The Letters Page: Publisher's Note 4
Paul and Christopher talk about the weather! And some other stuff too, I guess!
Run Time: 1:31:39
Here's the upcoming schedule!
- Tuesday, October 6th: Episode #157 - Creative Process: Fanatic Supporting Cast
- Tuesday, October 13th: Publishers’ Note #5
- Tuesday, October 20th: Episode #158 - Writers’ Room: Blood Countess Bathory
- Tuesday, October 27th: Publishers’ Note #6
Also, we answer questions about all sorts of things, talk about a bunch of Sentinels Lord - including a Sentinel Comics recap from Paul's point of view - and a series of Andy questions!
- Felicia Parsons
- Absolute Zero
- The Freedom Five
- Baron Blade
- Vengeful Five
- Mr. Fixer
- The Dreamer
- Kaargra Warfang
- Iron Legacy
- Grand Warlord Voss
- Argent Adept
- Nixious the Chosen
- Fright Train
- The Adhesivist
- Not a question, but an answer: in Publisher’s Note 3 there was a question of what the best sleeves to use for their games would be and McBehrer is here to answer (in a position of some authority given that they’ve been a playtester for GTG since the call that went out around the time of Infernal Relics):
- Mayday sleeves aren’t bad as long as you stick with their premium sleeves (they’re decent quality, but can be a bit inconsistent in terms of exact dimensions and you might get some that split) - not really recommended.
- Dragon Shield are very high quality, but not really recommended for these games. First, they have colored backs which takes away from the fun designs that GTG games have in addition to the simple fact that it helps keep cards in the correct decks when you’re sorting [plus some actual two-sided cards like the character cards or mission deck]. Additionally, their price premium likely puts them out of a reasonable budget for a game that has as many cards as SotM does. [Somebody much later in chat brings up that clear Dragon Shield sleeves do exist, but they’re not as common in shops because things like MtG tournaments require opaque backs.]
- “Penny sleeves” from a variety of companies are cheap enough, but they are very thin and don’t always fit well which might make things worse than simply not using sleeves at all.
- The winner, in McBehrer’s opinion, is Fantasy Flight. Quality comparable to Dragon Shield with prices closer to Mayday premiums. They’re a bit tall for the cards, but at least they’re all that uniform size.
- In a previous Publisher’s Note, we learned that Paul likes Science Fiction/Fantasy books and we already knew that Christopher and Adam like Brandon Sanderson’s work; does Paul like him too? He enjoys his stuff, from what he’s read. As a general rule, Paul doesn’t read series that aren’t done (he got burned [as I did] by The Wheel of Time, which funnily enough Sanderson finished). He’s read the original Mistborn trilogy and the original follow-up The Alloy of Law (but not the resultant trilogy-in-progress that’s following the characters from the latter). He’s read Warbreaker, Elantris, and The Emperor’s Soul (his favorite by Sanderson thus far). This means that he hasn’t read any of the Stormlight Archive series as only 3 of the planned 10 books are out (although it’s slated to be two sets of 5, so he’ll likely pick it up after the next two books are done). Similarly, the second main Mistborn trilogy will get read even though we know there’s another trilogy planned after that since they’re distinct sets that are going to be in different time periods, just the same setting. Given that Paul knows all of this stuff, it kind of becomes obvious that he’s a fan. From a meta perspective, Paul also appreciates that Sanderson is the kind of author to lay things out: he has a plan of what books he’s going to write and in which order and how things all fit together and that’s neat. Another thing that’s quite impressive about all of this is that he actually delivers - he puts out a general timeline of when things will be done and he actually does them. His creative throughput makes Christopher (and other professionally creative people he knows) insecure with just the sheer volume of quality writing he puts out.
- Two other authors that Paul will read pretty much everything they put out are N. K. Jemisin and C. S. Friedman.
- Chat brings up Steven Brust - Christopher and Adam have been big fans for a long time now. Christopher has lent the first book in his main series to Paul at some point in the past, but he’s just never gotten around to them (or maybe just read that first one a long time ago now).
- A further aside on Paul’s reading - he’s not really doing much (new-to-him) fiction at the moment. He’s reading the Discworld series to his daughter Maia (and has been for years, so they’re closing in on the end there) and he’s reading through the works of Tolkien with a few people as a kind of book club. That’s taking up his “fiction” slot and so the only “new” stuff he’s been reading is nonfiction.
- If some villain were to kidnap Paul, as the high-powered CEO of Greater Than Games, and hold him for ransom, which GTG employee is most likely to secretly be a superhero who would come to his aid? What would their hero name be? How successful do you think they’d be? Twuana would be very successful as a secret masked vigilante. You meet her and she’s so sweet/nice/kind, but if you ever make her mad (say, by having bad customer service at 1AM at a Steak ’n Shake) she will be furious and will make you regret that you’d messed with her. Christopher’s idea for a name (leaving aside any need to check for trademark/copyright issues) would be Honey Badger given the sweet sounding name compared to its actual reputation. Christopher had actually also thought of Twuana immediately, but since Paul took that option he’ll say Chris Burton based on the fact that at a company holiday party a while back they’d arranged to have a range for throwing axes and other implements at targets and Chris was just terrifying with his accuracy. Let’s have him be the Axist (and he can lead a team, so they can be Axist and Allies)
- How do you feel about the shift modern comics appear to be taking? Speaking about Marvel/Post-Image split, and the news that DC will drop some of their big names to embrace the slash and burn comic writing and art method that Marvel has been “pioneering”. Will this trend die off or are we trapped in the result of broken trust/financials? The thing that is true at this moment is that the big comic book companies aren’t profitable from the sales of comics. There’s too much overhead and comics sales aren’t high enough. That being said, they are still profitable in terms of being generators of intellectual property that can be monetized in other ways, like toys, apparel, and other things that you can slap a superhero license on, let alone the fact that we’ve got varying levels of film and television productions based on them (Marvel and DC being subsidiaries of Disney and Warner Brothers, respectively). As such, it’s still worth it for those companies to continue to push those IP generators. As for the trends… Comics companies have often had weird trends they’ve gone through (e.g. the ’90s trend of pushing lots of different variant covers for the same issue of a comic, the ’70s and ’80s had a lot of backup stories written so that they’d have an issue of filler to slot into a title that fell behind schedule or something but not all of them ever actually proved necessary and got made). The current situation kind of looks like “the market for comics doesn’t actually matter, only the IP does” resulting in a financial situation where the comics companies themselves wind up in a mindset of “the stuff we make doesn’t actually matter” is an odd one. We do wind up in a situation where small/indie shops can put together more interesting stories that do matter (often, but not always, going directly to trades instead of monthly floppies first) just on a smaller scale. Funnily enough, GTG kind of would slot into the “big comics company” model here in that the “comics” they make aren’t important (given that they don’t actually make any), but the IP they created around them is what they sell. Paul, not knowing as much about comics publishing, only adds that if the question is “is the recent trend in how things are going to be the way it will be forever?” then the answer is almost assuredly “no”.
- If you were able, and interested in entering the market of comic production, is there a model that you would prefer to follow? Is there an existing company that has a model you feel like you be viable for a Sentinel Comic IP? If you were able to produce several lines of print material as a branch out from GtG, what medium/type of print would be alluring? Books that have within them rules for playing a game. Not on a board or with cards, but in a conceptual mental space. Possibly with some paper and note cards as memory aids, but mainly just a few dozen books with the various rules and other details on how to tell stories collaboratively with your friends. They’re “in the market of comic production” about at the level they’d want to be (which is to say “not”). About the only way it would work is if there was an existing company that wanted to publish stories using Sentinel Comics IP, but which for some strange reason was also ok with letting them retain creative control over it. Like, it wouldn’t be Christopher writing and Adam drawing all of it, but they’d have editorial control of where the stories went and whatnot while the other company did the mundane comics business stuff of choosing format of publication (floppies vs. trades, etc.) and distribution.
- If, before the inception of SotM the Card Game, you Paul and Adam were replaced with your Inversiverse duplicates, would we have gotten a different “Inverted” Card Game or would your doppelgangers have gone another route? Comics? This basically breaks down into “what would the Inversiverse versions of the three of you look like?” - the game and company likely don’t happen. Christopher imagines that he’s clean shaven with a short, stylish haircut and is a aggressive lawyer and/or politician of some sort (what he sees as the version of “rules guy who wears suits all the time” only out for personal wealth and power). Christopher can speak definitively on that because he can see where there’s a few easy places to push/change things in his past to get there. He has to be a bit more general for Adam, but imagines that Inversiverse Adam never pursues art in a professional capacity and is a petty criminal of some sort (like, he has a day job but does crime on the side). Paul definitely has a goatee - he got a business degree and MBA and works for some huge venture capital firm where his job is facilitating leveraged buyouts, where they buy a company and basically just strip it for parts that they sell off for a profit (so the evil version of “business Paul”).
- Follow-up in chat: Does Inversiverse Christopher have a dog who hates bread (a reference to Syl, his cat who loves bread)? No, Inversiverse Christopher hates animals and bread. Inversiverse Paul has two dogs and no children.
- Another follow-up approves of Paul going from “good CEO” to “evil CEO”, but they don’t actually think evil Paul is a CEO. He’s not that high up, just is involved in those leveraged buyout deals.
- Does the Axist confront his foes by starting with “Let me axe you a question”? Frequently.
- Is there any “mundane” organization whose job it is just to go around cleaning up after supervillain and superhero carnage? Almost certainly. They working-class stuff that results in people rebelling against them a bit [likely a reference to the Order of the Simple Machine] probably touches on that. That’s a good creative process for them to muse about.
- How’s Adam doing in the Art Dungeon? Quite well. He’s working a ton (overworking, honestly, as we all are at the moment). He does take at least one day off a week from art and is enjoying doing the art he’s doing. He’s actually ahead of schedule.
- Paul brings up that chat after this question was discussing if he was in the Art Mines or the Art Dungeon. Adam is in the Art Mines, but they’ve also mentioned that he’s chained to a desk, so there’s some dungeony qualities to it. It’s also the case that there are other people who are responsible for bringing him the bulk ore that he has to then process into the final product. The discussion also brought up Maggie being in the Goth Mines (as a Goth Minor/Miner), but that’s no longer true. Since she turned 25 Christopher has allowed her to leave the mines and join the Goth Army. She’s doing well there and is actually an officer - she’s now a Goth Major.
- What is the one employee position/staff role that you have found (at GTG) to be indispensable? What unexpected staffing changes has the modern information era required as far as a small business is concerned? They don’t have indispensable staff - they try to be very lean. Also, the “modern information era” has been the status quo for the entire time that GTG has existed, so that hasn’t really affected them in particular so much as just been how things are. For example, GTG has never had a landline phone or fax machine.
- We’re veering into Andy Question territory, so moving back over to Sentinels stuff for now. What’s an Andy Question? It’s a (generally) short question about business/industry stuff that tend to prompt long answers from Paul as opposed to stuff about Sentinel Comics/lore stuff.
- To break the string of Andy questions: Who is Paul’s favorite obscure Tolkien character (please, no explanation)? Fingolfin.
- [Letter to Paul from Christopher at 38:20 or so - it’s fun because he knows that he can get Paul to say some silly things at the end by writing them into the form] Could you, in your own words, summarize the History of Sentinel Comics (the internal-to-comics stuff)? [Summarizing pretty heavily here for the basics rather than trying to capture the back-and-forth:]
- He gives a pretty good rundown of the origins of Joseph Parsons working for Paul Revere, his role in the Revolution, and the Ring made for young Paul Parsons. Then the family of Pauls through the generations (each getting an additional power) through the first Legacy in WWI and his son in WWII (who has a card in SotM), then the “main” Legacy from the card game and his daughter “Paula” [sic] who goes by her middle name, Felicia. He is the first to pass on the Legacy name without dying and now goes by Heritage while she’s the new Legacy in the RPG.
- In ancient Egypt the gods were real or something and they fought, died, and their power was in artifacts that people can find. Anubis in the card game was the real Anubis. Anyway, the artifacts were lost in the desert for a long time, then new people found them and became Ra and the Ennead.
- In like the ’50s or something Legacy made the Freedom Four (until Absolute Zero joined and they became the Freedom Five) and they fought crime.
- The Matriarch was bad, then got good really fast. (Christopher: well, it took like 50 years.) Well, she was bad and became good and she’s Tachyon’s cousin.
- Baron Blade kept doing things that didn’t work (the moon thing, then the “assemble a team of bad guys” thing that he did at least twice). Christopher confirms that he put together the Vengeful Five several times, but always the same lineup.
- Mr. Fixer was old. Rook City sucked. Stuff like that.
- Then Harbinger showed up and is bad, and then OblivAeon shows up and is worse. (Christopher corrects him that Progeny showed up, who is a harbinger of OblivAeon).
- (Christopher prompts simply by naming Visionary) She was from the pastfuture somehow. The one in the card game is from an alternate future and she came back in time to stop herself from becoming herself (although she still became the Dreamer).
- F.I.L.T.E.R. is an organization that puts people in an interdimensional prison called the Block. I don’t know why that’s important, but they do it. Then people get out later.
- A spaceship that looks like a sword shows up at some point. The Celestial Tribunal. It puts people on trial in space.
- A person named Kaargra Warfang has a Colosseum.
- Aside from Paul: I don’t know how any of these things connect to one another or what their significance is. I just know that they happen.
- After Progeny people are worried about something worse coming, which is OblivAeon. Everybody fights OblivAeon and because he’s doing shattered timelines stuff we get people from all across the multiverse. Paul bringing up Shattered Timelines prompts Christopher to actually explain the event in the ’80s to explain why time travel was possible and around Visionary’s debut. Then this retcon was retconned to have been caused by OblivAeon when they got to that story. Paul knows that OblivAeon shattering timelines is what allows dimension hopping and whatnot, but not what “shattering timelines” actually means/what OblivAeon did so he gets another explanation about how colliding universes that are similar to one another mutually annihilate and OblivAeon crashing things into one another is part of his plan doing that (he’s got to shatter the fabric/structure of space and time before he can start crossing things over one another).
- Fanatic? She was a nun or something that found a big sword. (Christopher: what kind of creature is she?) A human with wings?
- Haka? Lives for a long time. You know why? No.
- Chrono-Ranger? A time traveling cowboy from the futurepast. Something to do with the Final Wasteland, like he’s from the past, goes to the Final Wasteland, then back to the present and he has a robot arm. He’s helped by a weird computer in the Final Wasteland named CON. He becomes Time-Slinger in the RPG.
- Iron Legacy? He’s a bad guy version of Legacy from another dimension (but maybe not the Inversiverse?). Like, he’s from a reality where is daughter dies and he becomes a fascist.
- Omnitron was a robot, there’s time travel involved and he’s sometimes a factory, but turns good eventually.
- Voss has his invasion and is then gone for a long time before showing up as a minion of OblivAeon. He doesn’t know why he was gone or the story surrounding when he reappeared.
- Akash'Bhuta? A recurring nature spirit that Argent Adept has to fight, but is eventually defeated early or weird or something and then becomes good and then a tree.
- Do you know how long ago she or AA are from? No, but presumably a long time.
- How about the term Virtuoso of the Void? Oh, AA is one of those and it’s like a lineage thing, like the Dalai Lama or something.
- Oh, and Argent Adept has a bell that looks like it’s 2000 years old from China.
- NightMist and/or GloomWeaver? GW is bad somehow. NM dies and everybody is sad about it. She chooses to die to do something good. [Christopher explains how she turns herself into portals to every reality which is what allows for enough heroes to be present for the OblivAeon victory to be possible. Paul notes that “we did that before that Marvel movie.”]
- Would sacrificing my entire race to OblivAeon like Nixious the Chosen did still get his attention? If I got enough OblivAeon Shards together could I resurrect my potential master? Paul knows who OblivAeon is and that Scions are the cards that have lesser bad guys who come out (when Christopher mentions Scions when describing Nixious’ “Sempai notice me” backstory). For the question, OblivAeon isn’t really capable of “noticing” anything at the moment so that’s not likely to work. Paul does know the basics of OblivAeon Shards (left over bits of him that people want because they can give power). That’s a more interesting question - if you just have a big pile of OblivAeon shards (even, say, all of them) that is insufficient for a plan to resurrect him. They’re not saying that resurrecting him is possible or impossible, just that in the case where it is possible “having lots of Shards” is not enough on its own.
- As a follow-up to a question asked in the Gen Con 2020 livestream, we’re told that the Nexus of the Void was destroyed, but I’m interested in more details: was the physical island itself completely destroyed or just the metaphysical connection to the Void? Was there any lingering effect of that destruction/repercussions of that much OblivAeon energy hitting that much Void energy? The physical island itself was destroyed, not just the metaphysical connection. There were lingering effects from that happening in that if you destroy that much real estate on Earth there’s going to be some time before things settle down. Additionally, there are things going on related to the OblivAeon/Void interaction, but they can’t really get into that here/now as it’s future RPG stuff.
- Are the innumerable, tiny mites that live on peoples’ skin and in their eyebrows and whatnot under Myriad’s control? This is another situation where the answer is “yes” but Myriad himself isn’t likely to try to do anything with it. It’s a case where somebody with Tachyon’s mindset/focus but Myriad’s powers would be absolutely terrifying, but Edgar Black wasn’t such a person and so doesn’t know how to use his powers to their greatest potential effect.
- How about isopods (e.g. a woodlouse) which is a “bug” but is actually a land-based crustacean more closely related to crabs and lobsters than insects? Who would have more sway, Myriad or Tempest? Myriad. Tempest doesn’t have any sway over sea creatures - he can communicate with some of them, but they don’t have much of interest to say. Crustaceans would still count as “bugs” for these purposes, so sure wood louses (lice?) would still qualify.
- What’s the ecological impact of any stray demon bugs getting loose? Worse than murder hornets? They’d say they’re less bad than murder hornets due to one important difference: the demon bugs from the infinite bug dimension don’t reproduce. So if a handful of demon bugs escape, they’re just going to be that handful of demon bugs out there until somebody manages to stomp on them or whatever. Murder hornets reproduce just fine, but we haven’t ever seen a demon bug “nest”. That would be a horrible thing so let’s hope that it never happens.
- Back in the NightMist’s Little Black Book of Monsters episode you talked about the Hudbwyta, which eats magic and has a hard-to-spell name; how do you actually spell it? Hudbwyta [I’d already gotten the spelling for my summary of that episode].
- Here at the Megolopolis Museum of Great Art (not just “fine” art) we could use some pointers given that Ermine is now teaming up with Fright Train and we don’t need that guy crashing through the pre-Raphaelite exhibit; so how interested is she in the following? Quickly establishing that Paul knows who those two are (thief nemesis of Wraith and “All aboard the Fright Train!” - Christopher notes that whenever he’s typing that into a document that it asks “did you mean Freight Train” and he sure doesn’t). Stuff Ermine likes: she’s a very good jewel thief and goes for the stuff that she knows she can get the most money for. She also likes “pretty, shiny things that make her feel good” - it’s a bit of an internal struggle in that she’s very shallow, but is also very good at her job. Anyway, on to the actual list in the letter:
- A piece of jewelry that’s rumored to grant magical power? How about something with a nasty curse instead? If she’s aware of the rumors, she’s more likely to avoid it as likely more trouble than it’s worth, but if that’s not common knowledge she’s not likely to notice. If she has a specific buyer who wants to hire her to get that specific thing then she could likely be convinced for the right price.
- Something with a reputation of being “impossible to steal” just to prove that she could? Definitely. Reputation is important.
- Something expensive that she doesn’t care about artistically? Yeah.
- Something another villain wants/was planning on stealing (e.g. the diamond that Glamour wanted back in FF #88)? She’s not really the type to go after something because somebody else wants it, but if she knows about that want she might approach them and offer her services.
- Does she have a decent understanding/grounding in art history? She has no clue on that stuff. She’s picked up a bit over the years just down to noting which things have been assigned high values and/or what people are trying to steal and so has a bit of an eye for “the good stuff”, but she has no training in it.
- Can we get quick, from the hip, picks for who would direct a Guise/Scholar movie and who would play our two leads? Paul is bad at this sort of thing as he doesn’t know the names of very many actors or directors. Christopher says it depends on what kind of Guise movie you want to do as you certainly could go with a lowbrow, lowest-common-denominator movie for Guise, but he would like to see more of an Edgar Wright treatment. Casting Guise is a gimmie as they can just go with Joe Zieja. [Anybody an editor on IMDB? His SotM credit isn’t there.] Scholar? Christopher actually likes it when movie adaptations (especially ones based on comic books) pick relatively unknown people so that it’s easier to see them as the character they’re playing now instead of having a really famous person who you’re often constantly just remembering what else they’ve been in. Thus he doesn’t have a specific pick. This is a good question for Adam, but he might have a similar outlook on it.
- Having seen several travel advertisements for major cities and states that I really would never consider previously, what would in-universe major locations advertise to untraveled individuals to prompt them to visit? Megalopolis? Insula Primalis? Rook City? Nobody’s advertising that you should visit Insula Primalis or Rook City. Megalopolis pushes that City of the Future thing and the monorail and (recently) the giant tree - it’s this big, cool place with a lot of interesting stuff and great culture. San Alonso would have had a lot of good tourist stuff around the film industry. Mordengrad would encourage people to note it as a shining beacon of industry, it’s a great place to work/live (as opposed to encouraging people to dance with The Goat).
- Paul: retcons are a big part of looking back at Sentinel Comics, what is one Retcon that you thought was completely unnecessary? Good chance for Paul to put his stamp on Sentinels continuity here by choosing something arbitrary. His choice: Maia Montgomery used to go to the opera a lot, but eventually it was decided for some dumb reason that she doesn’t. Like, there was this weird fixation on her specifically not liking opera for some reason, so the current status quo is that she hates it and has never gone. She goes to musicals and regular theatrical productions, but not opera. Totally unnecessary change.
- Did the Expatriette playset get a facelift in the 90’s because of increased pressure from parents for less violent/obvious weapons? Or was that line of toys just discontinued? Did firearm wielding hero toys recieve a neon colored makeover? Yeah, at some point in the early ’00s there was an Expatriette line of Nerf guns for sure. Additionally, yeah, back in the ’80s she was just shooting regular guns with normal bullets and killing people and the toys of the time would have been along those lines, but a revamp in the ’90s would have happened as she gets less murdery and has the non-lethal options. The toys follow the character progression.
- Comment from chat regarding the Fright/Freight Train thing from earlier: I hope you’re happy, when I’m reading my kid one of his various train-related books I have to check myself before I say Fright Train now. They are very happy with themselves regarding this. Fright Train is one of their favorite characters.
- What are your thoughts on the best voice line in Sentinel of Freedom being a random thing the tutorial boss says on being hit? [The line being referred to here is that Fright Train will yell “My caboose!” when the heroes attack him.] Christopher loves it because he wrote that line and lobbied hard to get it included in the game and worked with the voice actor to make sure he got it right. He’s really looking forward to Chapter 2 when more stuff with Fright Train (and the Adhesivist - another player-favorite character for the work the voice actor did) pays off.
- Does Paul see any benefits towards there being a wider “game makers’ union”? Yes in general, but it depends on specifics. There are sub-genres of workers within the tabletop gaming industry who would definitely benefit from collective bargaining of some sort. The two that stick out to him in particular are “people who run demos for companies at conventions” and “independent contractor artists”. They’re the groups that he often sees being exploited in some way.
- How much do all the tiny game companies see themselves as in competition with one another over the limited time/attention/demand/resources of the gaming public? Do they more see it as beneficial as the more entry points into the market for new consumers, the more demand will rise over time? The second “a rising tide lifts all boats” mentality is the more common one, as long as the games are good. As long as the companies are putting out high-quality product and aren’t doing a lot of shady stuff that puts consumers off the hobby it’s a good thing to have everybody around. The hobby board game industry, from little indie shops on up to Asmodee, are somewhat in competition with one another, but the real competition within the industry is collectively against the big mass-market game companies (like, slap a big name license on a badly designed game but sell a ton based just on the name recognition). However, they’re also competing with video games, television, movies, going outside, etc. The challenge is to make tabletop games good/compelling enough to get people into the hobby in the first place. While the hobby is certainly growing relative to its own numbers year over year, it’s still a tiny fraction of the total population in the developed world where there can exist a market for luxury entertainment goods. Even in Germany where hobby boards games are a big deal, it’s still a tiny fraction of the overall population.
- Why is it better to have a wholly-owned subsidiary (Greater Than Trucks) with one driver and no actual trucks rather than just having the driver be a direct employee of GTG itself? Liability. If you keep your different concerns separated, then they’re insulated from one another legally. So, if the driver gets in an accident while on the clock, the other party can only go after the assets of Greater Than Trucks rather than Greater Than Games. Landlords and property management companies do this all the time - there’s the main parent company over everything, but each building will have it’s own little corporate entity that owns that one specific building. That way if something goes wrong at one building, only the value of that one building/assets are at stake.
- How different does a board game’s name need to be from another’s to avoid copyright issues? Like, if there was a game about ghost pirates sailing around an island chain named Spirit Archipelago would that be too close to Spirit Island? How about a Groundhog Day-like scenario where the players are trying to save the day over and over again called Defenders of the Multiverse? The full answer for this sort of thing is to go watch the Gen Con panel they did some years ago with actual attorneys (Board Games and Intellectual Property Law from Gen Con 2017). Off the top of their heads for these two examples, they think that Defenders of the Multiverse would get you in trouble, but Spirit Archipelago only might depending on the details. Additionally, this question is actually about trademark, not copyright (the latter would be more like if somebody wrote a story that was too similar to the lore stuff for Sentinel Comics or the alt-history behind Spirit Island).
- Could you explain to us how shipping has been affected by Brexit (or just Brexit, but I assume the worries about predicting economic calamity is a bit outside your wheelhouse)? Actually, predicting economic calamity actually is somewhat in his wheelhouse. Currently, Brexit hasn’t actually affected shipping yet because we’re still operating in the zone where we’re pretending that everything is cool. We’ll see what happens, but nobody really knows how things are going to shake out yet. Like, the EU has rules for inspection standards for products that are sold within it. There’s a symbol on products that means that company can produce the paperwork showing that they’re in compliance with health and safety standards (like their game pieces don’t contain lead and whatnot). At some point when the UK leaving the EU and all of its rules behind actually goes into effect, the UK has announced that they’ll have their own mark like that
with blackjack, and hookersfor their own set of standards. What those standards are and when they’ll begin to be enforced is a big question mark at this point, which is an “interesting” challenge because GTG is at this moment manufacturing games that they hope to sell in the UK in the future, but at this point they can’t put that new mark on them because they don’t know what the exact standard is that they need to meet for it yet. This isn’t specific to the UK government being bad at this stuff; the US government is also not doing a great job with forms coming out of the Treasury Department for stimulus things, for example. The fact that none of this has been sorted out is extremely frustrating.
- How well does SotM do in Germany (where they’re big on board games, but I’m not sure if the superhero thing would appeal as much as it does in the US)? It does pretty well. When they were first getting into the German market people told them that it wouldn’t sell because they weren’t as big on superheroes. So, it has done decently there and has actually done better as time has gone on (likely due to the state of the film industry making the genre more prevalent on the global stage). It would be interesting to see, if they were to release the original game now, whether it would do better there from the jumping off point than it did 10 years ago.
- Did GTG apply for/receive a PPP loan? Why/why not? How did that go? They did, back in March or April. It wound up going alright in general, but is still kind of a question mark. Like, they say that if you take one and use it only for payroll purposes then you get paid back at the end, but those “paid back at the end” terms are really hand-wavy at this point. It’s been an interesting experience. Back in the spring the industry in general ran into some speed bumps as distributors wound up not being able to pay promptly (if at all), which as you can probably imagine results in cashflow problems down the line. So, they went for one of these loans, but through that process the Department of the Treasury kept changing the form (as alluded to earlier). They finally got things sorted and through the process. Recently, the bank has sent what they think might be the paperwork for the “paid back at the end” stuff, which was strange and complicated to fill out, but Paul expects that he’ll have to go a few rounds through this process too.