Adventure and Campaign Publishing

edited May 2013 in General Archive
I think Obsidian Portal is a great platform for the digital publication of Campaigns and Adventures, and I don't think it would take much to support it. Taking the sizable subject of actually becoming a money-making publisher off the table (copyrights, publishing fees, payments to the authors and much, much, much more...), and just looking at what might be involved feature-wise, I imagine a few phases:

Phase 1
- Allow GM's to be setup with Read-Only permission. This lets me share GM-only information without worrying about any of it being changed.
- Allow these GM's to link to the Wiki and Maps for the shared campaign, but manage their own Adventure Log, Characters, Forum, and Calendar. (I can see Items going both ways...not sure how best to handle that)
- This is kind of the equivalent of having access to the Campaign book - you get to see everything, but the campaign you run with that resource would be your own.

Phase 2
- Create a new tab or section within the Campaign that is specifically designed for "Adventures". Each Adventure could have several sub-tabs: Maps, Characters/Critters, Items, and a Wiki. (there are probably a hundred different ways to organize an adventure, so maybe the organization would be user-generated instead?)
- Adventures would not be visible to Players by default.
- Instead of segregating content between "Player" and "GM", there would be "Flavor Text" and "GM-Only".
- A simple method for making particular pages "viewable" to the Players in the Campaign, still preserving the segregation between Flavor Text and GM-Only content. In other words, as the party moves through the dungeon, I can unlock/expose/make viewable the flavor text for the rooms or events they have already encountered. My GM-Only info is still strictly GM-Only.
- Allow these Adventures to be downloaded as PDF's, including both the flavor-text and the GM-Only content.
- Setup a peer-review rating system for Adventures.

Phase 3
- start thinking about making money with it!
- I would buy Adventures for $5, maybe even $10 for something big and well-done.
- What would an 80/20 split on these transactions (in favor of the author) look like, income-wise?

There are a lot of different directions this could take, and the above are just what I've been mulling over for a while now. Would love to hear other ideas for an "Adventure" feature, or how folks are already accomplishing something similar.



  • Calion
    Posts: 144
    I like! I'm not especially worried about monetizing: I just want the community to be able to see what I've done without exposing my players to it. Therefore, I propose the following feature that I've been dying for for years: Allow anyone *except my players* to view all of my DM-only material. That would mean that to view DM-only material, you would have to be logged into an OP account, other than one registered as a player for that campaign. Yes, I realize that my players could log in with a dummy account in order to view all my secrets, but I trust them not to do that; I just want to ensure they don't stumble across it by accident. Perhaps you could limit it to Ascendants only if you wished; few players are going to pay money to see your secret content!

    In connection with this it would be absolutely required that every single page has an (optional?) commenting feature. I want feedback from the community on my creations.
  • JayJay
    Posts: 10
    I agree with the concept of a feedback section. At the moment, my players use the Comments tab on the campaign to leave thoughts, notes, suggestion etc. It would be nice if there was a way to incorporate these onto a specific page, much like the "GM+ ??" ability Ascendants get on their campaigns. That way, people could easily reference specific Wiki pages, Characters etc, right on the page, and not have to go hunting through pages. Which, granted, most of us are on high speed connections, but sometimes at the gaming table, we're using 3G, in a bad signal area. The easier to get to specific information, the better.
  • Langy
    Posts: 364
    Basically, a 'Talk' page for each Wiki page, must like regular Wiki software.
  • Calion
    Posts: 144
    Do we want a talk page or just a commenting function like on Adventure logs, open to all? Seems like the latter would be far more intuitive.
  • JayJay
    Posts: 10
    A commenting function would be more intuitive, definately. A talk page, seems like more to load when on low-bandwidth connections (like 3G)
  • Shammond42
    Posts: 65
    I've often thought about a tool for game publishers to sell adventures or campaigns as OP content. Imagine going to Paizo and buying a new adventure, then Paizo uses the OP API to automatically insert the appropriate wiki pages, characters, items, maps, etc. into your campaign for you. These pages could come with great art and maps and be ready for the GM to begin using it.

    The two obvious issues are protecting a publishers IP, and would enough OP users pay for it to justify another distribution format.

  • JustinMason
    Posts: 36

    I suggested this very same thing several years ago, and after some discussion (somewhere else on this forum; not sure where), came to the conclusion that protecting the content for "value" wasn't feasible in the existing OP format; unless one wanted to force a "private" campaign when using one of these sorts of "modules" (at least not enough to justify the rewrite that would be involved).

    That being said now that we're talking reforging though, It could be neat to see some way to create a distribution packets for a specific campaign. In other words maybe like an XML file (that defines all the specific pages, text, formatting, character records, item records, labels, etc. associated with a campaign) that could be used with an "import campaign packet into blank campaign template" option.

    This way if someone wanted to do up a "pre-built" campaign to share, it could be passed to a new DM via a single file, and utilize the existing OP data structure to pull the relevant data across from the original campaign into the new blank campaign.

    As far as sales goes: If one wanted, it could even allow porting over of a "private" source campaign so that the XML file could be sold as a module. In addition maybe even a random key generated for each campaign that would have to be entered as a sort of "validation" that would be required for the import (to protect the IP).

    However, while I'd like to see the above feature or something similar, and think it could be very cool. I would also understand if the OP staff was worried about the inevitable IP disputes and ownership disputes that would come along with encouraging this kind of "marketed" content designed specifically for OP. For that reason, I'm going to say that I'd like to see the feature, but with an understanding or stipulation that if you share the "export file" it becomes a part of the open OP community.

    Just my thoughts on the matter.
  • Micah
    Posts: 894
    So I've been kicking this idea around for years, and ultimately I've tabled it every time. It's very tempting from a business standpoint, running a digital content marketplace, but it's a big departure from what we are right now and involves a lot of risk. Here are a few factors:

    h3. Publisher Support Required

    The biggest myth in these kinds of things is the "build it and they will come" theory. If we built this system in-house without support from publishers, then unveiled it to them, the first thing they'd say is, "Um, this is nowhere close to what we want." I could tell them all day about how much $$ they will make on it, and they just won't care. If it's not part of their workflow and the system doesn't work the way they want, they'll pass. I would too, in their place. Going to existing businesses and asking them to do a lot of work in order to _potentially_ make more money doesn't usually go over well. Trust me, people are always pitching me ideas on how I might make more money if only I would do X and Y and Z and ...

    Plus, I'm sure the publishers will have tons of concerns around IP and property rights. These are the same people who worry about PDFs and rights and watermarks and such. They are going to want to know how I will prevent people from just copying each others' campaigns and enforcing various IP restrictions. Personally, I have no interest in coming up with a DRM system for Obsidian Portal. If it comes to that, I'll do it, but it's definitely not #1 on my TODO list.

    Finally, I'm not a salesman. When I try to talk to publishers, they usually have no idea who I am. They think Obsidian Portal is a fansite of some kind. Convincing them that I'm worth talking to is very tough and frankly I hate it. I'd much rather just work on making the site better for GMs and players. I'm a player, not a publisher, so that's the crowd I run with. I've chatted with several people "inside the industry" and it's just a different world.

    So, the main point here is that a feature like this marketplace would require buy-in from an entire side of this industry that I'm unfamiliar with and don't really want to spend the time infiltrating and selling to. Remember: Time I spend schmoozing with publishers is time I'm not working on the site.

    h3. Standards Format Required

    I've been part of an email list discussing a standard schema for an "RPG character". Any sort of purchasable module would start with characters, right? Well this discussion has been going on for years and has never made much headway. Everyone has their own views about how the standard should be. Lots of talk about XML and schemas and DTDs and validation. It's all much more complicated than I want to deal with, but if I go my own way and come up with my own standard, there's a good chance that all the other players in this area will simply ignore or reject it. That would be a lot of time wasted.

    Someone is going to have to come up with the standards defining characters, adventures, campaigns, and so forth in a digital schema format (XML, JSON, whatever). I'm not interested in leading that charge. It's worthwhile work, but is so far removed from actual improvements to Obsidian Portal that I just don't want to devote the effort. I do hope someone cracks that nut, and I'd love to support whatever format we can all agree on.

    h3. Much Lower Hanging Fruit

    I try to prioritize work that will result in "biggest bang for the buck" improvements to the site. Highest priority of all are improvements that would encourage people to subscribe and become Ascendant members. Something like this marketplace represents a very lucrative business opportunity, but it also has some very extreme risks and would require a huge time investment. So, it's a potential game changer, but also a potential massive dud if publishers don't sign on. High reward, but also very high risk.

    Presented with that choice, I choose to take the safer path of focusing on smaller improvements that make the site nicer to use and hopefully encourage people to buy Ascendant memberships. That's our core business model, and it's one we do well. We make the site nice for you, and in turn, you pay for it. Win-win.

    I hope you all appreciate this "behind the curtain" look at why I do and don't do certain things. I want to be as honest as I can, and I don't want to seem overly negative about these ideas. However, I have to face reality about what I can actually accomplish with the limited resources I have, mainly just myself.
  • GamingMegaverse
    Posts: 2,978
    Thanks Micah! The behind the curtain look is awesome! As I play a system that is not Pathfinder or D & D I am personally glad you are not going down this path- and I agree, more time working on the site is better!

    Just trying to help out.

  • Quasimotocar
    Posts: 12
    Micah - thanks very much for the insight and taking the time to speak to this idea. The kernel of this, for me, has always come from the fact that I have a lot more time available (and if I'm honest, possibly more interest as well) to build the campaign material and write adventures and whatnot than I do to actually run the darn thing with players. So I plug away at my little imaginary world, and think to myself that it would be cool to have a way to share it with other GM's that might want to run the campaign themselves. My post was a kind of late-night brain-dump of some of those thoughts - really a kind of secondary reaction to this amazing site/service that you and the others at Obsidian Portal have crafted. Thanks again!

  • ketherian
    Posts: 203 edited June 2013
    I'm not sure this is something that Micah could do with the site, but the users of Obsidian portal can use it as a fan-venu to push adventures, characters, etc. There are already a few campaigns that aren't really campaigns, like :

    "":Gaming Gaming music
    "":Helpful Helpful pathfinder templates
    and "":Free Free Templates

    There's another one that we're not suppose to talk about (*cough* "":The New Plot Club *cough*

    Maybe this is yet another excuse to create a campaign that is actually a fan-built resource for fans?
    Given the space, I'd happily post my adventure outlines for others to use.
    Post edited by ketherian on
  • gaaran
    Posts: 740
    @Ketherian - That space is something that I created a long time ago with some people around OP that aren't around any more (and a few that are, though it's not really in use anymore), but if you or other people were interested in using it and reviving it... I give you "The Fantastinomicon.":
  • ketherian
    Posts: 203
    Cool. Thanks gaaran. Hopefully Quasimotocar (and others) will join me in adding stuff to the Fantastinomicon. :D
  • gaaran
    Posts: 740
    I sent you an invite, anyone else that wants in on it too can send me a message. It would be cool if people got it going again :)
  • GamingMegaverse
    Posts: 2,978
    There are also a few others-
    Stephen Wollett's "Stock NPC's":
    Vstray's "Shared Creations":
    Kenurion's "Compendium of PbP & On-Line Campaigns":

    Just trying to help out.

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