View Full Version : Possible way forward?

Tzar Boris
28-11-2009, 20:29
I just thought I'd share this little tidbit of an idea that has been gathering in the recesses of my mind. It was spurred by my growing frustration at the direction that GW, the primary source for many peoples toy soldier affection, are going in general - this includes the recent flurry of C&D letters received by many fan-made websites whom have inadvertently fallen foul of GW IP lawyers. It also made me look back at what many see as the "glory" days of GW - and what they produced that made us all froth at the mouth so much.

Occassionally I will froth slightly at some other companies stuff, but I fear my mind has been buried in the grim future too long, and it is often just "i could use that as..." kind of thinking.

What ties us to GW? The same that thing that ties millions to Microsoft and Adobe. You could get away without using their products, but then you end up losing out on all the fun. Everything's made by one company and it works together - no searching for a chainsword wielding sergeant, it's in the box. (okay, it's sort of true, not 100%)

How about open-sourcing it? I don't want to kill GWs IP, I like 40k, WFB, BB, and stuff, I just feel that as a profit making organisation, they cannot, and will not support the product (gaming system) adequately. This takes us to the much maligned "multitude of Marines" problem, the lack of fascinating campaigns and supplements. What did Apocalypse actually achieve other than selling more models? How exactly did Space Hulk change from twenty years ago? GW makes nice models - fact. They have some folks who write some good characterful fluff and stories regarding their protected universes. They have some excellent sources of evocative art. They have lost the plot with the gaming audience.

It's all about the models for GW now. It always was. Think about why you first picked up an Orc, or a Marine, and you understand.

My idea? It's a sort of a takeover of GWs want to be the great benevolent creator. A hijacking of the need to rely on their understaffed and overworked, and frankly underwhelming games design staff. I refer chiefly to the fact that the "idea for a game is not protected by copyright. The same is true of the name or title given to the game and of the method or methods for playing it. (Official wording of the US copyright office)

The background and imagery are copyright, and GW have pained to trademark many of the devices, insignia and races featured therein. The game, is not. The method of playing the game, is not. The wording of how to play the game, is. I am not remotely suggesting a page by page rewrite of the current rulesets - I am not suggesting that we stamp on GWs rights as holders of copyright.

There are many systems for playing wargames - it would be fair to say that virtually all of them are derivative. If it uses a dice, it's derivative. Most use some form of system for allocating damage, speed, attacks etc. Heck, GW claimed that LOTR was a brand new games system, yet it's less different to current edition 40k, than current edition 40k is to second edition 40k.

Help GW be a better company? Let them do what they do well. Make miniatures. Heck, I can't stand the way some other systems play, yet I wouldn't mind a couple of warjacks. If only there was a reason to buy them...

So, what do you reckon, is it possible? Are we mature enough and dedicated enough to make an "IBM-compatible" version of our gaming systems? The problem I've always seen with fan-made gaming systems is their lack of scope, vision, and production values. They tend to be one man operations slapped together in Notepad in Helvetica 12pt. Fine but no finesse. It wouldn't be that hard, really. And with no-one looking over your shoulder wondering if you're making money out of something that is infringing their IP, you can find servers and stuff with as many T-shirts and stuff as you like.

It's not like the word "Elf", "Dwarf", "Troll", "Goblin", "Marine", "Empire" etc. are actually copyrighted. Strange as it may seem, that list in GWs IP statement has very little in it. Heck, there's an Altdorf in Switzerland. I bet you someone there's playing wargames...

I leave you with a quotation, from Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader by Rick Priestley, page 6 -
"If you've ever left the cinema or turned from the TV screen, wishing that you could invent your own death-stars, storm-troopers, whirring ornithopters, and wild-eyed heroes then this is for you!"

28-11-2009, 22:22
open sourcing would potentially damage the IP and also damage the chance to make profit form said IP. As IP is a major revenue stream for GW I couldnt see them doing this

28-11-2009, 22:46
Sorry to be a wet blanket but - bonkers. Sustaining this is no idle saturday afternoon knock up. I pay GW when I buy rules, codices, etc. That - and the miniatures I buy - funds the rules development.

I LIKE this game. Pretty much, it works better than other games I play. Thats one reason I spend money on it.

29-11-2009, 13:07
I'm not sure what the hell I just read. You want to make your own wargames rules so you can play GW games without playing GW games because of something to do with IP? Clarify your idea, please.

Tzar Boris
29-11-2009, 17:44
Right just to clarify - as it appears the first came across more "ranty" than it was intended.

1. The game itself isn't IP.
2. GW has nice IP - this doesn't always make the game (process of throwing dice) - you currently pay GW for what sometimes appear to be an underfunded games development product, interspersed with their nice IP. Note : Apocalypse IMO was a bodge up job of trial and experimental rules cobbled together in a nice package. Short of the artwork, most of the rulebooks are not anymore playtested than most house rules. Rules that fit the models.
3. There are numerous inconsistencies regarding various editions of rules, codices and supplements.
4. Many of the big changes in the rules have been from community feedback, well, at least historically. The internet can provide a basis for playtesting that doesn't rely on product development, but demands product development based on consumer needs.
5. I personally despise the current trend to have characters imbue whole armies with skills that they do not otherwise have. i.e Why a small defending force of Imperial Fists would not be stubborn, yet bring Lysander in and they all gain it? What if he's busy somewhere else? Do they all of a sudden lose their years of training and indoctrination? Next you'll be telling me that without Abaddon, you won't be able to play Chaos. Rules working against IP...

Anyhoo, the idea is to present a professional ruleset, that has been playtested and solid, and totally supported by the community - that has no reliance on GWs IP. A ruleset that may be used to represent any model you'd care to buy. A flexible ruleset that enables games at skirmish to gargantuan proportions. One that is not changed constantly and allowed to mature between revisions. One that is, at it's core, led by the community, and made by the community, for the community.

Of course I have my own ideas - but that is beside the point. It's not a topic concerning that - it's concerning taking away the powers of rulemaking from the despotism of the companies and putting it back in the hands of the people. Like what d20 is to roleplaying, but for wargames and something you could actually affect the future of, not reliant on someone elses idea. I just would like to see if anyone would be interested in letting GW, Rackham and all get back to the business of making and selling toy soldiers, and let us worry about how to use them.

It IS nice and convenient to get everything from one place. But wouldn't you like an alternative? If you still don't get it, I'll give you an example -

1. Download and print, purchase from online store/hobby store, basic rules of Openwar.
a) Use existing GW Codex/army book with Openwar.
b) Use relevant Openwar "generic" army list with Openwar. (Armoured Elites, Space Orcs, Roman Legions, Barbarian Horde, Nordic Raiders etc.)
3. Lot's of people using Openwar. GW, Rackham, Privateer etc, all bring out Openwar compatible supplements and Army books filled with their IP.
4. Tournaments played with straight Openwar rules. Warjack vs Dreadnought action anyone?

It'd probably have to be two versions - one historical, the other modern/future - however, as most historical rulesets have skirmishers as well as ran and file, perhaps you could combine.

NB. Openwar is just a quick name - not a final title.

29-11-2009, 19:30
Hey there, I've been in the GW hobby for about twenty years so I understand where your view points coming from and I get how your feeling with regards to the current IP situation.

With regards to GW going opensource, I think it'd be asking for a** kicking on GWs part. Theres a dozen companies out there now that could probably churn out a viable suppliment with plastic models quite quickly especially with such a vast amount of fanbase support out there already churning out rules.

What you'd actually need, rules wise, is three different systems - one for skirmish, one for battles, and one for 6mm. Any attempt to have your cake and eat it by combining the three is asking for trouble.

Having said that, by doing that you could potentially keep a lot of the structure thats already there - codex's for example. You can add in additional rules as a way of theming armies. Your lysander example is a perfect one, and forms one of the same gripes I have with current edition 40k.

Whilst I love the idea, and would happily help in any way, i think its just too much of a challenge when theres plenty of rules sets out there you can use and just adapt your army too.

29-11-2009, 19:46
Well going down this path would only result in GW actually doing less and less development and production. Their sales would fall due to people going to the people that GW say can produce X,Y and Z. Less production and fewer sales would lead to less stores less staff. Does GW strike you as a company that would want to committ business suicide???

As it is theirs a ton of well made and tested fan based rules Codices and such out and GW doesn't touch them. Why because the people who produced it by by the rules and don't go stepping on GW's IP, Copyrights and Trademarks. If a person can't follow what GW expressly say's not to be done then they have no one to blame but themselves.

GW's legal department has sent out C&D's for years and years it's nothing new it's just more widely known now we have major forums that talk GW. Hell i know of one company that got closed down due to the owner doing stuff with GW's IP and stuff that he shouldn't of done.

29-11-2009, 22:01
I'm not entirely sure about the idea itself but i disagree with the idea put forward by grissom2006 and blongbling that it would be buisness suicide for 3 main reasons

1. Firstly i'm guessing "open sourcing the IP" would amount to more of a franchise than an actual open source, franchise =

2. Even if it were made opensource, that would only really be the rules systems/campaign packs etc, they wouldn't allow this on the models themselves. I imagine GW make more profit on the sale of models that they do off books!

3. An open market means competition, which means better rules and better systems. more options and vairety make it likely that GW will be able to attract more people from the hobby who may well be playing other tabletop board games and sell them the GW models. Yeah they lost out 50 on a rulebook/armybook, but they'll gain s on various model armies as part of a longer term strategy

(think iphone apps, anyone can make 'em and make money selling 'em, but ultimately apple profit because everyone buys the iphone 'cos its cool and has bitching apps!)

Personally, although i think it would it be interesting and potentially viable, i don't see it happening!

29-11-2009, 23:29
Okay, I understand your point now. Unfortunately, it's not going to happen.
Ultimately, GW will never agree to it. If they have to share a rules system with other companies' miniatures, they won't be able to pretend that other companies don't exist. GW get their fanbase hooked so bad because all other games are eclipsed by their own.
Personally, I think you need to explore different games. How many wargames have you played outside of the 3 "Core Games"? Specialist Games are FANTASTIC - Epic and Warmaster are ultimately better rules for massed battle combat while Necro and Mordheim are fantastic for skirmishes.
I like having several different rules sets. Variety is the spice of life, and if you don't want to buy new minis for a different game then it's usually not too hard to substitute GW figures in other games and vice versa.

29-11-2009, 23:31
Franchises sell a product produced by someone else also revenue from a Franchise to the parent company is less than the company would make selling the stuff it's self. Also out sourcing leads to dispute over who actually owns what. The more this happens the less control GW would have over it's direction and IP. Enough Companies have taken this route in the past and ended up in worse position than they was in before they did it.

So whats better selling a item and getting the 100% value from it or a cut from it.

Last time i checked apple doesn't allow anyone to use their stuff they 100% control their Ipod and Itunes market share and IP.

30-11-2009, 06:36
Launch a new open-sourced edition, watch competitors fall over themselves to provide third-party support, time your "upgrade" edition launch in a way that leaves the third parties reeling to catch up... then with the competition trying to recoup a lot of unsellable back-catalog, release a new closed edition of the game.

Why do we need TWO Wizards of the Coast?

30-11-2009, 12:29
Hi all.
Why not just pick up a FREE to down load rule set from 'freewargamesrules', that you like the look of , and use your minatures with it?;)

If you have bought the minatures and the books with the back ground information in, using other rule sets to play YOUR ideal game is NOT breaking any IP rules.

And as thier are as MANY different types of rules , its best to find the one that YOUR group likes best!

GW make great minatures , and have had years to develop thier backgrounds.

But if the GW rule sets fail to deliver the gameplay you want , just use an alternative rule set!;)


30-11-2009, 13:33
OpenWarfare is a cool idea alright....

But GW's rules are still GW IP. And it's not something they'll give up, they're real bears about it. The 'simple' solution therefore, is to build our own ruleset. Much like the GNU project built it's own kernel (or found one at any rate)

Simple being in quotes because writing rules for a wargame is anything but simple. For one thing, they'd have to be playtested. Which means mini's, which may well mean our own IP universe. (Maybe the Free Earth Federation -v- The Corporate Aquilan Empire?)

Or just some sort of fudge so GW codices will work with our system.

It could be done... if we got a few people together willing to invest free time towards. Basic concept of how it works can be simple....

All attributes are rated 0-10, roll under the attribute on 2d6 (or a D10 even) to pass the test. (Similar to GW Ld tests). Basic attributes for shooting, armed offense, armed defense, strength, toughness, will, initiative, armour protection...etc.

There's a lot that can be done. It'll probably never be done, but if it gets a hold on a few gamers it might generate interest. It *could* be done if the right people were motivated to do it.... but it'll be a pain for whoever does.

30-11-2009, 13:59
This idea is nothing new. There are lots of other rules out there that work with GW minis as has already been mentioned. Most of them are less draconian than GW and are more interested in their players having fun instead of telling them how they have to have fun. If you find those games you'll often find player made lists for your GW armies already waiting for you. As somebody that does these sort of projects I can say it's fun at times but at times people get arguing and lose sight of the project goals.

The one big thing GW has going for them in regards to rules is inertia. They have thousands upon thousands of players around the world. Love them or hate them you can find people to play with anywhere. When you try switching to another game, no matter how much better you feel it is, it can be very hard to get enough people playing it.

30-11-2009, 20:36
as has been stated, the rules are at the heart of GW's IP and as such would not be opensourced

01-12-2009, 15:10
Actually the rules are the weakest link in their IP claims. Rules mechanisms can't be patented or trademarked. Someone could change the wording a bit and use 90+% of the rules as their own if what I've read elsewhere is true. GW's IP is strongest with their imagery, artwork, history and models. Even there we've seen very similar models put out by other companies and they haven't been shut down.

Net Epic was(is) a good example of how this could work. GW let the players do what they wanted and it made a great game. With the current enviroment surrounding GW now I'm not sure trying the same thing with other rules would be worth the effort.

01-12-2009, 15:53
Zink is right, lots of game use game mecahnics that GW games use.
F.O.W is very similar to 40k, in terms of game mechanics.
But F.O.W has the focus primarily on game play,where as 40k s focus appears to be marketing minatures....:eek:

I dont understand the need to try ro make sense of the current 40k abstraction.

A complete re-write would appear to be far more efficient.

Pick what you want the end game to be and make it.
Rather than try to decifer the confusing mess of 40k and then try to unravel it , and re wind it into a game play focused rule set!


Tzar Boris
03-12-2009, 20:02
That's my idea zink/lanrak - I know of several alternative rulesets for using miniatures - but as they are generally published as quick n dirty house rules, they also don't have a constant source of material, and are outdated quickly - with little chance of the original one-two man writers updating it.

I was thinking much broader in terms of scale. To try and make a free wargame ruleset that is accessible, expandable and hard to ignore for miniatures designers. If you had an active community of playtesters and contributers the size of Warseer, you'd be looking at a community led game system that people would actually play and businesses would be hard put to ignore.

The reason for making it (and I dislike the use of the word compatible) compatible with GWs codices would be for gaining instant converts with little fuss - no need to fish about and look for "alternative" army lists that cover your force - just use your army in a slightly different way.

As I said, the initial idea was to take away the overall dominance that GW holds over the community. I personally think they're overanalysing and overfiddling with the core game that is still pretty much 3rd ed - as opposed to adding anything of real worth...

I'd rather be trying to fix the problems than just moaning about it on Warseer.
"OpenWarfare" sounds quite good though...

Tzar Boris
03-12-2009, 20:40
Just as an aside - alongside all the goodness of a Creative Commons/Open Source approach to the game itself, could be a development of a non infringing universe created by the community. I don't mean everyone gets to know the secrets of everything, as there would be no mystery, but a select team of loremasters crafting a universe that others can tap into and add to. Without worrying about nasty copyright nonsense. I've certainly started many short stories with original material that I have no inclination to make money from.

It's absolutely fundamental that everyone realises that nobody has exercised their rights over green-skinned Orcs, Nordic style Dwarfs, and blokes with big guns in heavy armour. The names, the exact styles and related iconography are the issue with the current GW legal-letters avalanche. Don't call it Si*mar, Grombrin*al, or Marne*s C*lgar. I'd say that the use of heraldic devices and ancient symbology is a tad suspect as an IP claim also, so as long as you steered clear of the "cheap imitation" look, you'd have no problems inverting as many Omega symbols as you'd want. Not that you'd want to.

04-12-2009, 04:43
I'm all for it, where can I sign up?

but as they are generally published as quick n dirty house rules, they also don't have a constant source of material, and are outdated quickly - with little chance of the original one-two man writers updating it.

This is why I don't bother to write any of my ideas down in the first place, but if I know I am instead contributing to a collection of ideas for a ruleset, that might actually be used, I would be there in a heartbeat.

Though as far as gameplay I am of a mind that wargames should be a tactical challenge, not just 'fun'. I first started because chess, the old stand-by, was too limited in scale. I can't fully demonstrate my ability as a commander of an army in chess, but I can in miniatures, if only there was an actually enjoyable ruleset (for 28mm scale). I have tried quite a few, and they all have their points, but the companies that produce them all aim for one thing-profit.

Comparing GW to Microsoft is a good analogy. Microsoft makes a fairly good product, but it is targeted at a select group and those who want more have to turn elsewhere. These turn to Apple (who would be Privateer Press, or other competition in this analogy) who markets their product as the one that 'fixes' everything 'wrong' with Microsoft's. But in reality, they also have their downfalls, because it is still marketed for a target demographic. And then there's Linux (or OpenWarfare) which don't make any true profit off of anything, and therefore are not going to target a select group, and instead aim to please everyone by giving COMPLETE control to the user/player.

(this doesn't take into account those 'fandexes' but those are rarely made by players who want to contribute, instead by those players who want to make their personal army the bomb. there are a few exceptions, but they lack support IMO. of course with a proposed 'OpenWarfare', people would be even more able to write their own version, AND get more support from the community.)

As a full supporter of opensource anything, I would fully agree that a wargames ruleset that was well maintained and supported by the community could become far greater than anything currently available. But Microsoft nor GW is ever going to stop being for profit, though because of opensource Microsoft is 1)given better ideas to implement in their own product, and 2) forced to cater to customers in order to retain them. so who's to say GW won't end up in a similar situation?

Of course to get this started, as with anything, it will take a core group of very dedicated people (perhaps more so since they won't be getting paid. of course there's plenty of dedicated people in this hobby. that's why we're here isn't it?) to get the ball rolling in the right direction, and some way of managing the 'official' release.

SO, all that being said. Can you now kindly point me to the sign-up kiosk?

EDIT: Forgot to point out that I agree with the community driven fluff. I'd think that a changing universe could actually make the game a bit more enjoyable. Though I am rather fond of 40k's, but mostly because of the tone of the setting, rather than any actual 'history' (Grimdark is the best). But the possibility that the story could evolve based on actual played out battles/campaigns could be intriguing.

04-12-2009, 05:15
Tzar Boris, I wish you luck in this project. I'm trying to do the same thing with Armies of Arcana which is a good Warhammer substitute. That's why I say it isn't easy. You need very dedicated people that are willing to work together for rules development as well as good PR people to raise interest and bring in more players. There's a million things that can stall these sort of projects. Still I'd be very interested in seeing what you can do and would be willing to add my two cents from time to time if anybody wanted to listen.

Tzar Boris
05-12-2009, 11:59
Cheers @zink, I'll check Armies of Arcana.

The idea sparked when I read that the game couldn't be copyrighted in itself - just the copyrighted materials and trademarks that go with it. I checked it out, and so long as it's not just a straight lift of the claimants original, and has its own merits, then a game should not be open to a claim in the UK if it bears gameplay "similarities" to another. Couldn't find any patent claim for the game systems either by GW. (not what patents are designed for, but it could be done and provide a world of hurt - fortunately as GW tweak the rules constantly, it'd seem to be to arduous and expensive a process to contemplate)

Was quite hooked by OpenWarfare as a name - but there's a few other minor websites with the name (theres a big COD mod with the name), and to avoid confusion have scuttled the ship on that one. General brainstorming by myself has led me into the realm of creating a "cool" name rather than descriptive. Having ran through several, I realised there's not a lot of original thought in my head (everything I come up with has been used elsewhere, and have been scoring out the similar ones, or ones that share the etymological route), and a lot less words in the english language than I'd guessed. My current research is leading me to ancient and archaic texts, so's I can find something with a high degree of gravitas. It'd also perhaps bring a sense of being to the possible fantasy/sci-fi worlds to be created in an open universe with a common cultural influence. I'm currently favouring Grimoire, but I want to work the prefix "Giga" into it - and Gigagrimoire sounds pants. Dark Grimoyre is nice, and gothic, and dark, but a bit generic fantasy.

So yeahs, I may just start up a quick freebie forum for the organisation of said project, see how it's gonna roll, and go from there. I'm an ideas guy though, I tend to shy away from the hardline dictatorial roles.

As for other games, I've played many - the full house of GW stuff (BOFA was a great example of rewording good rules to make them better), I've dabbled with Flames, ST, Conf., and hated Warmachine - it's all down to preference. I'd quite like a two tier approach - an accessible "base" ruleset, and an advanced "detailed" ruleset. Many rules try and do it all at once, and that is why they fail. Someone said to me once that if you have trouble remembering how the turn sequence goes, then surely the turn sequence must be wrong.

Gonna go sketch out some pictures.

(I originally tried to do a free 40k army builder called "InfinityHammer" - nice name, but clearly derivative)

05-12-2009, 15:48
Cheers @zink, I'll check Armies of Arcana.

So yeahs, I may just start up a quick freebie forum for the organisation of said project, see how it's gonna roll, and go from there. I'm an ideas guy though, I tend to shy away from the hardline dictatorial roles.

AoA isn't freeware, you have to pay to get the book, but we'd like to have people getting involved and developing their own ideas. I'm not one for ramming rules down people's throats either. I don't like it when people try to force me to play things their way and prefer more openess and creativity.

I'm an ideas guy too. I like to just toss things out for people to try and think about. I've seen it lots of time where people just wanted to discuss things and had somebody who thought they knew better jump all over them about their ideas and how they couldn't fit or didn't work. Got involved a few times sticking up for the ones putting idea forward but too often they just gave up and quit posting because they didn't like the fights. That's always a big risk in small projects.

Let us know if/when you start on this. I'd like to take a look.

05-12-2009, 23:07
proboards is a quick freebie forum, would take 5 minutes to setup.

Grimoire sounds fancy, but Dark Grimoire is a bit redundant, grimoires have a bad rep for being dark already. Though white grimoire would be neat for being oxymoronic. Though IMO the name should somehow indicate that it is open. of course I'm at a loss for prefix's because any synonyms or translations I can come up with for 'open' or 'free' sound a bit forced. The idea that it would still mean "open book" is catchy though.

I also agree that the rules should be two tier. Not sure how to pull it off except for the warhammer approach of dividing individual forces into their own books/section. still that approach isn't working for them so IDK.

I'm an ideas guy too, lol, and I've got a few ideas floating around in my head already (especially for a potential website). Though I have managed a few forums in my time if we need someone to be 'in charge', but I would much rather any sort of management for this sort of project be simple discussion among a 'core' group. By making the administration a community, you invite a better sense of community to the project itself. Besides I have some ideas for voting and rating systems to give more control to the users/players.

You should let us know where you put up that forum(or if you want me to set one up real quick ;) ), because as you can tell you've already got me a bit excited :P

Tzar Boris
09-12-2009, 02:59
In case anyone wonderin, I set up a wee forum at ...here be dragons (http://herebedragons.darkbb.com/). Just fancied the name, as I had been calling my fantasy world "Terra Incognito" for a while. It's been set up with topics useful for development, and some lovely parchment colours. MMMmmmm creamy.

Tzar Boris
13-12-2009, 23:23
We're now up and jogging. (running a bit much at this time of year!)
Take a looky look now to see what it's about, and see whether or not you could get on board. It's free after all, and for you. It seems like a lot of uphill stuff at the moment, but it's all nice and creative.