D&D 5E We're Getting Old - and is WotC Accounting For That?

delericho

Legend
Regardless of any of that, though, WotC did not market to the video game crowd. They marketed to us. And I think this was a mistake. We didn't need to be marketed to. We know all about it already. They should have taken out ads in places non-ttrpg gamers are likely to see.

Actually, they did that. Maybe not as much as they should, but they did take out adverts in magazines read by non-D&D gamers.
 

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Halivar

First Post
Actually, they did that. Maybe not as much as they should, but they did take out adverts in magazines read by non-D&D gamers.
I must admit all I have is personal anecdotal experience. I didn't see anything for 4E outside of tt-gaming magazines. Myself, if I were in charge of D&D marketing for 4E, I'd have had exhibition games at wargaming conventions, wherever WH-Fantasy/40K or Warmahordes players were.

Maybe put another way: "If you build it, they will come" is NOT a good marketing tactic.
 

Herschel

Adventurer
Your posts on this thread reek of wah, wah, 5th Ed is not 4.5.

Wrong. I've played every edition. I want a great game, regardless of how many sacred hamburgers have to be served.

But we see over and over again threads about "deal breakers", "not in MY D&D", "That's not (how I see) traditional D&D", "DISASSOCIATIVE!", etc. and those are major hinderences to a design team finding what actually works best for the widest audience.
 

Weather Report

Banned
Banned
Wrong. I've played every edition. I want a great game, regardless of how many sacred hamburgers have to be served.

But we see over and over again threads about "deal breakers", "not in MY D&D", "That's not (how I see) traditional D&D", "DISASSOCIATIVE!", etc. and those are major hinderences to a design team finding what actually works best for the widest audience.

Hopefully for me, 5th Ed is not for you.
 

Herschel

Adventurer
Heck, I even have a few silly "deal breakers". I want use of the full, standard set of polyhedral dice (I'd even like it if there was a use for percentiles soemwhere, if possible), character sheets and the majority of focus pre-Industrial revolution and gunpowder. I have nothing against "Steampunk", I just want it to be ancillary. I also want the game to be designed around actual teamwork.
 

Mercurius

Legend
And this thread pretty much sums up why they should ignore current gamers. It's not age, it's obsitnance. All the passive-aggressive edition war garbage so thinly veiled in this thread alone makes one wonder why the design crew should care one lick what this "community" wants. In a perfect world, they need to make a good game to appeal to new players while finding a way to make the current crew just STFU because they can only hurt their goal to grow the game.

Of course the internet makes things much tougher because motivated minorities spamming review sites all too much of a reality.

Don't forget, however, that many of the "grognardish/obstinate" crowd will still *buy* 5E, whether or not they plan on ever playing. That's half the battle for WotC, at least out of the gate. The other, of course, is making a game that is sustainable and attractive to a wide variety of demographics.

So I think the "answer"--if there is one--is not to focus on one demographic at the expense of another, but to find a simple core ruleset and default style that can form the basis for a wide variety of directions. This was the original design intention, afaict.

(Actually, as an aside, I empathize with the gist of what you're saying in that I feel WotC has really tried to approach the whole (or)deal of a new edition in the spirit of unity - finding what we all agree on, the "spirit of D&D," and making that the basis of design. Even then, some people found their attempts offensive, as if Mearls & Co were telling everyone what D&D Should Be To Everyone. As the saying goes, you can't please everyone - especially we gamers, who tend to be a rather ornery and finicky bunch).

So if you want to play relatively traditional, simple D&D ala OD&D and BECMI, but with a more streamlined core, then the basic game is for you. If you want a more tactical game that focuses on the battle mat, then the "Advanced Combat" module is for you; if you want simulative detail and endless customizations, then the "Advanced Character Design" module is for you. Or you can pick and choose from these major modules, and any number of other thematic modules they come up with.

The problem with both 3E and 4E is that both editions painted themselves into an overly specific thematic corner and couldn't get out. 5E will, supposedly (and hopefully), retain a simple core that could form the base for any number of play styles via modules, and all retain some degree of compatibility.

Heck, I even have a few silly "deal breakers". I want use of the full, standard set of polyhedral dice (I'd even like it if there was a use for percentiles soemwhere, if possible), character sheets and the majority of focus pre-Industrial revolution and gunpowder. I have nothing against "Steampunk", I just want it to be ancillary. I also want the game to be designed around actual teamwork.

As a side note, I agree on all accounts, especially the dice. One of my favorite things about D&D and one of the reasons I end up coming back to it over game engines that I find more aesthetically appealing (e.g. Ars Magica, Talislanta, Fate, etc) is the polyhedral dice. I love 'em.

Gunpowder and such could easily be a "theme module."
 
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delericho

Legend
One thing to bear in mind is that Mike Mearls said, some months back, that the 4e Red Box actually sold very well. Despite being an absolutely absymal product (IMO), it does appear that the 4e Red Box did its job. 4e's problem wasn't that WotC couldn't get people to try the game, it was that they couldn't convert people who tried into lasting gamers (and, more importantly for them, repeat customers).

Now, to a large extent that's inevitable. Even back in the fad days of the 80's, I'll bet a huge number of people bought the Red Box, tried it a couple of times, then threw it in a closet and never looked at it again. D&D simply isn't for everyone. Indeed, even had video games not killed it and taken its stuff, it's likely D&D was destined for niche-dom.

But part of it can be mitigated, by Ryan Dancey's fabled "Network Externalities". A new player is more likely to have an easier time of it if they can latch on to an existing group than if they're left to sort it all out for themselves. They're certainly more likely to stick with it if they're surrounded by enthusiastic and experienced fellow gamers than if they have to recruit a handful of somewhat-willing non-gamers and teach them the rules before they start to play.

And that's why it's important that WotC not simply ignore existing gamers. I'm not saying that they should pander to our every whim (which is impossible anyway), but they do need to at least be mindful of what we think. Because as fractious, intractable, and unpleasant as we may be, we're also the only network that they have.

If they can persuade us, in significant numbers at least, to convert to their new game, WotC will have a much easier time acquiring new players - they'll have a network of existing groups evangelising for them.

On the other hand, if a newbie goes to the store to buy his shiny new Red Box, only to be met by an army of experienced players who tell him, "don't play that game; it sucks. Try 4e/PF/OSRIC instead," then it's likely WotC have just lost a sale - at best, it goes to the competition; at worst, the potential new gamer is driven off entirely by the wave of negativity.

I do believe it would be a mistake for WotC to go too far in trying to please ex-players, and especially the more intractable amongst them. However, it would equally be a big mistake for WotC to "sack the fans" with a view to replacing us with an entirely new crop of gamers. Because only the first half of that plan will work.
 

adamc

First Post
As I was reading through various threads talking about D&D Next, I was once again struck by what a finicky bunch we D&D players are - we want our game just right, and unfortunately we all have different variations on the general theme of "What Is D&D To Me." Now if you go back to the original design goals of D&D Next, it was to cater to that sort of customization - and it seemed that Mearls & Co were fully aware (probably painfully so) what a finicky and, dare I say, difficult bunch of folks we D&D fans are.
<snip>...
Just a great post, thank you. I'm a 4e player who started _much_ later and am definitely "graying". I'm not a strongly attracted to Next, but if they provide the quality of online support I'm looking for (think the insider 4e tools, but hopefully better and not locked into Silverlight), that would be a powerful factor to consider. My players are not going to want to comb through the books looking for details -- they want it to be presented to them and easily accessible. This is one of the ways the bar has risen since the 1980s.

To be honest, I don't think it is only graying gamers who feel that way. Once you've had a more convenient option, it is hard to go back...
 

Mercurius

Legend
[MENTION=22424]delericho[/MENTION], what you wrote reminded me of a thought I had some time ago with regards to Paizo's success. It came to me that D&D, as a franchise and brand name, may partially be a victim of its own success - with the alleged "25 million" always hanging over their heads, not to mention the very successful resurgence with 3E and the OGL. The problem is that WotC is owned by a corporate powerhouse who is always looking at the profit margin, first and foremost. Obviously Paizo cares about profit margin, but I still get the sense that company is, first and foremost, a gaming company run by and for gamers.

WotC might be better off being independent like Paizo, because then they can go back to a similar model and decisions can be made from a "creativity first" approach rather than "profitability first" approach. I mean, obviously Mearls & Co are as gamerish as they come, but they've go the looming shadow of Hasbro forever over their shoulders.

That said, it does seem they have some leeway. I mean, in some ways Hasbro is carrying a full cast of designers for a year or two without producing a single new product. We've never seen this kind of gap before between editions.

Anyhow, there's such a thing as too big. I think it really depends, though, on how much Hasbro thinks they can make from D&D - or if they're OK with it being a "modestly successful" corner of the corporation.
[MENTION=6691682]adamc[/MENTION], I hear you. After playing 4E for a few years with the Character Builder, I could barely remember how to make a PC the old fashioned way. Or we could talk about smartphones - once you start using them, its hard not to rely upon them and then other, older faculties start atrophying. I have a friend in his early-to-mid 30s who said that he's noticing that he's not retaining recent, trivial memories as much anymore because he stores so much on his iPhone. I'm caught between finding that creepy and rather intriguing in terms of what possibilities may arise if our brains re-allocate energy from memory storage into something else, even unknown.

Anyhow, I think its the state of things in 2013 and beyond. Any new iteration of D&D must include an online suite of tools, apps, the whole nine yards. But there's still a pretty daunting access point for newbies; WotC tried to address this with Essentials, but I don't think it was all that successful.
 

jrowland

First Post
I honestly think D&D Next's version of Encounters should be about "DMing 101" - Here's a module loaded with DM hand-holding to walk you through adventure creation from a smaller subset:

The party is hired to protect a caravan: what environment is this? Forest road? Across the dusty desert? etc?

ok, which of these monsters seem to fit best? Your XP budget is 100xp, try and get a mix of these monsters that would be challenging.

etc etc

1 DM = 4+ players = more $$ for hasbro

We need more DMs. The Barrier to Entry for DMing should be lowered. I think encounters is a perfect venue.
 

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