Delayed release dates are quite common. They exist in almost every trade and especially the publishing business has probably more delays than timely releases. But to be fair, a book, be it a novel, non-fiction or role playing game, goes through a long development cycle:
Development, design, proofreading and ordering art, layout and typesetting, corrections and final changes, printing and shipping – and those are just the obvious and common steps that a layman like me can google quickly.
And all these steps are not just a lot of work, but they also require a lot of different people, with different schedules, work ethics, time constraints and commitments. As they say, A camel is a horse designed by committee… Maybe that isn’t the case here, but the fact remains, the more people you involve, the more potential problems enter a project. So we should be sympathetic if things take longer, shouldn’t we?
Also – let's be honest – RPG publishers are rarely in the same league as the Penguin Group and co. We always talk about our hobby as a niche, how do we expect that the companies that belong to it are more than that. Again, no wonder things go wrong more often than with the true professionals.
We are accustomed to it, aren’t we? In Germany at least we have seen it all. Whether it is a small passion project like the world book of Malmsturm, Savage Worlds latest german edition which has moved its release date twice or a bigger company like Ulisses (German publisher of The Dark Eye, Pathfinder, etc.) which obviously had so many delays that they made a big statement above all adressing their mistakes in information policy regarding release dates of their products.
Almost every role-playing game publisher in this country already had to deal with such delays and how to teach the public about them. Even looking to the bigger market in the United States, the picture doesn't change that much:
Catalyst Game Labs is still struggling with the publication of Leviathans, Shadow War from the guys of CthulhuTech is not yet finished and I think nobody would like to claim that every D&D book so far was on schedule. Not even to mention Fantasy Flight Games that pretty much stopped making detailed announcements before the product is shipping to the distributors.
But that’s the snag isn’t it? It’s just not the first time there was a delay. It’s almost normal. Shouldn’t more publishers see this? Almost always something goes wrong. No one is angry when the release date is 15th but then surprisingly it goes on sale on the 13th. No additional costs, no lost income… Conversely, if the product is delayed, again, one or the other sniffs at it muttering "Obviously… again!" under his breath.
Not that I think that little rant here changes anything. Neither this hypersensitives players or the "just-in-time" publisher will behave different.
I am also well aware that the pot is calling the kettle black here. After all, within barely more than a month of being online, we already boggled the timely publication of articles twice: Neither our D&D article on the Knightly Charge nor the Warhammer article on the Ale Wraith were as punctual as intended. Improving this situation lies in our hands (and we do also solemnly pledge changing it (Yeah, RIGHT…)). Where the companies are concerned we only can address the matter (and to give credit where it is due, some learn and avoid giving street dates before they know they can keep them) and this is done now…
And now without further delay our articles this week:
Mondays article highlights an aspect of cyberpunk games that tends to get less attention than it might deserve: The dehumanisation and loss of free will caused by cyberware implants. Cyberware und Freier Wille by Blut_und_Glas deals with exactly this issue, and presents additional houserules to increase the impact this has on the daily gameplay. The article is published in English and German.
On Thursday, we launch the next article in hour "Was ist/What is" series. An article format where we explore a specific term in a brainstorming manner, presenting many short stubs that can serve as inspiration, plot hooks or antagonists in different game systems. This weeks question is "Was ist eine bewusstseinerweiternde Krankheit/What is a mind expanding disease" it will be published in German and English.