Adding more notes to go with yesterday’s seminar report (of which the highlights were: core books being republished, less feats in Essentials, skill challenges in Essentials)
1. There were some cool insights into the development process: in 2nd edition AD&D it was standard practice to give someone a major project and then not really hear much from them for 5-6 months, where as now the process usually involves a lot more people working together and looking over each others work.
2. Distinction between D&D designer and developer: This has probably been covered in other places, but the basic idea is that the designer is the one who basically writes the text and comes up with the story and rules. The developer is like an editor who goes over the rules and makes sure they fit with the current mechanics and are reasonably balanced. Then of course, the editor goes over the text and checks it for grammar and spelling and those sorts of things. And of course, as Rich Baker pointed out, the developer isn’t illiterate and the editors know the rules of the game so their jobs can overlap a bit.
3. Miniatures: Someone expressed concerns that D&D miniatures might stop being produced, but it sounds like WotC is just spacing out their release cycles on them a little bit to give retailers a chance to sell them. So, as should be evident with the recent release of Orcus and other stuff on the horizon, they won’t be going away any time soon.
4. Races won’t be as crazy common as they were in 3.5! Apparently in 3.5 there were something like 150+ playable races, which was kind of ridiculous! It was an intentional design decision to scale that down to more manageable levels and focus more on filling cool fantasy concepts for races (and sometimes making space for new ones as it seems appropriate) rather than take up a lot more space in books with races people don’t really need, especially since a 4th edition race description is a lot more involved and needs more support than a 3.5 one.