Friday, December 26, 2014

Yes, I'm retired.

Recently, and several times in the past, it's been asked whether there would be any further BWP products.

The short answer is: no.

I had intimated this in a previous post here, but I think I was perhaps not clear. I am retired as a tabletop game designer, and am currently pursuing a career in programming.

Finland is a difficult country to be self-employed; you're more or less on your own, and writing RPGs simply doesn't pay enough of the bills to be worth it. I found myself in a situation where I was risking the loss of €700+ a month for the sake of often less than $100 a month in book sales. In the entire brief history of BWP, I never even made enough money to have to pay taxes on anything.

As well, I have found over the last couple of years, that the online RPG scene has become an increasingly toxic environment which I no longer wished to have any part of. Book burnings, harassment, racism, sexism, and all manner of other ugly behaviors came to define the part of the industry I'd found myself part of, while the other parts of the community had made it abundantly clear they weren't interested in my being part of that either. Further, the OSR community had become increasingly hostile to self- and public-funded works like mine: I was actually booted or had posts deleted from several boards when attempting to announce and advertise for the Arcana Rising Kickstarter.

So I'm done.

As mentioned in a previous post, all of BWP's products are now under open licenses: Hulks and Horrors, Heaven's Shadow, and Arcana Rising were released in full under the OGL. They remain for sale in print for those who wish copies, but such sales have been few and far between since the digital versions went free.

I consider all of them complete games, however, it is part of why I never finished the planned H&H expansions, so I don't think that should be any impediment to enjoying them, and I hope people will continue to do so.

Thank you to those who supported me as I made a go of it, but it's best I move on now.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A melancholy solidarity.

2,493 people signed this open letter in support of diversity in gaming and the commitment to stand against harassment and violent threats against those who speak about it.

I was one of those people, and I'm very proud to be, but more, I am very glad to see so many names from so many places in gaming on it.

+Bedroom Wall Press  is but a name I wear, but it's a name I also put on that letter, because it's something I believe in not just personally but as a statement of creative intent, and have quietly worked to better myself on through all my projects despite frankly fearing hostility if I either admitted to doing so or did so in the wrong way. I agonized over the text of +Arcana Rising as I tried to find ways to make what can sometimes be deeply problematic cultural myths still stand relevant and inviting to a modern audience. And should Corona ever seethe light of day , I've worked even harder than that.

I don't know where BWP is going from here, in fact it's likely to lie dormant for a while now as I focus on real life concerns and more productive career concerns. As well, my face in online communities has been dwindling down as more and more of them seem bristling with toxicity and hostility.

But it is a comfort, to me, and I hope, to others, to know that there are so many others out there who do care, who do stand for what I do and what I hope many of you reading this do, and are still willing to shout it out loud to the world in spite of the hostility they may face.

Here's to a better tomorrow everyone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

handhRL now version 0.3

After a testing release this morning, I'm now pleased to announce that handhRL v0.3 is now available on Github for Windows and Linux platforms.

The new version brings a host of new content, implementing the complete monster, weapon, and armor tables (sans special features and abilities), and a sizable subset of relevant usable items, and even a sneak preview of future story elements.

You can check out the release on Github at https://github.com/jarcane/handhRL/releases/tag/0.3

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bedroom Wall Press is going free.

 “Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.”
– Tim O’Reilly
Recently I've been struggling with an idea. A very scary idea.

What if charging for my books is what's killing them? 

Bedroom Wall Press is currently in the middle of what industry types used to call 'the long tail.' We sell a bare trickle of mostly PDFs, enough to usually bring in right around $100 a month in net profit.

In barely a month, at launch, Hulks and Horrors made four times that despite the PDF being free, and got over 2,000 downloads.

What if charging for my books is what's killing them?

Recently I ran several articles on this page detailing the actions of a man who was trying to actually patent one of the most common features of roleplaying games. A basic function of character conversion that's at the core of, among other things, the H&H shared engine, my recent Roulade game, and what I've been working on in the tabletop sphere behind the scenes.

Meanwhile, one of the most successful roleplaying games in the last year is Dungeon World, a game that is completely open source to a degree that I didn't even go to with any of my previous works, and has spawned an entire new community of fan development around it by giving its ideas to the world.

When I think about those two things, I think I know which one I'd like to be.

What if not sharing my books is why no one wants to make things for them?

I have always considered myself a supporter of open gaming. But I have also harbored under a vain dream that I'd somehow make a paying gig of that, and so I've hedged. I've hemmed and hawed, and I've taken half measures that I've even condemned in others, because I was afraid to threaten that dream.

It's time I fixed that. It's time I truly gave back to the community, made a statement once and for all, and thrown the doors open.

Starting today, Bedroom Wall Press products are free and open source products.

This means a few things:

  • All PDF products are now free on DriveThruRPG.
  • For those who still wish to support us with their cash, print products will continue to be sold commercially.
  • Those products released using OGL material will have to remain under the auspices of the OGL for legal and practical reasons, however:
    • All Product Identity clauses are hereby rescinded*. The text of all materials in all currently published Bedroom Wall Press is considered to be Open Game Content for the purposes of the OGL.
    • * Due to practical and legal reasons and out of respect to their creators, this rescinding of Product Identity does not cover included artworks not created by Bedroom Wall Press; those remain licensed under the terms discussed in the relevant works.
    • Due to lack of access to compatible software, I may not be able to update these within the documents myself just yet, though see below on where you might be able to help.
  • All BWP products are to be truly "open source." This means that the original source documents used to generate the PDF, wherever possible, will be made available publicly. 
  • All future BWP releases will be free in PDF.
  • All future BWP releases will release source documents.
  • All future BWP releases will be released under the terms of the GNU General Public License v3.
  • Products under development may also be released and developed openly via our Github. Announcements to follow.
I think it perhaps goes without saying that these are exciting times for me and the name I've built around BWP. I will be hard at work on handhRL in the near future, but I've also got other open projects that I've yet to announce, including stuff I had planned for the sadly now mythical 'year of H&H'.

I hope this gives those of you out there who've yet to try any of my fantastic games a chance to do so, and those who've wanted to but felt uncertain about developing for them the license they need to go forth and spread the awesome.

Have fun!

Signed,
John S. Berry III

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hulks and Horrors is now a computer game.

handhRL is a roguelike game powered by +Hulks and Horrors.

Now in its first binary release, it's a simple thing so far, but the basics are pretty faithful to the game.

Not bad for a few days' work.

Download on Github at: https://github.com/jarcane/handhRL/releases

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New SCOTUS decision could affect RPG patent

The United States Supreme Court just issued a decision invalidating patents on 'abstract ideas' in computer patents.

From the article:
Alice attempted to prove that its patents were more than just an idea by pointing to the specific software steps that it had to carry out. But the court found that these steps weren't ultimately much more than "stating an abstract idea while adding the words 'apply it with a computer.'" The claims "simply recite the concept of intermediated settlement as performed by a generic computer. They do not, for example, purport to improve the functioning of the computer itself or effect an improvement in any other technology or technical field." Each of the steps that Alice described were basic computer functions like adjusting account balances, keeping records, and issuing automated instructions, and the finished product didn't transform them into something more than the obvious sum of their parts.
In other words, exactly the kind of thing our recent RPG patent troublemaker is attempting. UH's patent application has been struct down repeatedly by the office on the grounds of being too abstract already, it's based heavily on reams of prior art, and as well their biggest defense (when they can stick to it) seems to be to claim that it's all about doing it 'on a computer.'

Certainly doesn't look good for them at all.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Following up on the patent issue

Yesterday I wrote a post detailing a pending patent application with potentially grave consequences for the RPG hobby and industry alike.

That post has since garnered over 2200 views, and has a +168.

More than that, it's been posted across G+, theRPGsite, RPGnet, reddit, Stack Exchange, Story-Games, been shared by RPGnet's Twitter account, and probably more than my limited tracking can keep up with. Dozens of comments have been posted to the Unlimited Horizons Facebook page, though many have since been deleted by the page owner.

On the legal front, at least one individual that I know of, and possibly more have filed third-party comments on the patent application, a step I encourage anyone with the capability to do. I've also been informed that CCP Games' legal department has been forwarded information on the patent.

I have been floored by the response from the RPG community. To a one, and despite the insinuations  the UH representative, you have all been reasonable, intelligent, and impassioned without being hostile. It has been a wonderful thing to behold.

The creator, meanwhile, sticks to his guns in claiming to be merely protecting his interests and following the advice of their legal counsel. I find the latter claim to be suspect (why hire a patent lawyer if you weren't looking to file a patent?), but as to the former, well, consider this me protecting my interests. He has his resources (one estimate I've seen indicates he's spent nearly $2,000 in patent fees alone, plus the cost of that patent lawyer), so I have used the one available to me: my voice.

I am a creator, but I am a creator who creates on the backs of giants who came before me. I do not wish to see this hobby or this industry become the same kind of legal battlefield that I see in the tech and software industries, and such an atmosphere would seriously hamper the entire development of this hobby. RPGs are an iterative field, and cutting off that kind of development, especially with such shameless tactics, is unacceptable.

This is bigger than me. Even if I truly believed the author is indeed merely an innocent and naive creator seeking only to protect his works from theft, was pure of heart and mind and never once would abuse the power such a broad and appropriative patent, it still sets a dangerous precedent. What happens when the next guy comes along who isn't so nice?

The RPG community has spoken in response, loud and clear, that this is absolutely unacceptable practice. If you haven't already, and are able, please submit comment on the patent application while there is still time. And make it known by whatever means you can to the creator and the audience that this behavior will not be tolerated or profitable for those who would attempt it.

Here's the instructions for third-party comment: http://www.uspto.gov/forms/3prsubmission_instructions.pdf

And the relevant form: http://www.uspto.gov/forms/sb0429.pdf

Thank you all for your support, we're all in this together.