Wednesday, February 8, 2012

D&D Next - Breathe It Ain't Done

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.
C. S. Lewis

Being a game designer is a tough racket, folks. A crowd of gamers gather around and sink their hard earned money into a product. They have expectations that make pop-star divas and royalty seem easy to fulfill. Yeah, you get paid to try and fit their imagination into solid statistical numbers but statistics simply aren't perfect. The laws of probability and luck itself are fickle mistresses. Never mind that casino's have made billions maybe trillions for doing little more than handing someone a pair of six siders and letting full grown people throw dice down the table with the promise of a big pay out. Polyhedrons don't ever do what their told. Gamblers prove that everyday, but in the long haul they pan out. So everyone cursing mechanics after a single session, take that into your calculations.

Now you got Monte Cook, Bruce Cordell and Rob Schwalb sitting over at WoTC pouring their heart and soul into a game for all of us. Meanwhile, every arm chair quarterback on the internet is playing John Madden doodling on the screen and commenting on how the way they ran the last play ain't even close to what they would have done. Problem is if most of us could do it, and be any good at it, our system would be out their being fronted by a company that makes toys for a living. While we are on the subject let's talk about Hasbro and profits for a minute. All those designers they do get paid. They might even get health and dental care if they are lucky. Hell, who knows maybe they are getting severance packages when Hasbro has to let them go to keep the bottom line solvent. Point is Hasbro has to make money. Last time I checked businesses reported to share holders and all of us lovely stock holders. We buy shares to see a Return on Investment. Oh and we expect to see that investment grow year over year. There is a whole industry that just reports on this kind of thing. If you want to second guess WoTC's business model or speculate on their sales, please, do some research. Provide some data for your arguments and stop making blatant guesses without concrete data to support your theories, please.

Now I can see the hate mail coming already but before you start typing take a deep breath. See what I just did there? This is a blog. The folks you are trying to read into their design strategies, second guess their motives, and condemn with no more than a single play test under your belts. Those folks are blogging too. They are sharing their opinions and ideas with us. Some of those things will pan out in play testing, some will crash and burn. Some may have died twenty minutes after being written.

It ain't over until the first books start rolling on the printing presses over in China somewhere. I have faith that no matter if WoTC's great experiment into D&D Next the One Edition to Rule Them All doesn't pan out that what we will have is a playable game. A game that just might revolutionize the way people play D&D. And if not at least we will have tried. US the generations of loyal D&D customers will have tried. Paizo did good with its open play-test. It took a game a lot of people thought was unplayable and made it fun again. WoTC has set their sights higher only time will tell if they land on the moon, enter low orbit or never get off the launch pad.

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.
Bruce Lee

Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable. However, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer to it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable.
Lord Chesterfield

Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.
W. Clement Stone

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