Friday, October 31, 2008

Prelude to a Post, Part II

A Second Edition is a major undertaking. There are corrections to be made, parts to be meshed, material to be deleted or shifted, and new rules and information to be included in such a work. The first question, then, is when does this undertaking begin? We anticipate starting the preliminary work in mid-1986. The scope of the project is such that it will certainly require two to three years to complete. When it is finished, we will have fewer, but thicker, tomes for your amusement and edification. It is important to add that this task does not preclude later supplements, changes, and yet new editions (a Third, perhaps a Fourth someday). The AD&D game system is vital. It grows, changes, and develops with continuing play and fresh ideas. One day it might attain the point where the rules can be graven in stone, but I don’t see that likelihood for some time.

--Gary Gygax, Dragon, November 1985

7 comments:

  1. Such a change in perspective over six years. Now... does such a perspective shift come from realizing, for game purposes, the game must change to serve its purpose... or is this in the harried days of business and money when such realities dictated that major new product must be continually released to maintain their current business levels?

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  2. If you look at the timing of the second article (November 1985), it's shortly after Gygax returned to Lake Geneva and wrested control of TSR away from the Blumes, when, by all accounts, the company was in dire financial straits. I'm not saying that there weren't other considerations to this shift in perspective -- Gary was often mercurial -- but I rather suspect that the bottom line loomed large in his mind in late 1985.

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  3. Yeah, money changes things. Often not always for the best.

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  4. Don't overlook a creator's simple desire to put a better product out there for people to use, irrespective of profit.

    Look at the fine folks who brought us the first version of OSRIC. They are now working on OSRIC 2, but not for profit. They just want to offer something better, more comprehensive, and more usable.

    While the bottom line may have had some influence in Gary's desire for a second edition, I'm sure hindsight revealed how his large body of past work could be improved so that the fans could have something better, more comprehensive, and more usable.

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  5. It was and it wasn't, as the second Gygax quote I posted shows. I'm coming round more and more to believe that, while 2e may not specifically have played out exactly as Gygax would have planned it, the general thrust of it was more or less as he would have done -- including the explosion of supplemental materials produced under its aegis.

    I broadly agree with that; however, the degree of changes certainly changed over time. I recommend reading the Game Wizard articles in Dragon #117, 121, 124, 126, 130, and 139. It makes for a fascinating read for anybody seeking insights into the development of second edition.

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  6. Don't overlook a creator's simple desire to put a better product out there for people to use, irrespective of profit.

    I don't discount it at all, but I think it's pretty obvious when a creator is looking to improve his existing product and when he's looking to milk it for more money. The history of D&D since late 1e has, in my opinion, mostly been about the latter, with a few rare exceptions.

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  7. I recommend reading the Game Wizard articles in Dragon #117, 121, 124, 126, 130, and 139. It makes for a fascinating read for anybody seeking insights into the development of second edition.

    I haven't yet gotten that far in my re-reading, but I'll certainly pay close attention to them when I reach them.

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