JP On Gaming

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Death of 4e announced on Twitter?

From time to time, the world of Twitter (follow me @jpon) brings me something that I just HAVE to respond to.

This morning I got up on the wrong side of the bed. I'm grumpy today (okay stop the wise cracks about me being constantly grumpy). When I got to the office, grumbling about not having coffee, I went through my backlog twitter feedback and I came across the following tweets by Stan! (@stannex) which somehow caught me by surprise. I was not only surprised but hopeful at the same time... Odd feeling for a cynic like myself.

Here are the two tweets that caught my eye (hashtags removed).

I'm told it's OK to tell you that today I went to work AT Wizards of the Coast for the first time since 2002. Pretty cool for a Monday.
Just so rumors don't fly, I'm NOT at WotC in a design capacity. I'm there as a Producer, shepherding projects thru the creation process.

Okay... so let's recap what happened recently from WotC... First they get Monte Cook, then they get Stan! as a publisher to lead creation process. That really looks like a changing of the (new) guard and a return of the many heads that allowed Wizards to reach the summit of their control of the industry: the early 2000s. Stan's (even if temporary) work at Wizards adds even more weight to my Predictions of doomTM. I have had the chance to sit and talk to him a little at PaizoCon... Stan has to be one of the most creative person there is. Unless the WotC designers are complete idiots (which I do not believe they are), they will take advantage of this great resource.

Since Stan makes sure to let us know that he is not working as a developer but someone who "shepherds the creation process". This seems to me like they have a number of half-formed or incomplete projects they want to hammer out, complete and get off the plate. He can direct and expand projects that have been lying around for a while. This would allow WotC to have a number of products "almost ready" they could release over a time period while they put their designers and developers' brain to work on what we all know is coming sooner rather than later... This would allow WotC to have a revenue stream while they work through the chinks of their next big thing.

I frequently do that when I write. I jot down an idea. A block or two. A feat. A plot hook. An encounter design. Then I leave it be. It allows me to focus on the project at hand while keeping track of other ideas. After the current project is done, I go back, expand and develop. For example, while I was writing the NeoExodus Campaign Book. I have created no less than five other files with elements I thought should not go in there. This included a file full of feats, one of spells, one of monsters and one with some miscellaneous adventure ideas. Of these, Louis and I are planning an "NeoExodus Players' Guide" and a monster book called "Scions of the First Ones" for much later down the road. The names are VERY LIKELY to change, but elements for both already exist.

But back to the topic at hand...

The WotC guys have been VERY active on the twitterverse trying to get people to send them ideas and hints about what people want to see in their game. Its interesting to see the change of tone coming from them. From the early 4e day "everything else is crap but 4e" to the more community minded "what elements do you like in your game?" I see this shift as a positive sign. Good. They seem to have learned their lesson from the 4e PR debacle. Hopefully, they don't just listen to people who like what they do, but to some of the naysayers too. Naysayers frequently tell you more about your product (or force you to rethink your position, moreso than the "it's cool"s and "I like"s). Like when you go to Ebay, how many times do you read the positive comments vs. the negatives ones? I never read the positive reviews. Never. With this shift in approach, the guys may be changing the perception of the community towards WotC (or maybe that's just me) and getting ready for a big announcement.

The only thing they could be gearing up toward is... 5e.

The pieces are falling into place... What was a rant a few month ago is now becoming a road map of what we are seeing... One could almost say predictions of doom are seeing the stars align.

Maybe my mad rantings were not so wrong.

I would say... so right?



  1. Well since this is a "mental chess match", I have to wonder what is Paizo doing to counter WOTC "possible" action. What would be something that would keep their Pathfinder fans happy AND counter the action of a possible 5E? What could it be...

  2. I agree 100%:

  3. 4e has only been out for 3 years! Are they seriously about to make another edition?

  4. Could you pls let us know what their twitter handles are? Would love to contibute to the debate ... or at least listen in.

  5. @Louis -> I think the best thing Paizo can/should do about 5e is... nothing. They need to continue to pump out quality products.

    @Talien -> Love your post... You and I came to the same conclusion on Monte.

    @Anonymous -> 4.5 (aka Essentials) came out 2.5 years after 4e. 5e would be out in 2013(announced in 2012), so YES. I think an "AD&D" is more than possible. (not a great idea, but possible)

    @magia3e -> @travis_Wotc, @Wotc_Rodney, @ChrisTulach, @Wizards_DND the list goes on.

  6. Down with 4E, may the Old School Rule!

  7. Repeating 3e is not a realistic hope. At that point AD&D 2e was an old product. A lot of people I knew hadn't even thought about it in years. People weren't expecting much from the line. Then 3e comes out with a new paradigm, a much more modern set of rules (after all 2e was pretty close to 1e, rules-wise), and an open license so that anybody could produce D&D compatible products. This energized the game and created a whole D20 industry. To many people, it came out of nowhere and took over the gaming world. Lots of other game developers found they could make more money switching to d20. Other game developers ported their worlds to a d20 version, no matter how bad the fit. In addition, there was less chatter on the web at this point. Finally, it was a great game. I still play 3.x games and my worst problem is that there's been so much material created for it over the years that it's too easy to cherry-pick.

    At this point, 4e is still one of the top games. It may not be the undisputed king, but it's still very popular. It spawned an edition war that lifted a small magazine publisher to one of the top RPG companies. With all of this focus, people are going to have an unrealistic view of 5e. I've seen lots of articles of people talking about what they'd put in 5e and no one game can accomodate all of these hopes. 4e fans will be upset if their game ends. The OSR people will be upset if it doesn't go back to the roots. If it has power cards, people will say it's 4.5 (or 4.75). If it's too much like 3.x, Pathfinder fans will accuse it of ripping them off. If it's like older editions, people will say they're moving backwards. If it's innovative, people will say they're losing their roots. If it doesn't have support for class X and race Y, some people will scream. No matter what the game is like, people will say they are kowtowing to Hasbro's demands. Other people will be upset at purchasing a new set of books. Or if it doesn't have a full set of web tools at launch. Or the web tools aren't what they expected.

    With so much attention being put to it, it's going to have to be an amazing game to overcome the shouting.

  8. I totally get people wanting to cheer on whatever game they happen to like, but I don't understand wishing the demise of a game another person likes. I also don't understand how hiring a talented person is ever the sign of the death of an edition. Sure, we all know 5E will come out at some point, but let's not be blind to how wrong so many have been about when it would have come out. 2014 seems the most likely guess and seems to work well. Personally, I love all the editions for different reasons, love lots of RPGs, and wish them all well.