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Series on Wizard Of the Coast 222

Chanteuse writes "Salon is doing a several-part series on the corporate atmosphere of Wizards of the Coast, leading to it's eventual sellout to Hasbro. It's sad, in a nostalgic sort of way. Part One is up on Salon." Part Two has come out as well - it's a piece that could come from any number of company, but the background of Wizards Of The Coast makes it more interesting. I played Magic religiously up until Fallen Empires, and then drifted in and out - but my favorite era was still Arabian Nights before the umpteen bazillion different cards. But I suppose all things change.
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Series on Wizard Of the Coast

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is not meant to be a troll, but I'm sure people are going to take it that way. Please just read and decide for yourself. Mod'ing this post down only means you are squelching and refusing to consider an unpopular viewpoint which is a valid point for discussion and argument.

    First of all, let me say that I am not a "religious nut." I regularly play violent video games, watch R-rated movies, and I am a big sci-fi fan. I don't agree with everything portrayed in those elements of our culture or try to emulate what I see, but I take them for what they're worth. I do, however, draw a sharp line when it comes to occult related elements and I believe that many RPG's, especially of the "D&D" variety, are heavily involved this.

    Just so we're straight on definitions, "the occult" refers to any activity in which there is interaction with demonic spirits. The participant may directly observes this or may be oblivious to its presense. Some such activities include witchcraft, seances, fortune telling, ouija boards, levitation, games that include "spellcasting," etc. If you've never been exposed to such things or think they're not real, trust me, they are--and not in a cool, geeky, counterculture way. Such activities are insidiously evil and destructive to participants. They are traps set by satan to lure people in--out of interest in trying something "different." Once people are hooked or believe they've found something of truth or satisfaction, satan uses these activities to destroy peoples' lives and lead them astray. William Shakespeare had it right when he wrote Macbeth.

    Fellow Slashdotters, please do not fall for this trap. I would not be writing this if I had not seen the destructive effects of the occult on people's lives with my own eyes.. or if I had not known people who were tormented by evil spirits or had their minds filled with twisted lies after getting involved with this stuff. These are not just games. Please consider what I have said, research the issue more if you like, and do not become involved. If you are one of the many people who feel like they are addicted or held hostage by these activities, please seek Christian counseling and prayer immediately. It is not to late to be set free from this crap.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As a devout atheist, I would like to shake your hand. Although we wear different colours, it's clear we are on the same side here.


  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think what bothers them is the fact that you can resell it for a hundred times that. But maybe it's just me. Regardless of whatever YOU value the card at, other people value it far greater, and to them it's just like burning a $100 bill to light a cigar right in front of them. On eBay you could sell it and make actual cash, but you're just wasting it. You wanna crumple and toss money into the street? Fine by me.
  • That's bull.

    I'm the most aggressive driver you've ever ridden with.


  • I think you're probably right about the "small group of well-placed people" having most of the inter-office sex.

    The thing that gets me is that the author of the article tries to pass it off as if it's (1) somehow unique to WOC and (2) a good thing. I've worked at or been around enough startups to see how godawful it is when people start hiring lovers (or ex-lovers) -- these tend to be people who would otherwise never have the position they get put into (they never just end up as secretaries anymore), and it's the other employees who suffer first.


  • by DG ( 989 )
    The purpose of the *game* was to defeat an opponent via intelligent deck design, careful application of strategy, and more than a little luck.

    The *game* was fun.

    The purpose of the *collecting* was to make money for the Wizards of the Coast. It had little to do with the actual gameplay.

    Collecting killed the game. The fact that the collecting aspect was designed in from the get go doesn't change that one iota.

    Once the cards went from "gamepieces" to "priceless works of art at overvalued prices" the fun factor was dead.


  • by DG ( 989 ) on Monday March 26, 2001 @11:53AM (#339178) Homepage Journal
    I actually started playing this when it first came out - my roomate at the time would have his friends over all the time, and I picked it up from them.

    The game was a lot of fun, and the math implicit behind building decks was a cool intellectual exercise.

    I even entered a couple of tournements, and did reasonably well.

    But soon after, it seemed that the "collectible" part of the game took over from the "fun" part of the game, and when that happened, I sold my cards to my brother in law (for like $50) and left the game.

    Imagine my shock when 6 months later I saw an internet price list showing the Black Lotus card at $500.00 each! I had had 2 of them....

    Bleah. Capitalism sure knows how to suck the fun out of games.

  • The Alpha and Beta editions being the exception, really.

    For someone who came around 3rd Edition with all of the Alpha/Beta cards being ridiculously priced, every new edition after that had progressively more powerful cards.

    At least, that was my experience. I'm still glad I stopped playing. Now if only I could get rid of all of those damned cards.

  • by defile ( 1059 ) on Monday March 26, 2001 @11:48AM (#339180) Homepage Journal

    Wizards of the Coast constantly set high prices on Magic cards. With kids who were addicted and had nothing better to do, they were glad to pay $4/pack for 12 cards.

    They had the damned nerve to keep upping the prices while they became more and more popular. Yeah, supply and demand and all that, but we were such damn suckers for it.

    Not to mention every new edition had cards more powerful than the last, which meant that if you wanted to keep playing, you had to keep paying. I sure am glad I realized what a waste of money it all was when I started seriously considering paying $180 for a Black Lotus.

  • Collecting killed ALL gaming.

    I remember when Magic first came out too. Pretty much everyone in the gaming scene was kind of getting sick of all the game companies trying to suck money out of them by updating new editions of the games so everyone would have to buy all new rule books, at ever increasing prices. So everyone decided to switch to Magic. Less time consuming, more portable, easier to rope-in newbies.
    It became VERY difficult to find people who were willing to spend the time and effort to do RPG's or Wargames. And it was the rich fucks who spent the most money on cards that did better. I watched a few games, and I "got it". That was the end of gaming for me. A small group of hard core role players and I gamed for like 7 years after that, but you just didn't see the following anymore, especially at cons.
  • My son has Pokemon Monopoly.
  • I know Christians who believe that D&D is evil. In fact, some of them believe that ANYTHING that distracts one from worship of God is EVIL.
  • Should we throw out the part where Pi=3?
  • No, it's God's perfect and unerring Word. It doesn't say "about 30 cubits".

    What I'm doing is pointing out the most obvious flaw. One that exposes the folly of Biblical literalism. And I would characterize it as more than "some" Christians. I'd say MOST Christians (who actually take the time to read the Bible) make that mistake.

    It's my personaly belief that God put this passage in the Bible in exactly this way as a signal: Hey, it's my Word, but it's written on imperfect paper, in imperfect ink, transcribed by VERY imperfect humans. Don't take it all THAT seriously.
  • I'm pretty sure there is a Pokemonopoly, right next to NFL Monopoly, NASCAR Monopoly, internet Monopoly, and all the rest.
  • The issue, though, is that you _can't_ be commiitted to a certain product... Products change. MtG will be gone, some day, and maybe D&D will be long gone, as well. You can build a sustainable company whose only purpose for existing is a single "product."

    VIsionary companies that survive build themselves around a corporate culture such that no matter what the product the company is selling, the employees will buy into the overall culture and vision. After all, products come and go.

  • Except for that little bit at the end there ;-)

  • "Finally, I think that equating simplified with dumbed-down is absolutely backwards. Yes, younger children can play the new D but it's also a cleaner, better game (I'd still rather play messy shadowrun, but nonetheless.)"

    This is a matter of opinion, so there is no absolute answer. I would just like to note that in making my original original post, I did take into account the difference between simplified and dumbed down. Chess and checkers are two of the "simplest" games ever devised, yet also two of the most challenging and long-lasting.

    When I said dumbed down, I did actually mean dumbed down. Sorry if you disagree.

  • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Monday March 26, 2001 @11:45AM (#339190)
    As far as I can tell, Hasbro's business model is as follows:

    * Identify reasonably profitable gaming company
    * Purchase said company
    * Identify 20/80 products - that is, the 20% of that company's products that are the most profitable.
    * Terminate all products not in the top 20%
    * Kill original version of the 20% products, then release a dumbed down version with (a) any complex rule removed (b) simplified, glaring graphics that appeal to (unsophisticated) 2 year olds. In other words, fast-food-ize the games.
    * Sit back and rake in the bucks.

    When they acquired Avalon Hill it was a sad day.

  • Dude, it's just paper. There's no reason for anyone to pay even 1 cent for a mass-produced piece of paper that says that the owner is entitled to a portion of a company that is not profitable and never will be.

    But people paid nosebleed prices for these pieces of paper because *other* people would pay nosebleed prices for these pieces of paper.

    Can you say, 'lemming'?

  • If you had a million dollars in the bank, you could remove $10,000 from that account every year forever. (assuming continued bank solvency and an interest income of at least 1%.)

    If you pulled out $100,000 each year you could report much better results to stockholders... for 10 years plus some change.

    The capitalist approach to resources is consumption -- the second company would do far better and the owners would make a great deal more money. If everyone does this for too long, we all starve.

    This truth is simple and inescapable but people deny it and consume, consume, consume anyway.

    A good real life example is the Icelandic cod. At one time they were available in such huge numbers that it seemed we would never run out. The cod have been wiped out -- because there was no overall control on consumption, it was in each individual's interest to extract as much fish as possible every year to feed his family and consume, consume, consume. We could have pulled cod out of the ocean forever but instead there may never again be a cod population.

    If we are this stupid on an individual basis it is hard to expect corporations to be any smarter.

  • by Malor ( 3658 )
    Skillz, dude. :-) Check out the Champions/Hero system for a very well-done non-level system. GURPS is probably the best-known example, but I liked Hero better. More fun IMO.

    In Champions/Hero you basically invent the rules to support the character, instead of envisioning a character to suit the rules. It takes a lot more work and thought, though -- you can't just blindly throw some dice, do some math, pick a few spells and have an evening's encounter. Not very hack and slashish -- but the combat system is fun and characters don't die too easily (comes from its superhero origins) -- though death is certainly a possibility.

    GURPS is more 'realistic' -- combat is VERY dangerous. The characters are very mortal -- getting into a fight is not a good way to improve one's lifespan. In GURPS, if you take a sword through the chest you are almost certainly going to die -- a high-skill character will be much more adept at avoiding the sword but will die just as quickly when stabbed.

    Character levels are a workable first attempt at a gaming system, but skills seem to be a closer approximation of how life really works.
  • I quit AD&D and vowed to never purchase another T$R product when T$R sued to shut down ftp sites like soda and other archives of excellent player contributed D&D material. However TSR of the 70s and early 80s did advance RPGS. I have been looking through some of my old TSR stuff and it is good stuff. I think it was around the time 2nd AD&D came out they switched from being TSR to T$R. The endless player's handbooks ("complete book of" etc), and useless boxed sets was the begining of the end. At the same time other companies were producing wonderfull game worlds with great new game machanics.

    To the poster at the top of the tread. WotC has done a wonderfull job with 3rd ed D&D. I have not played yet, but the game looks to be much more modern while keeping the original feel of D&D and AD&D.

  • Thanks for the link! There is some great old stuff there. Some of those old modules bring back memories. Hediously horrible memories of torture and mayhem at the hands of a sadistic DM.

  • The OS rpg has been done atleast one. Search for FUDGE. There are others as well including a drop in replacement to AD&D or atleast the beginings of one. The only problem I saw is that everyone has very different ideas for game machanics.
  • I've met both Richard Garfield and Peter Adkison and I found the former much more interesting than the latter. Garfield created the game of Magic on a mandate that WOTC needed a portable game that could be played in 20 minutes. What WOTC got was a midas-like game that turned everything around it into gold, forcing the entire company to change form as well. I liked WOTC better when they were poor and happy.

    Curiously the writer ignores what became of Garfield and his wife... but I guess there's still time for another story.
  • You are wrong on two points:

    First, the booster packs never cost $4 a pack. If they were priced this way then your local retailer was ripping you off and you bought into it. The prices were consistently less than $2.50.

    Second, it's clear that the early cards were the most powerful. This is due to the fact that Garfield never invisioned the game being as popular was it became. When people started buying huge amounts of cards, the play balance went out the window. Later editions were designed to deal with this issue.
  • Before that first GenCon where they showed Magic I had what was later called a plague rat deck. Basically the card was broken because you could keep stacking this card and they made all the others more powerful. None my friends would trade rats to me, because my deck was pretty much killing all theirs.

    At the convention, I got to play various people from WOTC. I beat a couple of people at the booth and they suggested I play Peter Adkison, who waiting for players in a demo area.

    After playing him a couple of games he suggest that we trade. He mentions that he's looking for Moxes for his wife who wants to build a landless deck.

    I have a couple and I decide that what I want are plague rats, since no one will trade them to me. He seems perplexed at first (Rats were common cards, and moxes were rare.) I ended up trading the Moxes for a few plague rats.

    Shortly after that, they restrict the decks to four cards of any one type, which destroyed the deck I had and made the extra 12 plague rats useless. Later the Moxes are worth nearly $150 each.

    I wanted to make a shirt that said "I traded Magic cards with Peter Adkison and all I got were these lousy plague rats."
  • He pitched Robo Rally, but WOTC told him that they would consider it AFTER he made the game that would eventually be called Magic; The Gathering. Richard has tons of games in his closet of mechanics, but he was asked to create a game "that was portable and could be played in less than twenty minutes."
  • Yeah, I've read about Boggs before. He rocks. A little odd, but very cool stuff. I hope one day to have an excuse to sell him something :)
  • According to this page [senate.gov] from the US Senate, it costs four cents to print a dollar bill. Look in the section on "seigniorage."
    BTW, the reason no one forges a dollar bill is because the risk of getting caught is the same and the payoff is much, much lower. In other words, if you can pass one fake $100 bill, you have something worth $100 bucks and your risk of being caught was low- you only had to pass one bill. Passing 100 one dollar bills is much more difficult (greater odds of being caught) for the same payoff.
  • Dude. It's just paper. There's no reason that a mass-produced little sheet of green paper that costs $0.01 to print should ever be worth $1 just because it has a picture of George Washington on it. That's insanity.

    Just a little reality check on supply and demand...
  • by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Monday March 26, 2001 @01:02PM (#339204) Homepage Journal

    I wouldn't have described purchasing TSR as "cherry picking." TSR was clearly on its way out and without Wizards of the Coast [wizards.com] (WotC) would have gone under. WotC had previously failed to turn a profit on role-playing games, and TSR's sad state was more evidence that role-playing games were a bad idea. It took alot of faith to buy TSR.

    I was working for Evermore Entertainment [evermore88.com] in 1997. Evermore was developing for TSR the concisely named Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Core Rules CD-ROM 2.0 [evermore88.com]. I met a number of TSR and WotC employees over the course of my employment. I got to hear, first and second hand, about the problems inside the company. I visited TSR's headquarters in Lake Geneva during the WotC purchase. I even met, as part of a larger group, with Peter Adkison.

    I can vouch that Peter was still a huge gaming geek in 1997. It was clear that he wanted TSR because he loved it too much to let it die. Whenever Evermore met with him, he reinforced that he wanted our software to support as many quirk home-brew rules as possible, after all, it needed to work with his game. I got to hear about his plans for the Game Centers, a gamer's home away from home. It would have computers built into the tables to store and refernce notes; projector screens to show maps and monster pictures. While he hoped to make a profit, it was clear that he just wanted to share great things with all of the gamers of the world. (I also discovered that he is the most aggressive driver I have ever riden with, and that he likes lots of ketchup on his burgers.) He would be completely welcome at my gaming table, and I suspect most gamers would be happy to game with him.

    Just before the purchase, TSR looked doomed. The previous owners had run the company into the ground. I later learned that the previous owners had detested gamers and the entire hobby. They had simply bought in for the money. They viewed gamers as cattle to be milked and treated as poorly as possible. Garbage like Spellfire [tu-berlin.de] (A tarted up version of the card game War [pagat.com] with badly recycled art) was released with the belief if you make it, gamers will buy it. Games were kept bland and safe. Older gamers felt abandoned by the company and stopped purchasing products. No real effort to draw new blood was made, so new gamers ended up playing hipper, newer, edgier games like Vampire: the Masquerade [white-wolf.com]. There was no new blood. Sales were dropping every quarter. Debts were piling up, thier printer refused further work until existing debt was paid. After the buyout, employees openly cursed the previous owners.

    TSR's continued existance was an embarrassment. I would never had guessed that it could be saved, that its bad name could be salvaged. It was brave of WotC to purchase it under these conditions. Beyond the initial buyout of the company, WotC had to pay off TSR's creditors. Significant time, effort, and money were spent revitalizing the TSR product lines. The rescue of Dungeons & Dragons [wizards.com] was amazing. D&D went from a has been contender that gamers looked down their noses at to relatively new and hip. Suddenly friends who haven't played D&D in years were back and enjoying the heck out of it. It was alot of effort to recover the D&D name, and I believe Peter Adkison's love of the game was responsible.

  • > The Black Lotus was this mythical thing kind of like the lost continent of Atlantis or something. A few years later, every card dealer at the Con had at least 5 for sale and no one was buying.

    I remember hearing rumours of people counterfeiting Magic cards because it was much easier and safer than banknotes.

  • If you're interested in small, imaginative companies that publish small, imaginative games, then you'd be well-served to check out wonderfully named Cheapass Games [cheapass.com].

    Don't let the name -- or the packaging -- fool you. It is their very simplicity that makes Cheapass Games so enjoyable. The concepts are ludicrous, the artwork often hilarious, and the game fun due in no small part to a handful of simple rules.

    Some offerings of note:

    Really good stuff.


  • Run, don't walk. These guys rule. So the games aren't all perfect - who cares? They're cheap and huge amounts of fun fun for a while.

  • I dove into MTG early on, I still have,and occasioinally play with, original cards, black border and all. They're tattered and torn, and give the collector weenies fits whenever they see them. Full sets of Moxes, and everything...

    I stopped playing a bit after the artifact expansion sets came out, cause the rules were in flux, and it seemed like every game I played turned ito a rule bickering nightmare.

  • by Bob McCown ( 8411 ) on Monday March 26, 2001 @11:51AM (#339209)
    I always loved it when someone would play against me, with my original cards. They'd scream "Do you know what that card is worth?" "Yup", Id answer, "17 cents, exactly what I paid for it"
  • I think I'll get flamed for this, but there are some corporations that can work outside the box of the formal corporate culture we see in large companies based on the East Coast and still survive extremely well.

    I mean, look at the corporate culture of companies like Microsoft, Amazon.com and eBay--much of it is the food and soda filled, T-shirt and Nerf office geek culture you mentioned. Yet, Microsoft and eBay are still around and actually making a profit. The reason is simple: eBay and MS made the decision early to be profitable as soon as possible, not to mention the luck of getting there first in regards to their respective markets.

    Indeed, look at the way Jack Welch completely overhauled General Electric; he got the company to be one of the first to have a massive presence on the Internet and also use the Internet to have direct dealings with customers. A good example of GE's use of the Internet is how the GE Aero Engines division uses extranet connections to monitor the performance of the GE90 jet engines installed on Boeing 777 airplanes with customers' approval; this allows GE to quickly identify any potential faults in the engine that can be quickly addressed with service bulletins, engine control software updates, and new parts.

    In short, a company not only needs a visionary leader, but one that will not end up turning the company into a money sinkhole. I think the founder of Wizards of the Coast lost that vision and that's why the culture of WoTC changed so rapidly.
  • I think what helped the revival of Dungeons and Dragons was the fact that the Third Edition was VERY heavily play-tested with the largest beta program for a gaming system. WoTC's designers carefully looked at the results of the playtests, and crafted the game to avoid all the mistakes that hurt the AD&D Second Edition rules.

    It's small wonder why D&D is enjoying a major revival because gamers love the new rules.
  • For all those mourning magic, there is a better solution! Adopt a game that's not being produced anymore. For example, me and about 6-8 other people now play Middle Earth: The Wizards regularly. You can pick up cards on Ebay dirt cheap, and it's the closest thing to real gaming for any card game out there.

    Best of all, since it's no longer produced you don't have to worry about the "card race" that exists in games like MTG. With about 2000 cards across all sets, it will be a long time before you get bored.

    Note: METW is made by I.C.E (RIP), so except a level of complexity unheard of in card games.

  • Yeah, back in the day before everyone started playing with tournament legal decks. My roommate would play Green with his 4 Forces of Nature, 8 Berserks, and 12 Giant Growths and I would fend him off with my 6 Sengir Vampires, 12 Terrors, and 10 Unholy Strengths.

    Of course, we played for ante, too. I lost a Black Lotus once on ante. I got it back a few weeks later on another ante, not that I ever found the card all that useful.
  • I always found my Goblin deck superior to any white weenie deck. It got a bit pathetic, though; even for a gamer.
    I found myself sneering at a friend because he had fireballs and lightning bolts in what he called a goblin deck, and I spent many a sleepless night wondering whether the Goblin Rock Sled - not a goblin card - should be allowed in my pure goblin deck.
    It won most games, but I still cringe at the zeal with which I defended the deck.

    On another topic: netrunner was and still is the best CCG ever. No, really. Ever. It's great. it's beyond great. If only I had people against whom to play.
  • was BethMo hot? I remember her dispensing wisdom on the CompuServe forums back in the day, and with the company's rampant sexual freedom... WOWZA!
  • by BilldaCat ( 19181 ) on Monday March 26, 2001 @12:21PM (#339216) Homepage
    I was into the magic scene pretty heavily for a while, knew some people very close to people @ WOTC and know some people who work/worked there, and I never heard anything about the sex romps or all the goths who worked there.

    That's some pretty fucked up stuff, and it's very shocking to hear..

    Magic died with the Pro Tour anyway. All of the rules lawyers and professional cheaters came out of the woodwork and took the fun out of the game.. the first couple tournaments were ok, had a good time, but after that, I feel the game rapidly degenerated. Everyone geared up for the next "money" tournament. There were no more fun/free play days at the local comic shops, as no one went. Everyone was too busy practicing with their playtest group for the next big tournament, the next big cash prize.

    And if you weren't on the inside of these cliques, you were pretty fucked. Newbies aka "scrubs" were looked down on with an incredible amount of scorn, and viewed as easy targets to cheat against, get your easy 2-0 win, and move to the next round. I was on the inside of a clique, and we pretty much played by the rules, but I admit I cheated a couple times. Not so much as drawing extra cards, but allowing my opponent to do something illegal/wrong to my advantage (forgetting to draw a card, things along those lines), and not tell them. Technically by the rules, that IS cheating.

    I got out of the game a couple years ago, as did most of my friends. One of them still plays, still going across the country for tournaments every month, practicing most weekends. He's going to Detroit for a tournament this weekend. And yes, he has a successful career and until very recently, a significant other.

    And no, he has never won the big money, and likely never will.
  • I bet about 5000 horny slashdot geeks are fantasising about getting a time machine and heading back to Seattle in 1994 to pick up a Wizards of the Coast job application form.
  • Really? What three products did you buy from WotC prior to the 1993 introduction of Magic?

    Primal Order, Pawns and, I think, Chessboards (the alternate dimensions sourcebook). Was I the only person who bought the Primal Order? (not to mention the military order, economic order, and all the other lost projects). If you're looking for some tough RPG encounters, check out Pawns, one of the last works of the great Nigel Findley.

  • So, was Dalmuti's named after the game or vice versa? Just curious.
  • I know from personal experience that that's what DIDN'T happen at Origin. (You know, Ultima, Wing Commander, those games)

    As the screws tightened on the working environment, the politically naive were axed, regardless of their talent and dedication, and the politically savvy were kept on, because they didn't make waves. This is not the way to run a creative venture. Over time, the creative geniuses who WON'T wear suits and punch a clock from 9-5 either leave or are fired. Then the games suck, and people stop buying them, and you don't have a company anymore.

    Origin was not profitable when they got bought by EA in the late 80's/early 90's (I don't remember exactly when it was). Origin began showing profits with UO, and EA then scrubbed the entire company, destroying any vestiges of the Origin corporate identity (which at that time was horribly atrophied). It was almost inevitable, but that doesn't make it any less sad.

    By definition, suits can not make video games. Any suit that tells you he can, is lying.
  • I played MTG a lot in school, but does anybody remembered the rest of their products that got dumped? I miss Primal Order. Of course, I also loved Spelljammer...(anybody got a SJA1?)
  • Fudge is available at http://www.fudgerpg.com [fudgerpg.com]
  • It's worth looking up the author of the Ravenloft series. He is a baptist, (I think), and I recall reading a few things he has written defending D&D.
    I don't have any links right now though. Your argument reminded me of a few things he had said about self determination and role playing. Look for his work.

    cheers Andrew
  • In case, you're one of many like me who collected magic cards, but doesn't play much anymore; someone just forwarded me this link to a Cheapass Game that can be played with Magic Cards [cheapass.com]. If you're not familliar with Cheapass Games, they produce very low-cost games with simple rules. Their best known include: "Before I Kill You, Mr. Bond", "Give Me the Brain", "Kill Dr. Lucky" and many, many others.

    My personal favorite and recommendation is "Kill Dr. Lucky" for it's deceptively simple strategy, including the infamous "lucky train".

    Landyland and it's sister game Mana Burn [cheapass.com] are only a buck each, which is the low-end of Cheapass games. The high end is around $8-10, but I usually expect to pay around $2-5 for a Cheapass game.

    The other great thing about Cheapass is the art. Many of the games are drawn by such artists as Phil Phoglio [studiofoglio.com] and John Kovalic [gamespy.com]. It may be on paper cut-outs, but it's very nicely done.

    NOTE: I'm advocating Cheapass games, but have no vested interest in their financial future. I'd love to see more people play them, but that's just for my gaming fun.
  • My friends who played and myself were constantly scratching our collective heads wondering just why they kept doing things that seemed designed to drive people away from the game. Adding the new cards constantly, changing rules left and right with seemingly no rational (other than the constant, "It makes it easier for new people"), and don't get me started upon the Tourney scene once they stepped in and started sponsoring it. That was about the time I got out myself.

    This article was a real eye-opener. It really showed what was going on in the company at this time. Everything that seemed so odd about the nearly monthly changes in the rules and cards reflected what was going on with the company itself. As what I had experienced as a new game, that was unattached to anything before it, began to die, so was the company in the form of the orginal people leaving, new manement styles changed by the week, etc. No, it makes sense now. Sad really.

  • I stopped playing years ago (right before Ice Age came out), but I had a killer tourney deck that was legal at the time.

    Sensory Deprivation Deck
    Blue/Colorless (Artifacts)
    Counterspells, Vesuvian Dopplegangers, and other anti-magic cards
    Four of each Urza's Lands. Relic Barriers, Winter Orbs, Black Vises

    Deck took a few turns to get moving, so it was incredibly suseptible to fast weenie decks. But, when it got moving, it was killer. Counterspells would prevent opponent from casting anything. Controls and Doppleganger pretty much negated any creatures he played. Winter Orbs would block usage of land. Before the end of opponent's turn, use relic barrier to tap Winter Orb. Allows me to untap all land. Opponent can't cast anything, Black Vises would bleed opponent life.

    I won a few major tourney's with this deck. Then, I got tired of MtG and sold my entire collection. Got back every dime I put into it.

    And immediately after I got out, tourney rules were changed, that would have made my deck illegal. Still, it was fun as hell to see the looks on players faces.

  • A friend of mine owns a store which specialized in selling Magic cards. One day she got a call from WotC marketing asking, for purely survey reasons, how many boxes she was selling. (Since she bought them through a 3rd party, they couldn't find out how much she was buying directly). She told them the truth, and one month later, right before Christmas, A WotC booth and game store popped up in the mall right before Christmas. My friend had a terrible Christmas because of this.

    Yeah, it's legal, and it might even be a coincidence. I doubt it though. What we believe is that this was a calculated attempt by WotC to bolster it's bottom line. What a crappy way to learn that the company you sell wants to steal the customers you've gained.

  • by GoofyBoy ( 44399 ) on Monday March 26, 2001 @11:40AM (#339229) Journal


    Nothing like a picking up the first 7 cards and having two Savanah Lion and two Swords To Plowshares and three plains.

    /me daydreams about past youth.
  • Big corporations generally cannot maintain unprofitable and "frivolous" expenditures, no matter how much idealism lies behind the scene.
    The bottom line always wins out in the end.

    Idealistic eccesses are reserved for the small scale business, like mom & pop stores that tolerate inefficient practices merely because they want to. The reason, I suppose, is that these places are still under the direct control of the person with the idealism.

    A coporate entity, on the other hand, gives up its idealism as it places its control in the hands of many people, especially investors, who generally have absolutely no motive other than profit. Maybe that's the next stage in the evolution of our business models, but frankly I doubt it.

    Let's remember that we as common stock investors share blame for forcing this mentality on corporations.

  • My friends first saw MTG at a local con when it first came out. We scoffed at these guys carrying around thousands of cards and called their game a silly thing.

    We persisted in our aloof dismissal of Magic as a poser game until I was isolated from the pack for a summer. At that time, another friend had me play a few games with him, and that was it. I took the game back to my friends at school 2 months later and infected them. It spread like smallpox and stayed with us for years.

    We're over it now, but every now and then I find someone who plays it and sits down for a game. Lots of fond memories about Magic, and I'm glad I succumbed to it.
  • Rather, they cannot easily tolerate things that are obvious and appear frivolous. A game Mecca as described in the article is just the sort of thing that makes for a juicy budget cut when times get tight.

    Of course inefficiency of a much greater sort often lurks inside every cubicle.
  • I never heard of the Black Lotus...? My favorite card was always the Breeding Pit. I played a mixture of black and blue, the "Mind Fsck" deck. *sigh* I miss my college homeys...

    "Smear'd with gumms of glutenous heat, I touch..." - Comus, John Milton
  • Idiot. The point of the game WAS collecting.

    The game was designed specifically to milk buyers out of money. Why else would there be rarity, and card retirement? The fact that the collecting aspect became big is just an indication that the game itself was doing great.

  • And my point is, from the onset, one has to be blind not to realize that the company created the game to make money. Even the Salon article tries to play blind to this fact, by completely ignoring the cash cow aspect of the game. But I saw Magic when it first came out, and I spotted it as a marketing ploy that foreshadowed Pokémon by a few years. And from the onset, it was about collecting. So collecting never took the fun out of the equation: it was the purpose of the game.
  • As a DCI certified Judge, I can attest that they've made huge advances against the rules lawyering and cheating. Judges are allowed to given penalties against players who are trying to rules lawyer their opponents. If the offense isn't serious, then it's probably rules lawyering. The penalty for rules lawyering (minor unsportsmanlike conduct) is generally worse than the opponent's infraction-- so the person who tries to get a cheap game win generally ends worse off.

    Anyway, the point is that tournament magic isn't for everyone. I enjoy the competition, but some people just like to play with their friends. Don't let someone else tell you how you can or can't have fun with the game.

  • I sure am glad I realized what a waste of money it all was when I started seriously considering paying $180 for a Black Lotus.

    Maybe you should have purchased that Black Lotus. [ebay.com]
  • I still haven't forgiven WotC for forcing the itis.com/deckmaster/ site to shut down a few years ago. That site was awesome as a resouce for the game.

    Stupid copyright lawyers.
  • Idealistic eccesses are reserved for the small scale business, like mom & pop stores that tolerate inefficient practices merely because they want to.

    I believe a certain Mr. Jobs would respectfully disagree with you there.
  • by CaptainCarrot ( 84625 ) on Monday March 26, 2001 @11:47AM (#339251)
    You know, Wizards of the Coast bought TSR a couple of years ago. So how does this sound?

    Advanced Dungeons & Dragons... From Hasbro!


  • Modding this post down would not be "squelching a valid but unpopular viewpoint" because this viewpoint is not valid.

    I personally don't know any Christian who views D&D as "evil" in any way. You make it sound as if just thinking about spellcasting will cause you to be tempted by Satan, and that's just plain absurd. I play D&D regularly, and I have never known or even heard of anyone being drawn to Satan because of it.

    I hate to break it to you, but D&D really is just a game. If you can point to any evidence otherwise, please do so. But until then, all you're doing is giving Christianity a bad name.
    Lord Nimon

  • Of course, large corporations have no inefficiencies...NONE! Or maybe large companies can't afford to spend on "frivolous" things because 5-10% of their employees work in HR and contribute nothing to the bottom line.

    Work in a small software company and you can know everyone there & what they're working on. Move to a large company and meet people from HR, and facilities, and planning and 16 other departments that not only don't write software, but don't know anything about computers....so now you need twice as many IT people to provide 'deskside service' to keep all their Windoze machines working after they got nailed by the 'Anna Kournikova' virus. Then one day you look around you and shout 'does anyone else here actually write software ?'

    Anyone who thinks large companies are more efficient than small companies never worked at one. Big companies just waste their money differently, so there's none left over for free coffee, snacks or pool tables.
  • Oh my god, I have never productivity lower than what I've seen working in large companies. Have some dot-com's suffered from professional slackers who hide behind the lifestyle so nobody can tell they're not working ? Sure. But they probably never suffered from being so disorganized that they can't efficiently use their staff. I know plenty of people in large companies who talk about work getting heavy when you have to actually work eight hours per day, cutting out the paid lunch and the water cooler time is a bitch.

    Big companies are full of suits on autopilot, doing just enough to get that middle-of-the-road job evaluation, picking up their cheque every two weeks and counting down their 13.5 years to retirement. If I had to bet on which company was producing more $/employee, I would take Wizards over Hasbro any day.
  • by xTown ( 94562 ) on Monday March 26, 2001 @01:21PM (#339262)
    Religious arguments against RPGs usually take the form of "thought equals deed", i.e. if you conceive of it, it is tantamount to having done it. Often, people point to the Bible verse that says, and here I paraphrase, that if you lust after a woman in your heart you have committed adultery.

    The problem with this kind of argument, and the argument presented in the post above, is twofold. First, it is based on what I believe to be a flawed reading of the Bible. Second, it ignores the extremely important doctrine of free will.

    A lot of the Bible is misinterpreted. Because it is a received text, and the time during which it was written is long, long gone, people who take a literalist approach to the Bible are saddled with a lot of things that simply do not hold. Christians who point to teachings from Leviticus and Deutoronomy are attempting to follow rules that Christ himself mocked. They read the Bible, but do not understand it--Christ mocked the Pharisees for excessively strict adherence to Temple law. See The Humor of Christ [amazon.com] by Elton Trueblood. It is entirely possible, even probable, that Christ was making fun of Pharisees in the verse on adultery that I paraphrase above.

    But I think the real argument against the AC's post, troll though it may be, is that it completely ignores the doctrine of free will, specifically as it relates to RPGs.

    If you accept that man has free will, which most branches of Christianity do, then you accept that God gave man free will so that mankind would freely choose to be in relationship with God, because God loved mankind enough that he would not force us into a relationship with him. People give lip service to this idea, but rarely follow it to its logical conclusion, which is this: in order to make a choice, you must be cognizant of the fact that there IS a choice, and you must know what you are choosing between. You must be able to imagine the consequences of making a wrong choice: "If I punch this jerk in the face, he'll hit me back and we'll probably end up getting arrested." Clearly, the Lord gave us our imaginations to USE, not to shut away. Just as clearly, thought CANNOT equal deed--if it did, then you would suffer spiritual consequences every time you made a decision of any kind, no matter what your ultimate choice.

    I strongly believe that using your imagination is not and cannot be wrong, even from a spiritual point of view. It is patently obvious that you do not cast magic spells when you play an RPG that has magic, just as you do not actually shoot the border guards in a spy RPG, or pilot a spaceship in a sci-fi RPG. Satan does not lurk between the covers of RPGs. Satan hides behind those who twist the word of God into a message of hatred and intolerance. Remember this: John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but shall have everlasting life," and John 3:17 doesn't say "unless you're gay or not white or a woman." That's the word of man, my friends. That's what you have to watch out for.

  • Beyond the shores of imagination lies the Emerald City of Seattle, a perfect
    training ground for wizards. Here, you'll believe in the impossible when you
    see giant birds of steel learning to fly and mermaids of java on every
    corner. Here, the sun shines only for those who have cultivated the art of

    Just outside of Seattle is a little town called Renton, where the "Wizards
    of the Coast" work and practice and play. Each wizard has a magical story to
    tell, for the miles of yellow brick roads that brought them to the Emerald
    City are crooked and rocky ones. But the wizards' favorite story of all is
    the one about the great wizard Peter and his friends, who never gave up on
    their dream to make magic, and who taught the rest of us to believe.

    One night in the small college town of Walla Walla, Washington, four friends
    gathered, as they often did, to talk and play games. On this particular
    night, however, a dream was planted in their hearts when one of the friends
    suggested that they make games of their very own. Not just any games, but
    the finest games around. They even came up with a name for their game
    company, so sure that their dream would someday come true. They would call
    themselves Wizards of the Coast.

    Several years later, a circle of eager wizards had gathered under the name
    Wizards of the Coast. The wizard Peter had met a game-maker and
    mathematician wizard named Richard and magic happened. The wizards created a
    game that would come to be loved by thousands of people and it would also
    make the wizards' dreams come true.

    Dragons and samurai aligned with the wizards in 1997 to create the largest
    adventure game company in the world. In fact, the wizards became so popular
    that Mr. Potato Head and his friends at Hasbro, Inc. asked the wizards to
    join their family. Currently, the wizards develop and publish trading card
    games, tabletop roleplaying games, novels, magazines, family card and board
    games, and electronic media products. The wizards have many friends,
    including relationships with Warner Bros., Lucasfilm, and Marvel Comics.

    Magic is still made every day at Wizards of the Coast, for if we have
    learned anything at all, it is this: when people with dreams and diligence
    get together, anything is possible.
  • Magic was created to fund another venture they had, called Robo Rally. Any Slashdotten worth his mettle should check this game out.

    It's a game about programming!

    Unfortunately (or fortunately) MtG took off in a big way, becoming their primary focus.

    PS: Anyone want to buy my TimeWalk? I want to buy a complete set of robo rally, and have food for the month...

  • I love some of their games... Magic is cool and I can't stop buying anything put out on Krynn no matter how hard I try to hate Wizards. But they managed to purchase the most critical company in modern gaming history, TSR. Without them so many other people would never have been inspired to start other games, so many great fantasy novels wouldn't be out, many classic computer games literally could not have existed. The role playing hobby would be at least a decade behind where it is now if it existed at all. Wizards bought it and rather than letting some dignity remain and use the TSR name as a subline(like White Wolf and ArtHaus or Black Dog)they relabeled it all and in a short time knowledge of TSR's existence at all will mark you as an old schooler in the gaming community... I don't like what they did. Kinda serves them right to get swallowed up themselves.

    With that said, I would be much more upset if White Wolf got purchased away. It was sad that TSR went, but I doubt any company that would purchase White Wolf would have the balls to publish some of the stuff they have, even on the Black Dog label. If it happens though, as it is rumoured Hasbro wants white wolf(being easily the second most popular gaming company) I hope they simply provide the budget to produce more cool books(at higher quality of proofreading), take some of the increased profits from those books, and let white wolf do its thing. Kinda like the Slashdot/Andover thing. Provide money to run, take the profits, and let you guys handle other details.
  • I had one of those favorites too, but it was horrible for two-player games. Fortunately most of the time when I played it was with at least four people.

    Red-Green-White, with four earthquakes, four hurricanes, some wild growth, some healing, some Gaea's Touch, a desert twister and tranquilities, etc. Heavy on the mana and able to get it out fast. For people who'd never seen it before it was devastating because it just looked like I had a bad shuffle with nothing but mana and a couple of COPs that I played instead of discarding them. Then the earthquakes came.

    "I'll tap these ten lands and discard two Gaea's Touch for four more. One white into the COP:Red, one(two?) red to start the earthquake, twelve damage to all players and non-flying creatures."
    As long as nobody could kill me by the next turn I was in great shape from then on, because by that point I usually had two or three more mass damage or healing cards in my hand. With one or two Gaea's Touches out I was also able to drop two or three lands in a turn, so I was all set by five or six turns in - not too long in a multiplayer game.

    -- fencepost
  • by webrunner ( 108849 ) on Monday March 26, 2001 @12:20PM (#339272) Homepage Journal
    Black Isle studios (actually interplay in general) lost the rights to make D&D games for the pc (Bauldurs Gate, Neverwinter Nights, etc.) because of.. guess who.. Hasbro.
  • $180 for a Black Lotus

    I prefer the Blacker Lotus that I have in one of my decks. Fine, it gives new meaning to sacrifice, but it's still worth it... and cheap...

  • Most of the time I find that these two questions are actually one question. . . But generally I put the priority on "enjoy what I do". Usually if I enjoy the work I'm doing then I (almost) automatically enjoy where I work.

  • by susano_otter ( 123650 ) on Monday March 26, 2001 @12:28PM (#339278) Homepage

    So you're saying that if I believed in Hotmail's product, I should have stayed on even after they were bought by Microsoft - even though Microsoft itself doesn't believe in the product, only the revenue?

    And you're saying that I should do this even if the new corporate culture thinks what I wear to work is more important than the work I do? Even if the new culture features top-down management that totally devalues my experience and ability? That I'm twice as evil if the new culture doesn't fit my lifestyle preferences?

    Or are you just trolling?

  • I prefered Jyhad. With no expansions.
  • The Bible doesn't say that Pi = 3. What the Bible says, in 1 Kings, is that Solomon created a bath measuring 10 cubits in diameter and 30 in circumference.

    So of course 30 divided by 10 doesn't equal Pi, but then I bet it wasn't exactly 10 x 30 cubits, either. It's a story, dammit, and the point of the story is not to derive mathematical constants from incidental details. You're making the same mistake that some Christians do - taking the Bible literally - and you're wrong for the same reasons.

    question: is control controlled by its need to control?
    answer: yes
  • If someone decides to stay on at the place even when they have to wear a suit and come in 9 to 5 instead of having a food and soda filled, T-shirt and Nerf office, that means that they are really committed to the place and the product that the place is selling.

    The folks who drop out in the buyout process are the ones who aren't committed to the product but to a certain lifestyle.

    One could equally well argue that the people who insist that employees dress a particular way aren't committed to the product but rather to a certain lifestyle. After all, they seem to value a particular mode of dress and behavior over keeping the people who developed and understand the product. Equally, the employees who stayed on might not be the ones who value the product but rather the ones who are unable to find a job elsewhere. Dumping the top performers to keep the guys your competitors won't touch is hardly a way to improve the company.

    I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm personally very happy that my employer doesn't demand formal dress. They're perfectly happy to allow employees who don't come into contact with outsiders to dress any way that complies with the needs of safety and modesty. I'd be very worried about management that cared more about the way I dress than the amount that I contribute to my projects, since it represents a focus on perception rather than reality.

  • ...white wolf(being easily the second most popular gaming company)...

    I think Steve Jackson Games might hold the #2 spot (or at least keep White Wolf from being easily #2. They certainly seem to occupy a lot of shelf space in local game shops and Illuminati: new World Order (their collectable card game) made them a pile of cash.

  • WotC has done a wonderfull job with 3rd ed D&D.

    They're also doing a pretty good job with 1st and 2nd edition. They're scanning most of the "classic" material into PDF files for electronic download. Some are available free at http://wizards.com/dnd/DnDDownloads_classics.asp [wizards.com] and others are sold for $3.49 each. Maybe there's a CD set somewhere down the road, similar to the Dragon magazine set.

  • We can thank them for the pathetic shell of a former gaming company that Sierra is too.
    As of about two months ago Hasbro Interactive (i.e. the computer game divsion) was bought by Infogrames for $100M in stock and cash. Hasbro Interactive owned both the MicroProse and Atari brands. Infogrames also owns GT Interactive.

    Sierra is owned by Havas Interactive which was called Cendant Software, and also owns Blizzard. Havas and is ultimately owned by Vivendi, which is a fairly large company (some 300,000 employees). Interestingly both Havas/Vivendi and Infogrames are French companies.

  • It's the sobs of millions of kids crying out in sorrow at the disappearance of their Pokemon cards!

    I can't be karma whoring - I've already hit 50!
  • You can find the commons for .10 apiece in most major cities. It's still a very fun game this way, and more balanced since the really powerful cards are generally rare. Bryguy
  • Terror
    Destroy target nonblack creature. That creature can not be regenerated this turn.

    Ah, that's better. Wonder if I have enough swamps left for my lord of the pit...

  • They killed the golden goose by saturating the market with new cards and dilluting the value and power of existing cards.

    4-5 years ago I saw cards for sale, $30 on up, at a Comic/Game shop. Not unlike when I bought First print of Dark Knight, for $45. Now it's all so much waste paper, because re-issues, new issues, flooding the market wiped it all out. (By the way, Beanie Babies have done the same thing recently.) I've got boxes of this stuff I can't even get rid of, so I pull it out and look at it now and then (actually did just that this weekend. Santa Clara show this coming weekend, maybe I can dump some of it there, just to get floorspace back.)

    If anyone cares, I'm still playing battletech with 3025 stuff. Much better that way.


  • Sadly, they're probably worth crap. Magic's popularity has declined and that means there's lots of cards available to anyone who wants them. Probably best to just put in a trunk and sit on for 30 years. When a fit of nostalgia kicks in you might retire on them, tho? :)


  • Hasbro Merchandising Ops?

    Dungeon Babies

    Furbies, the gathering

    G.I. Joe Transformer


    Barney, the blathering

    Tonka Wars


  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Monday March 26, 2001 @11:56AM (#339338) Homepage Journal
    It's a cyclical thing. You see it in everything. It's hot, eveyone wants, it's provided until everyone is choking on it and sick of it, it loses appeal, it fades, a new thing comes along.



    Baseball cards


    Any classic RPG


    Beanie Babies

    Cabbage Patch Kids

    Garbage Pail Kids

    The Hunt Brother's Silver fiasco

    Currently it's Harry Potter, but I think that star is already sagging. History repeating itself over and over, like no-one pays any attention. Don't buy high, get it because you like it, ignore the hype.


  • Magic was the best game I ever played.. I started just as Revised was coming in..I'll never forget the excitement of looking through those packs of cards, wondering what new and exciting cards I hadn't seen yet, playing with friends and getting half the rules wrong, but having a great time anyway. I'd go to the game shop and pay big bucks for cards from old expansions and put them in my 200-cards decks. I remember when a more knowledgeable friend took my deck and trimmed it to 60 cards.. suddenly I was winning every game! Who knew Serendib Efreet was actually a good card, even with the damage every turn!

    But like all good things, it came to an end. Somewhere between Garfield getting a patent on the game mechanics or WotC selling to Hasbro, it just became overproduced and too slick. I still buy a few cards from the new sets now and then, but the mechanics have gotten complicated, new cards have weird abilities, and it seems like the game doesn't have much more to go. I hope they give the game a graceful exit when the time comes.

  • It's good for productivity that more of the innovative, flexible firms are being bought up by more traditional, "staid" firms, and that the culture inside of the smaller firms is changing.

    If someone decides to stay on at the place even when they have to wear a suit and come in 9 to 5 instead of having a food and soda filled, T-shirt and Nerf office, that means that they are really committed to the place and the product that the place is selling.

    The folks who drop out in the buyout process are the ones who aren't committed to the product but to a certain lifestyle. Over time, they would lose interest and motivation even if the smaller, "creative" firm weren't getting bought out. The ones who stick it out eventually combine the creativity of the smaller firm with the knowledge, power and reach of the larger one. I guess that's what PR rats mean when they talk about "synergy" in the merger process.

    One outcome of this is that when the big fish eats the little fish it shouldn't lay people off- let the process happen by attrition. The ones who don't want to stay are the ones who couldn't cut the mustard anyway..

  • I remember the good old, old, old days of Magic, because I grew up in the town where it was created, Walla Walla WA., where Garfield taught at the fine institution of Whitman College.

    Growing up, I used to play games with playtesters, designers, art coordinators, people cards were modeled after, and Garfield himself all in the upstairs loft area of a downtown craft store just blocks from my house. It was fairly close-knit: at any one time I would know almost all of the people there, though it never was much bigger than 14 or 15 at the best. A family friend who worked for Wizards used to give my brother, my friend and me packs of Arabians, Alphas or Betas for doing yard work or other tasks.

    My brother and I, and a few of our friends were hooked. We bought countless cards, boxes and boxes, back when they were only sold in a handful of shops, occasionally cleaning out the inventory between three or four of us. Cards were all we ever asked for. I have dozens of autographed cards; many that were signed because I won them on ante, most because the people who signed them didn't expect much to ever come out of the game. I didn't expect much either, and I have kicked my self on occasion for not capitalizing on it better by selling when the selling was good. Oh well. The point is, everyone was taken by surprise by the explosion of popularity.

    Magic faded from the spotlight. Now all those cards are in boxes in my parents' house. The original crew has moved away (save for one very sketchy dude who I see at the Safeway every once in a while). The friendly old craft store... now a cold and corporate Starbucks. I am now a student (as is one of my best friends from those Magic days) at the wonderful Whitman College (Bio-physics Bio-chem combined major). I've told people here this story, kids who grew up elsewhere playing Magic, no one believes me. All the evidence has evaporated, and It isn't mentioned anywhere in the "history". One day, out of the blue, came vindication: my friend (whom I have know since those days) stumbled across one of Garfield's old tests, still on file.

  • by ocbwilg ( 259828 ) on Monday March 26, 2001 @01:06PM (#339369)
    One outcome of this is that when the big fish eats the little fish it shouldn't lay people off- let the process happen by attrition. The ones who don't want to stay are the ones who couldn't cut the mustard anyway..

    You forgot about all the people who stay because they are essentially worthless as employees and they know that they'll never get another job making as much money as they do now if they jump ship. In my experience (going through my 3rd buyout/takeover now) the most knowledgeable and hardest working employees leave because the new regime comes in with an "it's our company and we know what's best for it" attitude that ends up shitting all over the current employees. Those most capable of finding work elsewhere (aka, those most valuable to the company) end up doing so, leaving the new company with a dreid-up husk of the company that once was. The people who end up sticking around are usually those who can least afford to jump ship (the least valuable employees, those with golden handcuff clauses, etc).

    It's a rare day when a big company takes over a smaller company and keeps it's product and vision intact.
  • The actual situation is that Black Isle has a contract that gives them rights to make D&D games for the next year to two years. After that, Infogrames has exclusive rights to produce computer games based on Hasbro properties (including D&D) for 10 to 15 years. Though they can in turn, license those rights to another company - black isle for example, they won't because Interplay which Black Isle Studios is affiliated with is a direct competitior to Infogrames. For those interested in the issue, check out Desslock's RPG News [gamespot.com]. Recently he has had a lot of news/editorials regarding it.

  • I can't quite tell if you're being cynical or serious. I guess that's my problem.

    I think the fact that a lot of slackers got sucked into and vomited out of the dot-com revolution shouldn't lead you down the garden path. Lots of very creative and intelligent people at real companies (ie, creative/original/interesting) simply can't survive the corporatization process. They build the company, making it what it is. Then they leave, and the company simply becomes another piece of intellectual property, a feather in the cap of Disney, or whoever, which is equipped to bring the company into phase 2 of its lifespan (wherein it is quietly milked for ongoing profits.) Little groundbreaking work gets done, and the company lasts as long as its brand will sell action figures.

    There are companies that have been run for years by the original founders, and built into empires by the same people who would otherwise have been driven away by the merger.

  • Wizards has been around for quite a while now producing excellent games, and single handedly saving a well loved industry. Without Wizards, a lot of the local comic book and game stores would be out of business. Let's face it, a store owner can't make a lot of money selling $1.99 comics, especially with the dirth of crap that gets published today. These types of stores are getting increasingly reliant on CCGs (Collectable Card Games) which Wizards pioneered. Magic and Pokemon provide a steady source of income for store owners, since every three months, and sometimes more frequently, a new set gets released. The players have to purchase loads of packs, at $3.29 each, to get the best cards to play.

    Then comes the tournament level of play. Wizards of the Coast gives away over over 3 million dollars a year through its Pro Tour and Gran Prix system for Magic. To get invited to a Pro Tour, a player must compete and win a Pro Tour Qualifier. Usually these qualifiers are usually held in local comic book/game stores. Depending on locale, these qualifiers can attract anywhere from 30-200 people at $20-25 a head. Add this to the various side events at $10-15 a head, and the day ends up being a profitable one for the organizer, and for the player. A chance to qualify for the "Big Time" and compete in a single tournamet with a $25,000 prize is enough of a draw for most players to come a spend a few bucks. It is this system that continues to move cards for Wizards and singles dealers.

    Pokemon almost destroyed Wizards, at least from my standpoint. When Pokemon hit big in the US, it was decided that the first run of all the sets would be placed in various chain stores before they got to the local game stores. When the supplies ran out, and a lot of stores did not get their ordered shipments...you can guess what happened. Hopefully now that Pokemon is dead, and Wizards shed most of its Pokemon related budget, this will not happen again. At the game store I worked at we had a few incidents of kids and parents getting into fistfights over our very limited supply of Pokemon cards. Pissed off customers tend to not hang around and buy a new copy of Settlers of Cataan, or the latest Heavy Metal issue.

    Magic singles are still a pretty hot commodity, so everyone with old collections, you may be able to get quite a little payday for your old cards. Old cards are frequently auctioned on Ebay, and there are a lot of places on the web that buy and sell cards. Try visiting here [starcitygames.com] or here [tncuniverse.com]. Both of these sites will pay decent amounts for the more powerful older cards, and will pay a premium for cards in mint or near mint condition. Or you can mail them to me, and I will keep and cherish them forever.

    Wizards also produces dozens of other CCGs and board games, some really bad (WWF Raw Deal and BattleTech CCG for example), and some very, very good. Do yourself a favor, and visit your local game store and pick up a copy of RoboRally, or get back into Magic! It's still just as fun as it was when you started playing, only now it's a bit more expensive and tour friends are a little more likely to make fun of you, now that they have seen those dumb !ss commercials.


As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.