How to Succeed at D&D

Posted on June 24, 2010

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Last week I wrote about the four most common mistakes made when making a D&D computer game. I can’t let that lie. It’s too much criticism and negativity. I’d rather close that topic on a positive note: How to make it work.

You have to play D&D. You have to play the latest edition. Part of your pitch should be a desire to play D&D with the Wizards of the Coast R&D people, and learn from them. It’s not enough to say that you love D&D, you have to demonstrate a commitment to the current intellectual property – not what you remember from your childhood.

That commitment has to be across your organization. You need your lead coder, your lead writer, and your lead artist all playing. Anyone else you feel is critical to the game success can join in. Remember that your game is about playing D&D, not discussing development issue with WotC R&D staff.

You have to play games using the world in which you plan to set your game – and let’s face it, as awesome as Eberron is, you’re going to set it in the Forgotten Realms. Of course, if you have a great pitch for the current version of Dark Sun, go for it!

Okay, so you’re playing D&D and you’ve chose a world. Now you need a format. Whatever you choose, there should be RPG aspects to your game. There should be character development, for example. There must be co-op multiplayer. You can build an RPG, but you don’t feel locked into it.

Good writing is important. Take a new look at some great games. One of my favorite examples is Max Payne. It feels epic, and you get swept up in the story, but it’s not about saving the world – it’s about one man’s quest for revenge for the death of his own family. Your story needs to at least start out personal. Look at the D&D adventures published by WotC. Notice how at every tier of play (heroic, paragon, and epic), the adventures still have links specific to the characters. Look at DMG2, and read about making adventures personal.

You can make a great D&D game – and D&D deserves to have more great digital games.

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