D&D 3.x was nearing the end of profitability, but then Pathfinder put on vinyl siding, didn’t push the game design, and they are now in the business of making money.
Most of the d20 hype and supplements have concluded. Some games that were derived from d20 (M&M) live on, but it was a thing, and it ran the course. Many publishers were created specifically to publish d20 material, it was all the rage.
And then it died.
Or became Pathfinder.
And there was and is FATE.
And now? Now, we have PbtA, or AWE, or whatever it is called. Indie game design is filled with games derived from D. Vincent Baker’s Apocalypse World. Or FATE. Or variations of Avery Alder’s incredible game designs.
This too shall end.
Designers will move on.
These are wonderful tools, but push yourselves.
I strongly believe that neither d20, PbtA, FATE, GUMSHOE, nor any other system that allows for open-source is all that.
Excite with new games. excite with innovative mechanics.
I roamed the Dealer’s Hall at GenCon and came away with very little. I picked up many games and flipped through them, only to shrug and put them back. It wasn’t that there were not games that didn’t appeal to me, rather, none of them made me excited to see what the designer had done.
I want to see a beautiful mess of a game more than I want to see how someone tweaked PbtA to work for their genre.
d20 games all have a similar feel in relation how the gameplay is. This is not something up for debate.
PbtA games suffer from the same thing.
Familiarity is a wonderful thing, and there is not one designer out there who owes it to anyone to do something I would consider innovative or exciting. But, if the gameplay of your game is innovative and exciting, that is something to be proud of.