Monday, January 9, 2012

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition...Time for You to Decide!

Well, friends and fellow gamers, it appears that Wizards of the Coast finally made their way through all of the feedback on Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition. I wonder if they noticed the hefty amount of criticism from the various cadres of "Gamerdom," most issuing from members of the "Old Guard" (or so I've deduced from message board discussions and local game shop chats). I assume then that they chose to ignore the neophyte dice-slingers who cut their teeth on 4E and have supported it thus far, or perhaps that group lacks the significant representation required for recognition in the great Parliament of Graph Paper and Polyhedrons. Whatever it was they have apparently decided to pay heed to the opinions of the seasoned and dissatisfied because today they revealed their plans to create the next edition of everyone's favorite, legendary tabletop roleplaying game!



Both the New York Times and Forbes reported on the titanic announcement, and if you wander on over to WotC's neck of the internets you'll see a delightful pop up window with some nifty dragon artwork asking you to sign up to be a part of gaming history. The part you are invited to play, if you so choose, is the part of playtester in their newly proposed, massive next edition playtest. How generous of them. It's oddly familiar, though. Oh, that's right, Paizo, the hugely successful publisher and developer of the hit roleplaying game Pathfinder which was most definitely the victorious rules set of the last significant Gamer War, did exactly the same thing when they chose to honor the roots of good old D&D and not run off chasing MMORPG formulas for the development of a tabletop game.

In the last few months articles have surfaced with comments from developers and big names at Wizards referring to their failings with 4th Edition. Monte Cook, the modern Game Design Master, was invited back to contribute his winning instincts to their R&D department. Lead designers of 4E were let go. Now we have a company which seems to rarely reach out to its consumers for feedback suddenly asking all of them to step up, playtest an upcoming rough draft of a new edition, and contribute their thoughts and desires. Such a series of events is not at all surprising if you understand the basics of business and the logic of following a winning formula, but it does mean that finally the opinions of the folks who fork out their cash on a somewhat regular, almost four year cycle are being seriously considered. It's about time.


This decision to move to a new edition will most certainly earn Wizards a heap of guff from various groups such as, again, the new players who found their way in through 4E, the old gamers who found themselves growing used to the new, yet ill-fated rules set, gamers who don't want to spend another hundred plus dollars to acquire new rule books, and the troll community which randomly grazes the wild fields of the digital landscape, seeking out the perfect thread onto which they will mindlessly bitch. Certainly the valid, constructive responses will shine through and lead us to what will hopefully be a move towards an incredibly successful and thoroughly enjoyable tabletop gaming experience for all tabletop role players. Hopefully this is an honest attempt to actually respect the opinions of the gaming community, and hopefully this next edition will last for more than just a few years. Right now Wizards and D&D need two fairly obvious things, the proof that they can follow through with promises and actually deliver a winning game and to be able to show evidence of their ability to create a system that will stand for many years without expensive alterations (3.5) or a need for another overhaul after a few years.


This announcement finds me quite hopeful for the future of tabletop gaming. I'm hoping that the playtest is fair and worthwhile, and I hope that an edition of my favorite tabletop game will surface after this process that will not only stand the test of time but prove to everyone that you don't need anything digital to enjoy a gaming experience. I'm already signed up to play my part in the "History of gaming." How about you?

Here are articles addressing the announcement and WotC's page announcing the new plan:

-Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidewalt/2012/01/09/wizards-announce-new-dungeons-and-dragons-an-inside-look-at-the-game/
-The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/arts/video-games/dungeons-dragons-remake-uses-players-input.html?pagewanted=all%3Fsrc%3Dtp&smid=fb-share
-Wizards of the Coast: http://www.wizards.com/dnd/article.aspx?x=dnd%2F4ll%2F20120109

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