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RTGRuss

Letter to our players

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The world of PBM gaming is very much an interactive one. You'll make friends, you'll make enemies, you'll find folks you can trust to guard your back and you'll find folks that will stick a knife in that same back given the opportunity. PBM veterans have experienced all these things and more, such is the nature of things.

 

Generally you can expect that of the rumors, claims, etc. that you hear through the grapevine, a lot of them are either misleading or outright false. The vast majority of these things tend to concern other players and are either political, psychological warfare of some kind or just plain trash talking. Sometimes, unfortunately, things get personal and sometimes things get nasty ;)

 

Every now and then, some rumors, etc. start to go around that involve RTG and such has been the case of late.

 

Rumors and claims about RTG tend to be of two varieties: those involving some sort of corruption by RTG staff and those involving incompetence to one degree or another by RTG staff.

 

Either we are handing out information to friends, or we are selling information to the highest bidder, or we are screwing over people we don't like, or we are spilling secrets over beer...just to mention a few of the more common ones. Usually these things are said as part of some sort of psychological warfare ploy - trying to convince you that RTG is favoring some folks over others, sometimes they are said to impart a sinister motivation to some mistake we've made and every now and then they are said by folks who are simply angry with RTG for one reason or another. Sometimes they are believed, sometimes they are ignored but they've rarely been anywhere close to the actual truth.

 

Pete and I have been on the business end of PBM for some 20 years now, 18+ running our own company, and we've always done our very best to maintain our professional standards. We've had the full range of customers over that time including personal friends, a relative or two, folks who've been with us for years, folks we didn't know from Adam, folks who spent a great deal, folks who spent very little and even folks who were quite hostile to us (screaming at us on the phone, blistering emails, threats of all kinds including legal...the whole spectrum with the possible exception of a death threat - I don't recall any of those thankfully) and, regardless, we've always done our very best to be professional in our conduct to them all.

 

On the charge of incompetence there is, of course, a bit of truth to things sometimes. We do make mistakes, both human and code related, and I doubt that we'll ever be able to claim that we've designed (or run) the perfect game. We've never made as many mistakes as we've been accused of naturally (there was a time when accusing the GM of screwing up an order was a common way for some to hide their own mistakes and/or treachery from other players) but we've made our share over the years and we'll continue to make them in the future. We've always and will always do our best to keep our error rate to a minimum, to make corrections/adjustments as we can when we are at fault and to produce and run the best games that we can with the resources available to us.

 

As small businessmen, our professional standards are quite probably the most important asset we have and, regardless of what folks make think of us personally, we would have to be complete idiots to be guilty of the things we've been accused of on occasion. Our business would never have survived to this point were we so lacking in ethical and professional standards. An accusation that GMs of vast PBM experience and a nearly 20 year record of professional game service are acting in a manner that would be ruinous if true and for nonsensical reasons at that should be laughed off - not believed.

 

There is a certain point where you either come to trust us here at RTG or not. This is our livelihood not a hobby and Pete and I have worked hard to build up our professional reputation over the years. We are by no means perfect and we make our share of mistakes but once you've had a chance to get to know us (and some of you have already known us for quite a long time now :D ), I think you'll agree that we are worthy of that trust. Our mistakes and failures are honest ones and there is never an intention to harm, favor, frustrate and/or anger anyone.

 

Rumors and/or claims of corruption and/or incompetence will never completely go away - they seem to go with the job. I do hope that folks in the future will consider such rumors and claims with a critical eye, consider our past performance and give us the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. If you have reason to suspect that we've made a mistake on something or have a flawed policy, let us know and we can discuss it. Pete and I have no plans on going anywhere - we're in this gaming biz for the long haul B)

 

Take care and good gaming!

 

Russ

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Commentary about RTG, our games and both Pete and myself are unstandably ongoing topics that go on both here on the boards as well as in forums that we are not aware of (other boards, private email, word of mouth, etc). The pro and con tone vary with the times - if we have a great game going or are doing a good job then we get the accolades and if we are having problems or if problems are perceived then we get the criticism.

 

Pete and I have been in this business for about 20 years now so we are usually aware of which way the wind is blowing and players will usually bring things to our attention if it seems that we are not. We are generally aware of our strengths and we are generally aware of our flaws - as individuals and as a company. The games we produce are never perfect and our service is never perfect. We are a small business and as such our personal lives are going to affect our performance. When life is giving either one of us a tough time - it is going to be obvious to our customers. When life is going great for one or both of us - everthing will be a little better. That's the reality of the world, the industry we are in and the small business that we are.

 

The tone of late has been mostly negative and this has been brought to our attention more than once. The points made are often quite valid and we can appreciate the point of views expressed. There is a point, however, where it becomes a case of Pete and I trying to defend ourselves from, in essense, not being better people. We are aware that our customer service is not perfect, we are aware that our games are not perfect and we are very aware that Pete and I have plenty of flaws to go with our strengths. I could put together a list that is more comprehensive and accurate in all aspects than our most ardent critic but to what end?

 

It is not a case of us not giving a damn - we both love the business we are in and can't really see us doing anything else (we would have moved on to something more lucrative long ago if that were the case). We are also aware of the financial implications - players dropping or spending less hits us directly in the pocketbook and that pocketbook was pretty thin to begin with. The fact is that we do the best we can with the resources, abilities and circumstances that we have at any given moment.

 

Pete and I have had our share of personal troubles the last few years - some of you know the details, some don't. A few years ago we were rushing towards bankruptcy like a runaway train as our personal lives wreaked havoc on our business. Our situations have been improving over the last year or two and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel but, as anyone, we still have our personal crosses to bear. I believe we are past the worse though and, accordingly, I am very optimistic about our future as RTG.

 

The problems of today, however, are what they are. Players can bring a problem to our attention and if it is something we’ve been missing or not fully appreciating then that action has done a service to us all. If we are getting dire warnings on something that we are already fully aware of or if we are getting ultimatums that we can not possibly comply with then the effort isn't going to achieve much other than kicking us a bit when we are down. If we were able to produce completely reworked rules by tomorrow – we’d do so. If we were able to eliminate every code issue or game design issue with SuperNova or Victory! by tomorrow – we’d do so. If we were able to bring out a fantastic new game that everyone agreed was the best thing since sliced bread by tomorrow – we’d do so. I wish I were able to get more accomplished with the time, resources and abilities that I have – I wish Pete was able to get more accomplished with the time, resources and abilities that he has. I wish that we both had more of all of those things to start with. Wishing doesn’t make it so.

 

The only thing we can do is promise folks that we’ll give our best effort – if our best effort isn’t good enough then players are going to go to other games, other companies and we’ll feel the pain in our bottom line. That is the ongoing reality of any business. A few years ago we were facing bankruptcy when our personal problems were so overwhelming that our business was falling apart – we may well be facing it again at some point in the future if our performance as a business doesn’t improve, if we fail to adapt to to a market change or if another personal crisis strikes. Our strengths have kept Pete and I in business for some 18 years now - our flaws (personal, business and game) have brought us a fair amount of criticism and cost us a considerable amount of money. We have the experience in this business to understand the situation, we see the numbers and we can evaluate game mechanics far better than the average player. We can’t push a magic button to make every real or perceived problem go away though. It may be a matter of time or of resources or it may be a case where there is no perfect solution possible.

 

We love this business so we are not going anywhere. We'll continue to do our best to improve our service and our games and, if the past is any guide, we won't get rich but we'll still be here when Pete and I are old and gray. Players will stay or leave based on their own evaluations of how much fun they are having, etc. but we hope that, when the dust settles, even folks that had legitimate complaints about our games or service will feel that we were doing our best and that we never intentional hurt anyone and will give our future efforts fair consideration. We'll continue to get turns out the door, continue to work on our service and continue to bring out new games as best we can. We may screw something up administratively, we may bring out a game that is less or far from perfect and our service may well be less than you expect at times but it will never be for a lack of trying or a lack of caring.

 

Best wishes to all,

 

Russ

 

P.S. By some standards Pete and I already qualify as old and gray so substitute 'older and grayer' if applicable <_<

Edited by RTGRuss

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