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dr_venture
April 29th, 2012, 21:15
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.

feral1
April 29th, 2012, 21:25
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.

dr_venture
April 29th, 2012, 21:59
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!

JohnD
April 30th, 2012, 04:42
Amen brother.

Beerholder
April 30th, 2012, 07:18
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.

ddavison
April 30th, 2012, 23:02
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.

dr_venture
April 30th, 2012, 23:33
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.

GunnarGreybeard
May 1st, 2012, 16:21
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.

Dracones
May 3rd, 2012, 21:34
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.

zpu
May 11th, 2012, 18:46
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?

leozelig
May 21st, 2012, 03:50
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.

Oh man, I couldn't agree with you more. When the iconic fighter class became three classes, different but the same, it was over for me. :) Hopefully, they don't do that again with the new edition.

Niven81
May 23rd, 2012, 03:53
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.

Since no one else seems to have saw fit to quote you I must. This is what I have been saying for years. TSR and later WOTC could have been making bank by keeping all previous editions viable and then producing new material for every edition on a yearly basis.

sehmerus
January 30th, 2013, 06:00
guess what, Wotc has decided to release thier entire library of all edition (even basic) on pdf. they plan to do it in WAVES, and the first wave was Finally done last week, you can now log into Drivethrurpg.com and purchase a ton of top quality pdf of many of BASIC, 1e, 2e, 3e, & 4e Material. and more is planned to be released on a monthly or semi-monthly basis. this is great news for me cuz i use my tablet alot. now i can use it for old school gaming.

Trenloe
January 30th, 2013, 19:20
guess what, Wotc has decided to release thier entire library of all edition (even basic) on pdf. they plan to do it in WAVES, and the first wave was Finally done last week, you can now log into Drivethrurpg.com and purchase a ton of top quality pdf of many of BASIC, 1e, 2e, 3e, & 4e Material. and more is planned to be released on a monthly or semi-monthly basis. this is great news for me cuz i use my tablet alot. now i can use it for old school gaming.
More info and link here: http://www.fantasygrounds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18089

Bleak Midwinter
April 7th, 2013, 11:32
Oh man, I couldn't agree with you more. When the iconic fighter class became three classes, different but the same, it was over for me. :) Hopefully, they don't do that again with the new edition.

It's a tricky one. Although any given fighter could cover more of the fighter bases in 3.5, the bases were much smaller. I would say that 4E is the first edition in which the fighter is a class with a lot of options. You could play an effective fighter in previous editions but I never saw a fighter with more than a couple of tricks that they relied on heavily. Moving to 4E, with the emphasis on tactics and positioning, makes me see the front-line fighter as a much richer class even if there are three varieties of said class, with three different emphases.

Zeus
April 8th, 2013, 07:40
With 5E I think the Fighter options will be likely implemented as additional Specialities and Maneuvers as opposed to new standalone classes. e.g. Specialities: Swashbuckler, Two Weapon Fighter, Sharpshooter, Polearm Master etc. etc. I for one will be looking for fewer base classes but greater number of class options.

S Ferguson
April 9th, 2013, 04:56
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.

I agree. The tendency to "bloat" each edition has been the thorn in my D&D side for years. I mean how many players handbooks and GM's guides do you need before it just overwhelms you(or your wallet)? And There hasn't really been any module creation since they started the (bleak) process of "World Building." Now you "campaign" in a world detailed to the core.

I fondly remember when you could run an adventure in any setting (well, within reason), something I find you just can't do anymore. Pathfinder did ramp up the adventures, but at a cost to selectivity: now you play in their world or a sanctioned world with the PFS. or your own with paths which are like 6-12 part nightmares to orchestrate. The "bloat" here is in the specifics of the modules. One follows the other (in a chained together fashion).

And I enjoyed the power rush of high level wizardry as well, seeing it was so hard to get your character there.

Emrak
April 9th, 2013, 16:33
I think there's probably a larger issue here. The expectations of society change but individual tastes can linger for some time.

Would 1E be lauded if it were released today? Probably not.
Changing a rule base isn't just a profit booster (but it is), it's not just a "pushing the reset button to mitigate splat book power creep" (but it is), it's also a way to create a fresh, new take on an old IP hopefully tailored to the tastes of contemporary players.

S Ferguson
April 9th, 2013, 16:52
I think there's probably a larger issue here. The expectations of society change but individual tastes can linger for some time.

Would 1E be lauded if it were released today? Probably not.
Changing a rule base isn't just a profit booster (but it is), it's not just a "pushing the reset button to mitigate splat book power creep" (but it is), it's also a way to create a fresh, new take on an old IP hopefully tailored to the tastes of contemporary players.

We aren't contemporary gamers?;)
The 1e rules are virtually identical to Castles and Crusades and it has a strong following, so there is a demand? I'd say so. Is it because we have a pining for certain rules? Perhaps, but that isn't what drives my market dollar. Production for the sake of production has never sat well with me. And with WoTC rereleasing the lines entire stock in PDFs, it would seem they recognize a gap to fill too.

JFK
April 12th, 2013, 13:28
Part of the issue is the age-old conundrum for business: How do we give the biggest group what they want, and what do they really want, anyway? In earlier versions, a player and his/her character had hard limits that defined things. Racial level/class limits, stricter limits on alignment, very strict limits on magic use (small spells at lower levels, books needed, severe rules for scribing a new spell, etc.), and the bell curve mathematics for hit/miss, fail/success were more fully realized than with a D20+ model. In short, it was much harder to survive, let alone flourish. But, this excluded some potential players, who didn't like the fact only a human could be a Paladin, or that a dwarf could only reach certain levels. In trying to reach a bigger base, and trying to give players what players (think) they want, the rulesets really became walks in the park. And while walks in the park are pretty, they can also be somewhat bland. For D&D, I want my walk in the park to include being chased by some form of monster. A walk in the jurassic park.

S Ferguson
April 12th, 2013, 15:45
I want my walk in the park to include being chased by some form of monster. A walk in the jurassic park.

Who let Spielberg in on the thread? :D

The one thing I wish is if they would ask what people *really* want, rather than dictating what people should *have*. Even Basic D&D in the old red-box edition served a purpose: to introduce you to AD&D which you would hopefully pick up. if you didn't, oh well, it was an independent line anyway. I just don't like the system bloat that seems to get bigger with each successive product. I even (aside from the PDFs that I can consult, if need be) prefer to play Pathfinder with the two core books, the Player's Guide and the Beastiary. Savage Worlds requires one book and a setting, in which the setting you can buy or not. And I remembering advancing quite far in pre D20 games. Dinosaurs and all.