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TOPIC: Dark World
#6095
Dark World 9 Years, 5 Months ago  
As long as it meshes seemlessly with the current DF lines, I don't see how it could be a bad thing. The only way it could such would be if it was very specific to one game setting, and I don't think that's the case.

The simplist way to respond to you MM, is to say that we just have differing experiences and thereby knowledge.
I have stated my concerns and am not looking to rise to your invitation at this time.
Honestly, I would really hate to be able to say, "I warned you all." one day, okay?
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#6096
Dark World 9 Years, 5 Months ago  
As long as it meshes seemlessly with the current DF lines, I don't see how it could be a bad thing. The only way it could such would be if it was very specific to one game setting, and I don't think that's the case.

The simplist way to respond to you MM, is to say that we just have differing experiences and thereby knowledge.
I have stated my concerns and am not looking to rise to your invitation at this time.
Honestly, I would really hate to be able to say, "I warned you all." one day, okay?


So your opinion is that Dark World will be the end for Dwarven Forge? Or am I reading too much into your post?

As I've said before, I can only go by my own experience, but one of the drawbacks of MasterMaze as it stands now is that all the dungeons/encounter areas I set up now look like they were all built by the same contractor. It's still a huge step up from hand-drawn maps with dry-erase marker, but it's a limitation nonetheless.

So, here comes Dark World with what I hope is just the first step in answer to that problem. Will it sell as well as Fantasy? Probably not. Will it sell as well as Sci-Fi? Maybe, since it has more utility to those who have already spent a mint on their fantasy setups. But if it does well, it opens the door for many more sets with varied floors and walls, and as long as Dwarven Forge doesn't overextend itself in the process, I don't see the downside.

Now, judging by your posts, I gather you're a wargamer first and foremost (I trust you'll correct me if I'm wrong.) So my question to you is: what impact do you see the set having on wargamers who use MasterMaze? Do you think it will be useful for that hobby, or will it likely be ignored?
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#6097
Dark World 9 Years, 5 Months ago  
The simplist way to respond to you MM, is to say that we just have differing experiences and thereby knowledge.
I have stated my concerns and am not looking to rise to your invitation at this time.
Honestly, I would really hate to be able to say, "I warned you all." one day, okay?


So your opinion is that Dark World will be the end for Dwarven Forge? Or am I reading too much into your post?


Just a little too much.
What I am concerned about is what happened to TSR happening to DF.
TSR in Oct. '96 started their attempt to have their own figure division.
They even took the US Sales manager away from GW to start the division.
For two months this division was progressing very well; first releases were due to be released at GenCon '97.
Then in December Borders (includes Waldenbooks) and another big book company returned $5 million of product because they had decided to not carry it in a good number of stores because these books were high shoplifting items.
TSR was already strung out because like most American companies, it went into debt up to its eyeballs to start the new division.
Their debts were still due and despite a great number of efforts and deals, TSR was in foreclosure threatenings by Mar. or Apr. '97.
WOTC bought them up in a serious discounted buyout deal by June '97.

Simply put, TSR overextended their resources to do something they saw would be good.
It blew up completely in their faces due to a factor they had not planned into the financial plan.
I am concerned that DF will do a TSR in this extra step.
I just do not want DF to lose its independence.
Companies like WOTC and WizKids are no longer what they were now that Hasbro and Topps now own them respectively.
With WOTC there has been some positives with the buyout, but also some negatives; I cannot find a single positive with the Topps buyout of WizKids.

As I've said before, I can only go by my own experience, but one of the drawbacks of MasterMaze as it stands now is that all the dungeons/encounter areas I set up now look like they were all built by the same contractor. It's still a huge step up from hand-drawn maps with dry-erase marker, but it's a limitation nonetheless.

The limit with MM is the amount of capital that DF has to spend on new pieces for the existing sets.
If DF had more capital, many more of the quirky pieces that would be great for gaming, would exist.
The flipside problem is that is they had more capital now, I can only see that happening from a buyout and that can be a hugely chancy gamble to keep DF as it currently themed.

So, here comes Dark World with what I hope is just the first step in answer to that problem. Will it sell as well as Fantasy? Probably not. Will it sell as well as Sci-Fi? Maybe, since it has more utility to those who have already spent a mint on their fantasy setups. But if it does well, it opens the door for many more sets with varied floors and walls, and as long as Dwarven Forge doesn't overextend itself in the process, I don't see the downside.

That very overextension issue is my main concern.
The fantasy set is no where near finished let alone the newer Cavern and SF sets.
Fantasy needs at least another Wicked Additions set, Cavern needs a WA set as well the water set and then SF has barely started with at least four needed sets to go.
Now DF is starting a fourth genre of MM set.
I guess I am more of the field-grade officer type that likes to have my situation somewhat in hand before I make a serious jump into enemy territory.
Sometimes lightning strikes are needed with delayed follow-up, but I am at a complete loss how that Dark World is that.

Now, judging by your posts, I gather you're a wargamer first and foremost (I trust you'll correct me if I'm wrong.) So my question to you is: what impact do you see the set having on wargamers who use MasterMaze? Do you think it will be useful for that hobby, or will it likely be ignored?

Yes, I am a wargamer.
I do not do RPGs.
I do buy related RPG items; I use RPG manuals for source material for wargame battles and campaigns though.
Once I even used material from SJG's Imperial Rome book to answer an essay question for a Social & Economic History of Greece and Rome class I had in college.
The book just had the perfect material to answer that particular question.
The historical RPG manuals of some companies out there can be quite well researched at times.

I see only limited use for Dark World even by role-players.
The gothic theme is in the process of being marginalized due to nation-wide bad press by a number of outright off-the-cliff gamers and teenagers who go around and shoot their families, classmates and teachers.
Unless that view of gothic trend turns around I do not see White Wolf doing too well soon - possibly even their extinction.

The only wargames I can think of that the gothic architecture will fit is the ones of GW's stable.
I do not remember any gothic architecture in SW.
I have been told by folks here on the forum that DF needs to cater to the big boys.
Well, if that is the case, I think the SW world has a lot more juice behind it than even GW's stable, so should not DF be catering in tha direction rather GW's.
That is, of course, if you follow that argument.

I see DF's success in staying around through being independent from any theme or company except for some really small expansions.
Once they start to tailor to a particular company, then they are going to marginalize and/or ignore their other buyers.

I do see the possiblity of using the Dark World set as a free-standing building on the battlefield if DF releases a large enough set to build something like that.
Again though, you are looking at a very limited sales potential.
In wargaming, wysiwyg ("What you see is what you get!) rules the battlefield.
That goes for the terrain on the field most times as well.

I think many purchases of Dark World will only be curiosity purchases by owners of MM products already.
I do not see a good field of new buyers being attracted to it.
Additionally, I do not see a great many sales for follow-up sets.
The attraction factor for Dark World is just too narrow.
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#6098
Dark World 9 Years, 5 Months ago  
To further the argument about over-extending yourself as a gaming company, I could mention that Target Games, my former employer, did just everything wrong in that respect.

The owners were wargamers at heart, but started with RPG publishing as it seemed able to generate income, and it did. The first Swedish RPG sold more than a hundred thousand copies over a ten-year period, which is actually a lot more than most American RPG's have managed. The main problem I think is that the owners really wanted to be Games Workshop, but were too impatient and really didn't understand how GW went from a backyard business to what it is today (or even in 1999, when Target Games folded).

TG was about to get another loan for a re-issue of stock, when the bank realized that the "value" of the company consisted of tons and tons of dead RPG stuff - practically worthless.

The owners wanted to grow by leaps and bounds, and it didn't work, as there was no viable plan for building a loyal customer base, or even knowing _who_ the customer was supposed to be and what he should look like.

Who is the customer for Dark World? Is it you and me, the regular DF junkies? The SF-bookstore in Stockholm, which is _the_ place to go for anything which isn't GW, has had the Fantasy starter set prominently displayed for several months. So far they have had only one buyer of DF product. Me.

On the other hand, they sell tons of D&D and SW minis, and I find it very strange that they haven't sold any DF to anyone else. Perhaps they aren't displaying it properly. Perhaps it is too expensive. Perhaps the right customers aren't looking at the right place.

I think the Dark World stuff could be great, and when it appears, I will probably buy some of it, but I would rather have more SF-styled sets to go with SWM or Space Hulk, now that there are such pretty Terminators available and new Tyranids around the corner.

If you are not a roleplayer building dungeons for your players, only skirmish type players will really get into MM, as the GW crowd is busy leveling ruined cityscapes.

It's a great product, but it is an expensive niche product. Who is the buyer? How much must a company like DF sell to stay in business and also be able to grow, to amass some reserves for developing the line? How many customers are there, and how much does the average DF junkie spend?

For example, Wizards of the Coast has a very solid picture of the average customer, and they know that the huge mass of casual players are the ones keeping the company in business, while the Pro Tour circus is merely the icing, the stuff that makes headlines and spawns an outside interest in the company.

Another company I worked for as a translator, the 8th largest German publishing house, were going public a few years ago, but the owner wanted to be number 3 instead. How do you become the third larges publisher in Germany? You publish more books, of course! Problem was, books take a long time generating revenue, just like a company like DF, or like most other companies with a long period from idea and development to production and actual sales. Könemann ran out of money paying for having the books translated and printed, long before the stores even received any product.

How is DF generating money? The product is narrow and expensive.

But. In this age of the Internet, you guys have all proven that it is possible to be rid of the uncertainty of distributing product to a large number of gaming stores, which are not able to properly display the product, and very often favours faster moving GW boxes instead, because they move much faster, even though they cost as much per cubic feet as most DF sets. Perhaps the future for DF is through mailorder exclusively and appearances at conventions to introduce the line?

Lots of late night ramblings when I really should be in bed, but Rabid's posts on the matter have generated a number of thoughts on my own.

In the morning I'll try to find out if I said anything of interest... ;)
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#6099
Dark World 9 Years, 5 Months ago  
I'd be curious to see actual numbers comparing HA to DF. I do know that when I've mentioned DF at some forums -- like the official D&D forum, the Chainmail forum (back when the game was around), and a few other places like the Reaper minis forum -- mostly the conversation turns to HA. Someone brings up Castlemolds, and suddenly that's all anyone wants. Again and again the same issue comes up: price.

So while my experience has been in line with a lot of people's -- local stores selling D&D and SW minis by the ton, but not DF -- I am more interested in how this stuff sells to terrain fans. Most people I speak to consider terrain a luxury -- the tabletop gamers play at local venues, that includes all GW games, WOTC games, WK games -- and the RPGers make do with mats and markers. Nobody seems to care about terrain, and when they do, like I said, HA always steals the thunder.

But my experience, like most people's, is anecdotal. It isn't systematic, it isn't controlled, and it may not really indicate much.

Still, I suspect that the number one thing DF could do to draw in customers would be to lower the price. I think the recent approach to $50 sets instead of $100 is a part of that -- to make the "starter" cost less and reduce the sticker shock of "That's cool, but $109?!?!" But still, I know on the SWM forum a lot of people responded to me by saying "That looks great, but to get enough to play on, you'd have to spend a lot."

I have no idea how they could reduce the price, so this may be a no-win situation.

I'm curious about one thing, RF -- it seems like you're suggesting that if DF were ever to grow past a certain point, they'd garner GW's attention and get swallowed up/destroyed. Do you think there's any plan DF could put in place to grow and not be threatened by The Beast?

L
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#6100
Dark World 9 Years, 5 Months ago  
I'm curious about one thing, RF -- it seems like you're suggesting that if DF were ever to grow past a certain point, they'd garner GW's attention and get swallowed up/destroyed. Do you think there's any plan DF could put in place to grow and not be threatened by The Beast?

L


One example is Marauder Miniatures started by Ally & Trish Morrison in the UK.
They had worked for GW, but went independent.
Ally was a dwarf specialist and Trish's specialty is beasts of any kind.
I believe GW's current Greater Daemons of Chaos are her work.
Well, the Morrisons went independent and started selling more of their product than GW was of the same type.
GW first tried to sweet talk them back into the fold and then strong arm tactics.
Finally a combination of both got Marauder pulled into GW's Citadel division and brought the two sculptors back to GW.
Even today, some of the older Marauder dwarves still garner more attention than the current sculpts.

A different variation on this theme is destroy what you cannot have.
I mean doing things that would spotlight GW product but refuse to join up with them in the end.
KR @ Geohex fell into that trap when GW offered a good bit easy money to start putting the GW logos on certain Geo-Hex product including mats for sale through GW retail stores.
GW kept pulling him in and further in until they felt they could take over Geo-Hex.
When KR objected, GW decided to destroy Geo-Hex.
He salvaged some of the company, but not enough to make a go of it.
He sold the rest of the company to Monday Knight Productions, and now they are falling apart too under GW pressure.

The main concern is if DF starts doing anything with specifically GW as the focus; that is a danger zone!
Stay away from GW and any money they tempt with, and DF should survive due to being ignored by GW.
Once GW feels you owe them, you are basically brought to the choice of going in-house or be destroyed.
It is as simple as that.
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#6101
Dark World 9 Years, 5 Months ago  
As long as it meshes seemlessly with the current DF lines, I don't see how it could be a bad thing. The only way it could such would be if it was very specific to one game setting, and I don't think that's the case.

The simplist way to respond to you MM, is to say that we just have differing experiences and thereby knowledge.
I have stated my concerns and am not looking to rise to your invitation at this time.
Honestly, I would really hate to be able to say, "I warned you all." one day, okay?


Huh? I wasn't baiting you RF. Just stating I think these sets will do okay with the rest of the lines.
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#6102
Dark World 9 Years, 5 Months ago  

Still, I suspect that the number one thing DF could do to draw in customers would be to lower the price. I think the recent approach to $50 sets instead of $100 is a part of that -- to make the "starter" cost less and reduce the sticker shock of "That's cool, but $109?!?!" But still, I know on the SWM forum a lot of people responded to me by saying "That looks great, but to get enough to play on, you'd have to spend a lot."

I have no idea how they could reduce the price, so this may be a no-win situation.

I'm curious about one thing, RF -- it seems like you're suggesting that if DF were ever to grow past a certain point, they'd garner GW's attention and get swallowed up/destroyed. Do you think there's any plan DF could put in place to grow and not be threatened by The Beast?

L


The thing I'd really be concerned about if I were DF is the possibility of WoTC getting into the terrain & accessories segment and pricing DF right out of the market. That's pretty much what happened with DF's miniature lines.

If WoTC decided to come up with a DF-esque modular dungeon line, and make it not as nice but much cheaper than DF, the DF folks would be in some deep doo-doo. With WoTC being a much larger company, and having the ability to absorb more short-term losses than DF, they could put a hurting on DF but quick.

If I were DF's management, I'd be seriously thinking about reducing the cost of the product, as others in this thread have mentioned. I might even consider a new series of "budget" lines, perhaps made of softer plastic rather than resin, with a little sloppier paintwork and detail. A set the size of a room & passage set selling for $30 to $50 would sell like hotcakes. The older, nicer pieces could be remarketed as the "Dwarven Forge Pro" line, and kept in production. DF could even use the same molds, but use lesser plastics to cast them and just not paint every single detail, but instead paint the stonework about the same quality as the D&D Minis Stone Golem.

Until these products become ubiquitous at gaming tables, DF is going to be in a tenuous position financially. They should work to make their products appeal to a larger spectrum of gamers, and that means they must be cheaper and easier to get a hold of.
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Deluxe Room Set
Advanced Builders Set
Wicked Editions I & II
Cavern Set x2
Cavernous Passages
Traps Set I
Narrow Passage Set
Fantasy Floor Set
Fantasy Starter Set

"I don't want to be Elfstar anymore...I want to be Debbie."
 
#6103
Dark World 9 Years, 5 Months ago  
As long as it meshes seemlessly with the current DF lines, I don't see how it could be a bad thing. The only way it could such would be if it was very specific to one game setting, and I don't think that's the case.

The simplist way to respond to you MM, is to say that we just have differing experiences and thereby knowledge.
I have stated my concerns and am not looking to rise to your invitation at this time.
Honestly, I would really hate to be able to say, "I warned you all." one day, okay?


Huh? I wasn't baiting you RF. Just stating I think these sets will do okay with the rest of the lines.


I am surprised, but pleased with how reasonable your responses to L and myself have been here.
Keep up the good work MM.
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#6104
Dark World 9 Years, 5 Months ago  
Hey, I like this much better! :D
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#6105
Dark World 9 Years, 5 Months ago  
I'd be all over both of those sets if they ever came to be.

Oh, who am I kidding? If DF makes it, I'm going to buy it, whatever it is. They could make a Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake Land set and I'd buy at least 4.

Addicted! :lol:
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#6106
Dark World 9 Years, 5 Months ago  
The thing I'd really be concerned about if I were DF is the possibility of WoTC getting into the terrain & accessories segment and pricing DF right out of the market. That's pretty much what happened with DF's miniature lines.

If WoTC decided to come up with a DF-esque modular dungeon line, and make it not as nice but much cheaper than DF, the DF folks would be in some deep doo-doo. With WoTC being a much larger company, and having the ability to absorb more short-term losses than DF, they could put a hurting on DF but quick.


Possible, but look at this: Wizkids made a cheap modular dungeon set, 3-D Dungeon tiles (Tom has a profile of them on his page, as does a guy named Mitch who runs a site at www.terrainosaur.com) They were nice, they were basic, they were cheap. They do not appear to have sold at ALL.

The majority of gamers seem pretty indifferent to terrain. The market is customer-driven, and that's why there are tons of minis companies out there and a wealth of options in minis, but almost nothing in terrain. From what I've seen online, the biggest terrain companies seem to be DF and Hirst Arts -- most of the time, when I see terrain, it's one of these two. That means DF is the biggest name in prebuilt terrain. (By "Terrain" I mean creating the rooms and passages, not just accessories like furniture or a door etc. -- most companies like Grendel that make accessories don't make anything like the full-fledged terrain we're talking about here)

So I wonder if WOTC would even WANT to try making some cheaper version of Master Maze.

But I'm with you guys, I'm a DF fan all the way. I love Hirst Arts, too, and I pick up Grendel pieces and I get a little of everything. But the second a DF product hits the market, I'm there.

L
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