I recently listened to the DnD podcast from Wizards of the Coast, which was released around the same time as the dnd Next playtest (around 24 May) was made available online to the public.
- They have a ton of work to do, but are loving it. The game has been in development for over a year. That probably means in a closed/secret playtest for all that time.
- Wizards are looking forward to the community feedback, and anticipating a lot of positive reaction from their work. I’m dubious about this, and think that the real story is that they are going forward with a positive and strong presence, as anything else would be counterproductive. The devs would have to expect push back from parts of the community.
- The playtest is a staged release of content and rules, where month by month new material will be released. This so that feedback can be elicited in a series of smaller segments, rather than a huge chunk of rules.
As a primer on what feedback the devs expect it was actually useful to hear. A cynical person might say this was standard marketing fluff, but as I am an equally cynical person I’d counter that to say that Wizards could have done far less in this process. The energy in rhetoric alone has been substantial, and at some point it is the same amount of work to actually listen to feedback as appear to do so.
The point was made about giving descriptive feedback in terms of good and bad features/aspects, but also that they wish the reviewers to be unforgiving and straight to the point in giving negative feedback. The speakers made a point to ask for bad feedback. That takes some guts.
What was most valuable in the podcast was point one – knowing that they are going to come out of the gate all guns blazing. That is the dedication they need for Next to get up as a product.
I think it would be a shame for RPGs if DnD-5e was a whimper, and would impact the hobbie substantially because of how much of a hook DnD is for rpgs in general. Dnd was the gateway game which started me on roleplaying, and despite years of effort, new systems, and all sorts of considerations – it still has a place, and may still provide a source of entertainment. One of the podcasters (I can’t recall which now) really did seem honest in their enthusiasm for the product. Bravo.
I still stand by the idea that dnd should be given a fair play, and also expect it to not be my style of game. Yes, that is a healthy contradiction, and a stance which could change given play. The introduction of “backgrounds” and “side features” into the character generation is a first for dnd, and something which is a huge positive. If they added a sample of small negative quirks then they’re really getting into a style of game that I could accept.
I’m watching with reserved interest.
- If DnD Next was branded as a new game, would it sell better? (ironboundtome.wordpress.com)
- [Geek Native] The DnD Next playtest collections (geeknative.com)
- #009 DnD Next (crimsonbastards.com)
- REVIEW: Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Beta (oldgamereviewer.com)
- The Shotgun Approach (rpg.brainclouds.net)