Monday, September 28, 2015

Jaded Gamer Diary - Sla Industries

Just for the record, I wrote this about a week ago and updated it a couple of times.  Scheduled it to go live on 9/28.  On 9/27 out of nowhere Dave Allsop sent me a friend request on Facebook.  I'm about to talk badly about how Sla is being handled and I wonder if he would have sent me that friend request if he as seen this first. 

Ah well anyways... on with Jaded Gamer.


Save Sla Industries.

That's what the folk from Nightfall Games are telling us to do. No really they are, for those who missed here is a link to their announcement of sorts.

Now as somebody who has bought all the Sla Industries books and bought all the pdfs they managed to put out I have something to say about this. We, and others, have been trying to save the game for nearly twenty years, where the fuck have you been?

Seriously the game has been brought back from the dead twice that I can remember. Once from Hogshead Games which did pretty well from what I've heard but in the end didn't work out as the owner decided to get out of the game business (correct me if I'm wrong there). Second time was through Cubicle Seven which put out some pretty decent stuff like CS1 and Hunter Sheets. Then suddenly Dave decided to take his ball and go home.

Now there was that sort of third attempt by the new resurrected Nightfall Games. They gave us the sourcebook nobody really wanted called Hunter Sheets 2 (which I still bought) along with some pretty decent mini resources called Data Sheets. But they never tried any real sort of push and the data sheets trickled off and then died. Yes I bought nearly everything they put out except the print versions of the data sheets and like one or two of the swag items. Hell I still use my Shiver key chain for my keys to this day.

Okay they gave it a decent push but then killed off momentum with one of the things Sla is famous for. Announcing products that never get made. Let's see, Hardware Guide, All in the Family were listed in the old WOTC catalog back in the day. We've heard about various race sourcebooks, White Earth, some planet sourcebooks, 2nd edition to many time to remember, so many others I've forgotten. The new 'improved' Nightfall gave us a cover for 2nd edition... years ago. Not to mention we are still waiting for the announced Manchine data sheet... from a year or two ago.

Now what you can do is absolutely dwarf the amount of official release stuff with the amount of fan produced material out there. The fans for Sla are some of the most dedicated I've seen in gaming. Sadly quite a few of them seem to have walked away after years of this back and forth between companies and constant let downs by announcements that never happen.

So yeah we've been trying to save the fucking game for a good long time now.

Need a constant flow of cash, well then you need a decent output of product. Not to mention someplace to buy stuff from, like maybe t-shirts and swag. There are several sites out there that let you set these up with little or no cost to you. Sell us some freaking standard shirts without any strings attached. No limited printed amount, or sites that pop up and then vanish (like just a month or so ago), give us as many as we want from a site that prints them as we order. Give us good proven marketing that works to get us to give you money in exchange for product. Not bizarro land marketing by making limited edition crap for a damn near dead game with a shrinking fan base. Sell us those Scav miniatures your showing by themselves instead of bundled with some other stuff making it implausible for anyone to buy enough to actually use in a game.

Fuck show us you have a clue as to what the hell you are doing before asking for us to jump on some limited edition bandwagon.  Really just give us the shit to buy and make it easy for us.  I mean they are even offering a Halloween Jack hoodie... but only one... they won't make anymore.  WTF?

So make something people want, but only make one. For a "get our facebook page likes" contest?

You know it seems more and more like they are trying to make a 'collectible' RPG or something.  I mean what if somebody doesn't hear about this 'limited edition' crap or maybe can't afford it right now.  They are fucking out of luck then once they are gone. But what do I know I'm just a random gamer on the internet, one of those consumers that they probably don't seem to worry about.

I'm out, so completely and totally out.  Not going to buy the limited edition stuff or even try to get it.  My interest in anything Sla coming out in the future has just hit the floor.  I'm done.  Another Sla fan turning his back and walking away.
If you are interested at all in Sla Industries you can purchase them in pdf.  Most of them are pay what you want (which I would at least suggest tossing them a dollar or two).  It is a great game but I'm just to burnt out and fucking tired of how it's been handled. Not to mention the shitty way they are trying to bring it back through limited edition gimmicks. 
Thanks for reading folks, stay turned for another Jaded Gamer Diary coming at you next Monday. I've got plenty of bottled up aggravation to uncork yet to go.


  1. I love this game.

    Fanatically, some would say, but even i have practically moved on (although, i will be running it soon...maybe...)

    1. I may still run it again someday or play in a game. But as far as putting up my money for new product. Not gonna happen. I still have a head full of ideas I may also write down eventually.

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  3. Very sorry you feel that way, but to address a few of the points you have brought up; Daruma Productions whom are now working with the SLA Licence are a new team consisting of Dave / Jared and a couple of others. As you've correctly said - its been a roller coaster ride over the last decade or so with SLA and the first thing we wanted to do, and this was very important to us - was to stabilise it. So that all fans, new and old, would rebuild some of the faith they had in the game line. The best way to do that is to release a series of products over a period of time and to simply deliver. With Daruma, we have set out to do just that, whilst attempting to raise the funds necessary to re-ignite both the RPG and to create a Wargame that has never yet existed.
    You need to realise that the 4 people behind Daruma all have day jobs, all work hard and have families and bills to pay. None of us can devote the entirety of time to SLA that we would wish to, yet. Please note, yet! We have a strong plan over the next 12-18 months to steadily release a range of miniatures without resorting to Kickstarter. That takes time and money.. and lots of both and unless a rich backer appears there is no way to speed this process up. We need to go back to basics and produce new products and earn funds to create with.
    To put it into perspective for you, the development costs on producing that 1 Scav in that 1 pose are approx £4-500.. thats for 1 in 1 pose which is why we went for the 3 weapons options which didn't dramatically increase the costs. Then there are production costs, packaging (all of which has to be designed as well as printed) and marketing. None of this is cheap.. in any way shape or form yet we have in a short period of time managed to create this from (and please believe me, i am being literal here) nothing.
    The Shiver is currently being rendered and will be going into production shortly. There is new artwork for each of the monthly releases being created by Dave (on top of his bread and butter earning full time work) and we have plans for the first 12 miniatures.
    The reason for the Ltd Edition stuff? because it is popular, not with 100% of the market but that is not a reasonable goal - you cannot please everybody but the first few weeks Sales have enabled us to create the Scav..we have already listened to the fans and are making Jack available on both a hoodie and a Tee for the entire month of October. This will help go toward the costs of creating the Shiver production run.
    This is our business plan, and it is very early days but the support we have had has been (with only 1 exception so far..) overwhelmingly positive. We are giving up our evenings, taking weekends away from our families to go out there and resurrect this amazing gameline. And doing so mostly out of our own pockets for now - but we do this because we are passionate about SLA and believe in it.
    You may disagree on our Business plan, but so far.. its working - and working well. If it keeps building at the current pace then you will see a SLA 1.0 reprint early in 2016 (please price up the cost of printing only 1000 RPG books.. then let us know if you have any other ideas where we can get that massive amount of cash from - and thats once its been prepared for printing as all of the original files are long gone), a steady range of miniatures with build options, SLA merchandise, new RPG Products and eventually a Wargame.
    We value your input, please contact us and talk to us - you'll find that we do listen and are totally passionate and committed to the resurrection of SLA!
    Regards, Daruma

    1. "we have already listened to the fans and are making Jack available on both a hoodie and a Tee for the entire month of October."

      Right there. Making it available for a month. So if you can't get one during that month then it's basically what, to bad? There are so many POD options out there for shirts, jackets, hoodies, etc, that it makes no sense to limit it.

      (please price up the cost of printing only 1000 RPG books.. then let us know if you have any other ideas where we can get that massive amount of cash from - and thats once its been prepared for printing as all of the original files are long gone),

      Okay I can see the costs of having to get a book ready to print especially with the original files gone. But printing up 1000 books in a market where POD is taking over the market in great leaps. Even all the Onyx Path books for the old White Wolf lines have gone to POD.

      The limited edition material is what completely turns me away at this point. There is nothing being said about availability afterwards. It not only proposes problems to old fans as they may not be able to afford it at the time, but it also poses a problem for trying to get new people interested. How do you sell somebody on something when you are showing them all the cool stuff... that they can't get anymore.

  4. Have a read through again.. look at our mission statement. Out long term aim is to produce a full RPG line and wargame with miniatures range. None of which will be Ltd edition other than the odd special of course. As a kickstarter devotee you are no doubt aware that most KS have only a very short window where special items are available and never will be unless you are a backer. With our plan, you are paying for an actual product, not a proposed product and you are getting it now, not in a far off date.
    POD is not a cost effective medium for producing new Product ranges with margins that allow future development. It works ok with old product that has already paid it's costs but there is a reason that no gaming companies currently use it is a matter of course. If it was cheap, easy and worked then it would be in common use and it simply isn't.
    Simply put, the Ltd edition stuff creates a drive and drives sales (and it is working) which in turn allows us to turn those into non Ltd ranges as altering an existing render is, in comparison, far more economical.
    Please believe that we looked carefully at all options and that this is a watertight business plan that will allow for steady and sustainable growth whilst rewarding those who support us early and delivering all that we say we will.

  5. Limited Edition = Limited Sales

    @wing commander You talk about you guys having full time jobs and kids to feed, yeah so do I man, and so does Peter. We have bills and rent and car payments to make. Just like you.

    Expecting me to sacrifice some food money or my internet bill so I can rush to buy a t shirt or a mini set is fucking stupid and if that is your business plan, count me the fuck out.

    Giving me a fairly unlimited time frame to save a few bucks here and there to buy your stuff and I would, probably everything you release. Offering a t shirt, a book or a mini for a month and then telling me to fuck off because I didn't get my paycheck on time? Yeah fuck that.

    I have stood by Dave and Jared for MANY years now and I'm done if this is your idea for raising funds.

    All the best though, if you guys succeed in this idiocy then enjoy it, but just know that some of your more ardent supporters are already bled out.

  6. I am sorry you are getting so irate and upset about this, and somewhat confused.. you are pro Kickstarter? Your pages, blogs,etc clearly highlight this. Kickstarter is, by its very definition, a very limited time frame? and the items therein very limited in numbers?
    The difference with us is that you are not taking a risk; you are not waiting for many months / years for shipping?! You get it now (well, within weeks..)!
    We don't expect anybody to sacrifice anything to purchase items, and there will always be something cool on there - much of it available for a long period of time or in very high numbers. And, let me be clear on here, doing it this way will (and is) enable us to produce totally unlimited products (production costs notwithstanding) in a relatively comfortable period of time. To further reinforce - our expectations are that the "Miniature set" run of 750 will realistically take 4-6 months or more to sell through. Should they start selling out within a month then all of our time frames can be brought forward bringing the full Faction sets out far far earlier than planned. I'm sorry, but if a £25 product takes you more than 4-6 months to save for then perhaps you are in the wrong hobby?
    And, as you have chosen to include the FUCK word, we have never and never will tell anybody to fuck off. And, culturally, as most of the Daruma Team are Glaswegian you will find that we employ this word in daily speech very casually. This plan has been running for, what, 2 weeks now and is off to a superb start. Had you perhaps taken the insane step of communicating with us - and we are very approachable, then you would have perhaps not had to resort to the Fuck word, as we could have happily shared our plans with you. There are already non Ltd Items on the site as well.. we simply cannot get them all created and on there NOW, as our day jobs / families / life prevents us devoting the time to this project that we would otherwise wish.
    You mention both that there has been a real lack of product in recent times and then state that many supporters are bled out.. i'm unsure as to which of those takes precedence? they are polar opposites so i 'm struggling to figure out which you are more irate about?!
    We at Daruma, sincerely wish you well - and home that your paychecks continue to arrive on time and allow you to meet your financial commitments whilst also allowing you to enjoy your hobby costs, we are saddened that you dislike the path we have chosen but thus far it is working and will get us to the point of releasing a large number of products.. Welcome to the World of Progress.

    1. You've harped on Kickstarter being just about limited production only a few times. Let's look at the rpg products that I've backed on there and their 'limited' availability shall we?

      Numenera - backed for basic book, not limited edition. Widely available.

      Fate Core - backed for pdf. Widely available and amazingly popular.

      Centurion - backed for basic book. POD right on drivethrurpg.

      Wicked Fantasy - backed for basic book. Still available.

      Fudge Dice - still available, not limited editions.

      Handmade Ceramic Dice - No special edition, makes custom sets to order for anyone and is local.

      Doublesix Dice - Basic backing level, will be available through regular outfits once he finishes sending out all orders as he has just started delivering.

      Baker Street - Backed at the basic book level, which was POD and is available at Drivethrurpg.

      Lusus Naturae - Backed at pdf level. Available through, you guessed it, Drivethrurpg. Oh and in print on Lulu I believe.

      Wield - Oh my gosh you got me, got the limited edition here.

      d6xd6 - Backed at pdf level, ton of stuff out for it now.

      Essential Guide to Potions and Oil - Backed at basic level. I'm actually a consultant for this book. Still available in the original printing and via POD and pdf on Drivethrurpg.

      City of the Lich and WishTaker - Backed for the book on each of these. Local publisher. POD, original print run and pdf are available.

  7. I didnt "harp" on about anything, but pointed out that much of what most backers purchase on many many kickstarters is in fact limited in time and scope and availability. That you've chosen to mention pretty much only the Core items on each of these kickstarters means that you know i'm right but you're just trying to score points.
    Firstly - most of these items that you've listed are relatively unknowns.. you're selecting very specialist items and highlighting that you are used to playing in a relatively small pond. Let me be very clear on this - we are looking at turning SLA Industries into a "known" brand with a wargame system featuring players in the 10's of thousands - lofty goals, ambitious? yes.. but achievable as we have a strong understanding of the Market we are aiming for and the skillsets and drive necessary to take us there. Let me throw a few statistics at you - the last 3 weeks (which is when we launched the new SLA project via Daruma) we have generated more sales in terms of both volume and revenue than in the previous 10 years..
    Let me reinforce that - there has been more spent on SLA Items in the last 3 weeks than in the 10 years previous to that.. so, which bit isn't working? which bit isn't giving the vast majority of the fans what they want? If you are telling me that you would rather continue a plan that will generate little or no income and essentially prohibit us (barring a lottery win) from growing the Game system thereby giving the fans more of what they want.. then i am confident in saying that you appear to lack a basic understanding of this industry and the actions necessary to grow a product to make it not only financially viable but to create jobs and income for a staff team.
    But, lets play it your way! Oh my goodness golly gosh, what will not be "limited edition" currently and in the near future;
    SLA Tee Shirt with new logo, SLA Hoodie with New logo, SLA Bag with New Logo, Halloween Jack Letterman Jacket, SLA 1.0 RPG Reprint including; Mort, Karma, CS1, Hunter sheets and a few other products that we require development costs covered on, Scav Faction box, SLA dice, SLA dice bag, SLA dice tin, Shiver Faction box, Carrien Faction box, SLA Operative Faction box, about 50 special characters that will never be part of (although will be funded via) the Progressive Range, a further 12-15 Tee Shirt / Hoodie / Letterman / Gamerbag designs currently being worked on, ongoing development costs on SLA 2.0 RPG, the SLA CS1 Skirmish Wargame, the SLA CS1 Skirmish Wargame core Rulebook in hardback, CS1 Skirmish Wargame Tactical Card decks.. oh and about another few dozen products that we are currently long term spec'ing out absolutely none of which will be Ltd Edition! And, absolutely none of which will be fundable or able to happen without the current business and marketing plan.. By all means though, keep ranting.. keep raving.. keep screaming that you are right and that we are wrong and that you know best whilst we quietly and contendedly keep making some seriously cool stuff for an ever expanding fanbase who tell us they love it and can't wait for more.