Ya'll need to understand the playing field, here. Erik isn't just feeding hamburger. Matrix (Matrix/Slitherine) is a marketing company. Not to say they can't develop, they can and do, but the vast majority of their titles are from game "development" companys. WiTP was from 2x3 Games. WiTP-AE was from Henderson Field Designs, and so on.
Ya'll want WiTP-II? Ya'll need to form a development company; spec it out; spec out the game design; do a modicum of market penetration research; put your team together; and hold it together through hell and high water; and put it all into a simple prospectus, with everyone's nads on the block; and present it to Matrix. You do that, it just might happen. Wishing and poking and prodding won't get you doo-doo, because any developers you might get interested in the title will do it their way; which will NOT be your way. So if you really want it, you are going to have to seriously put your heads together and make it happen.
Sorry to put it so bluntly, but game players often forget the market imperitives that allow for games to exist. So please leave Erik/Matrix alone and let them get on with their new releases. If you all are serious, then get serious. I am positive that Erik/Matrix/Slitherine, as well as many others, will look favorably on a "functional" new model.
Not to try to teach my grandma to suck eggs, and understanding your developer-hat perspective as well as IP professional knowledge, I still have to argue that, while you're right on this, you're only right to an extent. And that while I love AE and what Henderson Field did, you guys didn't write from a clean sheet of paper. If you had tried that, as dispersed and otherwise busy as you were with real life, you might still be at work.
My perspective is as a customer of games and wargames for several decades, as an observer of the industry for as long, as a former businessguy who did product development in a non-IT industry, as a former product manager on national packaged goods brands, and as an author who has dealt with the book author-publisher model which the games industry has largely copied. From that perspective I would argue that the development model you propose for WITP2 is non-feasible.
While I don't have your inside knowledge of the structure of WITP that existed legally and operationally when you approached Matrix I would speculate that successful prosecution of the project, as well as any WITP2, turns on possession of rights to two caches of gold--the OOB and the game algorithms. Rights to those items are legally held by some combination of 2x3, GG himself, Henderson F., Matrix, or some other entity(s). But it is possession of those which make any WITP2 financially feasible in today's market environment.
There is no wargame topic which has a wider required research base than the PTO on the scale of WITP/AE. There is no wargame topic which requires more, and more types, of combat resolution algorithms than the PTO on that scale. It's the largest, most-complex war theater in world history. Any start-up which proposed a WITP2 without recourse to those items would face the largest working capital exposure possible in the wargame industry. GG and 2x3 were only able to do WITP--at a fraction the size and complexity of AE--because they had royalty flows from other titles, possibly working capital injections from Matrix, as well as making 2x3 their full-time jobs. Added to that was GG's core knowledge of WWII and wargame design; it wasn't his first clam bake. To duplicate that from a standing start would take a pantload of money. Conversely, if Matrix released the AE OOB and the GG and AE algorithm libraries, perhaps after further rights negoitiation and royalty amendments, the project scope shrinks dramatically. It then becomes more focused on UI, graphics, player-level gameplay interaction, and a new AI architecture. It requires a much smaller team (no historical research), and it deals more with straight code and less with philosophical debate over focus and historical issues.
In the book world fiction is normally risk-assessed 100% on the author. You write a full manuscript, then try to get a publisher to buy it. In non-fiction the risk/reward is reversed. The author does a book proposal, sometimes with a sample chapter or two but usually not, writes a marketing plan, lines up credible contributors if needed, and pitches the publisher community. If no one buys the proposal the book isn't written. If someone does buy the author recieves an advance on sales to live on while writing. This second model is what you seem to be proposing for a WITP2.
But sometimes there is a third model. In some genres such as current events, true crime, political commentary, etc. the publisher prospects for an author, contacting prominent subject matter experts (former Sec. State is a good title to have then) and offering them a book deal on a specific topic. This is the model I'm proposing Matrix follow for a WITP2. They above all other wargame publishers have the mass, the heft, and the financial base to go put together a team on their own. They own the IP which the project requires to execute in a cost-effective manner and lead to a MUCH lower breakeven volume point. They have industry contacts. They know which developers are reliable, and which are currently unemployed.
Is this hard? Probably. Is it risky? That depends. They have some time to ride the AE sales train, but not an infinite amount. At some point the cow gets old and becomes hamburger. Their leading franchise--and it is a franchise by now--lingers and dies off. Did they get "OMG!!!" from their list of forthcoming games? No, they did not, at least on the forum here. Will tablet-based games convert the wargaming niche into a dynamo, leading to vast compound growth? No. That platform may end up a sub-sub-niche of gaming in general, but wargamers aren't going to start playing on trains and busses while commuting.
From a marketing standpoint Matrix also has a huge leg up for WITP2. As above the barriers to entry for a new, stand-alone PTO designer are very large. That offers Matrix pricing power. They also have a demonstrated demand base right here in the most active forum on their site. To your point above a new designer would have to prove they hadn't broken something in their "take" on the subject, while Matrix has cred that any WITP2 would still BE WITP and not New Coke. They have worked hard over a decade to earn brand equity in the WITP franchise. To let it fritter away would be no less than stupid.
What would be equally stupid, IMO, would be to wait for a fish to swim by holding WITP2 in its mouth. Matrix has the power and possibility to make that game happen. They don't need to wait for lightning to strike. I looked at the list of coming games and had the same thought Canoerebel did--I don't play wargames. I play WITP-AE. Give me a new one and you can price it substantially higher than the last time. I'll buy it. The upcoming list of games? No sale.
< Message edited by Bullwinkle58 -- 4/25/2012 4:34:30 AM >