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Steve Jackson Games Shows Off Their Latest Tabletop Games at SXSW (Video)

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the round-and-round-the-little-dice-roll dept.

Games 95

Steve Jackson Games occupies a special place in the history of gaming, not only for publishing some of the best-known tabletop games ever published, especially their distinctive microgames, but the company's failure to roll over in the aftermath of an FBI raid more than 20 years ago led to the creation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Since 1980, Steve Jackson and company have been publishing games -- and a magazine, and even a book. The company is based in Austin, Texas, so while I was at SXSW, I had a chance to meet up with SJG's Chief Operating Officer and Managing Editor, Philip Reed, who gave a quick overview of what's new on the table. (Har har.)

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nice (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39449891)

pretty cool stuff.

I really want the oger poster

Re:nice (2)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39449895)

and the ogre poster too

Re:nice (1)

offsides (1297547) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453047)

To heck with the poster, I want Ogre 6e!!! I was hoping Phil would say something about it, but apparently not. Still, everything I'm hearing says sometime towards the end of the year, so here's hoping...

Ogre Mark V (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39449901)

I only want to know about the large poster on the right side of the screen.

The rumors are true. (1)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | more than 2 years ago | (#39449963)

Hillbilly mutt 20 is now an existentialist Armageddon.

Now use Gamemaker.

Car Wars? (5, Interesting)

tmshort (1097127) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450029)

I miss Car Wars.
I had lots of fun playing that after school and playing the cheesy computer game based on it (which came with a mini-toolkit in the box - no more swag like that in games any more!).

SJG stopped publishing supplements and revised the system. Unfortunately, they over-simplified it and effective killed it.

Re:Car Wars? (2)

j4w7 (2530032) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450115)

!!! CAR WARS !!! CAR WARS !!! CAR WARS !!! CAR WARS !!! CAR WARS !!! CAR WARS !!! I keep waiting for a modern computer game for that. Can you -imagine- that as a MMORPG? I loved Car Wars. My friends and I had so much fun with that. Arenas, City Blocks, full-blown RPG campaigns. *sigh* I miss ADQ. Pyramid ain't the only mag they've published, ya know.

Re:Car Wars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39450263)

Agreed- bring back CarWars please!

The Holy Grail (2)

TBedsaul (95979) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450761)

A MMOFPS version of Car Wars. The game I've been waiting for since I bought my pocket box version of Car Wars back in '82. I understand they've been waiting till it can be done right but I really want to see this before my time is up.

Also, an updated version of Ogre for PCs or even tablets.

Re:The Holy Grail (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 2 years ago | (#39452301)

Wow, yes, a Car Wars MMO would be great.

I still have my original ziplock bag version. My friends and I had a lot of good, wholesome, psychopathic fun with that game.

Re:Car Wars? (2)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450805)

There was one, sorta, called , it latest about 1 year before they shut it off. [wikipedia.org]
While it wasn't the gritty 'car wars' or 'autoduel' feel, it was.. well.. an MMO in a post-apoc like setting, primarily featuring Cars and guns and flamethrowers..

There is a newer more indie title that a gritty feel post-apoc car-based tabletop mini-game, unfortunately the name is escaping me.. I believe it's only a year or two old however...

Re:Car Wars? (1)

desdinova 216 (2000908) | more than 2 years ago | (#39451125)

it was tried once with auto assault. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto_Assault [wikipedia.org]

Re:Car Wars? (1)

TBedsaul (95979) | more than 2 years ago | (#39452247)

Ironically, I was a beta tester for Auto Assault. I even got a blurb in their marketing materials. Unfortunately, that was before I ever played it. 3rd person perspective, nothing meaningful when the player was out of the car (a ped should have the option of taking on a car, no matter how suicidal), no positional damage and an overall game mechaninc that was less Car Wars and more WoW on roller skates really runined that game.

Planetside probably came closer than anything I've experienced. A couple of harassers and marauders tearing down the road, trading MG fire and lobbing grenades at each other was a blast.

Re:Car Wars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39450653)

I spent so many hours designing maps for Car Wars... we did a full scale downtown Toledo Ohio for a convention one year complete with real cardboard skyscrapers... miss that

Re:Car Wars? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39451427)

Full scale? I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:Car Wars? (1)

HelioWalton (1821492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39451565)

I think he was looking for "full, scale downtown Toledo...." or more carefully worded, "full copy of downtown Toledo, at scale"

Re:Car Wars? (1)

stjobe (78285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39451913)

I spent so many hours designing maps for Car Wars...

I spent way more time designing cars for Car Wars than I did playing the game... Like, a factor of 5:1 or even 10:1.
It was a gloriously fiendish system where you always seemed to break your weight or space budget...

Re:Car Wars? (2)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#39451517)

I miss Car Wars too, even when people would do hilariously broken crap like the Copula Car. The smallest motor, driver, and a single machine gun would fit in the four spaces available in the copula, and that let you have a car body with no armor and nothing critical. Combine that with the total inability of other vehicle weapons to hit a copula unless their guns had the anti-aircraft modification, and you've got the cheesiest tournament winner ever.

Re:Car Wars? (1)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 2 years ago | (#39452661)

I used a car with a ripple fire rocket system and two 6-shot rocket pods. It made a hell of a mess. My mate took the concept one stage further to have a car that had 4 6-shots mounted pointing down and jump jets. He used to go head-to-head with ram cars and then jump over them and turn them into polos on the way over...

Re:Car Wars? (1)

rbrinkman (681472) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453677)

I would buy Car Wars instantly if I could find a copy. Maybe I should go look. Damn that was a fine game.

Re:Car Wars? (1)

TBedsaul (95979) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455847)

Here you go...

http://e23.sjgames.com/item.html?id=SJG30-7142 [sjgames.com]

You'll need to buy counters and maps or make your own but that's everything you need to get you started.

Re:Car Wars? (1)

rbrinkman (681472) | more than 2 years ago | (#39456025)

Awesome, thanks so very much!

Re:Car Wars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39536893)

I used to buy everything Steve Jackson Games made in the 80s. Car Wars and Ogre are still favorites, despite no new material for them in over a decade.

In the last few years, most of it's been crap. Low strategy, no replay value, and little fun for me. One exception, Revolution. That game was fantastic.

I'd love to get my hands on any new material for the old games, it's got to be out there...

But... but... how many cores? (4, Insightful)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450035)

Isn't it funny how, while manufacturers outrace Moore's Law in their efforts to deliver the most impressive "gaming experience", Jackson continues to produce engaging and entertaining titles running on pre-1980 hardware?

Re:But... but... how many cores? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39450505)

I'm not really sure what your point is. Yea, SJG serves a niche market and is relatively successful doing so, but surely your suggestion isn't that all game developers would be better served following suit? I mean, SJG pulls in a couple million in revenue each year, the major studios pull in a couple of billion. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with SJG's model, but obviously a different model is working out pretty well for the major studios.

Summary & site conflicting (2)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450057)

According to Steve Jackson's page that the summary is linked to, the raid was conducted by the Secret Service, not the FBI, which seems odd to me. Why would the SS be involved in a data piracy investigation, unless it involved national security?

Re:Summary & site conflicting (4, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450215)

The secret service was made responsible for computer crime investigations in 1984, as part of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act (the same act that allows police forces to recycle the proceeds from asset forfeitures into their own budgets). The secret service was involved in numerous computer crime cases in the late 80s and early 90s, and had to back off somewhat after some high profile embarrassments. Somewhat telling that the bill that resulted in vast civil rights violations in America was passed in 1984, don't you think?

Re:Summary & site conflicting (2)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450401)

Somewhat telling that the bill that resulted in vast civil rights violations in America was passed in 1984, don't you think?

Yes, and they haven't stopped there either. Thanks for the info.

Re:Summary & site conflicting (1)

Creepy (93888) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454371)

for some reason this thread reminded me of this:
http://www.bbsdocumentary.com/library/ETYMOLOGY/WORDS/KRAD/cursehist.txt [bbsdocumentary.com]

I didn't really know Incognito, but I knew BBS's based on the Curse, including Proving Grounds (and spent a lot of my early BBS days on the Safehouse, completely clueless that it was run by Apple Bandit).

Re:Summary & site conflicting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39450219)

The secret service is tasked with protecting the almighty buck, counterfeiting and credit card fraud are under their purview. This was why it was initially created, long before they became the presidents praetorian guard.

special place in my heart (3, Interesting)

Rurouni_Jaden (846065) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450089)

SJ Games will have a special place in my heart because of GURPS. A great roleplaying system that really helps bring about the roleplaying aspect, instead of just the tabletop wargame aspect. Plus you gotta love an RPG that sticks with a version for 15+ years, vs. other systems that try to get you to replace all your books every 3 years.

Re:special place in my heart (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450117)

GURPS is still alive and well, it's used to bring back to life a lot of dead games like Morrow Project.

Re:special place in my heart (2)

Rurouni_Jaden (846065) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450145)

Oh, yeah, I love the 4th edition rules. My current GURPS game is hitting 3 years, very much enjoying it. In a d20 system all the players would be demigods by now.

Re:special place in my heart (2)

DuckDodgers (541817) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450665)

There's nothing wrong with playing demigods, if that's your cup of tea. As long as the narrator/Game Master/Dungeon Master and players approach the game with knowledge up front about where their characters are heading and consent to that type of game, it's fine.

I was turned off to standard d20 and its variants (starting with Dungeons and Dragons 3rd and 3rd revised editions, all of the way through the Pathfinder RPG) because of two features: 1. The distinction between arcane and divine magic and restrictions on what each can do seems pointless and is often frustrating. I personally prefer games where the mechanics for magic are more universal and flexible and the distinction between the magic of priests, wizards, sorcerors, druids, and so forth is cosmetic. 2. Unless a Dungeon Master bends over backwards to custom tailor threats and opponents, past level 9 or so all of the players in the group that are not playing primary spellcasters (Cleric, Druid, Wizard, Sorceror) sit back and twiddle their thumbs while the players that are playing primary spellcasters dominate gameplay.

On the other hand, the game [i]FantasyCraft[/i] has its distant roots in d20 but is sufficiently modified that I love it. Players still do end up like demigods over time, but the distinction between magic types is purely flavor and at high levels primary spellcasters do not dominate play. It's up there with GURPS and Spirit of the Century as my favorite games.

Re:special place in my heart (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450719)

Dammit, I forgot the markup rules for slashdot. Please forgive the [i] ... [/i] above.

Re:special place in my heart (1)

Rurouni_Jaden (846065) | more than 2 years ago | (#39451561)

Oh, I agree that playing demigods is a viable path, but I like not having it be an inevitable path. d20 will generally follow the farmboy to deity route pretty faithfully. That's fine, but I was aiming for something different. I like that in my game each piece of good equipment is pretty special and people tend to hold onto them more... adds more of a storybook vibe. In my experience, by the time someone hits level 10 or so in a d20 game, they are leaving +1 swords as tips at restaurants.

Re:special place in my heart (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | more than 2 years ago | (#39451859)

Yes. If you'll forgive me for pimping FantasyCraft some more (though I am not affiliated with the game or its creators in any way) they have a tunable mechanic for restricting the amount of supernatural gear the characters have. Player characters get Reputation Points for heroic acts and can spend the points on holdings (a farm, a keep, control of a merchant guild, a castle), titles (knight, baron, duke, captain), and gear (traditional magic weapons, arm, and wands). The Game Master can take those holdings, titles, or gear away but is encouraged to make it relatively easy for characters to recover them. Player characters can acquire holdings, titles, and gear without spending Reputation Points but the Game Master is permitted to remove them permanently whenever it suits the story. So you generally don't have surplus magical items galore or a PC covered from head to toe with magical gear and carrying a magic bag full of spare weapons, scrolls, and potions - and some players would rather have their characters skip the fancy magic doodads entirely in return for being able to ask the local elf king to field an army on his behalf or periodically withdraw huge funds from his merchant guild.

Re:special place in my heart (1)

Rurouni_Jaden (846065) | more than 2 years ago | (#39451953)

That sounds pretty cool. I'll have to check it out. Thanks.

Re:special place in my heart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39450235)

GURPS is still alive and well, it's used to bring back to life a lot of dead games like Morrow Project.

Bringing Morrow Project back to life? You are doing Gods work.

Re:special place in my heart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39450275)

They also need to bring back Hackers.

Re:special place in my heart (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 2 years ago | (#39452059)

Wow, The Morrow Project. I just unpacked some boxes and found my original rule books for that.

Also found my Fringeworthy (and a couple of other games by the same company) stuff. My friends and I loved the damage system.

Re:special place in my heart (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453885)

Really? gurps is still alive? Even non-player characters? Are you sure? I thought I was dead.

Re:special place in my heart (2)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450299)

SJ Games will always have a special place in my heart because they're the only publisher with the balls to make a real commitment to e-books. If I had a dollar for every book I didn't buy because I don't care for non-searchable dead trees, I'd be getting ripped off. Because I have twenty dollars for every book I didn't buy.

Re:special place in my heart (3, Informative)

rreay (50160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450825)

For a number of years now Hero Games has put out a PDF of every book. They even offer PDF/physical sets

Re:special place in my heart (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450869)

Welp, there goes the down payment on my new car!

Re:special place in my heart (1)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39452401)

Try drivethroughrpg.com (If I recall the name correctly), it's dominated by PDF copies of a wide range of RPG/Tabletop books and publishers...

I used to admire GURPS, but they don't seem to want to move on to an online age... I moved my campaign stuff to obsidianportal because my group spread out and stopped meeting physically. SJG started sending copyright take down notices initially for as little as one repeated paragraph from a source (posted to clarify something among players) and now they send me takedown notices for campaigns that don't even use their rules as some sort of harrassement. So they may have been one of the first to go into ebooks, but they may well be the last to adopt to the internet age in general. While not a fan of their rules, Eclipse Phase has the best license for online campaigning possible.

Re:special place in my heart (2)

djfreestyler (2579333) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450885)

Agreed. We're currently about two years into a GURPS story. Personally I think the best part about it is the fact that it lacks any hard-defined setting. Yes, that means your GM needs to do more work up front, but then again, it also allows the GM to completely determine the setting. Our story is set in a Stargate-ish modern setting with Sci-fi elements, something that you won't quickly find in any of the "pre-defined" settings.

Re:special place in my heart (1)

Rurouni_Jaden (846065) | more than 2 years ago | (#39451433)

Yes, it is more work for the GM up front, but I find it more rewarding. I've found creating my own 'player's guide' to the campaign is very helpful for the players to design their characters. GURPS does so much with allies, dependents, contacts, etc., and without some knowledge of the setting, the PC's can't do much there. I also put together cheat sheets for players who took skills like area knowledge or history, giving them some tidbits that the other players don't. I started out making maps, which were either more or less detailed depending on what you'd know.. so one character knew that the big capital city was 100 miles to the southwest beyond the Storm Hills.. where the less enlightened character maybe knew the name of the capital city but that was it.

Re:special place in my heart (2)

timftbf (48204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450951)

My bugbear with GURPS was that I could never find any advice on how to provide appropriate challenges for the players. I could see how to gauage the difficulty of a particular skill check for a known group of characters, but extrapolating from that to designing an adventure was beyond me, particularly if there was going to be any combat involved. It's a shame, it seemed a nice system...

Re:special place in my heart (1)

Rurouni_Jaden (846065) | more than 2 years ago | (#39451355)

That is definitely something that takes some getting used to. The d20 monster manuals with challenge ratings does make it easier to set up that sort of thing. GURPS doesn't have a hard and fast rule for encounters. You can build a 500 point character/creature that is a total pushover in combat or a 100 point foe that is just a death machine. I normally focus on the enemy's primary attack, figuring out how frequently it will likely hit and how much damage it will do, depending on how much armor the PC is wearing. Then I look at what kind of defenses it has and how frequently it will dodge/block/parry, plus if the party can punch through its damage resistance easily. Honestly, it takes a lot of winging it. An unexpected benefit (for me at least) is that the party is always weary of any foe and never takes combat lightly. d20 systems run into the metagaming of 'oh, a troll, get out the fire', where GURPS creatures are largely made by the GM, so it adds an element of mystery. There is a general assumption with players in most RPG's that any foe that is put before them is designed for them to be able to defeat and as a result they tend to attack nearly anything that isn't just blatantly beyond them. I've been enjoying that in my current game, they've learned that not everything that exists is fodder for their bloodlust. ;)

He needs to re print... (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450101)

Car Wars and Ogre.

Come on man, stop hording your games!

Re:He needs to re print... (1)

greg.sanders (2473330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450239)

MOAR OGRE!!!

Re:He needs to re print... (5, Informative)

TechHawk (570290) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450839)

FWIW, Ogre 6th edition is being worked on, hopefully to come out later this year. http://www.sjgames.com/ogre/products/ogre6e/ [sjgames.com]

Friday Nerd Rage... (2)

gabereiser (1662967) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450123)

Just made my friday, thanks, I'm off later tonight to get my D&D4e fix which I do every friday night so it's perfect that THIS article would show up on /. on a friday, making me wish it was 7pm instead of 9am... :( (I just crit my pants!)

He's not a nice guy... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39450255)

...had the displeasure of exchanging emails with him many years ago. That's when he informed me that if you play his games everyone playing the game must own a copy of the rules else he will sue the players without rules for copyright infringment. There are more details involved but that nicely summarizes it. Beyond that, he assured me that if you were to play any of his games via any of the online board game interfaces (there are several options including WebRPG and OpenRPG), then you need to pay him thousands in royalties else he will sue you for stealing his games and creating a video game with it.

Growing up I was a big fan of his games, including Car Wars, Ogre, and Traveler. I've never played nor purchased another game of his since. I encourge everyone to stay away from this very irrational and greedy person until such time he stops beliving everyone who plays his games using modern technology owes him tons more money, or worse, are in violation of copyright simply simply playing a game with friends.

Re:He's not a nice guy... (1, Insightful)

Anarchduke (1551707) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450403)

umm yeah. sorry but I'm thinking you are full of shit.

Re:He's not a nice guy... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39450753)

Ummm - sorry, But it is you that is full of shit. I was a developer for OpenRPG at the time. The results were shared with other active developers. If you bother to get off your butt and check, he has a reputation for being unstable and paranoid, perhaps even delusional. His baseless accusations he made in that exchange very much fell in line with reading I had done years before. This was his reaction to asking if a FREE, non-commercial OpenRPG server could be used with his blessing to promote his games - which I owned. That's when he assured me he would sue all players involved who didn't own a copy of the rules. There was no misunderstanding there. And I am sooo glad I did ask, otherwise I'm very sure he would have sued me if I moved foward. Basically I was asking to do a favor FOR HIM. I thought it would be good visibility for both his games and OpenRPG. What company doesn't like fan promotion - Steve Jackson Games, that's who.

Bluntly, the summary above is very low key compared to the actual exchange which makes him sound like a complete lunitic. No, I'm not saying he is, but many others have made such accusations. I don't know. I'm just reported what happened.

And yes, I've disclosed too much as is as I DO FEAR he will attempt to sue me. He has a reputation for being rather letigious. Justified or not I can't say, but its there nonetheless. And based on my personal exchange with him, I can say his letigious reputation is well justified. He's very quick to threaten to sue even when its very clear he has absolutely no justification whatsoever.

So please Mr. Anarchduke, stop trolling and pretending you know something just so you can pretend to smart, when you very clearly absolutely know nothing of the subject matter. Oh wait, this is slashdot... So go on, go crawl away and do some research on him. He has a reputation for being his own worst enemy and everything stated above easily falls within the internet lore surrounding him. Which is to say, I presented the information far, far more politely than his exchange went.

So who should people believe? First hand account? Or some troll (you) on slashdot just because you don't want to believe it and clearly know nothing of the subject matter at hand. Hmmm....real hard choice.

Re:He's not a nice guy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39450845)

I would like to add that when I was on the OGRE mailing list years ago, any suggestion of a freeware/open source PC version of the game was met with responses from Jackson that it would require a hefty licensing fee or be subject to litigation even when the game had no profit motive. I know at least one project was scrapped because of it.

Steve's all right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39452221)

(Disclosure: yeah, I worked for SJG back then - guess what product I worked on. No, I don't make any money from it nowadays. I never had any problems with Steve at all - most of the people who have issues with him are, well, idiots.)

So, when someone was talking about taking his games (which are what he makes his living on) and handing them out for free, he reacted in a rational manner, and those people who were wanting something for nothing got their feelings hurt?

Gee what a shame.

It reminds me of the time right after Car Wars came out, and a guy I knew showed up to a gaming session with a photocopy of the game. Now, you have to remember that this was the early 1980s, and the copies cost him about 25 cents a page - he paid more for the crappy black and white copy than he would have for the nice, full-color, well-made game. The idiot couldn't understand why that was wrong.

Of course, about the same time, there were at least three different automotive combat games hitting the market, and all three were directly because of Car Wars. I talked to the maker of one of them, and he happily told me that it was a poor quality copy designed purely to rip off the Car Wars brand.

Re:Steve's all right (3, Interesting)

cirby (2599) | more than 2 years ago | (#39452521)

Let me try this again - forgot to log in for the above post:

(Disclosure: yeah, I worked for SJG back then - guess what product I worked on. No, I don't make any money from it nowadays. I never had any problems with Steve at all - most of the people who have issues with him are, well, idiots.)

So, when someone was talking about taking his games (which are what he makes his living on) and handing them out for free, he reacted in a rational manner, and those people who were wanting something for nothing got their feelings hurt?

Gee what a shame.

It reminds me of the time right after Car Wars came out, and a guy I knew showed up to a gaming session with a photocopy of the game. Now, you have to remember that this was the early 1980s, and the copies cost him about 25 cents a page - he paid more for the crappy black and white copy than he would have for the nice, full-color, well-made game. The idiot couldn't understand why that was wrong.

Of course, about the same time, there were at least three different automotive combat games hitting the market, and all three were directly because of Car Wars. I talked to the maker of one of them, and he happily told me that it was a poor quality copy designed purely to rip off the Car Wars brand.

Re:Steve's all right (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39452861)

So, when someone was talking about taking his games (which are what he makes his living on) and handing them out for free, he reacted in a rational manner, and those people who were wanting something for nothing got their feelings hurt?

I suppose that's one way to put it. But another way is - why does EVERYONE who plays need a copy of the books?

And that's the key.

I get a basic hang of the game and its rules, maybe borrow the books from my friend to get the nuances, but we can otherwise share a set of books amongst the few of us.

The problem is, SJG basically says that's illegal, and of my N friends, N-1 will be sued because we don't have N copies of the books.

And that apparently extends to online play - if you make an online game server so everyone can play without having to be physically close, every one of them better own a copy of the books. No sharing amongst friends, no lending out, etc.

That's the fundamental issue - sure some books may be useful if everyone had a copy, but most of the time it isn't necessary. Hell it makes introducing the game possibly difficult - you bring your books, teach people the basics and set up a scenario. That situation could get eveyrone else sued for copyright infringement.

Re:Steve's all right (1)

offsides (1297547) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453249)

I think you're missing a very important point: If you're sitting around the table, passing the rulebook around, you still only have a single copy of the rules that you paid for. If everyone is sitting in their own home, and you've got the only copy of the rulebook, and share it with them online, you have to make a copy of the parts you're sharing. While I do believe that there needs to be some grey area (consider the situation where you use the rules for "back-end" decision handling without the players involvement, but the players are effectively playing a mechanic-less story), if you're having them use the mechanics, ESPECIALLY on a public server where you don't personally know all of the other people to potentially share the rules in person, it's a valid question. And while Steve may be a little overprotective of his IP on occasion, he's also earned some of that based on his experiences with various situations, and you can't really fault him from actively protecting his own interests.

Think about it from another perspective - if you and a bunch of friends want to all play WoW together online, and only one or two of you bought the game, would you think it was unfair that the rest of your group was required to buy a copy for themselves? I know it's not exactly the same, but it does make a reasonable parallel (including the fact that if your friends are there with you, you can use your copy to show them the game and even let them play it without violating any copyrights...).

Re:Steve's all right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458241)

That's an important point, but it can be sidestepped. If I'm sitting around a table with friends, passing a book around, we only have a single copy of the rules. We could even chop it into individual pages, and read it at the same time, provided that we didn't read the same page simultaneously. If we could pass bits around easily enough, and had a good enough index, we could cut it into individual words, and read it effectively simultaneously.

Of course, doing this is physically impractical. But electronically, it could be done. Imagine a system that hosts a copy of the rulebook on my server. Other peoples' clients request parts of it; it sends copies of those parts, and deletes the originals (so there's no more than a single copy of any part at once). When they've finished, they send them back the same way.

What's the difference between this, and each player having a full copy of the rules? From the players' perspective, they're the same: they just read which parts of the rules they want to. The only difference is the under-the-hood implementation details. Yet one is (by what I presume to be your standards) moral, and one is not. Why?

You can't have a morality which restricts peoples' rights to share information without thinking about issues like this. And it's a lot harder than indulging in misleading sophistry about peoples' rights to "actively protect their own interests". Frankly, there's hardly an immoral act I can think of that *doesn't* involve someone protecting their own interests, at the expense of those of others.

Re:Steve's all right (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39456569)

So, when someone was talking about taking his games (which are what he makes his living on) and handing them out for free, he reacted in a rational manner, and those people who were wanting something for nothing got their feelings hurt?

So if I buy a game of monopoly, which only comes with one set of instructions, and let my guests read those instructions, you think it's rational to threaten me with a lawsuit?

Re:He's not a nice guy... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39451211)

It's interesting that I read this here and not in a more tabletop-focused medium. I suspect that to really gain credibility you'd have to offer up some pretty compelling evidence that you weren't doing something that made them uncomfortable (like trying to distribute PDFs of the rules freely) in the course of your project.

Now, if you had said this was Kevin Siembieda and Palladium, I'd totally believe you, as the behavior you're describing fits him to a tee.

Re:He's not a nice guy... (5, Informative)

tilante (2547392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450883)

I wouldn't go so far as "full of shit", but there's almost certainly more to the story. For the curious, I'd suggest looking at SJ Games Online Policy: http://www.sjgames.com/general/online_policy.html [sjgames.com] There, you'll find that SJ Games encourages free fan-created tools for their games, but if you want to charge, they require that you get a license from them.

Re:He's not a nice guy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39451093)

If you bother to read the link you posted and then place that within context of my assertions, you just validated much of what I said. Read his section of MUDs and computer games. In his opinion, if a computer is anywhere near his games, you own him royalties. Period.

Suffice to say, contrary to your position, you actually validated the only one here "full of shit" is Anarchduke.

Re:He's not a nice guy... (2)

TechHawk (570290) | more than 2 years ago | (#39452315)

Well, yes and no. Thing is, this isn't about money.

Don't believe me? Read section VI. I quote: "You may have noticed that none of these provisions discuss money."

It's about intellectual property. They (SJ Games, to include whatever writers they were working with), as the content creator, most certainly have the right to say how their property can be used. Just because you're not making money off of it doesn't give you the right to use their IP. The licensing that they refer to in the section you reference is as much (or more, I'd bet) about protecting their IP and how it is used than about $$$. And when I say "how it is used", I refer to not just the medium in which it is used (digital vs. tabletop) but, more importantly, to the content that is used in conjunction with it.

Nowhere does it say *anything* like "if a computer is anywhere near his games, you own [sic] him royalties".

Look, they are not going around suing groups of tabletop GURPS players who are sharing a single copy of GURPS 4e, ok? Nor are they suing anyone who is making/maintaining character sheets on a computer.

Sorry that he denied your request to include GURPS for OpenRPG, but neither he not his company was under any obligation to allow you to use their IP, regardless of whether money changed hands.

Re:He's not a nice guy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453669)

Yes, reality check indeed. Everything in your post is factually wrongl. What a surprise. He had NO AUTHORITY to deny anything. Period. Everything was completely legal. Period. Why is that hard to understand? His response to HELPING HIM was that he would sue the shit out of everyone and then started demanding money from people who already paid him the right to play the game.

Sorry, but your reality distortion field is set to maximum. I also noticed in a thread above where an employee seems to be fairly irrational too. Sorry, but playing a game does not require everyone to have a set of rules. Especially if people are already familair with the basics of RPGs. Firthermore, suing someone for NOT having something isn't even legal but he's so irrational and paranoid, in his mind, he's legally obligated to do so. So sorry, this is an epic failure of Steve to even show he's capable of rational thought or that he truly understands the law or the technology involved.

Sorry, but your willful ignorance to ignore reality doesn't change anything. And for the record, it was really old traveller, pre-GURPS.

Re:He's not a nice guy... (1)

TechHawk (570290) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453863)

Not going to continue this with you. You are obviously not listening/reading, nor do you have a clue. If you did, you would not make statements that "everything in your post is factually wrong" when the overwhelming majority of them are anything but. Have a nice day.

Re:He's not a nice guy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39455097)

Good. Then we agree you're completely clueless. Since that's the only thing you took away from this long thread, we are both agreeing you're clueless and everything I said is spot on.

More proof /. is dead. Intelligent discourse is impossible.

Re:He's not a nice guy... (2)

TechHawk (570290) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455495)

Oh /. trolls, why can't I quit you?

How can you possibly say he had no authority to deny anything? His rules. His game. HIS PROPERTY. He most certainly has the right to say if and how someone else can use it. He certainly has NO OBLIGATION WHATSOEVER to accept your "help".

By your logic, I can come over right now and drive your car to Tijuana and back.

Now, you claim to want "intelligent discourse"? Fine. Go through my post above, where I start with "Well, yes and no. Thing is, this isn't about money" and logically and factually disprove what I said. So far, you haven't done so.

You want "intelligent discourse"? Prove it. Start by engaging in it, instead of ad hominem attacks.

Re:He's not a nice guy... (1)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39452503)

SJG has actively pursued many people playing online in various forms and does in fact require all players to have their own copies of the books used online. I've been subject to some of their C&D claims for stuff that didn't use any of their works, but used their rule set.

Re:He's not a nice guy... (2)

cirby (2599) | more than 2 years ago | (#39452693)

"stuff that didn't use any of their works, but used their rule set."

In other words, you used their works - the rule set.

It's amazing how often complaints like this boil down to "I wanted to use someone else's work, but was too cheap to buy the rights, but still wanted to either make money off of the thing or give it away for free."

Here's the thing: if you need the rules to make the game work, then the rules have value to you - and you should pay for them.

If not, then make up your own rules. This is the part that stops almost everyone with those "great ideas." I can't count the number of times I've been at conventions with game company people and heard something like this:

"Yeah, I have this great idea for an online game using (insert brand name). I want to use your trademarks, your company name, and your rule set, I don't want to pay you for it, there's no way it will make you any money, you're probably going to have to spend money on lawyers defending your trademarks somewhere along the way, and people are going to come whining to you when the product actually sucks. Here's the idea." (The idea stinks) "What do you think?"

so the dm has the ruleset (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39454071)

im just a player, ya don't sue everyone involved..that wont work and id counter sue in canada for example for harassment and then pain and suffering caused by the experience.I have a far better chance at damages then he would , as long as one person the GM had a copy....

Re:He's not a nice guy... (1)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454219)

I referenced their rules within their books, never actually repeating single word of text from them. That is not illegal. However feel free to continue to misconstrue my actions.

Re:He's not a nice guy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457689)

"Growing up I was a big fan of his games, including Car Wars, Ogre, and Traveler."

So, at some point the timeline reversed and branched, and in this parallel 'verse we now inhabit, Traveler was created not by Marc Miller of GDW, but by Steve Jackson?

Why, that's every bit as credible as the rest of your tale!

Transcript (4, Informative)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450493)

Too bad it had a short running time, Castellan [sjgames.com] might be worth a look for somewhat older kids.

-----

Title: Timothy Lord Checks Out Steve Jackson Games' Latest
Description: Fun Fact: Steve Jackson made games before there were computers to play them on

[00:00] <TITLE>
The Slashdot logo with "News for nerds. Stuff that matters." zooms out to the bottom right corner of a view of 3 custom dice from the game Zombie Dice.

[00:01] <TITLE>
A view of Timothy without his signature glasses.

[00:01] Timothy>
Not all the gaming action at south-by-southwest (SXSW) was electronic.
The Catan folks were on hand, and so was Steve Jackson Games.
Steve Jackson Games has been around since 1980; It's a real Austin stalwart.
Philip Reed COO of the company took a few minutes to lead us through the company's new tabletop game offerings.

[00:18] <TITLE>
The view changes to that of the interviewee, Philip Reed, sitting behind a desk with various board game items on it.

[00:18] Phil>
I'm Phil Reed with Steve Jackson Games and I'm gonna show you a couple of our upcoming releases.

[00:24] Phil>
Right this year we'll have Dino Hunt Dice out.
This is for kids 10 and up.
In the game you are going to go through and look for dinosaurs.
Like our Zombie Dice game, you will roll the dice, and you want to find dinosaurs so you capture them and bring them back to your zoo.
This dinosaur's hiding in the leaves, so if you keep going you're gonna roll the die again.
This dinosaur stepped on me.
If you get stepped on 3 times, your turn is over, and you don't get to take any of the dinosaurs home with you.
This is really quick, simple, should be out later this fall.

[01:05] Phil>
Also this year we have Castellan.
This is a two plaer strategy game where each player has cards, [...]

[01:17] <TITLE>
The view changes to a closer look at the cards in Phil's hands.

[01:17] Phil>
[...] and each player will have the exact same decks of cards.
The cards allow you to play [...]

[01:20] <TITLE>
The view changes back to Phil sitting at the table.

[01:20] Phil>
[...] pieces to build a castle.
On your turn you'll play a card, you'll add pieces to the castle.
You're trying to score locations, so you wanna fill a courtyard completely, so it's totally walled in.
At the end of the game this courtyard is worth 5 points - one for each tower.
The game takes about 30 minutes.
I think it's my favorite new game we have coming this year.

[01:46] Phil>
For things available in stores right now we have the latest Munchkin expansion; "Munchkin 8 - Half Horse, Will Travel".
This was designed by our Munchkin Tzar, Andrew Hackard and illustrated by John Kovalic.
It's stupid, silly, fun - it's everything you expect from Munchkin.

[02:07] Phil>
Hitting stores in the next couple of weeks is "The Good, The Bad, The Munchkin 2 - Beating a Dead Horse".
Because, well, that's what we like to do with things.

[02:19] Phil>
Also coming out at the same time will be Zombie Dice 2.
It's the first expansion for our Zombie Dice game.
These three dice fit right inside this cup.
You get Santa Claus, who might bring you presents or he might shoot you.
You also get the The Hunk and The Hottie - these two work together and if you've got one in your brains pile with the other one comes up a shotgun, the brains are rescued, he goes back into the cup, so they're dangerous.
Notice her fashionable high heels(!)

[02:52] Phil>
That's what we've got new.
Also this later year we'll have Munchkin Conan and Munchkin Apocalypse.

[02:57] <TITLE>
The Slashdot logo with "News for nerds. Stuff that matters." fades into view in the bottom right corner and the background changes to the view of the three dice used at the beginning of the video.

Re:Transcript (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453477)

Too bad it had a short running time, Castellan [sjgames.com] might be worth a look for somewhat older kids.

The castle game looks really interesting. It seems like a simplified version of go [wikipedia.org] with the addition of cards.

It's the same basic concept - take turns placing pieces in order to capture territory, and more territory captured is worth more points. I could see it being used as a gateway drug for getting someone into go.

Re:Transcript (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39453529)

The Catan folks were on hand

Doh, forgot to address this bit.

As much as I love Munchkin (proud owner of Fu and Bites), I think I like Catan way more. The game is really super modular. The easiest thing to do is to create new maps, and it's also pretty fun to create special rulesets and the like.

I really wish /. had swung by the Catan booth, too.

Computer version of Ogre/GEV please (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450551)

I don't get the chance to get together w/ others and play games very often, but I've always enjoyed playing Ogre, and it would work well w/ role-reversal (human plays the part of the Ogre, computer micro-manages the horde of defending units).

You could even up-date it by putting the game on the iPad (or some other tablet) ---

  - the iPad function as a game board
  - there's a physical miniature for the Ogre on the center of the display --- tap the displayed hexes around it to move
  - a row of icons at one edge of the display which allow one to select weapons (tap a weapon, then tap a target w/in range for each attack) (the icons would go away as the Ogre was damaged)

I'd buy an iPad for that.

William

Re:Computer version of Ogre/GEV please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39451191)

There's a DOS version of the game that Origin Systems produced under license some time ago. Google it....

Re:Computer version of Ogre/GEV please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453465)

A friend of mine made a version of the Ogre game for Unix (yes, Unix, Linux did not exist at the time) that I believe he also ported to DOS. Character based, but it worked.

I'm still waiting for 'Raid on Bin-Laden' (2)

MooseDontBounce (989375) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450573)

Remember, one of SJG first games was 'Raid on Iran' that was published only weeks after the failed attempt to recuse the hostages from Iran in 1980. We used to say that game was the real reason the FBI first raided them.

Re:I'm still waiting for 'Raid on Bin-Laden' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453195)

Still have my copy.

Howard Thompson (1)

hodagacz (948570) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450897)

If you really want Steve to go ballistic, ask him about Howard.

The split between Steve Jackson and Metagames (the company that first published Ogre and the proto-GURPS Fantasy Trip) was not pleasant,

Re:Howard Thompson (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 2 years ago | (#39452197)

The Ogre, Melee and WarpWar microgames from Metagames were the first wargames I bought with my own money. $2.95 each, I believe. I still have them, somewhere.

Re:Howard Thompson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39453837)

Which is why he wrote GURPS. Because he couldn't swing the outrageuos price for The Fantasy Trip, which he write, but Howard published. I prefer TFT to GURPS.

Todays climate (1)

Simmeh (1320813) | more than 2 years ago | (#39450921)

Its saddening dice games and decade old card games have become SJG's main product. I should probably buy more GURPS stuff.

Re:Todays climate (1)

chrissandvick (844662) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455191)

The dice games and Munchkin sell to non-rpg gamers who shop at bookstores like Barnes & Nobles. It's really not a bad thing because that revenue is what is allowing new Gurps products to be published. The customer base for these casual games is much larger than PnP RPG gamers. Consequently I'm hoping they keep turning out Munchkin level hits even though I don't play them.

Where do you put the batteries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39452435)

Wait, so this game doesn't take any batteries? No OLED hawtness?

SJG Online Game - UltraCorps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458927)

SJ Games also run the multiplayer online game UltraCorps. SJ acquired the rights to it back in 2005 and it's been stuck in some kind of eternal beta ever since as he hasn't had time to (re)launch it commercially yet.

In the meantime it is free to play at www.ultracorps.com

It's a turn-based space strategy game. Games tend to last for a month or so, and are usually one turn a day.

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