Red Box Renaissance: An Escapist interview of Mike Mearls

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An interesting interview of Mike Mearls, about the new Red Box and D&D Essentials.



Imagine, for a moment, that you have just inherited control over Dungeons & Dragons,  the most popular roleplaying game in the world. At first, you might  think that you've been given a dream job. But then you realize that the  entire roleplaying game industry is fighting a war for market share  against the unyielding competition from videogames and collectible card  games, and that everyone from your CEO to your fanbase is clamoring for  you to find a strategy to win the fight. And then you realize that the  most recent edition of D&D, in its attempt to find a winning strategy, was accused of betraying the very D&D legacy it sought to uphold. And then you remember that not only is your  immediate predecessor "pursuing new opportunities," so is your  predecessor's predecessor, and his predecessor's predecessor, and that  if you don't do something really spectacular, you'll probably have to  start "pursuing new opportunities," too.


You've now roleplayed being Mike Mearls.


(...)





Read the interview at the Escapist.

Interesting! I'm sure the doom-and-gloomers will take away from this nothing so much as the closing quote about how if you haven't liked 4E so far give Essentials a try as to mean that if you love 4E you're screwed, but... eh... the 4E we love is still there, and there's still stuff coming out for it. Now there's more for other people.

And I like the quote: "If you're more into the narrative side of gaming, you're used to taking mechanics and interpreting them to say 'this is what just happened.'" I like that quote because I've been told that interpreting the mechanics at all makes me a simulationist or gamist. :P 
...and that's the news from Lake 4th Edition, where the Gnomes are strong, the Half-Orcs are good-looking, and all the PCs are above average.
Interesting! I'm sure the doom-and-gloomers will take away from this nothing so much as the closing quote about how "if you haven't liked 4E so far give Essentials a try" as to mean that if you love 4E you're screwed



I promise not to take that quote out of context and make it my sig 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

  I like that quote because I've been told that interpreting the mechanics at all makes me a simulationist or gamist. :P 



Narrative can be an incredibly flexible glue between the game elements and the imagined story.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Interesting. Depressing, for me who completely disliked the "good old D&D", but interesting. Especially if you read the subtext.
Remember Tunnel Seventeen !
@Kaliban7:

I thought the subtext was "Head honchos have a very short shelf-life, so each guy lasts to put his stamp on a year or so's worth of content and then somebody else will come in and do something different."

While this doubtlessly results in less consistency, I think it gives us a lot more variety. 
...and that's the news from Lake 4th Edition, where the Gnomes are strong, the Half-Orcs are good-looking, and all the PCs are above average.
So, where does that article leave those of us who really like D&D 4e? I don't know. That interview has me worried. Maybe I shouldn't be. I loved old 2e D&D. But I think 4e took the game many steps into a progressive, more fun, new direction. Adding more old school flavor to that new direction? That sounds neat. Adding more old school mechanics to that new direction? That really worries me...
@Kaliban7:

I thought the subtext was "Head honchos have a very short shelf-life, so each guy lasts to put his stamp on a year or so's worth of content and then somebody else will come in and do something different."

While this doubtlessly results in less consistency, I think it gives us a lot more variety. 



I heard it more like " The 4E line doesn't work well enough for our bosses".

Don't know where the game is heading. Stances and new mechanics are not a bad idea ( in fact, it should have been the basic mechanics of the game since the begining and for all the classes, I dare say) even if I don't know how well it can "marry" with the power system.
But I fear that the idea that "nostalgia is a good seller" may bring back to the game the worst aspects of the old game, rather than keep building on the best.
But I can't say, really. Just afraid that the new "business plan" may lead to a discontinuation of the aspects of 4e that attracted me and my players to a game we had seen for years as obsolete.

Remember Tunnel Seventeen !
Yea. That is pretty much my fear too...
What's new here ?

Many 2E fans cryed over the arrival of 3E. 1E Grognards still think 2E stinks and whatsnot.

What ? 4E brought more haters than ever ? Sure, the more you advance in Editions, the more you let people behind. With today's Forums, blogs etc...it's just easier to hear them.

Hold on Mike, there is a big fanbase following you that likes 4E.

Until we hit 5E, then some of them will join the Grognardise. The sells don't go all for the better ? That's an ever growing new reality that all Tabletop RPGs endure at the moment and not just D&D. The era is one of video gaming computer etc....

But there are still people craving for the new fresh D&D Experience. We are the ones. We are the Fourth. Don't let us down.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

So, where does that article leave those of us who really like D&D 4e?



Exactly where you were 5 minutes ago, before you read this.

Repeat after me.

Essentials is OPTIONAL.
AlexandraErin: If last season was any indication, I think Encounters is pretty much the elemental opposite of "organized" play!
So, where does that article leave those of us who really like D&D 4e?



Exactly where you were 5 minutes ago, before you read this.

Repeat after me.

Essentials is OPTIONAL.


So is D&D.
Well... At least we got custom avatars....
I think I like the cut of Mike Mearl's jib.

He has done some good stuff so far with Essentials breathing new life into DnD.

Good job.

Member of the Axis of Awesome

Show
Homogenising: Making vanilla in 31 different colours
Sure is. Which is why I demo Munchkin for SJGames, Shadowrun on weekends, and am about to go play some Monday Night Combat.

Options are awesome.
AlexandraErin: If last season was any indication, I think Encounters is pretty much the elemental opposite of "organized" play!

Repeat after me.

Essentials is OPTIONAL.


I think we were not talking about Essentials. But about what will happen next. When a full year of optional Essentials will come to "end". I fear next year will be for optional products for the essential line. Probably the "advanced" line of products.
Well, I'll shut up, now, because I don't mean to launch another thread battle and, again, I do'nt know what the future will be...

Remember Tunnel Seventeen !

Repeat after me.

Essentials is OPTIONAL.


I think we were not talking about Essentials. But about what will happen next. When a full year of optional Essentials will come to "end". I fear next year will be for optional products for the essential line. Probably the "advanced" line of products.
Well, I'll shut up, now, because I don't mean to launch another thread battle and, again, I do'nt know what the future will be...


I felt it put a pretty fine point on the new direction.  There is Rob Heinsoo/Andy Collins 4E, which for whatever reason wasn't getting it done, and the errata and Essentials marks the paradigm shift to Mike Mearls 4E.  At this point I just hope Mike's love of the nastalgia, and attempts to grab players that WoTC feels 4E initially missed, will produce an incarnation of D&D 4E I can like as well or, optimistically, perhaps better than before.  But for sure it is a paradigm shift, undoubtedly.

To Mike Mearls, in response to his closing entreaty to disgruntled fans who were unhappy with 4E;  What about fans like myself who were pretty happy with 4E until it started receiving heavy revisions this past year?  What about our desires for the direction and "feel" of the game?  I can't help but worry that those of us who liked things as they were are going to be casualties to whatever changes you deem necessary going forward in order to recapture that "feel" you are shooting for.  Do we have place somewhere within that group of fans to whom you appeal at the end of the article?

Repeat after me.

Essentials is OPTIONAL.


I think we were not talking about Essentials. But about what will happen next. When a full year of optional Essentials will come to "end". I fear next year will be for optional products for the essential line. Probably the "advanced" line of products.
Well, I'll shut up, now, because I don't mean to launch another thread battle and, again, I do'nt know what the future will be...



Dragon issue 285, Ampersand column.

"In January, 2011, our new front list products begin rolling out, providing expanded game options and materials for all players. We’re going to continue to use the lessons we learned from Essentials while applying the innovation and design we’re known for.
You’ll see options for players that include new power sources, new class and race options, and even more universal options that work with the material you’re already playing with.
For Dungeon Masters, options will include new campaign elements, new monsters, new tools to help plan and run the game, and more.
These products will include our traditional formats, but you’ll also see new formats as well. There’s exciting things coming for D&D, and we’ll get more and more into this topic as the year progresses."

So there you go. Official.
AlexandraErin: If last season was any indication, I think Encounters is pretty much the elemental opposite of "organized" play!
And the announced books backs that up, Palmerkun. We've got one Player's Options book, that I think realistically we have to expect to be "Essentials Format" in all regards... and a bunch of other stuff. There's another Monster Vault on the list, and that'll be "Essentials Format", but what's that mean? It means it's called Monster Vault instead of Monster Manual. And it hopefully comes with tokens. Player's Handbook: Heroes of the Championic Tier or whatever it's called... well, there won't be any classes presented in that of either format, and the feats will doubtlessly be informed by the Essentials philosophy (good thing, from what I've seen!), but it'll all be content that plugs into non-Essential characters.

New formats? Ravenloft is going to be "D&D Gamma World" style...

I think the bottom line is that we're in for a varied future. It looks like Dragon Magazine for this month is kind of split between Essentials and non-Essentials content, and I think that'll probably continue. 
...and that's the news from Lake 4th Edition, where the Gnomes are strong, the Half-Orcs are good-looking, and all the PCs are above average.
Hold on, Mike. Since 4E has been released there are so many D&D players here in the Czech republic as never before, and the D8D comunity is still growing.

When there was D&D 3.x I barely knew a few D&D players. Now, I know many of them and new D&D players are still coming. D&D 4E rules are simpler than prior editions' ones, nevertheless more enjoyable.

So, hold on, Mike. I wish you luck. Remember, US market is maybe saturated, but there are still eager players in the far realms in the world, who eagerly waits for new D&D 4E products.
I just hope that Mike treads carefully when reinstating nostalgic elements into the game to ensure that the good things about old editions shine through without bringing back the worse aspects.

For example, making some martial builds more simple while keeping the caster(mage/warpriest) builds at normal complexity.  That's a nostalgic element which, while not to my taste, is not necessarily bad(since I've still got my old martial builds, and really, with how cookie cutter the new builds are, how much new content can you shove in?) .  Now, if the new martial builds were strictly inferior, power-wise, to the caster builds after around level 7 or so, that's bringing back the worse aspect.  But that doesn't look to be happening, at least not in HotFL.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
From the article:

"Unfortunately for him, 4th Edition has been the subject of withering criticism from many fans of previous editions. Some of those fans say that Mearls betrayed everything that D&D has ever stood for. A popular thread at the ENWorld RPG community called "Mike Mearls Ruined Everything" is up to seven pages..."

Go ahead and read the ENWorld thread: it's a humorous thread, mostly making fun of the idea, not trashing Mearls.  (And about a third of it is joking about the d30 - yes, there's a d30...)


and:

"At the time, we openly questioned why there was a focus on the newfangled races like Tieflings and Dragonborn, and why all the character classes felt and played exactly the same. That's another problem that Mearls attempts to fix in Essentials through a return to classic D&D feel."

So these guys are 4e-haters, too.  Great.  

 

 

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wow its sad to watch the head of design cower like a dog and give in to people that dont even play 4e to begin with. who cares if some people dont like 4e, you arent gonna please everybody no matter what you do. mearls must not have had much at all to do with 4e design if he is in such a hurry to move away from it. pretty sad, he listened too much and second guessed the thing, so now we have essentials, which for all intents and purposes is nothing more than Mearls' embarassing apology to people who dont like 4e. meanwhile those of us that love 4e for the very reasons others dont, are left holding the bag of strength clerics and daily powers while Mearls tries to be friends with his critics
It's depressingly like politics.

 

 

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"We asked him if he was trying to bring 4E back in line with classic D&D.


Mearls smiled. "That's definitely part of it.""


 


wipe that stupid smile off your face and stop trying to apologize for 4e


 


where is heinsoo? please COME BAAACCCCCKKKK Cry

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't even need to say "I told you so".

It's like a vicious circle, when Mike Mearls doesn't rally people to the Essentials line the bosses will just replace him with someone else.

Better not get too comfy Mike.
"If youre unhappy with 4th edition, I say take a look at Essentials and see where were moving"-Mearls

what a freaking traitor, i hope essentials fails and they RUN your ass out of the offices

cant wait for the apology get-along-gang to come in here and tell me what he really means Undecided
"If youre unhappy with 4th edition, I say take a look at Essentials and see where were moving"-Mearls

what a freaking traitor, i hope essentials fails and they RUN your ass out of the offices

cant wait for the apology get-along-gang to come in here and tell me what he really means



*in the voice of the Team Fortress 2 spy* that frosthsof is a mearls!

because only he can truly know what is meant by all words spoken from the mouth mof mearls. anything said by other is simply part of the "get-along-gang" and is easily dismissed.
3rd ed SRD, character sheets, errata & free modules 4th ed test drive - modules, starter rules, premade characters and character builder & character sheet, errata Free maps and portraits, dice, printable graph paper, campaign managing website, image manipulation program + token maker & zone markers

"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back. GET MAD! I DON'T WANT YOUR **** LEMONS! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?! DEMAND TO SEE LIFE'S MANAGER! Make life RUE the day it thought it could give CAVE JOHNSON LEMONS! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M THE MAN WHO'S GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that's gonna BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2

theres the get along gang just like clockwork, with nothing to add to the convo at all, still in naive land, unable to accept plain english out of the lead designers mouth

I kind of wonder what the calculus for releasing 5e is, anyway.

It's entirely possible their marketing guys have divined the relationship between the hatered towards the old edition and the success of the new one.  In other words, one edition has to crash and burn before the next can take hold.
I would be supremely happy if they would just continue to develop 4E along the original 4E line as I quite like the game as it is but re-release the old Mentzer BECMI boxes sets as a "Classic D&D" line for days when the nostalgia grips my fevered brain. Making 4E "a bit like sort of almost with elements of" is not really what anybody wants and I definitely think that there is room for a few reprints among the new stuff.
It's depressingly like politics.

No, it's depressingly like business.  Because that's what WotC is - and Hasbro, too.

what a freaking traitor, i hope essentials fails and they RUN your ass out of the offices

Yeah, those eeeevil people who don't like 4E are the enemy!  How dare he give succour to them (spit)...  Laughing Laughing Laughing
======= Balesir

more apologies and excuses. mearls could shoot your dog and yould thank him for it

more apologies

Accepted.
======= Balesir
I kind of wonder what the calculus for releasing 5e is, anyway.

It's entirely possible their marketing guys have divined the relationship between the hatered towards the old edition and the success of the new one.  In other words, one edition has to crash and burn before the next can take hold.


I doubt that.  What I get from that interview is that 4e was designed with established players in mind, but this created an irreconcilable conflict...

One the one hand, the new game -- for all its merits -- was unnecessarily different in ways it could alienate established players.  It's one thing to convert to a power based system, eliminating different subsystems to differentiate classes, and to also force a whole new aesthetic (with dragonborn and tieflings being core, and weird new variants like eladrins).  Change has to be gradual, and the developers shoved a whole lot of change into the first books.

On the other hand, the game wasn't really geared for what Mearls describes as "unwrap the box and play within 2 minutes".  You needed to be an experience player to understand marks and quarries and concealmens and cover and curses and flanking, etc. 

Frankly, 3e wasn't all that accessible to newbies either. (Your AC, for instance, was calculated by combining 10 + armor, shield, Dex, size, deflection, feat, race, natural armor, and miscellaneous bonuses.)  But the support of the established base meant that people were willing to teach others how it worked.

So they tried going over the grognards' heads with things like Game Day and Encounters, but I don't think that's working.  So now they're trying to bring the grognards back in with the Red Box.  And it might work to a degree.  Some grognards have written off D&D, and are with Pathfinder, or sticking to their old editions.  Some will come back in.

But I see 4e as becoming a muddle or a pastiche of two conflicting game design philosophies.  On the one hand you have Heinsoo's original philosophy of balance over story and a firm basis in board games (yes, board games, not WoW).  On the other hand you have Mearls' philosophy of story over balance.

I don't think either of these things can get resolved within 4e.  So my guess is Essentials rolls out over this year.  As the reports on Essentials come in, the rest of 2011 is spent mapping out the reamining releases for 4e.  In 2012, right after the inevitable 2011 X-Mas layoffs, they begin work on 5e with a 2014 release date, giving 4e a six-year run.  If Mearls can hang in there to January 2012, he'll be the developer putting his imprint on 5e.

That's my rank speculation based on that interview.
But I see 4e as becoming a muddle or a pastiche of two conflicting game design philosophies.  On the one hand you have Heinsoo's original philosophy of balance over story and a firm basis in board games (yes, board games, not WoW).  On the other hand you have Mearls' philosophy of story over balance.

I would share that worry, except that it's not what I see happening.  Take a look at this section further down the article:
So if Heinsoo just wanted to create a fun game, what did Mearls want to create? And was he really going against the entire design ethos behind 4th Edition? Justin Alexander elegantly expresses many players' problems with 4E in an essay titled "Dissociated Mechanics." Alexander damned the powers mechanics and marking system in 4E because they were not simulating anything that happened in the game world. For example, why could a Rogue only pull off his fancy Daily power once per day? The only answer was because those were the rules of the game, not because that was how combat ought or should work in the fantasy setting. We asked Mearls if he or anyone else at Wizards had read Alexander's essay or even considered how 4E was fundamentally disassociated from the world it ostensibly simulated.

"It's funny you brought that up because I'd read that blog entry. It's definitely something I've thought of," Mearls said. "If you're an experienced player and if you're willing to give some allowances to how the game works versus how you think reality should work, you're probably in a narrative mode. If you're more into the narrative side of gaming, you're used to taking mechanics and interpreting them to say 'this is what just happened.'"


But Mearls doesn't believe that most D&D players want to play that way. "I almost think narrative games are a different hobby, where it really is group world building or literal group storytelling. In a more traditional roleplaying game like D&D, you build it as you go and it's almost like a game of football or some sport where the action arises as you go."


At this point in our interview I recounted for Mearls a hotly debated discussion with my readers about that very topic in a Check for Traps column, where I'd said the focus on "story" detracts from the actual challenge of play. "That causes a lot of the narrative-type guys to declare me Public Enemy Number Two," I told him.


"Who's the number one?" Mearls asked.


"I think you are," I said.


That says to me that Mearls really isn't a 'story over balance' guy - he still sees balance and challenges as the core of the game - the top priority.

He just sees that more variety in character "feel" is desirable - and I agree with this.  He clearly thinks that they have a good enough basis of balance now to branch out (with psionics-style classes and Essentials-style classes) and still retain balance.  I hope he's right - I'm optimistic that he is.  If you want to be pessimistic, that's your prerogative - but the claim that the "whole design philosophy" has changed seems baseless, to me, based on this passage in the Escapist article.
======= Balesir
I kind of wonder what the calculus for releasing 5e is, anyway.

It's entirely possible their marketing guys have divined the relationship between the hatered towards the old edition and the success of the new one.  In other words, one edition has to crash and burn before the next can take hold.


I doubt that.  What I get from that interview is that 4e was designed with established players in mind, but this created an irreconcilable conflict...

One the one hand, the new game -- for all its merits -- was unnecessarily different in ways it could alienate established players.  It's one thing to convert to a power based system, eliminating different subsystems to differentiate classes, and to also force a whole new aesthetic (with dragonborn and tieflings being core, and weird new variants like eladrins).  Change has to be gradual, and the developers shoved a whole lot of change into the first books.

On the other hand, the game wasn't really geared for what Mearls describes as "unwrap the box and play within 2 minutes".  You needed to be an experience player to understand marks and quarries and concealmens and cover and curses and flanking, etc. 

Frankly, 3e wasn't all that accessible to newbies either. (Your AC, for instance, was calculated by combining 10 + armor, shield, Dex, size, deflection, feat, race, natural armor, and miscellaneous bonuses.)  But the support of the established base meant that people were willing to teach others how it worked.

So they tried going over the grognards' heads with things like Game Day and Encounters, but I don't think that's working.  So now they're trying to bring the grognards back in with the Red Box.  And it might work to a degree.  Some grognards have written off D&D, and are with Pathfinder, or sticking to their old editions.  Some will come back in.

But I see 4e as becoming a muddle or a pastiche of two conflicting game design philosophies.  On the one hand you have Heinsoo's original philosophy of balance over story and a firm basis in board games (yes, board games, not WoW).  On the other hand you have Mearls' philosophy of story over balance.

I don't think either of these things can get resolved within 4e.  So my guess is Essentials rolls out over this year.  As the reports on Essentials come in, the rest of 2011 is spent mapping out the reamining releases for 4e.  In 2012, right after the inevitable 2011 X-Mas layoffs, they begin work on 5e with a 2014 release date, giving 4e a six-year run.  If Mearls can hang in there to January 2012, he'll be the developer putting his imprint on 5e.

That's my rank speculation based on that interview.



I think 5e will be started in 2012 for sure, but I see a 2013 release date.  Just my opinion.  I also see 5th edition being closer to AD&D rules than 3 or 4th (meaning I see Essentials as the ground work for what will be the 5th edition ruleset)
Wow, I kind of wish I had crazy theories, or random shouting, to add to the conversation.  Just feels like the "right place" for it, at this point.  Tongue out
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)

which theories are crazy? i personally did not present 'theories' i presented 'exact quotes from the lead designer'. there is a subtle difference there, do you see it?

That says to me that Mearls really isn't a 'story over balance' guy - he still sees balance and challenges as the core of the game - the top priority.


We're reading that passage very differently.  Mearls defines narrativists as the people who accept the mechanics and justify them after the fact: "If you're more into the narrative side of gaming, you're used to taking mechanics and interpreting them to say 'this is what just happened."  That's what -- imo -- we have in 4e pre-Essentials, and in fact, Mearls brings this up in response to people talking about the irrationality of martial daily powers. Mearls says that to explain it you need to be more narrativist.

Mearls then goes on to criticize this style: "I almost think narrative games are a different hobby, where it really is group world building or literal group storytelling. In a more traditional roleplaying game like D&D, you build it as you go."

The interviewer then says Mearls is public enemy number 1 for narrativists and Mearls accepts that moniker.  He is more "simulationist" in that he wants the mechanics to simulate the feel of being a wizard or the feel of being a fighter. 

I'm not saying it pessimistically or optimistically.  That's just the difference between Heinsoo, who was very narrativist, and Mearls, who is a bit more simulationist.  As he says, what he wants is "when you approach the game, you're approaching it the way your character would. You're thinking like a Fighter; you're thinking like a Wizard."

the claim that the "whole design philosophy" has changed seems baseless, to me, based on this passage in the Escapist article.


And I think the whole point of this interview is to show how the design philosophy has changed.  I don't by the way, think the shift from narrativist to simulationist is all that far.  For example, I think both approaches favor simplicity.  The problem isn't what the philosophy is, but that we will soon have a game with two competing design philosophies present.  The pre-Essentials narrativist philosophy and the more simulationist Essentials philosophy.  I think that will be muddled.

I think 5e will be started in 2012 for sure, but I see a 2013 release date.  Just my opinion.  I also see 5th edition being closer to AD&D rules than 3 or 4th (meaning I see Essentials as the ground work for what will be the 5th edition ruleset)


I don't think a new edition can be designed and released in a year.  3e took two years.  4e took 3 years.  I think 2 years is a minimum.  Nor would I read too much into Essentials as a basis for future editions.  Essentials is a retooling of 4e's basics.  If Mearls was starting from scratch, who knows what he'd do?  I'd look to the supplements released after the Essentials line is completed for an inking, if anything.  Also, for all we know, Mearls might not even be the guy picked to design 5e.  As the article points out, head developers have short shelf lifes. 
Am I the only person who doesn't find Essentials to be all that revolutionary?  It introduces a new set of game mechanics for two classes.  The two classes are just as effective at their role as the classes using the old system.  That's no different than what they did with Psionics in PHB3.  Plus, the two classes are still significantly more interesting than their 3.5 counterparts were.  The only way it can possibly be bad is if they return casters to their game breaking level of power, which they clearly aren't doing.

This whole debate seems to me to be much ado about nothing.
They might start designing 5e in 2012, but it will never be released, what with the end of the world and all...














(Yes, that was a joke)