Daily Illuminator

May 27, 2006: Goodbye, Game Aids Program

For years, SJ Games has attempted to maintain a "Game Aids" program which would review fan-created game aids, both stand-alone software and web pages. The idea was that we would check out submitted programs, make sure that they actually ran and that their documentation was comprehensible, see that trademark and copyright considerations were covered, certify them as worth your while to download, and promote them.

A noble goal. It didn't work at all.

The goal was to encourage and recognize fan-created game support. If anything, it had the opposite effect. Our apologies to the creators of programs that have been stuck in our pipeline for years. As of now, you're free.

There are, basically, two problems, and both are structural. "We'll try harder" could not change the facts.

First, editorial review time for freebies always has to take a priority behind work on actual new products. The only way to get around this would be to hire an editor who knew GURPS and Car Wars and Ogre and Illuminati . . . and whose ONLY job was to work on game aids. And . . . any time we could afford a new editor, especially one whose skills were that wide, we and you would want him to work on more new products!

Second, fan work just shouldn't be put through a professional review process. When a fan writes a program, he's doing it for himself and his friends, because he wants to. Subjecting him to editorial oversight, on a slow schedule, is a sure way to suck all the fun out of the process. The less fun it is, the slower the creator is to create new updates for review . . . until the whole thing grinds to a shuddering halt.

So. Effective today, the Game Aids program is no more. Instead, fan-created game aids will be covered by the newly updated version of our Online Policy. Read it for details, but basically:

  • Do what you will, as long as your use of our trademarks and our copyrighted text and art follows the Online Policy. That page includes SPECIFIC LEGAL CREDITS to be copied into whatever you distribute, with links to our site. If we find out about distributions that violate trademark or copyright, or otherwise don't follow the Online Policy, we'll have to write you a letter (or in extreme cases, have a lawyer write you a letter). Please don't make us do that.
  • We will create one or more forum groups for discussion of digital game aids. This will help you, the creator, publicize your work, and get feedback. And if you do something really neat, we'll read the feedback there and notice.
  • When one of our staff members uses and enjoys a fan-created game aid, he may ask our Webmaster to link to it from that game's web page. That will be the only "official recognition" we will offer, and it'll be entirely up to our staff members in their own capacity as fans. If they use something and like it, they get to recommend it for a link.
  • If you want to charge money for a game aid based on our work, the Online Policy does NOT apply . . . you must either get a license from us, or sell us the game aid for distribution as a regular product, and either way we'll hold you to professional standards.

-- Steve Jackson

Notice: Server Downtime Scheduled, Sat. 5/27

There will be a brief outage this Saturday afternoon (Austin time) while we move the servers into the new server room.

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