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  1. #1
    dr_venture's Avatar
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    D&D is not an iPhone

    The following is presented in IMHO-vision:

    Just read an interesting opinion as to why 4e wasn't more successful - the author opined that it was because it was too unlike the previous versions, thus alienating/fracturing the playerbase.

    While it's an interesting argument, I think the author misses the point - personally, I didn't buy 4e because I was expecting a game like the earlier versions. The new versions are selling less and the playerbase if fragmenting because D&D players are all finding their preferred version of the game and are simply staying with something that works for them. The 3.5-esque games are *way* too complicated/convoluted for my tastes, as were the 'abilities' (?) in 4e... but clearly those games have large audiences. Of course the market is fragmented - does anyone really think that they can come up with a game system that satisfied all types of gamers? I suppose that's possible to a degree, but I doubt it'd be D&D.

    I think the really big misconception WotC is laboring under is the assumption that the majority of D&D players actually want to use the latest version just because it's 'new' and the genuine 'D&D' product. D&D is not an iPhone. New high tech gadgets often deliver not only a sexy new product, but also often measurably and sometimes drastically increased capability/functionality. A new version of D&D rules system can offer only another take on pretty much the same thing, the benefits of which have been a matter of on-going debate.

    WotC is mistaken if they believe that they can continue to spin off endless versions of D&D, with each version replacing the last (and requiring a substantial investment in new gaming materials) while simultaneously growing their customer base... all of that while the benefits of the new version are entirely a matter of gamer preference/debate. Then they are surprised that their customer base keeps dropping, as so many customers choose spin-off titles from indie companies that show the same loyalty to their customers that their customers show to them. And yet, that seems to be the only strategy WotC has going forward.

    I think the big mistake has been snuffing out the old versions from their product catalog as the new ones come online. Clearly, customers are going where they can find the game materials they want, as opposed to the materials WotC wants to sell them. The whole segment of the industry that has popped up surrounding products derived from d20 - their own product! - illustrates the amount of business WotC gave away rather than foster and profit from themselves.

    If WotC had any sense, they'd never put any version of D&D out of print. With modern electronic documents and print-on-demand books, why would you? Every version they abandon is a slice of their customer base that is likely to either split off to some other game system, or at the very least resent their abandonment. Keep a staffer or two working on materials and supplements for that system, or working with other companies that are advancing the system. Give additional focus to supplements that expand gamers' options and flexibility in how they want to play their games - that make the game more inclusive! If a set of rules & options takes off - spin it off into another title if you want (if you don't, either the market will, or you'll lose customers), but don't screw over your customers by eliminating a game system they enjoy.

    If they had done something like that and provided some optional rules on how to adapt 4e to a simpler structure, I'd have likely stayed with that. But all I got was explanations as to why what I wanted wasn't a good idea - like it or lump it. Sorry WotC, you ain't all that. The author of the opinion at the beginning of this post also answered the question, "Who really needs D&D 5e?" with basically, "Nobody, really, except WotC." That about says it.

    There... got that off my chest.
    Last edited by dr_venture; April 29th, 2012 at 22:26.
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  2. #2
    feral1's Avatar
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    You've hit the nail on the head. If they had left the older versions in print, they could have spun off the adventures and supplements in multiple formats keeping their fan-base happy while raking in the cash. WotC should have hired you for their R&D team.
    Semper Dies Irae

  3. #3
    dr_venture's Avatar
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    I will gladly accept a generous stipend to share my thoughts and ideas with them... as long as I don't get any of the blame!
    "A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for." - John Shedd
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  4. #4
    JohnD's Avatar
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    Amen brother.
    DMing since 1979. Ultimate License holder.

    Currently GMing:
    * Yggsburgh and Castle Zagyg - Castles and Crusades Greyhawk (Mon/Fri - on hiatus)
    * Temple of Elemental Evil - Castles and Crusades Greyhawk (Thursday - on hiatus)
    * 2e Greyhawk (Wednesday)

    Thanks for 7+ years of gaming via FG my friends (2e / 3.5e / Rolemaster Classic / Castles & Crusades / Pathfinder / Savage Worlds / 5e).

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  5. #5
    As a long time player who has had the chance to experience all the different versions, I'd have to say the evolution of the rules system is inevitable.

    Every edition is an attempt to create a good rules system to cater their audience's expectations. They try to hit that "sweet spot" between something that is easy to learn for beginners, but has more options for those who want more spice to the basic game. As years pass, players' and designers' expectations of the game change. However, some concepts, even rules, have survived several revamps.

    Companies' profit agenda aside, it seems that the edition revamps happen many, many years after the print run. By this time, the authors, designers, and developers have added new options, rules or classes that often overshadow what was originally printed and it has unwittingly turned itself into a different system.

    Personally, I believe 4e was mostly an attempt to resolve a problem that has been plaguing the game for several editions: power scaling - A wizard at level 20 would always trump a fighter level 20. Perhaps their approach was heavy-handed and that is why not everyone liked it. That problem was somewhat mitigated on the previous edition by multiclassing, but that also opened the door to power gamers with convoluted builds dominating a game that is supposed to rely on teamwork.
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  6. #6
    I think some of us enjoyed that wizards were overpowered by fighters at lower levels and that the reverse was true as the levels began to increase. Having played both, I can say I enjoyed the power when it was there and enjoyed the challenge when it wasn't. I liked that things felt substantially different and not just the same abilities with different names and stats behind them.

    I didn't hate 4E, but for me it was just okay. It ended up getting about as bloated as all the past versions. That is a cycle I expect to repeat itself with each addition and I'm generally okay with it. A new edition will come out and it won't feel bloated at all. Then, more and more supplements will get added and it will start to feel less "simplified." At first, players will love this. Some players will start to regret their character builds as new ones come out. Some will happily add more and more options to their old characters. Newer players will start to be overwhelmed with all the choices and the "complexity" that they now see in front of them.

    I really wished they focused more on the adventure modules and adventure paths. That is one of the reasons I think Paizo is doing so well with Pathfinder. You can spin off as many of those as you want and they don't ramp up the complexity nearly as fast as the endless character supplements do.

  7. #7
    dr_venture's Avatar
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    I very much agree! I always thought in the early days how much I couldn't wait for all the details of Greyhawk - how the countries worked, what it was like to be in each of them, more specific encounter charts, some custom monsters and perhaps a new class here or there... it was a whole continent with multiple societies, fer cryin' out loud! But we got some modules, then a new version of D&D... then instead of fleshing out what was already there, they created all these map-changing updates that (once again) rendered the old stuff semi-worthless, and like D&D itself, you either had to leave the old behind and embrace the new, or just drop out of the D&D development cycle, knowing you weren't ever going to get any new products for your game or campaign.

    I should also modify my previous statement, "Give additional focus to supplements that expand gamers' options and flexibility in how they want to play their games - that make the game more inclusive!"... by that I didn't mean just piling on more and more and more of the same into the game, thus adding tons of complexity. What I want is optional ways to handle some of the core mechanics, so that people who want a more tactical game can have it, people who want a more complex spell system can have it, etc. Basically, codified house rules, but with more detail and thought and resources than many house rules have. If 4e had a way for me to simplify the tactical battlemat stuff, I might have stuck with it. Or if they had just given me encounter charts... "just throw me a freakin' bone, here."

    By contrast, I *love* how you don't need the Castle Keepers Guide at all to play C&C. But if you choose to buy it, there's all kinds of really useful tidbits that you can very simply add into the game if you choose to. C&C is so modular that it's easy to fit the new bits in if you want to, or leave them out, no worries.
    Last edited by dr_venture; May 1st, 2012 at 00:36.
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  8. #8
    GunnarGreybeard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr_venture
    I very much agree! I always thought in the early days how much I couldn't wait for all the details of Greyhawk - how the countries worked, what it was like to be in each of them, more specific encounter charts, some custom monsters and perhaps a new class here or there... it was a whole continent with multiple societies, fer cryin' out loud! But we got some modules, then a new version of D&D... then instead of fleshing out what was already there, they created all these map-changing updates that (once again) rendered the old stuff semi-worthless, and like D&D itself, you either had to leave the old behind and embrace the new, or just drop out of the D&D development cycle, knowing you weren't ever going to get any new products for your game or campaign.
    That's exactly why I migrated to HarnWorld back in the "old days" and have pretty much used it as my base world ever since. I could probably go back to Greyhawk as I believe there is a pretty good amount of Fanon out there but it would likely take too long to get up to speed on everything.
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  9. #9
    I actually would prefer to play the latest version of D&D. That way I having incoming product support. New books to look forward to, new settings, new announcements at conventions to wonder about, etc.

    I don't need those things. I can easily create my own settings and modules. For that matter I can create my own roleplaying systems. But I like to play a system that has a thriving community backdrop.

    The problem is that D&D evolved over the years into something far different that what I played as a kid, so I can't just play the recent versions. I've moved on.

    I'd love for WoTC to publish a D&D that satisfied the low crunch crowd, as well as the high crunch crowd, and then pushed out quality content that'd keep us both happy for years. If they did that I'd happily come back.

  10. #10
    I think they should look to the community, the OGL showed a lot of promise and could work to bring some things in line with what players want to see. I figure (as a DM) anything I don't like I can alter, and I could release it to share with anyone else who might share my view on the system. I've played with all of the current versions and while I didn't enjoy 4ed, I can see why some players new to the game would like it. I really like the way 3.5 was set up, although there are a lot of things about 3.0 and 2nd ed I enjoyed as well. I think a nice "compilation" of the existing rulesets could be written as a collaborative effort by the community at large, perhaps sent over to WoTC after testing by all those involved?

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