Sunday, 1 November 2009

A target date for the Dresden Files

After all the waiting, the folks at Evil Hat have set a target date for a release of the Dresden Files RPG. That's not necessarily the final date for when people can get their hands on a printed book of the game, but a date when people can get their hands on something playable and complete. Read the announcement for the details.

I've restrained from criticising the whole venture (DFRPG = Don't Finish a Role Playing Game?) for a couple of reasons. Evil Hat has produced some of my favourite games. They also set a very high standard for themselves. They continue to persist with gaming and the nay-sayers of the gaming community, giving great advice on designing and running games. Lastly, I don't see the point of bringing people down when they're sincerely trying to produce something good and are met with more delays and complexities than expected. I'm not their boss, I'm just a customer. My feedback is useful, but not authoritative. The DFRPG has a long history of mistakes that you can read about elsewhere. Go and vent over there if you must, but only after you've read the story.

Of course, I always wondered about whether the One Bad Egg project would distract from DFRPG. Officially it didn't - the lead developer for DFRPG isn't part of One Bad Egg. Since I have nothing to do with the creative processes of the Hat, I can't argue against it. I can only wonder. It's just horribly circumstantial that the announcement of the end of One Bad Egg was followed so closely by the announcement of DFRPG target dates.

I've also wondered whether it was a good move to delay release because Jim Butcher seems to write faster than Evil Hat. Perhaps a publishing model that included a core rule book and supplements could have been used to deal with this. A supplement for each novel in the series, or one supplement for two or three novels, could have provided an ongoing product line. Still, I can only speculate. If you know of any commentary on this, can you post a link in the comments of this post?

Overall, I think this is a good move by Evil Hat. The DFRPG has been in development for a very long time and has generated a lot of passionate and toxic argument on the internet (and elsewhere, I'm sure). With all the lessons learned in marketing (discussed at length by Fred Hicks in several podcasts over the past couple of years) I think this will be a well managed, if not formulaic, release.

My expectation is influenced by my experience with Evil Hat games, blogs and podcasts; as well as by the disappointment of the long development time. Nevertheless, what I expect is a well produced game that has great content, robust rules and admirable publishing standards. The key people behind the project have a good track record with other games and also with steady improvements in their publishing ventures. If you're a fan of the Dresden Files, I expect you'll be pleased with this game when it comes out.

And sometime next year I'll find out whether my expectations will be met. Keep up the enthusiastic work, Evil Hatters.

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