Friday, September 4, 2009, 10:20 PM
Despite being a proponent of 4E D&D, and a hardcore LFR player, it is no secret to those that know me that D&D, in all of it's various incarnations, is one of my least favorite RPG rule systems.
I play it all the time, I have a blast, and I take the time to master the rule system of each edition - but this is only because for the most part the gamers I know are invariably terrified of change. 4E is (in my opinion) the best version of D&D yet, but it still falls horribly short when compared to nearly any number of better game systems. It's a beer-and-pretzels game, and while fun, the actual rule system that drives it is unrealistic and goofy. Classes are limiting and restrictive, combat is clunky and unrealistic, the progression of levels and experience is ridiculous, and hit points and their incredible growth from starting your character till the end of your character's career serves to sever all immersion. A high level character who would could survive being stabbed 50 times or so with a dagger, or complete submersion in lava is preposterous. With a few exceptions from the second edition days, the settings for D&D are all also equally un-appealing to me. As a student of history and the development of ancient civilizations - expecting me to believe that castles and towers would exist as a form of defense in magic and monster -rich settings like Oerth or Faerun is funny. The whole economy and ecology of these worlds, the societies, trade and commerce, warfare ... it all just doesn't work if you expect even a modicum of realism.
That being said I play a whole, whole lot of D&D because it usually seems to be the only game in town. Nobody I know ever wants to take the time to check out better games like Riddle of Steel, Fading Suns, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Deadlands, Cadwallon, Exalted, or any of the myriad of other great games out there. So I play D&D, but I still hopefully collect other game systems.
All this brings me to my point. Alpha Omega. Alpha Omega by Mindstorm Labs is amazing. The game itself is interesting, well-crafted, dynamic and innovative, but what absolutely floors me is the production behind it. The book is absolutely gorgeous - a product not only of higher quality than any other "non-WOTC" product, but of higher quality than anything I've ever seen WOTC put out. The launch of the game was proceeded by an amazingly genius viral marketing campaign that sparked curiosity and involvement and received coverage in USA Today, Forbes Magazine and the LA Times.
The official site for the game is equally impressive, and blows WOTC's internet support for D&D out of the water. I'll give you a few links to check it out for yourself. Even if you never plan to even look at a game other than D&D, I think any fan of RPGs should take a moment to check out the sites and marketing that support Alpha Omega - This game system and company has shamed anything WOTC or anyone else has ever done, and they've done it on their first try. And if by any chance any WOTC staffers happen to read this - why can't you guys come up with something this cool? I'm sure your budget and manpower exponentially exceeds what they have ...
Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I would love it if what Mindstorm labs has done with Alpha Omega has now raised the bar for production and support of RPGs across the board. There is no reason in my mind why RPGs shouldn't be given the fuss and the fanfare that movies and videogames get - and here's an example of how to do it.
www.alphaomegathegame.com/ - Official Site
www.ethanhaaswasright.com/ewr.php - The original interactive viral add site, with a lot of mystery and puzzles
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethan_Haas_Was_Rig... - Wikipedia Article on the Viral Campaign