Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Open Platform Model and Labyrinth Lord

Another fun article today, check this out:

https://www.blackgate.com/2012/04/21/why-i-created-labyrinth-lord/

Especially this point:
The second goal was to create a brand and free license to allow publishers (and self publishers) to create and publish their own books that are compatible with the old rules.
This is what I love. Brand altruism towards other publishers and individuals looking to create, sell, and share freely if they so choose is what I like about some games, especially the OSR and OGL publishers. It is what attracts me to Pathfinder and what attracts me to Labyrinth Lord as well. You can make adventures, compatible games, settings, characters, and whatever else you desire and you are free to share or sell, publish on a blog or print in a book, whatever you want to do.

I don't like it when D&D locks up some monsters, classes, numbers, character creation options, and content behind product identity. I feel a little bad when Pathfinder's campaign setting is locked up in the same way. Some games do better than others, but the ambiguity is what bothers me.

As a game and a creator of things which I love to share, I hate having to double-check or second-guess myself to see if something is okay to share or publish. I really dislike that feeling. It feels too 'gimme' for me, too locked in the old, bad days of the hobby where publishers acted as gatekeepers and dictated what we could create and share.

Freedom to Create = Real Value

To me, if a book is 100% sharable and OGL and I can use it as a base to create and share from, it is a super-high value to me. I feel even putting 10% of a game's content behind a product identity clause reduces its 'creator's value' drastically for me to half or less, because now everything comes under scrutiny and question. It may still be a fun and well put-together game, but I don't want the well poisoned and I want to be able to create, speak of, and share anything I wish without that voice in the back of my head saying, "maybe you can't do that."

I don't have the time to pick through what I can and cannot do anymore, and games that took the time to work all that out and give me a solid and open base? Priceless. Saves me a lot of time. Frees my mind for creativity instead of picking through reference documents, websites, and guesses on what can and cannot be done.

Fun Games are Still Fun

Creator's value is different than play value, obviously. I still enjoy games that are locked up behind product identity, and even others that have no OGL or sharing options. It is like playing an exclusive console game to one platform, they are often well done and are showcases of fun and gameplay. But a locked-up RPG or tabletop game as something I would put time into creating for? I don't have the time to invest in creations that would be just for me these days. If I can share everything? That has real value, because I feel we live in a different world these days.

The value of a game in an online world is the amount of content in it free to be shared and built upon by a community of fans and third-party publishers.

You Mean, I Can Create Too...?

I read articles like this and it makes me want to write games to support this model. That is the power here of an open system, everyone can participate and everyone can play. Add to that supporting the game with free no-art rules downloads and options to support the creators (and artists) through buying the hardcover? That is the fan altruism that keeps these games on my shelf and makes me pull them out every so often to play and consider the possibilities. It is also the power that keeps these games relevant in a day and age when new editions come along, other editions grow in popularity, and new games come along and take away attention.

There is a value here in still having this option, and because the retro-clones are based in the feeling of a set place and time, they don't really need to be changed every few years to freshen them up or attract players. People may play the new stuff, but eventually when they mature and start looking for options to give back, create, and share, the old-school games (and the community looking modern games, to be fair) will still be here and waiting with open arms.