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A little while back, Jeff Atwood made a comment about how Gaming was seeding members of the community with new games to help encourage them to ask questions. I was initially skeptical of the idea, but having given it some thought I believe it's worth at least posting about. If for no other reason than to start getting some proactive and out-of-the-box ideas for generating new questions posted here.

The first potential issue this faces is simply finding good candidates for the program. Unlike video games, RPGs require a group of people to really play through. And unlike board games, they require a pretty hefty time commitment. I know I probably couldn't provide a very good ROI myself, and I'd imagine that many adult players are in my boat.

But I don't think that this is a show stopper. Surely there must be a few groups out there that would be interested in trying a new RPG every N months.

The next issue would be product selection. Even among publishers that are actively producing content, the new content is almost exclusively in the form of add-on products. Which are probably too niche individually to do anyone much good.

So we'd need some mechanism to select a game, and figure out the minimum number of books to get a good experience out of it (and possibly an exemplar published module). This would probably be a good way of focusing game-specific pushes (which I believe have been brought up in comments somewhere).

Are there some angles I'm missing here? Does anyone have any thoughts on Jeff's idea?

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It's a good idea, and I don't think it needs to be as complicated as all that.

Actually, multiple new games come out every month, they're just not D&D. See new releases on IPR, RPGNow, the Paizo store, The back wall of my FLGS is "new stuff" and there's always a good 30 products.

And once you add in major rule sets worthy of questionage, it's even more. I personally am looking forward to, in the near future, Ultimate Combat and Ultimate Magic for Pathfinder (Paizo), Ashen Stars (Pelgrane), DCC RPG (Goodman), Lamentations of the Flame Princess (same)... Mongoose, Green Ronin, there's a lot of companies with multiple product a month release schedules just keeping it to new games and major expansions.

We don't get many questions about adventures, though I'm not really sure why not, seems like this would be a good venue for "How can I make Tomb of Horrors not suck" or similar. There are whole forums on paizo.com about the Adventure Paths and questions regarding them.

Minor splatbooks, like "Joe's Guide to Whatever," are probably niche enough not to merit this treatment.

I don't think the requirement would be "multiple books and an exemplar published module and run a campaign with it!" The point is to generate questions and have someone knowledgeable enough to answer. I think it would work like this.

  1. Person gets a free game. We target say 1 a month and pick out likely major new releases by preorder and buzz. We initially populate this queue with high rep users, like 5k+, who volunteer. Parcel them out by a combo of interest and rep.

  2. That person commits to reading it and asking at least 3 (good) questions on it within a month of receipt. Furthermore, they are expected to at least try to answer any questions that come up on that game in the near future. Playtest/playing it is nice but not mandatory, with RPGs that's just unrealistic.

  3. People that deliver to our satisfaction on #2 get put back in the queue. New 5k users get in too, unless we get so many that we need to up the rep buyin. This encourages rep whoring, I mean site participation.

  4. Profit.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Sounds fun :) I'd try it. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton May 13 '11 at 5:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe this is what you intended in your response so apologies if it is, but I think to really work, it would need a group of people to choose to look over the same books in a roughly similar time period and produce a volume of questions between them as they learned the system. Too few a number of researchers will force too many people into having to answer their own questions and with newer or less-known games really limit the field of possible respondents. \$\endgroup\$ – Runeslinger May 13 '11 at 10:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Runeslinger It's pretty rare that we don't have someone able to answer a question (even if we don't get a lot of questions asked on the topic). There's also the old trick of cross posting to the official forums, etc. But beyond all that, part of the point is to get some questions that need answers... So I don't think that's necessarily a problem. \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon May 13 '11 at 12:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxy IMO, some play-time should be the expected case. Not an epic campaign, but a night or two or the completion of a module. Perhaps I'm an outlier in this regard, but every system I've ever taught myself has gelled dramatically in the first couple of sessions of play... And we want a bit of quality control here. \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon May 13 '11 at 12:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxy I was also thinking that we'd get more questions from people learning an entire new game (Pathfinder, or Call of Cthulu, or what have you) than from people who knew a game getting an expansion (Ultimate Combat, Heroes of Shadow, etc.). \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon May 13 '11 at 12:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ On a completely unrelated note... Are any of the adventure path questions suitable for porting over to this site? \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon May 13 '11 at 14:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this is a really promising idea, and I'd love to see the topic spread diversified by something like this. \$\endgroup\$ – rjbs May 13 '11 at 21:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are about 100k people that know how to play existing games like PF and CoC. We don't need to spend money on that, there is where we just need to attract the existing folks. I think the value in this idea is specifically new games. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk May 13 '11 at 23:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't necessarily think we need to give each game to multiple people - I mean, I guess that's fine depending on what kind of budget the SE team is looking at, but one would be sufficient. It's enough to catalyze the other folks out there (currently on SE or not) to gel around it. (If SE has unlimited money they can buy us all copies, I won't object) \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk May 13 '11 at 23:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ And as for play required - of course we'd encourage play but requiring it is unrealistic. Most people don't have that many play opps a month, mostly taken by existing games. For good or ill, 90% of RPG purchases are never played, just read. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk May 13 '11 at 23:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sadly, true... My to be played list is getting ridiculously full, but cannot hold a candle to the number of titles in my library. \$\endgroup\$ – Runeslinger May 14 '11 at 1:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ace Good point, unanswered questions are exactly what we want so that there are questions to answer when new people arrive. I wasn't thinking. \$\endgroup\$ – Runeslinger May 14 '11 at 1:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think a lot of the value is to cover new releases and new games, and having that novelty help drive traffic. I am much less encouraged about an "give people copies of old games to seed questions." I bet if you name any game there will be a number of people here that own it already. I own more than 1000 RPG books and supplements. I am not asking questions about them because a) I already know or b) I don't care. This should be a new release program for sure. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk May 14 '11 at 2:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ How about doing it as a promotion thing? If a company wants exposure for their product, they offer a free PDF to a couple users to ask questions and generate some buzz about the product. They can even send some company reps over here to answer questions. \$\endgroup\$ – migo May 22 '11 at 22:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ PD is a valid format, that's fine, just saying that a) games that are PDF only are unlikely to meet the noteworthiness level required for this and b) we should not do this as an open call for publisher donations; we should specifically solicit/procure games that we think will get volume on the site. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk May 23 '11 at 12:15

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