Old Guys and Dead Trees
I get irrationally frowny when I get the inevitable weekly-or-more email from drivethrurpg.com that one of my titles has been updated.
If it’s a game I only own in PDF, mostly that doesn’t bug me. But if it’s something I have on paper, oh jeez.
First: I get that perfect is the enemy of good. I’m all in on that.
Second: PDF updates almost never address play-important changes.
But! But but but I actively dislike the feeling that my printed copy is imperfect.
I speculate my feelings about this are tied to a couple things: the age of these creators and their relationship with e-docs, and Kickstarter.
On the first point: are these changes just not seen as a big deal by most folks? I’m asking the creators, here. And I’m talking specifically about Legacy: Life in the Ruins and The Veil, because both of those books have recently been updated. I guess Wrath of the Autarch as well, and that one has play-relevant changes from the hardcopy I have.
Is it generational to de-privilege the printed word? It might be! I honestly don’t know! In my head, and as a practical matter, my hardcopies are my reference volumes. I actively dislike fiddling with PDF readers at the table, because that means screens and screens are bad-disruptive almost every time. So knowing that my reference volumes are not the most up-to-date bums me out.
The second point I want to bring up is Kickstarter. Is there a tempo aspect to the revision and development of these games because you’ve put a date out and you super-duper want to hit it? This feels like what’s going on both with The Veil and Cascade, as well as Legacy. This is me asking the question as a potential future Kickstarter creator: do you feel actual pressure to deliver on promised dates? Where’s that coming from? What’s it costing you?
I mean it may totally be true that hardcopy is on its way out and perfecting it is now a minor concern. It was weird when the web went majority-mobile, too. Things change. If this is the actual fact, well, I guess I need to live with it. But if this is self-imposed rushing to get physical rewards out the door on an arbitrary schedule, I’m a lot less sympathetic.
A couple closing thoughts.
* Repeated small PDF updates really bug me (I’m looking at you, The Veil.) Because like…even if I wanted to order a new “best possible” printed copy, I have no idea when or if the revision process will ever end.
* Changelogs or errata would sure go a long way toward making me, personally, feel better about changes. Like if I can see stuff like “bolded some game terms” or “paragraph broke badly, changed the flow” or whatever, great, I can ignore that. And if there are major things like “changed the Empath move” then I can go and mark up my own copy with a note to see the errata. That’s great.
I do dearly wish we could treat tabletop games like software, you know? Quietly patch in the background so your run-time experience is always the most up-to-date. Heck, even have a beta patch opt-in, Steam style. But that’s not how we learn or use tabletop games. We can’t (yet?) seamlessly merge patches into the github of our brain.
Just to be clear: I’m not dragging anyone here! I’m asking questions and I’m being super charitable about what the reasons might be. Thanks.