In contrast to the GSL, Ryan Dancey on OGL/D20 in WotC archives
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    In contrast to the GSL, Ryan Dancey on OGL/D20 in WotC archives

    I found two interesting Q&As from Ryan Dancey on WotC's site. They really give a strong perspective of what WotC was trying to achieve with the OGL and the D20 STL. I think they are interesting reads. Below are a few things I personally found interesting.

    First, the OGL...

    One point made
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Dancey
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    The other great effect of Open Gaming should be a rapid, constant improvement in the quality of the rules. With lots of people able to work on them in public, problems with math, with ease of use, of variance from standard forms, etc. should all be improved over time. The great thing about Open Gaming is that it is interactive -- someone figures out a way to make something work better, and everyone who uses that part of the rules is free to incorporate it into their products. Including us. So D&D as a game should benefit from the shared development of all the people who work on the Open Gaming derivative of D&D.
    I beleive this is what Mearls was reffering to in his recent post about the OGL failing. However, as some have noted, the failure was in part of WotC not incorporating those great ideas presented by the public. Instead WotC went on its merry way while other publishers fragmented the community with variant systems.

    Another peice...
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Dancey
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    The idea is to abstract the "game" inside Dungeons & Dragons and reduce it to a genre-neutral set of concepts and rules. Then, we'll layer on a thick helping of D&D-type fantasy elements, like the standard D&D classes, races, spells, and monsters. In the future, we might layer on a science fiction layer, or a horror layer, or any other genre we think would be interesting. In fact, Jon Tweet feels that a very strong "rules light" version of D&D could easily be constructed from the existing manuscript; being completely compatible with but just smaller in scope and application than the full blown 3rd Edition D&D rules. There is a clear path, in fact, to a way to make D&D completely diceless! We may experiment with some of those options (or other people may choose to invest the time and energy to do so) via the D20 rules and the Open Gaming movement. Only time will tell.
    Too bad we never saw any of those "rules light" or diceless systems. I think they could have been interesting.

    Next, the D20 STL...
    The most interesting thing about this interview (IMHO) was the following statement:
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Dancey
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    There are a lot of people at Wizards of the Coast who are already a little leery about this whole "Open Gaming" thing, and those people rightfully raised the roof about the quality of license compliance.
    With these two articles in mind, I can see where WotC is coming from with the GSL. I think there are some mistakes from which they learned via the OGL and D20 STL in terms of QA, and the GSL is an effort to protect their product from those same mistakes.

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    Not to be too snarky, but I have a hard time connecting the dots between between those articles and "Upon termination, Licensee will immediately cease all use of the Licensed Materials and will destroy all inventory and marketing materials in Licenseeĺs possession bearing the Compatibility Logo." (section 11.3, GSL).

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    Quote Originally Posted by amaril
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    I beleive this is what Mearls was reffering to in his recent post about the OGL failing. However, as some have noted, the failure was in part of WotC not incorporating those great ideas presented by the public. Instead WotC went on its merry way while other publishers fragmented the community with variant systems.
    I've talked about this in passing in various places, but I think it bears repeating.

    It isn't really practical for WotC to dynamically incorporate community improvements in to the core rules. We'd have to reprint the rules on a far more regular basis than the typical gamer would stand for!

    Thus, I think it's more practical and useful for a user-maintained and generated process to emerge, like a database or wiki of variants and ideas organized, modified, and grown by volunteers.

    More importantly, if fans run things, you (hopefully) prevent economic pressures from messing with it. For instance, imagine if WotC did maintain such a wiki. When 4e came out, it'd be hard for WotC to justify spending any effort on the 3e wiki. A company only has so much time and energy to go around.

    By the same token, you wouldn't want a publisher hijacking the process for its own gain. It's been interesting to see how the discourse on 4e vs. 3e has shaped up. This is the first time in D&D's history that you have a number of publishers whose best economic interests lie in stopping people from moving to the new edition. I imagine that the venomous rage has been in part fed by people who serve as opinion leaders for some portions of the audience.

    Now, in open development there will be factions, jealousies, and competition, but ideally the social environment around it helps to muffle them. IME, bringing money into the equation simply magnifies such issues.

    But what does that mean for the game's development? Well, the people at WotC play and read tons of games. When they hired me, they were well aware of Iron Heroes. My work on that game played a role in helping put me into a position to have a lot of input on 4e.

    By the same token, people at WotC make a point of keeping track of what's out there for RPGs. It's just good business, and makes sense to keep track of the state of RPGs. A fan-driven movement to iterate the game would draw attention and would have an effect on the game.

    At the end of the day, the real value offered by open gaming is transferable across all games if open gaming promotes a culture of design, useful criticism, growth, and learning. Regardless of what game you play, that's good for the hobby.

    Even if WotC doesn't directly tap into the specific design produced by the (theoretical at the moment) movement, the movement improves all design in the industry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by amaril
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    Another peice...
    Too bad we never saw any of those "rules light" or diceless systems. I think they could have been interesting.
    First edition Mutants and Masterminds was an example of a rules light version of OGL. But then second edition came along with more rules crunch than the Hero system, ending that experiment. But True20 seems fairly rules light.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mearls
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    I've talked about this in passing in various places, but I think it bears repeating.

    It isn't really practical for WotC to dynamically incorporate community improvements in to the core rules. We'd have to reprint the rules on a far more regular basis than the typical gamer would stand for!

    Unless, of course, WotC was doing a whole new edition for D&D and wanted to continue to lead the Open Gaming Movement, or at least be a part of it. Naw, I've got to call you on this one. There's obviously been a decision within WotC to pull as far back from Open Gaming as it can at this stage and that's just fine. It's their right to move away from the movement. No hard feelings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark
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    It's their right to move away from the movement. No hard feelings.
    And just the same it's our right to say we don't want to abandon open gaming and take our leave of WoTC and their products for publishers more amenable to open gaming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mearls
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member.
    By the same token, you wouldn't want a publisher hijacking the process for its own gain. It's been interesting to see how the discourse on 4e vs. 3e has shaped up. This is the first time in D&D's history that you have a number of publishers whose best economic interests lie in stopping people from moving to the new edition. I imagine that the venomous rage has been in part fed by people who serve as opinion leaders for some portions of the audience.
    What is being hijacked here? Open development or the D&D brand? Two different things. You are mixing them in an inconvenient way it's hard to understand what your honest position might be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xechnao
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    What is being hijacked here? Open development or the D&D brand? Two different things. You are mixing them in an inconvenient way it's hard to understand what your honest position might be.
    You wouldn't want a publisher hijacking a theoretical open development community for its own ends, because when the goal moves from "serve the community" to "serve the publisher", the community suffers.

    Ideally, an open movement serves the community, which includes both publishers and users.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mearls
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    It isn't really practical for WotC to dynamically incorporate community improvements in to the core rules. We'd have to reprint the rules on a far more regular basis than the typical gamer would stand for!
    ...

    Even if WotC doesn't directly tap into the specific design produced by the (theoretical at the moment) movement, the movement improves all design in the industry.
    Let me address these two ideas specifically.

    There have been a number of occasions through the 3.x lifespan when WotC could have borrowed from community contributions, fixes, etc to D&D rules. Here are a few:

    1. Allow third-party publishers to reference materials in non-core supplements. Why restrict 3PP from publishing new invocations for warlocks, new psionic mantles, new draconic auras, new stances and maneuvers, etc. Without releasing these options in the SRD, the publishing communities options were limited, and WotC could have at least allowed reference to those options.

    2. Community corrections and adjustments to rules could have been incorporated into the SRD, or a new section of the SRD as additional open content for reference. Additionally, plenty of errata for SRD-based content had been published through 3.x, but the SRD remained behind those errata. We saw changes to polymorph, errata to psionics in Complete Psionic, and more, but none of it was reflected in the SRD to include consistent rules referencing among OGL products.

    3. Community-driven updates to closed content could have also been adopted and published for free. Gem dragons was a prime example of this. RavinRay had an update guide for years, but WotC had no interest in updating them for 3.5 psionics.

    I'm sure I could list a number of additional examples, but these are just a few that reflect WotCs closed-minded approach to open gaming with regards to their own material.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mearls
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member.
    You wouldn't want a publisher hijacking a theoretical open development community for its own ends, because when the goal moves from "serve the community" to "serve the publisher", the community suffers.

    Ideally, an open movement serves the community, which includes both publishers and users.
    Yep. For this to happen the open movement must be stronger than any separate brand name within it. It's D&D's brand name's power here that historically has created the problems of the movement you are addressing. I do admit though, that ironically it was the brand name's power that helped the movement take off.

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