DnD in the 21st Century

The biggest problem with DnDNext as it's currently conceived isn't that it cleaves too closely to one or another of the game's previous editions, nor is WotC's biggest challenge to win back whatever share of the RPG market they've ceded to direct competitors like Paizo. 


Simply put, WotC's gotta make a game that appeals to a general audience, the members of which have grown accustomed to amenities like iOS apps and TV OnDemand.   And while these kinds of things have been competing for our free time with traditional RPGs, in general, and DnD, more specifically, the relationship needn't be wholly antagonistic. 


I started playing DnD sometime around the release of 2E, and my biggest complaint's always been that the game's a logistical nightmare.  Finding three or more people who're both willing and able to play on a consistent basis just isn't easy.  And since I've no interest in leaving the comforts of my (or my friends') home to meet with utter strangers in a not-so-local FGLS, LFR's not a tenable solution for me, as it's not, I imagine, for many others who post here. 


I should be able to (A) fill out a simple online questionnaire that gauges how I like and when I'm available to play; (B) get matched up with people around the globe whose answers are compatible with my own; and (C) game with them via video-conferencing software.  To facilitate this, a good VTT can and should be added with options like dice-rollers and customizable avatars, for which I'd personally be more than happy to pay, were they unlocked only through micro-transactions. 


I strongly believe that unless and until WotC avails themselves of new technology to solve what have been and still are problems with the traditional PnP RPG, there's little point in arguing, say, whether Vancian or non-Vancian magic's better.  Even if DnDNext's able to satisfy all parties involved in this board's discussions, which is highly unlikely, so far as I can tell, the game would still fail to appeal to a vast majority of its potential consumers. 


 

What's the difference between playing with the utter strangers met at a game store or online?
If you want a look at how WotC, in general terms, deals with modern technological conveniences and the social realities they create, look into D&D Insider and Magic Online.

It's not pretty. They lack the developmental know-how to create effective online and mobile integration for their products, and they know it.

The correct answer is that they need to outsource this to people who are capable of it, but they've been hesitant to do so, perhaps because of a very strong collective belief that the experience of playing games (whether wargames, RPGs or TCGs) is and should remain a very "analog" experience and that adding gadgets to it serves only to dilute that experience, making it both less meaningfull and less social.

Sooner or later, however, the current crop of oldschool-obsessed grognards who are desperately (and futilely) seeking to recapture the rose-tinted magic they felt when playing these games as children currently running the company are going to retire and make way for people who were raised in the computer age. The sooner this happens, the better for the games' futures, I think.
Yes, yes, and a million times yes.
All the squabbling over this or that mechanic is as nothing next to the only factor which will determine whether or not D&D exists 20 years from now: is the game going to be embraced by a massive influx of new gamers. 

In some ways, the pmp is as primed as it's going to get, and the game should be a much easier sell than it was back in the 197o's and 80's.  Fantasy, thanks to J.K. Rowling, Peter Jackson, and Game of Thrones, is more mainstream than ever before.  Gaming is no longer the mark of the social outcast.  The vast majority of citizens in developed nations spend at least some part of their time and money on games, including immersive fantasy games.  The largest single growing game demographic is 30+ year old women.  Geek culture has not overtaken the mainstream, certainly, but it's become easier than ever for those with such interests to find one another online and off.

However,
WotC still faces an uphill battle, and up until now the industry has done the hobby as a whole few favors.  The lone major foray into the general public eye within the past decades, the D&D movie, was an abomination which cast the entire franchise as a laughingstock.  Players of TTRPGs are still the butt of jokes on shows like Big Bang Theory.  The industry has made almost no effort to adapt to new technology, other than a poorly implemented subscription service which may have alienated as many fans as it was supposed to garner.  Finding games, or even the printed products, is much harder than it was even in the 80s, before the internet and big-box retailers who should be the game's front-line distribution points.  The game is still being bogged down by those who think battles should last an hour, and a single gaming session three or four, and who don't care that these types of numbers will keep the game out of the hands of would-be converts.  

The audience is there.  There are millions upon millions of potential consumers who *should* be playing D&D, who are desperately hungry for that experience if it is packaged and marketted correctly.  It's WotC's to lose.
I should be able to (A) fill out a simple online questionnaire that gauges how I like and when I'm available to play; (B) get matched up with people around the globe whose answers are compatible with my own; and (C) game with them via video-conferencing software.  To facilitate this, a good VTT can and should be added with options like dice-rollers and customizable avatars, for which I'd personally be more than happy to pay, were they unlocked only through micro-transactions. 


What you're describing is, essentially, a PUG. Which is a MMO parlance for "Pick Up Group" or a random group for a dungeon run. And as anyone who has played any amount of Warcraft will tell you... PUGs suck. They're almost never good. Having played my share of RPGA and PFS games I can tell you the same applies to Tabletop games. 
Plus, the above is also close to Encounters. No ongoing story, no personalization. Aka the least D&D experience you can have while playing D&D.

WotC doesn't really need to do things. There are already website and forums that can hook you up. Here, ENWorld, VTT sites, etc. Having WotC sink millions of dollars (no, really: software development is pricey) to set-up a system for a minority of players... hardly seems worth it. Not enough people used their last VTT for it to be sustained.

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The compilation of my Worldbuilding blog series is now available: 

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

basicly these guyshave the kind of setup you would want : www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfvZDOBfv3s&feat...

skype chat with webcams.
dice roller that shows all player rolls.
shared drawing firls where all players and DM can draw each in their own color.
The Dm can also drag pictures and handouts to the main field to show them to the players. 
What's the difference between playing with the utter strangers met at a game store or online?



There's a huge difference between playing with FLGS and online strangers. 


(1) Convenience:  The FLGS that's nearest to me is a half-hour's drive away, and I live in a densely populated area; others, I'm sure, have to travel much farther.


(2) Comfort:  I've never felt comfortable in an FLGS.  Perhaps that's just a function of social anxiety, and I recognize others might not feel the same way.


(3) Matchmaking:  In an FLGS, you've gotta take what you get.  If by chance, there's like 4 people there who play the same way you do, who like the same edition you do, and who're available when you are, then great.  But that's not too common, in my experience. 

there are quite a few table programs available why would wotc want to pay to make one? All the online tools you need are already there. i use them every week to play. the key is that in america if something dosent fit your needs, you create something that does thru investment and education and become a millionaire. there are also sites specifically geared at matching up people to play games, meetup is a great example of this. i am starting a new 2nd edition campaign in 2 weeks i advertised there and in less than 24 hrs i have over 10 people that want in. its the year 2013 if you have need of something its probably already there.

I played WoW from Beta to Cataclysm, and what I'm describing most certainly is not a PUG.  Its goal would be to set you up with a group for the long term -- a mini- Guild, if you will.


Nevertheless, what I'm describing isn't the only option.  There's tons of things WotC can and should do.  Set up a Facebook-type community.  Set up something like Steam, where we can store characters, chat with people on friends-lists, download PDFs directly, etc.  Anything.  Hey, contract out the people Edwin linked and make their software proprietary. 


I recognize that WotC has a bad history dealing with "modern technological conveniences," as Kalranya put it.  But it's time they got good at it, and quick.  Print is a dying medium. 


And the edition-warring that's going on could be solved with but a few clicks in some Preferences menu.  That's modularity.


there are quite a few table programs available why would wotc want to pay to make one? All the online tools you need are already there. i use them every week to play. the key is that in america if something dosent fit your needs, you create something that does thru investment and education and become a millionaire.



The question is why wouldn't WotC want to (pay to) make one?  They could protect it under their IP and charge people for its use, like they do now for DnDInsider.  On top of this, they could implement a micro-transaction model, through which they could sell anything from character portraits to supplements. 

there are quite a few table programs available why would wotc want to pay to make one? All the online tools you need are already there.



Almost think it should be the other way around.
A company saying ok how much would it cost us to become the official DnD tabletop program that get promoted on the DnD website.

I played WoW from Beta to Cataclysm, and what I'm describing most certainly is not a PUG.  Its goal would be to set you up with a group for the long term -- a mini- Guild, if you will.


Nevertheless, what I'm describing isn't the only option.  There's tons of things WotC can and should do.  Set up a Facebook-type community.  Set up something like Steam, where we can store characters, chat with people on friends-lists, download PDFs directly, etc.  Anything.  Hey, contract out the people Edwin linked and make their software proprietary. 


I recognize that WotC has a bad history dealing with "modern technological conveniences," as Kalranya put it.  But it's time they got good at it, and quick.  Print is a dying medium. 


And the edition-warring that's going on could be solved with but a few clicks in some Preferences menu.  That's modularity.


there are quite a few table programs available why would wotc want to pay to make one? All the online tools you need are already there. i use them every week to play. the key is that in america if something dosent fit your needs, you create something that does thru investment and education and become a millionaire.



The question is why wouldn't WotC want to (pay to) make one?  They could protect it under their IP and charge people for its use, like they do now for DnDInsider.  On top of this, they could implement a micro-transaction model, through which they could sell anything from character portraits to supplements. 




why wouldnt wotc want to make one for themselves? the answer is customization. with the current table programs i can change things to meet my campaign specific needs. i can run 2nd edition dnd one day and call of cuthulu the next with the same program. why would i want to use a dnd specific program when most users that use the current available ones are happy with it and actually can make sugestions to the creators to make improvements that wotc would prob ignore.


why wouldnt wotc want to make one for themselves? the answer is customization. with the current table programs i can change things to meet my campaign specific needs. i can run 2nd edition dnd one day and call of cuthulu the next with the same program. why would i want to use a dnd specific program when most users that use the current available ones are happy with it and actually can make sugestions to the creators to make improvements that wotc would prob ignore.



First of all, what I described above is more than a simple VTT.  To the best of my knowledge, no third party VTT boasts anything like matchmaking, which is essential, I feel. 


More importantly, those third-party programs aren't always (or perhaps ever) technically legal.  They're allowed to exist only because companies like WotC or GW don't crack down on them, and companies like WotC or GW don't crack down on them, only because WotC and GW don't currently offer competing services. 


If WotC were to offer what I'm describing, the third-party programs as you know them would cease to exist. 



why wouldnt wotc want to make one for themselves? the answer is customization. with the current table programs i can change things to meet my campaign specific needs. i can run 2nd edition dnd one day and call of cuthulu the next with the same program. why would i want to use a dnd specific program when most users that use the current available ones are happy with it and actually can make sugestions to the creators to make improvements that wotc would prob ignore.



First of all, what I described above is more than a simple VTT.  To the best of my knowledge, no third party VTT boasts anything like matchmaking, which is essential, I feel. 


More importantly, those third-party programs aren't always (or perhaps ever) technically legal.  They're allowed to exist only because companies like WotC or GW don't crack down on them, and companies like WotC or GW don't crack down on them, only because WotC and GW don't currently offer competing services. 


If WotC were to offer what I'm describing, the third-party programs as you know them would cease to exist. 




i think a matchmaking system for a table top game is the worst idea ever. match making would work for single encounters but whats the point of that. as a dm i want to screen all my players so i can decide if there is a group dynamic or if im wasting my time. then you also have to deal with rage quits, trolling players ect that come with random groups.


why wouldnt wotc want to make one for themselves? the answer is customization. with the current table programs i can change things to meet my campaign specific needs. i can run 2nd edition dnd one day and call of cuthulu the next with the same program. why would i want to use a dnd specific program when most users that use the current available ones are happy with it and actually can make sugestions to the creators to make improvements that wotc would prob ignore.



First of all, what I described above is more than a simple VTT.  To the best of my knowledge, no third party VTT boasts anything like matchmaking, which is essential, I feel. 


More importantly, those third-party programs aren't always (or perhaps ever) technically legal.  They're allowed to exist only because companies like WotC or GW don't crack down on them, and companies like WotC or GW don't crack down on them, only because WotC and GW don't currently offer competing services. 


If WotC were to offer what I'm describing, the third-party programs as you know them would cease to exist. 




i think a matchmaking system for a table top game is the worst idea ever. match making would work for single encounters but whats the point of that. as a dm i want to screen all my players so i can decide if there is a group dynamic or if im wasting my time. then you also have to deal with rage quits, trolling players ect that come with random groups.



I agree there should be no automatic matchmaking.
But there should be a place where players who want to play online could go to find people they could play with.
maybe a subforum on these boards would be enough.


Also woulden't mind if a bigger company got involved.
For example googles social media site google+/hangouts isen't doing that great compared to other social media at the moment.
It shoulden't be that dificult for them to create some plugins for google chrome and their hangouts program  that give you all the functionality you would need to play online.
And then talking to wizards about putting a banner on the Dnd site saying that google hangouts is the place to be if you want to play tabletop DnD online.
 
@OP

You're 100% correct,  that's the next big explosion in popularity,  and likely the one that takes D&D to mass market penetration.

The product will be:  Touch-based display of varying sizes with built in software to handle the rules and math.  The product will be usable online or offline,  and allow the DM to alter the state of any critter/character ad lib,  in order to permit arbitrary actions.  Meaning,  the DM can change the state of a critter to "Stunned" or "Dead" at will,  or could increase/reduce it's health or even give penalties to a die roll.

Those who don't want to deal with arbitrary actions can play it like a board game or video game and just let the software handle everything.

It will include something like Kinect to allow for remote play.  It will have...

-Subscription based option that gives full access to all books,  core and accessory,  and comes with free access to official adventures,  with unlimited play.

-Free to play option that gives you core books,  and lets you buy books and adventures ala carte.  Likely with a small fee to join games,  maybe 1 free game a week,  $2 for each game beyond the first.

-Option for DM's to create their own campaigns and sell them via a marketplace.
 
-PvP arena.

-Support all editions. 

The technology has already been developed and demonstrated.  CMU had the table-sized Microsoft Surface running a VTT years ago.

That will pull in vast numbers of lapsed players,  pull in people who want to play but don't want to memorize all of the rules (Read mass market),  and let people play whenever they want rather than being limited to group availability (Read MTGO's appeal).          
If you want a look at how WotC, in general terms, deals with modern technological conveniences and the social realities they create, look into D&D Insider and Magic Online.

It's not pretty. They lack the developmental know-how to create effective online and mobile integration for their products, and they know it.

The correct answer is that they need to outsource this to people who are capable of it, but they've been hesitant to do so, perhaps because of a very strong collective belief that the experience of playing games (whether wargames, RPGs or TCGs) is and should remain a very "analog" experience and that adding gadgets to it serves only to dilute that experience, making it both less meaningfull and less social.

Sooner or later, however, the current crop of oldschool-obsessed grognards who are desperately (and futilely) seeking to recapture the rose-tinted magic they felt when playing these games as children currently running the company are going to retire and make way for people who were raised in the computer age. The sooner this happens, the better for the games' futures, I think.



Gotta give them some credit though, at least they are trying. I can't think of another RPG company that even tries to have that kind of electronic access or assistance.

My two copper.
ok googled Dnd google hangouts and found this vid looks intresting.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNjcVhyvp-c


i think a matchmaking system for a table top game is the worst idea ever. match making would work for single encounters but whats the point of that. as a dm i want to screen all my players so i can decide if there is a group dynamic or if im wasting my time. then you also have to deal with rage quits, trolling players ect that come with random groups.



As I said above, you'd be matched with a group for the long-term.  It would be, by analogy, Match.com as opposed to some random skeevy-one-night-stand-hook-up-site. 

Regardless, if that's a piece of functionality you don't like, it's a piece of functionality you don't have to use.  But it's there for those who do. 

This thread makes me miss Google Wave. Play by post roleplaying on Wave was way different than tabletop but it was very cool.

It was the same game just played in a completely different manner. Why a big company like WotC doesn't offer something like that boggles me because it would attract a lot of people to the game.
Why not?  I mean I may not prefer it but really why not?

WOTC is really shortsighted not supporting online gamers as much as they can.  I thought 4e took many steps in the right direction but they could do more.

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WotC basically gave over their VTT to another company, and let them run with it after their own program fell through. What WotC needs to do now is actually actively promote this other company and work in tandem with them to bring the D&D experience together in a proprietary bundled service. Integrate with the other company that's doing so well. They already have a LFG kind of app and everything.

 
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First if you guys want a good way to play dnd over google hangout, check out roll20.net it is simply awesome. My only issue with it is that it is not tailored to fit dnd; roll20 is designed to work for any grid based game really.


I dont really care for the matching system idea. It's just not for me but if wotc makes one it wont affect me. Either way i hope you find a way to enjoy this great game.


I wholely agree that Wotc NEEDS to embrace modren technology. Here is how I would do it starting with ddn: 

1) convert the character builder into an html5 based webapp that uses responsive layout so it is usable on mobile phones also.

2) convert the encouter builder tool to html5 with mobile access.

3) now this is a big step becuase it will involve so reworking of the backend system but if the previous two steps are done with this in mind, this will not be a huge problem: allow a DM to add/invite players to the encounter.



Imagine this: you get an call from your DM instructing you to check your email: you don't just have mail, you have a quest! With a click of a mouse, you are wisked to the clear steps of the Character Builder where you begin creating your identity for the inevitable adventure that awaits you. So simple even an Orc could do it! Speaking of Orcs, it's game time and you just came across a camp of the foul smelling beasts. You're asks how you react: "ATTACK!! What else do you do with Orcs". The DM picks up his phone but not to text his girlfriend back*; he just sent you a prompt to roll your attack dice with combat advantage. You roll and get a 8. Good thing you're playing 5e and have advantage: you roll again. NATURAL 20!!!! You enter you favorite number into your phone and submit it as a response you the prompt from your DM. You get a prompt to roll you d6 plus an extra d6 due to the critical. Now that you submitted your damage and the value of any modifier is added by them system, all the DM has to is choose which to apply you damage to. No wizard cantrips needed, just D&DNext!


*aka: give tech support to his mother.


i think a matchmaking system for a table top game is the worst idea ever. match making would work for single encounters but whats the point of that. as a dm i want to screen all my players so i can decide if there is a group dynamic or if im wasting my time. then you also have to deal with rage quits, trolling players ect that come with random groups.



As I said above, you'd be matched with a group for the long-term.  It would be, by analogy, Match.com as opposed to some random skeevy-one-night-stand-hook-up-site. 

Regardless, if that's a piece of functionality you don't like, it's a piece of functionality you don't have to use.  But it's there for those who do. 




I knew I was doing match.com wrong... man... everything makes way more sense now...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.
WotC basically gave over their VTT to another company, and let them run with it after their own program fell through. What WotC needs to do now is actually actively promote this other company and work in tandem with them to bring the D&D experience together in a proprietary bundled service. Integrate with the other company that's doing so well. They already have a LFG kind of app and everything.

 



Actually WotC commisioned that company to make the VTT (its right there on the the java signing when you first run the VTT). Then they linked to their site through a kind of portal page on this website. All they did was say "well this isn't making any money, we're going to stop supporting it so you guys take it." and they did and are running it...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.
Its back. For the record I didn't hit the report button lol.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

First of all, what I described above is more than a simple VTT.  To the best of my knowledge, no third party VTT boasts anything like matchmaking, which is essential, I feel.

So you want to play with total strangers on a pick-up-and-play-for-an-hour-a-night sort of game?

No offense, but speaking as a DM, ew.

-PvP arena.

And even more ew.

You want a matchmaking service to find people for pick-up groups, you're going to have an interesting time having anything resembling a logical campaign.

I'll stick to my face-to-face groups, markerboard, physical dice and character sheets. That's the larger part of the fun of the game for the larger group of people anyhow; otherwise, it's just a computer based RPG you can play co-operatively (and other games already do this better).

What you guys are describing is basically NWN, with some of the online games.

Supporting an edition you like does not make you an edition warrior. Demanding that everybody else support your edition makes you an edition warrior.

Why do I like 13th Age? Because I like D&D: http://magbonch.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/first-impressions-13th-age/

AzoriusGuildmage- "I think that you simply spent so long playing it, especially in your formative years with the hobby, that you've long since rationalized or houseruled away its oddities, and set it in your mind as the standard for what is and isn't reasonable in an rpg."



It's not pretty. They lack the developmental know-how to create effective online and mobile integration for their products, and they know it.



So true.

However I don't believe "out sourcing" is the answer.  WotC need to shake off the desire to own everything.  They should simply attempt to support the tools out there that people are already using.  Their VTT was a valiant attempt, but trying to dominate that market was a mistake.  Better to distribute VTT compaitible maps as part of their electronic offerings and let their customers use whatever they want.


The biggest problem with DnDNext as it's currently conceived isn't that it cleaves too closely to one or another of the game's previous editions, nor is WotC's biggest challenge to win back whatever share of the RPG market they've ceded to direct competitors like Paizo. 


Simply put, WotC's gotta make a game that appeals to a general audience, the members of which have grown accustomed to amenities like iOS apps and TV OnDemand.   And while these kinds of things have been competing for our free time with traditional RPGs, in general, and DnD, more specifically, the relationship needn't be wholly antagonistic. 


I started playing DnD sometime around the release of 2E, and my biggest complaint's always been that the game's a logistical nightmare.  Finding three or more people who're both willing and able to play on a consistent basis just isn't easy.  And since I've no interest in leaving the comforts of my (or my friends') home to meet with utter strangers in a not-so-local FGLS, LFR's not a tenable solution for me, as it's not, I imagine, for many others who post here. 


I should be able to (A) fill out a simple online questionnaire that gauges how I like and when I'm available to play; (B) get matched up with people around the globe whose answers are compatible with my own; and (C) game with them via video-conferencing software.  To facilitate this, a good VTT can and should be added with options like dice-rollers and customizable avatars, for which I'd personally be more than happy to pay, were they unlocked only through micro-transactions. 


I strongly believe that unless and until WotC avails themselves of new technology to solve what have been and still are problems with the traditional PnP RPG, there's little point in arguing, say, whether Vancian or non-Vancian magic's better.  Even if DnDNext's able to satisfy all parties involved in this board's discussions, which is highly unlikely, so far as I can tell, the game would still fail to appeal to a vast majority of its potential consumers. 


 





You should take a look at that:

roll20.net/

Scroll down and watch the video below called "Take a Quick Tour".
To me, of course, an online RPG experience will never substitute sitting around a table if your friends, but as you said, sometimes it's not a viable option, and this site offers not only a very good platform for playing RPGs online, via video-conference, but you can also search for groups through similar interests as you said in your post.
First of all, what I described above is more than a simple VTT.  To the best of my knowledge, no third party VTT boasts anything like matchmaking, which is essential, I feel.

So you want to play with total strangers on a pick-up-and-play-for-an-hour-a-night sort of game?

No offense, but speaking as a DM, ew.

-PvP arena.

And even more ew.

You want a matchmaking service to find people for pick-up groups, you're going to have an interesting time having anything resembling a logical campaign.

I'll stick to my face-to-face groups, markerboard, physical dice and character sheets. That's the larger part of the fun of the game for the larger group of people anyhow; otherwise, it's just a computer based RPG you can play co-operatively (and other games already do this better).

What you guys are describing is basically NWN, with some of the online games.

Again, the purpose of the matchmaking system would be to place DMs and players into long-term groups, not to throw them together for one-off sessions where people "pick-up-and-play-for-an-hour-a-night." 


I really fail to see what's so odious about this.  It'd bring you in contact with others who not only like to play DnD the way you do but are available to play when you are, and so the gaming experience it'd offer's likely to be far more enjoyable and more consistent than what's currently offered by LFR.  Obviously, if you're fortunate and you've already got a good gaming group, then neither an online matchmaking system nor LFR address one of your needs.  Don't use 'em.


And what I'm describing is not remotely similar to NWN, a (1) real-time action game, (2) pitting players against a poorly scripted AI, (3) with very few player options and (4) little-to-no customizability outside of its map editor. 


What I'm describing, in its ideal state, is far more similar to a sandbox version of XCOM, a (1) turn-based strategy game, (2) pitting players against DM-controlled opponents, (3) with tons of player options based on any of DnD's editions and (4) on-the-fly customizability. 


Nobody offers anything like this now.

dms will not accept this option at all, we as dms use vetting processes to weed players out. there are tons of sites that offer matchmaking for rpgs and if your specific needs are not being met its due to 2 reasons:
1. there is a very low demand for such a thing
2. your idea is so groundbreaking that its unique and never been done before.

in my opinion its option 1


You should take a look at that:

roll20.net/

Scroll down and watch the video below called "Take a Quick Tour".
To me, of course, an online RPG experience will never substitute sitting around a table if your friends, but as you said, sometimes it's not a viable option, and this site offers not only a very good platform for playing RPGs online, via video-conference, but you can also search for groups through similar interests as you said in your post.




I appreciate the sentiment, but, to be clear, I'm not making an impassioned plea for help, so much as I'm addressing what I believe's the biggest issue by far with DnDNext.  And that issue's not about the rules within but the logistics of the game.  Yes, LFG and VTT resources do exist, but they don't exist under the aegis of WotC, and they certainly don't exist as an integrated platform under the aegis of WotC. 



You should take a look at that:

roll20.net/

Scroll down and watch the video below called "Take a Quick Tour".
To me, of course, an online RPG experience will never substitute sitting around a table if your friends, but as you said, sometimes it's not a viable option, and this site offers not only a very good platform for playing RPGs online, via video-conference, but you can also search for groups through similar interests as you said in your post.




I appreciate the sentiment, but, to be clear, I'm not making an impassioned plea for help, so much as I'm addressing what I believe's the biggest issue by far with DnDNext.  And that issue's not about the rules within but the logistics of the game.  Yes, LFG and VTT resources do exist, but they don't exist under the aegis of WotC, and they certainly don't exist as an integrated platform under the aegis of WotC. 




and thats how it should stay, do you want one wire that gives power to your home with a choice of provider or do you want every company to have their own wire? that is the issue you can have one program for any rpg on the market that can be altered to use any ruleset you want or do you want a specific 5th edition tool that isnt backwards compatable or compatable with other games you may now or someday play?

and thats how it should stay, do you want one wire that gives power to your home with a choice of provider or do you want every company to have their own wire? that is the issue you can have one program for any rpg on the market that can be altered to use any ruleset you want or do you want a specific 5th edition tool that isnt backwards compatable or compatable with other games you may now or someday play?



You do realize that someone actually owns the wire giving power to my home and that whatever provider I choose still has to pay the wire's owner for its use, right?  Because as it stands now WotC makes nothing off the sales of third-party VTT and LFG programs. 

It'd be far closer to the truth to say that, by analogy, there are 16 wires running into my home, all of which have been illegally spliced off the power company's mainline, and should the power company wanna make money, it'd be in their best interest to cut those wires down and hook me up with a legit line.
Also woulden't mind if a bigger company got involved.
For example googles social media site google+/hangouts isen't doing that great compared to other social media at the moment.
It shoulden't be that dificult for them to create some plugins for google chrome and their hangouts program  that give you all the functionality you would need to play online.
And then talking to wizards about putting a banner on the Dnd site saying that google hangouts is the place to be if you want to play tabletop DnD online.
 


 

Can't you already run roll20.net within google hangouts?  I'm pretty sure you can.

Also, there are already several matchmacking sites out there.  If you use Maptool, within the Maptool forums is a Looking for Group subforum, I know several people who have found games this way and I found a few of the players in my game this way.  Roll20.net allows you to browse all the games, the GMs can state what system they are using and an other details they want, then players can browse the games and send an application to the GM.  There is another site, The Tangled Web, that is used alot for Play-by-Post style games, but people that use OpenRPG, Maptool or Roll20 all use to find players for thier games.  I found several players for my online game there, all but 2 that I found from Maptool forums.  Sure, some did not work out and left the game or were removed, but I quickly replaced them, in one day, just updating my post.

The tools to do all this are there already.  People like me use it all the time, because going to the FLGS is not an option as I tend to play after my daughter has gone to bed, the game shops are closed that late, I won't bring strangers into my home with my daughter and I will not leave my sleeping child home alone to go to a strangers house, nor take her with me to a strangers house, just to play.  Online via a VTT is the easiest, most convienent way for me to play, and there are plenty of resources available to me to do that.

As for why Wizards should make thier own?  They really should.  Some of the frameworks you can use in Maptool make combat a breeze.  With automatic tracking of bonuses and penalties, HP, Temp HP, status effects, it really makes combat smooth and feel like a video game in some respects.  You click a button on your screen, the attack happens.  Now the problem with it, is because it is liscensed, you you actually have to set up each of the macros to do those things yourself.  You have to create all the monsters yourself as well.  Wizards could put out thier own and very very easily monetize it.  You could buy individual power macros or monster tokens for $0.99 each, or buy packs that contain all Ranger Powers for $15.00, or all the monsters in a particular module, or all the monsters in Monster Manual for the price of the printed book.  They could make printed modules, that instead of a printed module is a campaign file that can be loaded into the VTT and have all the maps and monster tokens pre-loaded ready to go.  You pay for it within thier proprietary VTT, you have access to it those maps now, can download them at-will and have the pdf.

They could and should do this....or something like it...and quickly.  They need to get with the times, this is not the 70s and 80s anymore, people want to be able to do these things from thier PCs, Laptops and even Tablets and Smart phones.  With a central server up and running, you could even have play-by-post style games where people just log in and take thier turn when they have a chance, then it is open to the DM to come and check the turn, put the results into the VTT, or adjust them as needed, then let the next person know.  The VTT itself, depending on preferences could send you an e-mail, a text or just have an app that pops up on your smart phone and let's you know it's your turn.

The options for online play really are endless.  I realize that it is not for everyone, some people really love that face-to-face gaming, and that's ok, this does not exclude you.  You can still buy the printed books if you so choose, or buy the pdfs and print them if you want.  You would not -have- to use it, but for those that are in situations where it is difficult to find a local group, they can now play and WoTC can make money off them as well now, which helps support your game as well and let's them stay in business to keep coming out with stuff.

There are a ton of people out there looking for online games, and it's not even well advertised...like at all.  However, even with little advertising, just word of mouth really, if you are a DM and post on one of the previously mentioned places, you will find players, no matter the system, no matter the type of game, no matter the time.  There are a bunch of players out there looking for games.  If there was an official system to do it with, you can bet they would find it, and if advertised certainly you would get some.
As an educator, with small children, I've already carved out the only solidly available block of time I regularly have for gaming. I often have random moments, however, even two or three hours at a stretch, free. Just not predictably. I'd love the ability to pick up a scratch one-off game in such circumstances.

I can drop by any local playground and find a drop-in game of basketball. I can drop in to a team for a few hours in many RTS and FPS titles. I can find an online opponent for a game or three of Magic: the Gathering.
I see no reason that shouldn't be available for D&D.
As an educator, with small children, I've already carved out the only solidly available block of time I regularly have for gaming. I often have random moments, however, even two or three hours at a stretch, free. Just not predictably. I'd love the ability to pick up a scratch one-off game in such circumstances. I can drop by any local playground and find a drop-in game of basketball. I can drop in to a team for a few hours in many RTS and FPS titles. I can find an online opponent for a game or three of Magic: the Gathering. I see no reason that shouldn't be available for D&D.



To be clear, I wasn't saying that such an option shouldn't be available -- just that it'd not be the only, or even the default, option offered by a matchmaking feature. 
To be clear, I wasn't saying that such an option shouldn't be available -- just that it'd not be the only, or even the default, option offered by a matchmaking feature. 



Some people seemed to be indicating the feature shouldn't be available at all...even though it's essentially an electronically enabled version of what happens at every convention or organized play setting.

Coke has an app.  Nike shoes has an app.  Pizza hut has an app.
D&D, the progenitor of the multi-billion-dollar RPG industry, and still the one which means "RPG" in the eyes of most of the world?  No app.

Functions a D&D app should have:
1.) Dice roller
2.) Chatboard access
3.) Online store with purchaseable access to e-versions of all books in print
4.) Meetup-style group-formation area, allowing those who want to create a long-term campaign group to find one another
5.) Game matchmaking service which allows one to set up a one-off scratch game, internet enabled, for X number of players, lasting Y hours.  The game itself would be carried out over internet, using something as simple as VOIP or as complex as a full graphical interface
5b.) Alternative to above, a matchmaking service which allows one to specify a locally available game at X location (a coffeehouse, gaming store, etc), for up to Y people, for in-person pick-up play

Dream functions might include mapmaking features which would interface with (4) or (5) above, allowing the DM to create the adventure in-app, then reveal it as it is explored by the players during actual scheduled play.  A storeable warehouse of such user-made adventures, available for a nominal fee (say, 99 cents, half of which goes to WotC, half to the user/author in the form of online credit).  A ranking system which would allow players to rate the DM, the adventures, and one another.



Yes, exactly.  This is what WotC absolutely need to do.  Otherwise, regardless of whatever mechanics DDN winds up implementing, the game's trajectory will be no better than 4E's.  It'd likely be far worse.   

i dont totaly agree, while i see some ipads and tablets used to keep books on. a majority of players perfer their books in paper form. the issue with 4th sales was not due to an app, that was the system they used. it was a huge dnd culture shock and that is why i never played it after reading the rules.
some, or even the majority, if *existing* players may prefer paper resources and exclusively face-to-face gaming...but some don't or can't, and that number of existing gamers will dwindle. The brand dies if it can't entice new players. This is one way.

And no, justmike, 4e was not app-based. There has never been a d&d app. Nor was it e-based (an entirely different thing). Or even well e-supported. That's the point.
i dont totaly agree, while i see some ipads and tablets used to keep books on. a majority of players perfer their books in paper form. the issue with 4th sales was not due to an app, that was the system they used. it was a huge dnd culture shock and that is why i never played it after reading the rules.

Funny, in the online game I run, with 6 players, have replaced 4 along the way, so a total of 10 players and myself the DM, I am the only one that owns any books.  The rest of the group has pdfs that they pirated.  2 of them share 1 Insider account and one other has insider access, none of the rest used.  That is 8 players, playing thier game they are not getting a dime from because they do not care about the books or having insider access, and 2 that only use Insider for the Builder. 

Now, if they could have bought those books in a pdf format, directly from the app they use to play the game, they would have.  If they could have paid for a feature to have that builder create a token for them to download and put into my game, they would have.  Just because the vast majority of people that play the game -currently- prefer a book to flip through, does not mean the younger generation that is getting into it now does.  Heck, even your books for university are now being offered in Kindle, Tablet App and PC formats so you don't have to carry your books to school, just your laptop/tablet.  My sister recently returned to college to finish her degree and she said it was staggering the number of students that did not have books, just tablets.  For note, they set up thier tablet camera pointed at the proffessor, record the whole dame lecture, type thier notes, then the notes are tied to the time in the video that the proffessor was talking about it.  If that's how people are getting trough college nowadays, you can bet that printed books are on the way out.  If that is how they are learning to do things in college, when they get out in to the workforce, they will look for ways to implement what they are used to into thier day to day work and eventually, books will be a thing of the past.  Just like Blockbuster is going out of business because hard copies of DvDs are not needed when you can digitally stream something right to your TV from Hulu or Netflix.

Books are on thier way out, get with the times.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying that WotC should stop printing books entirely.  They still should, just less.  Plenty of the current gamers -do- still prefer hard copies of thier books and they should not be denied that.  It should still be an option, just not the -only- option.
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