OSR: Mixed feelings

Over the last year and a half I had really gotten into the OSR movement with games like DungeonSlayers, Swords & Wizardry, and its little brother S&W:Whitebox. I feel the two things (besides nostalgia I suppose) that brought me to these games were the old school feel of the games, but also the fact they were pretty open with the games. They wanted, and in many cases encouraged fans to make material for these systems. Now however, I am seeing something different here, a change in the wind if you would.

Now, I must say that I am a fickle fan and do not study and read everything on the entities that own and control either of these systems. I am sure someone will come along and dispute what I say here. That is fine, I don’t claim to know everything, in fact, hardly anything  is known to me.

S&W and Whitebox recently were published for money by outside publishers and DS4 will be released first as a purchase product and later the PDF will be released for free. In the past I thought both these were outstanding pieces of gaming, especially because they embraced the coolness of the “Open” community. It felt right to support and play these games. Now a movement to release them for profit…and then, yes, for free later.

Maybe it is my lack of interest in these games now, but I find myself questioning my support of these systems, and instead looking to throw my support towards the still free games such as Warrior, Rogue & Mage. Or perhaps it is my lack of interest in the retro-clone movement, others have spoken on this as well. I was at one time very interested in the OSR and getting, or at least attempting to get back, that old feeling I had playing games as a kid.

Maybe I just remember it more fondly that it really was.

Back to my reason for posting here…the OSR movement from Open (free) to published for cost. I guess this could be said of many things in the past, but when something moves from a hobby or community project to a publishing house, they sort of lose their interest with me. I love the under dog angle and for the individual making his own game, getting it pushed out to the net and finding people really like it, that is a great thing with me. With these games moving towards a ‘for profit’ angle, I find myself not wanting to support them any longer. I do not judge the guys for wanting to make a little dough for all their hard work, I don’t know, just doesn’t feel as right as it once did supporting these games.

I find myself looking at Risus more and more these days, damn it all, I digress….


9 thoughts on “OSR: Mixed feelings

  1. A few years ago, I read — or at least read part of a book called “Free: the future of a radical price”. In the book, the author says that while some things can be offered for free, “premium” versions of things can still generate income. I think the OSR is doing well to still “give away” pdfs of work (sometimes without art) and if I want a cool printed copy in a white box, I have to pay (and I have). By way of example, I too have a blog. I put cool ideas (of value? maybe some) out there for free and I sell a little e-book/print book via Lulu for a small profit. I think it all works well together. Just my $0.02.

  2. I’ve never had a problem with throwing money to great, creative minds that make my gaming life better. If they’ve found that their wondrous creativity can earn them some money, then more power to them!

  3. I don’t consider rehashing 30-year-old rules wondrous creativity. It would be in better taste for them to put a donation button up on their site.

    Kudos to Matt for voicing his opinion on this issue.

  4. I really do not object to someone trying to make a buck. If the product is string enough, I may just buy it. But since I own all the original versions of the game, I see very little reason to fork out money for a new one. I’m still *considering* shelling out for LotFP because it is a very handsome product with some neat ideas. But my budget is stretched and I’m more likely to shell out for new systems unlike anything I already own.

  5. Brennem: I’m actually not familiar whatsoever with the games or their ages. I’m speaking from general experience and interest. I pay for good stuff, when given the chance.

    I’m one of those people that paid for World Of Goo because it was fun & delightful.

  6. I don’t begrudge them for trying to make some money off of their work, and I fully agree with loquacious (and Brennen, I think he would agree with me), I will put my money on products that are great. I have been known to locate a game pdf through other means, and when I find that I love the game, I go buy it. Dragon Age is a perfect example, got a hold of the pdf, loved the system, went out at 9:55pm and bought the box set…just had to have it!

    I am merely saying that I love the open content movement, and when I heard some of these games were going away from that, it gave me pause. I guess it is sort of like when you have a hard working musician who struggles through the tough times, supported by his fans who suddenly goes and starts working with a major labels. Remember when Metallica made their first video? Or Green Day made radio friendly music? Everyone yelled “Sell-out!”

    I too purchased the World of Goo (twice actually after a hard drive crash)! Awesome game, total genius!

  7. Wait, is it for profit or for cost? There’s a huge difference. In any case, I think people should be paid for good work, even if the work is just compiling and layout.

    People have limited time and resources, and I encourage anyone to be compensated for their work, especially if it means taking time away from other responsibilities or loved ones. I don’t think trying to make a buck as compensation is a fault.

    Also consider that the PDF is still free, but if you want to print it, it will cost you. It shouldn’t jade you if they are offering an option to print it for you in a quality format.

  8. If you noticed, I said that my problem was that there was a departure from free to something else. It isn’t that they are trying to cover cost or profit, it was that they changed their model.
    Imagine if you will, that Sun (think that is correct) decided to start charging for OpenOffice, or GIMP started costing, or worse, Google started charging for their products. It isn’t that they would cost, the money doesn’t matter, it is a move from a free and open status to a cost model. I would freely and gladly pay for Google products (already do actually) but if they started charging for the basic products…well, let’s just hope that never happens.
    I guess it also hits me because I have been making RPG crap for probably 6 to 8 years and releasing it to the public for free (minus a little stint with FUM). Now granted, I do not have 10k users of my products, but if I did, I would still be releasing stuff for free. I just like it. Like I said, I support the underdogs when i can.
    And just for a side note, I will still be supporting these games, I might not be playing them at the moment, but I would still support them.

  9. I’ll offer a counter argument to your open source analogy. RedHat Linux was downloadable for free by anyway. No one had to pay a dime. However, if you wanted a manual and support, you had to pay for it. You had the option of going to the store and buying a copy off the shelf, but they did not remove the option to download it for free.

    I’m just making the point for the sake of making the point. 🙂

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