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Deadlands: Doomtown» Forums » General

Subject: Does Doomtown have a future? rss

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Eric Jome
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When this game was first canceled, many of the biggest fans were inclined to try to bring it back into print. People looked into starting companies, paying for expansion print runs, and spent a lot time behind closed doors with the publishers.

No one had much success.

There are some problems that strongly stand in the way. First, the license to produce the game would have to come from at least two parties. That would be the holder of the intellectual property for Deadlands, the setting. And the second would be holder of the rights to the mechanics. And, both these parties have very little interest - those who own the setting have been burned several times on licensing and those who own the mechanics have competing products and don't need the rivals.

But beyond this, this game engenders some really strong feelings among some of these people. Word on the street was that the game is considered the best design produced by it's creator, who is loathe to let anyone ever have a hand on the masterpiece. And the game as a property was much beloved by the makers, too much perhaps, standing in the way of getting a new version made.

So, as much as we'd like to see new stuff for it or even a revision into an LCG style format, that's extremely unlikely in my view. Having followed this more closely in the past, the cards just aren't in play for that to happen... if you were to try to pursue that solution, you'd have to start by making phone calls to the owners. And they probably will hang up at the mention of what you have in mind.
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Sean Torrens
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I talked to a guy from Pinnacle at a Con last month and he said it's a rights issue. AEG still owns the rights to it so even if Pinnacle wanted to start it up again, they can't.
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Tyler S
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Exactly what mechanics are protected? Certainly poker ranks can't be owned by AEG.
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Jesse Murphy
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Is anyone actually legally obligated to respect the mechanics of the game? I think it's more of an ethical issue to rip off game design; I don't believe there's anything in a game that is legally protected outside of what would fall under 'setting.'

For example, see Wizards of the Coast and their attempts to license the concept of tapping. I think all people had to do to circumvent that was call it something else. Turning, exhausting, or whatever.
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Eric Jome
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Berix wrote:
I talked to a guy from Pinnacle at a Con last month and he said it's a rights issue. AEG still owns the rights to it so even if Pinnacle wanted to start it up again, they can't.


Exactly. Wander over to AEG and ask the same question. They'll say a similar thing. Pinnacle owns the setting, so they can't do another game using that setting.
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Eric Jome
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ts061282 wrote:
Exactly what mechanics are protected? Certainly poker ranks can't be owned by AEG.


Oh, you know. Booting. Deeds. Dudes. Control more than Influence. Pretty much everything about the game that is mechanical... the rules. Sure, they don't own Poker ranks. There's a lot more than Poker in Doomtown, though.
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Eric Jome
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jmmurphy wrote:
Is anyone actually legally obligated to respect the mechanics of the game? I think it's more of an ethical issue to rip off game design; I don't believe there's anything in a game that is legally protected outside of what would fall under 'setting.'


It is very tricky to put any kind of copyright or patent on game mechanics. I imagine you could produce a similar mechanical game, using Poker ranks to resolve things, but it's pretty obviously derivative of Doomtown. Especially if you expect it to be playable with existing Doomtown cards.

In theory, you could make a game mechanically similar to Doomtown... prepared to go to court to fight it out if it comes to that? Would you win if you did? Would you even be able to afford the fight?

A game mechanically similar to Doomtown is feasible. Look what people do for retroclones of role playing games. You just can't copy the appearance of cards. Or any of the words in the rules. What will you call influence? Control? Dudes? Take a crack at writing down the rules without using any of the words of Doomtown.

And then, you can't use the setting either. No weird west of any kind - that's likely a fight with Pinnacle. I'll tell you that there was talk of doing a gangster setting - who besides cowboys and cardsharks in the Wild West is famous for playing Poker? A distant second is gangsters, maybe.
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Tyler S
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cosine wrote:
In theory, you could make a game mechanically similar to Doomtown... prepared to go to court to fight it out if it comes to that? Would you win if you did? Would you even be able to afford the fight?


Inversely: how much can AEG invest in defending a useless property?

As far as I know, Wizards owns the patent on CCGs, tapping et al. Would probably have to change a good number of the terms, yes, but not necessarily all. I'm not speculating into the CCG market personally, but the idea's are ripe for the picking.
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Eric Jome
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ts061282 wrote:
I'm not speculating into the CCG market personally, but the idea's are ripe for the picking.


Doomtown was (is?) a brilliant combination of setting and mechanics, a deep strategy game and a thematic masterpiece of a game. I can't agree more that it has a lot of great ideas that fit together well.

That's part of the challenge of exporting some of those qualities. One thing I built years ago in my design closet was a port to sci-fi. Deeds were Worlds. Goods were Ships (and other things). All locations were essentially "out of town" - you had to boot to go there. All in all, it was a pretty successful concept in my mind... but it always felt a bit odd to have Poker in it. Poker + space = what?

Like I said - doable. But it would be hard to hit that sweet spot again.
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Eric Jome
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Here's what you do though if you want to really mess with my considered opinion. You look at this;

Deadlands: The Battle for Slaughter Gulch

See now. That's weird. What's a Doomtown board game doing getting made in 2009 if the whole thing is as dead as I'm implying? Kerry Breitenstein is one of the heads at Twilight Creations and she was big in Doomtown back in the day... maybe this was just nostalgia and for old time's sake? Or maybe there's a crack in this I haven't worked out yet.
 
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Tyler S
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cosine wrote:
ts061282 wrote:
I'm not speculating into the CCG market personally, but the idea's are ripe for the picking.


Doomtown was (is?) a brilliant combination of setting and mechanics, a deep strategy game and a thematic masterpiece of a game. I can't agree more that it has a lot of great ideas that fit together well.

That's part of the challenge of exporting some of those qualities. One thing I built years ago in my design closet was a port to sci-fi. Deeds were Worlds. Goods were Ships (and other things). All locations were essentially "out of town" - you had to boot to go there. All in all, it was a pretty successful concept in my mind... but it always felt a bit odd to have Poker in it. Poker + space = what?

Like I said - doable. But it would be hard to hit that sweet spot again.


Given the success of Deadwood and the new True Grit, I don't see what's wrong with the regular ol' west. You can't infringe upon historical figures. There are endless sources for cards and the result would be a game with real educational value and broader appeal.
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Cattlemark
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ts061282 wrote:

Given the success of Deadwood and the new True Grit, I don't see what's wrong with the regular ol' west. You can't infringe upon historical figures. There are endless sources for cards and the result would be a game with real educational value and broader appeal.


Basically isn't that High Stakes Drifter?

Mechanically Doomtown and it are no match…but HSD was a CCG with real historical western figures. They also used the terminology "Dudes" for character cards.
 
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fightcitymayor
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I nominate Eric to get this new Doomtown LCG off the ground.
If we can bribe AEG & Pinnacle with GeekGold i think we have a shot.
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Eric Jome
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After discussing this with some others, I have some ideas I'm working on. Let me ask a serious question then;

Which would you rather have? A boxed set game of classic Doomtown in an LCG format compatible with previous printings or a new board game version of Doomtown that would heavily leverage the mechanics but not be compatible with the existing game?
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Davido
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If yer askin'

I'd go with the 'classic box' e.g. leverage the existing card base or continuing the story arc. If you can't use the exact existing card base, you could:

1) add '4th homes' to existing outfits and dudes, goods, actions, deeds that maintain the 'look and feel' of previous releases and have the same range of attraibutes (e.g. strikes going from 0/+1 to say 11/+6)

As posted elsewhere, even though the value of my 'stock' would drop, I'd happily accept that for a wider player base. I like the CCG aspect versus a boardgame version.

edit: I'm trying to envision the board game-I actually keep coming back to Titan-'outfit markers' on the board but instead of covering the stack, are 'revealed' when adjacent or on the same space. Have some sort of stacking limits and movement restrictions (in town vs. out of town), keep the modifiers basic, play cards out of the hand, etc.

You play deeds to specific locations and place actions/goods on the cards themselves. might work. Cosine, what did you have in mind?
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Tyler S
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I guess the "new game" would have to be pretty good to warrant incompatibility. Really, what you've already done is more or less ideal. I'd like to see some managed cheating come up and I'd like to see the decks tell a specific story, and down to probably four decks. I'd like to see a box with Law Dogs, Blackjacks, Sioux (minimal spells) and Sweetrock.

Also, here's some alternate formats I posted on the Doomtown forums:

Fat Tire: No maximum deck size, minimum deck size is a complete 52-card poker deck.

Town History: Matches with sets of three games, one each with an outfits three different homes, in chronological order. Deck must remain constant for each game. Starting dudes may change.

Kansas City Light: Cheating hands always lose by one rank unless all hands are cheating.
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Eric Edwards
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I'd go with the LCG version as well.
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Bob Ramstad
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Big fan of the LCG concept, especially if it can use existing cards, in the definitive (with errata) format, but with an alternate back.

Should also work well as a sales method, if the printing numbers are there i.e. if you can put out a box of 500 cards for $50 MSRP and have that be a starter with four Outfits represented, then if it's a success, you can do more boxes, either expanding those Outfits, or bringing in new Outfits.
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Anders Kernel
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First of all, an LCG would have an already sizeable existing fanbase. Secondly, it would give the opportunity to weed out some of the powerflux which happened late game. Thirdly, the nostalgia! :-)

On the other hand, we are working on a GRW boardgame, using each factions poker deck to resolve chances through pulls and draws... So bring up that LCG and we´ll make a petitioon to Pinnacle and AEG together :)

Cheerio,
ST
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Piotr Konieczny
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Whats an LCG?

I'd love to see the game resurrected. There is profit to be made there; as long as rights are not in a dispute, somebody will hopefully buy the rights and do so.

One thought: I always felt the the last few Deadlands set had crappy art (it is one of the reasons I never went to much effort to collect those sets). If the new game would be released with more of that, it will fail. Last decade of Magic used people to nice art - keep that in mind.
 
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Brad Reeves
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If I were the one rebooting the game, this is what I would propose:

Changes that I would suggest:
• Switch to the Living Card Game (LCG or non-collectible card game) format
• Use the full Deadlands universe rather than just a small section
• Reducing the number of factions in a relaunch to the most popular factions (like say 4 to 6)
• Better interactivity
• Balance the game through better design and better playtesting

Things to look at:
• Reprint cards that were good for the game but were not broken

Things that would not change:
• Basic functionality of the game (turn structure, initiative using lowball, 52 card decks w/ maximum 2 Jokers, etc.)
• Players continue to affect story
• Story effect design

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