Spiderweb Software - Jeff Vogel on the OGL Debacle

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Indie RPG developer Jeff Vogel has shared his thoughts on the Dungeons & Dragons debacle over on his blog.

What have we learned?

The Open Gaming License was a Good Thing. Once.

When I first heard of the Open Gaming License, I couldn't believe something so cool could exist. (Apparently, it couldn't.)

It's a great idea, because it's good for everyone.

It helped WotC by turning the rules for D&D into the default thing everyone learns. It makes D&D into Windows 10. It created many independent developers who make content to make D&D more fun and interesting. I can't say this is why D&D shot up in popularity over the last few years, but it sure didn't hurt.

It was great for game creators who had a great idea but didn't want to do all the grinding work of designing and testing their own ruleset. I mean, I can do this because it's my full-time gig and I enjoy it and am decent at it. However, this isn't in the skill set of a lot of smart people.

(The license has also been used to make computer games. The legality of this has some questions, but the games in question, like this one, have not gotten super-sued.)

Finally, it's great for players because a lot of cool products have been made using this license over the years. Products that don't require learning a ton of new rules to enjoy them. A healthy industry with easy to access games is good for all of us.

Anyway, that's all gone now lol.

[...]
More information.
 
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Couchpotato

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Nice find Sliver I missed his post and it's a good read. (y)
 
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Stingray

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He makes a good point about the “stink” now on the OGL, probably won’t see any new game projects based on it even if they do back down.
 
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bkrueger

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He makes a good point about the “stink” now on the OGL, probably won’t see any new game projects based on it even if they do back down.
That is exactly the point! Even if they realize that their move was bad or if a court tells them that it doesn't hold water, only a few people will want to take the risk in future.

For me personally this is a good development because I prefer cRPGs which are not based on such formalized rule sets. For example I fear that BG3 will not be as fun for me as DOS and DOS:2 because they put too much of their energy into the attempt to implement some predefined formal rule set, which I don't care for.
 
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Stingray

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only a few people will want to take the risk in future.
More like zero probably... Making a video game is too big of an undertaking. But they'll have the new Pathfinder ORC to use I suppose.
 
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JDR13

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I fear that BG3 will not be as fun for me as DOS and DOS:2 because they put too much of their energy into the attempt to implement some predefined formal rule set, which I don't care for.
I get what you're saying, but for me it's more about the setting. I enjoyed the Divinity games, but Rivellon doesn't hold a candle to the Forgotten Realms. I'm anticipating BG3 far more than I did D:OS or D:OS 2.
 
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Stingray

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Setting is important, but also D&D 5E is better than the D:OS/D:OS2 ruleset. Not saying someone can't come up with a better computer game ruleset than D&D, but it rarely happens.
 
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bkrueger

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I get what you're saying, but for me it's more about the setting. I enjoyed the Divinity games, but Rivellon doesn't hold a candle to the Forgotten Realms. I'm anticipating BG3 far more than I did D:OS or D:OS 2.
That is a fair point. For me, however this is not important. Somebody can make a very immersive and interesting game in a previously unknown setting and somebody else can make a boring game in a famous and (outside of this game) interesting setting. So playing in a well-known setting is not a criterion for me at all.
 
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JDR13

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Somebody can make a very immersive and interesting game in a previously unknown setting and somebody else can make a boring game in a famous and (outside of this game) interesting setting. So playing in a well-known setting is not a criterion for me at all.
Oh I agree with that completely. The setting is a big part of why I'm looking forward to BG3, but it's not the only reason.
 
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bkrueger

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Setting is important, but also D&D 5E is better than the D:OS/D:OS2 ruleset. Not saying someone can't come up with a better computer game ruleset than D&D, but it rarely happens.
While I understand that you see it this way, for me the statement "one ruleset is better than another ruleset" doesn't even have a meaning. When i play a game I don't want to know a "ruleset", I want an immersive game. I am not interested in the "rules" behind the fights in DOS or in Elex or in Elden Ring, I simply like the experience the sum of all parts of the game gives me (story, world, art, challenging fights etc.).

By the way I love turn-based games, for example I play all real-time-with-pause games in auto-pause mode if possible, but still I am not interested in theoretic differences in their underlying rulesets.
 
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Vogel once again proving himself to be one of the more serious thinkers in the gaming development community. A great and intuitive read, thanks for sharing with us.
 
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Turambar29

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I like the way Vogel captures the trust aspect of the whole issue - even if Wizards of the Coast drops the whole effort, there is going to be a stink around them and their licenses for a long, long time to come. The practical lesson is a good one to consider, too - don't depend on these big companies and platforms - it's a loaded gun, and it's going to go off at some point.
 
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SveNitoR

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Personally I'd love if game companies started using more fun combat rule systems. Computers can make complex calculations, so why use a system that is very abstracted to make it easy for humans to quickly calculate in their heads?

The lowering HP bar makes sense in real time games where it's hard to keep track of everything that happens. Otherwise I'd prefer something more exciting.
 
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SirJames

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Anyway, that's all gone now lol.

At a glace it seems like everyone's a bit behind on the info? Didn't they quickly back out of the more polarizing changes? It's not all gone now?

There's a bunch of updates https://www.dndbeyond.com/posts

They said "Clearly we rolled a 1" and backed off a lot of OGL changes for the OGL 1.2 which seems to already be available.


I don't really care enough to read it, but I think we're good.
 
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Stingray

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At a glace it seems like everyone's a bit behind on the info? Didn't they quickly back out of the more polarizing changes? It's not all gone now?

There's a bunch of updates https://www.dndbeyond.com/posts

They said "Clearly we rolled a 1" and backed off a lot of OGL changes for the OGL 1.2 which seems to already be available.


I don't really care enough to read it, but I think we're good.
No, we're not good. OGL 1.2 still doesn't allow any video games, period (except ones that were already released before OGL 1.2 came out, which they added an exception for). And it still attempts to "de-authorize" OGL 1.0a, the one that did allow video games. So if it goes through as things stand right now, and the de-authorization survives in court (if anyone can even afford to challenge it), then you'll never see another OGL video game. And you might not see one even if it doesn't go through, because of the "stink" that Jeff Vogel mentioned.
 
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Ahh, OK. So, they're just pretending to give a shit and doing it anyway? It sounded like they were apologizing and taking it all back.

But how limiting is it, really?

Like, nothing is going to stop people from rolling a rounded, random 19+1, right? If that's what you wanna use?

I don't know just how much stuff is copyrighted. People can still use the classic D&D ability scores? STR, DEX, etc? There's nothing stopping you from having feat-like perks. They mentioned not being able to call a spell "magic missile" but, fine, I'll call it magic dart. Problem solved?

It's really not a great system, anyway. D&D always needed so much tweaking to make it fit into a video game it's almost not worth using.

I mean, the only OGL game I can think of that's worth playing, KOTC2, hardly got any votes here for GOTY. An embarrassing amount, really. I would have thought that kinda game was exactly the neche this site was all about, but no one cares.

OGL doesn't even have the D&D licensed monsters like Beholders and stuff. Nothing of value was lost?

IMO, all that stuff should be just as free to use as any Elf or Dwarf from Tolkiens writings.

So, where are we at? Fuck Wizards of the Coast? D&D is dead? Hasn't that been how it is for a long time?

Did we really need a Baldurs Gate 3 when a DivOS3 would have been 95% the same, anyway?

All D&D really has is nostalgia from the goldbox days and brief Baldurs Gate revival. No one even cares about KOTC2. Fuck it, OGL sucks. They can keep it.

Missing hits sucks! :p
 
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Stingray

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Right, most people think basic game mechanics aren't protectable anyway, but even if they are, WotC says they're going to put the basic mechanics under a Creative Commons License which should allow anyone to use them.

What video game creators will lose is the ability to use the stuff in the SRD, which includes races, classes, all the standard spells, feats, and other abilities, all the standard monsters, standard magic items, and all the text describing that stuff. If you want to see everything that's in the SRD, here's the 5E version: http://media.wizards.com/2016/downloads/DND/SRD-OGL_V5.1.pdf
Building all that on your own would be a big undertaking, just adding that much more work to creating your game.

Besides KOTC1 and KOTC2, the two Pathfinder games are also OGL games because they use Pathfinder 1E which itself relies on the OGL. Paizo has said they're going to fight all this in court anyway.
 
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duerer

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I guess the problem is a bit deeper than Mr Vogel's (on point) rant.
IMHO the root of all evil is that nowadays practically EVERYONE uses other's IPs for their own purpose.

I recently had a very passionate three-way conversation with a big company attorney and a PR specialist about streamer kids and game IPs.
As usual, the attorney (the old and pragmatic kind) had a very firm standpoint: streamers are using the company IP for their own benefit, therefore they should pay a license fee.
As usual, the PR specialist (the young and passionate kind) had a very firm standpoint also: streamers generating much desired free product buzz, hence their work should be endorsed or at least tolerated.
These two gents nearly killed each other: PR Jr said "fair use" is the magic word, Attorney Sr cried foul as "fair use" is a legal abomination and IP use must be regulated.

Back in the naive old times, "fair use" was all good and set (see: open source, etc).
Nowadays is the cutthroat modern times and "fair use" 3rd parties WILL RIP YOU OFF no matter what:
... either by naivety ("oops, I did'n know"),
... or by sheer arrogance ("easy money, let's milk'em!").
I guess this is the (let's be honest: valid) logic of WotC on OGL: their Attorney Sr wants to protect their IP from the unavoidable 3rd party abuse.

So the moral of this story: young generation content creators often forget that much of their content is based on someone else's valued IP. In fact, they take it for granted that this is standard practice.
No, this is bad practice and credit and compensation must be given where it is due.

I know this is not a very popular opinion, but I think WotC's standpoint is AT LEAST understandable (their PR is disaster though).
 
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bkrueger

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I know this is not a very popular opinion, but I think WotC's standpoint is AT LEAST understandable (their PR is disaster though).
That somebody wishes to protect their IP is completely understandable. But by first issuing an open license and then trying to revoke it, they scored an own goal. Had they never given people that license, it would be a completely different story.
 
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Couchpotato

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So the moral of this story: young generation content creators often forget that much of their content is based on someone else's valued IP. In fact, they take it for granted that this is standard practice.
No, this is bad practice and credit and compensation must be given where it is due.

I know this is not a very popular opinion, but I think WotC's standpoint is AT LEAST understandable (their PR is disaster though).
Well I for one agree and said as much on the other thread. It's not a popular opinion. :nod:
 
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