Some Unfortunate Trends

I've been following NEXT for a while now. However, as I see the game progress I feel there are some fundemental flaws that are starting to show some nasty side-effects. I feel these are systemic problems that, if not addressed, will significantly hamper the value gleaned from an open beta and stand in the way of NEXT being everything it could be.

1. Limited Developer Communication


I'm not sure what's written in the proposal that spawned this very forum... and that's a problem. What are we playtesting, exactly? Yes, the packet, but what about it? What information is the developers looking for? Where are the developer commentaries and the developer posts? I can't imagine that WotC actually lacks the funds to pay proper Beta-testers, nor can I imagine that the developers are so friendless that cronyism can't be used in stead of this forum. This medium is clunky and unrefined, meaning that to justify the sheer amount of work that is taken to process the data gleaned there must be a purpose. Is it to sell NEXT? I'm a real fan of grassroots marketing, but this isn't presented in a way that wets our pallets. Honestly, the whole thing seems unfocused and only good for taking the most broad pulse of the D&D consumer base to prove that they exist.

Even if that is the case, there is no reason the legitimate resource you have built needs to go to waste. This medium is useful for both advertisement and producing a better product, and the key to being properly utilized is a robust developer communication. If you don't trust your developers, higher a PR person to represent your developers. Its faces, people, and relationship that gets stuff done and sells product and right now WotC seems very... corporate.

2. Basic Development Unfinished

This is, perhaps, my biggest gripe with NEXT. It feels like the simplest, most basic development hasn't been done. Someone decided to focus on the specifics and forgot the details. Its like packing your Magic Deck full of the big monsters but not enough Mana to power them. Before you even let something leak to your consumers, much less have an open beta, there are some things that simply need to be done.

- Your design goals need to be clearly set.
- You need to have your core assumptions established.
- Your basic gamer math extrapolated from those assumptions needs to be done.
- Your basic combat system needs to be refined.

Judging from the constant problems you have with monsters and the basics of your classes, you haven't done any of that. Until those things are done, we don't even have a platform to properly Beta-Test anything. Until that point your game is firmly in Alpha. Despite all the work on specifics (some very good work, mind you), your fundementals are simply lacking.

3. Core Combat Design is Sub-Par

 Beta-testers should be checking for breakdown of the system and evaluating specific character choices. This means, in order to have a proper open Beta-test, you need to have a combat system that is fun before you select a single class, skill, or feat. D&D, currently, is not fun without those things. This has been a weakness for five editions, and I don't feel its a nail in the coffin, but you are making things very hard on yourself by not approaching this problem. There is no reason D&D can't be an inherently fun game that you add bells and whistles to. Instead, its a giant frankenstinian mishmash of class abilities and options, which means that your game will deliver based on the power of its options rather then the strength of the actual game. Again, this can be worked around, but its definately the hard road.

This princible is doubly important in a game whose design goal includes "modularity."

4. "Simple" Design Philosophy


Lets take a simple game, like Chess or Go. At its most fundemental you move pieces or place pieces on the board, resolve the effects of your decision, and move on. There are no real stats, except for how the Chess pieces can move. And yet, Chess is not a very simple game. I've seen people take hours deciding on a single move, and there are nuances to the strategies that fill volumes of text. This is a game that has preserved thousands of years and yet, you're just sliding little figurines across a featureless board.

That's because Chess isn't simple, its elegant. In-game strategy, with the exception of playing a full caster, has always been simple when it comes to D&D. You select your most powerful action, and you use--repeatedly--until someone goes down. Meanwhile, D&D has traditionally been fairly ineligant. The rules aren't always intuitive and because of issue #3, you can't memorize a core set of game mechanics and be generally "okay." Because D&D is built almost purely on special powers this creates a sensation of everything coming out of left field and having to scramble for every game option. This means that you don't get better at D&D by playing D&D, you obtain system mastery by learning more rules and then hitting your opponent(s) with what they haven't prepared for.

With how the core rules are set up, you will never achieve a suitably complex game with your, "Players make one choice and move on" philosophy. You'll wind up with an elegant game, yes. 4e was very elegant. There was also almost no strategy / skill involved. I feel like WotC has learned a lot, but I feel they are losing this fundemental aspect. It is possible to make a game accessable to new people without also sacrificing the millions of nuances that are possible.

5. Even Combat Tempo

This one is subtle, but its effects are, in my opinion, profound. Right now combat is Move, Attack, Move, Attack, Move, Attack, Attack, Move, Attack, Move, Move, Move Attack. It's very... monotinous. I liked full attack actions because they broke up the tempo somewhat and made for a varied play experience. If you have a combat that goes at the exact same speed all the time your players will drift off unless combat is also very short. D&D is too combat-focused for it to work like that. I'm not saying bring back full attack actions, but maybe put in 2 Standard Actions and a Swift instead of the Move + Standard. Or something, again, I'm open to surprises.

6. So you learned... what, exactly?

Releasing a new game edition is like a boss battle should be. This is where you tackle the playerbase, use everything you have learned, and kick some serious ass. It should not be about recapturing previous editions. I am fully capable of mishmashing editions together by myself. I want something new, something surprising, something that will knock my pants off. NEXT feels like an attempt at a highlight reel or a clip-show and not... well... what's NEXT.
There have been several changes that were OBVIOUSLY influenced by the feedback. Monster math, Sorcerer's name change, Rogues getting MDD in packet 3, Wizard getting traditions, some of the revisions to healing, 4 skills instead of 3, Fighter's maneuvers changing to be less situational in the next packet, rogues getting skill tricks instead of MDD because they felt like a weak fighter, TWF getting revised, I could go on.
My two copper.

...in order to have a proper open Beta-test, you need to have a combat system that is fun before you select a single class, skill, or feat. D&D, currently, is not fun without those things. This has been a weakness for five editions, and I don't feel its a nail in the coffin, but you are making things very hard on yourself by not approaching this problem. There is no reason D&D can't be an inherently fun game that you add bells and whistles to. Instead, its a giant frankenstinian mishmash of class abilities and options, which means that your game will deliver based on the power of its options rather then the strength of the actual game. Again, this can be worked around, but its definately the hard road.

...

That's because Chess isn't simple, its elegant. In-game strategy, with the exception of playing a full caster, has always been simple when it comes to D&D. You select your most powerful action, and you use--repeatedly--until someone goes down. Meanwhile, D&D has traditionally been fairly ineligant. The rules aren't always intuitive and because of issue #3, you can't memorize a core set of game mechanics and be generally "okay." Because D&D is built almost purely on special powers this creates a sensation of everything coming out of left field and having to scramble for every game option. This means that you don't get better at D&D by playing D&D, you obtain system mastery by learning more rules and then hitting your opponent(s) with what they haven't prepared for.



Okay, so apparently Next isn't yet winning over the vaunted "never liked any version of D&D" demographic...

I'd be interested to hear what a "core D&D system" looks like that doesn't make use of class abilities, skills, or feats in combat, yet is still "elegant" and engaging. And what happens when you add back in classes, and all the sudden wizards are casting spells and fighters are severing limbs?
Interesting post OP. I think Next is something Mearls and Monte talked themselves into. I don't think they realised the scope of what they were getting into when Monte bailed.

My only minor quibble is that 4th combat could be strategic if you were going thru 4-6 encounters in an adventuring day. Managing the resources was a challenge if the DM wasn't pulling punches.

Can they get this done to the satisfaction of the "community"?  I don't think so. You are a MtG player it appears. Do you think if Richard Garfield was designing MtG back in the day with "community" involvement it would be any good?
i agree with carl you create a full version of the game in alpha then you test it with groups then you go back fix the issues and create beta then you do it over again till you are done. giving these packets out where they are hardly even skeletons of the true game creates problems of disinterest and is not how a professional company markets and tests new products. thats like me as a chef giving people raw chicken and saying one day that will be tasty and forcing you to believe it lol
Based on the current trends, the design philosophy is using 3E as a basis to add sub-systems on the fly, versus building up basic building blocks ala 4E. If you can accept that, then there is no problem, as any version of D&D will just be added on later. However, you get the same thing just buying the versions of D&D you want that is on the market, and then house rule it to your tastes.

Since 5E is based on how each class should feel, versus doing a logical comparison of each class that is presented over time and adding features, then it isn't attempting to create a bridge, but more likely just the next versions of D&D plain and simple.
I think the OP may be working off an inaccurate assumption. We are not beta-testing. The game hasn't reached that stage yet. I'm not sure we're even alpha-testing. We're testing select bits and pieces of game mechanics, with just enough supporting structure to be able to give some playability to those select bits.

What we've been given so far isn't enough to run a full campaign (except in a rather limited fashion), nor yet enough to speculate with any amount of certainty on what the final game will look like.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

If we are only in an Alpha test phase, then further alternative rules should be developed to address issues that are not clear. However, the recent posts indicate decisions are being made and certain features or ideas are being placed on the chopping block. That indicates we are not in Alpha or even Beta, and they are using a time table that is nearer to completion than anyone expects.
I've been following NEXT for a while now. However, as I see the game progress I feel there are some fundemental flaws that are starting to show some nasty side-effects. I feel these are systemic problems that, if not addressed, will significantly hamper the value gleaned from an open beta and stand in the way of NEXT being everything it could be.


I too have been following Next. I disagree with several of your points, and will start by pointing out this is still the Alpha stage of the playtest. Additionally, we are only being given the parts they want us to playtest, not the whole thing.

1. Limited Developer Communication


I'm not sure what's written in the proposal that spawned this very forum... and that's a problem. What are we playtesting, exactly? Yes, the packet, but what about it? What information is the developers looking for? Where are the developer commentaries and the developer posts? I can't imagine that WotC actually lacks the funds to pay proper Beta-testers, nor can I imagine that the developers are so friendless that cronyism can't be used in stead of this forum. This medium is clunky and unrefined, meaning that to justify the sheer amount of work that is taken to process the data gleaned there must be a purpose. Is it to sell NEXT? I'm a real fan of grassroots marketing, but this isn't presented in a way that wets our pallets. Honestly, the whole thing seems unfocused and only good for taking the most broad pulse of the D&D consumer base to prove that they exist.

Even if that is the case, there is no reason the legitimate resource you have built needs to go to waste. This medium is useful for both advertisement and producing a better product, and the key to being properly utilized is a robust developer communication. If you don't trust your developers, higher a PR person to represent your developers. Its faces, people, and relationship that gets stuff done and sells product and right now WotC seems very... corporate.


The forum appears to be for us, not the developers. They rarely post here, and while some may read it, I doubt they use it as a primary source of feedback. This forum represents a small percentage of likely customers for DDN, and it's views are somewhat biased towards 4E (not an edition war, merely an observation). They already have forums, so adding in a forum for DDN isn't exactly a massive expendeture of resources. Oh, and if WoTC seems corperate, it would be because they are a coperation...

2. Basic Development Unfinished


This is, perhaps, my biggest gripe with NEXT. It feels like the simplest, most basic development hasn't been done. Someone decided to focus on the specifics and forgot the details. Its like packing your Magic Deck full of the big monsters but not enough Mana to power them. Before you even let something leak to your consumers, much less have an open beta, there are some things that simply need to be done.

- Your design goals need to be clearly set.
- You need to have your core assumptions established.
- Your basic gamer math extrapolated from those assumptions needs to be done.
- Your basic combat system needs to be refined.

Judging from the constant problems you have with monsters and the basics of your classes, you haven't done any of that. Until those things are done, we don't even have a platform to properly Beta-Test anything. Until that point your game is firmly in Alpha. Despite all the work on specifics (some very good work, mind you), your fundementals are simply lacking.


Design goal - make a system pleasing to as many current players and former players as possible. Take the best from each previous edition.

The developers had an idea of core assumptions, then sent them out for playtest (packet 1). Negative feedback. Redesign and sent back out (packet 2). Negative feedback. Redesign and sent out again. This process continues until they have an understanding of what the players want. The core assumptions were wrong, and now they are working out the core assumptions. Gamer math and combat system are being done in parallel to this.

3. Core Combat Design is Sub-Par


 Beta-testers should be checking for breakdown of the system and evaluating specific character choices. This means, in order to have a proper open Beta-test, you need to have a combat system that is fun before you select a single class, skill, or feat. D&D, currently, is not fun without those things. This has been a weakness for five editions, and I don't feel its a nail in the coffin, but you are making things very hard on yourself by not approaching this problem. There is no reason D&D can't be an inherently fun game that you add bells and whistles to. Instead, its a giant frankenstinian mishmash of class abilities and options, which means that your game will deliver based on the power of its options rather then the strength of the actual game. Again, this can be worked around, but its definately the hard road.

This princible is doubly important in a game whose design goal includes "modularity."

We cannot stress test an incomplete product. When the game is near completion, they should have beta-testers who stress test everything.

4. "Simple" Design Philosophy


Lets take a simple game, like Chess or Go. At its most fundemental you move pieces or place pieces on the board, resolve the effects of your decision, and move on. There are no real stats, except for how the Chess pieces can move. And yet, Chess is not a very simple game. I've seen people take hours deciding on a single move, and there are nuances to the strategies that fill volumes of text. This is a game that has preserved thousands of years and yet, you're just sliding little figurines across a featureless board.

That's because Chess isn't simple, its elegant. In-game strategy, with the exception of playing a full caster, has always been simple when it comes to D&D. You select your most powerful action, and you use--repeatedly--until someone goes down. Meanwhile, D&D has traditionally been fairly ineligant. The rules aren't always intuitive and because of issue #3, you can't memorize a core set of game mechanics and be generally "okay." Because D&D is built almost purely on special powers this creates a sensation of everything coming out of left field and having to scramble for every game option. This means that you don't get better at D&D by playing D&D, you obtain system mastery by learning more rules and then hitting your opponent(s) with what they haven't prepared for.

With how the core rules are set up, you will never achieve a suitably complex game with your, "Players make one choice and move on" philosophy. You'll wind up with an elegant game, yes. 4e was very elegant. There was also almost no strategy / skill involved. I feel like WotC has learned a lot, but I feel they are losing this fundemental aspect. It is possible to make a game accessable to new people without also sacrificing the millions of nuances that are possible.


Simple to learn, compex to master. DDN should be simple to learn. The basic use of Ability Scores for checks qualifies that. The character options (Manuevers, Skill Tricks, Spells, etc.) allow for complexity. The game can be as simple or complex as you want it. Right now, because this is a thin skeleton of rules, you do not have a wide variety of options. This should change when the product is released. As far as players spaming thier most powerful option, that will always happen, unless the DM takes steps to avoid it. Players will use whatever is best for them, and you cannot make a system where everything is equal, or else it WILL be boring (you have choices, but they don't matter).

5. Even Combat Tempo

This one is subtle, but its effects are, in my opinion, profound. Right now combat is Move, Attack, Move, Attack, Move, Attack, Attack, Move, Attack, Move, Move, Move Attack. It's very... monotinous. I liked full attack actions because they broke up the tempo somewhat and made for a varied play experience. If you have a combat that goes at the exact same speed all the time your players will drift off unless combat is also very short. D&D is too combat-focused for it to work like that. I'm not saying bring back full attack actions, but maybe put in 2 Standard Actions and a Swift instead of the Move + Standard. Or something, again, I'm open to surprises.


If you put in two Standard Action, people will just stand there and pound on each other with 2 attacks/spells. I thought 4E action setup was great (Standard, Move, Minor) but I really like the simple action setup for Next. You have total flexability, so the tempo is dictated by the players. If your players are falling into the routine of move/attack, then either: that is what your players want or you should make more dynamic encounters. I have not seen anything of the like, and my players are much more interested in combat now than they were in 4E (4E had more tactics, but the round was so long, they stopped paying attention).

6. So you learned... what, exactly?

Releasing a new game edition is like a boss battle should be. This is where you tackle the playerbase, use everything you have learned, and kick some serious ass. It should not be about recapturing previous editions. I am fully capable of mishmashing editions together by myself. I want something new, something surprising, something that will knock my pants off. NEXT feels like an attempt at a highlight reel or a clip-show and not... well... what's NEXT.


A radical departure from the norm can have serious consiquences. 3E radically changed the appearance of the game (feats, skill system, BAB, unified XP charts, etc) but some of those changes were simply updates of previous rules. 4E radically changed the appearce of the game with the Powers system, and most gamers I know that fled D&D to Pathfinder said that was the primary issue. Next wants to take the best from the past, while bringing about a few new things (Advantage/Disadvantage, Skill Die, Manuevers, Skill Tricks, etc) without alienating people. If you want a radical departure from what D&D has been, you are better off finding an RPG that is more suited to your tastes.


3. Core Combat Design is Sub-Par


 Beta-testers should be checking for breakdown of the system and evaluating specific character choices. This means, in order to have a proper open Beta-test, you need to have a combat system that is fun before you select a single class, skill, or feat. D&D, currently, is not fun without those things. This has been a weakness for five editions, and I don't feel its a nail in the coffin, but you are making things very hard on yourself by not approaching this problem. There is no reason D&D can't be an inherently fun game that you add bells and whistles to.



True D&D has never had this. Now it seems like they are moving further from getting there. 
Okay, so apparently Next isn't yet winning over the vaunted "never liked any version of D&D" demographic...

I'd be interested to hear what a "core D&D system" looks like that doesn't make use of class abilities, skills, or feats in combat, yet is still "elegant" and engaging.



Fire Emblem




And what happens when you add back in classes, and all the sudden wizards are casting spells and fighters are severing limbs?



If done right something better than Fire Emblem.
I think the most annoying trend is how most of the time design is going backwards to stuff we know doesn't work, rather than forwards to stuff that at least has a remote chance of working. 

Example the HP: We've gone right back to 3e's con per level and thus quadratic HP gain. Both saga and 4e set up a first level character with enough HP to take a hit and then you can install linear HP for the progression. Even the tephra game understands this. 1st level characters need enough HP to feel like they can take at least small occasional risks. 

Furthermore this means that as the game progresses the HP totals are gonna get insane. IF the devds aren't careful the monsters are gonna go right back to ignoring anyone who can only do HP damage.
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Ignoring HP damage is a given since they also abandoned unified defenses from 4E. Only the casting classes will use saving throws, and it will get abused at some point.
I've been following NEXT for a while now. However, as I see the game progress I feel there are some fundemental flaws that are starting to show some nasty side-effects. I feel these are systemic problems that, if not addressed, will significantly hamper the value gleaned from an open beta and stand in the way of NEXT being everything it could be.

1. Limited Developer Communication


I'm not sure what's written in the proposal that spawned this very forum... and that's a problem. What are we playtesting, exactly? Yes, the packet, but what about it? What information is the developers looking for? Where are the developer commentaries and the developer posts? I can't imagine that WotC actually lacks the funds to pay proper Beta-testers, nor can I imagine that the developers are so friendless that cronyism can't be used in stead of this forum. This medium is clunky and unrefined, meaning that to justify the sheer amount of work that is taken to process the data gleaned there must be a purpose. Is it to sell NEXT? I'm a real fan of grassroots marketing, but this isn't presented in a way that wets our pallets. Honestly, the whole thing seems unfocused and only good for taking the most broad pulse of the D&D consumer base to prove that they exist.

Even if that is the case, there is no reason the legitimate resource you have built needs to go to waste. This medium is useful for both advertisement and producing a better product, and the key to being properly utilized is a robust developer communication. If you don't trust your developers, higher a PR person to represent your developers. Its faces, people, and relationship that gets stuff done and sells product and right now WotC seems very... corporate.

2. Basic Development Unfinished

This is, perhaps, my biggest gripe with NEXT. It feels like the simplest, most basic development hasn't been done. Someone decided to focus on the specifics and forgot the details. Its like packing your Magic Deck full of the big monsters but not enough Mana to power them. Before you even let something leak to your consumers, much less have an open beta, there are some things that simply need to be done.

- Your design goals need to be clearly set.
- You need to have your core assumptions established.
- Your basic gamer math extrapolated from those assumptions needs to be done.
- Your basic combat system needs to be refined.

Judging from the constant problems you have with monsters and the basics of your classes, you haven't done any of that. Until those things are done, we don't even have a platform to properly Beta-Test anything. Until that point your game is firmly in Alpha. Despite all the work on specifics (some very good work, mind you), your fundementals are simply lacking.

3. Core Combat Design is Sub-Par

 Beta-testers should be checking for breakdown of the system and evaluating specific character choices. This means, in order to have a proper open Beta-test, you need to have a combat system that is fun before you select a single class, skill, or feat. D&D, currently, is not fun without those things. This has been a weakness for five editions, and I don't feel its a nail in the coffin, but you are making things very hard on yourself by not approaching this problem. There is no reason D&D can't be an inherently fun game that you add bells and whistles to. Instead, its a giant frankenstinian mishmash of class abilities and options, which means that your game will deliver based on the power of its options rather then the strength of the actual game. Again, this can be worked around, but its definately the hard road.

This princible is doubly important in a game whose design goal includes "modularity."

4. "Simple" Design Philosophy


Lets take a simple game, like Chess or Go. At its most fundemental you move pieces or place pieces on the board, resolve the effects of your decision, and move on. There are no real stats, except for how the Chess pieces can move. And yet, Chess is not a very simple game. I've seen people take hours deciding on a single move, and there are nuances to the strategies that fill volumes of text. This is a game that has preserved thousands of years and yet, you're just sliding little figurines across a featureless board.

That's because Chess isn't simple, its elegant. In-game strategy, with the exception of playing a full caster, has always been simple when it comes to D&D. You select your most powerful action, and you use--repeatedly--until someone goes down. Meanwhile, D&D has traditionally been fairly ineligant. The rules aren't always intuitive and because of issue #3, you can't memorize a core set of game mechanics and be generally "okay." Because D&D is built almost purely on special powers this creates a sensation of everything coming out of left field and having to scramble for every game option. This means that you don't get better at D&D by playing D&D, you obtain system mastery by learning more rules and then hitting your opponent(s) with what they haven't prepared for.

With how the core rules are set up, you will never achieve a suitably complex game with your, "Players make one choice and move on" philosophy. You'll wind up with an elegant game, yes. 4e was very elegant. There was also almost no strategy / skill involved. I feel like WotC has learned a lot, but I feel they are losing this fundemental aspect. It is possible to make a game accessable to new people without also sacrificing the millions of nuances that are possible.

5. Even Combat Tempo

This one is subtle, but its effects are, in my opinion, profound. Right now combat is Move, Attack, Move, Attack, Move, Attack, Attack, Move, Attack, Move, Move, Move Attack. It's very... monotinous. I liked full attack actions because they broke up the tempo somewhat and made for a varied play experience. If you have a combat that goes at the exact same speed all the time your players will drift off unless combat is also very short. D&D is too combat-focused for it to work like that. I'm not saying bring back full attack actions, but maybe put in 2 Standard Actions and a Swift instead of the Move + Standard. Or something, again, I'm open to surprises.

6. So you learned... what, exactly?

Releasing a new game edition is like a boss battle should be. This is where you tackle the playerbase, use everything you have learned, and kick some serious ass. It should not be about recapturing previous editions. I am fully capable of mishmashing editions together by myself. I want something new, something surprising, something that will knock my pants off. NEXT feels like an attempt at a highlight reel or a clip-show and not... well... what's NEXT.

I couldn't agree more.... 

Especially about the design goals.  Is this system meant to put character customization at the fore?  Nope.  Is it about dynamic combat?  Certainly not.  Is it about.....

What IS it about?  What is D&DN trying to add to the equation?  I can see a lot of things that it is trying to take away, but it doesn't actually add anything at all.

D&DN is essentially just D20... there is no keystone concept holding this game up at all.  Skills have, once again, been tossed aside as a tertiary mechanic (just pick a couple skills and forget about those, they never develop or become more interesting)

Combat is, as you say, just a string of repeated actions over and over and over and over.  Not to say that combat has been particularly good in any other edition, but they have done nothing to improve it, and the reduction of feats (in terms of quantity AND quality) and removal of full-attacks has eliminated most of the stylistic flourishes that were once possible.

Class structure is more linear and rigid than ever.

The list goes on, and though there are many posters here who will slap a rebuttle of "game's not done yet bro" or "simple is good bro" on to statements like these, the reality remains:  There is nothing new or innovative in D&D Next.  They don't need to reinvent the wheel, but they should be approaching this process as though this game were not going to be able to sell on the D&D name alone.  They should be building a game that stands on its own as a great game... that draws people in based on its own merits...not because it timidly attempts to avoid things that some people didn't like in previous editions.

Do something new...do something better.... do something that makes me say "Wow, that is really cool".   
The design goal has been clearly stated.

The dev team has incorporated many designs regarding playtest feedback.

Core combat is sub par to you.  It is an opinion you have.  It is not an opinion shared by all.

But, none of that really matters.  Here is the thing: If the dev team did exactly what you said, you would still have a giant uproar on this forum regarding classes, power bloat, wizards vs. fighters, healing, etc.  It doesn't matter what the designers choose - they will always lose with this crowd.

The thing I've found is that most people here want to be designers - not playtesters.  And like most designers, we want things our way.  That's the hard truth.  It's not pretty, but it is the truth.        
@CCS: I accept this is almost entirely a PR stunt. Its honestly what I expected going in. My issue is that its a poorly executed one and you still have to handle that "almost" part.

@Jenks: I'm not saying that our feedback isn't being heard. I'm saying that its unfocused and that there isn't clear communication. Honestly, if this were a real Beta-test and being a PR stunt didn't matter, that'd be fine. But this feels like an Alpha-test and a grasping for sales.

@ClockworkNecktie: I love D&D. I play Pathfinder at least weakly, played 3.x before that. I tried 4e/Essentials but got bored with that. The thing I like most about NEXT is that it really feels Tolkian / Canterbury Tales-esque. They presented a good feel, but the mechanics aren't backing it up.

Honestly, I've not seen a core, elegant d20 system that isn't standing on the shoulders of its spiffy powers. For an example of the type of thing I mean, look up a free game called Final Stand. That thing can exist without any powers, without any classes/steriotypes/whatever. Its fast, has a deceptive amount of strategy, and is accessable enough that I was able to teach three people to play, have them make their characters from scratch, and play through around five combats in the span of an evening. Now D&D should not have the same design goals as Final Stand, and Final Stand is really lacking in variety, but it has the elegance / strategy / core-game part down reasonably well. Especially for an indie game.

I will show you what I mean in terms of getting your basics out of the way down below, under a spoiler, because its long.

@Malcapricornis: Any creative project whose first and only premise is pleasing the crowd is doomed to failure. To crowdsource on this scale at this stage implies that they aren't better than the community. As a consumer, I like the people making my stuff to be better at making stuff than me. Input is good, but MtG is a great game because the people balancing / designing it are much better than the average person in their community.

Note: Exceptions, of course, abound.

@CarlT & Justmike1976: My sentiments exactly.

@Uchawi: That is not an excuse for the core game sucking. While I like and play 3e, its also the worst offender in terms of stitching bells and whistles together. While there is good stuff to mine, I don't feel 3e should be where they get their core princibles.

@SteeleButterfly & Shiroiken: If that is the case it isn't being properly communicated. If we are seeing "only a small subset of the rules" then we are seeing the wrong subset. We are either seeing the subset we are seeing as a PR stunt or because the developers aren't sure on something. Given that none of this is evocative enough to drive sales, its a poor PR stunt. Given that it includes basic class structure I really, really hope it isn't the latter.

I also think we have different definitions of what constitutes a core assumption.

@Rampant: Aye.

@Penandpaper2: Perhaps I missed it. Where are the clearly stated design goals? Also, find me someone who is genuinly excited about D&D combat without classes / cool powers and I'll eat my hat. I also don't recall saying an uproar is an inherently bad thing. It is a response to be harnessed, if anything.

Also, wanting to be a designer is like wanting to go to war. Only people who haven't done it want it. I am more than happy to pay other people to design games. I do, however, have certain expectations.

@Lord_Malkov: Thanks for the support.

What I mean by getting your ducks in a row, for Clockworknecktie's benefit. As a warning, this is a segue and a giant wall of text.

The -Very- Basics


All right, so you want to make a new edition that is different enough to be considered a new game. Unlike when you just clean up rules, you're taking all the bull involved with making a new edition and all the bull involved with making a new game. Its the disadvatages of both, and it'll be a long road--but it can also be a high road. Lets begin.

Step 1: Determine your baggage.
People, presumably, bought the previous editions of your game. This means a sense of familiarity and continuation is important. Hopefully, your developers are also fans of the project. Have a big meeting in which your team in which they throw up the highlights and must haves for the game. Put everything sproken about on a big board, with a listing of why. Once the good conversation runs out, have your team go home, sleep on it, and come back. When there is absolutely nothing left to put up on the board, have your team try ddisprove everything on there. This will both limit your baggage, and refine why everything is important.

Note that even really, really simple and "obvious" stuff needs to be spoken about. 1d20+X being the pass/fail mechanic and rolling varied dice from d4 to d12 to determine effect should be up there. The six stats should be up there. That the game will have to accomodate at four distinct playstyles (Fighter, Thief, Cleric, Mage) needs to be up there, etc.

Since this is an example, you'll be getting my monofocused view on what I think is important and we'll otherwise be skipping this step. Note that tunnel vision is why teams make better games than people flying solo, even if its just one motivated guy with a bunch of sounding boards.

Step 2: Research your Fan-Base
This should not be done by your developers, if at all possible. Look up what products sold best, research why. Find out what house-rules were commonly used. Find out what people are complaining about and what they are like. Have your researchers compile this data, with proof, and present it to your developers. Note that the developers are not slaves to this data, but this will help give them ideas on what to focus on, and give numbers that they can use to justify decisions to management/investors/corporate.

Step 3: Determine the goals of your subsystem
For all of its pomp and circumstance, combat is just a subsystem to the largerr game of D&D. Its an important subsystem, but a subsystem. Make sure that the role of this subsystem is clear to your developers. Combat is a focus of D&D, so players should look forward to it and crave it (oppossed to a horror game, where you want the players to fear it or a political game, where you'd want the players to hate it, or an RP game wh). Oh wait, D&D is meant to incorporate have a wide range of settings. Ravenloft isn't horror? Naw. Lets put those other reactions to fighting on the board and make a note to create hacks to fulfill some of those reactions later.

But wait, we're not done. After that you need to determine what some basic scenario archetypes are. When would a good DM want to run a combat? Why would he want to run it? What should the players feel while going through it. I.E.:

- Dungeon Crawling -- Suspense (Are there traps / hidden enemies?). Survival
- Storm the Gates -- Overwhelmed, like the player is pushing through a sea of enemies.
- Boss Battles -- Climatic, with Cathartic Glee
- Invading a Camp -- Players on the offense. They should feel powerful, and this should be a transition battle.
- Being Ambushed --  Players should feel vulnerable.

I'm sure people would disagree or add some stuff to this, but again, this is an example. Oh, and since we mentioned that traps should be an active part of combat, should skill challenges in general? Lets put a note down that our skill subsystem (not going to be discussed here) needs to be compatable with our combat subsystem and move on.

Step 4: Determine Timeframe

How long should combat take? A lot of things determine this. Combat is a focus of D&D, so a 15 minute combat isn't particularly satisfying. However, its still an RP game, and varied combats are more fun then non-varied combats. The average play session goes on for four to five hours. Lets say four. Lets also say for the sake of moving on that about half that time should be dedicated to resolving challenges, and the other half to RP. Lets also say that a person should get in two major challenges and a minor challenge. If you do the math this comes out to major challenges being 45~60 minutes each with ~30 minutes dedicated to "minor challenges." What a minor challenge is won't matter for this exorcise, but should be discussed in actual game design.

Now that you decide the whole combat should take you need to determine how long turns should take. What determines this is basically how engaging your game is. What makes an engaging game? I know from experience that its a robust defense-system and a simplistic offense system. This is why saving throws are better than rolling against a Fort/Will/Reflex DC, but you can take it much, much farther. This works because it maximizes how many players are doing something at a given time.

Unfortunately, we have baggage that says that you have to roll against an AC for most attacks and that the attacker chooses what save DC you use at all times. Put in a note that if we can fit it in without straying from D&D then great, turns can take longer, but we're going to plan for a weak defense system and a robust offense system.

 In reality you'd want to do studies or draw on personal experience. Here, we're going to say for example that 1 minute per player and 2 minutes per DM-turn (meaning ALL bad-guys) is a good goal. This means no one is waiting more than 5 minutes for their turn. This is still actually pretty long for an offense-focused game system, 30 seconds is actually optimal to keep players engaged, but we also have to be realistic. This gives us 6 minute rounds. Some math tells us that this gives us about 7 rounds per major combat. This is very important later.

 Step 5: Determine where your Strategy is coming from

This is one part that I feel NEXT, in particular, is failing on. Thanks to baggage, you are really only getting four sources of Strategy.

- Resource Management (per encounter and per day)
- Opportunity Management (utilizing AoE correctly, using the right action, not over-extending, etc)
- Right-Tool for the Right-Job (Weaknesses / Resistance, etc)
- Positioning (Where are your allies / enemies, where should you move?)

The problem is that D&D seems to be doing everything in its power to minimze resource management and opportunity management. This is a bad idea because not everyone will use a battle-mat and those are the only two types of strategy that are firmly in the player's control. A player's choices mattering means that players can and will fail.

But I digress. You want to determine what type(s) of mental challenges the players will go through. You want these challenges to be things that players can control.

Step 6: Determine Action Economy

Now that we know what types of challenges the players will face, we're ready to determine what a player's turn will look like. I've spoken on how much I hate move+attack, and we learned from our research that a Swift / Interrupt action is good. We know from wanting players to be engaged that Swift + Interrupt is better.

So our turns will look like this:
- 2 Actions
- 1 Swift Action
- 1 Interrupt
- "Unlimited" Free Actions

Note that in some games action economy can get more complex. MtG's, for instance, is based around getting and playing land. But for our example this will do.

Step 7: Do your basic game math

Seven steps in and we're finally ready to apply some numbers. From all the above data, we can make the assumption that a mirror match (4 PCs vs 4 Monsters) should take ~7 rounds to kill. We know thats 14 actions. This gives us the formula:

HP/14 = Damage on Hit * Hit Chance + Crit Chance * Bonus Damage + Damage on Miss * Miss Chance

Because players are taking two actions per turn missing is less of a let-down, and a base 50% assumed hit-chance is acceptable. T Our baggage gives us the rest of the data we need.

Assume d8 HD, or +5 HP/level (max at first level) is average.
Assume 1d6 is the basic weapon damage.
Assume that bonuses/penalties to d20 rolls should generally be kept within +/- 5
Assume that a 25% variance is acceptable.

This tells us that our level 1 damage is too high for our level 1 HP. Lets do some math to find out what it should be, (3.5*0.5+0.05+2.5)*14 = 26.25, which should be our starting HP at level 1. This is actually really hard to do, so we're going to make a few concessions. Lets go with a base HP of 15 + Hit Die + Con Mod. That gets us pretty close.

This also tells us that for every 7 levels, you should gain around +5 damage. Since we are confining this to a 10-level progression, lets make that +1 damage for every 2 levels. This +1 damage can come from having to-hit scale faster than AC or by having damage directly increased.

This also tells us that a battle-axe (d12) should have a whopping -5 to-hit relative to a sword. That's... bad.

But! How does STR impact this? To keep things balanced, we'd need every +1 Con to translate into +7 HP, not counting that STR also impacts to-hit. Splitting the defense traits is okay, we want things a bit offense-slanted.

Lets assume the worst-case scenario, 18 STR. Someone with 18 CON would need a whopping 78 HP to keep our assumption true. This is also bad, its time to rethink how we're doing things. At this point damage and HP will need to be very, very bloated.

How about AC? If we assume a base 30% chance to hit then suddenly you only need ~16 HP at level one. STR 16 vs CON 16 & DEX 16 requires 34 HP.

You basically keep doing this until you get something that works. I wound up with:

Assumed Base HP: Con Score + Max HD + 1 rolled HD per Con Bonus
Assumed Bonus HP/Level: +2 -or- +Con Bonus
Assumed Base to-Hit: 30%
Assumed Base Damage: 1d8
Assumed two rounds of concentrated fire from 4 Equal-Combatants should be enough to bring someone down.
Level Bonus: +1 to 3 stats every 5 levels.
Need: +1 to-hit (relative to defense) every three levels. +1 Damage every 4 levels.
 
Step 8: Inject Strategy
 
At this point you should start seeing some ways to manipulate the system start to emerge. What you do now is look again at your strategies, intended emotions on the part of the players, et cetera. Then you start injecting combat options and developing plans to meet those goals.

For instance, some stuff I jotted down:

Actions (1)
- Attack
- Charge (2-Action that moves you double your speed and attacks. This attack is automatically a critical if successful)
- Defend (Gain +2 AC/Saves)
- Move
- Pick-Up Weapon


Swift Actions
- Backswing (Deal weapon damage on a miss)
- Feint (Give yourself combat advantage or one target disadvantage on their next attack targetting you before the end of your next turn)
- Footwork (Gain an additional Interrupt)
- Ready Weapon

Interrupts
- Parry (If hit, may roll an oppossed to-hit roll to negate the hit)
- Block (If hit, take half damage as though maximum damage dice were rolled)
- Lock Weapons (As Parry. If successful, either of you using the weapon or limb for anything provokes an AoO until the end of your next turn.)
    - May not lock light weapons.
    - May not use Dexterity to Lock Weapons, even if finessable.
- Intercept (Take the hit for someone if they or the attack are adjacent)

Attacks of Opportunity
- Prevent disengaging.
- So Lock Weapon does something.
- Limited to 1/round. 

Combat Advantage
- As it is in NEXT. Phenominal mechanic.

This is just free-thought. I'm sure much of this is a bad idea or discarded, its to show you how to start adding options. Also, you'll notice the plethora of defensive options. This negates the math used above! What do we do?

Step 9: Repeat Steps 7 and 8 ad-nauseam

 What it says on the tin. You keep adding stuff, rechecking your math, see if anything naturally emerges, and going back and forth. In response to the above you will probably want to up the assumed to-hit chance back to 50%, in addition to probably doing other stuff.

Step 10: Differenciate and Repeat

After you have your basic combat down you start adding options. Start with the options that are open to everyone. Add different weapons. Start limiting certain combat actions by making it require different weapons. Once you ahve a good library down, start varying builds for your characters. Then just keep repeating steps 7 to 10 until you have a functioning core game. Honestly, I'd keep going until you have a Rogue, Fighter, Wizard, and Cleric ready to go.

You asked before "what happens when you add feats, classes, etc?" Your rules change. Some options that were previously open to everyone become limited, or refluffed. Like, lets say I decided that Defend Action was pivitol to the game design. I might not keep it as a general option, but instead give each class their own, slightly different version of it. The Rogue might get to Feint as a standard action instead, for instance. Maybe the Wizard can burn spell-slots for defense, or just gets one-turn defense spells that are fairly awesome. Maybe the Barbarian won't get it at all, but will have a much higher amount of HP passively.

Step 11: Congrats, you're in Beta

Remember those encounter archetypes we mentioned earlier? Build some of those encounters and start running parties through them. Personally I like also developing a type of random-encounter generator but that's personal prefferance, YMMV. Start having a bunch of people go through it. Start collecting data on how that went and adjust the game to match the goals established in Step 3. Once you ahve that pretty good, you start repeating steps 7-10 again for every class / major addition.


Experience will help you do some steps very, very quickly or even in your head, but none should ever be skipped. Notice that even with the above, I am closer to getting monsters where they should be than the packet currently is, and this was only a few hours or work. 

Coincidently, its actually the problems people have been having with monsters that triggered this for me. I can personally solve monster HP issues with an excel sheet and 1, maybe 2 workdays. That doesn't require a playtest, and should have already been done. The power curve should already be set.
Part of the issue of the discussions on the boards is that game designers aren't designing to the most popular options (i.e., majority opinion). They're designing a game that works. The most popular options might not work in the overall scheme of the game. That's what the playtesters do -- they find the mechanics that don't work and/or that aren't fun.

Now on the "fun" meter, popularity will definitely be taken into consideration. But broken mechanics, or mechanics that work of themselves but break some other part of the game will need to be addressed. That's where having 80,000 pairs of eyes on the project is a huge boon. "Family and friends" can only catch so much. Serious playtesting with thousands of people is sure to turn up more problem spots. And sure, they'll throw in odd things to get our reactions -- even if they're wanting negative reactions. That doesn't mean the odd things will go in. Rather, it's more like "ruling things out" as doctors do in making a diagnosis -- even test for things that aren't likely, just to take them out of the equation for sure.

I'm not at all surprised at how long this is taking. Even a simple board game can take months to iron out all the rules to a smooth, playable game. D&D has FAR more moving parts than a simple board game.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

I'm not saying that our feedback isn't being heard. I'm saying that its unfocused and that there isn't clear communication. Honestly, if this were a real Beta-test and being a PR stunt didn't matter, that'd be fine. But this feels like an Alpha-test and a grasping for sales.

This ISN'T a beta test. Nowhere near. It's still in the development stage.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

But they aren't designing a game that works, they're just repeating the mistakes of 3e albeint less dramatically.
But they aren't designing a game that works, they're just repeating the mistakes of 3e albeint less dramatically.




 my group disagrees with this entirely.
Ultra versatile wizards, godly-versatile clerics, fighters get substandard combat abilities and nothing else, mundane healing scales poorly, a mage healer is still pretty much a requirement, mages still pay no opportunity cost for spell access,  armor is a trap option, weapon distinctness is largely subsumed under the number advancement so even at the lower levels the difference between a waraxe and a longsword is largely academic even for the class that supposedly is a master of the various weapon arts, mages are the only ones who use half the combat offensive system (DCs) and thus are the only ones who target saves, races are boring and minor soon being subsumed by class and feat advancement instead of supplementing it, races rely on build/gear dependent abilities for distinctness instead of cool and interesting features, so while a lot of the problems have been toned down (and I'm very glad the assumed magic items bit was removed) it's like the devs have decided that 4e was a complete waste of time and that all of the problems it fixed were actually features.

Hint: They weren't. 
Ultra versatile wizards, godly-versatile clerics, fighters get substandard combat abilities and nothing else, mundane healing scales poorly, a mage healer is still pretty much a requirement, mages still pay no opportunity cost for spell access,  armor is a trap option, weapon distinctness is largely subsumed under the number advancement so even at the lower levels the difference between a waraxe and a longsword is largely academic even for the class that supposedly is a master of the various weapon arts, mages are the only ones who use half the combat offensive system (DCs) and thus are the only ones who target saves, races are boring and minor soon being subsumed by class and feat advancement instead of supplementing it, races rely on build/gear dependent abilities for distinctness instead of cool and interesting features, so while a lot of the problems have been toned down (and I'm very glad the assumed magic items bit was removed) it's like the devs have decided that 4e was a complete waste of time and that all of the problems it fixed were actually features.

Hint: They weren't. 



What do I want out of 5E? Not going back to the mistakes of the past.
...whatever

What do I want out of 5E? Not going back to the mistakes of the past.



Unfortunately, many see 4E as having just as many (if not more) mistakes than editions prior to it.
Who really gets to decide what was a mistake (actually bad rules), and what was only subjectively bad? If you're a die-hard 4E fan, you likely won't find many "mistakes" at all. Likewise for die-hard fans of any other edition. You might be pressed into admitting that some things might have been done better than they were, but calling them out as "mistakes" will be a hard thing to do for many.
"The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind." - H.P. Lovecraft

@Jenks: I'm not saying that our feedback isn't being heard. I'm saying that its unfocused and that there isn't clear communication. Honestly, if this were a real Beta-test and being a PR stunt didn't matter, that'd be fine. But this feels like an Alpha-test and a grasping for sales.



I don't know what game development projects you have been a part of, but we get weekly updates in the form of 4 articles, per week, that directly have to do with development on the project. One of them even answers questions fielded by the playtesters. Not to mention the videos and mike occasionally answering a question on twitter. I've playtested multiple games in the past and this is the best communication I've ever had, even over world of warcraft and pathfinder/paizo.
My two copper.
@SteeleButterfly & Shiroiken: If that is the case it isn't being properly communicated. If we are seeing "only a small subset of the rules" then we are seeing the wrong subset. We are either seeing the subset we are seeing as a PR stunt or because the developers aren't sure on something. Given that none of this is evocative enough to drive sales, its a poor PR stunt. Given that it includes basic class structure I really, really hope it isn't the latter.

I also think we have different definitions of what constitutes a core assumption.



The notion that the playtest was only going to show part of the rules and playtest what is needed was discussed before the 1st packet ever came out. They have a couple of updates each week (I mostly just pay attention to the This Week In D&D and the 3 Questions) that give us an idea of the developers current views. The communication has been superb if you look for it.

As for this being the wrong sub-set, is it because you don't like it or is there something specific that should be in the basic rules that you want to see? If you want to see the Warlord or the Tactical rules, that will come later once they have a better idea how the basic game will work. Currently they have a rough frame and and working to fill in the details. However, it is stil possible for things to radically change (as MDD become WDD in the next packet). The skil system may change (again). It wouldn't suprise me if Rogues got radically changed again. That is the nature of this playtest.

If you really think this is a PR stunt, I really don't know what to say. If it's a PR stunt, it's the dumbest EVER as it's for a product that won't be released for 2 YEARS from announcement. If anything, I worry that Next will be dropped by Hasbro before it makes it to publishing because they won't have a working product for so long.

As for the core assumption, please define what you would set as your core assumption if you were lead designer. Without a frame of reference, we really can't properly discuss the matter.


@Jenks: I'm not saying that our feedback isn't being heard. I'm saying that its unfocused and that there isn't clear communication. Honestly, if this were a real Beta-test and being a PR stunt didn't matter, that'd be fine. But this feels like an Alpha-test and a grasping for sales.



I don't know what game development projects you have been a part of, but we get weekly updates in the form of 4 articles, per week, that directly have to do with development on the project. One of them even answers questions fielded by the playtesters. Not to mention the videos and mike occasionally answering a question on twitter. I've playtested multiple games in the past and this is the best communication I've ever had, even over world of warcraft and pathfinder/paizo.





Neverwinter Nights was far superior, with David Gaider, Rob Bartell, Chris Priestly and others actually hanging out on the forums and speaking directly to the fans and playtesters.  But that was a very rare exception.

Carl


Neverwinter Nights was far superior, with David Gaider, Rob Bartell, Chris Priestly and others actually hanging out on the forums and speaking directly to the fans and playtesters.  But that was a very rare exception.

Carl



Very Rare being the key words there.
My two copper.
I dont even know if this is a " grasping for sales ". Personally I think wizards wants too save d&d from being shelved. I just dont know if they can save it considering Hasbros buissness model.

These new forums are terrible.

I misspell words on purpose too draw out grammer nazis.


What do I want out of 5E? Not going back to the mistakes of the past.



Unfortunately, many see 4E as having just as many (if not more) mistakes than editions prior to it.
Who really gets to decide what was a mistake (actually bad rules), and what was only subjectively bad? If you're a die-hard 4E fan, you likely won't find many "mistakes" at all. Likewise for die-hard fans of any other edition. You might be pressed into admitting that some things might have been done better than they were, but calling them out as "mistakes" will be a hard thing to do for many.



Mistakes isn't really the best word for it. A better description would be that after playing 4E, my desire to go back to the past is less than zero. 4E isn't perfect but I like it, and I'm open to interesting new things, but earlier editions have been ruined for me and going back to how things were has no appeal to me whatsoever.
...whatever

What do I want out of 5E? Not going back to the mistakes of the past.



Unfortunately, many see 4E as having just as many (if not more) mistakes than editions prior to it.
Who really gets to decide what was a mistake (actually bad rules), and what was only subjectively bad? If you're a die-hard 4E fan, you likely won't find many "mistakes" at all. Likewise for die-hard fans of any other edition. You might be pressed into admitting that some things might have been done better than they were, but calling them out as "mistakes" will be a hard thing to do for many.



Mistakes isn't really the best word for it. A better description would be that after playing 4E, my desire to go back to the past is less than zero. 4E isn't perfect but I like it, and I'm open to interesting new things, but earlier editions have been ruined for me and going back to how things were has no appeal to me whatsoever.




I think this may eventually be my problem also( Im not giving up on next until I see a final product  that i dont like). I loved every edition of D&D. I didnt move on because I hated them, it was because I was burnt out on them and I thought every made an improvement.

These new forums are terrible.

I misspell words on purpose too draw out grammer nazis.

Unfortunately, many see 4E as having just as many (if not more) mistakes than editions prior to it. Who really gets to decide what was a mistake (actually bad rules), and what was only subjectively bad? If you're a die-hard 4E fan, you likely won't find many "mistakes" at all. Likewise for die-hard fans of any other edition. You might be pressed into admitting that some things might have been done better than they were, but calling them out as "mistakes" will be a hard thing to do for many.

This is very accurate.
Here is reality, read and understand: Rangers aren't dull or underpowered, in any edition. Fighters aren't dull or underpowered, in any edition. Casters aren't "god mode" or overpowered, in any edition. The tarrasque isn't broken. And you aren't voicing your opinion by claiming otherwise, you're just being a pain. Now, stop complaining.
Color me flattered.

LIFE CYCLE OF A RULES THREAD

Show
Thank_Dog wrote:

2Chlorobutanal wrote:
I think that if you have to argue to convince others about the clarity of something, it's probably not as objectively clear as you think.

No, what it means is that some people just like to be obtuse.


What do I want out of 5E? Not going back to the mistakes of the past.



Unfortunately, many see 4E as having just as many (if not more) mistakes than editions prior to it.
Who really gets to decide what was a mistake (actually bad rules), and what was only subjectively bad? If you're a die-hard 4E fan, you likely won't find many "mistakes" at all. Likewise for die-hard fans of any other edition. You might be pressed into admitting that some things might have been done better than they were, but calling them out as "mistakes" will be a hard thing to do for many.

I'm a diehard 4e fan, and I think 4e made tons of mistakes. I also think earlier editions made tons of mistakes. I also realize that what counts as a "mistake" varies from person to person, and that sometimes it's okay to tolerate a weaker design decision if it's what people are used to. What loses me is that there are sort of two ways to approach the realization that different editions did different things in better or worse ways.

A) "There are instances of stronger and weaker elements in different systems. There are attempts to deal with peceived weaknesses across edition changes, some of which worked out well, some of which didn't work out so well, and some of which had unintended consequences. There are things that are strongly associated with D&D that might not be the strongest design desicions, but that doesn't mean that we can't try to adapt those or make the best of them. How can we learn from what's been done in the past to deliver a superior D&D experience with the next edition?"

B) "4e has mistakes! 2e has mistakes! 3.5 has mistakes! Who can say what's best???? It's literally a total crapshoot! People like different things? That makes any sort of evaluation completely impossible. Sussuing out what's good or weak about different game iterations sounds haaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrd. Advanced? Basic? Warlords? I'm freaking out here! There's no way to evaluate any of this, so let's just pick game design elements at random from different editions and hope for the best."

"Subjective" doesn't mean "immune to analysis". It's possible to look at different things and evaluate them, even if different people disagree on them, even if some of those people believe things for reasons that are not particularly sound.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.


@Penandpaper2: Perhaps I missed it. Where are the clearly stated design goals? Also, find me someone who is genuinly excited about D&D combat without classes / cool powers and I'll eat my hat. I also don't recall saying an uproar is an inherently bad thing. It is a response to be harnessed, if anything.

Also, wanting to be a designer is like wanting to go to war. Only people who haven't done it want it. I am more than happy to pay other people to design games. I do, however, have certain expectations.




Their design goal was to appeal to all fans of D&D - of all editions.  Their design goal was to have a game that was helped design by the player base.  How so easily one forgets this...  

I have been a part of several playtest groups.  All of them liked combat and the powers.  Most thought it was a nice change of pace from 4e.  Almost all of them simply enjoyed it.  Everyone I've ever played with generally enjoys it - barring a terrible DM.  Doesn't matter what edition.

As for classless, have you read the other threads?  Half the people on here probably would prefer classless over classes.  When I mentioned powers, I was talking about levels of proficiency. 

All I'm really saying is the majority on here want to be designers.  This is why they spend hours and hours pouting over rules, making changes and posting them for all to see, creating elaborate houserules, developing huge campaigns, etc.  That said, whatever the devs decide, they will gripe because it doesn't match what they would have created.         

I don't know what game development projects you have been a part of, but we get weekly updates in the form of 4 articles, per week, that directly have to do with development on the project. One of them even answers questions fielded by the playtesters. Not to mention the videos and mike occasionally answering a question on twitter. I've playtested multiple games in the past and this is the best communication I've ever had, even over world of warcraft and pathfinder/paizo.



Not to argue, because I'm actually fine with the level of communication we're getting, but White Wolf/Onyx Path is doing a better job right now.

Discussions about how the tone and feel of their forums are different aside, for their upcoming God Machine Chronicles and Blood & Smoke: the Strix Chronicle books, they are actively talking to people on their forums. David Hill, Rose Bailey, Dave Brookshaw, and Matt McFarland are all pretty vocal and communicative over there, with some of the other writers chiming in from time to time. And in face, they took two folks who post regularly on the forums over there and hired them in some capacity.

So, yeah...that's even rarer, I suspect, but it is better I think.

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

"Subjective" doesn't mean "immune to analysis". It's possible to look at different things and evaluate them, even if different people disagree on them, even if some of those people believe things for reasons that are not particularly sound.



A-frickin'-Men. 

If your argument relies on "Everything is subjective, but do things my way!", it's not a good argument.     

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick



@Penandpaper2: Perhaps I missed it. Where are the clearly stated design goals? Also, find me someone who is genuinly excited about D&D combat without classes / cool powers and I'll eat my hat. I also don't recall saying an uproar is an inherently bad thing. It is a response to be harnessed, if anything.

Also, wanting to be a designer is like wanting to go to war. Only people who haven't done it want it. I am more than happy to pay other people to design games. I do, however, have certain expectations.




Their design goal was to appeal to all fans of D&D - of all editions.  Their design goal was to have a game that was helped design by the player base.  How so easily one forgets this...  

I have been a part of several playtest groups.  All of them liked combat and the powers.  Most thought it was a nice change of pace from 4e.  Almost all of them simply enjoyed it.  Everyone I've ever played with generally enjoys it - barring a terrible DM.  Doesn't matter what edition.

As for classless, have you read the other threads?  Half the people on here probably would prefer classless over classes.  When I mentioned powers, I was talking about levels of proficiency. 

All I'm really saying is the majority on here want to be designers.  This is why they spend hours and hours pouting over rules, making changes and posting them for all to see, creating elaborate houserules, developing huge campaigns, etc.  That said, whatever the devs decide, they will gripe because it doesn't match what they would have created.         



'Make something everyone will like' is really not a design goal.  You can't walk into a meeting room with that mission statement because it is a given.  The question being asked by the OP and many others is WHAT is the actual focus of D&D next?  When they are makinng decisions, what is the measuring stick that they are using to determine if something is good or bad, working or not working?

The playtest is, and will remain, pointless until the basic assumptions are given to us.  If we don't know what their design goals are, how can we figure out if what they are putting out is good or not, or even offer suggestions?

I, for one, am not at all thrilled by what I see in the playtest packet, but if they said bluntly that their goal was to make D&D Next as simple as possible, to shorten combat times drastically, and to build classes around dealing damage and balance accordingly....I would have to say they are on the right track.

You can look at previous editions and see what their focus was.  3.0, for example, was about character customization via the new character building economy of feats.  (THACO to BAB, Saving throws, and many other things were just simplified and improved versions of existing systems)

4e was about powers and about class homogenization (equal progression among all classes)

What is D&D Next about?  

'Make something everyone will like' is really not a design goal.  You can't walk into a meeting room with that mission statement because it is a given.  The question being asked by the OP and many others is WHAT is the actual focus of D&D next?  When they are makinng decisions, what is the measuring stick that they are using to determine if something is good or bad, working or not working?



True dat.  The number of people who have trotted out the "but they said they wanted to appeal to everyone!" whine in order to justify their demands for this or that sub-sub-sub-feature is disheartening.  It betrays a basic immunity to logic.
There are mutually incomaptible elements in the various editions of D&D.  Therefore it was never, *EVER* going to be possible to "appeal to everyone" or "satisfy" every player or "support" all styles of play.  That was always a crock.  The question, as you accurately note, is what, then, is the style of play they're actually aiming to support:

 
I, for one, am not at all thrilled by what I see in the playtest packet, but if they said bluntly that their goal was to make D&D Next as simple as possible, to shorten combat times drastically, and to build classes around dealing damage and balance accordingly....I would have to say they are on the right track.



Since they have explicitly declared those things, in several venues, you should be thrilled.  The actual goal of DDN was never "re-unite the fan base," because that is, as noted, a logical impossibility.  The actual goal is that of almost every commercial product: sell as many copies as possible.  That's not to say the developers are heartless corporate worms, or that they don't love D&D.  I'll presume they are sincerely invested in the brand, and that they are smart enough to know that the route to more sales is going to be that which satisfies the most potential consumers.  Note that the important word there is "potential" consumers.  Nothing will kill the property off faster than appealing to established players who already, by definition, have a favorite edition.  If I play and love 3.x, or 1e, or Essentials, why would I buy the DDN version which only shares some smaller percentage of its design with my favorite?  I'll just stick with 3.x, or 1e, or Essentials.  No, the target audience of DDN are the great unwashed masses who have not got a favorite edition, who might be persuaded to play D&D but who have been put off by perceptions of it being too complex, too expensive, or too time-consuming.  For that purpose, a simplified, cheaper to produce, easy to get into, accessible design is just what the developers need.

The playtest itself is a sideshow: it generates and maintains interest in the brand, provides the illusion of open design, and creates a ready-made stock of player-advocates once the product is released.

What is D&D Next about?  




Hackability

The ability to take the base core kernal and build upon it to get the game you want.
Professor: I absolutely agree with your assesment of what this playtest is. A sideshow having little if any impact on the actual game. It is a tool to make system advocates for an already pre determined design plan. Very little has actually been changed because of this forum for example. When we disagree on a direction- say the halfling concept art we are ridiculed for not understanding the concept rather than acknowledged as a whole having a stong negative opinion and therefore inducing a change of direction. The condesending way the dev.s have adressed this community more than once points to the fact that we are not valuable to them. I would be willing to bet that the actual closed playtest is months ahead of us in scope and range.
What is D&D Next about?  




Hackability

The ability to take the base core kernal and build upon it to get the game you want.

See the thing is- I don't need that. I already have the module I want in a previous version of the game that I do not have to alter to my taste. So do many others. I.E. Project fail.
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