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Author Topic: Green Goblin Holy Shit Some Serious PDF Useage  (Read 3292 times)
Valamir
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Posts: 5574


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« on: April 08, 2003, 06:39:47 PM »

Got a piece of unsolicited email today from a group I'd never heard of.  But unlike the other 300 assorted spams I get, this one was from a game company.  Unfortuneately a game company going out of business.

As a special "closing their doors" promotion they're selling 10 of their PDF adventures (d20/generic system modules) for $17.95

Ok, yawn, right?  Only the text suggests that these adventures are interactive...with sound and animations...so I check it out.  They have a free "try one" adventure on the site so I did.

God Damn.  I can't speak to the quality of the adventure itself...didn't read it.  I was too busy looking at the phenomenal PDF layout and listening to the embedded sound.  Yup, embedded sound.  Encounter 16 involves crossing a stream?  Click here and you and your party can enjoy listening to the soothing sounds of a babbling brook.

The whole adventure was fully hyperlinked...Graphic icons on the sidebar taking you to the indicated NPC etc.

There's alot of indie publishers here on the Forge who put out PDFs...
Ladies and Gentleman...I'm afraid the bar is alot higher.  

I was drooling...literally.

http://www.grinninggoblin.com/buyitdeal.htm
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szilard
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Posts: 260


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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2003, 07:00:27 PM »

I'd been thinking that - with all the talk about the PDF market - it was about time to actually try to use some of the real advantages of the medium...

Stuart
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My very own http://www.livejournal.com/users/szilard/">game design journal.
ThreeGee
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2003, 09:35:09 AM »

Hey Ralph,

What gave you the impression Grinning Goblin is going out of business? I have not heard anything of the sort, and their webpage certainly seems optimistic enough about the future.

They do make some darn cool adventures.

Later,
Grant
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2003, 09:39:29 AM »

Grant,

They've announced it on several RPG news sites, and it was mentioned in the spammy e-mail they sent out.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2003, 10:02:30 AM »

I don't know, Ralph.  I looked at their sample adventure and my response was... YAWN!

The layout sucked, the content was uninspiring, it was hard to read, and all of their extra content struck me as being gimmicky.  It was like those wrap-around silver holographic 3-D covers that they put on comics during the early 90's to make them sell more copies.  Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Now, if you could embedd multimedia content that would actually be useful, that's something else entirely.  But these guys really didn't do it for me, and I don't understand what you mean about the bar being raised.  My bar for my own work is much higher than this already.
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Valamir
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2003, 10:32:20 AM »

You think?  The adventures themselves were pretty yawn inspiring, but I found the layout to be quite attractive.

The art used was plentiful and generally pretty good (and in color, which is rare).  There were actual artistic renderings of each encounter location hyperlinked to handouts of the art.  All of the NPCs had both a full blown entry, and a basic stat block entry with the former being hyperlinked from the margin of the encounter description.

The sound clips varied in quality and appropriateness, and could be said to be a little gimmicky, but I think that's just the tip of an iceberg of possibility.

Granted, they were all Modules in format and not a full set of RPG rules, but the possibilities that came to mind seem pretty impressive to me.


Consider design notes.  Currently these are relegated to a text box or an appendix, and as such are fairly limited in application.  With expanded use of hyperlinks you could have almost every single section of the rules have accompanying design notes with expanded examples, options and variations included while leaving the core rules very streamlined and uncluttered.  Taken a step further you could have actual embedded sound files of the game designer verbally explaining a particularly complicated concept.  I don't know...I find that a VERY groovy idea, and something to really set a PDF published game apart.

How about using sound as a part of the over all layout theme.  Its pretty common place to change the border or a border graphic with each chapter in the book.  What if each chapter of the book actually had its own soundtrack.  Deadlands-esque "Wierd Wailings" playing softly in the background as you're reading the text.  I mean hell, look at the role of music in OctaNe or StarChildren.  Now imagine some mood setting jams coming out of the speakers as you're reading the rules...might be tougher to pull off but the idea gives me chills.  

Or how about animation.  The Attack of Opporunity rules in D&D3E are widely criticised.  Imagine a PDF game which has similar rules...only each of half a dozen examples are embedded Flash Animation illustrating the effect step by step with commentary (like that optical illusion website Bruce linked to recently).  What printed game book does that?

Or go a step further.  Powerful dynamic art in a game book is almost universally held in high regard...look at how important the art is to peoples enjoyment of Exalted for instance.   Instead of art...why not have embedded video clips.  Not just a picture of a barbarian swinging at an Orc...but an actual video of it...complete with sound effects...damn...THAT would be cool.


Granted none of these ideas are in the Goblin Stuff (hell they only cost $1.80 apiece) but the thought process is there.  You can see this glimmering at the edges and hinted at.  But I do think they are at least a good dozen paces down that road farther than 90% of the PDF stuff I've seen for sale (which usually has a very good, but very traditional approach to layout based on the assumption that the game is to be printed).  

And maybe PDF isn't the right format to go much farther than they have.  Maybe it gets too big and creaky (I don't know squat about PDF creation really)...maybe some form of encrypted Java Applet running on your PC so that the rule book actually is a fully functioning web page being viewed and interacted with through your browser locally on your PC would get there easier.

Don't know.  Perhaps I was more impressed by the possibility than the application, but I was definitely impressed by it, and I think that its definitely worth checking out.
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samdowning
Member

Posts: 38


« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2003, 06:53:19 PM »

I agree - it's pretty gimmicky, and the sounds aren't really useful.

The largest problem I have with the thing is that most people (at least I know our customers in particular) don't use their laptop to play, so all the extras and color are a bit useless to the average PDF buyer.  Also, just the free one is almost 5 megs, and at some of the lower download rates, that can take forever.  I know that the majority of PDF buyers want small, easily downloaded and printed material.  They want to keep their PDFs small.

What amazes me is that this company actually seems to know something about Acrobat and tries to use some of its features, but they totally ignore the bookmarks.  They've got links on their table of contents (some of them underlined, some not, bad design flaw there, IMHO), but the bookmarks they do have go nowhere, like someone tried to figure out how to make it work, then decided not to bother.  Bookmarks would have been much more useful than the links on the page, which take you away from the page you were on and throw you somewhere else.  This is rather confusing.  And the sounds are pretty lame.  Some of the art's nice, though.  I like the goblin on the first page.
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Samantha Downing
Deep7
http://www.deep7.com
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