Tuesday, 10 January 2012

All I want from 5e is...

This is what happens when you type
"D&D 5e" into Google Images
The blogosphere is abuzz with the announcement that WotC are going ahead with development of the next iteration of Dungeons and Dragons.  Rather than fuel the fires of the edition wars, which would be pointless as I don't play 4e and I don't play Pathfinder either, I thought I'd just throw up a list of what I would like to see in 5e and what would make me as an old skool gamer fast approaching 40 part with cold hard cash for what is essentially a new version of an old game.

1.  Simple Rules to Start With - The concept of a basic game which as you level up gets increasingly complex makes good sense both from a new player/DM perspective and from a sales perspective.  Everyone needs the basic rules to begin with but not everyone needs the Expert/Immortal rules right from the get go (notice how I didn't use those new fangled Heroic/Paragon/Epic Tier names, that's because it's a conceit and it sucks, what's wrong with calling something "an adventure for 5-6 characters of levels 10-15" anyway!!).

Face it, it takes years to become a good DM, there are no short-cuts or training courses you can go on.  We've all put the years in to a greater or lesser degree and the focus of any pen and paper based game should be on DM arbitration.  Too many rules to begin with overloads the casual or newbie DM and makes the game drag for players.  If you want to entice more younger gamers into D&D to replenish the ranks of the old and bold then this is a must.

2.  D&D needs to be cross platform - There are 2 major consoles (3 if you consider the Wii which actually outsells both of the other 2) which are more than upto the task of running an MMORPG / VTT game.  There's also the traditional Mac and PC platforms, which even if you can't put together a full 3D HD Wizzy MMORPG such as WoW, it shouldn't be too difficult to put together an HTML 5 web app which will run on almost anything from the lowliest console to the latest spec kit.  Hire an expert company like Zynga or their competitors to do the dev, they do it day in, day out.

Let's face it the world has moved on even from the 4e release only a handful of years ago.  There are potentially more iPod/iPhone/iPad and Android users in the world than there are console gamers or any other platform specific community and it's getting bigger every day.  A character builder is something that can  feasibly be built for next to nothing and can even be given away as a free mobile app to entice new and old players alike.

Want to support the Organised Play / D&D Experiences / Living 5e communities, fine, let authorised DMs add XP and other adventure rewards online.  These can then be reflected on your character app almost instantly.  Couple it with a web based VTT as above for which you charge players as an in-app purchase to go on adventures and you've got a new funding model for a digital age (this should keep HASBRO happy).

Ultimately choice of OS should not be a barrier to enjoying a D&D online experience.

3.  Miniatures with RFID/Bluetooth - The recent Wii hit game Skylanders has pushed technology that little bit further with their RFID enabled miniatures, do the same for D&D miniatures.  No collectibility, just offer them for sale.

4.  No Subscriptions Please (were British) - I know that PC and console gamers are going to object to this, but I'm afraid that the subscription model of charging for gaming is a bit of a dead dog.  It works in an MMORPG sense as you tend to collaborate online with people you don't know, but in a sit around the table VTT sense I'm not sure it will work as I'm sure nobody wants to tell one of the Players to get their VISA card out or they can't join in.

I don't think I'd be able to convince "Her Indoors" that a subscription for a game I may only play once a week is value for money, but I also don't want, and can't afford, to invest the sort of time one needs to in an MMORPG style game in order to recoup my cash investment.

Ultimately, if the likes of major newspapers like The Times or the WSJ  can't get paywalls to work for them, I can't see how WotC can get it to work for D&D.

5.  Print Pubs with Online Extras - This is already happening in the indie scene as more and more publishers supplement purchases of the dead tree version of their games with a free PDF version.  We're not stupid, we know that you sent the book to the printer as a PDF, don't try to rip us off with overpriced e-books.  Whilst you're at it, give us some promo codes for extras which are only available if you buy the dead tree adventure modules (that are allegedly hard to sell).  Look at the sterling work being done by Worlds of Wonder with their bordgame promo codes.

If a tenth of this ends up appearing in the final release edition of 5e, I may be enticed back, maybe...

1 comment:

  1. 1. I'm guessing this is what they mean by "modular". Early rumors indicate this is the direction they want to go.

    2. Another D&D MMO is highly unlikely. VTT is likely to always be a side project, because it combines the drawbacks of MMOs (you're talking to an avatar on a screen, not a person's face) and face-to-face (scheduling issues mostly).

    The idea of supporting apps was the whole original drive behind DDI. WotC's dev team has proven to not have a good track record in this arena. I wouldn't hold my breath.

    3. We're much more likely to see that out of Fantasy Flight or Privateer than WotC. OTOH, that's why God invented licenses.

    4. That's been a popular refrain the last couple of days. I agree, but we'll see how the paymasters at Hasbro feel.

    5. I strongly agree. WotC has to get over their fear of PDFs.