The ENnies and Quick-Start Rules

Yesterday’s post and similar posts on other blogs started quite a discussion in the RPG blogosphere. It even lead to the start of a small campaign to promote the two products that are considered “truly free” by our standards. Rob Lang even created a logo for that campaign but was asked by Denise Robinson, Business Manager of the ENnies to cease using the ENnies logo in that way.

So, are quick-start rules that bad? No, of course not. As far as I understand it, nobody is against quick-start rules themselves, even if some of the posts we wrote sound like that. Quick-start rules are a great way to learn about new commercial games, perhaps even give the rules a try before buying the whole thing. I posted about several quick-start rules in the past and I will probably do so in the future. But quick-start rules are teasers, demos, advertisement if you wish.

Now to the ENnies “Free Product” category. Both completely free RPGs and free quick-start rules fit that category, no doubt about that. Heck, it’s a pretty broad category. If it’s free for the customer, it fits the category. And perhaps that is one of the main problems here. There are a lot of RPGs out there, that are given away for free, but not to advertise a commercial product, but as the real deal. Heck, there are even games out there released under a CC license, that you may freely share and use for your own projects. But alas only two made the list of nominees.

The probem is, that a lot of great games/websites/podcasts/etc. are missing from the list of RPG products that have been submitted to the ENnies. Why? I can only speculate, but I believe it’s because a) people don’t know that they can submit their stuff for consideration, b) they were discouraged by some of the submission terms and/or the legalese on the submission forms, or c) they just lost faith/interest in the ENnies.

And it’s not only the “Best Free Product” category that left me wondering what the heck the ENnies guys are smoking. “Best Website” is even worse. How can you put sites like Critical Hits (a multi-author blog), Dungeon-A-Day (a subscription-based service that provides you with roleplaying material like encounters, dungeons, etc.) and Obsidian Portal (a hosting service for you campaign site incl. wiki/blog/etc.) into a single category? The RPG blogosphere alone should get a category for itself. Especially since the ENnies have been funded by ENWorld in the past, I expected them to understand the web better. But alas they don’t.

So, what can be done to improve things in the future? I’ve seen a couple of good ideas already, including plans to create the categories before the submissions are sent in. It’s mindboggling that nobody has thought of this before. Another good idea is to allow 3rd party submissions, especially for the “Best Electronic Product”, “Best Free Product” and “Best Website” categories. Perhaps this would help to get more submissions.

Ok, that’s enough ENnies for today. Hey, at the end of the day it’s just another popularity contest. 😉

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

9 thoughts on “The ENnies and Quick-Start Rules”

  1. Thanks a lot! I tried to make my position on the whole affair a bit clearer than in my last post. I hope I succeeded although I fear I still sound like an angry gamer. 🙂

  2. Announcing the categories before people submit things makes a lot of sense. Someone might not submit to a "website" category — thinking they're up against DDI, but they might submit to a "blog" category for example.
    .-= Stuart´s last blog ..The ENnies and RPG Awards =-.

  3. The problem with announcing categories before submissions is that if not enough entries make it in for one category, they have to fold the category back into the general category it came from. So if they split up web resources into five types of categories, in the end they might only have enough entries for the one anyways, and then they get the problem of the people who submitted their material claiming that the categories they submitted for were misleading (this happened at least once with software submissions which had to be pushed back into best aid or accessory).
    .-= Dyson Logos´s last blog ..[Wraith Recon] Jorun Mel’var, Wraith Recon Four recruit =-.

  4. @Dyson: Sure, if they get not enough submissions then they could run into trouble. But don't you think something is already wrong when people don't submit their stuff?

  5. @Dyson – I understand your point, but it would make sense to simply let people know that if there are not enough entries for a category, then that category will not appear that year. Harsh, yes, but practical. I agree with Stargazer, Some people might not enter because of how they think they might face or because they simply don't know what category their submission is suppose to be for.
    .-= bonemaster´s last blog ..But it's my ENnie! =-.

  6. Last year, the podcast category got folded into the website category (or something similar) due to a lack of submissions. This year, there was a concerted effort in the podcasting community to get shows to submit, and we once again have our own category.

    That said, the Accidental Survivors did not submit. Why not? 1) Lazy. 2) Didn't really want to spend the money to send 6 CDs of selected shows. 3) None of us are going to Gen Con this year, so we couldn't bask in the adulation. And 4) we really don't believe that even a win is going to increase our audience by that much.

    If there are free RPG producers out there that submitted but got shafted in favour of quickstart rules, I do think there is a problem. If there were not enough free RPGs submitted, then the free RPG producers need to work harder next year.
    .-= Fraser Ronald´s last blog ..Advice to Aspiring Novelists 2: Finish Writing Novels =-.

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