Knowing the financial details behind the decision, I would do the same as Alter Ego, unfortunately.
Metacreator is a great program -- I'd love to see more Ars players adopt it, because I think it really enhances the game. And it's really neat to have the two supplements' data ... but just not enough folks have picked up those add-ons. And, well, if more players bought in, then that would improve the financial prospects for further expansions.
The one thing I'm more crazy about than Ars Magica is NPR. Working in my own store I listen to it for at least 4 hours a day.
Yeah the ransom model is very interesting. There is a lot potential here, but I think it's completely dependant on two points. Name recognition and equating that name with quality. These two points translate into purchases of the product or an attempt to meet the ransom.
As a long time fan of Ars Magica I could probably write material and try to sell it via the Ransom model, but as unknown writer it's unlikely that people would want to invest in my product. This makes sense.
Metacreator is a known product with a proven track record and fan support. It's history has developed a following and that following could be the initial base to pay for the ransom model.
HOWEVER, it still requires the creators to invest the time and energy to develop the product so that it's available for release should the ransom be met. While writing a game certainly takes time, its likely less labor intensive than developing a software patch? A patch which needs to work flawlessly when used by the people who bought it.
I point this out because this is the hindering factor in the ransom model. What if the time and energy is invested into making the item, but the ransom isn't met? Now the owner is stuck with a product that can't be sold and out their time and money. Does he lower the ransom to make some money? Also because the product is software, if it became public access there would be no long term profit from it's creation. To compensate for this the ransom may have to be higher, which may make it less likely to acheive. For this reason, I think the ransom model works for literature and maybe music, but perhaps not for software, which I think can make more money by individual sales.
Now I do like the ransom model alot, I think it's cool and has great potential. But it may not be the solution for Metacreator. While I've never used it, I was given a bootleg copy of Metacreator. I suggest that the various bootlegs get burned, the fans buys originals, and buy the supplements. I bet if a campaign was to done to buy product on one day (via the net), then a better understanding of the Ars Community's impact might occur. Perhaps that could motivate a reconsideration of future supplements.
I wonder if those of us who are ArM and Metacreator fanboys could get together a volunteer effort to add such material. I see the appeal of MC but as soon as I need to create a Criamon I'm going to be jonesing for those additional rules.
My thought is that Metacreator needs to keep vital and up to date. A gent on the yahoogroup volunteered his money for a ransom, or his time as a software guy to keep the program going.
Tuura: I can see the ransom model perhaps not being the best way for Metacreator to go, but in this case, the patches I think would be relatively doable - I guess it all comes down to how much the Alterego folks want for, say, a bundle of Mystery Cults and Covenants.
And perhaps making it free isn't the way to go? Perhaps donors get a free copy, and then it's offered to others relatively cheaply. Making it free might convince people to buy into Metacreator, I'm not sure.
I do think that MC/Ars 5 might need more publicity or promotion so that more people buy into it.
From what I've heard, yes Metacreator is the bomb. It would be sad to see it go.
What about my idea to have a bunch of people buy metacreator on a single day or over a week. Make an economic blip that is noticeable. With every purchase submit a request for Covenants/Mystery supplements.
I didn't read the links provided, but remember the ransom article from when it was on NPR. As I recall once the ransom is met the product becomes open for all to grab. I do think you are correct where there are other models that allow only the participants to recieve the product.
I think Mr. Stolze is involved with a superhero game Godlike? It's been awhile. Anyway I think they currently have a project that involves fans paying for the cost of a run of books. If the cost is met the books go to print and every contributor gets a copy. If the cost isn't met, the book doesn't go to print and no one gets charged anything. I read this someplace on the net. I'll look for it again and get back here. I point it out because there are alternative models and you are correct that one of these may fit the needs of MetaCreator and Ars Magica's Fans.
This is what the authors did. The essentially used a variant on the ransom model. They asked the fans to pre-buy the book. If they could guarantee a certain number of presales, the book would go to press. If they couldn't, the book wouldn't be printed and no one would be charged. It appears the fans came through and the book will be going to print.
I suppose a patch for Metacreator would be a little different. They could set something up with a large window of time. The fans understand that that product isn't even created yet. But enough of them sign up for a presale, then developing the product may be worth it. Then the product would actually have to be made, tested, then distributed to the pre-sales. Sounds like a long process, which tends to work against fan-boys. But who knows, maybe there's something there. I'm happy to wait for Houses of Hermes, Socieites. They saved the best for last as far as I'm concerned. If I can wait for a book that's not even been started I can see others waiting for a patch. Maybe someone more zealous than I should contact them.
Ah, I'd forgotten about the Godlike Screen! Probably a better model for the Metacreator idea!
Also, Metacreator IS the bomb. It makes thing SO much easier for keeping track of characters and covenants over time. I really want the Covenants books functionality to be added as it would be tremendously helpful for those who dig the new book.
We've started putting ads to promote Metacreator in the back of ArM supplements (it doesn't cost us anything really -- otherwise we have blank pages to fill out the 48-page signatures that our printer uses). We're also going to be running out of the core 5th Edition rulebook pretty soon, and I'm already planning the reprint. We need to update the last page of the book anyhow (the one that had the coming supplements info), and one thing I want to add to that is info on Metacreator & Ars.
Publicity/promotion can be good, of course, but it's very hard for niche products to recover any cash invested in that sort of thing. The trick is to find basically-cost free methods of building awareness.
It's good to hear that you guys are happy to support MC. I really see ARS and MC as a natural pairing and have done ever since I found out about MC.
At the risk of stretching your generosity further, is there anything you guys at Atlas can do to help AlterEgo when you're finishing a new ARS supplement? I mean, you clearly have a licensing agreement with them which I suspect involves a lot of support but... I don't know, is there anything else that you could do?
I've just offered my time as a programmer in case there's anything I can pick up for them.