Jay Barnson on the Death of Deathfire

Considering he's working on a title of the same ilk, I can quite understand why Jay Barnson is disappointed about the cancellation of Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore, but what really interests me of his blog post is his analysis of the current market situation for a hypothetical title in the genre:

So. where does that leave us?

By one interpretation, a little bit up the creek. If the potential audience is small, static, and declining, then it's game over. There's nowhere to go but down.

Another interpretation is simply that the audience needs to be regrown. Maybe not quite from scratch, but definitely beyond the bounds of the faithful elite. This might suck for the faithful elite, because that means that games with higher production values will not be able to cater quite so directly to them. The games must serve two audiences. It'll take a lot of work, luck, and marketing. and at least one moderate hit game.

I'm thinking about the success of The Legend of Grimrock. I know they didn't get there exclusively by catering to the old Dungeon Master / Eye of the Beholder fans. If anything, we old-school fans were a little disappointed, as it was a little bit of a rehash of what we'd played before. I suspect it was a new experience to most players, however, and while extremely limited in scope, it had decent screenshot appeal, and was a nice, polished experience. It's a good game, and while it has its roots in late 80s / early 90s RPGs, only the old vets might notice.

The bottom line seems to be that devs cannot focus exclusively on the old-school faithful. That part shouldn't be too surprising. So while a Kickstarter campaign can say the right things to get us old-school fans excited, these days (now that KS fatigue has set in), there needs to be more there. Matt Barton talked about this a few weeks ago, in his article, (Matt's Guide to Kickstarter Success.) Non-genre fans need to have a reason to get excited. When you say, (Thrilling turn-based combat) to me, I get excited. I think about tactics RPGs and X-Com and some great dice-and-paper combat sessions where our group worked like a team and complimented each others actions with our own. Somebody else, however, might think, (Slow and boring.) And yeah, I've had those too.