!

    Oh wait...

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Actually if it lost a lot of popularity, or split into several lines or something, it might give the system to improve.
    Do you mean like it has with 5e, Pathfinder, and OSR?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    1. The main reason that VGs have more mass appeal than RPGs is because VGs require little to no time investment to jump right in.

    2. How would it be different from DriveThruRPG? DriveThruRPG basically is the Steam of TTRPGs.
    For starters, I don't need to install third-party bloatware/spyware onto my computer to use the things I buy through RPG Drivethru.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    ....but I'm not really sure how to describe that other than "Back in the good old days, we used unnecessarily complex math for attacking and liked it!"

    We used "To hit" tables, first in the books, then on the inside of the "DM's screen".

    No complex arithmetic.
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    Default Re: Steam for RPGs?

    OP, do you know about DriveThruRPG? They even have a lot of free games and sales and such, just like Steam!
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    Thirding/fourthing/whatevering DTR as "Tabletop Steam."

    You can also just use Steam to get Tabletop Simulator, Fantasy Grounds or the like.
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    Default Re: Steam for RPGs?

    DriveThruRPG, unfortunately, is a subpar online merchant portal. It's organization and other functions are just not very well done. The browsing experience is mediocre at best and it's easiest to use if you know what you are looking for.

    This is not entirely DriveThruRPGs fault - TTRPGs are a low margin industry, and the sale of PDFs of those RPGs is even lower margin and is based primarily around the failed business model of trying to persuade the tech savvy into paying actual money for things that are relatively easy to find for free. There's no way to build the kind of anti-piracy measures a AAA game might have into a PDF sale, nor to TTRPGs have the kinds of backwards-compatibility issues that help drive business for GOG and other video game long-tail sales.

    Media sales, as a market, are gradually losing viability everywhere, due to the nature of digital technology. TTRPGs represent a particularly hard-hit niche that was vulnerable for a whole range of issues ranging from the lack of any sort of 'live' experience, to the high amount of production always handled by the end-user which leads to generalized products with incredibly high re-use value (like FATE or GURPS), to - most importantly - the translation of the experience into a new medium that, in at least several key particulars, provided a flatly better experience in the form of video games. Like the theater when movies came onto the scene, a dive in popularity was inevitable.

    A better RPG portal could potentially attract additional interest to the hobby, particularly one that could advertise more effectively, but the only company with the power to set such a thing up is WotC, which has presently largely abandoned D&D to wither and die and has a large interest against going all digital because it is invested in MTG sales and tournaments through an existing network of brick and mortar stores. The only other real possibility is Paradox (which owns the rights to the World of Darkness) putting whatever renewed version of the tabletop game they ultimately allow to exist onto actual Steam somehow.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    Do you mean like it has with 5e, Pathfinder, and OSR?
    Whether or not 5e is an improvement is debatable (I personally side with 'it's fun but a step Babar's from 4e), the same with Pathfinder and the OSR (although in terms is balance Pathfinder is an improvement, it's best not improved enough). It's like asking if a cheese toastie is better than a BLT, the answer will vary detenting in who you ask.

    Oh, and on the 'DTRPG provides stuff you can get for free' note, it provides a massive service by letting me get that legally. Yes I could pirate a copy of Legends of the Wulin, or I could go on DriveThruRPG and buy a copy legally, which has the added benefit of allowing me to redownload the file of something does wrong and I lose it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
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    I can't agree with the whole "VGs have developed a lot of new and exciting mechanics". Just because a game has a new coat doesn't mean that the mechanics are new - prime examples would be FPS, where most of the innovation since Doom created them was in attaching other mechanics (e.g. levelling up) to them. Just because FPS refined their mechanics (e.g. getting rid of Doom "everything has infinite height" problem) doesn't make their mechanics new or innovative, y'know?

    When you start to look at this problem from this direction, a lot of new VGs are just new settings that use the same mechanics, sometimes in novel ways (Spec ops: The Line uses bog standard TP cover shooter stuff) - that would be an equivalent of new TTRPG settings. And the problem is, TTRPG market is a lot smaller than VG, even if we restrict VG to not include mobile games, so less stuff gets made no matter what.

    As for actual innovation, I'd say we saw quite a lot from old combat-oriented DnD, to simulationist GURPS to systems that try to emulate pacing of movies like FATE. There are also niche systems that set out to do one thing, and do it well, like Don't rest your head.

    The tabletop Steam still isn't a bad idea, but you'd need to convince publishers to release a lot of their stuff in pdf format, which they may not be willing to do - as was already mentioned, ctrl+c becomes far too easy for their liking.

    One idea I can think of to make TTRPG development actually pay the bills is to go patreon - let people who like it pay you small monthly fees for continuing with the development. It may not work, but it could be worth a shot.
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    Default Re: Steam for RPGs?

    Well, keep in mind that dedicated bookshops, themselves, are on the decline. I live in a collage town, and the Barns & Noble right across from the campus, closed. The bookstore in the mall(s), closed. With e-readers becoming more common, and online ordering swiftly taking the place of physically leaving your house to go shopping, bookstores are slowly going extinct. So, not seeing a wide selection of RPGs in a bookstore is not a big of a problem as finding an actual bookstore.

    Plus, you're not going to find a large selection of RPGs in a standard bookstore anyway. That isn't really anywhere near as profitable for them. Especially when most gamers go to a store that deals almost exclusively with comics and games. The average patron of a bookstore is not looking for RPG's, so the store doesn't see a large profit from that section. Why would they expand a section that isn't making much money? They wouldn't...it's just not good business.

    And then we get into the fact that new RPGs are hard to develop. There are years of design and play testing before you can even think of going to market. But you can't go to market unless you have a fresh, new game mechanic and/or a game that capatilizes on an existing hot franchise (Like Star Wars, or Firefly) to bring in players.

    Then you have to have the capital to actually print and distribute your game. Even with amazing success with a kickstarter campaign, you're really not going to make enough money to print and ship physical copies to anyone but your kickstarter backers. Unless you sell out to a Hasbro, as most RPG companies have to date (and they have to see the dollar signs before they will even look at you). So you are stuck with online distribution. Which is easier for you, but lacks that market presence....nobody is going to walk into a game/comics store and see your exciting new game....you are going to be relying on word of mouth, which is a horrible way to market your product....

    Sites like DTRPG can help, but they don't really advertize either...you just have to hope someone stumbles upon your product while browsing for something new, and then likes he cover art and sort blurb enough to poke into it and buy it....

    I can't tell you how many different RPGs I have copies of that I've picked up, but never played, simply because nobody else ever heard of them, and they don't want to try a new system. (Well, I could tell you if I were at home and could count them....but there are probably close to a hundred, easily.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    I can't tell you how many different RPGs I have copies of that I've picked up, but never played, simply because nobody else ever heard of them, and they don't want to try a new system. (Well, I could tell you if I were at home and could count them....but there are probably close to a hundred, easily.)
    On this note, let me put down a standard conversation with an old having group of mine:

    Me: I have this really cool game based on [wuxia/1930s sci-fi/Celtic Britain/fantasy Steampunk/whatever].
    Them: dude, can't we just play D&D.

    In my case the number's only in the tents, but that's due to a lack of time (I'm only in my early twenties and only moved past D&D about for years ago). But it's so difficult to convince people to play anything else, even if people want science fiction they want to do it with D&D.

    Considering that they still haven't learnt the roles of D&D I've just moved onto groups more willing to play other games.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Me: I have this really cool game based on [wuxia/1930s sci-fi/Celtic Britain/fantasy Steampunk/whatever].
    Them: dude, can't we just play D&D.
    I'll see you, and raise you "Them: Dude, we can do that with GURPS:[Setting Splat]"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Whether or not 5e is an improvement is debatable (I personally side with 'it's fun but a step Babar's from 4e), the same with Pathfinder and the OSR (although in terms is balance Pathfinder is an improvement, it's best not improved enough). It's like asking if a cheese toastie is better than a BLT, the answer will vary detenting in who you ask.
    Sure - 'improvement' is inherently subjective. I meant it more to show that D&D has split into several lines. (even if WoTC didn't do it intentionally)

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    I disagree. It's in a pretty standard market leader position. And it's presence is what brings a lot of new blood into the hobby, and some of them branch out.
    You may be right, without checking an alternate universe were D&D has lost its lead. Although I will ask, is D&D's lead really standard? (This one is actually answerable is we compare it to, say, other hobbies.)

    Do you mean like it has with 5e, Pathfinder, and OSR?
    More like if they released 5e and 4e at the same time along with DDAE (Dungeons & Dragons Accelerated Edition).

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    No complex arithmetic.
    I choose a rather loose example to try and prevent people from complaining about the details. The point was there does seem to be a massive leaning towards "don't change things" vs. Call of Duty games which get snapped up over trivial changes.

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    Default Re: Steam for RPGs?

    Technically tabletop RPG's have a lot of variety like video games do, but they don't take the form you probably recognize. Pretty much every board game, from chess to monopoly shares in the wealth of distinctions that is the tabletop experience, but they also share D&D's struggles in that they compete in attention from video games.

    Heck, the way things are now, I wager more games are played online than at an actual table. This is true of board games as well. It's just easier in every way, from gathering players, organizing and setting up.

    And if there's anything I'd like to see, it's acknowledgement from WotC that all editions of D&D are equally valid games in their own right and publish new content (or compilations of older content!) to help new players get into it. And possibly release them as digital releases, possibly using keys printed in the books to unlock their digital form. But that's just a pipe dream, because they always want to push the newest as the only way. Meanwhile, I have players who have no books trying to play 3rd edition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    Well, keep in mind that dedicated bookshops, themselves, are on the decline...

    That my favorite bookstores are closed or closing is one of my primary irritations with the 21st Century.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    ...I choose a rather loose example to try and prevent people from complaining about the details..

    It's cool.

    Just a pet peeve of mine that people default to thinking of 2e AD&D, and "3e D&D" as "old D&D", since what I best remember are the games before those (BTW the 1991 D&D rules used to be called "5th edition", as there was a different nomenclature before the WotC takeover).

    Now to everyone else:

    Does "Drive Through" do print-on-demand, or is it just PDF's?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    More like if they released 5e and 4e at the same time along with DDAE (Dungeons & Dragons Accelerated Edition).
    No company in as niche of a market as TTRPGs would ever do that and split their own market share. Especially not when they're the market leader.


    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Does "Drive Through" do print-on-demand, or is it just PDF's?
    It does both depending upon how the seller set it up. But - per usual getting POD with decent print quality is pricey. (And even their 'premium color' is still sub-par to most traditional printing.)

    For B&W it's fine.
    Last edited by CharonsHelper; 2017-06-29 at 07:46 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    I'll see you, and raise you "Them: Dude, we can do that with GURPS:[Setting Splat]"
    No, because then you might actually have a decent game.

    Add do not get me started on trying to introduce GURPS to them. Only one of them figured out that only taking five of the three hundred skills might be suboptimal.

    Enjoy migrating to new groups while it lasts. By the time you reach your 40's, finding new groups is next to impossible. With everybody's work and home schedules and what-not, finding 4 or 5 other people who can all meet for more than a couple of hours at the same time is nothing short of a miracle.
    I'm currently in the annoying position that my current group is both my perfect group and entirely up in the air. I don't get to ruin any games, but the GM likes the same sort of games that I do so it's alright. But Brexit send to have dealt a massive death blow to that, even compared to the entire 'leaving university' thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    It does both depending upon how the seller set it up. But - per usual getting POD with decent print quality is pricey. (And even their 'premium color' is still sub-par to most traditional printing.)

    For B&W it's fine.
    I find that softcovers also last much longer than hard covers. I've got copies of Scion: Hero and Demon: the Fallen that are teaching two years old with nothing more than being very slightly dog eared, my copy of Blood and Smoke had the cover coming off less than a year after purchase (a shame, because I adore that book). Might be just me, but I've since suck to softcovers.

    But yes, black and white is significantly better than colour. Then again, I'm a sucker for a good black and white rulebook anyway, much easier to read.
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    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    But yes, black and white is significantly better than colour. Then again, I'm a sucker for a good black and white rulebook anyway, much easier to read.
    From what I understand - besides using mediocre print quality, the non-premium color from DriveThruRPG pages are much too thin, and there is a lot of bleed from opposite sides of the page which can make it difficult to read. Which... bleh!

    I haven't actually gotten any POD from them. Traditional printing with solid quality & decent prices for me thanks.

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    Default Steam for RPGs? WTF am I talking about?

    I had some thoughts about this after posting it, and the big one was "I shouldn't rush posts just to get them done before some arbitrary, self-imposed deadline". After further consideration, I realized that the whole "ease of play" thing was rather critical to the point I was hoping to make...and that it was impossible to figure out what I meant by "ease of play" from what I posted. So let's start there.

    As some of you have noted, video games are easy to pick up and play. In the case of Steam, this involves downloading a game, then opening it. That's it. Everything else has been handled by Valve, the game devs, and some convenient programs that let everything interface nicely with each other. This is the critical function that websites like DriveThruRPG are lacking; they're the rough equivalent of Steam sending you some source code and telling you to compile it yourself.
    This might seem like an insurmountable problem, but it's not! All of the fundamental components of an ease-of-play system for RPGs exist, just not under the same roof. Consider for a moment: What does it take to get an RPG started? You need the rules, players, a place to meet, and some way of communicating information to one another. DriveThruRPG and similar provide the rules (via PDFs); players can be found on forums like this; and websites like Roll20 provide a (virtual) place to meet and means of communication. One might think that this is enough for ease-of-play, but it's really not. Imagine if you were trying to boot up the newest Final Fantasy game, only to find that the tutorial on critical new game mechanics had to be downloaded and played separately and you needed external tools just to see your stats. You could certainly still play the game, but it would be needlessly difficult; the play experience would be more accessible and enjoyable if all of that was in the same place.
    Imagine, for a moment, a theoretical future DriveThruRPG (or some other startup). You buy some RPG PDFs, and can either download PDFs or simply look up rules online. While there, you have access to a community forum for that RPG, letting potential DMs and players easily contact each other in one centralized hub, rather than searching their personal favorite general RPG website or talking to their local gaming group in hopes of finding interested participants. Wouldn't this be simpler and easier? Wouldn't this make trying to set up a game for some obscure RPG less chancey?

    So that's the gist of it. Throw DriveThruRPG, Roll20, and some Steam community hubs into a pot, add a sprinkle of marketing and some hope, and you have a platform for promoting and playing RPGs that might otherwise not see the light of day. Given that the individual components of this idea are financially viable, this shouldn't be too impractical in practice. And while the exact model will probably vary somewhat, the RPG industry needs something to fill those roles and fix those problems if it's going to keep moving forward.

    Anyways, that's the gist of my idea. I'm going to go back and answer previous posts in a new one, to keep this addendum-which-should-have-been-in-the-OP short.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    From what I understand - besides using mediocre print quality, the non-premium color from DriveThruRPG pages are much too thin, and there is a lot of bleed from opposite sides of the page which can make it difficult to read. Which... bleh!

    I haven't actually gotten any POD from them. Traditional printing with solid quality & decent prices for me thanks.
    Each to their own, I'm happy with my B&W books, and Blood and Smoke was usable (although I should have gone for higher quality). I didn't have any issues with non premium colour, but if given the choice I'll take black and white.

    Also, while PoD is more expensive, I support it as a model, and outside of RPG books haven't seen it significantly increase the price required (then again I mainly use an ereader these days, so I only look at the PoD cost of I'm thinking of getting it as a present).


    @GreatWyrmGold, it sounds like what you want is more modules and the ability to run games with less GM preparation plus an online tabletop, it's this an accurate reading?
    Last edited by Anonymouswizard; 2017-06-29 at 10:01 AM.

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    Spoiler: For keeping the thread height lower:
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    In the 1990's chain bookstores (Barnes & Noble, Borders) has no D&D that I remember, instead it was mostly World of Darkness stuff.
    "In the 1990's." So your intel is a bit outdated. (And, personal experience...it has D&D stuff now. My dad got 3.5 books from a Barnes & Noble when he was getting me and my brother into gaming.)

    As far as video games go, my son used to play Minecraft and a Naruto videogame, but I really haven't had much experience with them since the early '80's.
    You're missing out. The medium's moved forward a lot.



    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    I disagree. It's in a pretty standard market leader position. And it's presence is what brings a lot of new blood into the hobby, and some of them branch out.
    I disagree. D&D's share of the RPG market is much greater than, say, Nintendo's share of the video game market or Disney's share of the movie market. Not to mention that D&D is the only RPG someone outside the hobby is likely to have heard of; even those nutcases who think video games are the spawn of the devil know of Mario, Minecraft, Call of Duty, and more. Heck, most genres have more competition than RPGs; superhero movies have Marvel and DC, platformer video games have Mario and Sonic, FPS games have Call of Duty, Battlefield, Halo, et nauseum...
    Having D&D as the only entry point into an entire medium (barring a friend who insists on something else) is not healthy. If newbies like D&D, they'll stick around, but if not, they simply won't. Imagine if everyone who was interested in trying out video games had to start with, say, Final Fantasy, and never heard of games that weren't like Final Fantasy. Do you think that Minecraft, Civilization, or even CoD could exist in that kind of world?

    Yeah - they should come out with new editions!
    Oh wait...
    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Now compare AD&D with D&D Next; while the rough edges of the mechanics have been sanded off, the core gameplay is almost unchanged.
    Funny how your point was answered in the OP of the thread.



    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    You can also just use Steam to get Tabletop Simulator, Fantasy Grounds or the like.
    DTR isn't much of a Steam, since it lacks that vital "ease-of-play" aspect, but Tabletop Simulator et al are even worse. They provide one aspect of ease-of-play, but you still need to find the rules and players and so forth on your own. It's little better than pointing to a physical table as a Steam-for-RPGs.



    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    DriveThruRPG, unfortunately, is a subpar online merchant portal. It's organization and other functions are just not very well done. The browsing experience is mediocre at best and it's easiest to use if you know what you are looking for.
    That last bit is kind of killer. I've bought at least a dozen games on the Steam summer sale that I never would have even heard of without Steam. Granted, part of that is because of the whole "sale" thing, but the platform's ability to connect potential players to games they'd like is an important part of their success. And by "they" I mean both Steam and the games on that platform.

    Media sales, as a market, are gradually losing viability everywhere, due to the nature of digital technology.
    Movies and television have figured out ways to adapt. I'm quietly hopeful that RPGs will figure something out.



    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    I can't agree with the whole "VGs have developed a lot of new and exciting mechanics". Just because a game has a new coat doesn't mean that the mechanics are new - prime examples would be FPS, where most of the innovation since Doom created them was in attaching other mechanics (e.g. levelling up) to them. Just because FPS refined their mechanics (e.g. getting rid of Doom "everything has infinite height" problem) doesn't make their mechanics new or innovative, y'know?
    I could point out all the ways that FPS mechanics have changed, even if not in obvious ways. Projectiles versus hitscan, health-packs or regenerating health or hybrid systems or other, mobility, ad nauseum. But a more important point is that there's more to the goddamn video game market than Call of frikkin' Duty!
    The fact that you mentioned the FPS genre and not, say, Ubisoft open-world games as an example of a group of video games that has remained relatively static for years, and how you lumped Doom and modern cover-based shooters together, does not give me much hope that you know what you're talking about.



    Quote Originally Posted by Mordaedil View Post
    Technically tabletop RPG's have a lot of variety like video games do, but they don't take the form you probably recognize. Pretty much every board game, from chess to monopoly shares in the wealth of distinctions that is the tabletop experience, but they also share D&D's struggles in that they compete in attention from video games.
    I don't think it's fair to lump chess and Monopoly into the same category as TRPGs. I mean, yes, they're all games played at a table, but by taking out the long-term progression, plot structure, and...you know...roleplaying, you take out the heart of what makes TRPGs special. I'd also argue that by taking away the roleplaying, you take away the one thing which could potentially set TRPGs apart from video games.



    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    I find that softcovers also last much longer than hard covers.
    Irony?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    I find that softcovers also last much longer than hard covers.
    Safe to assume that you mean for POD specifically rather than in general?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    Safe to assume that you mean for POD specifically rather than in general?
    Yes, thought it could be inferred from context.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    1. The main reason that VGs have more mass appeal than RPGs is because VGs require little to no time investment to jump right in.

    2. How would it be different from DriveThruRPG? DriveThruRPG basically is the Steam of TTRPGs.
    I think this is pretty spot-on, in both cases.

    To the first, I can get together a group of adults to play C&C once a month... it's all our schedules allow. To sit down and play Skyrim? A couple times a week, more if my wife conspires to give me time to play. Skyrim has a number of limitations that tabletop does not, but it's got availability in spades.

    The the second, DTR pretty much is "Steam for RPGs", if that's the metaphor you want to go with. It provides centralized access to a large number and variety of games, including, for games that allow it, mods to existing games. While, as Mechalich notes, it lacks the community aspect, I don't think that's necessarily a huge hurdle... as much as I use Steam for games, I don't use it for community... there's a ton of other options for that community, and they're pretty easy to find.
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    Default Re: Steam for RPGs?

    This is a super weird thread, because the post basically has nothing to do with the subject.

    Steam doesn't provide ease of use - video games provide ease of use. All Steam does is handle purchase and download, which, truthfully, have never been the problem. And when was the last time you saw a video game store that wasn't gamestop? You sure don't see those in Toys 'R' Us or whatever.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    DriveThruRPG, unfortunately, is a subpar online merchant portal. It's organization and other functions are just not very well done. The browsing experience is mediocre at best and it's easiest to use if you know what you are looking for.
    So is Steam. Holy CRAP. When was the last time you found jack all by browsing there? It's TERRIBLE. And unlike DTRPG, they have tons of money they could spend on making a non-awful search function.

    Media sales, as a market, are gradually losing viability everywhere, due to the nature of digital technology. TTRPGs represent a particularly hard-hit niche that was vulnerable for a whole range of issues ranging from the lack of any sort of 'live' experience, to the high amount of production always handled by the end-user which leads to generalized products with incredibly high re-use value (like FATE or GURPS), to - most importantly - the translation of the experience into a new medium that, in at least several key particulars, provided a flatly better experience in the form of video games. Like the theater when movies came onto the scene, a dive in popularity was inevitable.
    I don't really agree; TTRPGs were NEVER a profitable item. TSR's collapse is proof enough of that. No one has managed to make selling these games work as a business model for any length of time, basically ever. The people making D&D have basically failed at it twice now and they are the MOST SUCCESSFUL people in the market.

    A better RPG portal could potentially attract additional interest to the hobby, particularly one that could advertise more effectively, but the only company with the power to set such a thing up is WotC, which has presently largely abandoned D&D to wither and die and has a large interest against going all digital because it is invested in MTG sales and tournaments through an existing network of brick and mortar stores. The only other real possibility is Paradox (which owns the rights to the World of Darkness) putting whatever renewed version of the tabletop game they ultimately allow to exist onto actual Steam somehow.
    Again, I disagree. How does an online portal attract interest to a hobby? You still have to be interested in the hobby to find and then use the portal. It might make it easier to sustain interest the hobby, but come on, no one who wants an RPG these days has any trouble finding one.

    Quote Originally Posted by CharonsHelper View Post
    I disagree. It's in a pretty standard market leader position. And it's presence is what brings a lot of new blood into the hobby, and some of them branch out.
    No, it's really not; If we use the silly Enworld numbers for popularity (They map pretty closely to the Roll20 numbers), D&D has roughly the same percentage of "market share" as Microsoft Windows does on Desktop PCs. Which is stranglingly large. And that's JUST 5th edition D&D.

    I don't think you can "solve" TTRPGs issues with accessibility with a digital portal. I don't think you can even solve them with a site like Roll20 with "rules" built in. You can only solve it by changing the nature of the games somewhat. Which we've already done, but those games are so overshadowed by D&D that no one notices.

    You can't "fix" D&D. If you could, Hasbro would've done it by now.

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