I like Balance, when things arn't balanced the game tends to warp in a weird way, and as we only play once a week, non of us hard core enough to construct or maintain a house rule book of sorts, having a simple balanced game that we don't have to fix works for me and mine.
I think he meant balance taken to an extreme(sounds odd, I know). Balance itself is not bad. However, it comes with diminishing returns. Once you hit that point, the closer to the perfect balance point you try to bring the game, the more you end up harming it.
In my opinion, 4ed went too far with balance. Not so far as to destroy it as a game, but too far for some of us to enjoy it.
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:
Personal Dislikes: 1) balance obsession, 2) unexciting, 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.
(The Rumplestix appears to have found undisturbed feeding grounds.)
I have to agree with you on most counts Warweaver. I'm an old school D&D gamer (very early 80s) who prefers to play a game where I don't need miniatures and can do battles in my head. Granted, I could do the mapwork entirely in my head, but I prefer to actually play with people instead of by myself.:P My gaming group is going to try 4th out pretty soon and I have been practicing in the 'delves'. It can be fun, but it still leaves me wanting to play D&D. It can be a good game in and of itself so I hope everyone has fun. It just isn't D&D to this old fan. I won't even start on the FR bit...
(The Rumplestix returns to foraging amidst the nutritious threads and posts.)
I've been reading some source books and the like, trying for myself to get a feel if I'm going to like 4e. While I have yet to partake in a game, just reading the source and stepping through encounters on my own I still do not know if I'm going to like it. I am however withholding final judgment until I get more knowledge and some familiarity built up in some games, hopefully damn it.
I don't think your post was a waste of time, not mine anyway. You are a paying customer and to voice a grievance is within your right. And I think you did so respectfully and with forethought, even if it was a bit of a suicide note like someone mentioned. I like that description, haha. But not that bad though, a bit of a different topic title is all it would take to fix that.
I am trying to determine how far I want to take this 4e thing and reading your likes and dislike does help. Via reading folks' testimonies here on the forums I've learned that there is an ink problem with early prints, and what appears to be A LOT of error inducing errata bonsai waves haha. At this point I would hope I wouldn't be unlucky enough to pull one off the shelf with the ink problem. But as a faithful and long time, I mean long time hahaha, D&D player/psudo-DM I would hope that these poor folks or myself that have purchased faulty material (i.e. the ink problem) would have an avenue available to them to get these materials replaced with copies of the expected quality. Expected on BOTH sides. Of course the consumer believes they are entitled to a quality product, but as Management or Stockholders, I'd expect my company to produce and release high quality goods and services. After all my reputation does depend on my product being of a high standard. And if something did slip through the cracks I would expect to reimburse or exchange faulty materials my loyal customer base had purchased.
Guess I'd go broke in today's business world hahaa...
Thanks for the responses folks - agreeing, dissenting, or undecided.
I would hope that these poor folks or myself that have purchased faulty material (i.e. the ink problem) would have an avenue available to them to get these materials replaced with copies of the expected quality.
Yeah. Unfortunately I don't think that'll happen. They're already on later printings, and they've already got my money.
It's interesting that you think this is a significant stand. Many people, whether by choice or circumstance, do this without it being a statement to WotC.
True, but it's one thing to just know some people aren't buying your product for whatever reason, and quite another for them to state those reasons. Obviously WotC's not breaking out in a cold sweat because they'll lose a couple bucks from lil' old me - I'm one voice in a sea, but I'm just trying to give feedback so if they hear other voices saying the same, well, they'll have something to compare.
Frankly, if you can have fun with your friends with 4ed, then it is a good system.
I've played some pretty terrible systems and still had fun with my friends - just like you can watch a terrible movie and enjoy it with others. I'd say it's much more a testament to your friends than the game. The point is, if it's a good game you can enjoy it on more than just that one level.
I think a lot of things involving 4th Edition are way overblown. People complain about a balance obsession, when there really isn't one. The fact that developers are trying to maintain a sense of parity between classes has nothing to do with, and is vastly different from the false notion that all they care about is balance. It'd be like claiming that hospitals are "obsessed with dead people" because they have a morgue.
Balance is something you either try for, or you don't. If you half-ass trying to balance a game, you don't have game balance at all. This is a lose-lose decision for the company. Either they refuse to balance the game and retain the issues that people wished to eliminate from 3rd Edition, or they try to balance the game and are accused of being "balance obsessed". Either way, someone walks away from the table with a sore taste in their mouth.
That said, the one personal dislike I agree with from warweaver is the fact that it has a "like a movie" design philosophy. I think it better called a cinematic quality, but I otherwise agree. The game is relatively fast-paced and semantics and realism are intended to take a backseat to whatever the players and DM consider fun. However, I do disagree in that I don't see this as a bad thing. Movies are the second most profitable form of entertainment in the world (just under videogames nowadays), and there's nothing wrong with learning a little something from the giants. If D&D could be as quickly paced, captivating and profitable as the average movie is, I don't see why we would shun that. Considering how much 3rd Edition did to increase the popularity of roleplaying games and how well some enjoyed it, you'd figure that any attempts to continue that would be lauded, but they don't seem to be.
It reminds me of arguing with someone about the terminal velocity in 3rd Edition, and I remember them bringing up the fact that reaching terminal velocity should take around 5-7 turns and should deal far more damage than it does. I argued, and I quote: "Who gives a ****? Most people don't know enough about physics to care, rules to simulate such physics would be annoying complicated, and hit points are a poor representation of health." As far as I'm concerned, as long as the mechanics work, and they represent something to a good enough degree that I can perceive it in my mind, I don't really care about the individual semantics of it all. Who cares if Come and Get It pulls people in like a vacuum? Who cares if it's too easy for everyone to become a spellcaster through the Ritual Casting feat? If it's fun, there shouldn't be a need to justify something beyond that.
If it's fun, there shouldn't be a need to justify something beyond that.
Definitely - trouble is, everyone's definition of fun is different. And unlike a movie (and most video games - and definitely on a level beyond all video games made so far), D&D is a very interactive game, a kind of collaborative storytelling. Thus you get all these different versions of "what is fun" roiling together in an environment where you're not just passively accepting (or rejecting) someone else's version of fun like a movie. And you end up with, for example, the idea of a fighter casting a ritual actually impacting someone else's fun negatively and taking them out of the mood. (Though personally, I love the ritual mechanics - just not the individual rituals themselves.)