Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lose one, lose them all?

It's been awhile. I've been away from my computer for over two weeks and it's been a wonderful thing. Vacation can really help clear the head. I had a great time if anybody is asking.

Well I've been back only a few days, and have even played once with the main group of guys that I generally game with every other Tuesday. There's been a new "situation" though, and it's this that I would like to speak about if I may.

As some of you are more than aware, I'm not a fan of 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. I've given it plenty of chances, it just has not succeeded in winning my allegiance. There are just far too many gulfs to span between the rules as written and the way I envision a game of dungeons and dragons proceeding.

Well, the "situation" is that I've finally spilled the beans to the group. I did not pose it as some type of ultimatum though. I simply stated that I do not prefer 4E and that if the group wishes to play with that system further, then I will gracefully extricate myself. Not happily, but I'd do it since I was the odd man out.

One thing that I certainly do NOT want to do is to break the group up. This is an exemplary group of guys...I'd certainly prefer to stick with them and keep playing. But 4E is just too high a hurdle and, after all, it's a game, aren't I supposed to be deriving some type of fun out of it?

I selfishly mentioned that I'd love to stick around if we chose another system. Not 3E or 4E though. I've had my fill and I'm no longer interested in either of those choices. What does that leave? Our group is strictly interested in Dungeons and Dragons. We're all pretty hard core fantasists. And, for the most part, we all grew up on Dungeons and Dragons. We're loyal to the core.

This of course has started a conversation surrounding what system we would like to play. It's likely confined to either a retro-clone or to an earlier version of D&D. I'm not sure how it's going to shake out. We have 4 fairly vocal members, out of 7.

But what I'm circuitously coming around to is that IF we decide to change systems, and this is by no means a foregone conclusion, then it'll be 7 guys changing from one system to another. What does this mean? Well, in my humble opinion, that if you value group over game, and we all know how hard it is to find a good group these days compared to finding a "game" (online, your local brick and mortar, etc.), then you're likely more willing to change games.

Now I know that no game or company can please everyone. But imagine if WotC decided to support two editions of the game. They'd still have 7 guys playing "their" game.

I'll keep you up to date with how this shakes out. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Like I said above, it's hell trying to find a decent group of guys to game with.


Tacoma said...

It does make sense. But they want to stop people from playing the old game so they will buy the new game. Gamers pinch pennies so we're not going to buy every book that comes out for every game system.

But gamers are willing to go to used bookstores to buy and sell their game books, so if they stuck with the same system over the years eventually the market would be saturated and they'd stop making sales.

It's kind of like the car industry. A car company that wanted to make the best product would make one excellent compact, one sedan, one minivan, one motorcycle, and one light pickup truck. As many parts as possible would be interchangeable and maintenance would be simple. The price due to economies of scale would be very low. Good fuel mileage, low weight. But most importantly the vehicles would be durable - you could pass your car down to your grandkids. But that car company would quickly be kicked out of the market by a car company that made crappy cars that break all the time, new models every year, and proprietary parts. It's just an example of some waste encouraged by capitalism.

Gamer Dude said...

Very, very good point. Not sure how something like that could be overcome. Other than the obvious answer: Abandon capitalism. And we all know that's not happening anytime soon.

I'm not sure why WotC hasn't taken the hint though. I mean seriously, look at the current market. I realize that they're trying to shoot for the up and coming gamer. They're targeting those young folks who have been playing MMORPGs and I understand the reasoning.

But there's a massive segment out there of old school gamers who've been loyal to the hobby for their entire lives. And many of us now have children. There's a second (and third in some circles) generation of gamers being initiated via their parents.

I was strictly speaking about my peers in my post, not those that I will introduce to the game. (my children and their friends)

All this makes me wonder if WotC is actually paying attention. If we were to extrapolate your example, WotC would be the car company currently building one model (Speaking strictly of fantasy RPGs at the moment.) and all sorts of parts for that single offering. Now, wouldn't it make sense to release a "similar", yet different model that appeals to the rest of the fan base? And that model would be the one that I hand down to my children and their friends.

Maybe that doesn't make much sense in terms of economics. I've certainly never claimed to know much about that. It just seems to make common sense.

The Rusty Battle Axe said...

At least you didn't have to have the It's-not-you-it's-me talk. I guess that would be "It's not you, it's not me, it's the edition."

This has to be incredibly frustrating.

"Maybe that doesn't make much sense in terms of economics...It just seems to make common sense."

There's a lot of wisdom in that statement. My guess (and it's only a guess) is that (1) They don't want to compete with their own brand; (2) They don't see old school gaming as a viable market as it's small, fragmented, and is already capable of producing its own stuff (not even counting the gazillion AD&D books still available dirt cheap); and (3) they are mainly interested in getting younger players who also are avid video/computer gamers. Just a guess.

Best wishes sorting out the group direction. I'll be interested in how it works out.

WORD VERIFICATION: "porri" sounds like the Italian version of the Mini Cooper ("It's the new Fiat Porri")

Telecanter said...

I wish you luck. I feel like I'm in a similar situation. My only gaming option (as a player) at the moment is a 4e campaign. The players are cool, the social aspect of it is great, but I find myself leaving the sessions more and more frustrated because of the way the system doesn't meet my expectations. I would hate to break up the group, but . . .

Gamer Dude said...


Frustrating indeed...because, if we go further with this we can assume that if someone else is now frustrated with the edition we've switched to that:

1. I'll be blamed
2. They'll leave
3. We'll switch back and I'll leave

Now that's awfully doom and gloom, I honestly think that this can work. It's just a matter of everyone having fun. I tried for a very long time (over a year) to like 4E and it just didn't do it for me. I'm not blaming the game one iota. It's a solid game for sure. But, it's definitely not MY kind of game.


It's not an enviable position unfortunately. I value group over game by a factor of 2:1. But when you're absolutely miserable playing what you're playing then there's no help for it...You've got to initiate a change. Whether that be in a willing group, or striking out on your own to find new pastures, it's something that's got to be done.

The Rusty Battle Axe said...

"I value group over game by a factor of 2:1"

You have articulated concisely, my own thoughts on this.