Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Old School Renaissance Will Eat Itself

I love all the old school renaissance / retro-clone games out there. They are great fun to play AND are very clever adaptations of the very flexible OGL. There are some neat game-design choices too, such as Spellcraft & Swordplay's alternate evolution of OD&D or Basic Fantasy's middle ground between Basic D&D and Advanced D&D. I love these games.

It's the people I am not overly fond of.

Now to be fair, it isn't everyone, or even a majority, but rather a very, very small but very, very vocal minority that seems to have this "it's my way or the highway" mentality. Or that somehow the design changes of *D&D were done not to improve gameplay but rather some nefarious plot to screw Gygax, Arneson, or whomever or screw the players out of more money, or insert crazy conspiracy here. But there have been a few dust-ups of late on what the OSR "Really" is or what "playing D&D is really about". As a gamer and a designer I pay attention to these things, they are the pulse of what the customer likes. It is the closest thing I have to market research, but as a fan they really irritate me.

I LIKE the old school games. I liked them then and I like them now, both the originals and the clones. I like the divergent evolutions, the what-ifs and the thought experiments that we get in game design from the OSR.

I DO play them out of nostalgia. Don't know why "nostalgia" became such a bad word in the OSR, but I play these games because I enjoyed them when I was 10.

I DO play new games. I love D&D 4e. And to me it plays great, I have a wonderful "D&D experience" (what ever the fuck that is supposed to be) with it. I like minis, they make my game fun. And I used them back in the 80's too. So to me, they ARE old school.

I like to write for both. Every game I work on serves a different need, different function for me. If I am not going to quantify which one is "better" to me as the creator, then why should I expect the player to do so?

Lots of people would love to play these old games too. Why? Because they were fun, and still are. But trying to get a gamer to play by telling him or her that they should play this way or that way and the game they are playing now is for idiots isn't going to win you any fans. And if you are publishing then fans > customers, so the less you have one, the less you have of the others and customers mean sales.

I am not naming names at all, cause that is tacky (but man are there plenty of good examples), but we have some people in this movement that will be the death of this movement due to their own inflexible thinking. Which is odd, cause one of the reasons they claim to like the OSR was because the rules are more flexible. Actually it's not that odd at all come to think of it.

I just don't follow the logic of "the old-school/70's games were fun, therefore the newer games are crap".

It doesn't help that many of the OSR member are all up in arms about something that doesn't even exist: people playing new games calling their style crap. News Flash: The vast majority of gamers out there are not even aware of the OSR, and those that do I'd say the vast majority of them do not have an opinion.


Plus Edition Wars are the lowest form of Nerdrage. Better off arguing who would win in a fight, ninjas or Jedi.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

ninja.

the midichlorians wouldn't see it coming.

JimLotFP said...

>>It doesn't help that many of the OSR member are all up in arms about something that doesn't even exist: people playing new games calling their style crap.

There is a ton of this online, and I've even run into it in real life when putting out flyers around the neighborhood looking for players.

You can see the "offending" flyers here and here.

Randolpho said...

Pirate zombies would stomp all over the ninjas and Jedi. :D

Dyson Logos said...

Unfortunately, what JimLotFP says is true. There are people who like to be snooty about the older games. That's what edition wars are about, and you can find them everywhere where games are discussed.

That said, I can't stand EITHER side of an edition war. People putting other people's shit down is crass and unpleasant and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I love gaming. My favourite game is B/X D&D, but I love 3.x also, and have been poking around without any disappointment with 4e on occasion.

Tim Brannan said...

Jim, what exactly are you links supposed to show me? I see a picture of you and your cat and one of your old-school flyer.

Trouble is "edition wars" are fought on faulty premises; that people can be swayed by telling them their game sucks and that it can be won. Well the edition wars are over and 4e won by virtue of the fact that it is the currently supported system by the owners of D&D. Sorry. The Beatles will never get back together, your high school girl friend does not look like she did in high school and 4e is D&D.

Oh, and Ninjas for the TPK. Jedis never had a chance.

Tim

seaofstarsrpg said...

Exactly. Just because 4e is not the game for me, it does not follow that it is not the game for you. There are many game systems that I perfer not to play in general, but I would with the right group. Ultimately, the people you play with are more important than the game systems but some people 'click' with certain game systems better than others.

d7 said...

I'm not meaning to pick a fight, just confused about two things you just wrote. This will probably sound like picking a fight anyway, but maybe you'll see the confusion if you assume I'm not.

First you wrote:

It doesn't help that many of the OSR member are all up in arms about something that doesn't even exist: people playing new games calling their style crap. News Flash: The vast majority of gamers out there are not even aware of the OSR, and those that do I'd say the vast majority of them do not have an opinion.

Plus Edition Wars are the lowest form of Nerdrage. Better off arguing who would win in a fight, ninjas or Jedi.


And then you wrote:

Trouble is "edition wars" are fought on faulty premises; that people can be swayed by telling them their game sucks and that it can be won. Well the edition wars are over and 4e won by virtue of the fact that it is the currently supported system by the owners of D&D. Sorry. The Beatles will never get back together, your high school girl friend does not look like she did in high school and 4e is D&D.

Looking at those two passages I see a contradiction. I expect an OSR booster to see not only contradiction, but insult as well. However, people tend not to contradict themselves so close together, so I'm guessing that there's something that you haven't articulated that can reconcile them.

So, how does your bit about the Beatles and old girlfriends not constitute a "rose-tinted glasses" slight against people who genuinely enjoy the older editions? How does stating that 4e "won" jibe with saying that "edition wars are the lowest form of nerdrage"?

Tim Brannan said...

d7: No worries. I am not in a fighting mood anyway. But I will read over what you said, but yeah I might be self-contradictory.

Thasmodious said...

It really doesn't happen much on both sides. RPG forums are full of threads along the lines of "4e sucks, its an MMO/dumbed down/minis game/etc". I would challenge some of you to link to a number of "OD&D is for primitive screwheads" or "BECMI is D&D un-evolved" threads. "Both sides" is a favorite copout here and in politics, but it just doesn't hold water.

And while we're airing grievances, I don't accept the retro-clones as old school. It's like claiming the new Dodge Charger is an old school muscle car. No, it looks a bit like one, is supposed to drive a bit like one, but its a thoroughly modern car, informed by automotive advancement since the 60s and modern automotive needs.

When some 20 year old kid tells me that he's old school and my game is his game dumbed down and that he plays Labyrinth Lord or Crusades, I want to reach through his monitor and choke him while informing him, "son, you got no idea what old school is. I was there. I was nearly stabbed because of 1st edition (true story). I almost have the scars to prove it. To this day I walk funny because of an accident with a 10' pole."

For me, defining old school requires that you were actually there, otherwise you're just some young "hipster" being ironic with your clone and your Pabst Blue Ribbon.

d7 said...

Being a "school", it is by definition a way of thinking, not something attached to particular artefacts.

OD&D and 1e are obviously old school because the way of thinking they embody is the original benchmark. LL and S&W and others are old school because they were created to fit into that way of thinking.

I'm not a contemporary of Monet, but I could still create a painting that is of the impressionist school.

If you limit it to the games from back then and to the people who were there, that's just "old". Being a "school", no matter what you stick in front of that word, is completely different.

Thasmodious said...

That was nicely argued, d7. I will have to reconsider my position.

JimLotFP said...

Woops, guess the other flyer picture isn't on that server after all. It was a flyer similiar to the one you did see, except advertising a BFRPG game (and not mentioning the 70s/80s...)

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