4e: the full story. And a question about the future

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I have read flame wars and heard arguments about the merits and problems with 4e (more of the latter than the former admittedly). I have played 4e and while it has flaws I never understood the vitriol of its detractors. I have heard piecemeal tidbits about what happened: company pressure from Hasbro; a tragic death; the 3.5 shutdown.
However in all this I had never heard a full, coherent story of what happened to 4e behind the scenes.
Until now:
www.enworld.org/forum/5765766-post205.ht...

Some of you may know this already, but I think there are quite a few who, like me, knew only bits and pieces.

((enworld.org is having server problems so I am including a copy of the post))

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Originally posted by RyanD:
You have to learn all the backstory that led up to that meeting to understand the context. It's a long and winding road.

After Vince Calouri was pushed out of Wizards of the Coast he was replaced by Chuck Heubner. Chuck basically had to manage Wizards on the downslope from the Pokemon salad days. Hasbro has been through many boom & bust cycles in the toy business and they have a standard response when it happens: cut headcount and reduce overhead. Since Wizards was de facto the only pat of the business that had not been rolled up into Hasbro proper it was not insulated by the successes of other things at Hasbro like GI Joe or Transformers.

While this was happening there was a big internal fight for control over the CCG business within Hasbro. Brian Goldner who was at the time the head of the Boys Toys (i.e. half the company) division of Hasbro thought that the company was missing a huge window of opportunity to follow up Pokemon with a series of mass-market CCGs linked to Hasbro's core brands GI Joe and Transformers. These battles resulted in things being escalated all the way to the C-Suite and the Hasbro Board, where Brian lost the fight and Wizards retained the exclusive ability within Hasbro to make CCGs. The downside for Wizards is that they were forced to do things with the Duelmaster brand that they did not want to do, and it never got the traction in the US that Wizards thought it could achieve. (In Japan, by contrast, it became a huge best-seller).

Chuck left after two years and Loren Greenwood, who had been the long time VP of Sales, replaced him in 2004. He was also a visible proponent of the idea that Wizards, and not Boys Toys, should set Hasbro's CCG strategy. Thus when Brian was named COO of the whole company in 2006 and CEO in 2008, Loren had a big problem on his hands. Loren guided the company through the post 3.5e crash of the TRPG market, the loss of the Pokemon franchise, and the unwinding of the Wizards retail strategy. All of this was pretty bitter fruit for hm since he'd been instrumental in building up much of what had to then be torn down. The combination of all these things led to Loren's exit and his replacement by Greg Leeds, who is the current CEO of Wizards.

Sometime around 2005ish, Hasbro made an internal decision to divide its businesses into two categories. Core brands, which had more than $50 million in annual sales, and had a growth path towards $100 million annual sales, and Non-Core brands, which didn't.

Under Goldner, the Core Brands would be the tentpoles of the company. They would be exploited across a range of media with an eye towards major motion pictures, following the path Transformers had blazed. Goldner saw what happened to Marvel when they re-oriented their company from a publisher of comic books to a brand building factory (their market capitalization increased by something like 2 billion dollars). He wanted to replicate that at Hasbro.

Core Brands would get the financing they requested for development of their businesses (within reason). Non-Core brands would not. They would be allowed to rise & fall with the overall toy market on their own merits without a lot of marketing or development support. In fact, many Non-Core brands would simply be mothballed - allowed to go dormant for some number of years until the company was ready to take them down off the shelf and try to revive them for a new generation of kids.

At the point of the original Hasbro/Wizards merger a fateful decision was made that laid the groundwork for what happened once Greg took over. Instead of focusing Hasbro on the idea that Wizards of the Coast was a single brand, each of the lines of business in Wizards got broken out and reported to Hasbro as a separate entity. This was driven in large part by the fact that the acquisition agreement specified a substantial post-acquisition purchase price adjustment for Wizards' shareholders on the basis of the sales of non-Magic CCGs (i.e. Pokemon).

This came back to haunt Wizards when Hasbro's new Core/Non-Core strategy came into focus. Instead of being able to say "We're a $100+ million brand, keep funding us as we desire", each of the business units inside Wizards had to make that case separately. So the first thing that happened was the contraction you saw when Wizards dropped new game development and became the "D&D and Magic" company. Magic has no problem hitting the "Core" brand bar, but D&D does. It's really a $25-30 million business, especially since Wizards isn't given credit for the licensing revenue of the D&D computer games.

It would have been very easy for Goldner et al to tell Wizards "you're done with D&D, put it on a shelf and we'll bring it back 10 years from now as a multi-media property managed from Rhode Island". There's no way that the D&D business circa 2006 could have supported the kind of staff and overhead that it was used to. Best case would have been a very small staff dedicated to just managing the brand and maybe handling some freelance pool doing minimal adventure content. So this was an existential issue (like "do we exist or not") for the part of Wizards that was connected to D&D. That's something between 50 and 75 people.

Sometime around 2006, the D&D team made a big presentation to the Hasbro senior management on how they could take D&D up to the $50 million level and potentially keep growing it. The core of that plan was a synergistic relationship between the tabletop game and what came to be known as DDI. At the time Hasbro didn't have the rights to do an MMO for D&D, so DDI was the next best thing. The Wizards team produced figures showing that there were millions of people playing D&D and that if they could move a moderate fraction of those people to DDI, they would achieve their revenue goals. Then DDI could be expanded over time and if/when Hasbro recovered the video gaming rights, it could be used as a platform to launch a true D&D MMO, which could take them over $100 million/year.

The DDI pitch was that the 4th Edition would be designed so that it would work best when played with DDI. DDI had a big VTT component of its design that would be the driver of this move to get folks to hybridize their tabletop game with digital tools. Unfortunately, a tragedy struck the DDI team and it never really recovered. The VTT wasn't ready when 4e launched, and the explicit link between 4e and DDI that had been proposed to Hasbro's execs never materialized. The team did a yoeman's effort to make 4e work anyway while the VTT evolved, but they simply couldn't hit the numbers they'd promised selling books alone. The marketplace backlash to 4e didn't help either.

Greg wasn't in the hot seat long enough to really take the blame for the 4e/DDI plan, and Wizards just hired a new exec to be in charge of Sales & Marketing, and Bill Slavicsek who headed RPG R&D left last summer, so the team that committed those numbers to Hasbro are gone. The team that's there now probably doesn't have a blank sheet of paper and an open checkbook, but they also don't have to answer to Hasbro for the promises of the prior regime. As to their next move? Only time will tell.


TL;DR version:
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-Decision to pull 3.x was made in upper corporate levels. It was going to happen no matter what. No-one at wizards could do anything about it.
-4e and DDI were not a greedy cash grab, but a desperate attempt to keep the brand profitable enough to stop it from being shut down entirely.
-It didn't work because the lead designer ate a bullet in the middle of it all.


Let us have a moment of silence for the D&D that might have been.

Thank you.

Now: Why do I post this in the DDN board?
Partly in the hope that knowing more about how things happened and why will quell some of the anger that has gripped far too many. also, because I think this may have been a genuinely good idea. While the link between DDI and 4e never reached its lofty goals, that was not because of a flaw in its design. Indeed, I was really drawn to 4th edition because of the relative ease of use and good user interface of the online character builder and compendium. As someone who had before played exclusively on computer it really bridged the gap to tabletop and led me to meet what are now some of my best friends. And I believe it can do the same for others.

Is this a forlorn hope? Would developing even (relatively) simple online components alongside the newest iteration of D&D be prohibitively expensive? If it could be done, SHOULD it be done?
"Ha! Rock beats scissors!" "Darn it! Rock is overpowered! I'm not playing this again until the next edition is released!" "C'mon, just one more." "Oh, all right..." "Wait, what is that?" "Its 'Dynamite' from the expanded rules." "Just because you can afford to buy every supplement that comes out..." "Hey, it's completely balanced! You're just a bad DM for not accommodating it."
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RPGs are getting more popular, and whenever something gets more popular, it inevitably changes, usually becoming more palatable to the masses. Nintendo is the perfect example. In the old days their games coined the term "Nintendo hard" to extend play time, but they knew their fans were dedicated enough to play anyway. Now they mostly make stuff a five year old can master. That's not necessarily bad, though. Most of those old Nintendo games were infuriating. Likewise, a lot of old RPGs were too complex and irritating for the average person to really get into. Rules light systems are going to get more popular as more people enter the hobby, simply because the new people aren't bound by nostalgia, and would rather play something easy and fun than something that takes a huge amount of effort to learn.
I won't be surprised, even the first D&D books had announcement of DDI stuff to appear on the future, i even remember a tool that allow you to render and design how your character could look on a 3d model.

Virtual Tabletop was meant to be a software with full 3d support, something no other virtual tabletop can accomplish.

Adventure tools was meant to be more than just a monster builder for example and it never got out of beta before it was scrapted for an online monster builder.

Most people i know that play D&D, only have a few D&D books...that are shared between the group and a single DDI account shared between them, on my current online group, atleast half of us had DDI account, but the low amount of monthly new content and the painfully bad silverlight builder reduced to only 1 subscriber on the entire group, even when i had an active DDI account, i prefered to use the offline builder over the online one....

I always say that DDI and digital tools are the future, more and more people play RPGs online and that number of people will continue to increase over the years... 
Many of the people who worked on 4e are working on next, so there no reason not to expect the same level of polish when the product ships.
My two copper.
Nope, there aren't as many people working on D&DNext from 4e...the head is too busy with his own game, 13th Age...and some of the best designers are not active on D&DNext development at all...Mearls is probably one of the worst 4th edition designers

Here is 2 of his biggest contributions to 4th edition D&D:

1. Original Assassin (shroud assassin): who is terrible at it's job, can't do anything beside of what he is meant to do...that he do badly, with a complicated and useless striker feature...and is made of tissue paper (controller HP)

2. Battle Cleric options...with a single feature and the lack of knowledge of how multiclass and hybrid works, he made the broken Battle Cleric Lore...wish if you have Healer Lore, you can replace it for this feature...that grant you scale mail prof and +2 shield bonus when not wearing shields...You can get Healer Lore just by spending a feat to MC into cleric and Cleric Hybrid get Healer Lore for free...
Nope, there aren't as many people working on D&DNext from 4e...the head is too busy with his own game, 13th Age...and some of the best designers are not active on D&DNext development at all...Mearls is probably one of the worst 4th edition designers

Here is 2 of his biggest contributions to 4th edition D&D:

1. Original Assassin (shroud assassin): who is terrible at it's job, can't do anything beside of what he is meant to do...that he do badly, with a complicated and useless striker feature...and is made of tissue paper (controller HP)

2. Battle Cleric options...with a single feature and the lack of knowledge of how multiclass and hybrid works, he made the broken Battle Cleric Lore...wish if you have Healer Lore, you can replace it for this feature...that grant you scale mail prof and +2 shield bonus when not wearing shields...You can get Healer Lore just by spending a feat to MC into cleric and Cleric Hybrid get Healer Lore for free...


Whatever buddy. I'll let you keep all that hate to yourself
My two copper.
Nope, there aren't as many people working on D&DNext from 4e...the head is too busy with his own game, 13th Age...and some of the best designers are not active on D&DNext development at all...Mearls is probably one of the worst 4th edition designers

Here is 2 of his biggest contributions to 4th edition D&D:

1. Original Assassin (shroud assassin): who is terrible at it's job, can't do anything beside of what he is meant to do...that he do badly, with a complicated and useless striker feature...and is made of tissue paper (controller HP)

2. Battle Cleric options...with a single feature and the lack of knowledge of how multiclass and hybrid works, he made the broken Battle Cleric Lore...wish if you have Healer Lore, you can replace it for this feature...that grant you scale mail prof and +2 shield bonus when not wearing shields...You can get Healer Lore just by spending a feat to MC into cleric and Cleric Hybrid get Healer Lore for free...


Whatever buddy. I'll let you keep all that hate to yourself



Actually, he forgot Heroes of Shadow and Mearls' whole excuse of "interesting fluff is a good excuse for bad mechanics" quote from the reaction to HoS. Basically, a reaction to the Vampire and Binder being absolutely worthless at doing anything mechanically.
Mearls terrible record of being offensive towards and totally misunderstanding the needs and desires of 4th Edition fans even when he was working on 4th Edition is a large part of why many 4th Ed fans have so little faith in his ability to reflect any of what made the edition popular (and it WAS the best selling RPG in the world for 3 years) in Next.

And judging from what he's been Tweeting, that lack of faith is totally justified. 
Mearls terrible record of being offensive towards and totally misunderstanding the needs and desires of 4th Edition fans even when he was working on 4th Edition is a large part of why many 4th Ed fans have so little faith in his ability to reflect any of what made the edition popular (and it WAS the best selling RPG in the world for 3 years) in Next.

And judging from what he's been Tweeting, that lack of faith is totally justified. 


Who was responsible for the massive screw-up that was Essentials, out of curiosity?
Mearls terrible record of being offensive towards and totally misunderstanding the needs and desires of 4th Edition fans even when he was working on 4th Edition is a large part of why many 4th Ed fans have so little faith in his ability to reflect any of what made the edition popular (and it WAS the best selling RPG in the world for 3 years) in Next.

And judging from what he's been Tweeting, that lack of faith is totally justified. 


Who was responsible for the massive screw-up that was Essentials, out of curiosity?



Essentials was Mearls.
I've met Mike Mearls a few times now.
He's a good guy.
You can dislike the game, but don't be a jerk to the guy.
Viva La "what ever version of D&D you are playing right now!"
Mearls mashing aside (and he seems a decent fellow, we don't seem to have the same idea about how D&D should play... but that's no reason to hate on him as a human)...

I hope that behind the scenes the WotC/Hasbro creature is better informed with realistic expectations of revenue and required level of support. 
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
Aside from PDFs of books, I have no desire for e-D&D (tools, builders, blah, blah, etc), just books , thank you.



Me too..... Ddin't mind character builder, since trying to do it offline was very confusing........  But beyond that no thank you.  Keep it real Pen and Paper and real social interaction across a table with the sound of dice rolling.....
Mearls mashing aside (and he seems a decent fellow, we don't seem to have the same idea about how D&D should play... but that's no reason to hate on him as a human)...

I hope that behind the scenes the WotC/Hasbro creature is better informed with realistic expectations of revenue and required level of support. 



Hope in one hand and put Essentials in the other and tell me which hand is fuller...Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Mearls mashing aside (and he seems a decent fellow, we don't seem to have the same idea about how D&D should play... but that's no reason to hate on him as a human)...

I hope that behind the scenes the WotC/Hasbro creature is better informed with realistic expectations of revenue and required level of support. 



Hope in one hand and put Essentials in the other and tell me which hand is fuller...

Essentials was a distraction, and I think Mike, as decent a guy as he may be, has a pretty questionable record at being able to read his audience. However, the presentation/writing issues with 4e weren't Mike's fault. I don't know where that one belongs, but IMHO the work must have been done by too tight a group, it needed to go through the hands of some really outside people. A lot of it is also just not apparent until you play for a couple years and see what happens. Still, I think the game lacks a Gygax or a Zeb Cook.

Anyway, i guess I fall into the "not impressed with Mike Mearls and don't care for the direction he's taking" camp.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Mearls mashing aside (and he seems a decent fellow, we don't seem to have the same idea about how D&D should play... but that's no reason to hate on him as a human)...

I hope that behind the scenes the WotC/Hasbro creature is better informed with realistic expectations of revenue and required level of support. 



Hope in one hand and put Essentials in the other and tell me which hand is fuller...

Essentials was a distraction, and I think Mike, as decent a guy as he may be, has a pretty questionable record at being able to read his audience. However, the presentation/writing issues with 4e weren't Mike's fault. I don't know where that one belongs, but IMHO the work must have been done by too tight a group, it needed to go through the hands of some really outside people. A lot of it is also just not apparent until you play for a couple years and see what happens. Still, I think the game lacks a Gygax or a Zeb Cook.

Anyway, i guess I fall into the "not impressed with Mike Mearls and don't care for the direction he's taking" camp.



From what I can gather in 4E development they had a play test group called 'friends and family' that told them flat out what was wrong with 4E and they ignored them...Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I've met Mike Mearls a few times now.
He's a good guy.
You can dislike the game, but don't be a jerk to the guy.



I wasn't bashing the guy. Just his handling of things. It's just that things have gone downhill in my eyes since he took over. Aside from a few hits here and there, it has been mostly one step forward and 10 steps back with him.
I've met Mike Mearls a few times now.
He's a good guy.
You can dislike the game, but don't be a jerk to the guy.


Thank you :P
My two copper.
I've met Mike Mearls a few times now.
He's a good guy.
You can dislike the game, but don't be a jerk to the guy.


Thank you :P



No one is being a jerk to the guy. No one ever said he was ugly, or clumsy, or anything like that. We are observing him doing something and telling him that he is doing it wrong...Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Many of the people who worked on 4e are working on next, so there no reason not to expect the same level of polish when the product ships.


At the risk of sounding like an edition warrior, I really expect much, much more polish than was on the 4e books. 7 pages of errata for the DMG, 5 for the MM (not counting the broken monster math that was revised for MM3), and whopping 27 pages for the PHB. Plus the feat taxes that fix the math.

Essentials was Mearls.


Given that Bill Slavicsek was in charge at the time, actually wrote some of the books, and was all over the panels introducing the books (and resigned   / was laid off in June 2011 when WotC started 5e and decided 4e was dead) it was very much likely his baby.  

I've met Mike Mearls a few times now.
He's a good guy.
You can dislike the game, but don't be a jerk to the guy.



I wasn't bashing the guy. Just his handling of things. It's just that things have gone downhill in my eyes since he took over. Aside from a few hits here and there, it has been mostly one step forward and 10 steps back with him.


He took over in June 2011, after Bill S. left. But given the couple months needed to really take over a new job and the year-long lead time to write books, everything published prior to April or May of this year was likely already in the pipe before he took over. 

5 Minute WorkdayMy Webcomic Updated Tue & Thur

The compilation of my Worldbuilding blog series is now available: 

Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuilding.

Aside from PDFs of books, I have no desire for e-D&D (tools, builders, blah, blah, etc), just books , thank you.



Me too..... Ddin't mind character builder, since trying to do it offline was very confusing........  But beyond that no thank you.  Keep it real Pen and Paper and real social interaction across a table with the sound of dice rolling.....



how does e-D&D tools stop this? I like the ease of these programs and thing they definitly help players and DMs alike. I've also made characters without the Character Builder, though I admit that I'll use the Compendium to speed up the search function for feats, powers, items, etc.... If there was one thing this system can get away from in relevance to 3E, it's the hour and a half character creation session for character outside the first few levels. Pouring through multiple splats, dragon magazines, 3PP material, spells that pertain to 1 class over 11 different books, setting supplements that change/alter the core mechanics, blah-blah. No thanks, i'll keep my simple program that takes me a quarter of the time and looks nice to boot (my handwriting isn't the greatest).  
Many of the people who worked on 4e are working on next, so there no reason not to expect the same level of polish when the product ships.


At the risk of sounding like an edition warrior, I really expect much, much more polish than was on the 4e books. 7 pages of errata for the DMG, 5 for the MM (not counting the broken monster math that was revised for MM3), and whopping 27 pages for the PHB. Plus the feat taxes that fix the math.

Essentials was Mearls.


Given that Bill Slavicsek was in charge at the time, actually wrote some of the books, and was all over the panels introducing the books (and resigned   / was laid off in June 2011 when WotC started 5e and decided 4e was dead) it was very much likely his baby.  

I've met Mike Mearls a few times now.
He's a good guy.
You can dislike the game, but don't be a jerk to the guy.



I wasn't bashing the guy. Just his handling of things. It's just that things have gone downhill in my eyes since he took over. Aside from a few hits here and there, it has been mostly one step forward and 10 steps back with him.


He took over in June 2011, after Bill S. left. But given the couple months needed to really take over a new job and the year-long lead time to write books, everything published prior to April or May of this year was likely already in the pipe before he took over. 



Slavicsek was in charge of R&D. Mearls was in charge of D&D. Mearls was basically the lead designer. The design decisions would have fallen on him. 

E-Tools are the way of the future I'm afraid :P Some people may not appreciate them, but it's coming. Over our lifetime e-books will begin to phase out print books due to widening device availability and lower production costs. D&D will have to work with it or get out of the way I'm afraid
My two copper.
Can we please keep the online compendium? That thing is absolutely spectacular. No more having 5 books open to look at all of my options. I don't really care about the character builder, but the compendium was one of the things that made 4E so easy to DM. I would even understand just making it a list and not showing the actual content if they want you to actually have the book to see the content, but even a list and book reference would be grand.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
The emphasis in the OP is all wrong. Buried near the final paragraph is this line:
The marketplace backlash to 4e didn't help either.

Gee, ya think?

WotC's sales predictions, given the vast numbers of D&D players out there, would have been completely reasonable, IF THEIR PRODUCT HAD BEEN PERCEIVED AS MERITING PURCHASE. I didn't like the DDI 'requirement,' but consider, if they'd set a subscription price of, say, $10 a year, all they would need would be a measly 5 million players to reach their loftiest sales goals, completely discounting book sales, etc. That they couldn't do that speaks volumes about how roundly the brand-level decisions - NOT Hasbro mismanagement or unrealistic expectations - got us to where we are today.

Lesson: be simple, accessible, and cheap, for millions of consumers, rather than trying to cater to a specialized window of a few thousand blowhards, and the brands lives forever. Focus groups for DDN should consist of random middle-schoolers, NOT avowed D&D players of any current edition. Appeal to that wedge market, and we're doomed.
Slavicsek was in charge of R&D. Mearls was in charge of D&D. Mearls was basically the lead designer. The design decisions would have fallen on him. 


Slavicsek was "R&D/Book Publishing Director" which meant the buck stopped with him. And Mearls didn't gain the "RPG Group Manager" until Heroes of Shadow, which was a late stage credit change as that title wasn't in any other  Essentials books. He helped write it but that was well before his promotion. Remember it can take up to six months to actually publish the books after the writing is all finished. And Heroes of Shadow was delayed to adjust it to hardcover from softcover. 
Mearls was just some guy working there for most of Essentials.

5 Minute WorkdayMy Webcomic Updated Tue & Thur

The compilation of my Worldbuilding blog series is now available: 

Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuilding.

Can we please keep the online compendium? That thing is absolutely spectacular. No more having 5 books open to look at all of my options. I don't really care about the character builder, but the compendium was one of the things that made 4E so easy to DM. I would even understand just making it a list and not showing the actual content if they want you to actually have the book to see the content, but even a list and book reference would be grand.


Agreed. It and the Hypertext SRD pretty changed the status quo. It's pretty much a "must". 

5 Minute WorkdayMy Webcomic Updated Tue & Thur

The compilation of my Worldbuilding blog series is now available: 

Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuilding.

Can we please keep the online compendium? That thing is absolutely spectacular. No more having 5 books open to look at all of my options. I don't really care about the character builder, but the compendium was one of the things that made 4E so easy to DM. I would even understand just making it a list and not showing the actual content if they want you to actually have the book to see the content, but even a list and book reference would be grand.


Agreed. It and the Hypertext SRD pretty changed the status quo. It's pretty much a "must". 


Compendium is why I still have an active DDI sub.  Always has been, in fact.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
E-Tools are the way of the future I'm afraid :P Some people may not appreciate them, but it's coming. Over our lifetime e-books will begin to phase out print books due to widening device availability and lower production costs. D&D will have to work with it or get out of the way I'm afraid


+1


4E has approx. 3250 feats, which are spread among dozens of sources like core books, power books, dragon mags, etc. Working with them instead of the compendium or CB would make the character creation take hours.
Aside from PDFs of books, I have no desire for e-D&D (tools, builders, blah, blah, etc), just books , thank you.



Me too..... Ddin't mind character builder, since trying to do it offline was very confusing........  But beyond that no thank you.  Keep it real Pen and Paper and real social interaction across a table with the sound of dice rolling.....



how does e-D&D tools stop this? I like the ease of these programs and thing they definitly help players and DMs alike. I've also made characters without the Character Builder, though I admit that I'll use the Compendium to speed up the search function for feats, powers, items, etc.... If there was one thing this system can get away from in relevance to 3E, it's the hour and a half character creation session for character outside the first few levels. Pouring through multiple splats, dragon magazines, 3PP material, spells that pertain to 1 class over 11 different books, setting supplements that change/alter the core mechanics, blah-blah. No thanks, i'll keep my simple program that takes me a quarter of the time and looks nice to boot (my handwriting isn't the greatest).  



would be helpful if it covered more than just one edition.  All fluff books are still going to be neeeded.  
Aside from PDFs of books, I have no desire for e-D&D (tools, builders, blah, blah, etc), just books , thank you.



Me too..... Ddin't mind character builder, since trying to do it offline was very confusing........  But beyond that no thank you.  Keep it real Pen and Paper and real social interaction across a table with the sound of dice rolling.....



how does e-D&D tools stop this? I like the ease of these programs and thing they definitly help players and DMs alike. I've also made characters without the Character Builder, though I admit that I'll use the Compendium to speed up the search function for feats, powers, items, etc.... If there was one thing this system can get away from in relevance to 3E, it's the hour and a half character creation session for character outside the first few levels. Pouring through multiple splats, dragon magazines, 3PP material, spells that pertain to 1 class over 11 different books, setting supplements that change/alter the core mechanics, blah-blah. No thanks, i'll keep my simple program that takes me a quarter of the time and looks nice to boot (my handwriting isn't the greatest).  



would be helpful if it covered more than just one edition.  All fluff books are still going to be neeeded.  



Yes, I definitly agree. I would love a v3.5 Compendium/Character Builder. But this is probably never happen  

Anyone know which developer put classes into roles? 

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

Anyone know which developer put classes into roles? 




No, but if I did I'd give him a $20 right on the spot, a handshake, and a "Thank you very much" response. But then again, I hate classes that are directionless or ridiculously specific and have crappy mechanics due to those two elements (think 3E's Samurai, Marshal, Dragon Shaman, or practically any tier 5 class 3E put out OR 4E's original Assassin for it's lame mechanics or the Binder or Vampire). And even the latter ones had "roles", they just didn't fit them well enougth. The Ossassin was flavorful and fun, but the mechanics made it a wreak to work with.  
Slavicsek was in charge of R&D. Mearls was in charge of D&D. Mearls was basically the lead designer. The design decisions would have fallen on him. 


Slavicsek was "R&D/Book Publishing Director" which meant the buck stopped with him. And Mearls didn't gain the "RPG Group Manager" until Heroes of Shadow, which was a late stage credit change as that title wasn't in any other  Essentials books. He helped write it but that was well before his promotion. Remember it can take up to six months to actually publish the books after the writing is all finished. And Heroes of Shadow was delayed to adjust it to hardcover from softcover. 
Mearls was just some guy working there for most of Essentials.



Mearls was in charge of D&D as of May 2010 when he made it official. He had been running things after Heinsoo got laid off in the annual christmas layoffs in 2009. They officially created the D&D manager position for him and let Slavicsek focus on the non RPG elements. 
Anyone know which developer put classes into roles?

No, but if I did I'd give him a $20 right on the spot, a handshake, and a "Thank you very much" response. But then again, I hate classes that are directionless or ridiculously specific and have crappy mechanics due to those two elements.

+1
I can even understand some people being frustated that most classes seemed to be designed with only one specific party role in mind (until Essentials when they allowed build rather than class to dictate role), but the idea in general of designing classes with the specific intent that they be able to contribute to the party in a major way (and without stepping on everybody else's toes) was brilliant. I only wish they would continue to design D&D Next in the same way.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
I'm not a huge fan of pidgeon-holing classes into roles. I should also point out that I loved the marshal both thematically and mechanically. Thematically, the samurai was pretty cool. Mechanically, it blew. Hard.
Slavicsek was in charge of R&D. Mearls was in charge of D&D. Mearls was basically the lead designer. The design decisions would have fallen on him. 


Slavicsek was "R&D/Book Publishing Director" which meant the buck stopped with him. And Mearls didn't gain the "RPG Group Manager" until Heroes of Shadow, which was a late stage credit change as that title wasn't in any other  Essentials books. He helped write it but that was well before his promotion. Remember it can take up to six months to actually publish the books after the writing is all finished. And Heroes of Shadow was delayed to adjust it to hardcover from softcover. 
Mearls was just some guy working there for most of Essentials.



Mearls was in charge of D&D as of May 2010 when he made it official. He had been running things after Heinsoo got laid off in the annual christmas layoffs in 2009. They officially created the D&D manager position for him and let Slavicsek focus on the non RPG elements. 


I'll take your word for that. I tried to double check when he was promoted but couldn't due to a failure of Google-fu (everything Mearls and D&D is flooded with Next articles). 
However, even if he was promoted as of May, it was still too soon for Essentials, which hit stores in September, only four months after he took charge. The writing for those books had been finished for two months before his promotion. As would every book that hit stores prior to November, and books after November would have been almost been finished and he would only have had say in minor rewriting. 
Of course, boxed sets take a little longer. Which is why the Red Box features some content that is different from the books. So it was finished roughly four months prior to Mearl's promotion not two. 

Essentials wasn't Mearl's baby.  

5 Minute WorkdayMy Webcomic Updated Tue & Thur

The compilation of my Worldbuilding blog series is now available: 

Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuilding.

+1
I can even understand some people being frustated that most classes seemed to be designed with only one specific party role in mind (until Essentials when they allowed build rather than class to dictate role), but the idea in general of designing classes with the specific intent that they be able to contribute to the party in a major way (and without stepping on everybody else's toes) was brilliant. I only wish they would continue to design D&D Next in the same way.



And because they are not using roles, we get cluelessness like the Rogue and no real defender mechanics to speak of.
+1
I can even understand some people being frustated that most classes seemed to be designed with only one specific party role in mind (until Essentials when they allowed build rather than class to dictate role), but the idea in general of designing classes with the specific intent that they be able to contribute to the party in a major way (and without stepping on everybody else's toes) was brilliant. I only wish they would continue to design D&D Next in the same way.



I love build roles and hate class roles.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.

I love build roles and hate class roles.



There's no difference between the two. 

Fighter is a Defender in all its builds.
Ranger is a Striker in all its builds. 
Both are because of the class features that support that role. The only way to change the role of a class is to change the class features. At that point, you've changed classes with or without the name change.


....or you can have a mess like the 4ee Berserker than doesnt do anything well because it tries to fill multiple roles.
The emphasis in the OP is all wrong. Buried near the final paragraph is this line:
The marketplace backlash to 4e didn't help either.

Gee, ya think?

WotC's sales predictions, given the vast numbers of D&D players out there, would have been completely reasonable, IF THEIR PRODUCT HAD BEEN PERCEIVED AS MERITING PURCHASE. I didn't like the DDI 'requirement,' but consider, if they'd set a subscription price of, say, $10 a year, all they would need would be a measly 5 million players to reach their loftiest sales goals, completely discounting book sales, etc. That they couldn't do that speaks volumes about how roundly the brand-level decisions - NOT Hasbro mismanagement or unrealistic expectations - got us to where we are today.

Lesson: be simple, accessible, and cheap, for millions of consumers, rather than trying to cater to a specialized window of a few thousand blowhards, and the brands lives forever. Focus groups for DDN should consist of random middle-schoolers, NOT avowed D&D players of any current edition. Appeal to that wedge market, and we're doomed.

You realize that there haven't been 5 million people who play RPGs in the entire history of RPGs, right? Also, 4e's core books broke all sales records for D&D. We can argue about how popular it ultimately was, but we don't even know that 4e D&D has fallen short of previous edition sales. All we know is that (and read the OP's quoted post carefully) that a really high bar was set, higher than ANY edition of D&D has ever been able to cross. It wasn't particularly a flaw with 4e that created this situation. Hasbro was just sold a fancy story about what could be done.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
I find roles and prerequisites limiting and a big turn off.

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

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