Which direction for publishers

Jeff Leslie

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Actually, I was going to mention intro ASL but my post was getting rather lengthy and I forgot what all I wanted to say...

I think Paratrooper was the greatest thing that ever happened to ASL. It was stand alone (for the most part... still needed the original SL boards) and gave you a taste of the big system if you didn't have BV yet. Once the other modules came out though, Paratrooper was not really needed.

The same could be done today, have an introductory module that comes with the HTML rulebook or even an introductory version of the RB, real cardboard charts, and a select bunch of scenarios from different theaters and nationalities. Unmounted boards too, again to save cost and space in the box. A stand alone module that if you wanted to, would be the only module you would ever need. But, you would only be getting a taste of the overall system and just like Lay's potato chips...

If the modules were packaged in a logical time period order, then you would have no problem adding modules for other time periods. You could have your Spanish Civil War module, Korea, even move into WWI or Vietnam.

BTW, ATGM's would be doable in ASL terms, most ATGM's fly their max effective range in just a few seconds, so it wouldn't impact the system much.
 

kdalton

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Our next edition of MMP Insider will have an update on the Intro project.

Stay tuned.

Keith Dalton
 

kdalton

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Well, Mark, first of all, thanks for the kudos to MMP. We appreciate it when the praise rises above the din of complaints. :D

We do not feel we've been overly hostile to TPPs, but we do feel we have a legitimate interest in protecting our company's interests and license agreement with Hasbro. When we feel someone is violating our licensing arrangement, we let them know. That's business.

As for the rulebook and BV non-availability: trust me, we know what this is doing, and that's why we worked last year to run the retailer availability lists on our web site. Unfortunately, most retailers didn't choose to participate. We had really good response from Wizards of the Coast and from some of the independents out there, and they made a bunch of sales from the effort.

I understand there have been some sightings in Game Keeper stores. If anybody lives near one, post a rb or bv sighting, please. Newbies need the info.
 

Toedwy

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As for the rulebook and BV non-availability: trust me, we know what this is doing, and that's why we worked last year to run the retailer availability lists on our web site. Unfortunately, most retailers didn't choose to participate. We had really good response from Wizards of the Coast and from some of the independents out there, and they made a bunch of sales from the effort
Oh come on, this is not a way to run a business. If my software company ran business like that we would be out of business so fast we would be running to the un-employment line. Sure, this maybe a temp. patch, but what is the final solution? The core to any product is from the company, not from retailers who bought the product at a cheaper price.

IMO, Any new player will say. "What company does this game?, oh, do they have a web site? can I order from them?" the answer will be. "Uhh sadly no, you cannot order from them and they are out of print. But, you MAY(Highly unlikely now in Feb/03) be able to find some copies floating around."

I have stated this often, but will re-state it again "MMP is not run like a business." I am not discrediting the work that any MMP employess have accomplished and will continue to dedicate.. Thank you very much for the work that you have completed. But, I personally see MMP employees as gamers who want to dedicate their free time to keep ASL going because they love the game. Which is awsome. But in today's business world, that will not cut it.

I apologize also, I don't know all MMPs struggles, walls, barriers and situation. I should reserve my opinion unless I knew all the details. But, we haar you often state.. "We know and have discussed and talked very long discussions about these issues".. Obviously you know that something needs to get done. So do it! or let someone else do it :)

Interesting that no one mentioned the intro project more. Considering that ASL was created on the premise that people would have a working knowledge of SL or access to SL to learn the basics - that seems to be a fairly obvious product gap that we're addressing right now. Rob Wolkey is playtesting this with a group of folks.
This is also a great step in the right direction. But, it perplexes me how you view this as your "obvious product gap". This is OUTSANDING for the newbie who bought the Rule book and core module. (It is also ironic that the iASL is German vs US. Isnt the core module Russian vs German?) If the new player cannot get his hands easily on a rule book or core module.. What is the sense of learning.

Need to innovate or get left behind.

Sorry to rant, I really enjoy ASL, and wish to see it continue to prosper. Thus, why people including me get concerned and or upset when the ASL lifespan is threatened.
 

da priest

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Toedwy said:
This is also a great step in the right direction. But, it perplexes me how you view this as your "obvious product gap". This is OUTSANDING for the newbie who bought the Rule book and core module. (It is also ironic that the iASL is German vs US. Isnt the core module Russian vs German?) If the new player cannot get his hands easily on a rule book or core module.. What is the sense of learning.

Need to innovate or get left behind.

Sorry to rant, I really enjoy ASL, and wish to see it continue to prosper. Thus, why people including me get concerned and or upset when the ASL lifespan is threatened.
Seems you missed the point, iASL is stand alone, no ASLRB needed, no BV needed, no other module needed. Just suck'em in and then sell the ASLBv2 and BV to them. By the time the iASL module is out bet the ASLRBv2 and BV, along with the rest of the "missing" core modules will be out.

Only problem is AoO will still be languishing in the pending file---Green Meanies now!
 

Jeff Leslie

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I'd like to say that even though it seems I'm griping and being excessively critical about MMP, I really do appreciate all the positive things that have been done since AH went belly up. (there, I even cleaned that up for the more sensitive crowd out there) If it wasn't for Curt and the others, ASL would have been dumped by Hasbro long ago for the more lucrative Spongebob Squarepants candy dispensers.

The only reason I am so vocal is because I love ASL and I hate to see it stagnate in 25 year old technology when there are so many opportunities waiting to draw new players in. I see so many folks on VASL 4 that are either just getting into the hobby or coming back to it after several years away, and they can't get what they need other than VASL. You can read that as NEW PLAYERS = MONEY. Face it, we're in a different day and age now, and it's going to become more and more difficult to get people to push cardboard counters around on paper maps than it was when I was younger now that the PC has become mainstream.

I have a great game store where I live, but for the past couple years now the only ASL products they have carried are CH, and those come in ziplock bags and are tucked away on the end of a shelf next to all the other beautifully boxed games. I remember back in the day that used to be part of the attraction of buying ASL products, even when I had no money, was seeing their boxes on the shelves of the game stores. They just beckoned to you to pick them up, and their weight and box art was a good portion of their sell. That was before internet sales when you actually had to go out and put your hands on a product to see if you wanted it...

Many kudos to the staff at MMP for what they have done, and here's to hoping that they can keep it going.

I'm just being a demanding consumer of a product, and at the same time I'm a concerned citizen looking out for something that I greatly enjoy.
 

Toedwy

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Can we have a group hug?




da Priest
Seems you missed the point, iASL is stand alone, no ASLRB needed, no BV needed, no other module needed. Just suck'em in and then sell the ASLBv2 and BV to them. By the time the iASL module is out bet the ASLRBv2 and BV, along with the rest of the "missing" core modules will be out.

I will believe it when I see it :)
 

klsmith

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I'll admit I haven't thought this through before I say it, but...

There's something appealing (from a marketing standpoint) about the idea of selling the US OB, the German OB, etc. etc as freestanding products (SSA415/aka Spencer's idea). And the boards as freestanding products in thematic groups of 5. And the scenarios in thematic groups of 12.

For an entry level product ("entry level" meaning: you don't have all the stuff; not: "simple") I think you could go one step further and sell freestanding "games." Let's say you only have a rulebook and you'd really like to play something about the Battle of the Bulge. Sell them a Battle of the Bulge "booster pack." Let's say 12 scenarios, all the geo-boards you need for those scenarios, and all the counters (excepting info counters which would be sold separately). I can see some printing cost issues offhand, but the idea would be to repurpose existing stuff to get new players involved in a snazzy new product that doesn't require a lot of development work and doesn't cost a fortune to buy. This reminds me a bit of Magic and Warhammer, which isn't bad since they're making money hand over fist. And the audience would be strictly new players, since everyone else would already have the stuff.

just an idea

Ken
 

kdalton

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Ken says:

Let's say you only have a rulebook and you'd really like to play something about the Battle of the Bulge. Sell them a Battle of the Bulge "booster pack." Let's say 12 scenarios, all the geo-boards you need for those scenarios, and all the counters (excepting info counters which would be sold separately).
Okay, so instead of core modules you're talking theme/battle modules - Wacht Am Rhein (sp?) Historical Study? See where I am going? It's apples and oranges, but it's all fruit.

Hmmmm..... I personally am not convinced, but then again I am part of that bloated MMP bureaucracy. :wink:

The Toadster said:
I will believe it when I see it
FKAC will be printed in the next several weeks with the rest of the p# games and the rulebook as soon as we get finished with those print runs. RB after that, and then we start looking ar reprinting Code of Bushido, Second Edition. Tune in to the flame war on ASLML for that.

The advantage to the p-list is that hopefully (sans any barriers) we can take advantage of economies of scale and get the print runs combined for new products and reprints like we're doing now. This should hopefully speed up our reprint process at the printing stage.
 

klsmith

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Okay, so instead of core modules you're talking theme/battle modules - Wacht Am Rhein (sp?) Historical Study? See where I am going? It's apples and oranges, but it's all fruit.
FWIW, I wouldn't replace the core modules, this is a "line extension". And the idea WOULD be a "historical study" except you wouldn't have to own three separate $80 modules to play it, just the rule book and info-counter pack.

you should do a focus group. :)

Ken[/u]
 
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Lot of traffic on this topic over the last days, so i think i jump in.

Saying first, I think the best thing in the last years was the reprint of the ASLRB which is the base of all. But coming to the topic of Evans early mail, i must say that there was no real news in the last mails. Pre or Post WW2, new HASL, Intro ASL - fine fine.

Come on, nobody can tell me that "another Scenario Pack" will let you go enthusiastic. New HASL are nice and will be part of the hobby. The Historical Studies are also a good concept. But what is innovative with them? For me is innovative if a direction changes. Last i have seen this was in HOB's Oto module where the counter were suddenly colored. Critical Hit's Platoon Leader was innovative (at least the idea). HOB's upcoming Kampfgruppen Commander will be innovative. Scenarios which offer the player a choice for Force selection are trendy (i will not use innovative here). The Kursk Mini Campaign in Journal 3 was a big step because of its new ideas (Selectable Forces = Fog of War + personnel preferences; Focused on one battle, short and playable). I think that it is possible to change the design of Scenarios and going a way which can add more Fog of War. That would also be a step forward.

The main problem is that one individual persons (even a small groups) thoughts are restricted. By communicating with others this restrictions will (can) lift. I see the whole ASL community as a multiple working brain which generates lots of ideas and we only must take the best out of them and go this way. Problem is that most people have a problem with changing things which obviously work. They ignore that even things which are perfectly working TODAY may become boring if time changes by if no changes occur.

In my eyes the thing what i most often think about is "Why must all the work be done by MMP?" Because of this, we have a very very slow (thats not negative according to MMP but they are only four Hobbyists) progress. If i look around and see again and again all this old familiar names on the ASLML, i know that there is great potential. But it is bound by whatever and buried under personal considerations and emotions. I know that Rob Wolkey is working on IASL for MMP and there are also HASL in the development pipeline for MMP. But it is exact that. FOR MMP So only their thoughts drive the hobby. That will not work.
 

kdalton

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FWIW, I wouldn't replace the core modules, this is a "line extension". And the idea WOULD be a "historical study" except you wouldn't have to own three separate $80 modules to play it, just the rule book and info-counter pack.
So, say I want a battle pack for the Valor of the Guards, for example. Stalingrad is popular and in vogue - seems logical.

So a battle pack would contain the map, rules, informatonal counters, and all the counters to play the game - which, given the scope of the battle, would be like 60 russian 628s and HSs, etc. Lotsa counters we'd have to print, which would drive up the cost, like you said.

Now let me play devil's advocate: the groggies are going to complain about buying counters they don't need or want, and quite frankly, they'd be right unless we had a two-tier game - basic battle pack with just the module specific rules, map, scenarios, and minimal counters ... or the full blown version set up like Paratrooper, where everything to play the scenarios is included. HMMMMMMMmmmmm.

That's my impression of the Gamers line. They have say, the scs series rules and then each game contains the rulebook, map, dice & charts, and all the counters for that game.

The question is, if we go this route, does that mean the death of the core modules saleswise? Why would I as a newbie buy Gung Ho if the Saipan Battle Pack had lotsa gyrenes and all the PTO rules? There may be a way around that by requiring COB and GH to purchase PTO battle packs, but then you get into the "well, I bought two $70 modules to play a battle pack." mindset again. I guess the battle pack would work with the ETO only, since that's the basic rules set.

you should do a focus group. :)
Spoken like a true creative marketing stud. :wink:
 

kdalton

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Christian Koppmeyer said:
In my eyes the thing what i most often think about is "Why must all the work be done by MMP?" Because of this, we have a very very slow (thats not negative according to MMP but they are only four Hobbyists) progress. If i look around and see again and again all this old familiar names on the ASLML, i know that there is great potential. But it is bound by whatever and buried under personal considerations and emotions. I know that Rob Wolkey is working on IASL for MMP and there are also HASL in the development pipeline for MMP. But it is exact that. FOR MMP So only their thoughts drive the hobby. That will not work.
Well, that's not really true, Christian, although I do appreciate the concern. MMP gets ideas all the time - from suggestions from people like you, from other game companies, etc. MMP, as "defender of the faith" a.k.a. the Dr. Zaius figure of ASL, has to deal with all that has come before and decide what direction they want to take based on that history. It sometimes makes for a more conservative decision but does result in a more stable system.
 

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okay, I'm pointlessly defending something I haven't though through, but be that as it may...

I'd say the "battle pack" concept would only be for new customers (those who don't have all the stuff). And I'd say everything in them would be re-purposed, so no groggies need apply. Use unmounted geo-boards, which you already have; use scenarios that you already have, and reprint an Order of Battle counter set which applies only to the scenarios included. that's all.

Available separately could be ASL Info counters. So the beginner would need to buy the ASLRB and the Info Counter Pack which would be used with all the Battle packs. Then he buys what he wants (The Bulge, Normandy, Operation Cobra, yadda, yadda yadda)

And did you know that when you do old fashioned emoticons, this forum replaces them with its little icon dealies? Those things give me the creeps.

Ken
 

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Keith,

You touched upon the KEY to all that is important to ASL and the future:

You, Curt, Perry, and Brian, right now HAVE to decide who takes priority - current grognards that are playing ASL OR all the folks that have not started playing yet.

It is that simple.

Me personally, think all us grognards may bitch and whine about FKaC, AOO, VotG, etc, but at the end of the day will keep playing and buying ASL.

However, the newbies that can't find product, cant find the rulebook, are intimidated by the rules or having to buy 50 mapboards and modules are the key to whether we are having this discussion online in 10 years.

I started proofing Intro ASL with Wolkey FOUR YEARS AGO!!! It and other similiar products should be priorities 1, 2, and 3!!!

I really want AOO, VotG and other new stuff, but I want new players even more. As I said before, we met a 26 year old last week at the game store that had NEVER even heard of board wargames, let alone ASL.

Time for MMP to make some hard decisions.

The future of our hobby is at stake.
 

kdalton

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You, Curt, Perry, and Brian, right now HAVE to decide who takes priority - current grognards that are playing ASL OR all the folks that have not started playing yet.
Dude, didn't you know, we're expected to please EVERYBODY. :lol:

It is that simple.
And yet somehow infinitely complex. That's the paradox, isn't it? :D Jeff, you know we take our charge re: this issue seriously.

However, the newbies that can't find product, cant find the rulebook, are intimidated by the rules or having to buy 50 mapboards and modules are the key to whether we are having this discussion online in 10 years.
Which is why we tried to link people up with retailers during the fall. I just wish we had more retailers respond.

Also, with the more frequent print runs now that the p-system is rolling, we can keep costs down and hopefully turn around the reprints more rapidly, the glitches with FKAC aside.

I started proofing Intro ASL with Wolkey FOUR YEARS AGO!!! It and other similiar products should be priorities 1, 2, and 3!!!
Check out the new MMP Insider for an update on IASL at:

http://www.multimanpublishing.com/downloads/mmp-insider.pdf

Thanks to everyone for the feedback here. We are paying attention.

Keith
 

Brian W

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TankDawg said:
I started proofing Intro ASL with Wolkey FOUR YEARS AGO!!! It and other similiar products should be priorities 1, 2, and 3!!!
I have to say that I have no faith in iASL to do anything substantial for this hobby. This is not criticism of whatever work you have done, just my belief that the market is simply not there; I hope I am wrong. More power to you guys and good luck.

Kevin's suggestion that nationalities/boards/scenarios should be sold seperatly is parallel to what I have thought ever since AH folded. However, doing that would probably mean bypassing the retail market, something MMP has said they do not want to do.
 

SSA415

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Bypassing Retail

However, doing that would probably mean bypassing the retail market, something MMP has said they do not want to do.
When you bypass retail does it have to be by a counter's width?

Unfortunately, MMP has inadvertantly already done this to some extent. I have a friend who runs a hobby shop. None of their distributors will carry ASL right now because there are no basic products in print. Several have indicated that they may not bother again in the future for just this reason.

Really, though, there's no reason this (the true modular concept) can't be done retail, if it can be done at all. Somebody mentioned Warhammer. Actually, 40K was what I was thinking of when I suggested the true modular concept. Games Workshop sells something like 80% of their business through retail and it's working well for them.

And Keith, I'm really on your side, I want to have opponents for years to come.... Computer games just don't do it for me, never have. ASL is IT as far as historical gaming for me. Last thing I want is for that to go away. I also really appreciate the role you're playing. Organized PR is a good thing for MMP.

S
 

kdalton

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Thanks for the kudos and the heads up on what distributors are saying.

Keith
 

byouse

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Unfortunately, MMP has inadvertantly already done this to some extent. I have a friend who runs a hobby shop. None of their distributors will carry ASL right now because there are no basic products in print. Several have indicated that they may not bother again in the future for just this reason.
Ahh, friends who run hobby shops.

If our distributors don't carry ASL or think they may never bother to do so again, why do they keep ordering our products? Why do we keep shipping them goods?

Harsh reality is we don't deal with many distributors at all because our pricing structure really limits the middleman to some degree. Stores can order direct from us and get a better discount than a distributor gives them. The distributors we do deal with are still very good customers who place more regular restock orders than a retail store does.

Oddly, i've noticed two things occurring over the last few months (since i've started dealing with various web admin functions). 1) we've added more new stores in the last two months than we added in the last half of last year, I don't pretend to know why. 2) I have been adding 3-4 new users to our ASL player directory every week. I'm stunned by how many guys have been signing up for this.

Brian
 
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