I'm not a real DnD fan, personally i prefered ShadowRun,Battletech, Robotech and i believe 2nd edition starwars over dnd 2nd and 3rd edition. I remmeber going to barnes and nobles to pick up a copy of the 2nd edition players handbook since I had just started talking to a friend i hadn't seen for a few years and he was with a group of others playing this game. I ended up picking up a Battletech Conpendium:RoW and drooled and never looked back at the dnd book again but stil lplayed it.
I gotta say that I don't care for mmo rpg games, its missing the skeleton of a real rpg game, which is paper and dice in my opinion. Theres never any true story to mmo's so they lack the heart of the game. They lack the brains of the game as character creation is just clicking away a few points and thats it. They don't have the backstory to the game and rarely do they show the true differences between different classes.
Yes the story is the biggest part of the game but i always liked the details of the games. I remember what was the first account of a speed based rpg game I had played which was a marvel game. It used cards and all players were given a hand and you used it against the hand of the GM for the npcs for combat. I know back then it was a blend of CCG and RPG instead of an mmo/rpg hybrid but it was speed/flow based. THere was just something lacking and that was a depth of both characters as well as combat.
It was fun for a while until I started to realize the differences and the newness started to fade. Had my friend that bought it not joined the AirForce soon after, chances are the game would have been shelved anyways. The same was true for a starwars CCG that was also flow based which was based off the newer movies. It lacked the depth of other CCGs....damn i miss the Battletech CCG.
What it sounds like is the new edition is going to be the "clickyTech" version of DnD. Much like the mageknight version of Battletech ("mechwarrior") was designed for speed and ease of learning the game, its likely to be missing the depth that is a true tabletop wargame, a true version of Battletech. It was watered down and simplified which old players are likely to always hate. THe idea of trying to speed things up to get new players into the game doesn't mean much if it drives off older players and there is no dual support for the streamlined game and the older style with all of its intricate aspects. Theres no chance of a graduation from fast and simple to true and detailed.
Will making paper and dice games into paper versions of mmos cause pnds to lose their soul? Will it result in new players thinking its a game trying to be wow on paper ,who then decide to just go back to the mmo games? Theres making changes to make the game better and theres changes that could in fact destroy the game itself.
What i think PnDs need most is marketing and attempts to break into the mainstream. By that I mean getting their starter products put into video game shops. Ive seen a GamesWorkshop and Wizards of the Coast stores in some of the local malls but the end up dieing within 1-3 years and theres virtually nothing used to draw in non players. Wotc lined the front of the store with variations of monpoly and other classic board games. GW used ultra bland white walls and normal sized mini posters on the windows at best with their big suit of marine armor facing into the store instead outwards or even outside the door.
Both failed at marketing their games to non players. Both failed at luring in curious costomers by offering visuals and audio to help draw them in. Wotc failed to show the "community" aspect of the games by having zero game tables set up. GW failed at making the game look interesting by offering white walls and bland looking table tops in a crammed enviroment. Of course having nothing but annoying 13 year olds buzzing around didn't help.
Of course I live in california which is similar to a desert when it comes to rpgs and reasons to play them. it seems like everyone is about going to clubs and getting drunk off their asses and getting laid. It seems like areas that have actual seasons and less clubs appear to have more rpg stuff going on. At least going by the forums i used to go to and seeing the players looking for other players in certain areas.