Communication is the key

Open D6 I usually don’t rant on my blog and I although don’t post my thought on the industry that often either, but there’s something that got my blood boiling. Perhaps you remember the Open D6 project, I’ve been posting about. Eric Gibson, current owner of West End Games, had a great idea: releasing the D6 System under an open license and creating a website where people not only can upload their custom rules but where you also can download a ruleset based on your wishes. You want a D6 ruleset suited for Fantasy, using Body Points and the D6 Legends dice mechanics? Just click a few buttons and you can download your customized rulebook or send it to Lulu for printing. That still is a great idea, alas the website is still a placeholder site.

Over a year ago, Eric Gibson updated the WEG website for the last time and announced that the D6 System was going to be released under an open license. In the following months he repeatedly posted about his plans and ideas on various forums (mainly on then WEG Fan Forums). During last GenCon the first Open D6 publication by WEG was finally released: Bill Coffin’s Septimus (which had been cancelled once already and was considered vaporware at some point). And then Eric stopped communicating: No more updates anywhere. So, after several months, people assumed the project was dead, that something must have been happened to Eric or that the company must have gone bankrupt.

Luckily, Eric had already made the D6 rulesets available under the OGL some time ago (with the help of the fans I have to add) but the lack of a trademark license forbids the use of either the Open D6 or D6 System trademarks. So people invented new names to release their version of the D6 rules under the OGL: Six-Sided Fantasy and Mini Six were just two of the projects that were started while Eric was “incommunicado”. The latest project was the Open D6 Resurrection wiki, which I posted about just a few days ago.

And guess what, now Eric Gibson suddenly returns, announces that Open D6 is far from dead as a project and that he’s unhappy about D6 “fragmenting”. He also tells people that it was their fault if he seemed MIA since they didn’t try to contact him hard enough. When I (and other people) tried to explain to him that communication is key for any company, I was accused of “preaching” to him. Ok, perhaps I was preaching, but I am just concerned that Eric Gibson’s lack of communication with the dwindling WEG fan base will probably hurt not only the Open D6 project but his company West End Games in the long run. Communication with the fans is very important in this day and age, especially if you are an indie publisher. Sometimes even a short news post letting people know that a project is still alive is all what is needed. But nothing kills the relationship between a RPG company and its fans faster than being out of touch for too long. And I am pretty sure that I am not the only fan who feels alienated by Mr. Gibson. But perhaps he just knows best what’s good for his company.

Just my two cents.