Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Question Regarding The OGL & 4e

If tomorrow Wizards of the Coast dropped the GSL and instead released the core of D&D 4th Edition under the Open Game License (OGL), do you think it would give the game any spike in popularity? Why or why not?

13 comments:

Tim Brannan said...

No. The average gamer has never cared about the ogl, gsl or anything like that. Adopting it would not change the rules or how they are presented nor would it suddenly create an influx of 3rd party products like it did in the early 2000s.
At the end of the day the vst bulk of the game buying populace really only cares about what is between the two covers of the book, not the level of "openness" of the game.

Rob Conley said...

I think the 4e fanbase would try various things with it and some of their efforts may very well succeed. However given the Encounters/Delve/Living FR culture there will be a strong Wizards only crowd.

I know I would like to try a gritty 4e style RPG. 4e is a fun and easy to learn system it how it's implemented that is an issue.

At this point releasing 4e won't create a strong 3rd party market but it may result in some interesting unintended consequences.

John Reyst said...

I'd attack it like a rabid dog. I'd rip out the bits I hate and keep the base system. I run d20pfsrd.com and am a big Pathfinder fan (obviously enough). If I could yank the base system then replace or discard the parts I despise I could see myself shifting to a 4e-based system very quickly.

mxyzplk said...

It might help a little bit, but since most third party companies have been forced to stay completely away from 4e to date, they've all invested heavily in 3.5e or house gaming systems. It would probably let people tinker with the system more and share/sell their house rules which would create some movement, but the fact that Wizards' strategy is all around the DDI means that any new rules will be unusable for a lot of people. Non-OGL is only one of several major planks in their totally closed strategy, so just changing that won't really help much.

Carlson793 said...

I was discussing 4E with a buddy yesterday, and he was pushing the merits of the system to me, and how 3.XE was totally flawed (mind, this same guy preached the same way concerning 3.XE vs. 2E). Anyway, the one place he said 4E gets it wrong that 3.XE gets it right is in monster modification.

Now, if 4E were to go under the OGL, issues like this could be addressed, and the two systems blended buffet-style: take the good from here, the better from there, and create a stronger whole. Mind you, the result would probably be a niche game, a la many of the OSR games derived from the OGL, which, considering the glut of crappy d20 products that came out early in the OGL's history is probably a good thing.

Anonymous said...

It would help a lot. Many game groups have someone who likes to tinker and wants to put those new rules, monsters, feats, etc. up on their website. (Some of that is possible on the GSL, but some is not and the part that isn't keeps one from tinkering with the parts that are somewhat open.)

Further, having freer reign to make tools based on 4e without worrying about Wizards later saying you can't or preventing some things in the first place makes it easier to use as a basis for a side business.

Like others have said, I'd probably just borrow a few bits and drop them into my Pathfinder game because to me (sorry to get edition-warish) 4e isn't D&D. It isn't an evolution of the game, it is a revolution. Which is fine if you like the many changes (I don't). But the point is the changes from 0e to 1e to 2e to 3e to 3.5 are each less than 3.5 to 4e.

Anonymous said...

I should add that "tinkerer" is often the person pushing what the group commonly plays and if the tinkerer can't tinker with a system as openly, then the group is less likely to play that system.

Callin said...

Even with a more open OGL 3rd party publishers would still have a problem in the stranglehold DnDInsider and the Character Builder has on modified material...though with a true OGL someone could create their own CB which did allow for custom/modified content.

satyre said...

The average gamer may not care but the average game designer? That may be a different proposition...

Wizards loyalists will not change their buying habits, particularly as they've subscribed to DDI as well as the latest revision.

A Microlite version of 4E would be several shades of awesome and I'll be curious to see what happens if it ever comes to pass.

Consonant Dude said...

This is a wide question :)

At a very basic level, it cannot *hurt*, that's for sure. There might be a few (possibly very few relatively speaking) people who aren't going to touch 4e because of the more restrictive license but not the other way around. People aren't going to be turned off by the OGL.

Designers/Publishers: 4e would probably have attracted a bunch of publishers had it been OGL. I doubt it would have the glut we experienced with 3e but it would have been significant. Much like 3e, the bulk of early 3rd part stuff would have directly supported DnD4e (monster books, supplements, adventures)

Hardcore users/tinkerers: The OGL is to these guys what shit is to flies. Some of us just like the freedom to tinker, even if it's an option many don't fully take advantage of. It's just nice for it to be there. LGS clerks are also in this category and they love to push this feature when talking to customers IME.

Number of casual users: The OGL might attract a few more casual users. There's a buzz around open products. There's a wider selection to choose from and casual users love support. They also often rely on hardcore users (LGS clerks, very active GMs, etc...) to choose their game.

4e Relatives: Eventually, there would be other games being released based on 4e but different. They could be relatively close to the source (Like Conan was to 3e) or more distant (like Mutants and Masterminds). But people would refer to them as a big family of game like they did in the 3rd edition era ("oh, Star Wars? You play d20-based games just like me!")

Salvaging fans: So, you're this hardcore 3e users. You bought $4000 worth of 3e products, including Mongoose's d20 Manual of Magical Toilet Plumbing. And you're pissed off that 4e has been released. You hate the changes just because it's different and because it's gonna make all your books obsolete. So you swear never to play and you fart at WotC.

Then one day, some 3rd party company (let's say Green Ronin) grabs a hot license that you just LOVE (say, Dune). Holy shit! They're doing an OGL game based off 4e's mechanics but it's different. And it's Dune! You buy it, start playing with your friends and everybody loves it.

You and your friends begin to feel 4e may not be as bad as you thought and admit you were knee-jerking. So you decide to buy 4e and you find it comforting and already familiar due to your Dune experience. And you hop in the big 4e family :)

When all is said and done? I don't think 4e would have that many more users if it was OGL but it might have a few. It's all irrelevant to me as I think the system is awful and so is the model built around it :)

Nikolas said...

Yes.
I think the 3rd Party Game Producers seeing the large market access will start making more products that tailor to secondary market niches within 4E.

3rd Party games were basically free advertising for the Core Products as they Fill the Shelves.

Also the 3rd Party Products become a sort of Juxtaposition making Core Products better looking in comparison. (relative decision making, Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely)

Another principle to look at is, has WOTC exhausted all the market maximization/exposure they can get in the GSL? If they have, then moving to OGL will have an increased market share and not very great negative (or positive) effect on the original stakeholders (people who bought in during GSL).

TheClone said...

Yes, it will. Open source, the open Internet and everything is often named as a reason for innovation and economic growth. In specific more companies or persons will release their materials for D&D 4 and maybe there will even be a good character builder O:-)

jonbrazer.com said...

What 4E? Oh you mean Pathfinder? It already is OGL. [/sarcasm]

Seriously though, had this been done within 1 year of 4E's release, yes, it would have helped. Now, 4E looks like a dead system. Even Wizards has given upon it in favor of Essentials. Sorry, but I just don't see any value right now in D&D. Pathfinder, absolutely, but not D&D.