Friday, February 10, 2012

Dungeons and Dragons retrospective

Although it could use some copy-editing, this series of articles on the original Dungeons & Dragons history is a quick and interesting read:

  1. The Ghosts of D&D: Past
  2. The State of D&D: Present
  3. The State of Dungeons & Dragons: Future
  4. 4 Hours with Ryan Dancey

History is written by the victors, as they say, and so the articles have an unavoidable slant and perspective, but there's lots of interesting material about: the evolution of D&D; about the trials and errors; about how the authors, the players, and the whole community grew and learned to work together on D&D; about experiments in open licensing and alternate business models; and about how the pressures of commercialism forced decisions and approaches that were appealing to some and appalling to others.

One controversial aspect was the simplification or streamlining of the rules:

Collins told The Escapist back in 2010 that the changes he and Heinsoo implemented in D&D were meant to catch the game up with the way that people played modern games. Collins believed players have a short attention span, and were, perhaps, "less likely [to be] interested in reading the rules of the game before playing." "I'm not just talking about younger players now, but anybody. We've been working to adapt to that, the changing expectations of the new gamer."
and the divisions that arose in the community during these experiments:
The Old School Renaissance is the name given to what can only be called a movement among gamers to return to an older style of play. "I think Gary Gygax's death [in 2008] had a profound impact on a lot of the old schoolers. Many of them were grudgingly going along with modern game design conventions simply because they had no other choice," said Erik Mona.

Gaming systems are interesting because they evolve. Iterative refinements introduce new behaviors while altering old ones, and the results can take some time to comprehend.

In this way, it is much like computer software!

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