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Company News Gygax Games partner with Fig to publish a game based on Gary Gygax's unpublished "personal campaign"

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Apr 18, 2018.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    Tags: Alex Gygax; Fig; Gary Gygax; Gygax Games; Justin Bailey

    The unusual trend of esoteric tabletop roleplaying game licenses being adapted to computer continues. This time, the license owner is none other than the estate of the late Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons. Headed up by his youngest son Alex Gygax, the recently reformed Gygax Games have partnered with crowdfunding site Fig to produce a video game based on Gary's unpublished material. The material in question is described as Gygax's "personal dungeon" or "personal campaign", which he worked on privately for many years. The one catch - there's no developer yet. It sounds like they made this announcement in order to try to attract one, actually. Here are the details, from GamesIndustry's interview with Alex Gygax and Fig CEO Justin Bailey:

    While Gary Gygax never did much more than dabble in video game development, the late Dungeons & Dragon creator had an unquestionable impact on the medium. That impact may not be entirely in the past tense, as the Gygax Trust has partnered with crowdfunding and investment site Fig to see some of the designer's original and unpublished intellectual property brought to video games.

    Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz recently, Gary's son Alex Gygax said the first order of business is to find a single developer that shares his father's goals and has a demonstrated skill for narrative. They hope to work with that studio to create something based on an original campaigns of Gary's, one which Alex referred to as "kind of the original dungeon for Dungeons & Dragons."

    "As my dad was creating Dungeons & Dragons, like a lot of games you need playtesters to work out the kinks and make a better game," Alex said. "So he started his own local group at home with some friends and family members. As he was creating the game, he had his personal story and it started growing and growing. It went from a tower in a town to a 10-level dungeon to a multi-level one that went all the way down to the depths of hell."

    And as should probably be expected of a Gary Gygax story, that's just the beginning.

    "We're hoping to do a multi-plane aspect of this game where you're not pigeon-holed into being in one scenario or storyline," Alex said. "[The 1999 D&D follow-up] Lejendary Adventures had a campaign, The Hall of Many Panes, where you go to different realms, each one having a different mission, storyline, or theme to it. Creating something with his original works that could be expanded upon is what we're shooting for."

    The campaign was a regular part of Gary's Thursday game nights, a tradition Alex joined as soon as he could. It was where Gary would try out new ideas and test various systems.

    "Even 20 or 30 years later after he started this dungeon, he was still modifying and creating stuff based on what we did," Alex said. "It was his tool to make the game better."

    That means whatever developer comes on board will be working not only with Gygax's narrative ideas, but his mechanical ones as well. And while many were devised for pen-and-paper play, a number of the mechanics were created with an eye toward eventual adaptation into gaming as well.

    "There are multiple systems we could use," Alex said. "There are a few that would transfer over to a computer quite nicely, which I think would be good to use. Some stat-based and percentile-based ideas, but we're still pretty open. Once we pick a certain developer and start working with them, I think things will fall in line as we go."

    Of course, the developer isn't the only partner trying to make this game a reality. And even though Fig is best known as a crowdfunding site for developers with projects that are already in the works, company founder and CEO Justin Bailey doesn't see this particular project as being too far outside its wheelhouse.

    "It's a natural fit for us because we like to think of ourselves as being a publisher that's centered around the community," Bailey said. "So getting the community involved, not just in the funding of it but giving feedback to things, being investors of it and helping get the word out... All those aspects of what people think of as publishing is where we step in.

    "And I couldn't think of a better piece of work than what Gary's put together. This work and the campaign he was running actually formed his inspiration to create D&D. In discussions already with the developers we've been talking about who've been inspired by Gary's work, they've seen this unpublished work and they're just blown away."

    Part of the reason the Gygax Trust is working with Fig is because the platform could serve some of the roles of a publishing partner while allowing the Gary's family to retain creative control. While some creators may ordinarily balk at those sorts of conditions, Bailey said that hasn't been the case in his early discussions with prospective developers.

    "All the developers we've been talking to want the Gygax estate involved in this process," Bailey said. "That's what's appealing to them, being true to Gary's memory and the work he created. It's almost a no-brainer."

    Alex also stressed that the family is seeking a collaborative process and will want everybody involved to contribute their ideas. That said, there are some things the Gygax Trust is planning to insist upon.

    "I just think it's important you keep some of the key elements in, and not stray away from what my dad brought to the table," Alex said. "Being creative, being able to create your own dungeon, create your own monsters, and run your own story, but at the same time create your own friendships and bonds through the guise of the game. I don't think we want to lose sight of that. And if you let go of the reins somewhere else, sometimes things get done maybe not how you'd like them to be done. So being able to be a part of the design process and creation of everything, I think it's going to make sure we don't lose sight of that."
    Two more interviews with some extra details can be found at Polygon and VentureBeat. But is this a serious thing, a shovelware cash-in, or just vaporware? I guess we'll see.
     
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  2. daveyd Savant

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    Probably a serious shovelware cash-in.
     
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  3. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

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    It's unclear if the campaign is going to start with or without a developer, but hopefully they're not dumb enough to do the latter.
     
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  4. Delterius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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  5. nikolokolus Arcane

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    Fuck Gail Gygax (aka The Gygax Revocable Trust and The Gygax Memorial Fund).
     
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  6. Chris Avellone Arcane Developer

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    Approvals are obviously something you deal with on franchises, sure, but the paragraphs above would have me worried if I heard them as a developer. I notice even the interviewer asked about it (“balks” is the correct verb).

    I’d be curious to know what prospective developers are interested and more details on the property, though - they could have something really interesting on their hands. That said, I’m wary of “idea guy” franchise holders - it’s like having a Project Director/CEO offsite calling the shots and the team just implements their feedback, which can be problematic if the franchise holder doesn't fully understand game development (and don't realize the cost of changes or worse, are unwilling to cover the costs associated with changes or feature requests).

    But if you can use a property to make yourself insta-CEO/insta-Project Director and someone agrees, hell, more power to you.

    It’s a little odd that Fig’s technically the third man in the room (which is another worry I’d have after having to go through 3-party development on previous titles - it can turn into a huge mess very quickly), and I'm not 100% sure what Fig brings to the table in this instance without a developer clearly called out. While organizing crowdsourcing is something they have experience with, I don’t think they're known for public outreach/awareness on projects - it mostly has to be done by individual developers to do their own updates, for example, as that tends to generate more coverage than through Fig updates.

    Still, this is pretty interesting – will wait and see what develops. My guess is I don’t think Obsidian or inXile would want to grab up or support that license (beyond the board member ties to Fig) as they don't need to and are likely sick of developing someone else's IP b/c of the lack of creative control, which is the opposite of this situation. I don't think Double Fine would, either, so I'd be curious what slate of developers are interested.

    Beamdog already has ties to D&D, so I don’t know if they’d want/need to branch out to a lesser-known Gygax product. Plus, if the world/new franchise is a rival to D&D, I think it might hurt Beamdog’s relationship with Wizards, too. But stranger things have happened.
     
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  7. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

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    This doesn't seem likely to take off. Gygax is an interesting and important guy, but I'm not sure his brand is particularly strong at the moment, or that his style really fits with the kind of fantasy that's most popular now. That said, I realize that uroborus has been feeding so long that now the ring is very tight, and basically anything that has any name recognition from the past 40 years must be produced, so perhaps it will be a great project.
     
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  8. Grauken Arcane Patron

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    I bet Gygax would be happier if his son created something of his own instead of exploiting his name
     
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  9. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

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    Gygax and Tolkien are in the Grey Havens rolling d20s and pipe weed and complaining about kids these days.
     
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  10. agentorange Arcane Patron

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  11. Grauken Arcane Patron

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    damn, don't remind me of Kevin J. "King of Hacks" Anderson
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2018
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  12. Kyl Von Kull Arcane

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    Yeah, it all depends on the guy they bring in to ghostwrite, which I guess will be any developer who’s willing to take this deal. But I don’t see them being able to bring in Guy Gavriel Kay level talent, not unless Gygax hid all of his best work in the basement. Presumably you don’t announce something like this if you’ve already found a developer who wants the license. “It’s a Fig campaign for a future Fig campaign” is a tough sell.
     
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  13. Grauken Arcane Patron

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    I'm also wondering how much cache Gygax's name has in computer game circles. People playing P&P RPGs likely heard of him, not sure the same is true for CRPGs though
     
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  14. thesheeep Arcane

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  15. Grauken Arcane Patron

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    Only if you die an hero
     
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  16. Junmarko Ravioli di canguro Patron

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    It's not really known, especially if players have only been avid with one medium, Garriott is barely recognised - and he started a lot of design trends the best CRPGs have tried to follow. There is enough in-fighting over I.P rights at the P&P level, by the time RPG rulesets extend to video gaming the mastermind behind it all gets a bit lost.
     
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  17. Kyl Von Kull Arcane

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    Come on, only one RPG developer has the cache to move a lot of units with the power of his name alone, and he just told us he’s not interested in these properties.
     
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  18. Chaotic_Heretic Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

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    Not Obshitian.

    I do not want Gygax to shift in his grave over popamolized RTwP gameplay of his legacy.
     
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  19. Maxie Magister

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    Yeah sure adapt a guy's pet project he's been working on in his spare time for years adding and removing stuff over and over again what could go wrong

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. LeStryfe79 Wino Patron

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    Maybe Curt Schilling can help out.
     
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  21. Junmarko Ravioli di canguro Patron

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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Bubbles In Memoria Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Imagine if he read the Numenera P&P first lol...

    CRPGs are too far removed to be directly part of his legacy, they are just built on rules and terms he coined. It's not even the same medium and Obsidian is using their own material.
     
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  22. laclongquan Arcane

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    Obsidian prolly may have interest?
     
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  23. Junmarko Ravioli di canguro Patron

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    Baldur's Gate 3 :cry: - yeah, it makes sense why no one will go near them again...
     
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  24. Maxie Magister

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    Sawyer's crown achievement, balancing the shit out of late Gygax
     
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  25. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    Obsidian's CEO is on the board of Fig. If they had interest, this announcement with no developer would have never come out.
     
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