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Dungeons and Dragons plans a comeback

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By Mike Krumboltz, Yahoo! Buzz Log

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Gamers have long memories. Take Dungeons & Dragons, for example. Since it debuted in 1974, the granddaddy of all role-playing games has been around for decades, drawing legions of loyal fans from around the world.

But, despite the board game's name recognition, it isn't a mainstream powerhouse. The makers of D&D want to change that, and they're asking their loyal users for help. A buzzy article from The New York Times explains that a new version of the game is in development, "the first overhaul of the rules since the contentious fourth edition was released in 2008."

The publishers of the game are seeking feedback from the game's players. What sort of rules do the players want? The New York Times quotes Liz Schuh, who directs publishing and licensing for the franchise. "We want to take that idea of the players crafting that experience to the next level and say: 'Help us craft the rules. Help us craft how this game is played.'"

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News that Wizards of the Coast was releasing a new version inspired a lot of quick reactions. Forbes tracked down a few comments from influential gamers, and most seemed positive. For example, Greg Tito of The Escapist wrote, "I'm now cautiously optimistic about the future of D&D. Having an extended open test of the rules will go a long way to bringing disenchanted gamers back into the fold."

This is a big deal. Over the years, D&D has come out with several iterations of rules. Gamers run into problems because some devotees like to follow one set of basic rules. Others play only according to another set of instructions. The hope is that by getting feedback from players, the makers of the game can construct a set of rules that everyone (or at least a lot of people) can agree on.

But getting feedback from gamers can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the feedback can be impassioned. On the other hand, the feedback can be, well, impassioned. How do you ignore or dismiss advice from your own customers without alienating them? That's something that the makers of D&D are going to have to figure out.

For those who missed out on the D&D phenomenon, the role-playing game involves players fighting and exploring in a "Lord of the Rings"-type environment. There are dragons and there are dungeons (duh), but there are also elves, dwarves, sorcerers, barbarians, and more. And there's a slew of ways to play the game, which can be great for long-standing fans, but intimidating for newbies.

Take a look at photos from the "Dungeons and Dragons" movie.

Despite not being a mainstream game like the online World of Warcraft, Dungeons & Dragons remains a popular search term on Yahoo!. The recent news of the game's overhaul inspired a bump in searches. And if the publishers are wondering which customers to listen to, they might want to pay special attention to boys aged 13-17. This group accounts for nearly 18% of the overall lookups on Yahoo!.

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