Wednesday, August 13, 2008

4e is perfect! Well, except for the mistakes...

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition has barely been on shelves for 2 months and we have already seen 2 sets of errata released. What the hell is up with that? I mean haven't they been working on this release secretly for a few years now, all the while lying to us?

So why would a thoroughly playtested product that has been in the works for years be released with so many mistakes? I don't know and honestly I don't want Wizards of the Coast to tell me. With as many times as they have dropped the ball over the past year, or done things that flat out made gamers mad I just don't think I could handle more excuses. I guess I should be glad that they have taken the time to release the fixes, but I'm not. To be blunt it kind of pisses me off.

I know that 3e had its share of mistakes and they released errata for it as well. Hell every game has fixes that get released at some point. No game designer is perfect. Still when you add this to every other thing that seems messed up involving 4e it just seems like too much.

I was reading a post over at Greywulf's Lair (click the link and check it out) that does a great job of summing up and listing the missteps that WotC has made in regards to 4e. When I see them all in one place it is very upsetting. I wonder how a company that has the kind of backing that WotC has could possibly screw up at nearly every turn.

Granted D&D could be the bastard child in the eyes of Hasbro and perhaps they want the brand to die off. Maybe the brand is in trouble and Hasbro has pulled a lot of financial backing unless the WotC guys turn D&D into a big money maker. After all the suits at Hasbro are probably like many other suits... it must earn X amount or it is a failure. So the poor WotC guys are busting their humps to make Papa Hasbro happy. Then again I am probably just making excuses for them and they should hire me. I can screw things up and make excuses with the best of them. In truth I feel that WotC got a little big for their britches and may be very deserving of the crap us gamers have been giving them. I still like 4e, but WotC just keeps losing credibilty in my eyes.

From my POV here is how things look.
  1. They canceled my 2 favorite gaming magazines and moved them online. While this was annoying I eventually dealt with it by turning to other magazines. Then to make matters worse they only put out sporadic material for about a year.
  2. They not only lied to us about the development of 4e, they made fun of us for talking about it.
  3. They had what I think was likely the best and most succesful version of D&D, and dropped it rather than make it better.
  4. See # 3 and add the fact that they let other publishers (Paizo) make their product better than they did. (While I haven't read all of Pathfinder, the playtest version does look pretty good)
  5. D&D insider... nuff said. (OK, the Bonus Tools and Rules Compendium are up and they have made improvements/updates so that they are kind of useful now. That is something nice to say about it, but that is all I've got so far.)
  6. To borrow from Greywulf, they narrowed their demographic and potential sales arena far too much. With the backing of Hasbro they could have made D&D as well as D&D minis the biggest brand name in all of gaming, not just in the roleplaying world.
  7. Take all of the above and then release the much hyped, greatly blogged about game with mistakes that need to be fixed within the first 2 months, at least the ones that have been found so far, as well as components that are basically non existent. But do they offer free downloads of the full books as replacements to all of us that bought them? Nope. We don't even warrant a "sorry about that guys and gals here is your code for free 6 mth member ship of DDi, which isn't up yet" or even "here is a coupon for $10 off your next purchase of a WotC product" just some pages of errata.
  8. They are about to start charging us for D&D insider and the damn thing isn't even up and running yet! What about the free preview of the virtual table top and character generator that I was promised? Sure we got some pretty good material out of recent Dragon and Dungeons articles, but wait... didn't we get pretty much the same thing for free on the D&D website all through the life of 3e? Now you want to charge us for it? I don't think so.
Granted my group is still new to 4e, having only a few games under our belts, so we haven't noticed the mistakes/problems yet. We also really like 4e which makes me even more upset. Sure they gave us the errata, but do you really want to print that crap out and stick it in your books? Books that I might add you have already bought with the assumption that you were getting a thoroughly playtested and developed game. A game that has been secretly in the works for years. One that was suppose to be everything that 3e wasn't. All I can say is that the experience with 3e wasn't this disappointing.

I gave 4e a chance, changed my tune and found I do like the system. 4e has the potential to be truly great, but untapped potential is only good if you actually apply it. Though I will hang in there a bit longer I have to confess to being annoyed with the company and some of their decisions. I have kept trying to be optimistic about WotC and what they have planned, but it seems like every week there is something trying to convince me I'm wrong. Why do they seem to keep trying to crush my hope at every turn? Did I kill a goblin friend of someone at WotC in a dungeon somewhere and not know about it? Maybe they are related to my ex... that would explain a lot. Or maybe the Gnomes are behind this mess... damn Gnomes.


greywulf said...

Well said, and thanks for the linkage.

I agree, 4e IS a good game (potentially great, even), and it's a shame that Wizards' have dropped the ball so many times. I guess these things are easiest to see in hindsight, eh?

I'll give them full credit for the past few months though; they've put a staggering amount of content online recently - so much so that I'm beginning to suspect that the new Forgotten Realms book will contain nothing new at all as they've already given us everything!

It boils down to this: Wizards' want a digital subscription model, but the players don't. We just want darned good imaginative books, adventures and supplements and the power to pick and choose what we buy.

They'll learn. Maybe by 5th Edition, but they'll learn.......

Donny_the_Dm said...

well said, both of you.

Who in the hell playtested this crap? After initially disliking 4e, it has started growing on me, IN SPITE of the idiocy going on behind and around the scenes.

I mean's not like the errata is a bunch of minor nitpicky stuff either. There are some major issues here. I just cancelled my amazom pre-order fr the core books. I say this not to troll, but because I refure to pay good money for an incomplete product - period. They burned me with the whole 3.0-3.5 mess, not happening again.

Have things really gotten that wonky over there? I feel like they have just "lost touch" with the average gamer. It is the only scenario that fits all of the facts. They got such an elite mindset, that they just don't get it anymore.

Geek Gazette said...

I agree with both of you. Like I said in the post I want to think the best but they keep shooting me down. Or so it seems.
I did give them credit for what they have done in terms of articles over the past few months. GW you are probably right, there can't be that much material left in the FR book.

Donny I would have done the same as you if I had been smart enough not to pre-order mine @ release. I just couldn't resist. I let my optimism get the better of me.

Thanks for posting.

Geek Gazette said...

Hindsight it 20/20, so maybe they should have actually read the books before they released them. HA

I know game designing isn't as easy as we like to think it is, but still this whole things should have been planned better. After all it isn't like they are just a bunch of gamers trying to do this from their basement. They have professional business people to confer with if they get stuck.