So there has been a LOT of response to my blog entry yesterday, where I tried to share as much as I legally could regarding what I knew about WoTC's plans for D&D, and gave my own seal of approval to those plans, in the hope that the entire conversation about it online wouldn't be dominated by negative speculation from honestly suspicious or dishonestly antagonistic individuals (i.e., by those who felt burned by WoTC in the past, or by those who had decided they'd hate D&D 5e (or indeed just D&D period) from the start, and use the lack of clear information to try to sow discontent).
Two of the most common 'rebuttals' I got were (first) something along the lines that I'm just a paid hack now, have sold out to Wizards, or am being paid to say nice things about D&D, have a vested interest, etc; and (second) that Wizards shouldn't be relying on me to try to put out the good word and have done a shit job of marketing this, if indeed there is something really cool about the new D&D that has not yet been made public (and ought to have been by now, instead of requiring the likes of me to just beg people to trust me and give it a chance).
To address the second point first; I will open by saying that Wizards in no way 'relies' on me. No one at Wizards, no one, told me to say anything. I made my blog entry yesterday entirely of my own doing, unsolicited in any way by Wizards of the Coast, and I am in NO WAY acting as any kind of official or unofficial spokesman for them. My blog entry (or indeed any of the crazy things I ever post publicly) was posted wholly and entirely as a private individual, expressing my own words, and should in no legal sense be taken to represent any kind of official position or statement by Wizards of the Coast.
But I know that wasn't really the meaning of that particular criticism; rather, the point is to ask why in the world should Wizards put themselves in this situation, where Mike Mearls' vague tweets and the RPGPundit's blog entries are the most reliable source of (limited) information available to gamers about the new edition? Why the hell isn't there a official statement? Why the hell in this day and age would anyone in marketing who had the slightest clue how this hobby in particular and nerd culture in general functions think it would be a good idea to keep certain things a big secret and instead allow all the negativity to fester making all future promotion a much steeper uphill battle than necessary? How the hell would someone like that get to keep their job?
Well, I totally agree. I think its insane. If it had been me who gets to decide these sort of things; or indeed, I think if any sane person with the least bit of understanding of the gaming hobby had been in any position anywhere in the marketing department of WoTC, what would have happened is that the part they've kept a big secret would have been the FIRST thing that got revealed, before the covers, before the details on the Starter set or the three manuals, so that the context of everything would come into place. But no, apparently in this reality there was not one person who stopped and said "hey, you know what? Presenting the Starter set and D&D manuals first and then keeping silent about the other stuff so that gamers everywhere will have plenty of time to imagine the Worst Possible Scenarios and decide that's what must be happening, aided by our seemingly incriminating silence, is probably a REALLY SHIT IDEA".
You will hear no argument from me.
And I think that little tirade proves that the other point about me just being a sell-out or a shill is invalid too. I was explicitly told that one of the big reasons I was chosen to Consult is because I say what I think, always. That's what's wanted from me. So if I think mistakes are being made, I will say so; I did in the past, and I am doing so now. And if I say something really good is going to come, and that generally on the Creative end (rather than marketing end) of things Wizards of the Coast is getting it really right, then its because I really believe that. The former is the reason why you can trust the latter.
Now do I have a vested interest? Sure I do! I have a vested interest in wanting D&D to do well because I love D&D; I have a vested interest in there being a good way to present D&D to a new generation because I want the hobby to keep growing, and the new generation of gamers to be indoctrinated in the right ways of how to think about gaming. I have a vested interest as a GAMER, like every other regular gamer should.
Now apparently, my statement yesterday has also stuck very badly in the craw of certain would-be 'experts' in the hobby who had decided to go negative and were feeling frustrated that suddenly here was someone who had a much better claim to knowing what was really going on telling them they were wrong. Some of them, hilariously, said "its all opinion"; except of course that for any of us who have not had our brains so melted by relativism as to not be capable of understanding the difference between a wild guess and an informed position, its clearly not.
When a would-be-gaming-authority tells you "the starter set will clearly suck because X" or "5e is just going to be Y so I'm definitely not going to buy any of it and neither should you", they are:
a) engaging in rampant speculation
b) asking you to trust them in that
When I tell you that they're wrong, because of things I've actually been informed about, I am:
a) making a statement based on actual information I have recieved
b) asking you to trust me in that
Now "b" is the same in both cases except that in the first situation the person is asking you to trust their ability to guess. In my case, I'm asking you to trust that I'm telling you the truth about what I've been informed personally.
There's a very big difference there. In the first case, you want to judge just how clever the dude is at guessing; in the other, all you have to decide is whether or not I'm lying to you when I say that I actually KNOW that some of the first guy's guesses are wrong.
In one amusing case, there's a guy named Erik Tenkar, who has some kind of OSR blog, that I guess got so put off by my deflating his own highly speculative blog posts that in a fit of pique he declared on a G+ thread that I'm probably lying about working as a Consultant on D&D next altogether!
I'm so sorry, Tenkar, that you're upset with me for suggesting people shouldn't listen to any idiot who decides to make wild guesses just now, and that it bugs you that I was chosen from day 1 to be one of the people to advise on this project and you weren't even on the list for consideration. But really, jealousy is unbecoming. Now, are you sure you don't want to take your claim back?
Because seriously, let's look at this: you actually believe I would flush my entire reputation and career in
the hobby down the toilet, and subject myself to (what would in that case be absolutely deserved) mockery and humiliation at the hands of all the people who've been waiting years to see me fail, by pretending to have a job I don't actually
have, in a situation where the truth of that would inevitably come to
light?! That's what you're betting YOUR reputation on now?
good for you; one of the two of us clearly has no brains: either I'm a fraud (and a moron, for such a stupid case of fraud), or you're a complete idiot. The good news is that in only a few months, absolute proof one way or the other will come out. I look forward to disemboweling
you in a future blog entry. Revenge is usually unbecoming too, but at least its very sweet.
Currently Smoking: Castello Fiammata + Image Perique