Is Pathfinder a "fantasy heartbreaker"?


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What is a fantasy heartbreaker?

Quote:
This essay is about some 1990s games I'm calling "fantasy heartbreakers," which are truly impressive in terms of the drive, commitment, and personal joy that's evident in both their existence and in their details - yet they are also teeth-grindingly frustrating, in that, like their counterparts from the late 70s, they represent but a single creative step from their source: old-style D&D. And unlike those other games, as such, they were doomed from the start. This essay is basically in their favor, in a kind of grief-stricken way.

I think Pathfinder is a fantasy heartbreaker. It tweaks the rules of 3e a bit here and there, but it's the same game under the hood. That's the intent of the rules, but it seems that Pathfinder could break away from that and becomes its own game.


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No.

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Personally, I disagree. Pathfinder never really pretended to be anything but a variation of 3.5. In fact, didn't Pathfinder become it's own only after WotC decided to toss 3.5 aside in favor of 4th edition? Not to mention, Pathfinder fails to meet one of the criteria for a 'fantasy heartbreaker'. Namely it IS a going concern and has been for years, You can find it in mainstream book stores, gamer stores, online...

EDIT: And with each book published it moves further away from it's parent system.


My heart's doing just fine. Looking forward to aberrant eidolons for my Summoners next month.


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Not in the traditional sense.

Typically Fantasy Heartbreakers break the heart of the creator by way of lack of acceptance.

Pathfinder breaks the fans' hearts by way of stagnation/failure to evolve and become better than its roots.


*looks at Pathfinder Adventure Card Game*
*looks at Starfinder*
*looks at Occult Adventures and upcoming Harrowed Medium release*
Sure, no changes here.

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In truth, while Pathfinder may have started out as just another 3.5 OGL (really more of a glorified campaign setting) game it has moved beyond that origin. Like Mutants & Masterminds or BESM d20, it takes that basic foundation and builds something unique. True you can feel the 3.5 origin in Pathfinder. But overall it feels different too. So different in fact that recently when I joined a 3.5 campaign I was constantly surprised by things I expected to work one way due to pathfinder but worked in a totally different way.


I would say no. The classic "heartbreakers" are derivative of 1st and 2nd edition D&D, and often show that the creator had little experience with *any* other RPGs. D&D's third edition already took a big step away from heartbreaker territory by being created with full knowledge of the state-of-the-art in RPGs, and Pathfinder in turn builds on over a decade of feedback on 3e. It possibly hews too closely to 3e, but it simply can't be said that they didn't make those choices consciously and in an informed manner.

Heartbreakers are also often broken qua game (i.e., suffering from poor organization and lacking the necessary support structure needed for a game), due to its creators not being experienced publishers. Pathfinder is extremely well-supported!

-JW


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After the release of the Advanced Players guide, pathfinder was its own game, and far more then a single creative step away form 3.5. In the intervening years, particularly with things like the Mythic rules, occult adventures, and Pathfinder Unchained, it would be silly to say its just 3.75.

And its sort of insane to say Pathfinder was doomed from the start. It has been wildly successful by basically any measure. Even if their sales fall off a cliff in the near future (which is unlikely) they have had a huge amount of success for 7+ years.


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One of the key factors behind Pathfinder's success is WotC's failure.

D&D 3.0 and 3.5 were wildly successful by the standards of TTRPGs and (via the OGL) basically redefined the entire market. And then for some reason, WotC dropped all of that on the floor, said "we've got a 100% market share, so we're going to completely drop that product and push something new and terrible."

That would be like McDonalds dropping hamburgers from their menu in favor of.... I don't know, zucchini smoothies? Jelly beans? Women's clothing?

So it's hard for me to imagine Pathfinder being a "heartbreaker" in any way. The market wanted a D&D 3.5 clone and Paizo supplied it. The mistake that WotC made was not realizing just how much people liked -- and still like -- 3.5 and wanted something that was very similar to 3.5. So "a single creative step from their source" is exactly what the market wanted, and they delivered it spectacularly.

Now, of course, having said that, Paizo have indeed been doing development over the years both to expand their offerings in the game space or in the genre space and to tweak the rules to make them work better (which is something old-style D&D couldn't do with 1980s technology). But, basically, they're staying in business because they're the exact opposite of a heartbreaker.

---

Think of it this way. YKK is the world's largest producer of zippers, with something like an 85% market share. If YKK decided to stop making zippers, would you consider another company a heartbreaker if it decided to start making zippers for a piece of that multibillion dollar market? Even if it used similar designs (because, let's face it, how creative do people want to be with their zippers)?

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't think that Pathfinder is comparable to the games Ron Edwards is talking about in the linked article. Those were games where the creators probably though they would create something truly innovative but failed to deliver (apart from some hidden pearls). Pathfinder started out as means for the 3.5 ruleset to stay relevant, when WotC stopped supporting 3.5 and created something new. Sure, there were changes, but Paizo never intended to invent a new game.

On the other hand, Paizo didn't stop when they had reached their goal. They added new content, new mechanics, new options, so I have to disagree with kyrt-rider: The game doesn't stagnate, it evolves (if you like the direction is another question). Maybe not as fast as it could and I would love to see a second edition getting rid of some of 3.5's artefacts and integrating the new ideas that developed in the last ten years. But that's another story.

So it may be a Fantasy Heartbreaker in so far as the creators' heart probably broke a bit when WotC announced 4E and their new, non-OGL policy and that it's "truly impressive in terms of the drive, commitment, and personal joy that's evident in both its existence and in its details". but that's how far the similarities go.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

Paizo delivered a brilliantly successful game that both hewed to its source material and almost immediately showed what could still be done with that engine that had never been done before.

While Hasbro was vigorously curb stomping its own brand, Paizo was innovating and experimenting. In my view, Pathfinder is a textbook example of how to develop an older property into something new and yet still grounded in the old. It is in no way a heartbreaker.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Please, no new edition of the last edition war. No matter what you might prefer, 4E was a valiant effort to innovate D&D, and they even might have experimented too much with the innovations.

I won't go so far to say that Paizo played the safe card, because I don't think they felt anyhow safe at the time they had to decide about their approach to the post-3.5-world. But as far as innovation is concerned, Pathfinder is surely much nearer to a Fantasy Heartbreaker as defined by Ron Edwards than 4E ever was.


I was under the impression that a game had to be unpopular or unsuccessful to be considered a "heartbreaker". Pathfinder is wildly popular and successful so I don't see how it could be considered a heartbreaker?


I don't think a heartbreaker needs to be unsuccessful, it's just that so many aren't successful.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It'll only break your heart if it fails to succeed and goes away.

Therefore, by definition, Pathfinder isn't a heartbreaker of any kind.


I didn't read that long article, but I felt by the title that the authot would be wrong. It seems that I'm right.


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Actually, it does break my heart because I love the psionics, and they don't and one of my favorite subsystems has been relegated to unaccepted, 3pp status.


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Orfamay Quest wrote:

One of the key factors behind Pathfinder's success is WotC's failure.

D&D 3.0 and 3.5 were wildly successful by the standards of TTRPGs and (via the OGL) basically redefined the entire market. And then for some reason, WotC dropped all of that on the floor, said "we've got a 100% market share, so we're going to completely drop that product and push something new and terrible."

That would be like McDonalds dropping hamburgers from their menu in favor of.... I don't know, zucchini smoothies? Jelly beans? Women's clothing?

If hamburgers aren't selling well and the vast majority of the people imitating them have either dropped away in favour of doing something else, ceased to exist, or changed the recipe so much that they're barely recognisable, then I'd expect MacDonalds to look at whether they should carry on making hamburgers and nothing else.

I think you have a wildly inflated idea of how dominant the D20 system was in the later days of 3.x. A 100% market share wasn't theirs even in height of the d20 craze. And pushing "something new and terrible" may be a great bit of edition war rhetoric but Casterwank Edition wasn't and isn't universally loved by any means.


Klorox wrote:
Actually, it does break my heart because I love the psionics, and they don't and one of my favorite subsystems has been relegated to unaccepted, 3pp status.

Why is 3pp unaccepted when many of Paizo's books are written by freelancers(who also do 3pp stuff) and they borrow material from 3pp products for monsters in their AP's?

As a psionics fan I can tell you that many people didn't like it, some for logical but ill advised reasons aka they didn't understand how it worked, some for illogical reasons aka they dont even know why dont like it, and some understood the system but just didn't care for it. There used to be a lot of debates on these boards about it.


Too bad I wasn't there at the time, I should have taken "Johnny Come Lately" for my alias. :(

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wraithstrike wrote:
Why is 3pp unaccepted when many of Paizo's books are written by freelancers(who also do 3pp stuff) and they borrow material from 3pp products for monsters in their AP's?

Some days ago. I read an interesting comment by Owen K.C. Stevens regarding said topic. Unluckily I didn't favorite the post (so I have no link) but what surprised me the most is that there seem to be people out there thinking that Owen now being an official and his 3PP material still being 3PP is somehow proof that this material is anyhow inferior to what he's creating in the meantime. The thought that him being an official now might have something to do with the quality of the material he wrote before seems to evade them.

Thinking about it, I might have to burn my copy of the Blight hardcover as soon as I get it, because Pett and Vaughn stopped being awesome as soon as they decided to work for FGG. I mean come on, if Bill and co. had any talent whatsoever, they would aready work for Paizo, right?

Me, I'm actually glad that there is more talent out there than Paizo can hire. Means more quality material for me to choose from.


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Here I sit
Finding paths
Gamed a bit
But it's all maths

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"Fantasy Heartbreaker" sound like a bad song title.


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QuidEst wrote:
upcoming Harrowed Medium release

Citation please. You're getting my hopes up here and I can't find an associated product for that.


WormysQueue wrote:
No matter what you might prefer, 4E was a valiant effort to innovate D&D, and they even might have experimented too much with the innovations.

Except when you have a dominant market position, making "a valiant effort to innovate" away from your flagship product is just bad business practice. They still teach about Coca-cola and the infamous "New Coke" debacle. If you have a dominant market position, you don't innovate away from it, you expand your position. Coca-cola, for example, learned well. After "a valiant effort to innovate" away from Coke (the infamous New Coke debacle), they have instead done the sensiible thing and simply innovated by expanding their line. Diet Coke was a runaway success, so when they introduced Coke Zero in 2005, they kept the Diet Coke line. Now Coke simpliciter is the most popular soft drink in the US, Diet Coke is number three, and Coke Zero is number 10. (And they're rolling out all sorts of variants as well -- [Diet] Cherry Coke, [Diet] Vanilla Coke, etc.)

Of course, this is also the strategy that Campbell's Soup has followed for years, because by flooding the market with new soup products while keeping the old ones, they can squeeze their competitors off the shelf. And it's also the strategy that Paizo has been following, because they've been innovating -- Pathfinder Card Game, anyone? Starfinder? -- but they've also been supporting their main line, which means they've got more profitable products on the market, and can start pushing for a more and more shelf space at Pegasaurus Games.

Quote:
But as far as innovation is concerned, Pathfinder is surely much nearer to a Fantasy Heartbreaker as defined by Ron Edwards than 4E ever was.

No, 4E was definitely innovative. It was just the stupidest business decision since the invention of the water-soluble umbrella.

Sovereign Court

Orfamay Quest wrote:

One of the key factors behind Pathfinder's success is WotC's failure.

D&D 3.0 and 3.5 were wildly successful by the standards of TTRPGs and (via the OGL) basically redefined the entire market. And then for some reason, WotC dropped all of that on the floor, said "we've got a 100% market share, so we're going to completely drop that product and push something new and terrible."

That would be like McDonalds dropping hamburgers from their menu in favor of.... I don't know, zucchini smoothies? Jelly beans? Women's clothing?

I will say - that's a bit of hindsight 20/20. The theory behind 4e was to retain their current market share and make D&D more appealing to newbies and expand the market. After all - TTRPGs are a very small market, and expanding the market is the usual job of the market leader anyway. (Because it's the best way to increase sales. It's why Campbell's Soup commercials never say that they are better than other soups, their commercials basically go "mmmmm soup", because they know that if people eat more soup, they'll inherently eat more Campbell's.)

McDonalds is the market leader in the huge market of fast food.

Not really a good comparison.


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Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:

One of the key factors behind Pathfinder's success is WotC's failure.

D&D 3.0 and 3.5 were wildly successful by the standards of TTRPGs and (via the OGL) basically redefined the entire market. And then for some reason, WotC dropped all of that on the floor, said "we've got a 100% market share, so we're going to completely drop that product and push something new and terrible."

That would be like McDonalds dropping hamburgers from their menu in favor of.... I don't know, zucchini smoothies? Jelly beans? Women's clothing?

I will say - that's a bit of hindsight 20/20. The theory behind 4e was to retain their current market share and make D&D more appealing to newbies and expand the market.

The reason behind the theory behind 4E was that D&D needed - and still needs - to increase its annual revenue in order to justify its existence to Hasbro. We know this because Ryan Dancey has told us before:

Ryan Dancey wrote:

Sometime around 2005ish, Hasbro made an internal decision to divide its businesses into two categories. Core brands, which had more than $50 million in annual sales, and had a growth path towards $100 million annual sales, and Non-Core brands, which didn't.

[...]

Core Brands would get the financing they requested for development of their businesses (within reason). Non-Core brands would not. They would be allowed to rise & fall with the overall toy market on their own merits without a lot of marketing or development support. In fact, many Non-Core brands would simply be mothballed - allowed to go dormant for some number of years until the company was ready to take them down off the shelf and try to revive them for a new generation of kids.

At the point of the original Hasbro/Wizards merger a fateful decision was made that laid the groundwork for what happened once Greg took over. Instead of focusing Hasbro on the idea that Wizards of the Coast was a single brand, each of the lines of business in Wizards got broken out and reported to Hasbro as a separate entity. This was driven in large part by the fact that the acquisition agreement specified a substantial post-acquisition purchase price adjustment for Wizards' shareholders on the basis of the sales of non-Magic CCGs (i.e. Pokemon).

This came back to haunt Wizards when Hasbro's new Core/Non-Core strategy came into focus. Instead of being able to say "We're a $100+ million brand, keep funding us as we desire", each of the business units inside Wizards had to make that case separately. So the first thing that happened was the contraction you saw when Wizards dropped new game development and became the "D&D and Magic" company. Magic has no problem hitting the "Core" brand bar, but D&D does. It's really a $25-30 million business, especially since Wizards isn't given credit for the licensing revenue of the D&D computer games.

[...]

Sometime around 2006, the D&D team made a big presentation to the Hasbro senior management on how they could take D&D up to the $50 million level and potentially keep growing it. The core of that plan was a synergistic relationship between the tabletop game and what came to be known as DDI. At the time Hasbro didn't have the rights to do an MMO for D&D, so DDI was the next best thing. The Wizards team produced figures showing that there were millions of people playing D&D and that if they could move a moderate fraction of those people to DDI, they would achieve their revenue goals. Then DDI could be expanded over time and if/when Hasbro recovered the video gaming rights, it could be used as a platform to launch a true D&D MMO, which could take them over $100 million/year.

The DDI pitch was that the 4th Edition would be designed so that it would work best when played with DDI.

This central idea - maximizing return on investment in order to hit those target goals - has been the driving force of the Hasbro-led WotC for some time now. It's not just affecting D&D game books either, but rather everything that's part of the "D&D brand."

I was at the Candlekeep meet-up at Gen Con 2016. One of the guests to appear was James Lowder. During the meet-up, he explained why it is that you never see D&D novels anymore (notwithstanding ones by Greenwood and Salvatore, both of whom have contractual agreements with WotC to have their books published or they can sue to recover the IP rights).

Lowder, who used to work in the fiction department at WotC/TSR, explained that the novels were always a profitable division. Even though they only had six people in that department at its height, it was pulling in half of D&D's total revenue during that time. And yet Hasbro told them "you [WotC] aren't a novel-publishing company; stop acting like it," and shut that branch down.

Why shut down a profitable part of their subsidiary? Because it wasn't profitable enough. The amount of money that the novel division was making wasn't enough to justify its existence in Hasbro's eyes, and so that's why you don't see D&D novels on store shelves anymore.

That's the same reason why you no longer see brand logos for individual campaigns (e.g. the Forgotten Realms). Lowder made it clear that it's all about making D&D a brand unto itself, without any other brands cluttering things up. Because branding helps with sales, and that's what D&D needs to keep maximizing if it doesn't want the entire game to go the same way as the novels did.

5E is trying a different strategy from 4E, as part of the new take on branding. It's not a coincidence that we recently heard about the court fight to recover the movie rights to D&D, for example, or that they've been making sure that their big news has been reported by Forbes and other high-profile outlets. The game itself is now just part of the multimedia content strategy to make D&D a "core" brand for Hasbro.

Let's hope that it works. Because if not, it's not unimaginable that the game could be mothballed for a generation or two.


Charon's Little Helper wrote:


I will say - that's a bit of hindsight 20/20. The theory behind 4e was to retain their current market share and make D&D more appealing to newbies and expand the market.

Not really. you don't "retain the current market" by abandoning the product that has made you the current market leader. That's the mistake -- and it's a pretty obvious one -- that WotC made.

Quote:

After all - TTRPGs are a very small market, and expanding the market is the usual job of the market leader anyway. (Because it's the best way to increase sales. It's why Campbell's Soup commercials never say that they are better than other soups, their commercials basically go "mmmmm soup", because they know that if people eat more soup, they'll inherently eat more Campbell's.)

McDonalds is the market leader in the huge market of fast food.

Yes, and that's why I made the comparison. Both Campbell's and McDonalds aren't innovating away from their current product line; they're innovating in addition to their current product line. McRib sandwich? Great! McCafe specialty coffee? Let's go! All-day breakfast? Sounds good! Table service? Let's try it out! McSushi? Hmm.... But no matter what they do, you can still get a cheap, fast, hamburger at McD's. Similarly, Campbell's is always rolling out new soups (200 new products in 2015), and they're in a lot more than just soup (they own Pepperidge Farm, V8, and Prego, for example), but they're not going to abandon the soup lineup even if they see a market opening in jelly beans and/or women's clothing.


Raving Nerd wrote:

What is a fantasy heartbreaker?

Quote:
This essay is about some 1990s games I'm calling "fantasy heartbreakers," which are truly impressive in terms of the drive, commitment, and personal joy that's evident in both their existence and in their details - yet they are also teeth-grindingly frustrating, in that, like their counterparts from the late 70s, they represent but a single creative step from their source: old-style D&D. And unlike those other games, as such, they were doomed from the start. This essay is basically in their favor, in a kind of grief-stricken way.
I think Pathfinder is a fantasy heartbreaker. It tweaks the rules of 3e a bit here and there, but it's the same game under the hood. That's the intent of the rules, but it seems that Pathfinder could break away from that and becomes its own game.

The thing is that WotC ditched the 3.5 system in favor of the 4e and now the 5e. They're not going back to it anytime soon, but the OGL still applies to the 3.5 system anyway.

Furthermore, Paizo published and worked with WotC for the Dungeon and Dragon magasines. So I'm pretty sure that they had an agreement about Pathfinder using the 3.5 system.

Finally, let's face it, the 4e didn't please everyone, so much that it lasted 6 years, 2 years shorter than 3e, before they released 5e back in 2014. A lot of the complaints I've heard were about the major MMORPG feel of the new system. Sure, you could change the rules as you see fit, but... there's a design problem when you have to do this...


Alzrius wrote:

quoted Ryan Dancey as saying

Quote:
The Wizards team produced figures showing that there were millions of people playing D&D and that if they could move a moderate fraction of those people to DDI, they would achieve their revenue goals.

I highlighted the stupid bit of that plan. Even in foresight, this is a recipe for disaster for a market leader. The market leader has achieved that position by offering people something they want, and "moving" them involves no longer offering them that thing (so that they will pick something different).

First of all, it's almost a guaranteed customer loser, as they themselves admit. "Move a moderate fraction ... to" means that an immoderate fraction will move to something else: a competitor, or possibly out of the market altogether.

Second, unless you've got a really strong ring-fence around your business (e.g., you own the patents to the process, or it costs $100 billion to build a manufacturing plant and who else is going to sink that kind of money into it, or something like that), you're creating an opening for your competitors to come in and offer the exact same thing. WotC and Hasbro knew (or should have known) that, with the OGL, they had no fence at all, since literally anyone could basically reprint the D&D 3.5 books with a new cover and new brand image. Which is more or less what Paizo did.

Third, they tried to redesign a (successful) product line based, not on what customers wanted to buy, but on what they wanted to sell. I don't think I even need to expand on that point.

Tarondor described it as "Hasbro ... vigorously curb stomping its own brand." I find it difficult to improve on that phrasing. They could have produced the most orgasmically well-designed RPG edition in history (although, of course, they didn't), and it still would have been a bad idea from a purely business standpoint.


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JiCi wrote:
Finally, let's face it, the 4e didn't please everyone, so much that it lasted 6 years

It was four years. After the September, 2007 announcement of D&D 4E, the 4E Core Rulebooks came out in June of 2008. However, while the books in early-mid 2012 had 4E stats (e.g. Halls of Undermountain in April, Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook in May), the first 5E playtest packet went out on May 24th of that year, which effectively ended 4E's life.

It's not a coincidence that by the latter part of 2012, their print materials (notwithstanding system-less accessories such as the map packs) consisted of edition-neutral sourcebooks (e.g. Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue in August, Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms in October).

Grand Lodge

Raving Nerd wrote:
I think Pathfinder is a fantasy heartbreaker.

I think Pathfinder is more like D&D 3.5 with a solid, comprehensive set of house rules. It's too bad the bloat with eventually kill it, but hey, bloat in RPGs is basically inevitable. By the time that happens, though, Pathfinder will have had a really good run, revitalizing D&D after the disappointment of 4th Edition, getting WotC to correct themselves and make the much improved 5th Edition, and introducing an new generation to the hobby.


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
Tarondor described it as "Hasbro ... vigorously curb stomping its own brand." I find it difficult to improve on that phrasing. They could have produced the most orgasmically well-designed RPG edition in history (although, of course, they didn't), and it still would have been a bad idea from a purely business standpoint.

I don't disagree, but knowing the bit about how Hasbro had essentially put them behind the eight ball makes me reevaluate how I feel about them doing that.

Simply put, it wasn't about an idea being good or bad so much as it was about them being desperate. They were being leaned on to turn in more profit that they knew they had any reasonable right to expect, and they knew what the consequences for failure were (e.g. that D&D goes bye-bye). That makes it much more understandable, to my mind, why they'd make the decisions they did.

Desperation makes idiots of us all.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:


I will say - that's a bit of hindsight 20/20. The theory behind 4e was to retain their current market share and make D&D more appealing to newbies and expand the market.
Not really. you don't "retain the current market" by abandoning the product that has made you the current market leader. That's the mistake -- and it's a pretty obvious one -- that WotC made.

Was 4e NOT the market leader, then? Every game with the Dungeons and Dragons name on has 'led the market'.

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Bluenose wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:


I will say - that's a bit of hindsight 20/20. The theory behind 4e was to retain their current market share and make D&D more appealing to newbies and expand the market.
Not really. you don't "retain the current market" by abandoning the product that has made you the current market leader. That's the mistake -- and it's a pretty obvious one -- that WotC made.
Was 4e NOT the market leader, then? Every game with the Dungeons and Dragons name on has 'led the market'.

Actually - no, not for long. Pathfinder became the market leader during 4e.

Sovereign Court

Orfamay Quest wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:


I will say - that's a bit of hindsight 20/20. The theory behind 4e was to retain their current market share and make D&D more appealing to newbies and expand the market.

Not really. you don't "retain the current market" by abandoning the product that has made you the current market leader. That's the mistake -- and it's a pretty obvious one -- that WotC made.

Quote:

After all - TTRPGs are a very small market, and expanding the market is the usual job of the market leader anyway. (Because it's the best way to increase sales. It's why Campbell's Soup commercials never say that they are better than other soups, their commercials basically go "mmmmm soup", because they know that if people eat more soup, they'll inherently eat more Campbell's.)

McDonalds is the market leader in the huge market of fast food.

Yes, and that's why I made the comparison. Both Campbell's and McDonalds aren't innovating away from their current product line; they're innovating in addition to their current product line. McRib sandwich? Great! McCafe specialty coffee? Let's go! All-day breakfast? Sounds good! Table service? Let's try it out! McSushi? Hmm.... But no matter what they do, you can still get a cheap, fast, hamburger at McD's. Similarly, Campbell's is always rolling out new soups (200 new products in 2015), and they're in a lot more than just soup (they own Pepperidge Farm, V8, and Prego, for example), but they're not going to abandon the soup lineup even if they see a market opening in jelly beans and/or women's clothing.

I don't think that D&D should have tried basing their marketing plan upon the soup & fast food markets. Besides - the TTRPG market isn't large enough to justify having both their old a new product line. After all - Campbell's comes out with new soups all of the time, but the investment in doing so is minimal as a % of their company relative to D&D creating a new edition/market line.

Now - in hindsight I totally agree that it turned out to be the wrong thing to do, but I think that was more due to the product which they tried to do it with.

However, there is a valid argument that at the time that it was worth the risk.

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Headfirst wrote:
It's too bad the bloat with eventually kill it, but hey, bloat in RPGs is basically inevitable. By the time that happens, though, Pathfinder will have had a really good run

We'll see. I'm actually quite optimistic about Paizo being here to stay and finding the right point of time to revigorate Pathfinder with a 2nd edition before it fades away. At least I don't see Pathfinder going anywhere soon.

Liberty's Edge

I think people are confusing innovation really means imo. It's usally referred to as improving something. Sometimes even changing something on a major level. As much as i enjoy Pathfinder. I do not and still do not think the core at least was anything innovative. Sure it made those who liked 3.5. flaws and all happy. They did very little to fix any of the flaws.

While I will not comment on the card game. Never playing it. Starfinder to be innovative has to implement so changes either minor or major to be innovative imo. Removal of the action economy. Removal of feat taxes. Making it easier to play the game at higher levels. Giving the martial more than just "I swing and hit". if all it does is just offer new art and nothing else then with all due respect it's going to be another rehash of Pathfinder but in space.

To be fair books after the core have made the game different in some respects. Yet nothing innovative or not that much to me at least. it took them forever to give more material for martials. Even then it's still not enough.

4E was innovative like it or hate they tried something new. It alienated some of the fans. Yet out of the two objectively I can say that at least their was some innovation. Now if one wants to see a truly innovative D20 rpg one can look at Mutant and Masterminds. They took the system and tried to do something new with.

That being said Pathfinder is absolutely definitely not a fantasy heartbreaker imo. It's popular, profitable and gets a decent amount of support.

Grand Lodge

While I agree with the overall sentiment that Pathfinder 2.0 would be a bad move at this point, I think there's room for a sort of Pathfinder Saga Edition, one that isn't compatible with the core game, but is super streamlined and has the ability to bring new players into the genre without alienating them with big, thick books full of charts and tables.


memorax wrote:

I think people are confusing innovation really means imo. It's usally referred to as improving something. Sometimes even changing something on a major level. As much as i enjoy Pathfinder. I do not and still do not think the core at least was anything innovative. Sure it made those who liked 3.5. flaws and all happy. They did very little to fix any of the flaws.

While I will not comment on the card game. Never playing it. Starfinder to be innovative has to implement so changes either minor or major to be innovative imo. Removal of the action economy. Removal of feat taxes. Making it easier to play the game at higher levels. Giving the martial more than just "I swing and hit". if all it does is just offer new art and nothing else then with all due respect it's going to be another rehash of Pathfinder but in space.

To be fair books after the core have made the game different in some respects. Yet nothing innovative or not that much to me at least. it took them forever to give more material for martials. Even then it's still not enough.

4E was innovative/ like it or hate they tried something new. It alienated some of the fans. Yet out of the two objectively I can say that at least their was some innovation. Now if one wants to see a truly innovative D20 rpg one can look at Mutant and Masterminds. They took the system and tried to do something new with.

Innovation can be good or bad. Change for the sake of change isn't a good thing. Of course, never changing means not getting better.

For many people, likely most who came to Pathfinder, 4E was innovative, but not an improvement. PF may not have been innovative, but many still think it's been a (incremental) improvement.

Near as I can tell, Starfinder is intended to be "Pathfinder in Space". That's the point. Rules changes will be aimed at fitting the genre better, not at fixing Pathfinder's problems and being a new replacement base system.

Liberty's Edge

Then it can't really be considered innovative then at least imo. The same house with a new coat of paint is still the same house. If it really offers nothing new it's going to always be considered Pathinfer but in space instead of it's own game. I'm not asking for PF 2E. It has to be than just a rehash of Pathfinder with new cover and interior art.

I agree that innovation can be good and bad. 4E was innovative compared to 4E. Not to everyone liking to be sure but innovative. Saying it was not as because some posters hated that edition. Does not make it less innovative.


memorax wrote:

Then it can't really be considered innovative then at least imo. The same house with a new coat of paint is still the same house. If it really offers nothing new it's going to always be considered Pathinfer but in space instead of it's own game. I'm not asking for PF 2E. It has to be than just a rehash of Pathfinder with new cover and interior art.

I agree that innovation can be good and bad. 4E was innovative compared to 4E. Not to everyone liking to be sure but innovative. Saying it was not as because some posters hated that edition. Does not make it less innovative.

I'm not saying it wasn't innovative. I'm saying "innovative" isn't necessarily good. I can make something that sucks in completely new and different ways, but it still will suck.

As for Starfinder, I assume you're exaggerating with "new cover and interior art": I'd expect a different set of base classes, certainly different gear and probably mechanics to handle high tech stuff. I would be surprised at drastic changes to action economy/the feat system/etc. Different feats, certainly.
I'd expect some changes in martials, possibly to deal with the usual high-tech shift to mostly range weapons. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't have baseline martials without some kind of special abilities.

But again, it's a different setting and genre and I'd expect rules changes to support that, not rules changes to fix problems in Pathfinder.

Liberty's Edge

Again I'm not expecting something new. I'm not sure if some of the other fanbase is going to be happy with more of the same. I could be wrong. I wonder though if instead of a new game line. it should have been a regular hardcover. if they don't change much or very little. Why make a new game line.


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
I don't think that D&D should have tried basing their marketing plan upon the soup & fast food markets.

You get the same effect in any market; it's simply that people are more familiar with Campbell's than they are with YKK (which dominates a much more niche market -- zippers). Heck, this is the kind of advice that they give startups in incubators -- if you have a product that works, you double down on it, you don't abandon it.

Quote:
Besides - the TTRPG market isn't large enough to justify having both their old a new product line.

Paizo seems to think it is (Starfinder). For that matter, WotC thought it was (remember Gamma World? Star Wars Saga edition?).


Saga Edition is a pretty significant evolution of d20. You can see the 3.5 roots but it's quite distinct. More distinct than PF IMO


memorax wrote:
I think people are confusing innovation really means imo. It's usally referred to as improving something.

No, it merely means creating something new. Often, you don't know whether the new thing will be an improvement or not until you've tried it.

... which is exactly why you don't abandon the successful old thing until you're sure that the unpredictable new thing will actually fly.

Quote:
As much as i enjoy Pathfinder. I do not and still do not think the core at least was anything innovative.

There were a few minor innovations, such as at-will cantrips, and making characters more powerful overall to reduce how badly first level characters sucked. But, yes, it wasn't especially innovative, nor was it designed to be. It was designed to fill the hole that WotC dug.

Quote:


4E was innovative like it or hate they tried something new. It alienated some of the fans. Yet out of the two objectively I can say that at least their was some innovation.

Big deal. I can make an "innovative" D&D pseudoclone by eliminating stats, making all rolls on a d1000, using a non-Vancian casting system where the power of a spell hinges purely on how long you spend in game to cast it, and implementing a detailed hit location system to satisfy the people who confuse role-playing with taking a physiology class. That would be highly innovative,... and also terrible.

I might want to do that if I've got literally nothing else going on and I need to do something to compete with Pathfinder and D&D 5e. But Paizo doesn't, and neither does WotC. They've got Pathfinder and D&D, respectively, and as a result should not abandon a successful product line for something innovative and unproven.

There are a lot more ways to make a very bad game than a very good one. If you've got a good one, you stick with it, or make only minor, market-driven tweaks. WotC didn't, and paid a very high price for that mistake.


memorax wrote:
Again I'm not expecting something new. I'm not sure if some of the other fanbase is going to be happy with more of the same. I could be wrong. I wonder though if instead of a new game line. it should have been a regular hardcover. if they don't change much or very little. Why make a new game line.

At a guess, because the changes they wanted to make to support the different genre were sufficient that it wouldn't actually be fully compatible. That directly mixing and matching characters and things from one into the other wouldn't work well or that ensuring it would, would have limited them more than they wanted.

And they thought it would generate enough support to justify its own adventures and other products.

Liberty's Edge

Orfamay Quest wrote:


... which is exactly why you don't abandon the successful old thing until you're sure that the unpredictable new thing will actually fly.

Which is all well and good if the successful old thing is still profitable. Once it stops being profitable one has to try something new. I'm all for pleasing the people. I'm not going to lose money or go bankrupt for them either.

Orfamay Quest wrote:


Big deal. I can make an "innovative" D&D pseudoclone by eliminating stats, making all rolls on a d1000, using a non-Vancian casting system where the power of a spell hinges purely on how long you spend in game to cast it, and implementing a detailed hit location system to satisfy the people who confuse role-playing with taking a physiology class. That would be highly innovative,... and also terrible.

Deny it all you want 4E was still innovative. Whether you like or not. Why am I surprised. It's more of the usual " I like rpg company xyz and the rpg they produce their innovative. The companies and rpgs I don't like are never going to be innovative nor will i ever admit to it. so much for asking for objectivity.

I think you and others are misjdging the market. A decent amount of the fanbase will not buy Starfinder. Espcially if it does nothing to fix the flaws of Pathfinder. Wotc regained much of the goodwill they lost with the fnabse with 5e. While also fixing some of the flaws of 3.5. At the very least Paizo needs a good marketing campaign this time around. Beyond "buy more of the same thing but this time it's in space. Starfinder can and will be judged by what came before Pathfinder. I plan to buy it as i'm a completist. At least half of my gaming group has no interest.


memorax wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


... which is exactly why you don't abandon the successful old thing until you're sure that the unpredictable new thing will actually fly.
Which is all well and good if the successful old thing is still profitable.

Which 3e was.

Quote:
Deny it all you want 4E was still innovative.

I'm not denying it. I'm simply saying that it's not particularly relevant, since this particular "innovation" greatly weakened WotC's place in the market.

Innovative != smart.
Innovative != a good idea.
Innovative != desirable.

If the best you can say about 4e is that it was "innovative,".... well, that's like telling a cook that dinner was "interesting" or "memorable."

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