Wednesday, October 19, 2011

With Greater Consideration Towards the Subscriber

So, here is the proposal:

1.  You pay me $100.

2.  For six months, I will send you whatever tables I am working on, plus whatever back tables necessary to understand what I'm working on now.  This will include the present weather tables, the wilderness damage tables I will be working on, my character sheet table, my maps in Publisher format, and ALL my trade tables.  I will send you anything that has been updated every two weeks as I move forward, and you will get access to any new idea or table I start in that time.

I'm quite serious.

The offer is restricted to people whom I can reasonably trust.  It also depends on my getting a large enough response, so comment if you'd choke up the cash.

Tell me I'm crazy.


In consideration, I see three principle problems.  The first would be that the total collection of all this material represents hundreds of megabytes of information.  Using email, this will take a great deal of trouble to send to subscribers.  Not in the long run, where what I can create in a two-week period email would probably handle.  But the initial dump of information is daunting.

I could use a central server to dump information on, which could then be retrieved; however, any server could then be hacked for the material, and so the need for security creates possibly more problems than it solves.

The second problem would be that I have not taken the time to write down how some of the material is used and applied.  The trade system, for instance, requires several files which I know how to use to support the others ... this would have to be described and written about, probably on this blog, so that it could be implemented by subscribers.  This is by no means impossible.

Finally, there is the matter of my contractual obligation.  How does the subscriber know that I am sending 'everything.'  Does 'everything' include material on my computer that is not D&D oriented?  Does it include material I would consider resembles the copywritten text of published books, written out for my benefit but not suitable for distribution in exchange for money?  This is a problem.  I want the subscriber to feel he or she is getting his or her money's worth, but I don't want to feel 'owned' or compelled to break my own personal codes about privacy.

All I can say is that my wish is to send 'everything' that I have personally created that is as original to D&D as I can make it, and to send the material I am producing on a bi-weekly basis.  So 'everything' does NOT include material that is not created by me, or material which is not related to Dungeons and Dragons.  So the agreement must be one of mutual trust and regard; that the subscriber trusts me to be forthcoming, and that I trust the subscriber to keep the information and not distribute it flagrantly to others.  In terms of business, the subscriber's hundred dollars is not a 'payment' but a 'donation,' and my returning material in kind is a 'donation' also.

I've sold many a subscription to magazines that had no more contractual obligations than that.  I trust this will satisfy the readership.


Eric said...

I'm stupid broke right now, but the holidays are coming up soon... I'd definitely be interested.

One question-you didn't say "for six months I will send you ALL my tables." Would it be possible to clarify what, if anything, you intend to hold back?

PatrickW said... mighty tempting. Let me think it over a bit. It might be December before I can cough up the money as well.

Maps AND trade tables...hmm.

dragolite said...

That is a very good idea. I would be up for it.

Superhero Necromancer said...

Yes. I'd pay $100 for that.

Frotz Self said...

I am interested - would you accept US currency via PayPal? $100 would absolutely be worth it for me. I don't think I fit in to the 'trustworthy' group since I've only been lurking on your blog (and that of your online game) for two weeks or so, but I would expect to pay up-front for the six months ( or a year, if need be).

Alexis said...


There are three names that fit on the non-trusted group. They know who they are.

It wouldn't be simply because you didn't post. You'd have to deliberately attack me on your own blog over a long period of time.

Yes, PayPal would be my preferred method of payment.

Arduin said...

It's a tentative yes for myself as well. I -would- pay $100 for material of this quality and comprehensiveness, if I should have said funds to spare.

This is a fantastic idea, Alexis; I hope it works out.

Wickedmurph said...

Use Dropbox to transfer the initial files, and any additional ones. It's free to set up, gives you 2 GB of storage space, and is only accessible to people you designate. Our company uses it for routine file transfer, and it beats the heck out of email.

Alexis said...

Thanks, Wicked. I'll investigate. I used to use Rapidshare, but it went; I thought I was going to have to teach myself how to use a zip file again. It's only been five years.

Wickedmurph said...

I'd be happy to give you a quick tutorial of the program if you like.

Alexis said...

Initially it looks good, Wicked. I can't download it where I am, however, so please answer me one question: I presume permissions can be discontinued at some point; does the system identify the IP address of the other user, or provide passwords?

Wickedmurph said...

There are 2 ways to use Dropbox to transfer data. If you put a file in the /Public folder you can right-click on it and select Dropbox-->Copy Public Link. Then paste the link and email it to the person. That lets them download the file directly from dropbox. This is good if you need to send a file update to a number of people who don't have their own Dropbox account.

The other way is for both people to have a Dropbox account. You get the email address they used to set up their account, and set up a Shared folder in Dropbox. You can even have a single folder that lots of people (subscribers for example) are shared on.

Then, as soon as you put a file in that folder on your computer, it automatically loads directly to the mirrored folder on their computers, and they get a notification that the file is now there. This is the fast/easy way to do things, but does require that others have a (free) Dropbox account.

The nice thing there is that you have control over the other accounts that have access to the shared folder. If somebody doesn't want/need to get the updated files, then just remove their email address from the Sharing settings on that folder.

Eric said...

My initial question was mostly concerned with seeing older versions of your tables as well- I thought it would be revealing to see how the tables changed over time and with use in play.

"the need for security creates possibly more problems than it solves."

You've got a DRM problem-if someone can open the Excel files, they can also copy them onto a web server in Russia. It really doesn't matter how you distribute them. You can add digital signatures, so you can at least know who the thief was, but this would be a real pain with such a large pile of data.

If there was an easy solution to this problem, there'd still be a robust recorded music industry...

Alexis said...

It sounds good, Wicked; in this day and age of apps, I wouldn't feel for someone who simply refused to download the Dropbox application to their computer.


If someone wants to screw me and other people who spend money for what I'm providing, there isn't a whole lot I can do. Anyone could spend the money once and then go to town. You, I and the entire Internet knows this.

So ... you want to wait for someone to screw me, so you can get it free, or do you want to pay me?

Regarding old versions, I don't keep them. I don't care myself how they have changed over time. When I upgrade a table, I rebuild it, save duplicates in backups as necessary and then delete everything old in order to save myself memory.

Now, if you want to keep old versions as I go along, that's up to you. But once I improve something, I have no use whatsoever for the improved upon older system.

Unknown said...

Is this offer still out there? I am really interested in emulating your ideas and would like to see the tables themselves.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The offer is void.