Monday, December 1, 2008

Mongoose: Industry, Traveller, 4e, and Gygax (?)

Mongoose came out with their State of the Mongoose 2008 Report yesterday, and it's an interesting changeup from some of the usual "the industry is dying" wails we hear now and again. There are also items of interest for fans of D&D 4e, Gary Gygax, Traveller, and the Industry/Licensed Products. Let's pick up below with a few excerpts:

"At the moment, it is swings and roundabouts, as they say. As you would have heard, Wizkids is no longer with us (though we believe its games will come back soon enough), and the latest edition of Dungeons & Dragons has not blown the doors off in the way the last did. On the other hand, in our side of the park, Traveller has done incredibly well, and many smaller publishers are reporting good gains as well. In a recent discussion on an industry mailing list, a set of criteria was put forward as to what made a top tier RPG company, and it was ventured that only two companies made the grade – as it happened, quite a few companies met the criteria!"


"Dungeons & Dragons 4e
The fourth edition is something of an odd duck for us, and it is no secret that sales thus far have been somewhat behind those for third edition. The game itself is very different from its predecessors.

However, it was the perfect fit for a setting we have been wanting to do for quite some time – Wraith Recon. This setting, placing players in the role of elite special forces in a fantasy world, allowed us to flip a lot of ‘standard’ fantasy conventions on their head, while changing very little from a rules perspective. In 2009, we will be expanding the Wraith Recon line, with new missions, examinations of the Dardarrick military, and the foes that constantly test its security. There has even been some discussions about novels based on this setting. . .

I'm glad to hear their iteration of Traveller is doing well (latecomer though I was to that party), but I am curious about some of the other statements. 4e not blowing the doors off? A lot of folks are claiming its been selling quite well--I'm wondering what they're measuring against, and where they got their numbers. Likewise for the criteria for a "top" RPG company.

"For our part, we’ll be nearly doubling in size, in terms of staff members, over the next year – so, if you ever wanted to make a living in the hobby games trade, keep your eyes peeled on our web site for vacancies!"

Well, that is a pleasant reversal from the RPG company trend.

"Next in 2008, the Rebellion Group came knocking. Rebellion, the largest independent computer games developer in Europe and owner of the 2000AD comic range, is a company we have always had a very close relationship with. We first approached them in 2001 for the licence to produce the Judge Dredd roleplaying game (our first licensed product!), and found them very easy to work with, sharing many of the same views and goals for our respective companies. Throughout the next few years, we had discussed the subject of Mongoose moving closer to the Rebellion Group and this year, they made us an offer we could not refuse (without any horse heads involved).

While on the outside this may seem simple enough, perhaps even to be following current fashions (after all, White Wolf moved over to another computer games company), for us it is a Big Thing. All of a sudden we became a roleplaying company with access to all the resources (financial and otherwise) of a much, much larger organisation. So, what does that mean?

Well, for a start, it suddenly meant that we could consider not just licensing various properties, but actually buying them outright. Or if not the properties, then the companies that owned them. No more licence fees, no more lengthy approval processes. Those properties could then be fed throughout the rest of the Rebellion Group, where they could potentially be turned into comics, novels. . . even computer games. Watch for some interesting developments here. Many plans are already afoot".

Is there any IP Mongoose hasn't published a game for already? :)

Here's some interesting updates on Traveller:

"Traveller left the stable at a straight gallop, surpassing all expectations. The classic feel, in terms of both look and content, hit a strong nerve, and won many converts, both among the Old Guard and new blood (there are now a lot of Traveller virgins out there!). There have been some instances of older fans of the game asking why we have done X, Y and Z with the game – in 2009, we begin to reveal our longer term strategy, where Traveller becomes not a single setting, but a core system able to handle all science fiction gaming.

As far as core books and the OTU stand, we are really just at the beginning for Traveller. As we said before, there is a ten year plan in place for this game, and we have a lot of faith in the system as a whole. It is worth mentioning that, at this time, there is no planned ‘second edition’ of the game anywhere in the schedule – at best, there may be a rules companion that updates and tweaks a few things, but we are expecting the rulebook to remain pretty much the same (in terms of content – Will has already taken a gander at the design and layout) for the next decade. Now, given how RPGs normally work, this is a brave ideal, but we are willing to take that swing of the bat with it!

In terms of core books, we’ll be continuing with the coverage of careers, with titles such as Scoundrel (covering Rogues and Drifters) and Agent, as well as other ‘meaty’ books. The Civilian and Military Vehicles supplements will do for vehicles (be they pushed, driven, flown or walked) what High Guard did for ships, and the Central Supply Catalogue will allow the purchase of just about any piece of equipment that a player could dream of, again, whatever setting you are playing with Traveller. It is worth mentioning at this point that we already have the Vehicle Creation System in place which, like ships, will ensure all vehicles produced for Traveller will be useable regardless of which setting you choose.

Adventures too will be appearing, with some new takes on classic titles, including Prison Planet and Murder on Arcturus Station.

For the OTU, the first of our larger campaigns will be released (and, really, we are aiming for Mass Effect in terms of scope and possibilities with these), along with my personal favourites in 2009, the first two Alien Modules. Covering first Aslan and then the Zhodani, these will be big 200+ page hardbacks, detailing the culture, society, characters, and technology of the aliens. You can think of each book as being part Spinward Marches, with a detailed sector, part character book (the equivalent of High Guard or Mercenary), part Central Supply and part ship catalogue, all wrapped up with the detail of the original Alien Modules. These really will be the definitive works for aliens in Traveller. The intention is to use these to begin expanding the OUT beyond the borders of the Spinward Marches.

Beyond that, we are going to continue the process of de-provincialising Traveller, and opening it up to other settings. . .

Sounds like a lot of new Traveller product. Let's hope they keep the high standard of the Core Rulebook going.

But here's the part I found perhaps most interesting and cryptic:

"The summer of 2009 will also see the first titles from Trigee Enterprises. The intention here is to bring to light both the published and unpublished works of the late Gary Gygax, starting with Lejendary Adventures".

"Starting with?" I will be very interested to see exactly what Gygaxian products end up produced in association with Mongoose. We already knew Legendary Adventures was heading that way, so what else? Gary's novels? Castle Zagyg? We'll just have to wait and see.


bonemaster said...

The actual State of the Mongoose 2008 report was interesting read. I'm glad their Traveller has been do well as well. I personally didn't find the price of the main book to be in a price range that made sense to me, but since Marc Miller been taking a long time on his next version of Traveller, its better than no Traveller.

I too would have like to know what a top Tier company is suppose to be and who made the list.

Restless said...

I sort of hope they finish the Gygaxian Fantasy Worlds series. They're wonderful books, and I really was looking forward to the dungeon design book and Essential Places.