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Author Topic: Star Control - The RPG/Board Game  (Read 37337 times)
Clay
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Star Control - The RPG/Board Game
« on: February 24, 2007, 02:23:57 am »

Before I start, I want to say I'm fully aware of previous attempts at both of the games in the subject.  Although I haven't seen links to any one in a year or two, I do know they exist and not trying to say they don't.

It's not a surprise that I love Star Control.  I think you don't frequent this forum unless you do.  I've tried to figure out for a very long time how I can contribute to this great game and its universe.

Some of you may remember me from the Graphic Enhancement threads.  *wave*  That was my first attempt at it.  I soon figured out that it was pretty pointless.  Enhanced graphics are far down the line, and even when they come, could be handled by people far better than me.

I left the forums for a while, came back and lurked once 6.0 came out, and it has entered my mind once again.

Then it hit me.  If you do a little probing, you'll find out I'm Clay Gardner.  I wrote and published OVA: The Open Versatile Anime RPG.  It has sold somewhere short of a thousand copies and has been regularly praised in the pen and paper RPG community.

I have the resources, and the business experience, to create and publish a Star Control RPG.  The more I think about it, the more it excites me.

However, publishing an RPG for money (which I would like to do to recover costs for printing and artwork) is obviously outside the TFB's generous "you can create whatever fan works you want" attitude.

My question is...what would be the best way to approach such a concept to TFB?  Or should I not even consider it at all?  And heck, is there even interest among the (admittedly small) SC2 community?

Congrats on 6.0 devteam.  It's nice to finally have netplay.
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Re: Star Control - The RPG/Board Game
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2007, 03:15:35 am »

yay Clay isn't dead Cheesy

Personally, I would love something like this. Like you said, though, it's kind of a niche game, so you might have some trouble getting it published.

Not sure how you could go about contacting TFB, are they even active on the internet anymore?
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Maybe a precursor were just like "Hey I built this mushroom thing, it can traavel between plaaanets!" and the others were like "Yaaaay!" and then they all deliriously clapped their hands and giggled like little schoolgirls.
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Re: Star Control - The RPG/Board Game
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2007, 03:18:40 am »

Publishing it would not be a problem.  I'd publish it myself. ^_^  Part of the reason making it a "freebie" project isn't completely plausible.
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Re: Star Control - The RPG/Board Game
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2007, 04:51:11 am »

I have no experience in any of this, so keep that in mind when you read the below.

If you're going for a commercial game, I guess your goal will be an agreement on paper. Which probably means that eventually you'll need to get lawyers involved, which means costs for both of you. Even if you do not intend to make a profit, they will want to see their costs for this recovered.

Regardless of whether you'll be making any money, this license burdens their copyrights. Even for a non-exclusive agreement, this license being issued affects future license negotiations (what if someone else wants to make a game like this?). So count on paying some royalties, even if you donate any profits to charity.

They may also want to have some creative control. They may want to have some say in how you treat their universe. Though considering that SC3 is already out there, this may not be a big issue.
If it is, that's probably a good sign for SC fans, as that suggests a TFB-made sequel is in the making. In this case, there will be a whole new set of challenges and opportunities anyhow (involvement of Activision? Simultaneous marketing? Including new species in your game?).

As for how to approach them, I'd say just call them. You'll want to talk to Paul Reiche; he's in charge of the business side of TFB. Email or snail mail would work too, but telephone is more personal, and as they aren't very formal people, that seems like the way to go.
Tell them that you have prior experience with publishing a pen-and-paper RPG commercially, so they know you're not just some random fan with a wild idea wasting their time. That said, I don't think that there's any harm in mentioning that you're a fan. It makes your motive clear, and it suggests that you are dedicated to this project.
If they're open to the idea of you licensing their SC universe for a pen-and-paper RPG, you can then talk about royalties, the duration of the license, creative control, and whether or not you want exclusive rights. The details are probably best left for email. They will want to talk it over and/or think about it anyhow.

How would you be distributing the game? Order from a website?

As for interest among the SC community, I don't think your chances are good. Your audience isn't "SC2 fans", it's "SC2 fans who are interested in pen-and-paper RPGs and known enough other interested people in person". If TFB are actually working on a new SC, your chances are better.
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Re: Star Control - The RPG/Board Game
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2007, 06:34:20 pm »

Thanks for weighing in, meep-eep!

I'm fully aware royalties would be involved.  Fetching lawyers to fetter the documentation would however be sufficient deterrent to apply my time elsewhere. haha.

Initial distribution would be through a website, PDF copies through RPGnow.com/drivethrurpg.com (the stores that carry OVA) and print copies through the one-up site lulu.com, as well as the previous sites.  If it didn't completely bomb, I would then make efforts to put it into distribution.  (ie. hobby/comic/RPG stores would carry it/can order it, again like OVA).

I don't have the funds or, let's be honest, the potential for sales, to produce an honest to goodness boardgame with pieces and a nice snazzy cardboard box.  Just a book, with maybe some cardstock templates for ships.  But if it did well as a book, there's always the possibility of interesting a fantasy/sci-fi boardgame manufacturer, like Fantasy Flight, to pick it up.  More legal wrangling, yay!

In the end, I realize this project will, if it's lucky, break even.  I hope the fact that I'm not trying to "cash-in" would help my case with Paul.  Grin  And I'd want to be as true to the franchise and source material as possible, so I'm hoping creative clashings will be nonexistent.  I'm still debating a full-fledged RPG at all.  SC has always been about ships and war, not derring do with blaster pistols.   If there is an RPG component, it will be severely dummied down with a focus on narrative.

But I'm also prone to flights of fancy.  I have existing projects to attend to (including supplements to OVA) so it's always possible I'll fizzle out on the whole idea.  I'll probably make a draft of the game before approaching TFB.  I just wanted to make sure I hadn't missed a statement somewhere where TFB is directly against this sort of thing. Smiley
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Re: Star Control - The RPG/Board Game
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2007, 07:06:56 pm »

"Just off the top of my beak", as the Pkunk say - how about a collectable card game "Melee" as an add-on? Smiley
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Re: Star Control - The RPG/Board Game
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2007, 07:56:52 pm »

  I'm still debating a full-fledged RPG at all.  SC has always been about ships and war, not derring do with blaster pistols.   If there is an RPG component, it will be severely dummied down with a focus on narrative.
Yeah, SC doesn't really lend itself to running around on foot and blasting monsters like most RPGs. Like Spektrowski said, a card game (collectible or not) would be fun, and probably easier to make then a board game. Star Chamber sounds like a good example of what I'm talking about, although I haven't tried much of it myself.
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Quote from: Arne, on the origin of the Mycon
Maybe a precursor were just like "Hey I built this mushroom thing, it can traavel between plaaanets!" and the others were like "Yaaaay!" and then they all deliriously clapped their hands and giggled like little schoolgirls.
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Re: Star Control - The RPG/Board Game
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2007, 08:33:09 pm »

ZOMG, you got the Fwiffo card? You're so lucky!!
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Re: Star Control - The RPG/Board Game
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2007, 08:35:45 pm »

And for RPG elements, I think a game may be based on starship crews and dedicated to space adventures mostly.
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Re: Star Control - The RPG/Board Game
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2007, 08:39:24 pm »

CCGs have several marks against them.

1) They're expensive to produce, and a "Print it yourself" mentality doesn't work quite as well for card games (that require precisely trimmed "decks" to function authentically) as it does for game tokens. It's also common practice to give every card its unique illustration.  For a game with 100 cards or more...that becomes quite a bill quite fast.

2) More importantly, Wizards of the Coast (Magic: The Gathering, D&D) patented the CCG some time ago.  Although it's an ambiguous patent at best, I'm not willing to attract the ire of their lawyers, nor am I willing to look into what exorbitant fee they would charge for licensing the CCG mechanic.

But...if you leave the "collectable" component out, it's a potential idea.  But even at that, mechanics like "tapping" for "energy" is still in the legal grey area.  But there are many ways to approach the card game idea...perhaps even in conjuction with a board game.  It's something I haven't considered at all.  Thanks for the input!
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Re: Star Control - The RPG/Board Game
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2007, 08:48:09 pm »

It's also common practice to give every card its unique illustration.  For a game with 100 cards or more...that becomes quite a bill quite fast.

I think it would be cool to illustrate the cards with the graphics from SC2, all pixelated and everything. Wink
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Re: Star Control - The RPG/Board Game
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2007, 11:12:24 pm »

Do it.  Just do it.  Your game can only be successful if you try it.  If you don't try it, it can't be successful, right? 

Be your own best supporter.  Slap that little voice in your head that says, "No."  Do it before you can come up with a reason not to.  Don't worry about patents, stepping on someone's toes, being rejected by something or another.  If you go the commercial route, it becomes the next Monopoly, or maybe Richard Garfield will try to buy out your company.  If you go the open community approach, maybe you get thousands or tens of thousands more players and reconition than you had on your last game.  Smiley

(there are more elegant quotes to this effect but I don't remember them offhand)

It's in TFB's best interest to have Star Control stuff out there because it strengthens their brand.  When they finally release a game, someone's got to buy it.  The more buzz there is, the more copies it sells. 

Best of luck!
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Re: Star Control - The RPG/Board Game
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2007, 11:13:45 pm »

Same from me, Good Luck dude!

If you need any help with designs for Cards, etc, just PM me, or post, I can always lend a helping hand Cheesy.
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Re: Star Control - The RPG/Board Game
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2007, 03:22:52 am »

CCGs have several marks against them.

1) They're expensive to produce, and a "Print it yourself" mentality doesn't work quite as well for card games (that require precisely trimmed "decks" to function authentically) as it does for game tokens. It's also common practice to give every card its unique illustration.  For a game with 100 cards or more...that becomes quite a bill quite fast.

2) More importantly, Wizards of the Coast (Magic: The Gathering, D&D) patented the CCG some time ago.  Although it's an ambiguous patent at best, I'm not willing to attract the ire of their lawyers, nor am I willing to look into what exorbitant fee they would charge for licensing the CCG mechanic.

But...if you leave the "collectable" component out, it's a potential idea.  But even at that, mechanics like "tapping" for "energy" is still in the legal grey area.  But there are many ways to approach the card game idea...perhaps even in conjuction with a board game.  It's something I haven't considered at all.  Thanks for the input!
 
Yeah, I'm not a huge fan off CCGs anyway. A non-collectable card game could definatly work, though. Plus, it might be more accessible to new players, since unlike an RPG, you don't have to know the backstory behind the game to play.
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Quote from: Arne, on the origin of the Mycon
Maybe a precursor were just like "Hey I built this mushroom thing, it can traavel between plaaanets!" and the others were like "Yaaaay!" and then they all deliriously clapped their hands and giggled like little schoolgirls.
Clay
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Re: Star Control - The RPG/Board Game
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2007, 05:11:04 am »

Yeah, for now I'm focusing on a tactical boardgame, but unlike its peers (games like Battletech and Silent Death) I'm attempting to make it play as fast as possible and lose as little of the excitement of the melee game as possible.  I will expand on that with a strategic map game (reminiscent of Star Control I).  After all that, I may look again at RPG mechanics.

I've hit  a bit of a speed bump though.  While statting the ships (using much simpler numbers than the actual game.  An Ur-Quan Dreadnought has 10 CREW and BATTERY for instance) I've found it difficult to ascertain the fuel recharge rates.  A helpful FAQ over at gamefaqs has simplified determining relative speeds and turn rates, but covers fuel regeneration oddly.  It rates each ship based on how quickly the ship returns to full capacity.  This is pretty useless for my purposes.

Does anyone know how I can get figures for recharge rates without actually timing them myself in Super Melee?

Also: Any objections to using polyhedral dice?  I have a 5 step system I'm liking, but it requires a full range...a d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12.  (d# referring to the number of sides of the die).
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