After ordering eighteen perfectly fine That's Drama decks from them, I got a few that were messed up. They say it's my fault. I got angry. Am I acting like a spoiled brat here? Are they being rude - or am I being overly sensitive? What do you think?
Jamie Fristrom wrote:
Hey, I had to let you know, my recent order #4303 I was pretty disappointed in the quality. One of the decks is fine - the other three are cut off on various cards in various places. It looks to me like the cuts are encroaching on the supposed safe zone...
These issues are generally caused by improper image formatting. Here are some things to check/change:
1) If you're looking at the proofs, your images should bleed all the way through to the red zone on the cards. The blue zone is an area that may or may not get cut off; it's a good idea to have a background in the same color as your image that bleeds off the page through this area. There are always slight registration errors when the cards are cut, and leaving a big border around your image can make this much more noticeable.
2) It's very important to make sure that your images are the correct size and resolution; otherwise, the software may make adjustments to your images that cause them to print differently than you intended. For cards, your images must be 825 pixels wide x 1125 pixels high, have a resolution of 300 dots per inch, and be 2.75" wide by 3.75" high.
Please verify that your images are the correct size and resolution. If that's not the issue, we'll continue to trouble-shoot from there. Thanks!
For 1, sometimes my art goes up to and touches the blue line but never went over.
For 2, although most of the cards are 825x1125 it seems that my card backs were the wrong resolution. (1089x788) - no idea how that happened. Would that throw everything off? Why were my previous decks, and one deck from this batch, fine, while the other three were off? It's discomforting - I can't just order a deck, look at it, say "that's fine", and then order a bunch. Obviously, it would be nice if the software did a verification step and told me, "Hey, this is the wrong resolution."
You'll want to make sure your art goes through the entire blue area; otherwise, it can throw things off. The way you want to set up your image is so that everything important in the image stops before the blue area so that it doesn't get cut off, but the background should go all the way through the blue area in the proof. Otherwise, the actual image is so small compared to the card that it can get shifted around on the cards, and you end up with some cards like you had where the picture was very off-center. The resolution of the card backs being wrong can also cause issues.
As you might've heard, we are working on a new incarnation of TGC, and in the new version, there will be verification steps like you mentioned, where the software won't allow you to continue with your game unless your images are the right size and resolution. So, we agree that should be part of the process, and it will be implemented in the future so that we can help to keep this kind of thing from happening. Until we are able to implement the new TGC, though, it has to be a manual check on the part of the game creator. I'm sorry, and I know this is frustrating. I hope this information helps, but if you have any other questions, please let me know.
I guess my question is - why not offer me a refund or credit or to replace the broken decks? I'd like to think that's what I'd do for my clients if TGC was my company.
When the situation is caused by an error on our part, we always offer credit. However, in this case, the images that you uploaded to your cards did not meet the specifications that are listed on our website. The instructions given were not followed. There's a lot of great information on our site about file preparation, and these topics are covered extensively there. I'm sorry that you experienced issues with your cards; however, those issues were not caused by anything we did.
So "The customer is always right" isn't your policy.
Okay - never mind the backs of the cards - I'll take the blame for that.
The fronts of the cards are all the correct resolution, and they are cut off. Not just "off center", but cut off. Your cuts are past the blue line.
But here's another thing - the very fact that TGC got one deck right and three decks wrong is proof that it's something TGC did. Seriously, how do you explain that?
Honestly, you just got lucky with the deck that printed acceptably. There are issues with your images, and the chances that your cards will ever print well until those issues are fixed are slim to none. I'm sorry that you are having issues, and I am trying to help you understand what you need to do so that your future orders print the way you want them to. Ultimately, though, you're responsible for what you put into your game, and if it's not done correctly, then it won't print correctly.
Have you even looked at my order history? I've never noticed a problem with any of the previous decks I've ordered, and they all had the incorrect resolution for the Motivation card back. Statistically speaking, the chances of that being just luck are infinitesimal. (Not to mention I hope it would show I've been a loyal client so far, and don't deserve to have fingers pointed at me.)
Please, explain to me how having the resolution wrong on the images for the backs of the cards can mess up the printing on the fronts of the cards - but only sometimes.
Is TGC your company? Is there someone else I can talk to? Because you're going to make me burst a blood vessel. It's not about the money. If you simply can't afford to give me credit - I know your margins must be low - okay: the decks are still playable and they're just for playtesting purposes so far. But I need a real apology ("I'm sorry you're having issues" is not a real apology) and assurance that this won't happen again if you want to keep my business.
Jamie Vrbsky wrote:
Hello Jamie, Heather has updated me on this particular issue. Normally we don't do this, but we'll offer a credit, less shipping, of half the amount of those card decks. In essence we'll pay for 2 of the 3 decks that didn't print or cut properly. I would ask that you please update your cards so that they are the correct resolution before you publish or purchase any more copies. While the system does the best it can to do what it "thinks" you want done, there's room for error in the algorithm which can cause large variances in the printing and cutting of the cards. Sometimes it works great and other times it works terribly. We're working to resolve this in the next iteration of the software so that issues like this are much more infrequent if not eliminated entirely. I hope you find this credit to be a satisfactory resolution and we can consider the issue closed.
Thank you, Jamie
Jamie Fristrom wrote:
Did you read my last e-mail? Can you please read it and answer my questions?
Heather has answered your questions previously. I'm not going to get into the technical aspects of why something works or doesn't work. We've done as much as we can to help in the resolution of this issue. It's up to you as to whether you find it satisfactory enough to continue using our service or not.
So - what do you think? It looks to me like they screwed up, conveniently found something minor wrong with my files, and are using that as an excuse so they don't have to take responsibility for what happened.
Bottom line is I don't feel like I can work with them anymore, since their product is so inconsistent - and don't have to, not when there are so many other POD places that do custom playing cards. Superior POD, Guild of Blades, Victory Point Games, Artscow ...
I've tried out Superior POD and Artscow, btw. Their cards are more consistently sized, easier to shuffle, and don't have little nubs on the edges. But their websites are harder to work with. I did like TGC's website - that's why I stuck with them even though their cards weren't as good.
My daughter is only six, and is still a sore loser. I've given up trying to play Sorry! with her ... taking one of her pawns in chess can incite her to sweep all the pieces off the board ... etcetera.
Role-playing games can really bring out the sore loser in people. You spend a lot of time crafting a character, and then that character gets killed. Maybe it's by the rules, maybe you think the GM didn't give you a fair chance. Computer RPG's have savegames - you die, you go back, you pretend it didn't happen. With tabletop RPGs I've seen teenaged boys throw temper tantrums, and I've seen grown men turn to whiny bitches after a stray fireball takes their character out.
So you'd think role-playing with my daughter would be out of the question, but we can play Archipelago and it's fine. Why? Because of "Try A Different Way." Anything happens she doesn't like, she can just veto it. I have to come up with something else.
If you're a gamer, you're probably thinking: but that's cheating!
And if you're an improv actor, you're probably thinking: that's shooting down someone else's contribution. That's not cool.
I know, right? That's why we have rules. So we can agree ahead of time on what we're okay with. If we discover we're not okay as we thought we'd be, well, that's interesting. Better luck next time.
Here's the thing, though: role-playing games really are separate beasts from board games. They're stories and they can go places that we don't want them to go. In rare cases we need some kind of safety to protect us. Ron Edwards called them "lines and veils" - sometimes you need to draw a line, say, "I don't want to go there." Sometimes you need to "pull a veil over it" - do it off-camera.
Games need these safety valves whether they're written explicitly into the rules or not. (If they're not, and you don't want to allow a safety valve, your safety valve will probably be somebody quitting.)
So as long as we have this valve, why not put it explicitly into the rules? A protocol for drawing a line or veil, that tries to be fair.
And then why not let people use it for everything, so they can make the game into the kind of game they want it to be, on the fly?
Traditional role-players don't like it when someone else controls their character. But role-playing rookies new to GM-less games don't see the divide and have no problem with it. With TADW, the traditional role-player can say, "Hey, hands off my character," while everyone else enjoys what comes naturally to them.
But isn't there potential for it to be abused? You're supposed to use it when it would muck up the game for you. If you use it too often, it'll kill the momentum. If somebody's a jerk, or if they're playing to win, they could use it to deadlock the game. Well, so far in my playtests - blind or not - that hasn't happened.
BUT it's very complicated to explain. Sometimes you can push back against another player's contribution 'in-game': "I cut your hand off" "No, I pull my hand out of the way!" - and sometimes 'out-of-game': "I kill you dead" "Try a different way! I don't want my character to die just yet." Trying to explain the difference and keep the rules light is a serious challenge.
I think the answer I'm going to go with is to borrow from In a Wicked Age. With IAWA, you can say, "Wait, no, that doesn't happen" - but then you roll some dice. And you can lose. But then you can choose - do I give in and let the other player have what they want, or do I exhaust a limited resource which will result in me having less narrative authority and possibly my character's death?
In other words - although your character could always die with In a Wicked Age, nothing else will happen unless you're okay with it: "The soldier rapes you." "No he doesn't." (Dice roll - the king's player wins, but the loser narrates.) "He threatens me with his sword - I run - he slashes at me and I get hurt - but I'm not raped."
There's one kind of line/veil that, at first, this doesn't seem to cover: what if something you can't stand happens to someone else's character? You have recourse there as well. "The soldier rapes him." "No he doesn't - I rush to his aid and stop the soldier."
So ... that's where I'm going with the next draft of That's Drama. You have a hand of cards and you can trump to get your way - but you can also expend a card permanently if you really don't like where the story is going. The worst that'll happen is you use up all your cards, and your character will have to exit the story. (I'm softening In a Wicked Age still more by saying they 'exit the story' rather than 'they die' - maybe they leave town or something.)
So Typepad is supposed to let me integrate Facebook comments and blog comments, but it doesn't work and I've had a support ticket about it open for months and they said they'll look into it (I've even given them the password to my Facebook account so they can figure it out!) but that was months ago.
Anyhow, Christopher Kubasik asked on Facebook:
Could you unwrap what you mean by the word "Goal"?
And "Best Interest"?"
Or do all three terms mean the same thing for you?
And I said -
Goal / Motivation / Best Interest mean subtly different things to me but they all accomplish pretty much the same thing: for the game, they help give the player ideas for something to do "Hmm, I want to sleep with Daphne, so I'm going to go ask her out", and for the story, the character has to start out wanting something which will then be opposed/resisted.
A motivation would be something you want but you might not be sure when you're done. "I want to be famous."
A best interest would be something that's truly good for your character - but they might not be actively pursuing it or even know what it is. "I should forgive my son's killer."
When I'm reading a role-playing book, nothing makes my eyes glaze over quicker than seeing a big pile of setting material. "These vampires don't like these other vampires, and these vampires are white-skinned, and these vampires like to cook..."
Setting material in the form of lists (here's all the characters you can be; here's a random list of monsters you might meet) are okay, because you aren't expected to know them, they're just reference, but still - if it's not a setting I'm interested in, I'm still going to be alienated. There might be a lot of good fantasy games out there that aren't D&D, but I'm done with fantasy, so it's a hard sell.
I wish I could find the quote I keep quoting: we love our children more than anyone else's, and that's particularly true when the children are ideas. Involve me in the setting creation, or let me and my friends create the setting completely!
Every game of In a Wicked Age I play, we sit down and create a little sketch of our bronze age fantasy environment. It's probably poorly drawn and rudimentary, but I love those worlds more than almost any other fantasy kingdom. (Middle Earth still wins.) Because those worlds are our children.
Of course, if you're a big company trying to make money, what are you going to do? You want to own some IP. You want a world you can set not only your games in, but you probably want to branch out into comics and novels and hopefully tv shows and movies.
Not to mention, you ask someone what draws them to a particular game, they're probably going to say: The Setting. "I like Vampire because it has vampires."
But for me, it's almost a no-brainer. I want to let people play in whatever setting they want. I don't want to own some IP; I want as many people playing it as possible. If someone's turned off by vampires and someone else is turned off by space opera and someone else is turned off by cop shows ... I still want them to be willing to try my game.
But how do I sell that? It's easy to say, "Hey, this game has vampires." It's hard to say, "This game has whatever you want." Because, honestly, if you really want a vampire game, a game that's first and foremost meant to be about vampires is probably going to do it better. So how?
I first got the idea of Motivation cards after playing a game of In a Wicked Age that didn't quite pop. In a Wicked Age, a bit like Paranoia and The Mountain Witch before it, is very much driven by the characters having goals that they're avidly pursuing - goals that are incompatible with each other. A pregnant situation is created, and something's got to give. You don't need an adventure for the characters to go through - in fact, such a thing is just a distraction, because the characters have their own plans.
Unfortunately, it's easy to screw up the goal-setting - (IaWA calls them 'best interests') - and end up with a game where the players goals aren't all that incompatible. Worst case, each player has a goal that doesn't interact with any of the other players, and it's like each of them are playing their own little two-player game with the GM.
I also think there's a certain fear of pissing other players off when people sit down to play a game of In a Wicked Age. Maybe they're strangers, or maybe they're used to D&D where you're (usually) all supposed to cooperate towards a common goal ... they're just not that likely to get involved in, say, a love triangle, one of the staples of drama.
Since, IMO, the best interests are the most important part of In a Wicked Age - more important than the Oracles, the method it uses to randomly choose story elements, which tell you what the game is about, but won't necessarily drive play - it seemed to me we should have some kind of "Best Interest" Oracle.
Which is something like The Mountain Witch - where everyone draws a Dark Fate card, and that guides their play - but the players all know each other's fates. And it's something like Fiasco, where some needs get randomly generated and shared between the players.
So I posted this idea on Story Games, and they refined it. I was particularly excited about Jason Morningstar's Shab Al Hiri Roach mechanic, where the motivations go in a circle: everyone loves the character on their right and hates the character on their left. Why not do that with these Motivation cards, I thought: all the characters will have issues that involve the character on their right, and be involved with the issue of the character on their left.
Less flexible than In a Wicked Age, sure - but it'll create an untenable situation every time.
Since I came up with the idea, I've been watching shows, movies, and reading books - and always asking myself, "What is this character's motivation? What is this character's motivation?" And trying to make sure that whatever it was, it could be expressed by one of the That's Drama Motivation cards.
Turns out there usually is not a lot of variety in motivations. Love and revenge are the most common. I ran out of ideas after eighteen cards, and since then haven't seen a motivation where I said, "Oh, I need to put that in the game."
That said, there are some 'tricky motivations' that are hard to game - any motivation about self-actualization or self-realization, for example, like Bill Murray seeking enlightenment in The Razor's Edge.
To keep some flexibility, for that rpg veteran who likes more control over their character's ambition, I added wild cards: invent your own motivation, as long as it involves the character on your right. Because I thought vets would want it. Interestingly, in playtesting, I've only seen a wild card used once. Some have suggested I take them out. I'm left them in, for now, because I don't see how they hurt anything. But it's a neat data point - it makes me feel like I'm really onto something with these motivation cards that seem constraining at first but really just let people express themselves.
As Anthony Chen's link shows, wine sales drop off just as rapidly as anything else. Gallo is the Call of Duty of wine. Thanks for ruining my post, man. Just kidding. I'm smarter today than I was yesterday.
Just had a thought. With most products, there's a brand that pretty clearly dominates, or vies with one other brand for the leading position, and then sales drop off rapidly as you move to the lower tier brands. Coffee=starbucks, soda=coke, beer is probably budweiser, console games = call of duty, facebook games = farmville. And that's awesome for the one or two companies in a leading spot and kind of sucks for everyone else - if the curves where shallower or linear-er more people could make a living creating a product that suits their own taste even if it's not the favorite, and there'd be more variety in the world, and more stuff to talk about. ("Have you tried this obscure brand of coffee? I really like it.")
And then there's wine. I have no idea what the leading brand of wine is - googling didn't seem to turn up a consistent winner - and I suspect that whatever wine does sell the most, it's not a juggernaut that's driving the other wines out of business.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe wines are under the same killer power law that all products have. If somebody out there could clear that up for me, I'd be grateful.
If I'm right, though, well, why is that? Why do wines have a flatter curve?
And then let me just take a moment to 'try the whine' and say, "Why can't games be more like wine?"
A lot of story games leave it up to you what setting and time period you want to play in: they have rules that ensure a certain kind of fiction, but it's up to you if it's space opera, present day, fantasy, historical, whatever ... or if it's about high school students, spies, doctors, cops ...
Geiger Counter is always survival horror where the characters get picked off one-by-one: but it can happen in space, in medieval times, in a New England town, at a carnival.
Fiasco is always "incompetence porn" - the characters are always going to do stupid things to get what they want, and it's always going to end in disaster, but again - it can be in Las Vegas, on Mars, or in Olde London.
Shock: is always science fiction that uses its characters to explore some issues, so it's probably going to be in the future, but it can be any future you imagine, on Earth or another planet ... and nothing stops you from playing a 'historical shock' like the invention of the printing press or telephone ...
Microscope is always an epic history. Universalis always has conflict. Archipelago always has destinies. But where and when is still up to the players.
Because these games usually rely on the "Yes, and..." rule of improv theater - an understanding among the players that you shouldn't shoot down each other's ideas, you should build on them - a small problem emerges: the player who speaks first wins. "How about Celtic fantasy?" I might say, and if the other players are good sports, they'll get behind it, even though Celtic fantasy isn't their cup of tea. It's easy to end up with settings that one player is excited about and the other players are just okay with.
Now - it's a pretty minor problem. You're still going to have fun, even if the setting wasn't your first (or fifth) choice, because the characters and their interactions are what's important. (Although the setting isn't quite just color - with story games, when you introduce something into the story, it usually affects future play, constraining and influencing what happens next, much like setting legal precedent changes our legal system.)
But supposing we try to tackle this problem anyway. One avenue I've approached is McCarthy's consensus-building trick: somebody throws an idea out, and you vote simultaneously. Thumbs up: you're excited. Thumbs down: veto. Fist: you'll support the idea even though you're not crazy about it. Only ideas that get at least two thirds thumbs up win. This is cool, and better than "who speaks first wins" but it's about the same for the people who didn't give a thumbs up.
A second solution is what I've recently adopted for That's Drama (and only playtested twice, but have had great results with each time) - but you could use this for any of the above games (except Fiasco, where you agree on a playset):
Here's an example from a That's Drama playtest:
|Each of us write down two seeds:
So, after I explain what "orgone" is, one of the players suggests a story that takes place during the [Cold War] about a nuclear [submarine] (with a soviet [spy] on-board) on a diplomatic mission to visit the Orgonians - a race of [orgone]-infused fish-men that has just made violent contact with the USA at a particular [lighthouse]. The lighthouse keeper is on-board as well, the one human who has met Orgonians and lived...
And we couldn’t figure out how to get Volcano in there, but maybe we’ll find out as we play the Orgonians will live nearby an underwater volcano, or something to that effect.
The result of this technique is every player feels invested in the game from the start - at least one of their ideas made it in - albeit in a strange new form that they didn't originally expect ("My vampires are in space? Cool.") And although all the seeds are probably tropes or cliches, once they're mixed you'll likely end up with something pretty unique.
All that said, if the other players don't feel like playing this pre-game mini-game, and somebody else's idea is the one that got traction for the setting, you should still take responsibility for getting an idea in there you like. Maybe you were hankering for vampires, but the other players wanted science fiction. Dude. Space vampire. Bring it.