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That’s Not How It Works

black box movement

People who have no idea how things actually work love to issue opinions. They know what they want. They know how they think things should be. That’s not how it works. We now join my rant, already in progress. Just read, and you’ll catch up to my train of thought as we go. Or not. I really need to scream into a pillow.

That’s Not How It Works

  • The reason that PDF is a scan is because that game was published in the 1980s. The PDF format wasn’t introduced until the 1990s. It was not created as a PDF file.
  • The original publisher went out of business in the early 2000s. The current rights holder probably doesn’t have access to the original digital files. They may no longer exist.
  • Assuming there were digital files. People were still using paste-up to create camera-ready mechanicals when this book was published. Which means it could have all be analog. Yikes.
  • Even if they had the digital files, who knows if they could be converted to PDF, or even a current version of the original software that might output to PDF. Assuming the software program used still exists.
  • There is no print-on-demand option because books printed from scans look like hot garbage. “Blurry” doesn’t begin to cover it. If you could buy one, you’d be complaining about the terrible quality.
  • The book is nearly 400 pages. To recreate a clean, fully-featured PDF that could output a high-quality print-on-demand book would take a lot of time and money. Almost as much as creating a new book.
  • No matter what you think, there’s probably not a lot of money in reprinting a book from the 1980s verbatim. Not at the cost of remastering nearly 400 pages. In full color. With tons of art.
  • The current rights holder will turn more profit creating a new edition. That’s why their focus is on doing exactly that. They didn’t pay bank to license the IP to spit out crap PDFs of old editions.

But Seriously…

I did not post these thoughts on Twitter, where this thread is taking place, because I know that no one would listen. There is an assumption, with no real evidence to back it up, that publishers are just plain greedy. Because, you know, there’s BIG bucks to be made in tabletop roleplaying (note: that was sarcasm). Social media responses would be a lot of “but…” followed by reasons they think things should be different. This issue has nothing to do with Dancing Lights Press, or me, but it does speak to how people have little knowledge of how the business side of tabletop roleplaying operates.

About Dancing Lights Press

Dancing Lights Press is a lo-fi publisher of tabletop roleplaying systems and system-agnostic creative aids, including the best selling Building series, the DoubleZero action thriller system, and Hippogryph, a fantasy story game system with traditional  roots. Our products embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation because roleplaying is an activity, not a collection of expensive rulebooks.

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