Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why I am not excited about D&D Next.

I think it is safe to say I am an example of a first generation D&D gamer. There are folks who have been doing it longer, but from what I see they are going negative HP at an alarming rate. My D&D started with no monster art, orange dice, pencil and pad, and flawed rules. I loved it so much I am still gaming today.

My game experience now is a lot different. I play online with folks all over the country, I have my PC built in a program and printed out all neat and pretty. My dice are virtual, the art done by folks of amazing talent and it's not D&D. Oh, and the rules are still flawed.

I supported the D&D brand up through 3.5. I dumped money on every release for 30+ years and got good value for what I paid. Yep, the rules were still flawed, but everyone worked around the flaws and managed to have fun.

Then came 4th Edition D&D, a solution in search of a problem. I like to think of it as D&D incorporated V1. D&D 3.0 / 3.5 had been envisioned and produced with a few radical differences from earlier D&D's and was done in a small business environment. As it evolved from early 3.0 to later in 3.5 you see a creeping influence from the newly enthroned owners.

Two things stood out to me; the first being the loss of full support for open D20. Sure they still paid lip service to it and more or less honored pervious openD20 licenses, but no real effort to add material to the open D20 library.

Second was the ending of the licenses to Dungeon and Dragon magazines. Pulling the control of the brand fully in house. A typical corporation style protection move.

At that point I decided not to give any more money to D&D. I was so glad I did once I understood the full pain that the 4th edition is. While the release may be a fun game, it's not D&D. It was too influenced by MMOs and the hope of selling miniatures, it lost sight of it's roots. D&D died with 3.5.

Now comes D&D next or D&D incorporated V2. The money masters are fully running things now. They must know how bad they did with 4.0, the PR system is in full swing. Big international play-test program. An online campaign to build interest. This is a game designed by a committee of committees. More then anything else D&D next is getting money, tones of it. I will bet more is being spent on playtesting D&D next the Gary Gygax ever saw from the game in his whole life.

No, I am not a play-tester. They want you to agree to this or that thing to be one of the play-testers, not going to happen. It is just another sign of the brand control mentality. I'm a gamer, not an income number on a spreadsheet.

I wish D&D next well. I know I am not its target market. I'm to old for the new masters of the D&D brand to care what I think. I still hope it brings in new players and makes good money for its masters. It just won't be my money.