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  1. - Top - End - #631
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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    The first question is, are they asking the right people.
    Well, there are only two types of people who matter: existing D&D customers, and people who would be D&D customers except for some flaw they find with existing D&D products (including finding the game inaccessible).

    The play test best addresses the first type of people. After all, if you're a customer, you want to know what's going on. The play test also gets some of the second group (mostly those that played 1e, 2e or 3e and left recently. The rest of the second group is unlikely to be interested in the play test either because they're not RPG players now, of have never been interested in D&D as anything more than idle curiosity.

    There is a third subset, which is the group of current customers who aren't actually interested in the play test. These are like some of my current players who are mostly there to hang out and have a good time beating up some orcs. They aren't particularly attached to the game, and don't spend a lot of time thinking about it. They will likely simply play whatever game their DM has chosen for them. These people do have some useful feedback to provide, but short of actually ambushing them directly, most of that feedback will be filtered through their DM who falls into the first group of people anyway.

    So I would say overall, yes, they're asking the right people.

    The second question is, will the majority answers be successful in drawing in new people and maintaining them?
    The answer to this question is no. And it is always no, no matter the questions you ask. New product development is not about asking people what they want and then giving it to them. That's skating to where the puck has been. Development is about asking people what they want, and than giving them a new and better product which addresses the underlying needs expressed through their wants. If you're a computer person, this is why Apple does so well selling things that on paper are measurably "worse" than their competition (iPod anyone?). It's also why Microsoft Office remains the dominant office product despite being universally hated. This comic also covers it a bit: http://media.smashingmagazine.com/wp...models_v61.jpg

    The short answer is that you will never get the "right" answers from the questions you ask people when developing a new product.

    The nature of their questions is, IMO, wrong. The surveys are all about the fluff and gut feelings, not about the mechanics. It's a lot of, "What's iconic?" and "Does this look like a bugbear to you?"
    That's because the mechanics don't matter at this stage. Look at it this way, most people who play RPGs are not mechanics geeks. It doesn't matter to them whether or not their probability curve is generated by 4d6 or 3d8 or even 2d12. What matters to them is how the game feels. How it evokes the world that they're creating. The absolute most important thing to do when designing an RPG is to decide what you want the game to feel like, and then craft your mechanics to support that feel. To that end, it's vitally important to ask "What's iconic" or "What does a bugbear look like to you?" Once you have established what the game is supposed to feel like, you can then tweak and simplify your mechanics over and over until you find the right mechanics to provide the feel you're looking for. That isn't to say 4d6, 3d8 or 2d12 don't generate different feels, but that whether that feel is consistent with the activity that we're trying to model is far more important.

    If there's one thing I've learned from playing RPGs is that if I buy a game, I want it to be one I couldn't have made myself.
    Then you will never buy another RPG again. The fact of the matter is, any game a team of "professionals" can design, is one that you could have made yourself. It might take you longer, and be more difficult, but there's no magic sauce that makes a professional game designed better able to design games than you or I. Also, never ever ever forget that no only was D&D (and indeed the entire RPG industry) the result of a bunch of "hobbyists", but that almost every single professional was a hobbyist before someone decided to start paying them.

    Yet WotC isn't spending their time developing those mechanics or even introducing new ones. Instead, they are sending out surveys and polishing the skeleton instead of adding meat to the bones.
    If your foundation isn't solid, the building will never stand.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: WotC is abandoning (at their peril!) their strengths as a game development company and is instead trying to retread the ideas that were popular during their first big hit -- 3.0. Appealing to nostalgia might get you some money in the bank, but it is invariably the death knell of a franchise.
    What are these "Strengths" that you see them abandoning?

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    QFT

    If there's one thing I've learned from playing RPGs is that if I buy a game, I want it to be one I couldn't have made myself.

    I am not a team of professional (read: paid) game developers with a cadre of artists and veteran roleplayers; they should have ideas of their own that they can develop and implement on their own. At the moment, all that the 5e development seems to consist of is The Internet and some guys with a stack of old D&D books cribbing ideas and mechanics and slapping them together into a single book. Not only could I do that, I've seen what those games look like -- pick up any random "fix" of 3.x and you have it. Hobbyists put them together with the input of The Internet and regardless of your opinions on such games it is true that they did not require the resources of WotC to make them.

    Has WotC had some good, even innovative, ideas in 5e? Yes -- Expertise Dice and their modular character design were at least novel attempts to grapple with the WotC D&D framework. But those ideas were just jumping-off points: they're not enough to build an entire system around. Yet WotC isn't spending their time developing those mechanics or even introducing new ones. Instead, they are sending out surveys and polishing the skeleton instead of adding meat to the bones.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: WotC is abandoning (at their peril!) their strengths as a game development company and is instead trying to retread the ideas that were popular during their first big hit -- 3.0. Appealing to nostalgia might get you some money in the bank, but it is invariably the death knell of a franchise.
    You need a solid frame before you start putting up the walls & running the wires though. Let them build a foundation. (As long as they don't build it in a swamp :( I don't want to see another sinking edition)

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by 1337 b4k4 View Post
    Then you will never buy another RPG again. The fact of the matter is, any game a team of "professionals" can design, is one that you could have made yourself. It might take you longer, and be more difficult, but there's no magic sauce that makes a professional game designed better able to design games than you or I. Also, never ever ever forget that no only was D&D (and indeed the entire RPG industry) the result of a bunch of "hobbyists", but that almost every single professional was a hobbyist before someone decided to start paying them.
    Sure, but paying people is supposed to convince them to devote more time to their Art, not less

    Listen, I may be able to paint, but I wouldn't have thought to paint like Dali.
    I may be able to write, but I wouldn't have thought to write like J.R.R. Tolkien.
    I may be able to make RPGs, but I wouldn't have thought to come up with Relationship Mechanics like in Bliss Stage.

    At the heart of any work of Art is the idea of the author. New ideas come from people, not from retreading works that already exist. I would have never thought to write anything like Tolkien but now that it's written anyone can write a "Tolkien-like" work. What WotC is doing now is like Tolkien repackaging The Hobbit instead of writing Fellowship of the Ring -- they're covering ground that has not only been covered already but are simply "giving people what they want" instead of using their own abilities to produce something new.

    * * *
    The strengths that WotC has are as follows:

    (1) A staff of game designers who are paid to design games
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    They have a collection of, presumably talented or at least seasoned, designers who do not have to worry about doing anything but designing games. In the same way the artist with a patron can focus on creating art than the starving one, a paid game designer can spend more time working on mechanics than the web developer who scribbles notes in his spare time.

    Ideally this means they can spend more time coming up with new ideas, trying them out, and actually put them together into a complete game. Y'know, before throwing some mechanics at the Internet and seeing what sticks.

    (2) A bucket of money to hire auxiliary types (writers, software developers) to make the game pretty.
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    Yeah, we have time to see them make use of this bucket. Still, I'm disappointed that so far this bucket of money can't even make their "play testing" experience work smoothly.

    The other stuff they're leveraging just fine, but #1 is the main issue. The whole attraction of Indie Games is that they're done by Geniuses (lit. a person with strong natural talent) who produce novel mechanics and therefore, play experiences. These games are naturally limited (since they don't have the resources to produce a game as broad as D&D) and often lack the bells & whistles that mainstream gamers like in their games: splatbooks, online reference tools, pretty art, etc.

    Now, giving an Indie Designer a bucket of money doesn't guarantee (or even promise) a better game -- many Indie Designers basically just have one Good Idea and lack a wider vision to design a larger game. But WotC -- theoretically -- can have a range of designers from the Indie Genius to the TSR Workhorse and clearly has the infrastructure to let them work together and produce a unified system. 4e, as an example, is a vast game -- larger than any one person could conceivably produce -- and was the product of the shared vision of a team of designers. Whether you liked it or not, it was both new and different from any other game on the market.

    If WotC can do that once, why not do that again? Learn from your mistakes, of course, but use your team to make a game first and then play test it. This design-by-committee approach could have been done by anyone with a bucket of money: as Mearls himself said, he's just "the product owner" and his so-called designers serve as code monkeys that throw something together every two weeks to satisfy customer survey results.

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  4. - Top - End - #634
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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Just because they're asking for feedback doesn't mean they're doing whatever the playerbase says. They're still developing the game the same way they usually would, except that now they get to see what people like and don't like before the game is released, rather than after. This allows them to make informed decisions about what to work on, what to change, what to leave alone.

    Game developers (and developers of all kinds) have been using this process forever. The only difference now is that the people testing the game is all of us, instead of the designers, or a handful of paid game testers over in WotC.

    It's doing for RPGs what the web has already done for comics. It's allowing the end user to participate (indirectly) with the creation of the thing they're enjoying.
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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by AgentPaper View Post
    Just because they're asking for feedback doesn't mean they're doing whatever the playerbase says. They're still developing the game the same way they usually would, except that now they get to see what people like and don't like before the game is released, rather than after. This allows them to make informed decisions about what to work on, what to change, what to leave alone.

    Game developers (and developers of all kinds) have been using this process forever. The only difference now is that the people testing the game is all of us, instead of the designers, or a handful of paid game testers over in WotC.
    So... the way that these games have always been developed is (1) throw together a combat mechanic (2) test the combat mechanic (3) throw in new elements willy-nilly and see what sticks?

    How do you get a game like Mountain Witch or Bliss Stage or Burning Wheel working like that? When I design games I start with the Purpose of the game and then define Resolution Mechanics, Character Creation and Character Advancement before I start playtesting.

    So far I've seen half of one of these steps (no definition on Skills, for example) and in the meantime WotC is tinkering with spell descriptions rather than, say, describing how non-combat interactions are resolved.

    Yeah, I don't buy that this is normal procedure for game design. Or if it is, then I guess that explains a lot
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  6. - Top - End - #636
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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Sure, but paying people is supposed to convince them to devote more time to their Art, not less
    Presumably the WotC staff is dedicating at least 40 hrs/wk to their art...

    At the heart of any work of Art is the idea of the author. New ideas come from people, not from retreading works that already exist.
    Actually, if you look at the history of all forms of art, retreading works that exist over and over, is pretty much exactly how new ideas come about. Now, carbon copying is of course not going to buy you any new ideas, but pretty much the entirety of art is about remixing and reexamining existing material. To get an idea of what I'm talking about, I would start with the 4 parts to this work (http://www.everythingisaremix.info/). Hell, even D&D (and the RPG industry as a whole) started out as "What if we did a war game, but focused on one soldier?"

    The strengths that WotC has are as follows:
    I don't see where you think WotC isn't leveraging either of these strengths. Do you seriously believe that the designers at WotC are just sitting around all day waiting for some internet troll to throw them a bone?

    Learn from your mistakes, of course, but use your team to make a game first and then play test it. This design-by-committee approach could have been done by anyone with a bucket of money: as Mearls himself said, he's just "the product owner" and his so-called designers serve as code monkeys that throw something together every two weeks to satisfy customer survey results.
    I think this is a fundamental misunderstanding of what Mearls and the D&D team are doing. As for learning from their mistakes, I think they are. And one of those mistakes is assuming that D&D is just a name, and that releasing any game under the D&D name will sell. Your right that 4e was new and different. And as many people even those who aren't 4e fans have said, had it been marketed under a different name it would have likely done much better from if not a sales then at least a public relations standpoint.

    WotC learned that for many of their fans, D&D is more than just a name on a box. It's a very particular feel and play style, and it has its own built in assumptions and flow that make D&D what it is. And to that rather substantial part of their customer base, 4e is no more D&D in anything other than name, than it would be Mouse Guard or Vampire if the same mechanics were released under those names.

    What I said in the previous post about mechanics not mattering at this stage? I meant it. 4e turned people off because the mechanics didn't support the feel that made D&D for those people. That's why they're so concerned with how the game feels right now. Because it's easier to build a game around a feel, than it is to build it around mechanics you've already decided on.

    Where as everyone else is worried about how much they're talking about "feel" and "iconic", I'm personally worried that they're still so married to the rolls to solve everything that they won't be willing to deviate to far from that system to address real "feel" issues. See using the same d20 roll that decides combat deciding ability checks.

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    So... the way that these games have always been developed is (1) throw together a combat mechanic (2) test the combat mechanic (3) throw in new elements willy-nilly and see what sticks?
    Other than the crack about "willy-nilly", you've just described iterative design. Which, yes, is how most games are developed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    How do you get a game like Mountain Witch or Bliss Stage or Burning Wheel working like that?
    Burning Witch and Bliss Stage look like games that one person hacked together and which haven't been played enough to find all of the flaws that invariably exist. Burning Wheel seems a bit more used, but not much, and looks like a terrible system in the first place since all you do is sit around and throw a bunch of d6 to see whether the next part of your story starts with "fortunately" or "unfortunately", rather than making actual decisions.

    The grass is always greener on the other side. Most of the "obviously better" games that people point to to show how bad DnD is aren't actually better, but simply less well examined. The rest aren't actually better than DnD, but instead are simply different types of games and thus appeal to a different sort of person.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    When I design games I start with the Purpose of the game and then define Resolution Mechanics, Character Creation and Character Advancement before I start playtesting.
    Wizards has done that too. Resolution is made with d20, adding player bonuses and compared to a target threshold. Character creation means assigning stats, picking race, class, feats, and skills. Character advancement uses a experience system which grants you levels. Each level gives your character more stats, and more character choices.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    So far I've seen half of one of these steps (no definition on Skills, for example) and in the meantime WotC is tinkering with spell descriptions rather than, say, describing how non-combat interactions are resolved.
    What do you mean no definition on skills? At any rate, skills aren't the focus of the playtest right now. They've got a long time to playtest, so it's better for them to focus on single aspects and resolve them one at a time, rather than rushing through everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    Yeah, I don't buy that this is normal procedure for game design. Or if it is, then I guess that explains a lot
    Game design is messy. You don't get a good game from a single stroke of genius, you get a good game from days, weeks, months, or even years of slow, repetitive, thorough, hard work by many different people.
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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    I gotta agree with Oracle Hunter here. This incremental design by committee stuff is for the birds. The only "new" idea I've seen come out of all of this was the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic, and they've so far neglected to do much with it. Everything else just feels like a lukewarm 3e game (and I say that will seeing the fragments of 4e in the system).

    I'm tired of the "it's just a skeleton, there will be more meat later!" excuse. They have, to this point, presented a fully functional (but yes, flawed) system. But does anyone honestly think that the classes/skills/backgrounds/etc. are going to look significantly different between now and their release, when the current classes/skills/backgrounds/etc. are pretty darn similar to what they were in previous editions? Numbers will be tweaked, but (aside from maybe the Rogue), I can't imagine the final product being completely unrecognizable from the current one.

    It's a completely underwhelming system. There is nothing that makes me go "I really want to play this" - let alone pay for it - over simply playing Pathfinder (or simply sticking with 4e). I would go as far as to say that there is an absence of creativity in the current product.

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    I'm tired of the "it's just a skeleton, there will be more meat later!" excuse.
    But it's true. We're what? 6 months into what they said would be at a minimum a 2 year design process? And that assumes that when the Play Test is done, the product will be done too (something I wouldn't count on).

    As far as things being substantially different 2 years from now. Take a look at the first play test packet (which was also a fully functional but flawed packet) and then the most recent one. You don't see any substantial changes at all? But yes, to some small degree you're right, things won't be radically different, but that goes back to my earlier comments about D&D having a certain feeling.

    The fact of the matter is a completely new game with all new mechanics and all new classes and skills and backgrounds that no one has seen before is not, will not and can not be D&D. You can put a D&D name on it, but it's no more D&D than it would be Vampire or Burning Wheel or Traveler. And there is nothing wrong with this. There is nothing wrong with WotC recognizing the D&D is made up of certain tropes and concepts that permeate the system and that a lot of people who play D&D play it because of those tropes. Heck, I'd argue that for almost all the people who play D&D, they play it for those tropes, because lets face it, if you wanted different tropes, there are thousands of alternatives out there in the RPG world.

    Now, that means that you may not buy D&D Next, but if WotC is smart, in the long run, that won't matter. My guess is they are planning on taking a page from the GURPS play book. Where as D&D had major version shifts in 2000, 2003, 2008 and now a projected 2014, GURPS had one in 1988 and another in 2004, and is likely to not see another until sometime closer to 2020, and even now, 3rd and 4th edition GURPS are much more compatible than say 2e and 4e D&D (or even 3e and 4e D&D). But what GURPS does and D&D doesn't (but hopefully will) is build a single solid core and then leave it the hell alone and play with new additions to that core. New "modules" if you will. If WotC can pull that off, they really can have Tactical Squares players along side with My Grand Novel as Acted out by My Friends players. Not all at the same time mind you, but in the way GURPS does, with a Tactical module, and a Grand Novel Module and a module for Bronies, and a module for Mecha folks and so on and so forth, just as long as they use the same basic and well tested core, and then leave that core alone. And then you may not buy D&D next when it first comes out, but you might find a module that interests you, and that is hopefully what their goal is. Heck, if they can really make the core small enough, they could include a basic 5 page "Here's how it is" run down of the "core" and then each module could almost be a completely playable game in their own right.
    Last edited by 1337 b4k4; 2012-11-12 at 03:43 PM.

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashdate View Post
    The only "new" idea I've seen come out of all of this was the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic, and they've so far neglected to do much with it.
    Well... I'm still as skeptical about Next as anyone, but I'll give Expertise Dice their due - not because it's a completely innovative mechanic, but because I haven't seen it before in D&D.

    Bounded Accuracy is another good concept - one I hope they're able get working, because it would be awesome. However, the reality that we're beholden to a d20 roll for task resolution makes it both perplexing and counter-intuitive.

    I agree that Advantage/Disadvantage is neat. It looks like it's moved from being a central mechanic to being an edge-case, though, which is a shame.

    -O

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by 1337 b4k4 View Post
    The fact of the matter is a completely new game with all new mechanics and all new classes and skills and backgrounds that no one has seen before is not, will not and can not be D&D. You can put a D&D name on it, but it's no more D&D than it would be Vampire or Burning Wheel or Traveler. And there is nothing wrong with this. There is nothing wrong with WotC recognizing the D&D is made up of certain tropes and concepts that permeate the system and that a lot of people who play D&D play it because of those tropes. Heck, I'd argue that for almost all the people who play D&D, they play it for those tropes, because lets face it, if you wanted different tropes, there are thousands of alternatives out there in the RPG world.
    I cannot agree with this.

    Mechanics are not tropes; D&D is no less "D&D" in 3.x because they got rid of THAC0 than 5e would be less D&D because it has Fighters who don't suck or a Diplomacy mechanic that made sense.

    Notwithstanding the fact that I am not personally hung up on whether or not a given game "is D&D" I refuse to believe it is good for WotC or the pen & paper industry as a whole if they largely turn over game design to The Internet instead of exercising some direction in designing the system before playtesting it.

    Look at the first playtest packet. Look at this current one. What sort of game is WotC designing? What goals are they moving towards? What is motivating their design choices?

    All I can see is a mish-mash of old ideas with tweaks to appeal to fans of previous editions (i.e. 3rd Edition and earlier). I see none of the exciting ideas from 4th or even ideas that are descended from their most recent experience at building a roleplaying game. Where's the vision?
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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by AgentPaper View Post
    Other than the crack about "willy-nilly", you've just described iterative design. Which, yes, is how most games are developed.
    In the later stages, yes. Iterative design is worse than useless in the earliest stages when you don't even know what kind of game you're making.

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Now you all need to get some things straight.

    What they are doing are surveys of what people think of what they did so far. Those are not votes on what the playtesters decide the next version is going to be.
    Pretty much everyone here makes it look as if there are only two ways to design a game, which are locking yourself in a basement and present a finished game without any input from anyone but the designers, or having the entire rulessystem be descided in an online shouting match.
    This is strawmen debating of the worst type.
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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    Mechanics are not tropes; D&D is no less "D&D" in 3.x because they got rid of THAC0 than 5e would be less D&D because it has Fighters who don't suck or a Diplomacy mechanic that made sense.
    As a shining example, if Dungeon World turns out as well as it looks like it might, it could be better at "being D&D" than D&D is. ;)

    I think what we've been looking at over the years is that the core concepts of D&D were more or less calcified after AD&D. That's when the basic D&D "genre" hit the cultural consciousness, and it's been so fruitful it's hard to imagine the entertainment world without it. Since then, 3e, 4e, and - now - 13th Age, Dungeonworld, a multitude of OSR games, and most other fantasy RPGs (or RPGs with fantasy add-ons like GURPS and Savage Worlds) try to emulate the tropes of the genre - all with different mechanics.

    -O
    Last edited by obryn; 2012-11-12 at 03:53 PM.

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
    I cannot agree with this.

    Mechanics are not tropes; D&D is no less "D&D" in 3.x because they got rid of THAC0 than 5e would be less D&D because it has Fighters who don't suck or a Diplomacy mechanic that made sense.

    Notwithstanding the fact that I am not personally hung up on whether or not a given game "is D&D" I refuse to believe it is good for WotC or the pen & paper industry as a whole if they largely turn over game design to The Internet instead of exercising some direction in designing the system before playtesting it.

    Look at the first playtest packet. Look at this current one. What sort of game is WotC designing? What goals are they moving towards? What is motivating their design choices?

    All I can see is a mish-mash of old ideas with tweaks to appeal to fans of previous editions (i.e. 3rd Edition and earlier). I see none of the exciting ideas from 4th or even ideas that are descended from their most recent experience at building a roleplaying game. Where's the vision?
    Just because they're sending out web surveys and caring what the players think, doesn't mean they're blindly following whatever the "internet" tells them to do. They've stated many times what direction and vision they have for the game. Player feedback simply allows them to make an educated decision on how to best execute it.

    Edit:
    Quote Originally Posted by Craft (Cheese) View Post
    In the later stages, yes. Iterative design is worse than useless in the earliest stages when you don't even know what kind of game you're making.
    Fortunately, since they're making Dungeons and Dragons, they do know what kind of game they're making.
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    Mechanics are not tropes; D&D is no less "D&D" in 3.x because they got rid of THAC0 than 5e would be less D&D because it has Fighters who don't suck or a Diplomacy mechanic that made sense.
    Mechanics are not tropes, but they do reinforce (or conversely, actively fight) the tropes. I can play a D&D game with GURPs as my system. Hell I can play a D&D game using Traveler as my system, but no one who is even passingly familiar with D&D will mistake my GURPS D&D game as real D&D, no matter how many Beholders and Goblins I have.

    I refuse to believe it is good for WotC or the pen & paper industry as a whole if they largely turn over game design to The Internet instead of exercising some direction in designing the system before playtesting it.
    I don't think it's good either. I guess it's a good thing that's not what they're doing isn't it?

    Look at the first playtest packet. Look at this current one. What sort of game is WotC designing? What goals are they moving towards? What is motivating their design choices?
    It seems to me like their goal is to design a system that evokes the feel of older D&D, while taking advantage years of game design experience. It seems to me that their end goal is to produce a game that is basically a fixed version of D&D 3.5, but with lessons learned from 4e incorporated back in, and a re-examination of the lessons and intentions of OD&D that were thrown out because of many factors (including politics). In other words, it seems to me like they're intent on designing the next VERSION of D&D, not an entirely new game that they're going to call D&D. And from where I sit, that's a good thing.

    In the later stages, yes. Iterative design is worse than useless in the earliest stages when you don't even know what kind of game you're making.
    They do know what game they're making. They're making what D&D 4 should have been. They won't say it mostly for PR reasons, but if you read between the lines, that's what they're aiming for. And if they do it right, that will be just fine because D&D 4 can then be what it always should have been, the tactical rules extension to D&D.

    As for when to use Iterative design, you want to use it early, that's the whole point. Build, run, test, fix, repeat, as often and as early as you can. That way, you don't find yourself 1 year down the road going back and having to tear out a bunch of assumptions you made that no longer hold up. Iterative design is the designers version of "Measure twice, cut once".

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by AgentPaper View Post
    Just because they're sending out web surveys and caring what the players think, doesn't mean they're blindly following whatever the "internet" tells them to do. They've stated many times what direction and vision they have for the game. Player feedback simply allows them to make an educated decision on how to best execute it.
    As far as I can tell, their "direction and vision" is "all things for all people."

    Go on, find me a quote from Mearls with is otherwise. That's not a vision and it isn't direction; it's the sort of puffery you put in a Press Release when you don't know exactly what you're going to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by AgentPaper View Post
    Fortunately, since they're making Dungeons and Dragons, they do know what kind of game they're making.
    Well, I'm glad someone knows what "Dungeons and Dragons" means. Mind filling me in
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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by 1337 b4k4 View Post
    It seems to me like their goal is to design a system that evokes the feel of older D&D, while taking advantage years of game design experience. It seems to me that their end goal is to produce a game that is basically a fixed version of D&D 3.5, but with lessons learned from 4e incorporated back in, and a re-examination of the lessons and intentions of OD&D that were thrown out because of many factors (including politics). In other words, it seems to me like they're intent on designing the next VERSION of D&D, not an entirely new game that they're going to call D&D. And from where I sit, that's a good thing.
    I'd call it a second attempt at 3rd Edition, figuring out where it went wrong in transitioning from 2nd. But on a whole, I entirely agree.

    I don't want a new game. I want an improved version of my old game. That's what an edition is supposed to be and how the word is used to my knowledge by all RPGs, except D&D 4th Edition.
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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by 1337 b4k4 View Post
    As for when to use Iterative design, you want to use it early, that's the whole point. Build, run, test, fix, repeat, as often and as early as you can. That way, you don't find yourself 1 year down the road going back and having to tear out a bunch of assumptions you made that no longer hold up. Iterative design is the designers version of "Measure twice, cut once".
    Iterative design is an optimization process. To use an optimization process, you need three things:

    An evaluation function, essentially a process for distinguishing between which states are "better" than others in some sense. It's important because your evaluation function determines what parts of the design space the process will lead you toward: Choose a bad one and you won't get what you want.

    A neighbor-selection heuristic, essentially a way of knowing in advance which potential changes are worth testing first. A good heuristic speeds up your search quite a lot, sometimes astronomically, which is especially important when your evaluation function is computationally expensive (like, say, putting out a public playtest and checking the survey results to see how satisfied people are). A good heuristic is the difference between needing 3 tests to get your result and needing 3 * 10^576.

    A starting state. While less important than your heuristic, a good starting state can speed up the process as it initially biases your search.



    The thing about iterative design is, if any one of these three things are bad, the design process won't tell you this. At least not until you've wasted a whole bunch of time on a fruitless direction. This is what we mean when we say they need a "design direction" and a "purpose."

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by 1337 b4k4 View Post
    Well, there are only two types of people who matter: existing D&D customers, and people who would be D&D customers except for some flaw they find with existing D&D products (including finding the game inaccessible).

    The play test best addresses the first type of people.
    That depends. Are there a lot of Pathfinder fans participating in the playtest? Because that is a major part of the target audience.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1337 b4k4 View Post
    But it's true. We're what? 6 months into what they said would be at a minimum a 2 year design process?
    We're at the point where most of the mechanics are locked in (or being locked in), and what is left is generating a couple hundred spells/maneuvers/powers/monsters/feats. Because that's the part that takes time; writing a basic resolution framework can be done in a few days by any competent designer.

    That means that, for example, if you don't like expertise dice or vancian casting, well tough luck: they're here to stay, that ship has sailed.
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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    The particular part of the Legends & Lore article that worries me is this one:

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Mearls
    Red elements are in trouble. With red elements, we have a lot of people expressing frustration or unhappiness, and we need to make a change. I usually look much more closely at anything where more than 10 percent of the people have given something a rating of 1 or 2. The specific comments then provide details and advice on why people are unhappy.

    Yellow elements are our underachievers. People might not be unhappy, but we don't have a lot of people who are happy. In this case, most people are giving something a 3 on our scale of 1 to 5. Once again, the comments are useful in tracking down what's happening. These elements usually receive some amount of thought, but they have to wait for us to clear out our red issues. Also, there are times when an element is fine at yellow. A rule or subsystem that is aimed more at utility than excitement, say the rules for surprise, can sit in this zone for a bit. If something is at yellow but we receive few comments about it, we might leave it be.

    Green elements have passed the test. A significant majority of people rated it at 4 or 5 out of 5. We try not to mess with things that have gone green, and if we make changes we keep a careful eye on how things move in future surveys.
    I read this as saying that the only way that something becomes red or yellow, and therefore having the designers look at it again, is it being voted down in the survey. Perhaps there is input from other sources, but if so Mike has not told us about them. Based on how weak and situational many of their feats are I'm worried that a balance check at least isn't being applied before things get sent out. IMO asking playtesters (and lets be honest here, many people answering those surveys may not have played the game at all, and certainly haven't played all the classes and specialities) to rate your feats on only one axis isn't enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    That means that, for example, if you don't like expertise dice or vancian casting, well tough luck: they're here to stay, that ship has sailed.
    Well expertise dice at least I really like. Their ability to represent precision damage, round-to-round flexibility (such as fighting defensively vs. offensively), and increasing power as you gain levels, all packaged up into a token that you already own lots of, is pretty good IMO. I do think that the implementation needs more polishing, and I really hope enough people are telling them that.

    As for vancian spellcasting, now that they have at-will and encounter powers I'm not even sure it's really vancian any more. It's just a blurry, sticky mess.
    Last edited by Excession; 2012-11-12 at 05:03 PM.

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Do you think that the play test is the only design process wotc is using?
    Do you think that all of their attention is focused only on Internet feedback?
    Do you think they are showing all of their cards, even?

    I'd imagine that they have some people working with the play test, most of the others doing other stuff. Mearles said he's the one who reads responses. That's one person devoting time to Internet feedback. Better than before, but hardly their only tactic.

    So they're devoting a fraction of their time to what we see. We have some clue what they are doing, and I think that's cool, but I don't think it's the whole show.

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by Grundy View Post
    Do you think that the play test is the only design process wotc is using?
    Do you think that all of their attention is focused only on Internet feedback?
    Do you think they are showing all of their cards, even?
    Judging by the contents of the playtest and the contents of the articles that have been written about it, yes. The only reason I can see to believe otherwise is if I just blindly gave faith that WotC knows what they're doing and 5E has this brilliant future I just can't see because I don't have some hidden information.

    And, well, I can give that kind of trust to some designers, but not to WotC. And I'm not giving that sort of trust to them until they do something to earn it.
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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by Grundy View Post
    Do you think they are showing all of their cards, even?
    ...if they aren't, then what, exactly, are they trying to do with this playtest?

    -O
    Last edited by obryn; 2012-11-12 at 10:48 PM.

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by obryn View Post
    ...if they aren't, then what, exactly, are they trying to do with this playtest?
    Publicity and customer relations, of course. What, you thought playtesting had anything to do with game design, game details, or game polish?

    OK OK I'll turn down my cynicism for now.
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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Iterative design is an optimization process. To use an optimization process, you need three things:
    Ok, so which of these 3 things do you thing WotC is missing or has wrong, and what evidence do you have to support this?

    We're at the point where most of the mechanics are locked in (or being locked in), and what is left is generating a couple hundred spells/maneuvers/powers/monsters/feats. Because that's the part that takes time; writing a basic resolution framework can be done in a few days by any competent designer.
    I want to be clear here. It is your opinion that for the next one and a half years minimum, WotC is going to be doing nothing more than generating spell, monster and feat lists and that they will never from here on out change a single part of the mechanics of the system. Is this really what you believe?

    I read this as saying that the only way that something becomes red or yellow, and therefore having the designers look at it again, is it being voted down in the survey. Perhaps there is input from other sources, but if so Mike has not told us about them.
    So you mean to tell me in an article written about the public play test, to the public play testers about how WotC is using the feedback generated about the public play test by the public play testers, you're concerned that Mike Mearls isn't telling you about non public play test feedback and input? Leaving aside that any other inputs and feedback would be by definition non public and therefore none of our business ... I have to ask what your expecting?

    Sorry, I don't mean to be so snarky, but honestly it really seems like people are trying to read the worst things into everything being said just to make themselves feel better about hating on WotC and D&D. I mean, I seem to recall a lot of hate for the fact that 4e was a closed door process with no insight from the community and no good communication with the fans. I also recall hearing a lot of good things over how pathfinder did things and how WotC should do a public playtest. Now we got exactly what we asked for and now everyone is freaking out that they're paying too much attention to the public playtest and they're talk one too much about the public play test and on and on.

    Based on how weak and situational many of their feats are I'm worried that a balance check at least isn't being applied before things get sent out.
    Probably nothing too complicated is applied for new things no, and there's no real reason to. Going back to what I said way above, the feel is very important, so throwing things that are unbalanced and throw off the "feel" into the playtest gives them a lot of feedback on the feel which is what they need. Additionally, the Internet is a thousand times better at generating balance tests for these things than any in house testing system would ever be. Think of how many man decades have been dumped into finding all the possible ways to break 3e and 4e builds. Even with an infinite budget, WotC couldn't come close to putting the amount of time and vicious hateful tear down into their unbalanced mechanics as the Internet could do in 48 hours. These sorts of blancing tests are exactly what an open public play test excels at. Further, by releasing new things initially unbalanced, they immediately siphon off all the "it's new so I don't like it" hate on something they already know will have to change so that on round 2 the feedback is much more useful.

    Judging by the contents of the playtest and the contents of the articles that have been written about it, yes.
    See above about reading documents about and for the public play test and assuming everything is all about the public play test.

    The only reason I can see to believe otherwise is if I just blindly gave faith that WotC knows what they're doing and 5E has this brilliant future I just can't see because I don't have some hidden information.

    And, well, I can give that kind of trust to some designers, but not to WotC. And I'm not giving that sort of trust to them until they do something to earn it.
    So just to be clear here, we have no faith that the "professional" game designers, the ones who mind you designed 4e, which to some people here it seems was a pinnacle of D&D design and should never be abandoned, has no clue what they're doing. We know that WotC has no clue how to design a game because Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon (ccg), Betrayal at House on the Hill, d20 modern, D&D 3e, D&D 4e, guillotine, and many other games that WotC have put out over the years have all been failures from a game design standpoint. And until WotC does something to prove that they know how to design a game beyond hoping online and begging the brilliant minds that make up these here gaming forums for ideas, well we just can't trust that they would ever be able to make a game.

    Not get me wrong. WotC has produced their share of duds. They've also screwed up on plenty of occasions. But to say that you don't believe that WotC has any clue how to design a game beyond beging for ideas online, and that they need to prove to you that they can design a game before you believe they have more going on behind the scenes than just what little you see through the window of the public play test seems like the absolute height of hubris to me.

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by tuggyne View Post
    Publicity and customer relations, of course. What, you thought playtesting had anything to do with game design, game details, or game polish?

    OK OK I'll turn down my cynicism for now.
    Well, yeah, there's that! But I don't think WotC can afford that sort of thing right now. "You playtested this game for 2 years! The end result looks nothing like it! BUY MY GAME!"

    I do honestly think they're listening to feedback. They're certainly reacting to it and spending time developing stuff which responds to the criticisms. That's no trivial task. I don't know that I find this necessarily comforting, though.

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by 1337 b4k4 View Post
    Ok, so which of these 3 things do you thing WotC is missing or has wrong, and what evidence do you have to support this?
    They do not seem to have an evaluation function other than the survey results, and they don't seem to have a heuristic other than "throw random ideas at the things people don't like", that we can see. You're perfectly right that they very well could have a much more involved process we're simply not seeing, but I see no reason to assume this is so. Especially because the only evidence that there *is* more going on behind the scenes is "Well, they're professionals, and professionals aren't incompetent."


    I will give them credit they picked a decent place for a start state though. "Number inflation across levels seems to be a problem, so let's start out with small bonuses that barely increase at all. Fighter, Rogue, Cleric, and Wizard are by far the most popular classes, so let's include those to start off with."

    So just to be clear here, we have no faith that the "professional" game designers, the ones who mind you designed 4e, which to some people here it seems was a pinnacle of D&D design and should never be abandoned, has no clue what they're doing. We know that WotC has no clue how to design a game because Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon (ccg), Betrayal at House on the Hill, d20 modern, D&D 3e, D&D 4e, guillotine, and many other games that WotC have put out over the years have all been failures from a game design standpoint. And until WotC does something to prove that they know how to design a game beyond hoping online and begging the brilliant minds that make up these here gaming forums for ideas, well we just can't trust that they would ever be able to make a game.
    Yes. Keeping in mind that the Magic team is pretty much entirely separate from everything else at WotC (and I definitely have my criticisms of MtG but that's for another thread) and pretty much all of their successful products aren't their original creations. Plus, I dunno about you, but personally my trust is pretty fragile.

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by obryn View Post
    ...if they aren't, then what, exactly, are they trying to do with this playtest?

    -O
    Work on parts of the game. Get some feedback.
    They should use it to get priceless info on what their market expects from 5e.
    They should use it to confirm or disprove what their game testers found.
    Maybe polish some ideas, maybe even come up with a few points.
    I don't see it being the whole show, however. I also can't see them pushing the play test through to any sort of finished product.

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    Default Re: D&D 5th Edition: Thread #7

    Quote Originally Posted by Craft (Cheese) View Post
    "Well, they're professionals, and professionals aren't incompetent."
    Yes. We know this because they (or similar people) have designed 3E and 4E, and there are no glaring fundamental design flaws in either of those...

    ...wait

    So anyway, somebody at the WOTC forum is planning a series of columns examining the initial hype, playtest, and promises for 4E, and what actually became of them in practice. That should be interesting to read.
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