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D&D 4E 4E WotC way of saying your fired?


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Henry

Autoexreginated
I'm not saying this is their plan, but I would certainly hope not, because in an eclectic hobby like RPG's, your hard-core supporters are not only your chief proselytizers, but your base that keeps things going even in the lean cycles. Lose 'em, and you've lost the grass roots element to your success, which in my eyes is always the most effective part of marketing.
 

Given my interactions with the people on the design and development teams, I have to say that I think this fear is unfounded. These guys know, love, and appreciate the fanbase. Sure, appealing to new gamers is a major design goal of any edition, but the notion that getting rid of prior customers is something to be sought is just silly.

And even looking back at Erik's quote: He didn't say that the design goal, at any point, was to "fire the old customers." He simply said that, at one point, someone said that it would be worth it if the result was more successful overall. Not the same thing.
 

Merlin the Tuna

First Post
SPECTRE666 said:
Eric Mona Posted at Pazio that WotC in 1999 wanted to fire all their current customers.
I suspect that there may have been miscommunication on someone's part here; firing one's customers generally refers to the abusive, petty, and typically-not-worth-it-financially subset of customers, not to the entire base. That'd be silly.
 

SPECTRE666

Explorer
Well this is what Erik Mona said. The scenario might play out something like this:

For whatever reason, WotC is unable to provide third-party publishers with a working draft of the rules until, say, January or so. Our print schedules are so far out these days that that simply won't allow us time to measure the new game's impact on our planned storylines for the third Pathfinder Adventure Path. Even under this scenario, we'd likely publish some 4e-compatible GameMastery Modules, but Pathfinder is the flagship of our RPG efforts. I'm NOT switching systems mid-way through an Adventure Path. That would be far too disruptive to our business and our customers are practically begging us not to do so already. So it's not happening.

So if the very first installment of the third Adventure Path is not compatible with 4.0, NONE of the third Adventure Path will be compatible with 4.0. That'll bring us to February 2009 without serious 4.0 support in Pathfinder.

I don't think that would be the end of the world, as a lot of people will be acclimating themselves to the new system in those six months. The question is whether or not the D&D audience "buys" fourth edition as a reasonable evolution of "their" game. And we should have a much better idea of whether or not that's going to happen six months _after_ fourth edition comes out than we will six months before.

Especially if we haven't seen the rules.

Given that WotC currently prioritizes getting the rules to randomly selected D&D Insider subscribers and RPGA groups higher than they do getting the rules to significant third-party companies that can help transition their audience, I am starting to get a little worried.

WotC has been very cool about telling us that we will get the rules before they come out, but I am not certain their timetables will line up with ours in a way that allows us to have Pathfinder ready for 4.0 players at next year's Gen Con.

Let's take this a few more yards down the football field, shall we?

Let's say we don't get the rules in time to make an informed decision before we need to start work in earnest on the third Pathfinder Adventure Path, and we're committed to supporting 3.5 in Pathfinder through February of 2009. Let's also say that we continue to sell enough Pathfinders to make it a worthwhile exercise, and let's also say that the reaction on behalf of the existing audience to 4.0 is underwhelming. I don't EXPECT that this will be the case, but it certainly is possible.

Despite the flaws of 3.5 (now often trumped up by the very designers responsible for them as part of the 4.0 marketing push), there does not seem to be the same system malaise that existed in the waning days of second edition. Plus, lots of players have a much more significant investment in 3.0 and 3.5 than they did in the earlier editions, mostly due to the overwhelming flow of $34.95 monthly hardcovers coming from Renton over the last few years. The PR and marketing challenge of selling 4.0 to the customer base is far more significant, in my view, than the PR and marketing challenge of selling 3.0 to lapsed 1.0 and 2.0 customers.

I have a lot of faith in the design abilities of the Wizards of the Coast staff. As a former PR professional I have some concerns about their ability to lead the audience where they want them to march. We'll see.

So, here we are in the early months of 2009 with our flagship product still supporting 3.5. If the audience does not seem thrilled with the changes instilled by 4.0 at this stage, I can see a reasonable argument for continuing with 3.5 for even longer.

Now, 3.5 is not a perfect system. There are plenty of flaws, particularly in high-level play, and sooner or later someone needs to get in there and "perfect" the system.

Wizards of the Coast seems to be taking a "from the ground up" approach to fixing the rules, in many ways starting from scratch and tossing concepts that have been with the game since the 1970s. Further, they are attempting to monetize various elements of the game with "micro-purchases" and online subscriptions to bring the game closer to what they see as their most significant competition: MMORPGs.

I've never played an MMORPG, I have no interest in playing an MMORPG, and elements that move the game further from its traditional roots as a social tabletop game give me the heebie jeebies. I am at least a little bit concerned that, while the decisions Wizards of the Coast will make to ensure their game is a success for a wholly owned subsidiary of a major international publicly held corporation, those same decisions might not result in changes that are in the best interest of the game or its existing audience.

Back at Wizards of the Coast in 1999 there was a lot of talk about "firing the existing audience" of D&D with the third edition launch. The logic went like this: "Even if we have to fire all of our existing customers, so long as we replace those old customers with more new ones, the result will have been worth it."

Of course, 3.0 did nothing of the kind. Instead, largely by harkening back to the "good old days" of first edition ("Back to the Dungeon," Greyhawk as core, half-orcs, monks, and assassins back in the game, etc.) they managed to revitalize the community of "lapsed" D&D players, bringing them back into the fold.

I have to wonder how prevalent that "fire the customer" mindset is this time around.

So, if 4.0 is not immediately embraced by the majority of Paizo's existing audience and we're still committed to 3.5 Pathfinder into 2009, we'll have to look very seriously at sticking with the system for a year or two.

Thereafter, we might release a "3.75" that smooths out some of the system's kinks and addresses some of the common complaints about it in a way that is respectful of the game's 30-year tradition.

The upside then is that Pathfinder would be fueled by a system whose design is more or less fully controlled by Paizo, and we won't have to worry about what the folks at WotC are doing with D&D, because Pathfinder will no longer be slaved to the official D&D system.

The downside, of course, is that Pathfinder would cease to be a D&D-compatible product, or at least a product compatible with the version of D&D commonly available to new players. That's a SIGNIFICANT disadvantage and one I'd like to avoid if possible.

But if the end result is something that is comfortable and fun and in the grand tradition of our favorite hobby, it might actually work.

If 4.0, on the other hand, is robust enough to emulate the kind of play we're all used to I'd much rather go with the "sure thing" and publish Pathfinder in a way that fully supports 4.0. I honestly trust and expect that 4.0 will allow us to do that, so my default assumption, to be frank, is that we'll convert whole hog to 4.0 at some point or another.

But I haven't seen the rules and I haven't seen the new OGL, and until I do I've got to keep our options open.

--Erik Mona
 

Campbell

Legend
Here's the relevant passage:
Erik Mona said:
Back at Wizards of the Coast in 1999 there was a lot of talk about "firing the existing audience" of D&D with the third edition launch. The logic went like this: "Even if we have to fire all of our existing customers, so long as we replace those old customers with more new ones, the result will have been worth it."
 


Dragonblade

Adventurer
I sympathize with Paizo's dilemma. If they release a cool 3.75 ruleset, I might look into that.

But I absolutely won't be playing 3.5 once the 4e PHB hits. If Pathfinder is still 3.5, I hate to say it but I'm canceling.

But Paizo has a loyal customer base that will probably stick with them. WotC should be smart about it and get them a preview of the 4e OGL. Otherwise Paizo will probably take about 30% of their customer base away if they come out with a 3.75. I'll be bummed because I won't have any readily available adventure path, but I can always go back to making up my own campaigns.
 

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
Campbell said:
Here's the relevant passage: [. . .]
Hmm, I found this to be the relevant passage. It was the paragraph directly following.
Erik Mona said:
Of course, 3.0 did nothing of the kind.
Plus, the OP was pretty much irresponsible paranoid conspiracist scaremongering when he said this.
SPECTRE666 said:
Eric Mona Posted at Pazio that WotC in 1999 wanted to fire all their current customers.
As the paragraph you excerpted says quite clearly: ". . . there was a lot of talk about . . ."

There it is everyone, "there was a lot of talk about" does not equal "wanted to" no matter how hurt you are about everything you are hearing about 4e's new features.

Imputing some people bouncing the idea around—brainstorming—as something the whole company was wanting to fulfill is wildly irresponsible.
 

EATherrian

First Post
Seeing Paizo's quality and love of the game and balancing it against WoTC's quality and love of the game I'd have to say I'll stick with Paizo no matter what. Everything they've done I've enjoyed, unfortunately the same cannot be said of WoTC.

Dragonblade said:
I sympathize with Paizo's dilemma. If they release a cool 3.75 ruleset, I might look into that.

But I absolutely won't be playing 3.5 once the 4e PHB hits. If Pathfinder is still 3.5, I hate to say it but I'm canceling.

But Paizo has a loyal customer base that will probably stick with them. WotC should be smart about it and get them a preview of the 4e OGL. Otherwise Paizo will probably take about 30% of their customer base away if they come out with a 3.75. I'll be bummed because I won't have any readily available adventure path, but I can always go back to making up my own campaigns.
 

Glyfair

Explorer
Apparently Erik Mona second-hand said:
I'm NOT switching systems mid-way through an Adventure Path.
They have first hand experience with that with the Shackled City. It switched from 3E to 3.5 midway. Part of the reason the hardcover was so popular, everything was one "edition."

Given that WotC currently prioritizes getting the rules to randomly selected D&D Insider subscribers and RPGA groups higher than they do getting the rules to significant third-party companies that can help transition their audience, I am starting to get a little worried.
I'm a bit worried about Paizo if this statement is Erik's. If he truly doesn't understand the difference between playtesting a game and having a set of rules they can give to 3rd party publishers I have to be concerned about Paizo's playtesting of their modules.

I do find that hard to believe that he doesn't understand the difference. Maybe he was feeling a bit petulant at the time he wrote it.
I've never played an MMORPG, I have no interest in playing an MMORPG, and elements that move the game further from its traditional roots as a social tabletop game give me the heebie jeebies.
Then again, maybe Erik has been buying the "4E is a MMORPG" stuff that has been flooding the forums. I know there is a vibe of that from the Paizo forums and staff. Erik seems to be taking the reasonable "wait and see" approach from most of his comments. However, when I see comments like those above I wonder whether those comments are the negativity affecting him, or whether that's how he really feels and the "wait and see" is just his corporate face.
 

Zurai

First Post
Glyfair said:
I'm a bit worried about Paizo if this statement is Erik's. If he truly doesn't understand the difference between playtesting a game and having a set of rules they can give to 3rd party publishers I have to be concerned about Paizo's playtesting of their modules.

I do find that hard to believe that he doesn't understand the difference. Maybe he was feeling a bit petulant at the time he wrote it.

Look at it from a publisher's POV.

The turnaround on Pathfinder is apparantly more than six months per module.

We are currently 8 months from the general release of 4th Edition.

They don't need to know specifics of the rule set to prepare their 3rd AP to be 4.0 compatible, but they need to know the general gist of the rules. To give a 2E to 3E comparison, they don't need to know that 5 ranks in Knowledge: Nobility gives a +2 bonus to Diplomacy, but they do need to know that player characters actually have measurable skills now.
 

Stereofm

Adventurer
Originally Posted by Erik Mona
Back at Wizards of the Coast in 1999 there was a lot of talk about "firing the existing audience" of D&D with the third edition launch. The logic went like this: "Even if we have to fire all of our existing customers, so long as we replace those old customers with more new ones, the result will have been worth it."

In my case, they have succeeded quite admirably. As I said, my D&D budget was a sacred cow. Consider what I spent to have the whole WOTC 3.5 + most of D20
+ earlier editions.

Of course, I respect the unalienable right of people to shoot themselves in the leg.

Now to be honest, I am not quite so upset about rules changes. I am upset about the attitude shown by the company. It seems from outside quite cynical and selfish.

I am upset, because RPGs are different from most hobbies in that they are shared worlds. The design of D&D was done by many different people over the years, and they managed to make a shared experience. Nothing was quite as exemplified by this as the D20 license itself.
Breaking this is ...

Now the TRUE design flaw of 3.X ... you want to know it ?

It's an empty rules system with nothing to remember it by !

WhaddI meanby this ? People do not remember 1.0 because of the rules. They remember it because they were scared shitless in I6 : Ravenloft or because they slew Lolth in Queen of the Demonweb pits.

WOTC has kept publishing various rules supplements over the 3.X life, but the adventures were here only at the very end. Who has played them ? Did anybody ?

The source of fun for 3.X was DUNGEON. DUNGEON, yes. Made by ... PAIZO.
It's not a surprise to me that it was the first thing to eliminate to make way for their new line.

Between this and the not-so-friendly attitude of a lot of 4e "fans", I am convinced that I will not buy 4e or anything related close or far, but I'll stick by Paizo whatever their choices.

Thank you for all the good work, and excellent adventures guys.
 

Monkey Boy

First Post
Glyfair said:
I'm a bit worried about Paizo if this statement is Erik's. If he truly doesn't understand the difference between playtesting a game and having a set of rules they can give to 3rd party publishers I have to be concerned about Paizo's playtesting of their modules.

I've play test Paizo modules every weekend and can safely say they rock.

I love my Dungeon collection.
 

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
Glyfair said:
I'm a bit worried about Paizo if this statement is Erik's. If he truly doesn't understand the difference between playtesting a game and having a set of rules they can give to 3rd party publishers I have to be concerned about Paizo's playtesting of their modules.
That gave me a whisky tango foxtrot moment as well. We've had, what, 3-4 weeks of outside playtesting of the rules, and he's publicly voicing worry that the third party publishers don't have the rules yet? They've only begun the playtesting. :confused:

Maybe Erik doesn't think that whatever playtesting WotC with the DDI and RPGA playtesters is actual playtesting. Or maybe he thinks the playtesting that is being still being done would not have a big enough affect on decisions third party publishers like him want to make.

Because I could still see the complaint that if WotC gave rules to third party publishers before outside playtest and then ended up having to give out weekly/monthly revisions as playtesters gave feedback, then he'd have just something different to complain about. :\
 

SPECTRE666

Explorer
I am not trying to troll or flame people. I posted the link. Go verify, what I copied. I just posted what Erik said. Page 9 on the link. Also 1,000,000 people send WotC $10.00 a month to play MMOD&D, for one year. Think about it. Thats a lot of $. I am all for 4E. I like most of what I see with 4E. Just some times we might have to ask ourselves some uncomfortable questions, no? :)
 

delericho

Legend
Erik Mona said:
I'm NOT switching systems mid-way through an Adventure Path. That would be far too disruptive to our business and our customers are practically begging us not to do so already. So it's not happening.

Let's say we don't get the rules in time to make an informed decision before we need to start work in earnest on the third Pathfinder Adventure Path, and we're committed to supporting 3.5 in Pathfinder through February of 2009. Let's also say that we continue to sell enough Pathfinders to make it a worthwhile exercise, and let's also say that the reaction on behalf of the existing audience to 4.0 is underwhelming...

Now, 3.5 is not a perfect system. There are plenty of flaws, particularly in high-level play, and sooner or later someone needs to get in there and "perfect" the system...

Thereafter, we might release a "3.75" that smooths out some of the system's kinks and addresses some of the common complaints about it in a way that is respectful of the game's 30-year tradition.

The upside then is that Pathfinder would be fueled by a system whose design is more or less fully controlled by Paizo, and we won't have to worry about what the folks at WotC are doing with D&D, because Pathfinder will no longer be slaved to the official D&D system.

At the present time, it looks like I won't be switching to 4e. That being the case, the above would represent a 'best case' outcome for me. That it even represents a possible outcome is good news indeed.
 


Kae'Yoss

First Post
Henry said:
I'm not saying this is their plan, but I would certainly hope not, because in an eclectic hobby like RPG's, your hard-core supporters are not only your chief proselytizers, but your base that keeps things going even in the lean cycles. Lose 'em, and you've lost the grass roots element to your success, which in my eyes is always the most effective part of marketing.

Not with 4e as a whole, but it certainly seems as if they wanted to get rid of Forgotten Realms fans. The way they introduce extreme changes and stick to them (while they said that the Eberron changes will be minimised due to fan requests) and won't even try to allay our suspicions seems to say that we're worthless to them.
 

Kae'Yoss

First Post
Dragonblade said:
But I absolutely won't be playing 3.5 once the 4e PHB hits. If Pathfinder is still 3.5, I hate to say it but I'm canceling.

I'll be "canceling", too. Canceling my support for WotC. Paizo doesn't kick old-time fans in the groin like Wizards seems to be doing right now (and this isn't the first time they showed that they are perfectly comfortable with ignoring parts of their customer base).
 

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