[TRS_Chris] Thank you, James. And thank you, Anthony, for coming today.
[TRS_Chris] Why don't we start out with you introducing yourself, in case some people who are here or reading the logs later have been living in a cave.
[Valterra] OkayBack to shortcuts!
[Valterra] I'm Anthony Valterra, Category Manager for RPGs and Avalon Hill at WOTC
[Valterra] What else do you want to know?
[Valterra] Started gaming in Junior High
[Valterra] Prefer to play spellcasters
[Valterra] 6'2" 208 lbs
[Valterra] Married, one kid (3yrs old)
[SeraphInCharge] For the benefit of us one-man operations, what does a category manager DO?
[TRS_Chris] Excellent, I do as well.
[Valterra] Ah, good question
[TRS_Chris] I was just about to ask that. Thank you, Seraphim.
[Valterra] Category Managers set the business strategy for the category
[Valterra] A category is a type of game
[Valterra] So, "miniatures" is a category
[Valterra] RPGs is a category
[Dranem] That's a pretty big category...
[Valterra] Avalon Hill is kind of an exception because we just got that this year and its our only board game
[Valterra] RPGs? Yes. includes Star Wars, d20 modern, D&D FR etc.
[Dranem] Do you break the RPGs into different sub-departments? Or do you manage the whole thing?
[Valterra] We used to break them into various departments when we had a staff - now its just me running really fastBack to shortcuts!
[TRS_Chris] How involved were you with D20 Modern, and what exactly is it?
[Valterra] I was very involved with the concept of d20 modern
[TRS_Chris] We'll be doing a general question/answer session in a bit, everyone, please feel free to email me questions until then just so we can keep organized. (Sorry to interupt)
[Valterra] I have always advocated that we should move beyond high fantasy
[Valterra] So d20 modern came about as a means to do that
[Valterra] It is a risky product
[TRS_Chris] Did it take a lot of convincing?
[Valterra] Quite a bit
[Valterra] The argument was that all other genres of RPGS were to small
[Valterra] So I countered by saying that the genre of "modern" was big enough
[Valterra] But only if we opened the rules on day one and let other companies handle the sub-genres
[TRS_Chris] What exactly is D20 Modern, and what do you feel it brings to the gaming industry?
[FFG_Wil] RangerWickett question for you
[Valterra] I hope it brings the same thing to the gaming industry that the D&D game brought to fantasy
[Valterra] A game system that is well known and easioly accesable to the consumer
[Valterra] Which will make creating products easy and lucrative
[Valterra] We will see
PCGen_Mynex Raises Hand
[TRS_Chris] During development, did you look at many other modern and post-modern games for content under the OGL?
[TRS_Chris] Sorry, Mynex, willc all on you after this question :)
[Valterra] If you are asking did we get inspiration form other modern OGL products already on the market I think the answer is "not really"
Hildulf raises hand.
[Valterra] R&D stuck really close to the D&D rules and the variations are not anything I have seen on the marketBack to shortcuts!
[Valterra] But then i haven't seen everything
[TRS_Chris] Go ahead, Mynex with your question and then I have a couple more about d20 Modern :)
[PCGen_Mynex] Thanks. Assuming that the D20 Modern does well (one can hope with Wizards clout behind it!) do you see Wizards creating a D20 Sci-Fi or revisiting an old one, say Gamma World? Given the clout that Wizards has, and if D20 Modern does well, wouldn't it make marketing sense (in your opinion) to cover the 'last' end of the spectrum with sci-fi?
[Valterra] Well, thats a big assumption.
[Valterra] Consumers seem eager for the product but we are getting some resistance from distributors
[PCGen_Mynex] Assume D20 Modern does well then. :)
[Valterra] But lets assume it is a big hit
[Valterra] I would say, yes, that that would be a logical direction to go
[Valterra] But there are other issues we would need to look at
[TRS_Chris] Such as?
[Valterra] Currently the best selling SciFi game on the market is a little game we call Star Wars
[Valterra] We would need to look at whether it was smart adn/or prudent to compete against ourselves
[Valterra] Personally i wish we could just open Star Wars up to the OGL
[PCGen_Mynex] Follow up question, if I may? (no rush, whenver)
[TRS_Chris] Go ahead, Mynex.
[PCGen_Mynex] That was my thrust, a sci-fi game that was OGL... but, If Sci-fi is the natural extension, would you, personally, prefer a generic setting or a revisted old one, such as Gamma World?
[Valterra] Sure, in a different world where we did not have the Star Wars license. But we do and that has to be factored in.
[TRS_Chris] Hildulf, I believe you had a question?
[PCGen_Mynex] And I would hazard a guess getting SW OGL is not likely in this world. :(
[Valterra] Yeah, i tried to bring that up at Lucas. you should have seen the looks they gave me.
PCGen_Mynex can imagine
[TRS_Chris] I can only imagine, I've had some experience with licenses lately and some people are just boggled by the OGL.
[Hildulf] Do you really feel that Star Wars and Gamma World would compete for the same customers?
[Valterra] Maybe, maybe not. But Gamma world will be far smaller then Star Wars
[Valterra] Given limited resources I would need to choose between the two
[Hildulf] Of course, a Gamma World setting could be worked off of D20 Modern, correct? (bringing it back on topic)
[Hildulf] Just another D20 Modern Setting.
[Valterra] Yes, Gamma World could (and should) be a d20 modern settingBack to shortcuts!
[TRS_Chris] Speaking of the OGL, do you expect a very expedient process for having D20 Modern added to the official SRD?
[Valterra] Currently we expect that d20 Modern will be added to the SRD on the day of d20 modern's release
[Hildulf] Thank you.
[TRS_Chris] Are some past rules (from SW and other games) such as W/VP going to be included?
[Valterra] We went with massive damage over W/VP but the vehicle rules are based on the updated vehicle rules for SW
PCGen_Mynex raises hand
[TRS_Chris] Excellent. What sorts of products do you expect, or hope, to see under the d20 Modern rules?
[Valterra] All kinds!
[TRS_Chris] I have a lot of questions and topics to cover, so I'll try to get to questions ASAP.
[Valterra] Cyberpunk, horror, WWII, Modern Arcane
[Valterra] Spy, Psionic thriller, mystery
[Valterra] mutants, heroes, weird wars, alternate history
[Valterra] I've seen all kinds of cool suggestions
[TRS_Chris] Do you believe that some existing "D20" products under the same genre's will make the switch? Like DragonStar, Traveller, SpyCraft?
[Valterra] Possibly, depends on how well received d20 modern is and how well other companies do with the open license.
[Valterra] Spycraft would require very little tooling
[TRS_Chris] From what I saw of Traveller, it has vehicle and many other rules. Is that a concern, given some of the current Traveller following?
[Valterra] No, not really. I really believe in the concept of open gaming. I think various rules are good. The best will become the standard
[Valterra] I hope to direct WotC to re-using some of the better material from other game comapnies
[Valterra] Always, seeking permission first of course. To be polite
[TRS_Chris] I had hoped to see that myself, I've seen a lot of good rules for the same subjects, and often wondered if one would ever become standard.
[TRS_Chris] I was really glad to see some SSS creatures (if renamed) in MM2
[Valterra] Exactly. I think some should
[Valterra] Yes, that was an experiment to see if we could do it.
[Valterra] I hope to do more
[TRS_Chris] And was there good feedback on that?
[Valterra] Generally yes, although i don't think it affected sales one way or the other.
[Valterra] But it was insturctive for us and could mean more material int he future
[TRS_Chris] I believe Dranem had a question, and then after him Mynex, and then I'd like to move on if that's alright.
[TRS_Chris] At least there was no negative feedback :)Back to shortcuts!
[Valterra] I must say this:
[Valterra] Its frickin freezing in my cube!
[TRS_Chris] By all means
[TRS_Chris] Yeah, it's cold up here in Washington this week
[Dranem] Actually my question about DragonStar was pretty much already answered. :)
[PCGen_Mynex] That's what you get for having windows all around you. ;)
[TRS_Chris] Okay, go ahead Mynex :)
[Valterra] Its true, great view lousy temperature
[PCGen_Mynex] Massive damage in D20 Modern. I've read a few blurbs on it, but could you explain it in a bit more detail please?
[Valterra] I'll try
[Valterra] Roughly if you take more damage then your con score you must make a saving roll. Thats from memory so don't make me marry that.
[PCGen_Mynex] and if you fail the save?
[Valterra] In Call of Cthulhu you die. I know there are other variations i can't remember which we use in d20 Modern
[Valterra] That is certainly a nice way of adjusting the dealiness of your game
[PCGen_Mynex] and this is under the d20 rules system, so someone could use that in their fantasy setting if they wished
[TRS_Chris] Sounds like a good way to add excitement, when any thug with a gun can cause you trouble.
[PCGen_Mynex] excellent, thanks. :)
[SeraphInCharge] Why do I have this image forming in my head of kobolds with Uzis?
PCGen_Mynex shakes head
[TRS_Chris] We all have that image.
[PCGen_Mynex] Too much caffeine. Kobolds wouldn't use Uzi's, the'd use Glocks. :p
[TRS_Chris] Before we move on, is there anything else you'd like to talk about regarding d20 modern?
[Valterra] Yes, I just found the massive damage rule in d20 Modern
[Valterra] You are reduced to -1 HP
[TRS_Chris] Oh, excellent.
[PCGen_Mynex] ah, even better! Thanks Anthony. :)
[Valterra] Okay moving onBack to shortcuts!
[TRS_Chris] Andy Smith posted regarding software and the OGL, and a lot of people weren't sure who he was or what sort of capacity/authority he had to make such a post. Could you tell us a little bit about him?
[Valterra] Ah, yes Andy
[TRS_Chris] Just let me know when you are done so Id on't ask a question on top of an answer.
[Valterra] Andy is an intern but since we are so incredibly short handed he has taken on alot of things that you wouldn't normally give to an intern
[PCGen_Mynex] Thanks for the answers, talk to (many of you) later!
[Valterra] He has taken over sending out Cease and Desists
[Valterra] He is updating the SRDs
[Valterra] he is updating license databases
[Valterra] And he is monitoring software for OGL compliance
[Valterra] If he makes a public statemtn then it was passed by me first
[Valterra] And legal, and PR, and my boss
[Valterra] Is it any wonder we are so slow?
[TRS_Chris] That seemed to be a concern for a lot of people on the statement he made.
[TRS_Chris] Oh, there isn't, I know how the 'chain' can go from personal experience.. It's not just WOTC.
[Valterra] Which statement?
[TRS_Chris] I believe it was titled "What we've been looking for in Software"
[TRS_Chris] For refrenece purposes the statement we were discussing is: http://enworld.cyberstreet.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=26925
[Valterra] Oh yes. There is constant chatter about what can and can't be done in software
[Valterra] I figured it was time we made an official statment so people could know what we are looking for
[Valterra] NextBack to shortcuts!
[TRS_Chris] Do you expect that the next version of the D20 License will contain some more clear definitions as it pertains to electronic aids?
[Valterra] yes. The next version will not change any rules but it will include clarifications and examplesBack to shortcuts!
[Valterra] Has anyone else noticed that you can roll a 666 sided die?
[mystic_hal] I have and wanted to roll it sooo bad
[TRS_Chris] Yeah, I was wondering about that myself hehe
( plasticboy rolls a d666 = 600, 40, 1 = 641 )
[TRS_Chris] Hal, I can't say that I'm too surprised.
[TRS_Chris] I have some questions here about software. Of course, I'm sure that doesn't surprise anyone;)
[mystic_hal] oh my
[Valterra] Probably inspired by the BoVD
[Valterra] Go ahead
[Hildulf] Just one? *surprised*
Dranem wonders what that would be used for... does it have a reference in one of the d20 games?
[TRS_Dee] Hal, you just wanted to roll it because you're inherently evil.
[RangerWickett] Roll a d666 to represent rolling 3d6?
[mystic_hal] I am not evil I just play one on TV
[TRS_Chris] Do you believe that there is any risk that computer aids made for traditional RPGs will steer people away from them and into CRPGs instead?
[Valterra] Frankly, I don't know. Long statment to follow.
[Valterra] When i started this job there was a theory that by doing CRPG tie in products we could pull CRPG players into Paper RPGs
[Valterra] that theory was quickly crushed by our Diablo products
[mystic_hal] Hi Anthony...and all
[Valterra] Then there was concern that CRPG games like Everquest would suck away all of our players [Valterra] But that doesn't seem to be happening
[TRS_Chris] Diablo didn't sell well? I had always 'meant' to get it, but never got around to it. I imagine I probably wasn't alone.
[TRS_Chris] And now we're seeing an Everquest RPG following the OGL.
[Valterra] Diablo sold less well then an equivalent D&D product
[Valterra] Yes, I believe that the Everquest RPG will fail to pull in Everquest players into playing RPGs
[mystic_hal] EQ is different then a Diablo item
[Valterra] I would ***love*** to be wrong
[mystic_hal] But I agree getting true CRPGers to switch may be a hard sell
[TRS_Chris] I couldn't agree with you more.
[Valterra] But I think that EQ RPG will sell to people who are already playing PRPGs
[Valterra] NextBack to shortcuts!
[TRS_Chris] Do you believe that 3rd Party software products are a potential risk to WOTCs business plan?
[TRS_Chris] Thank you, Gamewyrd for this 3 part question by the way:)
[Valterra] No, not really. As far as I can tell they don't hurt our sales any and there is some evidence they help sales.
[Valterra] Follow up?
[Hildulf] 3rd party meaning programs like Campaign Suite and PCGen?
[TRS_Chris] I'm really glad to hear that. I can speak personally that my site has directed a lot of sales to Amazon.
[TRS_Chris] Yes, the last one was if there was any risk in WOTC's legal strategy to third party software publishers.
[Valterra] I assumed we were talking about PCGEn and Campaign Suite and others
[TRS_Chris] Hildulf: DM's familiar, RPM, etc.
[TRS_Chris] Of course.
[Hildulf] Right. Thank you.
[Valterra] I'm not sure what you mean by "legal strategy"
[TRS_Chris] He just left the room so I can't get a clarification, but I would assume it has to do with some of the specific restrictions put on the D20 License regarding character generation and success/failure
[Valterra] There are legal issues - we have to defend our trademarks, and we have to defend our licensees trademarks and we have contracts that grant exclusives that we must also defend.
[TRS_Chris] I've seen a lot of discussion where people think that it SHOULD be ignored, but I personally agree with you. Especially since I'm negotiating exclusive licenses myself, I know how Id' feel if people were using the stuff I'd paid for.
[TRS_Chris] Go ahead, Dranem.
[Valterra] I sympathize. There are a number of contracts that I am saddled with that I vehemently disagree with. But I have no power to do anything about themBack to shortcuts!
[Dranem] With the OGL, are you ever concerned that a 3rd party production will take one of your games in a direction you wouldn't want it to?
[Valterra] Give me anexample.
[GameWyrd][TRS_Chris] Sorry. This chat system is hanging up on me. I can see the timing is typically awful but that you managed well without me anyway. Sorry.
[Dranem] Say.... D&D. Are you ever concerned that a 3rd party D&D production would take the game in the wrong direction?
[Hildulf] For instance tinkering with templates.... :)
[Dranem] Like the modernization rules...
[Valterra] There is currently only one comapny that has a license to D&d and we approve all of their work.
[Valterra] As regards tickering with the rules while using the d20/OGL license - tinker away.
mystic_hal question non-software if that is ok
[Valterra] I thought you were going to talk about subject matterBack to shortcuts!
[TRS_Chris] What are some of your thoughts of the place of a computer at the gaming table, and do you believe it is becomming a more popular thing?
[TRS_Chris] I'll get you next, Hal :)
[Hildulf] "- tinker away." <--- Woohoo!
[mystic_hal][TRS_Chris] thanks bud
[Valterra] I think that the computer at the gaming table is an eventuality but its not quite there yet.
[Valterra] Some sort of infrared netwroking need to be available ala palm pilots
GameWyrd raises a hand.
[TRS_Chris] Go ahead, Hal and then I'll return to software for a little bit. (Such as Campaign Suite)Back to shortcuts!
[mystic_hal] On the topic of subject matter, since the Book of Vile Darkness seems popular any thoughts on more items in that direction?
[Valterra] From us or from others?
[mystic_hal] and hi AV...:-)
[mystic_hal] from WoTC
[Valterra] Hi Hal :-)
[Valterra] We are looking at the possibility. It would be no sooner then next fall.
Hildulf raises hand.
[mystic_hal] ok, thanks
[Valterra] We would want to do something that really emphasized the "mature" ideal that we were striving for.
[TRS_Chris] Go ahead, Gamewyrd, and then I'll ask a couple more since we are running low on time :(
[Valterra] OkayBack to shortcuts!
[GameWyrd] Give me a big enough stick and I'll argue that D&D is now mainly a software product. You have a core set of rules which bundle D&D and D20 together. If you're playing a tabletop game then you're actually playing something like Oathbound or The Hunt. If you're playing on the computer then it's a D&D CRPG like Neverwinter (Even though that's FR). How would you respond to that?
[Valterra] I would ask what you were using as a measure? Number of players? Revenue? Time spent gaming?
[TRS_Chris] I believe he meant that the 'core rules' aren't so much the game itself, but the setting and flavor is what makes it a game.
[GameWyrd] Number of players. Fan-boy gamers like myself who'll buy the Book of Vile Darkness (if/when it reaches the UK :) ) know the difference between d20 and D&D. Thousands of people playing their computers couldn't tell you the difference; they think they're playing D&D.
[TRS_Chris] The "D20 System" is the System, Oathbound (or FOrgotten Realms, or Wheel of Time) is the game.
[Valterra] The idea is that D&D is like a gaming platform like X-Box
[Valterra] If so then I would say its a valid metaphor
[GameWyrd] That D&D has pretty much been overshaded by D20 everwhere other than in computer games.
[Valterra] I'm not sure what you mean by overshadowed.
[GameWyrd] But I like your D&D platform train of thought too.
[GameWyrd] That no one ever plays D&D any more.
[Valterra] That statement doesn't make sense to me.
[Valterra] If you are playing Oathbound you are playing D&D
[Valterra] D&D is a set of rules.
[GameWyrd] I'm not explaining it very well. Ah, see, if I'm playing Oathbound then I don't think of it as D&D. I suppose that mindset could totally obscure my question.
[GameWyrd] If I'm playing Oathbound I'm playing d20.
[GameWyrd] The only time I think I'm playing D&D - is when I'm on the computer.
[Valterra] Oh, I suppose there are some who think of it that way. But the vast majority of people who play t=with the rules make up their own setting
[Valterra] Only a tiny minority buy their settings
[TRS_Chris] If it's alright, I think we should move on, as we are running very low on time with Mr. Valterra.
[Valterra] Okay, one more?
[Valterra] Note to self: Never drink to much diet pepsi while in a cyber chatBack to shortcuts!
[TRS_Chris] Since there's just one more, how about some general thoughts of software products following your licenses? What sorts of things do you like or dislike, and what have you been hoping to see that perhaps you have not yet?
[Valterra] Well, frankly I haven't looked over alot of the new stuff. i just haven't had time.
[Valterra] I think some sort of world builder would be cool, integrating mapping and other utilties
[Valterra] Maybe something that could generate and customize character images.
[Valterra] A really good freeware monster and or template creator would rock
[TRS_Chris] I can't speak for the others, but Campaign Suite is moving strongly in that direction. Very soon.
[Hildulf] *cough* HeroMachine *cough*
[Valterra] Well send me a URL man, don't leave me wandering in the dark
[TRS_Chris] NBOS has "Character Sketcher", available on RPGNow and RPGShop.
[Valterra] I'll definitely check it out
[TRS_Chris] Campaign Suite (twinrose.net) has some creature/template tools even in the free version and of course the address Hildulf just posted;)
[poilbrun] Doesn't Profantasy also have some sort of character sketcher?
[Valterra] yes, but its a for sale itemBack to shortcuts!
[Valterra] I was hoping for something like "Poser" I think it was called
[TRS_Chris] Alright, since we're about out of time, do you have any closing statements about software and/or D20 Modern?
[Valterra] This is a competative industry and we are all out here trying to make a buck
[Valterra] Given that I have been very impressed by everyone willingess to work together to create a better enviroment for gaming
[Valterra] In the long run, I believe that that benefits us all.
[Valterra] I want thank all of you for being pateint with the lumbering dinosaur, and for being tolerant of WotC eccentricities
[Valterra] I hope to be constatnly thrilled by new stuff coming from all of you.
[TRS_Chris] I cannot agree with you more, the reception I've had from the publishers has been staggeringly good. And that includes you wotc guys;)Back to shortcuts!
Hildulf plays the Imperial March for the exit of Darth Valterra. :) (JK, Valterra!)
[Hildulf] Thanks for chatting with us, Anthony!
[Valterra] Now you must all die!
[Valterra] Hee hee hee
[mystic_hal] Thanks AV
[Valterra] Good night all
[Mark_CMG] thx Anthony and TRS
[TRS_Chris] I'll be sure and email you the link to the log once we have it. Thank you very much for coming and talking with us today.
[GameWyrd] Thanks Anthony and Chris.
[mystic_hal] Good job TRS!
[TRS_Chris] Thank you all for coming. ANd don't forget that Campaign Suite is on sale for the duration of CyberCon at https://twinrose.net :)