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D&D 5E Are we at, or close, to peak D&D? Again?

BrassDragon

Explorer
I expect we'll get another peak/bump/renaissance when someone makes an accesible VTT that's not just iterating on the concept of miniatures/tokens and sheets of paper (or god forbid, 300+ page books) moving on a tabletop but aims a little higher with a new design paradigm.

I can't describe what it would look like but after this past year, I have this nagging feeling that the current way of trying emulate exactly how RPGs have been played at the kitchen table for past decades on a screen (with some additional bells and whistles) is clunky, unimaginative and unsuited for the audience primarily engaging with the game digitally and/or remotely.

And before I ruffle any feathers: if you play RPGs with nothing but a Zoom call, more power to you... I'm merely speculating that further integration of tech and real life roleplaying / storytelling mechanics (as opposed to videogames trying to do away with the GM entirely) might cause a whole new wave of hype.
 

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Hussar

Legend
I expect we'll get another peak/bump/renaissance when someone makes an accesible VTT that's not just iterating on the concept of miniatures/tokens and sheets of paper (or god forbid, 300+ page books) moving on a tabletop but aims a little higher with a new design paradigm.

I can't describe what it would look like but after this past year, I have this nagging feeling that the current way of trying emulate exactly how RPGs have been played at the kitchen table for past decades on a screen (with some additional bells and whistles) is clunky, unimaginative and unsuited for the audience primarily engaging with the game digitally and/or remotely.

And before I ruffle any feathers: if you play RPGs with nothing but a Zoom call, more power to you... I'm merely speculating that further integration of tech and real life roleplaying / storytelling mechanics (as opposed to videogames trying to do away with the GM entirely) might cause a whole new wave of hype.
As someone who has played using VTT's for twenty years now, I'm going to strongly disagree with you.

The primary pull of VTT play is keeping it as close to face to face as possible while leveraging the tools available to you in the medium. Yeah, sure, animations are nice and so's sound, but, what's really groovy is when the VTT tracks all the little details for you. Tracks food, ammunition, spells used, HP, all that mechanical stuff. Because the simpler the VTT makes it to play the game, the more time players spend on actually playing and not accounting.

Having the VTT double as a rules guru, keeping things moving, makes VTT play very attractive. Cool graphics and whatnot are nice, but, let's face it, I can get that in any number of online games. Games that will likely be far prettier than a VTT game ever will be. But, the key is, the VTT is a tool to aid in playing a game. A VTT is NOT a game.
 

BrassDragon

Explorer
As someone who has played using VTT's for twenty years now, I'm going to strongly disagree with you.

The primary pull of VTT play is keeping it as close to face to face as possible while leveraging the tools available to you in the medium. Yeah, sure, animations are nice and so's sound, but, what's really groovy is when the VTT tracks all the little details for you. Tracks food, ammunition, spells used, HP, all that mechanical stuff. Because the simpler the VTT makes it to play the game, the more time players spend on actually playing and not accounting.

Having the VTT double as a rules guru, keeping things moving, makes VTT play very attractive. Cool graphics and whatnot are nice, but, let's face it, I can get that in any number of online games. Games that will likely be far prettier than a VTT game ever will be. But, the key is, the VTT is a tool to aid in playing a game. A VTT is NOT a game.
I wasn't thinking of 3D graphics or VR and such but I'm just observing that we're not very successful in emulating the 'feel' of a face-to-face game with our current generation of VTTs (or remote conferencing solutions for that matter.)

I just have a hunch that we'll soon look back on this era and say to each other 'huh, that was a weird and roundabout way of interacting with a group of people at a distance'. And once technology solves that, I expect another surge in popularity of RPGs... so please don't think I'm advocating for turning every adventure / story game into World of Warcraft.
 

D&D has got a great future. Even the board games have survived the videogame competition. Even if videogame industry can be a serious menace for TTRPGs (again) D&D can survive as multimedia franchise selling different products. Even "Hero Quest" is going to return to the toy-shops soon (I hope that at least).

The TTRPGs are for the fandom who love to create their own fan-fiction and to can to choose different options in the videogames aren't possible, as social interactions.

Sometimes I guess 2021 will suffer a new wave of satanic panic, but this time the tagerts will be nor the TTRPGs neither videogames with ultraviolence (Mortal Kombat, Doom Eternal..).

And D&D is not all eggs in one basket. There are different settings, and it may be different products, for example comics, toys and videogames.

The fall would be if the new edition arrives but it is not wellcome. WotC doesn't want it yet, but, yes, to create a new d20 System to can adapt famous videogame franchises (Overwatch, Fortnite: Save the World, Starcraft)...

I guess Hasbro will have got more contacts with Asian companies/publishers and this will be translated into "bridge (between both sides)" franchises, created for Asian and Western audence. Not only Japan but China and Korea will could be a great influence for future Hasbro franchises...and if we are lucky, some new D&D settings inspired in Far East cultures but enough politically correct.
 


AtomicPope

Adventurer
Unlike previous years, WOTC has dedicated material to children. I learned to play using the Basic Set, and then teaching myself AD&D. Thankfully, no one has to go through that again! Now there's material for different age groups. Also, my parents didn't play so there's an advantage the newer generations have. We run games for our kids and eventually they have their own ideas and we just let them fly away. When you blink and look again everything has changed. You realize that those kids whose first D&D game you ran during the summer are now in college, the military, working full time, married mothers and fathers, and running their own games.
 

TheSword

Legend
I wasn't thinking of 3D graphics or VR and such but I'm just observing that we're not very successful in emulating the 'feel' of a face-to-face game with our current generation of VTTs (or remote conferencing solutions for that matter.)

I just have a hunch that we'll soon look back on this era and say to each other 'huh, that was a weird and roundabout way of interacting with a group of people at a distance'. And once technology solves that, I expect another surge in popularity of RPGs... so please don't think I'm advocating for turning every adventure / story game into World of Warcraft.
If you’re not thinking about the graphics, or the rules systems what are you talking about?

VTTs are extremely popular and have been for several year. They’ve just seen a gear change in 2020+.

I will be continuing VTT games after meeting restrictions are relaxed. They’re just plain better at some things.
 


BrassDragon

Explorer
If you’re not thinking about the graphics, or the rules systems what are you talking about?

VTTs are extremely popular and have been for several year. They’ve just seen a gear change in 2020+.

I will be continuing VTT games after meeting restrictions are relaxed. They’re just plain better at some things.
I was thinking about some features that are already lowkey implemented in telepresence software, like AI-assisted direction e.g. when I bend over the table to point at a token, the viewport knows where I'm pointing and puts it in focus. Or features AR-like features where we can look at the same virtual magic item and turn it around for each other's inspection or push the 'battle mat' towards another player. Stuff that exists conceptually but is not commonplace in consumer tech just yet.

But you're posing a really hard question - I already said in my first post that I don't know what the new design paragdigm would look like. Again, I just have a hunch that current state of the art is far from ideal and if it improves dramatically, it might give the hobby a whole new leash of life.

EDIT: It's funny you bring up the rules system though... one thing I have learned this year is that the current rulesets involve a lot of waiting around for other players to take their turns. Not a big deal off-line but online it can sometimes be hard to keep everyone's attention focused. I could see clever designers coming up with ways to have players 'out of the spotlight' (in RP or combat turns) more engaged. But here too, I'm not smart enough to see the solution... just chafing at the limitation of our current systems and tech.
 


amethal

Adventurer
And before I ruffle any feathers: if you play RPGs with nothing but a Zoom call, more power to you... I'm merely speculating that further integration of tech and real life roleplaying / storytelling mechanics (as opposed to videogames trying to do away with the GM entirely) might cause a whole new wave of hype.
We played Pathfinder over Zoom without much trouble, but we don't use mats or miniatures anyway.

Also played D&D 5th edition using Roll 20, until we were able to go back to playing in person. The people who were new to the game found Roll 20 easier in some respects e.g. making ability checks.
 

TheSword

Legend
I was thinking about some features that are already lowkey implemented in telepresence software, like AI-assisted direction e.g. when I bend over the table to point at a token, the viewport knows where I'm pointing and puts it in focus. Or features AR-like features where we can look at the same virtual magic item and turn it around for each other's inspection or push the 'battle mat' towards another player. Stuff that exists conceptually but is not commonplace in consumer tech just yet.

But you're posing a really hard question - I already said in my first post that I don't know what the new design paragdigm would look like. Again, I just have a hunch that current state of the art is far from ideal and if it improves dramatically, it might give the hobby a whole new leash of life.

EDIT: It's funny you bring up the rules system though... one thing I have learned this year is that the current rulesets involve a lot of waiting around for other players to take their turns. Not a big deal off-line but online it can sometimes be hard to keep everyone's attention focused. I could see clever designers coming up with ways to have players 'out of the spotlight' (in RP or combat turns) more engaged. But here too, I'm not smart enough to see the solution... just chafing at the limitation of our current systems and tech.
I agree, it’s interesting what may come. The Sony Walkman got terrible focus group feedback because nobody could imagine listening to music outside. How do you know you really want a new, unique, luxury item until you’ve had a while using it.

I think what we have to be careful about is removing hackability. Currently I can buy a token set from Roll20 or a licensed module and get professionally produced content. However I can also spend 30 mins on google and checking my Patreon’s and paint3D and make something equally good if not better - just not original.

My concern with some developments like 3d objects is that it sets the bar quite high for users adding their own content. It’s the same reason I’ve rejected VTTs that use 3d maps and tokens or animated assets. As pretty as it is, It just sets the bar too high for work. An attractive and extremely flexible 2D image is more practical than a more complete 3D or animated image.
 


jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Easy money I spend on games vs money on books.
But you're assuming that everyone spends the same amount and using that to make broad statements about which one is better value for everyone, not just for you. What could be a better value than free?
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I don't really understand how something like Dungeons and Dragons is a viable business model, honestly.

I bought a few rulebooks from Wizards, but I can't think of any reason to ever give them any more money. I've got what I need to create, I don't need a load of irrelevant guff on top of that.

Warhammer or Magic is different, it's all about collecting more stuff. But I don't really get why anyone would buy a book like Tasha's.
The business model straight up didn't work during 2E, 3.X, or 4E. Hence all the bankruptcy, firings, and reboots.

The current books sell well, and in my experience children who cannot read yet love them as art objects. That sort of primal appeal works even on older children, and adults. Mearls stated in the way back that one of their main goals was to make books people wanted as art objects as much as game material...and so they have done.
 

The business model straight up didn't work during 2E, 3.X, or 4E. Hence all the bankruptcy, firings, and reboots.

The current books sell well, and in my experience children who cannot read yet love them as art objects. That sort of primal appeal works even on older children, and adults. Mearls stated in the way back that one of their main goals was to make books people wanted as art objects as much as game material...and so they have done.

IMO the only sustainable business model is what 5e is doing now: focus on adventures, occasionally dropping something more permanent in response to player demand. The revenue from a hardback rule book is deceptive, since the marginal utility of each additional rule book for the players constantly declines. 5e adventures continue to sell well, even if it seems they're unpopular with the forum crowd.
 

payn

Legend
IMO the only sustainable business model is what 5e is doing now: focus on adventures, occasionally dropping something more permanent in response to player demand. The revenue from a hardback rule book is deceptive, since the marginal utility of each additional rule book for the players constantly declines. 5e adventures continue to sell well, even if it seems they're unpopular with the forum crowd.
Yeah there is a lot of nose turning at published adventures but its the secret to Paizo's success.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
IMO the only sustainable business model is what 5e is doing now: focus on adventures, occasionally dropping something more permanent in response to player demand. The revenue from a hardback rule book is deceptive, since the marginal utility of each additional rule book for the players constantly declines. 5e adventures continue to sell well, even if it seems they're unpopular with the forum crowd.
I have understood roughly since I started with 5E that I was not exactly the target market--I don't like published adventures, or really even settings, so I'm really reluctant to buy either--but I have come to understand that the hardcover adventures are more of a moneymaker. I'm happy to have WotC make more money on D&D by selling stuff I don't want to other people, so long as it keeps the game alive.
 


TheSword

Legend
The business model straight up didn't work during 2E, 3.X, or 4E. Hence all the bankruptcy, firings, and reboots.

The current books sell well, and in my experience children who cannot read yet love them as art objects. That sort of primal appeal works even on older children, and adults. Mearls stated in the way back that one of their main goals was to make books people wanted as art objects as much as game material...and so they have done.
The books are beautiful. The art is hands above previous editions as is the design.
 
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