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Frequently Asked Questions

The following answers represent my own views and memories, and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person.

Contents

 What are you doing now?

 Why did GDW go out of business?

 What can you tell me about "The Empress Wave"?

 What was the result of the GDW/TSR lawsuit?

 Is there any chance that [insert name of product here] will be brought back by SJ Games?

Are there other questions I should add? E-mail me.

What are you doing now?

I'm presently employed by SJ Games as Senior GURPS Traveller line editor and guru-in-residence. I'm in charge of the GURPS Traveller product line, making sure it stays within the parameters of the license agreement with Marc Miller, and keeping the alternate universe consistent with the mainstream universe (both universes are the same before ca. 1116 Imperial).

I live near Illuminati World Headquarters in Austin, Texas, where I'm also earning a few extra bucks to subsidize my miniatures habit by selling books through Amazon.com and miniatures gamer accessories through this site.

On August 1st of 2010, I had a heart attack, and a couple of days later I underwent a quadruple bypass operation. Details are here.

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Why did GDW go out of business?

OK, this one gets a little involved, because there was no single reason. To clear up one point: GDW did not file for bankruptcy, we simply closed down.

There were several factors in GDW's demise after over 20 years in business. We could have survived any single one. We could have survived several at once. But all of them hitting in a short time proved fatal. All of the following are my own opinions, and are naturally biased toward my point of view. Others involved no doubt hold differing opinions, and have a different slant on the story. Presented in no particular order:

  • GDW experienced three really lousy sales quarters in a row. Collectible card games had sucked all the available capital out of the game market at that time, because the distributors were putting all their available resources into buying cards, and had nothing left over for other products. Almost all RPG companies were hurt by this, to a varying degree.
  • A few years before dissolving, GDW had been involved in a lawsuit with TSR, Inc., over Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys game. This lawsuit did not cost GDW a dime (contrary to rumor) — our contract contained a hold harmless clause which meant that someone else picked up the tab if we got sued. What was crippling, however, was all of the staff time involved in depositions, and responding to demands for documentation — this took valuable time away from other things, like design and administration, at a critical time when we could have used that time to create and develop products. We were in the process of recovering from this when some of the other factors hit.
  • We had several key staff leave the company for a variety of reasons. In practice, this meant that we did not have the creative talent to support many of our more popular game lines, and we were forced to drop some of them in favor of the top sellers. Space: 1889, 2300 AD, and Dark Conspiracy had to be dropped from production or severely curtailed so we could concentrate on the top selling RPG titles (I don't think anyone needs to be told these were Traveller andTwilight: 2000).
  • Internet rumors cost us customers at a critical time. Every time one of the design staff would leave, every time we had to cut back production, and at seemingly random intervals, rumors on the internet would spread that we were either about to go out of business or already had. I cannot count the number of people who came up to me at the GDW booth at conventions and said something like "I would have bought Traveller: the New Era/Twilight: 2000 but I heard you were out of business and I didn't want to get into a game that wasn't going to be supported." In addition, there was a consistent campaign of vitriolic bad-mouthing (albeit by a very small number of fans) criticizing, dissecting, and second-guessing almost every decision GDW made (see the next item).
  • Traveller: The New Era was introduced at a time when several of the above factors were taking effect, and the lack of distributor sales and lack of consumer sales (see above) meant that the game did not get the widespread distribution it would have otherwise received.
  • The Desert Shield Factbook made us a fortune. The Gulf War Factbook lost most of it. In retrospect, we should not have listened to those advising us to do the second book. The first was in the right place at the right time, and was the only title available for several critical weeks during and after the air and ground campaign. The second was "just another Gulf War Book."

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What can you tell me about "The Empress Wave"?

Nothing, sorry. There's is no legal impediment to my telling, but there is a moral one — I gave my word I wouldn't. And I won't. I will not confirm or deny any speculations on the matter.

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What was the result of the GDW/TSR lawsuit?

All parties involved settled out of court after more than two years of legal wrangling. TSR bought the intellectual property rights to the game from Gary's company, and bought the unsold inventory from GDW. I remember semitrailer truckload after truckload filled to capacity with skids of books leaving the GDW warehouse.

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Is there any chance that [insert name of product here] will be brought back by SJ Games?

I am occasionally asked if SJ Games would consider doing for 2300 AD or some other ex-GDW title what was done for Traveller. This is usually phrased as "Are there any plans to . . ." and I have to answer "No." because there aren't any plans. This doesn't mean Steve can't/won't decide to make such plans at any time, and if he does, he'll announce them. Aside from Triplanetary, (which SJ Games owns the rights to, and will eventually bring back, there are no plans to get rights to any other ex-GDW games. If this state of affairs changes, I'll let you know.

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Last Revised: 9 April 2003

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