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Subject: D&D(R) Tactics: A Memoir of a Developer rss

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Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
United Kingdom
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This was an interesting title to design. Though if I had my time over I would have done it differently.

Our pitch was to try and recreate the 3.5e combat experience on a handheld. We achieved much of that goal but at great cost. I went into this fully aware that D&D was a simple chassis onto which had been bolted an unholy number of exception rules. I hadn't comprehended quite how many exceptions there were and how this would come to bite us during development.

The guys at WotC were wonderful and gave us a lot of support. They were delighted we were trying to keep as close to the rules as possible. However, we soon found ourselves becoming unstuck in trying to implement those rules, particularly with regards to the magic system. We needed so many exceptions and bespoke mechanics to reproduce the magic rules that we were almost overwhelmed. What we delivered was impressive, but also featured major gaps in the magic inventory.

If I could do this over again I'd try what many other devs had done with the franchise, and streamline the system down--particularly the magic system. Focus it on tighter engagements on smaller maps. The map size gave us issues with performance and content creation, which in turn meant we had to cut the originally planned branching storyline down to a far more linear affair, albeit with alternate endings.

During development I remember some lovely chats with the WotC crew, who came over to inspect our progress. I was struck by their plan to revise D&D and make it more friendly to coders. The product of that was the 4e rules, which I feel to be far better engineered and more fun to play as a set of combat rules. I understand I'm in a minority opinion with many fans of old skool D&D (a fair few of whom have oiled off to play Pathfinder instead), but I'd far rather have coded D&D(R) Tactics as a 4e game than a 3.5e one.

I'd have a few less grey hairs, for starters.
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