Penny Arcade/PvP 1 - D&D Podcast

Penny Arcade/PvP #1
D&D Podcast

by D&D R&D
 
Mike Mearls, Senior Manager of D&D R&D at Wizards of the Coast, sits down with the folks at Penny Arcade and PvP. In this podcast, he helps educate them on character creation and conversion—gearing up for the Live D&D game taking place at this year's PAX!  

Talk about this podcast here.
Mike Mearls sounds kinda nervous when the Penny Arcade started to question him =P
who wouldn't?  it's PA
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
He should be.  If PVP and Penny Arcade isn't offering ruthless criticism to a product in beta test they're not doing their jobs.

Vampire Class/Feat in 2013!

I prefer Next because 4E players and CharOpers can't find their ass without a grid and a power called "Find Ass."

I really like the idea of just calling it:


&

It's a title I could get behind.


(Well, no, probably not.  But it's entertaining.)



EDIT: Also, I think the most interesting this between the not-a-partnership-at-all between D&D and Penny Arcade is how Mike's relationship with the game has grown over the years, from "Never played before, at all, and learning the game" to, here, "(Fairly) Seasoned DM".



EDIT: Also also, it's interesting to hear Mearls absolutely wrasslin' with the current "game documents".



EDITAGAIN: Damn, that's short.  And I don't envy Mearls in that position at all.  Seems like keeping Jerry from going crazy-ranty is like herding cats.  A man made out of cats.  A man's mind, which is purely wild cats.

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)
Thank God wheaton wasn't included. That guy is the worst sort to have at a D&D table. He never shuts up and it's all garbage that doesn't contribute. And the way he spazzed out when he died and interupted the game afterwards was ridiculous. No, one trap does not make it the Tomb of Horrors.

Hopefully he never comes back.
If you're reading this there's a good chance you should be wearing a helmet, consequently I really can't bring myself to care about your opinion.
Since the original PA/PvP podcasts were the ones that inspired me to give 4th Edition a try, I'm eagerly looking forward to the additional episodes of this.  I hope they release it faster than they did the original PA/PvP podcast though.  Waiting a week for each episode will be murder.
http://art.penny-arcade.com/photos/979299305_WsMkV-L.jpg
I'd rather Penny Arcade stay away from DnD Next. It's not that I do not care for the artwork but, for me, Penny Arcade was everything that was wrong about 4th edition.
As I was eagerly awaiting to hear spoilers from next edition.  They just kept talking and making jokes.  I kept looking at time left and hoping they would stop making jokes and get into character creation.  This never happened... 

I'm not saying there wasn't anything redeemable about it, I got a better view of the direction and why they are doing certain things, but I wanted some spoilers .
who wouldn't?  it's PA



In addition to the fact that most people on the Internets these days are fans of PA, these are two random guys who have the power to make or break just about anything they want.

A good review from PA sells product.  A bad review from PA tanks it.  Anyone with a product, who's taking to the PA guys, has to be nervous just becuase they're aware of the incredible potential for gain/loss here.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
I just like listening to them.  They are really entertaining/funny, and they seem to get it.  I think they made Mearls squirm a little too, but he was a good sport and was able to answer questions sincerely.

 

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

And most of the comments they made were spot on.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

Very astute questions/comments, and they obviously weren't pulling punches because of "its Mike Mearls OMG".  Looking forward to the rest of this series of podcasts, and the follow up after PAX with the game itself.
Is there more? Mine felt like it stopped right as they were getting into the mechanics discussion.  They talked about healing word and how minor actions weren't goverend by rules... and then it faded out.

Is that right for everyone else? 
Please collect and update the DND Next Community Wiki Page with your ideas and suggestions!
Take a look at my clarified ability scores And also my Houserules relevent to DNDNext
Is there more? Mine felt like it stopped right as they were getting into the mechanics discussion.  They talked about healing word and how minor actions weren't goverend by rules... and then it faded out.

Is that right for everyone else? 



Yes it just stopped before we got any juicy details.....
It's pretty obvious that something called podcast #1 is the first in a series. Be patient.
"We bring in people sometimes that play D&D and watch them and see how it plays out."

Sounds rather voyeuristic. Innocent
I wondered if they used 2 way mirrors.
I like how Mearls basically said that if 4e worked for you, you shoudn't bother with Next. It's like he isn't even bothering to win over 4e fans. (Obvious by now.)
Well there where some lil things that where said that intrested me.

it sugested moving from encounter based design to adventure(day) based design.
In 4th edition you had amount of xp that was used to determin how many creatures you used in a encounter.

does this mean you now will get a xp budget wort of monsters for a adventure(day)?
you could put all of it in one big combat that would last multiple hours to play out.
or spread it over lots of small encounters, but in the end the net result on the players recources would be the same.
I like how Mearls basically said that if 4e worked for you, you shoudn't bother with Next. It's like he isn't even bothering to win over 4e fans. (Obvious by now.)



Yeah, that made me wince.  If DDN doesn't win over 4e fans as WELL as the OSR crowd that (IMHO anyway) that they are catering to now, it will tank.  The pool of customers simply isn't big enough anymore for them to ignore a part of their potential customer base...especially when it's their CURRENT customer base.

-Polaris
I like how Mearls basically said that if 4e worked for you, you shoudn't bother with Next. It's like he isn't even bothering to win over 4e fans. (Obvious by now.)



... and now I am discouraged, again.
I like how Mearls basically said that if 4e worked for you, you shoudn't bother with Next. It's like he isn't even bothering to win over 4e fans. (Obvious by now.)



... and now I am discouraged, again.



Agreed.

That shows that he is either totally incapable or unwilling to convince customers, in which case.... goddamnit, take this man off all panels and never ever let him speak publicly with anyone about this. He's essentially bombing 5E with these statements. If he doesn't at least try to convince us and give us reasons to swap, what the hell is he doing then except sabotaging his own work?

Geez, that guy. Makes my head spin that none of the PR dudes have run amok yet because of this line of fk-ups.


He cannot into publicity properly. I'm having visions of Essentials all over again.
Knowing is Half the Battle. The Other Half is VIOLENCE. Imagine a lightsaber duel between Optimus Prime and Batman. You're welcome.

Geez, that guy. Makes my head spin that none of the PR dudes have run amok yet because of this line of fk-ups.



Isn't that a bit too harsh?
He is probably telling something true (even if we may not like to hear it) and you are asking him to spin it instead?

It is ok to disgree on the merit of what he says, but that doesn't make him automatically a moron. Come on. 

Geez, that guy. Makes my head spin that none of the PR dudes have run amok yet because of this line of fk-ups.



Isn't that a bit too harsh?
He is probably telling something true (even if we may not like to hear it) and you are asking him to spin it instead?

It is ok to disgree on the merit of what he says, but that doesn't make him automatically a moron. Come on. 




Here, Here!  

Also, if someone is entrenched in a belief system, it is best not to aggressively attack or belittle that belief system. (Thus, Mearls was probably responding properly to Mike (Gabe))  Often, by giving concessions, a good orator can eventually show you the merits of the new system of beliefs.  It just takes a little longer, and the persuasion is more subtle.  

See how you can "spin" what Mearls says.   Let's let the game itself be what convinces or doesn't convince us to switch.  Don't over analyze what Mearls says.

    

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

I'd rather Penny Arcade stay away from DnD Next. It's not that I do not care for the artwork but, for me, Penny Arcade was everything that was wrong about 4th edition.



Could you please elaborate on this more?

I don't think I've heard 4e is a webcomic.

About the Mearls thing I agree making it more clear that his answer extends to all editions would have been better.

A short list of improvements a 4E  player would want and get in 5E would have been even better and truth be told they should have been brought up from the very first 5E design session Mike should have been able to breeze at that question.

I don't know, i think this Mike Mearls, Sabotour (hyperbole/joke) theory is a bit wonky. I just see a guy saying what everyone knows and not making a big deal about denying it. I don't see it as a "if you like X edition tell next to piss off" i see it more as a, "try it, give it a fair go, and if you don't like it stick with what you like." I mean, this is exactly what will happen, no point trying to lie to us. 

And, as Rhenny pointed out, it's sometimes easier trying to convience someone to do something by easing them into it. Telling us "every other edition sucks, you have to play this one" or even the less charged, "This new edition is superior to our pervious products," is a lot less comforting/convincing to some X edition fans then, "Give it a go, if you don't like it stick with what you enjoy." I feel like they have, in the past, tried the original tactic, found it didn't endear them to all customers, and are giving the other a chance. Will it work, i don't know, but i feel like it's at least less offputting. 
Funny - in most circles when a designer/ developer speaks clearly without 'spinning' what he says or running it through a PR-filter - people aplaud him and appreciate the honesty.

I guess some D&D players would rather just hear spin and hyperbole and avoid getting any real insight into the design process or where the game is going.

OK, WoTC - take a note.  Don't waste their time with anyone who actually knows what's going on - just send PR and marketing people out to blow smoke at them.  That's all they want....


Carl
the thing is, we don't want PR spin, but we do want the devs to give us a reason to buy into their product beyond "it's D&D".

right now, i'm not buying.

i've seen a lot of spin and political promises: basically "we're looking out for you" but not really saying how.

i would like to see or hear how they're addressing bringing in us guys who currently have 4th ed as a preferred system for our fantasy roleplaying.

telling us "you shouldn't bother with our game (5th ed)" is basically telling me "we're not going to attempt at catering to your preferred style of play" 

and this from a game that has a supposed goal of trying to bring all editions together

i'm not asking for PR spin, but i am asking for him to give me a reason to purchase his product beyond the D&D name on. 
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
I felt Mearls was saying:  If you like 4e cool (nobody is gonna force DDN down your throat).  We hope you like it of course.  

That's the message I got.  Works for me because (based on my XP with the playtest) I'll be much happier sticking with 4e.  I realized old-school D&D doesn't have nearly as much draw for me as I thought it might.  I still love D&D, don't get me wrong, 4e simply changed my expectations for the game.

People move on (I just stay where I am ;)).  It happens.  I get the feeling Mr. Mearls understands this and I respect that.  

/\ Art
Huh, I felt like Mearl was saying that even if 5e isn't for you, for whatever reason, they'll still provide content that is relevant to your game. They'll release more story based books, and more adventures than they did in 4e, and it's not like its impossible to adapt something from one edition to another.

At least that's what I got out of it.
I got that he was trying really hard NOT to look down on the edition they are moving from. You know, not making the same mistake as when they moved from 3e to 4e where fans felt alienated and belittled for wanting to stick with 3e.

But sure, THE SKY IS FALLING! 4E IS BEING LEFT BEHIND.


Seriously, listen to the entire podcast, and don't focus on one tiny line. He COULD have said it better, but I understand what he was trying to do. Lets be honest, when you are sitting at the same table with heavy hitters like PA, getting some good natured joking, you think you'll be able to deliver every single line perfectly and not get the slightest bit flustered?

Give him a break.

He talks about lots of the things that they are changing from 4e, and WHY. If you love it the way is, and wouldn't change anything about it, then of course you wouldn't want to switch. He's not telling you not to try 5e. He's saying 4e is a good game, and you may prefer it, even with all the new things in 5e. He's still pushing 5e as a product, and if you didn't hear him trying to sell the benefits of 5e, then I don't know what to tell you.

Good podcast, btw. I enjoyed it.
Anyone have a transcript?

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I like how Mearls basically said that if 4e worked for you, you shoudn't bother with Next. It's like he isn't even bothering to win over 4e fans. (Obvious by now.


... and now I am discouraged, again.



Agreed.

That shows that he is either totally incapable or unwilling to convince customers, in which case.... goddamnit, take this man off all panels and never ever let him speak publicly with anyone about this. He's essentially bombing 5E with these statements. If he doesn't at least try to convince us and give us reasons to swap, what the hell is he doing then except sabotaging his own work?

Geez, that guy. Makes my head spin that none of the PR dudes have run amok yet because of this line of fk-ups.


That comment was aimed at 4th edition because he was talking to a 4th edition player. Had it been a die hard 3e player he would have said much the same. WotC cannot go around speaking directly to each segment of the fanbase, selling the game with an individualized spiel. And they cannot try to pull or drag you away from your current game without running the very real risk of pushing you away from them by putting you on the defensive. 

All they can do is sell the game broadly, making the game as good as they can, and hoping people will give it a try. 

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The compilation of my Worldbuilding blog series is now available: 

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I wondered if they used 2 way mirrors.


Wouldn't a two-way mirror be called a "window"?  Shouldn't it be a one-way mirror?
I didn't get the impression that Mearls was in any way "screwing up" - just being straightforward.  "If you like your game and don't want to leave, cool, do that" is something everyone has said to other people around here at some point - because sometimes (a lot of times) it's just true.

If he'd have been talking to someone who said "I started playing in 3e, and have always played 3e, and really enjoy 3e - why should I buy all of my books again?", he'd have said the same thing (if he was smart).


I'm really interested in seeing how the rest of the thing goes.  I get the impression that Scott and Jerry would be easy to please - they've played D&D in the past (I think Kurtz had, at least - I assume), have dealt with changes before, and aren't as "invested" in 4e.  Mike's reactions are the one's I'm most interested in (and I hope he isn't driven to the background by Jerry) - I may not have started with 4e, like he did, but everything he's ever done with D&D, and the trail and record of the growth and change of his relationship with the game - makes me as "invested" in his enjoyment of the game, as he seems to be "invested" in 4e.
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)

I think Mike did a fine job in his response, and I was surprised at how hostile the three players were. I've never heard of Penny Arcade, but are they normally so hostile to their guests?



Yes.

(Though it wasn't actually hostility, it was just joking around, it is absolutely normal for them.)
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
I've never heard of Penny Arcade


I don't believe in you.

From his description of his gaming group, it sounded like he and his friends are used to playing games like Magic: The Gathering and expect a similar experience when they play D&D.


This isn't what I got from the M:tG stuff they mentioned, at all.  I got the impression that they were using "And they all come from Magic" to describe that the players are all consumate optimizers, able to spot and build combos - within their own character, and across the whole party.

It played into, gave background to, and explained Mike's "By Epic-tier I couldn't challenge the party without cheating" complaint.

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)
Does anyone know when these actually go up on iTunes? I hate the lag between mp3 postings and Apple

More on topic, I do think a list of "this is what you will like about Next" would be appropriate for EACH edition, just to show that it is about bringing everyone back into the fold. However, I do feel, from what I have seen so far, that Next feels like it is farthest away from 4e overall. That may be because 4e is the farthest from D&D's roots, but that may also mean that extra attention may be needed in communicating how 4e style is still embraced by Next and that players will be able (through certain modules) to still get that 4e feel.
Here's the exchange in question (at 16:16 to 18:19)....





























Mike Krahuluk: "I'm-- Listen, I'm coming -- I've never had to deal with another edition.  I don't understand why I need another edition of something I could do whatever I want with.
Mike Mearls: "No, exactly.  You need to be sold on it.  That is perfectly reasonable.
Mike Krahuluk: "You want me to get all these books and rules, right?  I mean--"
Mike Mearls: "Well, this is the thing.  Sure, I'd love if everyone just bought everything every month that came out, but honestly, at the end of the day, if you're playing Fourth and you enjoy it, there's no reason to stop playing, right?"
Mike Krahuluk: "Ok"
Mike Mearls: "One of the things with a new edition, we don't want people-- I don't want people to feel if you're not playing a new edition you're not playing D&D anymore, that you're being left out in the cold, and all that, because there are going to be plenty of people who -- there are people who still play First Edition, original D&D."
Mike Krahuluk: "Sure."
Mike Mearls: "Because I think a lot of it is as DM, you're creating stuff and if you find a set of tools that works for you, why, I mean obviously, it's great if we can make a game that you look at and go 'okay, this is great and I want to move on to the new edition because it's doing what I want' and I have had some challenges, right, because we have all these different audiences, people who want, you know, different things out of D&D.  So, in some ways, that's the real challenge. 

"But at the end of the day, it's really about playing the version of the game that makes you the happiest.  Because a lot of the stuff -- and I think this is a big thing about D&D -- because every group is different, when we talk about these things, I as the game designer guy can only talk about general trends.  Right?  This is generally what we see in the audience.  This is kind of the bigger picture thing.  But that doesn't mean anything when you look at individual gaming groups and tables.  Because everyone has experienced the game differently.  That's what makes D&D great.  It isn't just the same thing for everybody.

"And if Fourth's working for you-- Fourth's a great game, right?  So I don't think there's any sense that you have to move on or you're making a mistake."


I really don't see what there is for people to get offended at here.  Was he supposed to tell people that 4e sucks and Next is better in every respect and you're making a huge mistake if you miss out on it?

And to be clear, what Mearls is doing here is convincing Krahuluk to simply stay and listen to the new rulesystem and see if he likes it better than 4th.  Because Krahuluk's comment (and he made  afew comments before this exchange to that effect) made it sound like he was ready to bolt because he liked 4th and didn't see why he even had to try the new edition.  Mearls was convincing him to at least "look at [it] and [hopefully] go 'okay, this is great and I want to move on to the new edition because it's doing what I want.'"
WotC isn't going to make the same mistake of trying to get their old fanbase (3e) to move to a new edition (4e) by downplaying the edition they are coming from. He flat out says 4e is a good game, and explains some of the issues people had with 4e, and how Next will fix try to them. 

I would have expected the 4e crowd to feel better about themselves, not offended. Then I remember I was on the internet...
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