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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 69 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: market research poll for old Different Worlds magazine?  (Read 2938 times)
grodog
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Posts: 4


« on: September 23, 2007, 07:10:13 PM »

Which forum on the site would be the most-appropriate place to poll to determine if there's any interest in a CD archive of the old indie rpg magazine, Different Worlds? 

I didn't see a poll option in the general posting optoins list, and also wasn't sure if this or a different forum on the site would be the most appropriate place for this poll. Pointers/assistance would be appreciated.  Thanks!

Allan Grohe
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2007, 09:27:50 PM »

Most likely there is no suitable place for that here. (I'll be corrected by the admins if I'm wrong, of course.) The sampling of hobbyists here is horribly skewed for your purposes, and polling is not encouraged because the site is about discussion related to design, publishing and actual play of indie rpgs, not an avenue for market research or contacting prospective fans so much. If you want to poll folks interestested in indie games, a forum like Story Games might be more up your alley, although I also recommend considering your reasons for wanting to poll people: are you really gaining valuable information by polling random forum-goers, and if so, how do you verify the applicability of the poll? Even if polling will not be possible, we can discuss your product here; if you don't mind answering questions, I'd like to know a couple of things:
- Tell us more about the magazine, I haven't heard of it. What kind of stuff does it include? When was it published, and where?
- Why sell a CD, when you could sell a web site subscription or pdf files?
- What kind of expenses would creating that archive entail for you?

I personally have pretty good experiences with productization of rpg history. We had this rpg magazine in Finland, Magus, that ran from -89 to 2001, which I've been selling as complete archives during the last couple of years. I got the backstock for an affordable price from the original publisher, and I have to say that this might just have been the best idea I've had in the hobby, folks have been that happy to get a cheap, yet complete collection of an important part of the Finnish rpg history. Selling the archive has allowed people a fresh new look into something difficult to find, which is rather gratifying, especially when the magazine ends up in the hands of youngsters too young to remember the original run of the mag. The materials published during the magazine's long run are still completely relevant for certain paradigms of play, too, so there's plenty of valuable stuff to be found between those pages.

So if Different Worlds is something like that, I could easily imagine that you'd find at least some interest for it from folks interested in rpg history and people who read the magazine when it was originally published.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2007, 06:54:04 PM »

Hello,

Different Worlds is a big deal! It was one of the most important magazines from the early RPG era. Dragon, White Wolf, Metagaming, Different Worlds, and The Sorcerer's Apprentice. I'm probably missing one or two others, but those were the heavy hitters I remember - and Dragon was certainly not first among them for content.

Allan, my advice is to fuck the poll in the ear abandon the poll idea. Clearly collecting the content of Different Worlds is something you want to do - so do it!

Now, just how to do it is another question. The CD notion is, well, so 90's ... Eero's right in that you should consider any number of options. Hell, you could bind it all together as a series of books, maybe with a few issues apiece, and sell it using Lulu.

Um, assuming that the content is yours to publish. Is it?

Best, Ron
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2007, 07:50:59 PM »

That sounds like an interesting magazine! Out of academic interest, what kind of content did it have? I'm only familiar with Dragon, White Dwarf, that other British mag (Epic? Chronic? Something like that.) and various fanzines as far English language rpg magazines are concerned, so I have very little idea of what was typical for American magazines during the '80s (or any other time, for that matter).
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grodog
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Posts: 4


« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2007, 07:55:36 PM »

Hi Ron---

The content's not mine, certainly---I just have the pleasure of working with Tadashi on a semi-irregular basis.  Tadashi still sells print copies of DW @ http://www.diffworlds.com/ but not all of the magazine back issues are still available, so we've been punting this idea of a DW archive around for a few years now, and I thought it would at least be interesting to see what level of interest may exist out there for the project. 

I posted polls to rpg.net, ENWorld, and Yog-Sothoth.com, so if anyone's inclined to vote, please do so.

To tackle Eero's Qs:

Quote
Tell us more about the magazine, I haven't heard of it. What kind of stuff does it include? When was it published, and where?

For reference, the DW magazine was published from 1979 to 1987, and covered a broad spectrum of games and systems, being one of the first non-house organ indie rpg magazines. Details on issues and content @ http://www.diffworlds.com/different_worlds.htm and Shannon Appelcline's articles index is at http://www.erzo.org/shannon/gaming/indices/different-worlds.txt

Quote
Why sell a CD, when you could sell a web site subscription or pdf files?

Not sure, that just mimics the Dragon (and aborted White Dwarf) Archives' formats, and is what we've been talking about.  Having the magazines on media would also get them into stores, potentially.  I'm sure Tadashi would also sell individual issues in .pdf on the site, too, once they were scanned (at least for the issues that were fully OOP for which no backstock remained).

Quote
What kind of expenses would creating that archive entail for you?

Mostly time:  time to scan and OCR.  Since Tadashi already has all of the back issues, getting to the content isn't a problem or an additional expense.  There would be some production costs associated with the CD/DVD media and packaging, but that's probably about it.

Allan.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2007, 02:47:37 PM »

Well, there's a problem now.

First, speaking as a consumer, I'd be delighted to see Different Worlds made available to gaming culture. The magazines from the late 1970s were the true wellspring of community and creativity at the time, and there's a sharp cultural demarcation between gamers who perused them (or as many as they could get) and the next wave in the early 1980s who did not. Restoring some of that institutional memory would be a huge service and source of inspiration.

Second, speaking as moderator, I have to say: you've abused the people, us, who frequent this site. This is not a place for polls. It is not a consumer survey service center. It is also not a place where you can do X, and say "gee I don't see where you can do X here" to legitimize it. The Forge exists for a specific purpose.

You've accomplished your goals about letting people know about your polls. You have, also, been decent and courteous in answering questions, which I appreciate.

But for this thread to continue, you must raise a topic for discussion. One has emerged: format. Do you want to discuss that seriously here? For instance, based on past discussions, many folks have tried CDs as a format, in the stores and otherwise, and found them to suck big donkey balls. We could also discuss why basing your marketing and production plans on pure imitation isn't a strong strategy.

If you want to discuss those things, and open up your and Tadashi's options, that'd be great. But I cannot let the thread go on as long as it is merely one of several "canvas the internet" pieces, which are essentially spam.

Everyone else shut up, please. Allan, it's your call.

Best, Ron
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grodog
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« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2007, 07:11:11 PM »

Hi again Ron---

First, speaking as a consumer, I'd be delighted to see Different Worlds made available to gaming culture. The magazines from the late 1970s were the true wellspring of community and creativity at the time, and there's a sharp cultural demarcation between gamers who perused them (or as many as they could get) and the next wave in the early 1980s who did not. Restoring some of that institutional memory would be a huge service and source of inspiration.

That's certainly the hope and intent in the project.  There are many reviews of early rpgs, pieces of industry news/gossip via Gigi, etc., that make DW a unique source of history for the hobby, as well as one of its earliest communities, as you noted.

Well, there's a problem now.  [snip] You've accomplished your goals about letting people know about your polls.

Second, speaking as moderator, I have to say: you've abused the people, us, who frequent this site. This is not a place for polls. It is not a consumer survey service center. It is also not a place where you can do X, and say "gee I don't see where you can do X here" to legitimize it.

I certainly apologize then:  abusing the members was not my intent:  I didn't realize that mentioning the polls via links/pointers would violate the terms of discussion of the site, based on what I'd read in your response above.  I guess mistook your enthusiasm for the the project to mean that other site members may be similarly inclined to be interested, and might want to be able to express views/opinions about the polls/formats/contents/etc. of the DW magazines somewhere that would be appropriate, which is why I linked to them vs. continuing the discussion here.  I can see where I may have unintentionally crossed a line there, though. 

Do you have a newbie dunce cap I can wear for the rest of the week? :-/

But for this thread to continue, you must raise a topic for discussion. One has emerged: format. Do you want to discuss that seriously here? For instance, based on past discussions, many folks have tried CDs as a format, in the stores and otherwise, and found them to suck big donkey balls. We could also discuss why basing your marketing and production plans on pure imitation isn't a strong strategy.

I'd be happy to discuss the topic seriously, if you feel that's still warranted and appropriate. 

On the CDs front, do you mean specifically that CDs (and not DVDs) suck, or that CD/DVD/floppy disk/memory stick/etc. media all suck?  I've seen a few CD-based rpg products in stores before, but in general those are for new products vs. known quantities (DW magazine back issues), so my hunch is that the format may not hinder a DW archive immensely.  I'm certainly open to more debate on it, though:  Tadashi's plans are far from set-in-stone at this point, and if we can improve the product offering by considering other media/channels/options/strategies, so much the better.

Quote
If you want to discuss those things, and open up your and Tadashi's options, that'd be great. But I cannot let the thread go on as long as it is merely one of several "canvas the internet" pieces, which are essentially spam.

Spam was also not my intent.  Intentions only go so far, however.  So, I'd certainly like to continue the discussion, on whatever topics are appropriate and of interest to the forum members (if any). 

How do we go about doing that, Ron?
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2007, 08:44:15 PM »

On the CDs front, do you mean specifically that CDs (and not DVDs) suck, or that CD/DVD/floppy disk/memory stick/etc. media all suck?  I've seen a few CD-based rpg products in stores before, but in general those are for new products vs. known quantities (DW magazine back issues), so my hunch is that the format may not hinder a DW archive immensely.  I'm certainly open to more debate on it, though:  Tadashi's plans are far from set-in-stone at this point, and if we can improve the product offering by considering other media/channels/options/strategies, so much the better.

The thing about selling CDs is that you're unconsiciously jumping over a step in the analytic process when you say that you want to sell CDs at a store. When you have a digital product and are thinking about different channels of getting it to the audience, you should start with the paths of least resistance and only consider others in comparison. In other words, you might be screwing your sense of proportion by taking CDs at a store as your starting point, when it really should just be a supplementary venue.

Consider: when we're considering whether to invest in the work of scanning, formatting and distilling those magazine pdfs, we have to judge benefits against costs; in this case, the cost of the labor. The benefit from doing that work, on the other hand, is that you'll have a product to sell. Starting to sell via the net is a negligible cost in itself, and therefore that is the true baseline towards which you should be shooting, as far as I can see. Unless, of course, you can figure out some drawbacks, in which case it might not be that clear-cut. But for my purposes, let's assume that selling a digital product via the internet, taking in money by Paypal or whatever, is the cheapest way of turning a profit, and one that minimizes risk, too.

Selling via game stores is costly: you are giving the second-hand sales-men their bite of the product's value, of course, but you're also paying for creation, packaging and warehousing of the product. You're also taking an investment risk, because you have to stock the product without knowing whether it will sell. Doing all this might make sense as long as you're only considering the gaming store venue in isolation, but what about if you assume that your product is also available in the internet? How many potential customers will choose to buy via the net instead of the store? How many will not buy at all if you hike the prices to cover the expenses of the extra venue? How many extra customers will you attract by being in that store? That is the real question that needs to be answered when you're trying to decide whether to sell via game stores. The question is not how many people would buy, it's how many people wouldn't if you only sold via the net. Then you compare that number with the extra costs and make the decision based on that.

As a lonely data-point, I fuckin' hate buying digital content on a CD. I don't particularly favor buying PDFs anyway, but if I am doing it, I much prefer to get it via the nets. My experiences in this regard concern the Dragon magazine archives and X-Men archives, both of which are annoying multi-disk thingies I can't even use because I can't find them right now. (Well, OK, they are probably in Helsinki. Still doesn't help me use them.) I can pretty safely say that while your product sounds interesting and definitely something I might purchase via the 'net, getting it from a game store is extremely unlikely for this particular hobbyist, simply because I only go to a game store once per year or so.
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Ry
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« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2007, 10:50:38 PM »

I hate to rain on any parade at all in this industry, but there is no reliable way to do market research on internet forums.  This goes double for opt-in polls. 

That data will be total garbage.
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Ry
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Posts: 215


« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2007, 10:56:40 PM »

I just want to clarify that the above isn't "I tried it and in my opinion it's not going to work" it was "the data is unreliable in a mathematical sense.  You should talk to someone who has taken statistics within the last couple of years and ask them about defining a population and taking samples of that population."
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2007, 01:24:30 AM »

Internet polling is certainly an interesting topic, especially as it is not necessary to interpret it as market research (which it hardly is), but as a stealthy kind of guerrilla marketing. I'd suspect that this is what polling means for most folks who do it, it's an easy way to initiate discussion about a product. People like giving their opinions, after all, and product awareness pretty much has to go up if you need to get to know the product before voting. Look at me, I hadn't heard about the whole magazine before this thread.

But let's not derail Allan's thread with the poll thing, unless he wants to discuss it and other methods of gathering data in some more depth. There's plenty of topic in the product itself, after all.
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grodog
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« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2007, 06:02:29 AM »

I completely agree that internet-based polls are not statistically valid market research polls (as conducted by a professional polling organization).  The attempt to poll here is basically to get a swag level of interest in the possible product, from among four different potentially-biased constituents:  indie rpgers (here), general rpgers (rpg.net), D&D players (ENW), and CoC players (yog-sothoth).  Ironically, this was the first place I thought of when thinking about doing the poll, since DW sitll stands out as the first generally-available indie rpg magazine in my mind.  My non-scientific intent with gathering this (statistically irrelevant) data is to see if that is sufficient to push Tadashi over the tipping point to green-light the project.  So, it's value as data is only to supplement Tadashi's insticts, and since neither are scientifically valid, we're kind of back to the beginning in the project:  it's an ethusiasm barometer and enabler, more for Tadashi than for the target audience.

The niche for a DW CD archive is probably pretty narrow from a general-market POV, but given that the costs to produce such an effort are relatively low (time-wise, and materials-wise---though certainly much higher if sold via distribution per Eero's points than making the .pdfs available via the web site), the level of risk for the project is equally low, with the main loss potential being in time and labor vs. capital outlay.  (One option that sprang to mind after reading Eero's comments about channel consideration is putting together CD bundles, for example, including at the top-level, a CD-bundle for all of the magazines, of course). 

That's all my brain's up to so far today, since I haven't had breakfast yet.  Thanks for the input, and do please keep it coming. 

Allan.
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KeithBVaughn
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Posts: 64


« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2007, 05:19:37 PM »

I think an archive of DW would be a good thing if nothing else from a historical persective. As for format, I'll take what I can get. Just be sure to scan it at a descent DPI (162+) so if I need to print out something for portability or analysis I can do it.

I remember Different Worlds with fondness.

Ron I think the other two you are trying to remember are: The Fantasy Gamer & The Space Gamer.

FWIW,
Keith
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