Importing Intellectual Property: The Great

Posted: May 11, 2011 by Raparth in Uncategorized

This week I’d like to talk about the practice of Importing Intellectual Property into gaming. My use of “intellectual property” within this post will be the vague notion of a setting or universe, rather than the more legalistic notions I’ve seen elsewhere. The intellectual property I will specifically be discussing here is the Warhammer 40,000 IP. This will be my example of a “Great” use of an IP and I hope to have a good example of a “Terrible” use of an IP for next week (and comments on your thoughts on particularly great or terribly IPs is both appreciated and encouraged for discussion)

Warhammer 40,000 is a wargame from Games Workshop. A wargame, for those of you who don’t know, is a game played with miniatures representing opposing armies. It is turn based and has many rules about how far a given unit can move, shoot, etc. It is, to put it lightly, an immense, comprehensive, and overall amazing piece of Intellectual Property. The number of things it has influenced are difficult to explain.

The first example is the least “true” to the source material, but is probably the best known (especially among those who don’t know anything about WH40k). It is…. Starcraft. Starcraft is certainly not advertized as a piece of the WH40k IP, but once you consider it’s psychically-powerful space “elves” (Just read the way Protoss developed without true industrialization.), utilitarian human space marines, and a giant dinosaur/insectasoid swarm of DNA-assimilators controlled by a Hive Mind… Well, you’ve just described WH40k (if only a small part of it).

The second example of imported IP is the always-increasing number of video and computer games released directly under the Warhammer 40,000 title.
Fire Warrior was, I’ve heard, a very fun FPS.
Dawn of War and its expansions were great RTSes set in the WH40k universe, while
Dawn of War II and its expansions are a great import of specifically-WH40k-wargame mechanics and general feel into an RTS context.
What I mean by this distinction between Dawn of War and Dawn of War II is that:
– Dawn of War is a game where you establish a base, accumulate resources, build units, and use them to destroy the enemy base. This is what RTSes are for the most part.
– Dawn of War II is a game where you have up to 4 squads of units, each capping out at 1-4 members (depending on the squad). You can replace members of the squads, but you never have more than 4 squads. There are no resources; you are merely trying to use these few units to achieve a goal on the map. This is just like WH40k the wargame, except for… it’s an RTS!
– Special note: I love both of these games and both play-styles.
– Holy shit, there’s a Warhammer 40,000 movie? I’m going to have to watch it!
Dark Millennium is the most exciting… It’s the attempt at a WH40k MMORPG, to come out in 2012. This will be extremely difficult to pull off, let alone pull of well enough to be liked by both WH40k fans and by MMORPG fans, but… if they do it, it will be amazing.
– There are quite a few others, really, but these are the ones I can offer genuine comment on.

There are also quite a few board games and card games that are associated with WH40k.

Another way to show how great the WH40k IP has spread its wings is that Dark Heresy line of roleplaying games. Well, I should caveat that there are two other game lines (Rogue Trader and Deathwatch) that use the same system, but have different core rule books, but I’m really talking about all of these games together. They, from what I can tell (yes, I’m still trying to get myself into a game), excellent at both deeply and faithfully portraying the setting AND making the gameplay interesting and fun. The recent release of the Blood of the Martyrs supplement, which includes Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors and the Sisters of Battle, has only increased my desire to get in a RP setting like this. Since I’ve read the fluff (“fluff” is the term for the “roleplaying” and “descriptive” and “setting” and “talky” bits between purely-numerical mechanics in the wargame… Yes, I love fluff.) and especially since I’ve read associated novels (looking at you, Eisenhorn and Ravenor), I’ve been utterly convinced this setting demands to be roleplayed in.

That was talking about how well a setting can be translated into all aspects of gaming (and beyond!). Next week I hope to talk about an IP that is a great example of how this same attempt can go terribly, terribly wrong.

Suffer not the witch to live,
– Inquisitor Lord Yuriel Indoril of the Ordo Hereticus
~ Mr. Pacman

P.S. I apologize for no post last week, but I shamelessly confess it was the last finals week of my last semester of undergraduate education and, frankly, 35 pages in 3 days was impressive even for me.

  1. Cynthia says:

    omg… learn the right codes. [b][/b] does nothing in wordpress…

  2. Cynthia says:

    I’m just going to edit this for you.

  3. Raparth says:

    Argh… I’m such an oldbie sometimes.

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