Dead and Open
Everyone would like to think that they are special. I know this, because I am like everyone. Yes, this applies to games as well. Once upon a time we could think that we were special because we were the hold outs on something: the only person who spoke Esperanto, the only soul with a Gloria Swanson-milk carton fetish, the only one still playing a Boot Hill campaign.
Everyone would like to think that they are special. I know this, because I am like everyone. Yes, this applies to games as well. Of course that has been the problem with the World Wide Web. Once upon a time we could think that we were special because we were the hold outs on something: the only person who spoke Esperanto, the only soul with a Gloria Swanson-milk carton fetish, the only one still playing a Boot Hill campaign. Then we all got our internet hookups and set up our glory web pages, and discovered there was a web ring for every single thing that we held privately dear.
Yet still we felt special, because instead of being the lone souls holding something out, we were the real dedicated fans. It was our group that kept the dream alive. Our little cult was the true one, because we still had the fire. We, the people playing Star Control Two or collecting bagels from all over the world were the true underground. Our love was pure. There were things that were good, and we could see them, and all the others we now came upon justified us in our vision. Things were still good.
I have come to the conclusion only recently that no one group is more dedicated than one another. We are all cultists of something, and if we are all fanatics, then there is no justifiable way that we, anyone, can call their cult better than the others. Now that the World Wide Web exists, no game can truly die. A cessation in publication is almost more of a boon than a disadvantage. After all, when a main line still exists the information published as holy writ is more important than what is put on-line by some nerd in Bowie, VA. Once the publisher stops publishing, the only way to receive any new information is through other holdouts. I do not think that I would pay much attention to anything from a web site that put up new information for Fading Suns, but I hold every site of TNE information that I come across as dear. It is a new idea when no more will come, and so the unofficial ideas are just as good as any other. Nature abhors a vacuum.
This is perhaps one of the most interesting things about the D20 move by WoTC. They have opened the playing field of the generic fantasy game to everyone and their sister's dog. In effect, the situation created has been to make it so anyone can participate legally in the type of system created by the internet naturally. Calling it "open source" may be a misnomer for a variety of reasons, but the basic premise still shows. It would not exist without the power of the internet to keep things open.
The biggest problem with it is the initial flaw of an internet-based design still shows. Anyone with a day to spend writing up a game, Adobe, a web page and PayPal can become a game publisher. With the creation of on-demand printing, the possibility for published material exists too. Many of these are just simple and cheap adventures, often just worth their cost, but the point is that WoTC and the internet has opened up the possibility by making the entry cost next to nothing. Produced material can afford to be junky because the intense energies needed to create items for a game previously have been mitigated.
Since things can be done for money there is a great desire for things to be done. And since the people want to try and make money, the one who are making money will keep doing it, and those that don't... well, there need to be those in any brilliantly capitalist society. Some will create systems and game worlds that are just as beloved as anything that WoTC produces, and WoTC will still get theirs. Everyone gets something.
But what I want to propose is that the idea that motivates WoTC to go ahead and do such a thing should motivate our friendly defunct companies. Too many brilliant games are just being kept on respirators. Too many bad games are as well, but if there are enough players who should say that they are bad? But I want to think on the good games. Cybergeneration is a game that should have never died. In my opinion, it is one of the finest role playing games ever made. Right now it is dead and stuck dead. As many people put out things there is no hope of it ever coming back to life.
However, with an Open Gaming License mentality, there would be hope. Not a surplus of it, but hope. If there were a profit to be made, more people would be interested in trying. More importantly, some of the good might drive out some of the bad. Those people who were good at creating the world would have more desire to team up, work together, and create even better work. With a slim chance of some profit being made, R. Talsorian might have more of an impetuous to publish some of its hidden away works that have yet to see the light of day.
It is a silly dream, fraught with risk. Most likely nothing at all would change. Most likely most dead games would stay as dead as they already are. Right now, there is nothing happening. I can only bank on chances.