I've thought about writing this for a long time. I've read through all the sourcebook offerings to date, followed activity on this site and elsewhere, run and
played in a bunch of 4e games so far. And I think this is the right time to say I can't give you any more of my money, WotC.
I thought about carefully organizing and listing my grievances and disappointments, but I can already hear the angry cries of me wasting my fellow forumites' time. And I do think most of the people here are
worthy of respect, part of a hobby that promotes creativity, passion, and imagination - so I'm going to keep it short and hit the high points.
I don't like what D&D has become, I don't like how you've handled it, and I don't like where it's going. It's not that I think it's a bad
game, and I know you worked hard on it. I'm glad that there are players out there who do
enjoy it and think it has improved the hobby more than it's hurt it.
I just can't get excited about it. It feels like a pale shadow of what I wanted 4e to be, and it's not what I want out of my D&D. I think you listened a little too
intently to those who clamored for balance
, to be honest, and sacrificed too much in attaining it. I'm a fan of many options, and I think too many were lost or made uninteresting.
The "it's a movie and the PCs are the stars" tack 4e has taken, with increased abstractions and focus on either carefully channeled mechanics (i.e. combat) or DM fiat in other situations to "get back to the action", just doesn't mesh with the living, breathing campaign worlds I like to play and DM in, though I'm sure other people like it.
There are many improvements made in 4e, and I am glad to see it progressing along those paths. For each improvement I see though, I notice something that was either made worse or (more commonly) tossed by the wayside as "unworkable", rather than taking the time to perfect what might have merit. But I understand you are a business and can't always afford spending forever in R&D, just as I understand the tools I like for my games are not universal.
This is why, all of the above I can forgive, even though it's the reason I'm prefer the previous edition (with its many flaws requiring houserules). But I don't think you've handled
4e all that well either, and I'd like to help point out where you could improve so that you have input for the future.
The three core books, the only 4e books I own and ever plan to, have become badly smudged in places due to the poor quality ink. They are also scribbled all over in red with me keeping up with the errata, sometimes replacing entire sections (like Stealth). I very much appreciate how responsive you've been with
those errata updates - but I think it would do wonders for your customer goodwill if later books don't require so much of it to function - and that you are more careful in the future about what printers you used.
I know you're now printing core with updates included and better ink, and I applaud it - but it doesn't really help me. My books are going to become unusable at some point due to blurring, and I'm not buying new ones due to someone else's mistake.
DDI is a problem. It is damaging to your customers to make promises or generate buzz you can't back, and even moreso to avoid admitting you screwed up out of some fear of showing weakness. Showing your customers a human side and that you're willing to improve and make amends can have surprising results.
I am just fine with paying for your online material, but I am not fine with the amount
you're charging, especially when it is more like a beta than a finished product. I was hoping you would learn from Magic Online that making people pay the same price for bits on a server that they do for physical, tangible product is a bad idea. Also by your own admission it is a set of "bonus tools" for D&D, not part of the primary experience itself - so why you are charging as much as an MMO (complete unto itself), I can't fathom.
Some people may be willing to pay your price...but even then, it has to do what you've said it will. If you feel out of your league, know you have a vast pool of potential employees that often land on the "tech savvy" end of society.
Finally, I can never agree with how you changed Forgotten Realms, or more particularly, the manner in which you went about it. Forcing a self-described "stand-alone campaign setting" to conform to core defeats the purpose of a unique setting
, and much was changed or removed that either caused more
confusion to the settings' existing fans or simply subtracted more than it added (as I said, I'm a fan of options).
In general it seems like you went into this edition with the goal "let's make 4th edition ours
!" While there is nothing wrong with that sentiment on the surface, in Forgotten Realms doing it without regard to existing customers' opinions, without clear goals, or without seriously examining the ramifications was a mistake.
So let's recap:
1) balance obsession,
3) "like a movie" design philosophy,
4) loss of varied options.
Mostly (but not 100%) Objective Dislikes:
1) first release quality,
2) DDI problems,
3) FR treatment.
Again, I'm not saying 4th edition is a bad game - it is just the nature of this thread to critique the negatives. Despite the many
improvements it has made, I consider these factors to outweigh the positives. I will still be playing
4e - but only because friends of mine are running a game. I am playing to enjoy their
company in their chosen tabletop rpg, not for the system itself.
I'm not saying my opinion can't change either. It's just that out of the offerings I've read so far, I don't see anything that would make it change. Editions often get better as they become more fleshed out, and maybe 4e will catch up to my expectations. From what I have seen so far and my estimation of its trends, however, I don't foresee this taking place.
So for now, I won't be buying any more 4e books - but I will keep an eye out for something that may change my mind. I am glad you are working towards expanding our shared hobby, and I hope you get even more
creative with your products in the years to come!
Until then, I hope you file this wherever you keep your customer feedback (even if just in your head)...maybe glance at it six years from now for 5e.
And to the rest of you - I can't believe you read this whole thing! Congrats? And enjoy whichever edition you choose.
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EDIT: Due to positive feedback, here is a snippet of me further explaining my position later in this thread - click the little arrow to go there.
To make a really bad analogy, I like playing with Legos more than modeling clay. If you make a sculpture out of modeling clay, others can Ooo and Aaah at it, but they really have no idea what you did to get there. With Legos, anyone (given enough time) can reproduce your work - you've done something creative that still conforms to the ruleset everyone understands.
To think outside the box, you first need a box.