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#47: Fear & Desire

Doctor Futurity

Camazotz the Death Bat
Validated User
Re: #47: Fear & Desire

Well, I think your article does prove that if anything 4E has created a schism in thought amongst gamers. To contrast:

I agree that 4E feels a bit more like 2nd edition...and my 2nd edition group converted to 4E after I introduced them to it, and we haven't looked back.

I don't understand the claims that 4E is more complicated. I burned out on 3.5 two years ago when I grew sick and tired of the fiddly book-keeping, the constant additions of new rules and content, and the general weight of the system. I do, honestly fully expect 4E to suffer from bloat...it's built for it, obviously, but the actual rules mechanics are now much, much simpler.

An example: in the 3.5 game I still attend as a player, we were trying to work out the details on a 6th level ranger's two-weapon fighting skill, and what his BABs would be, and how many attacks he'd actually have with the various feats. It was rather messy, and while doable, all I could think was, "gosh, this entire level of complexity vanishes in 4E. The whole question would be moot." While some would argue that the 4th edition iteration of a two-weapon combatant took away a measure of freedom, I see it instead as showing that the "freedom" of design in 3rd edition was an illusion....you didn't really need all the fiddly bits to have a fun two-weapon combatant, just a system which supported what you wanted, spelled out in a clear and concise manner.

Either way, both the 3.5 player with his ranger and the 4th edition player with his ranger had fun, but the main difference was the 3.5 session involved about 10-15 minutes of trying to cross-reference different rules until we got all the modifiers right, and the 4E group had already started playing and gotten in to battle in the same time. Twin Strike, anyone?

In the end, I think the reverse of what you do, to an extent: I think 4E will bring more people back in to the fold who were defecting to other, easier game systems. I think it will appeal to newer players who can grasp it's mechanics more easily, as the game now teaches as you play, which is an excellent design trait. Sure, plenty of die hard 3rd edition players will stick with their books or go to Pathfinder, but gradually, as more content is released and people continue to defy expectations by actually having fun playing 4E, attrition will whittle away, and the 3rd edition hangers-on may grudgingly actually try the new edition and realize how much smoother it is, while still accomplishing exactly the same thing....except for killer DMs. They'll probably still prefer 3rd edition...it works much better for TPKs ;)

As for the promotional marketing issues, I'll have to go back and review all the pre-release commentary on how awful prior editions of the game were. I keep hearing this accusation, and I guess I must have missed all of it, or just not be so easily offended. Of course, the fact that I disliked 1st and 3rd edition does not help....I would be likely to agree on lots of points with them, I suspect.

Also, although the MMO comparison continues to arise, I think this angle is proving, unfortunately for those who keep using it, to be a dead horse. As a veteran ex WoW (and other MMOs) player, I can safely assert the following:
1. MMOs actually are very social. Yes, they aren't really role playing venues, for the most part, but the people I know who play avidly do so for the social interaction as much as anything else.
2. D&D 4E does derive some prima fascia characteristics from MMOs....such as the descriptive terms for class and monster roles, but I'll be honest, most of what it's "borrowed" (or borrowed back, really) is just useful stuff to help facilitate game play. It is now a much easier, more intuitive game system that still achieves exactly the same thing 3rd edition did, but without needless layered complexity.
3. I do think you are probably right about WotC trying to snuggle in to the online market through DDI, but also think they are failing miserably, so far. Nonetheless, I will be curious to see how it works. I know I will be signing on to DDI when/if it comes online so I can once again play with my old buddies back in Seattle, so I just can't look negatively on these options right now.
4. Finally, the average MMOer will never set foot near a D&D rulebook. I think WotC is (at best) hoping to get players who left the needless complexity of 3.5 for the ease of play of an MMO, or who lost their regular group to time and distance to try playing together this way. But they're going for people who were RPG gamers before defecting.....there's no way they'll snag many, or any of the standard MMO crowd who came in to WoW through the computer gaming market and not the tabletop market. But who knows...maybe someone thought they could.
 

Fifth Element

Retired User
Re: #47: Fear & Desire

Game System License. If you're going to piss on something, you should at least get its name right.

It would be a better article if you actually came up with something new, rather than a tired bunch of "4E is WoW!!!!" stuff. I've heard all this stuff before.
 

cfarrell

Retired User
Re: #47: Fear & Desire

You lost me at:

The Brain Trust at HASBRO decided that none of us ever had any fun playing D&D before, but we would now.

Personally, started out enjoying 3E and 3.5E, but ended up hating them with a vengeance. Every session descended into endless book fiddling and "how the hell does Web work" and "what's the grapple process" and so on. I like d20 - I'm a big fan of Arcana Evolved and some other d20 systems - but 3.5E has so many problems that I just wouldn't play it again, given what else is out there. So for me, what WotC was saying about 4E was what I wanted to hear.

Honestly, I don't see how you can say 4E is more complicated. Clearly, there are more powers, but the actual core game system is also clearly much cleaner.

I swear if I hear somebody complaining about the MMORPG thing again I'm going to ... um ... do something. Who cares? Games borrow from each other all the time. I have no time or interest for MMORPGs, but fail to see how borrowing a few choice bits from them could make 4E bad. Those MMORPGs were all built from D&D anyway, they've obviously been thinking about the problem of how to make the game rules more streamlined and easy to play/program, so why not?
 

Cuneiform

Registered User
Validated User
Re: #47: Fear & Desire

I think you've misunderstood the nature of the digital tabletop. Your discussion of the "online version" or "online platform" of 4e is fanciful.

When implemented the digital tabletop will neither enforce nor interpret any of the 4e rules.

Do you want to use your house rules? Go ahead! Do you want to break the 4e rules? Go ahead! In fact, do you really want to play GURPS? Go ahead!

Thus, rules complexity is not invisible to users of the digital tabletop -- its entirely irrelevant.
 

Janusian

Registered User
Validated User
Re: #47: Fear & Desire

Ranty McRantrant. Sheesh.
I can't agree more. In fact, this column does read like a rather ill-informed rant against 4e, indistinguishable from the forumposts found in these and other forums.

It is too complex!
It is like an MMO!
HASBRO are evil, their GSL is destroying the industry!

The first two are wrong. It is much less complex in terms of gameplay than 3.5 was, try running a 10th level party fighting an appropriate group of monsters. In 3.5 it will most likely take the rest of the night. In 4e, it takes about an hour. The rules are exception based, which means that the players will only need to know a small set of rules apart from their own particular exception-abilities. It is easier and faster to learn than most previous editions of D&D and AD&D, with the possible exception of the BXCMI sets.

MMO? It is not an MMO. It is in fact, a table-top roleplaying game. Unless, you run a heavily houseruled campaign, where dead characters respawn and the players can complete the same quest over and over again without affecting the general gameworld, and have to deal with random teenagers bursting through the door of your gaming room, shouting random snippets of leetspeak, and challenging your PCs to single combat before disappearing, it is nothing like an MMO. What distinguishes MMOs from tabletop roleplaying was never an issue of the rules, but rather the dynamics of the shared world, and the lack of a human adjudicator.

The use of language taken from MMOs is completely justified. One would hope that Wizards have realised that, in time, the portion of their fanbase who still use the 'I remember when elf was a class' line, will die out. It makes the game much more accessible, and really helps players in understanding and making sense of the game as well as how their characters should be build. It is very userfriendly.


I personally don't like the GSL much, but hey, if I was sitting on the hottest IP on the market, I might have some issues about giving it away for free. After all, that was more or less what the OGL entailed. If someobdy want to ride the coattails of another company's creative endeavours, I think they do deserve what they get.

Hopefully it will reduce the amount of idiotic splatbooks filled with munchkiny prestige classes, taken by people who treat the game as if it is an MMO. ;-)
 

calibur1

Retired User
Re: #47: Fear & Desire

Yesterday I ran a demo game at my local gamestore. They have a pretty active calendar when it comes to rpgs, with at least eight separate games being run during the course of the week. Wednesdays are pretty busy, and as I was setting up I got a chance to talk to four of the GM’s and enough players covering all of the current games. What I found out was pretty surprising. Only 2 out of the 8 were running a 4E game. This was surprising, because everyone there was so psyched at 4E’s release and it sold very well the first week. I should mention that the majority of these gamers play WoW, more than half of the games being run were 3.5, and ALL of these guys claimed they were going to run 4E once it was released. When I asked what happened to all the hype, these were the most common answers I received.

“The combat system is cool, but it feels too much like D&D miniatures.”

“Characters aren’t unique anymore. What’s the point of playing a wizard when your fighter, cleric, and rogue can all basically do the same thing? Who wants to party with an entire group of fighters?”

“It doesn’t feel like D&D anymore. It feels like a video game.”


To be fair I asked the two GM’s why they did start a 4E game…

“Everything is balanced now, and it is so much easier and faster to create encounters.”

“It plays like a video game, and I was looking for something to simulate Final Fantasy.”


So there you have it. You can take these quotes any way you want. My interpretation is that 4E can learn something from the other games on the market. Gamers still want to role-play that special character and take them to places that just might not include combat and miniatures. Revising, simplifying, and balancing rules are all good things, but sacrificing those elements that make players feel special about their characters for a quick marketing ploy is a bad idea. So in this little gamestore in Northern New Jersey D&D 4E is currently the best-selling game that very few play.

So what were they playing now? This is a list of current games being run at the store.
1. D&D 4E
2. D&D 4E
3. D&D 3.5
4. Star Wars Saga edition
5. World of Darkness
6. Champions
7. Mutants & Masterminds
8. OVA (my game)
 

Doctor Futurity

Camazotz the Death Bat
Validated User
Re: #47: Fear & Desire

So what were they playing now? This is a list of current games being run at the store.
1. D&D 4E
2. D&D 4E
3. D&D 3.5
4. Star Wars Saga edition
5. World of Darkness
6. Champions
7. Mutants & Masterminds
8. OVA (my game)
So among the sampling of all rpgs, 3 out of 8 are playing D&D, and 2 of those doing 4E.....so roughly 66% of the D&Ders are doing D&D. I mean, I'm enjoying D&D, but it wouldn't stop me from playing Traveller or Runequest, so not sure what to make of this sample.

In my local groups, I have the following:
Group 1: D&D 4E (I run) All players love it, but plan to rotate with Runequest, the regular game we were previously playing.
Group 2: D&D 4E (I run every other week; they are playing D&D on the odd weeks I am not there, apparently as well); all players love it; all converted from a 2E game, as 4E feels and plays a bit more like D&D as well all knew and loved it.
Group 3: D&D 3.5; one DM would prefer to run 4E but runs 3.5 because the other DM refuses to play 4E. That DM has indicated he will possibly consider it in another year or so. Of the players in that group, 3 total (myself, the one DM, and another player) have shown interest in 4E, 2 others are fairly new to D&D and see no reason to stop playing 3.5, which is fine, and then 1 (the other DM) refuse to try it.

All this doesn't really mean much, although I am presonally of the opinion that the 4E games are proving to be more interesting and fun for players than 3.5....and the 3.5 games strike me as clunky and tedious compared to the sleeker, newer 4E that caters better to storytelling and roleplaying, in my opinion, precisely because it makes the rules less obtrusive.
 
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