R E N T O N, Wash., July 7 -- Dungeons & Dragons, the granddaddy ofrole-playing games, is looking to the latest trend in softwaredevelopment to take its wizards, trolls and elves to a new level.
Wizards of the Coast, which obtained the rights to Dungeons &Dragons in 1997, is hoping to bring the swords-and-sorcery gameback to the popularity it enjoyed in the early 1980s with a verymodern ideal — the software-born “open source” concept.
When the third edition of D&D is released in August, Wizards plansto give the core rules for the game away for anyone to use andamend, hoping that when other companies publish games, whether theyare supplements for the basic D&D game or new games entirely, itwill lead gamers back into the fold.
“We’re not creating a new game, but we’re creating a muchbetter version of the rules,” said Ryan Dancey, vice president incharge of D&D at Wizards, based in Renton. “We think these ruleswill be flexible enough for a wide variety of games.”
Tech Idea, Geek Game
Open source licensing was popularized in the late 1990s bysoftware developers working on the Linux operating system, a freesystem that competes with Microsoft Corp.’s Windows products.Anybody can download and use Linux, and can make any changes, solong as those changes are offered up to the rest of the developmentcommunity.
The open source license has created a network of Linuxdevelopers worldwide, busily improving the operating system on analmost daily basis.
Under Wizards’ “d20” open game license, created inconsultation with the software community that helped create theopen source license, companies can take Wizards’ core rules andcreate any kind of game around them, from an elves-and-dwarvesfantasy game compatible with D&D to a horror or science fictionadventure.
Game publishers can also change the rules, or make up new ones,which Wizards can then incorporate into D&D or other games.