April 6, 2012

5E Friday

-The more I hear from WotC, and their polls/blogs/articles, the more I think they really have no system yet. I have to wonder what exactly the "playtesters" back in December were testing. I had assumed that they had the majority of the system in place and they were just fine tuning it. Now I think I was wrong in that initial assessment. After their first announcement back in January (now 3 months ago) there has been no concrete information released as far as mechanics; just a bunch of "we're thinking about doing it this way...or that way...or another way we haven't even discussed yet."

It almost seems like they are hesitant to release any solid "final" information. I sort of don't blame them. Once they do release a "final" system mechanic, such as the magic-user system of learning/memorizing spells (vancian or other), every blog/forum poster that either hates WotC or the system mechanic will leap down their throats with negative words. I worry that WotC is has become too "gun-shy" to make any formal declarations.

WotC almost has to release the final design all at once. If they release bits of design slowly they run the risk of alienating potential customers over those individual parts. For instance, if they release the magic-user system there are sure to be some who hate the implementation. And they will dismiss 5E. Same for whatever they decide with the healing, class, race, ability, save or death, etc systems. If they release these final systems one at a time they will lose another set of potential customers each time.

If they release the final design all at once, then potential customers might say "well I don't like what they did with save or death, but I do like a lot of the other things they did for 5E; I'll give it a look when it hits print form". A complete system will allow potential customers to judge 5E on its overall design rather than dismiss it over singular designs.

However, whatever buzz and potential excitement their initial announcement of 5E had is quickly evaporating away. They need to start making some decisions on design or risk becoming a non-event.


instantapathy said...

I assume they are waiting on one of the bigger cons this summer to release any firm information. Which probably means GenCon, though it would be nice if they used Origins since it's at the start of summer, as opposed to the end.

Callin said...

I would think GenCon would be too far out, a full half a year from announcement. I know they are planning on starting more playtests in the "Spring" and if there is no NDA with that set of playtests then we will start hearing stuff.

Of course Pax East is this weekend so maybe we'll hear sooner rather than later.

Philo Pharynx said...

Since they are trying to appeal to the whole D&D audience, they need to reveal the big picture at once if they want to avoid turning people off. This means that they have to show the basic "old-school" mechanics and enough "new-school" options as well. And all of these have to be built well enough that people get an idea of how they work. They are shooting for the stars here. It's not going to be easy, and one PR mistake can kill things. I don't think keeping things secret is as much of a risk as revealing something poorly.

Anonymous said...

As a playtester under NDA, I can tell you that the system is already very solid, and your assertions as to why the information has been kept close to the chest are likely correct. The things that will inspire the most nedrage from the folks who will flame 5E all over the internet are what is getting playtested the most (AT MY TABLE, AT LEAST)-- individual classes, the ways that the classes interact with each other, etc.

I suspect WotC is doing everything they can to avoid the PR debacle that accompanied the release of 4E, and want to release a great product for as many folk as possible.