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5e D&D is Vaporware
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:23 pm    Post subject: 5e D&D is Vaporware Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So I've stated that 5e is Vaporware. I'm pretty sure of it. The more of the release teasers I see, the more convinced I am. But I get questions like this:

BearsAreBrown wrote:
Maybe I'm less experienced or maybe I'm less jaded, but Frank, why are you so sure about all this? You seem to be extrapolating heavily from a few paragraphs of text. Are the drawing from some source material I'm unaware of?


And yeah, that's reasonable. Why should you be convinced that 5e D&D is a Vaporware Product? It goes to who is making it, what they've said about what they are making, what they've made recently and in the past, and so on.

First, let's look at the track record of Mike Mearls. Remember when he fixed Skill Challenges? Sorry, remember the first seven times that he announced that he was fixing skill challenges? Remember Iron Heroes? The man has a history, going back several years and literally dozens of instances, of announcing with great fanfare that he was going to make a new subsystem, then announcing the subsystem was ready for publication, then announcing that criticism of that subsystem was unfair because it "wasn't really finished" and he was "working on something new and exciting".

Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twenty eight times, what the fucking fuck?

Now 5th edition is supposed to be layer upon layer of Mike Mearls blessed subsystem. Each one done up to the specifications of a different section of the fanbase. Each one interacting in some odd way with all the others, but every one of them optional. So, for example: if you make a cogent condemnation of the way they track movement or durations or whatever, they can claim openly that this version is "not for you" and is nebulously for some other group and obviously you should be using some other movement or duration tracking subsystem instead.

They have announced a platform that is perfectly suited for denial in depth of non-functionality. In order to show that there is a problem to the satisfaction of their ability to not simply dismiss it for you supposedly not being the target audience, you'd have to do each separate variant together. And then they could dismiss your complaint for being TL;DR.

In short: they've made an edition that would take months or years to expose as vaporware and the project leader is a man who has made nothing but vaporware since Kerry was running for president. And his second in command is a man who hired out his name to promote that guy's actual Vaporware in 2005. Remember: it was originally called "Monte Cook Presents: Iron Heroes" when it was originally released and sold for real money despite the fact that none of the subsystems worked properly and even Mike Mearls admitted that the magic system was just a draft taken from a brainstorming session. The number three guy is Bruce Cordell, who apparently didn't read any of the rules or setting material for 4th edition before writing rules and setting material for 4th edition. In short: a man whose design work has been literally monkeys on typewriters style vaporware paycheck writing for at least four years.

So the entire core group of authors have a clearly demonstrated history of making vaporware, and the hype is completely consistent with and even suggests a vaporware product. But how do we know that this is actually vaporware? Well, there are clues.

  • Let's talk about they admit they haven't done: higher levels and hard numbers. That's... the entire design. It's a level based system, therefore if you haven't tested the leveling or the system, you haven't actually done anything. They are already putting up sign-ups for beta testers, but their actual product has been admitted to being in a pre-alpha state.

  • Now let's talk about the things they've promised. They have promised that a character who gets pure numbers will be balanced with a character who gets abilities instead. We already know that's impossible, because we've played BESM and Champions. So we know we're being promised things that we know can't be implemented. Either they know that they can't really deliver and are jerking our chain because it's Vaporware, or they haven't actually gotten far enough down the design rabbit hole to recognize that fact, because it is fucking Vaporware.

  • Now let's talk about the things they've actually shown people: Magical Teaparty. MTP, all the way down. The actions people took at the D&DXP were not on the character sheets, the DMs did not have DC charts. The DMs used their judgment to determine whether actions succeeded or failed. The actual game system, if there was one, was not used.


Now let's get into the "how did we get to this point?" part. In short: job security. WotC has held Christmas Layoffs every year (except last year, when the layoffs were in early Summer) for as long as they have been owned by Hasbro. The head of 4th edition D&D has been fired every year since 4th edition D&D was created. It's entirely possible that the people left at WotC believe that the only way they can keep their jobs is by releasing a faulty product that needs to be patched so that they will be retained. It's possible that they believe that their jobs are completely unrelated to their performance and that they will probably have to go look for work in the near future and are simply phoning it in.

Regardless of the motivations on the ground, it is clear that having an office filled entirely with new blood means that there is no process. There are no working relationships or project schedules, because heads roll too often for a corporate culture to actually show up. A half-assed, overly ambitious project is probably inevitable with a core set of demoralized hacks who are already looking for a new job leading a group of untested fanboys who don't know what they are doing.

But the promises being made for 5e are on the face of it absurd, the people in charge have a long and storied history of booting projects out the door in a totally nonfunctional state, they lack enough confidence in their mechanics to actually use them, and they've admitted that they haven't even tried to do so in-house. This is what Vaporware looks like.

-Frank
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hogarth
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It depends what you mean by vaporware.

If you mean something that's about 15% finished and could be completely scrapped and rewritten at any moment (e.g. the long, painful saga of Duke Nukem Forever), then sure, I suspect that's probably the case.

If you mean something that doesn't exist at all beyond the marketing buzz stage (e.g. Pathfinder Online), then the fact that some people somewhere have played something that WotC claims is 5E means that it's not vaporware.
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CapnTthePirateG
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So then how the hell are they supposed to keep their jobs when the Great Unreveal and this shit tanks? If 5e goes down, I can easily see Hasbro saying "fuck it, kill D&D, no one likes it anymore".
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nockermensch
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

hogarth wrote:
It depends what you mean by vaporware.

If you mean something that's about 15% finished and could be completely scrapped and rewritten at any moment (e.g. the long, painful saga of Duke Nukem Forever), then sure, I suspect that's probably the case.

If you mean something that doesn't exist at all beyond the marketing buzz stage (e.g. Pathfinder Online), then the fact that some people somewhere have played something that WotC claims is 5E means that it's not vaporware.

How do you call the "let's pull some numbers out of our asses, slap them at a character sheet and call it a open beta?"

The feeling I get from the playtesting news is around that. More like 1.5% finished than 15%, if by finished we mean "committed to paper".
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Avoraciopoctules
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

CapnTthePirateG wrote:
So then how the hell are they supposed to keep their jobs when the Great Unreveal and this shit tanks? If 5e goes down, I can easily see Hasbro saying "fuck it, kill D&D, no one likes it anymore".


I think the idea is that they have little reason to expect that they'll keep their jobs anyways.
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hogarth
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

nockermensch wrote:
How do you call the "let's pull some numbers out of our asses, slap them at a character sheet and call it a open beta?"

I agree that they are mistaken or flat-out lying if they are saying they have a "beta" version of the rules. What they have is a prototype of some kind.

But if everything that has ever had a prototype at some point is classified as vaporware, then the word "vaporware" is basically meaningless.


Last edited by hogarth on Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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virgil
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

CapnTthePirateG wrote:
So then how the hell are they supposed to keep their jobs when the Great Unreveal and this shit tanks? If 5e goes down, I can easily see Hasbro saying "fuck it, kill D&D, no one likes it anymore".
Even in the beginning years of 3E when its profits were at its height, they had the Christmas layoffs. With that knowledge, anyone who works there must realize that there is no correlation between performance and reward.

I suspect Hasbro's high turnover rate is to keep pay down. Even the giant that is D&D compared to the rest of the market, it's a product line that isn't even worth mentioning in comparison to the rest of the company's.
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Seerow
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

virgil wrote:
CapnTthePirateG wrote:
So then how the hell are they supposed to keep their jobs when the Great Unreveal and this shit tanks? If 5e goes down, I can easily see Hasbro saying "fuck it, kill D&D, no one likes it anymore".
Even in the beginning years of 3E when its profits were at its height, they had the Christmas layoffs. With that knowledge, anyone who works there must realize that there is no correlation between performance and reward.

I suspect Hasbro's high turnover rate is to keep pay down. Even the giant that is D&D compared to the rest of the market, it's a product line that isn't even worth mentioning in comparison to the rest of the company's.


Which makes you wonder, why do they insist on holding on to it?
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Previn
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Seerow wrote:
Which makes you wonder, why do they insist on holding on to it?


The table top D&D doesn't make much. But the brand name is too valuable to let go of. You're talking something that's ingrained in our culture and that slapping them name on a product makes it sell even if no one would have given it a second glance before, a la 4e.

D&D the table top RPG is I believe a 30-40 million in profit for Hasbro (I'd have to do some checking to narrow those top of the head numbers down). 4e was pitched as 50-100 million a year in profit and has clearly failed at that. Due to accounting shenanigans, D&D as a brand actually brings in a good bit more than that, but it doesn't get counted as part of D&D profits.

Hasbro also just got back the digital licensing rights for D&D which is important because 4e was originally supposed to tie in more closely to the VTT and once the rights were re-acquired, into a D&D MMO right from the 4e rules. That was actually the pitch to Hasbro for it. That would have been money hand over fist if they had pulled it off.
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Zinegata
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Didn't WoTC promise some kind of playtest release by this time? Have they delivered?
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DSMatticus
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

hogarth wrote:
But if everything that has ever had a prototype at some point is classified as vaporware, then the word "vaporware" is basically meaningless.

I think the point is that they cannot possibly release it in a timely manner, and if they do it will be incomplete. They're announcing things they can't or won't deliver; that's as good a use of vaporware as any.
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K
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Yeh, it's pretty clear that they can't deliver on any of the promises being made so far.

Now, maybe they will scale back their promises, set some actually attainable goals, and then produce a product to meet those goals, but I doubt it.

I mean, Monte's latest article is extremely disheartening. It's like he has no idea what 4e was because he gets 4/5 of it's attributes wrong.

I'm going to be really upset if I have to wait for 6th edition to finally get a more playable version than 3e.
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fectin
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Prediction: you will never see a more playable version than 3E. It would require a lot more discipline than basically anyone in the RPG industry has ever shown, and genius is both in short supply and insufficient to do the job on it's own.
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nockermensch
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

K wrote:
Yeh, it's pretty clear that they can't deliver on any of the promises being made so far.

Now, maybe they will scale back their promises, set some actually attainable goals, and then produce a product to meet those goals, but I doubt it.

I mean, Monte's latest article is extremely disheartening. It's like he has no idea what 4e was because he gets 4/5 of it's attributes wrong.

I'm going to be really upset if I have to wait for 6th edition to finally get a more playable version than 3e.


Yeah, particularly, I'm bummed to see the guys at the helm of d&d 5th speaking as buzzword-spewing marketroid caricatures. Next thing you know, Mearls or Cook will be quoted as saying that the next edition will leverage the synergies of former rulesets to achieve its goals in a holistic manner, or something like this.
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Previn
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Zinegata wrote:
Didn't WoTC promise some kind of playtest release by this time? Have they delivered?


In theory it is currently in the "friends and family" stage with wider playtests to come in the spring/summer.

I don't agree that it's vaporware, but I do think right now they're working from the barest ruleset they could legitimately have with the intention of developing everything else as modules as they go based on what feedback they get.

I do agree that the current dev/designer group won't be able to hit the goals and promises they've set forth, even though I believe a more competent group of developers could.


Last edited by Previn on Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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fectin
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Buzzwords aren't bad. They start their life as jargon, which is useful and specific. It's when you hear buzzwords indiscriminately misused that you need to get worried.
For example, if you say "maximize requirements synergies" in an engineering plan, that means make the requirements identical. That's very unlikely to be what you meant.
If you do that, it also means I hate you.
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tussock
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Surely they have, ... uh. Hmm.

OK, an attack progression and a damage progression. You have to have that to roll dice at the table, and dice were rolled. People did d20+A vs magic and XdY+Z damage. A, X, Y, and Z exist, and someone knows how they progress (or at least has a point to put a line through later).

They have spells doing 1d6 per what level you were when you first got the slot. So Fireball will be a "5th level spell", because you got it at "5th level", and it does "5d6 in some area". It can also do 10d6 as a "10th level spell". So each spell has a minimum level. Like a simplified version of 3e Psi, only every spell is a different level, or something. Probably one slot per level, plus the at-will feats.

They have monsters with, well, no, they probably just fall down when it's dramatically appropriate. They'll count up how much damage that took later on and give them that many hit points. Because math is hard. They probably have to have some sort of AC progression in place (or they can copy AD&D), but saves can be dramatic vapour (which might even be the final rule).

If anyone had recorded the DCs the DM set for players to save against, you could find if it really was a d20 range, but it won't be, because random DCs that you might have to repeatedly save against (taking something from 4e) should not be randomly 6 to 25.


They clearly have some ideas of what you can swap out, and what you can swap it for. So you give up your +1 hit bonus for this or that or the other, which is a solvable problem that will see a perfect build on the boards in all of 3 hours (which is what they should just put in the book in the first place).

Hmm. Yes, it could be fairly much vapour yet. Interesting.
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

K wrote:

I'm going to be really upset if I have to wait for 6th edition to finally get a more playable version than 3e.

Quote:
Prediction: you will never see a more playable version than 3E. It would require a lot more discipline than basically anyone in the RPG industry has ever shown, and genius is both in short supply and insufficient to do the job on it's own.


Do you think Mearls and Cook are smarter than you and better than you at game design in some way that you want to play their products over and over.
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K
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OgreBattle wrote:
K wrote:

I'm going to be really upset if I have to wait for 6th edition to finally get a more playable version than 3e.

Quote:
Prediction: you will never see a more playable version than 3E. It would require a lot more discipline than basically anyone in the RPG industry has ever shown, and genius is both in short supply and insufficient to do the job on it's own.


Do you think Mearls and Cook are smarter than you and better than you at game design in some way that you want to play their products over and over.


No, but they have a budget for artists, marketing, and printing books, as well as fan loyalty. It makes me hope that they'll make something playable so that I won't have to.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Tussock wrote:
OK, an attack progression and a damage progression. You have to have that to roll dice at the table, and dice were rolled.


You'd think that, but they actually don't. They've admitted that they haven't spent much time thinking about what numerical increases are going to be, and they've also admitted that they haven't really tested anything at higher levels. So no, they don't have an attack progression or a damage progression. They presumably have attack and damage starting values, but even those aren't actually set in stone or evidence based. Monte says that deciding whether numbers should be +2 or +3 is "the easy part" and can be done later.

And the numbers they are throwing around in their thought experiments are fucking insane. They were talking about adding +15 to a test because your Dexterity was 15. If they actually do that, the RNG will broken at level 1 and it doesn't even matter what their progressions are or aren't doing.

-Frank
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wotmaniac
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

tussock wrote:
OK, an attack progression and a damage progression. You have to have that to roll dice at the table, and dice were rolled.

Not necessarily.
They easily could've done what a buddy of mine does when he DMs -- he doesn't really care what's on your character sheet ... he just looks at what # came up on your d20 and decides if that is a pass/fail based on how "hard" he wants the encounter to be, and then just makes up how to adjudicate damage based on the situation.


*note: I refuse to sit at his table.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

K wrote:
OgreBattle wrote:
K wrote:

I'm going to be really upset if I have to wait for 6th edition to finally get a more playable version than 3e.

Quote:
Prediction: you will never see a more playable version than 3E. It would require a lot more discipline than basically anyone in the RPG industry has ever shown, and genius is both in short supply and insufficient to do the job on it's own.


Do you think Mearls and Cook are smarter than you and better than you at game design in some way that you want to play their products over and over.


No, but they have a budget for artists, marketing, and printing books, as well as fan loyalty. It makes me hope that they'll make something playable so that I won't have to.

Fan hate doesn't sell many books. I'd guess?
However, yeah... I'm pretty sure all of this comes down to being Frank and K's fault for not making something playable and being done with it.
Lord know people have been doing bullshit funding drives, like legend, and e20 etc for years now.
Though... I'm sure you're busy saving lives and/or getting rich in other ways or something.
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Marine 1: OMGWTHBBQ!? How the fuck is it my fault!?"
Marine 2: "You didn't stand up when asked for volunteers"
ROFL
I kid, I kid.
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nockermensch
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

wotmaniac wrote:
tussock wrote:
OK, an attack progression and a damage progression. You have to have that to roll dice at the table, and dice were rolled.

Not necessarily.
They easily could've done what a buddy of mine does when he DMs -- he doesn't really care what's on your character sheet ... he just looks at what # came up on your d20 and decides if that is a pass/fail based on how "hard" he wants the encounter to be, and then just makes up how to adjudicate damage based on the situation.


*note: I refuse to sit at his table.


Hey, this is exactly how we used to play "RPGs" when we were like 14 years old.

Roll a d20 for everything you want to do and check the follow table*:

1 : you fail hilariously bad
2 - 7 : you fail
8 - 14 : you and the DM argue if you should succeed or no
15 -19 : you succeed
20 : you succeed so good, people will talk about it afterwards.

* this table was never written down, but it's exactly how I remember everybody understanding it.
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wotmaniac
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You're not from Seattle, are you?
*that's where my buddy's from, and that pretty much exactly sums up his matrix.
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hogarth
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

nockermensch wrote:
wotmaniac wrote:
Not necessarily.
They easily could've done what a buddy of mine does when he DMs -- he doesn't really care what's on your character sheet ... he just looks at what # came up on your d20 and decides if that is a pass/fail based on how "hard" he wants the encounter to be, and then just makes up how to adjudicate damage based on the situation.


*note: I refuse to sit at his table.


Hey, this is exactly how we used to play "RPGs" when we were like 14 years old.

Roll a d20 for everything you want to do and check the follow table*:

1 : you fail hilariously bad
2 - 7 : you fail
8 - 14 : you and the DM argue if you should succeed or no
15 -19 : you succeed
20 : you succeed so good, people will talk about it afterwards.

* this table was never written down, but it's exactly how I remember everybody understanding it.

I have also played this "game", unfortunately. Although I wouldn't mind that "system" so much if were playing Toon or Paranoia or something like that.
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