Saturday, August 7, 2010

Essentials and 4e, Based On What I'm Hearing From Gencon

I've been sort of following the developing news, but not being a 4e player, I may not be getting the impact of it all. Help me to clarify. From what I understand:

1. 4e comes out, and they say there will never be a 4.5 and 5e is a long way away.

2. Over the course of 2 years, there are well over 100 pages of changes to the core rules of 4e.

3. This makes the core PHB and DMG essentially useless if they haven't been updated with those changes, which in fact appears to be the case.

4. You get all those changes if you are a subscriber to DDI.

5. Essentials comes out and changes some of the underlying principles of 4e even further.

6. More rules changes are imminent to bring the core 4e game in line with Essentials in every way, perhaps on the scale with the "well over 100 pages of rules changes" that have been implemented already.

7. Essentials and the Essentials paradigm is the future of DnD.

8. They may reprint the 4e core books.

Two questions:

1. What's the point of reprinting core books that are so outdated and useless to running a game which has changed so much? Is it worth the effort to make the changes, when presumably the Rules Compendium will have all those changes worked into it?  Makes me doubt there will ever be reprintings.

2. How does WOTC define "New Edition"?

It seems that by the standards they are using, if we judge editions on a basis of "X amount of changes to the old edition constitutes a new edition", you know, the way most people judge edition changes, then it seems that there has never been an edition change to DnD since 1974.

They seem to give themselves the right to make an unlimited amount of changes within 4e, and as long as they slap the 4e label on it, its still 4e, by virtue of the label alone.

It reminds me of that Orwell thing "We've always been at war with Eastasia." The edition stays the same, no matter what the changes made. The past is made to fit the present and the future, regardless of inconsistencies. The inconsistencies are just changed to fit the needs of the present, which is to not look like a bunch of liars, in saying that there will never be a 4.5, and a 5.0 is far far far off in the future.

Does that pretty much sum it up?

At this point I just feel bad for the 4e players.  But I guess in order for WOTC to charged every month for DDI, they have to make it worth it.  I guess the "value add" is in the fact that DDI is the only way to stay up to date with an ever-changing ruleset, in which changes are part of the normal course of business, and I guess expected to continue forever.

I mean, how many people would subscribe to DDI if WOTC guaranteed (haha, i know, just go with it for a minute) that there would never be another core rule change, or another character/class/feat/ability/power/whatever which would be implemented?  Would articles for Dungeon and Dragon make it worth the subscription for most people, if those articles didn't include that sort of thing?

It seems that neverending change to the core of the game is a necessary part of their business model.

It's only a matter of time before people jump off that roller coaster.

The only reason I actually give a shit about all this, is that DnD is the intro drug to the hobby, like it or not.

If their marketing tactics are designed around short terms revenue goals. then they will likely lose gamers, as they stop playing after becoming more and more frustrated with the core rule changes and ever increasing need to stay on the roller coaster and keep up with the changes. That means less people are able to introduce others into the hobby.

As for the new gamer who gets into it by picking up the new red boxed set on the shelf: iIf, as soon as a person buys a boxed set with "all they need to run the game", and they discover that actually, they need to keep shelling out money every month just to keep up with rules changes, which effectively made their initially purchase useless, how pissed off are they gonna be? How likely is a new guy going to stick with such a game?

I see their actions growing the revenue streams short term, but hurting the hobby long term. Hence my anti-WOTC feelings.

I feel bad for the creative people at WOTC forced to work and design under such conditions. With this job market, what can you do. We all need to pay our bills. If the corporate suits tell you to do something, you have to do it, stupid as it is, regardless of your personal inclinations.

I feel bad for 4e players, forced to continually shell out more money every month not for quality stuff, but mostly to update what they bought 2 yrs ago.

The whole thing sucks.