Calling all rogues, wizards, paladins, druids and those who despised the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Wizards of the Coast require your d20 for open playtests to make their 5th edition the best yet. In laymen’s terms, they’re looking for user input to make the game better. Hooray!
Liz Schuh, head of publishing and licensing for Dungeons & Dragons spoke with the New York Times about their new venture. The game “is a unique entertainment experience because it’s crafted by the players at the table, and every gaming session is different,’ said Schuh. “We want to take that idea of the players crafting that experience to the next level and say: ‘Help us craft the rules. Help us craft how this game is played.’”
“Since the game’s birth an estimated 20 million people have played it and spent $1 billion on its products,” writes NYT. So what spurred an almost 40-year-old franchise to make such a move? When the 4th edition was released in 2008, it’s safe to say it was not well received by most D&D players. There was a great deal of complaints from fans who found the new set of rules frustrating. And although Wizards of the Coast do not release sales figures, the NYT says they have been dwindling the last few years, pointing to the huge success of electronic games like World of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim.
Mike Mearls, senior manager of Dungeons & Dragons research and development wrote on Wizards website:
Our mission is to ensure that D&D enters its next 40 years as a vibrant, growing, and exciting game. By listening to the needs of the D&D community, we can meet this goal. As part of our increased efforts to engage with the player-base, we launched a series of weekly articles in early 2011, including Rule of Three and Legends & Lore, to give you a voice in our work. We’ve listened to both praise and criticism from all D&D fans, regardless of their edition of choice, and we’ll continue to do so.
That is why we are excited to share with you that starting in Spring 2012, we will be taking this process one step further and conducting ongoing open playtests with the gaming community to gather feedback on the new iteration of the game as we develop it. With your feedback and involvement, we can make D&D better than ever. We seek to build a foundation for the long-term health and growth of D&D, one rooted in the vital traits that make D&D unique and special. We want a game that rises above differences of play styles, campaign settings, and editions, one that takes the fundamental essence of D&D and brings it to the forefront of the game. In short, we want a game that is as simple or complex as you please, its action focused on combat, intrigue, and exploration as you desire. We want a game that is unmistakably D&D, but one that can easily become your D&D, the game that you want to run and play.
Mearls says they have started with feedback from friends and family of the company but will soon expand to their existing playtesters. “Then at the D&D Experience convention in late January, Wizards of the Coast will conduct a special playtest of ideas currently in development.The D&D Experience will be moving to Gen Con in 2013, so as a convention special this year, we will be offering show attendees a first-look at a draft of the new set of rules,” he said. “Then beginning sometime in the spring, we will begin open playtesting. Through our web site, we will release a growing set of rules, classes, monsters and other materials for your study and feedback.”
You can sign up now to be notified when the open testing will begin and they say they are looking for players of all skill levels, whether you’ve just started or have been playing since the 70s. “We’re really lucky that we have such passionate fans,” Ms. Schuh said, “and we anticipate they’ll roll up their sleeves and help us in this effort.”