Some of you may have seen or will see a post by Mike Mearls in response to a thread started by James Raggi here. I'm reproducing parts of it here with some of my thoughts.
I don't believe that all of that those things are possible only in older versions of D&D. The truth of the matter is that a lot of that stuff is still in the game. 4e is no more or less deadly than any edition of D&D, because at the end of the day the DM determines how deadly the game is.
And I think that's the root of it. All too often I see "problems" with 4e placed on the players and DMs. Players are precious snowflakes who want everything handed to them on a silver platter. DMs are wimps who feed players a steady stream of disposable enemies. Real, bad ass men flip a coin to see if their character is dead or alive.
I think the OSR catches so much flack because, for those of us who have been in the hobby for a few decades, we saw this all before when White Wolf launched Vampire. It's the same thing, just with the added attempt to co-opt the "true" nature of D&D. Back then, it was role vs. roll. Today, it's new vs. old, and it's just as tiresome, time wasting, and banal as ever.
I can't agree with this, even though I do agree that the OSR as it is right now is a reaction to current versions of D&D. Vampire, or at least some people who played it, definitely were reacting to D&D, to make a game experience much more like acting or a play, rather than a game. The difference here is that we (meaning many of us involved in publishing or playing "retro" games) are not trying to create a "new" experience, but get back to the experience D&D used to be before the advent of 3rd edition and 4th edition. I beg to differ that "the game remains the same." Many of us fee that the people co-opting D&D are the current publishers, making D&D into a very different game that has lost all resemblance to what it was. If we're guilty of anything it's of having greater loyalty to the game instead of the brand.
There are many, many fine qualities to older versions of D&D. They're more freeform. It's faster and easier to crank out a character. Combat zips by. When you pull away a lot of the rules, it can be liberating.
However, the Puritanical drive some OSRers have to bemoan what other, lesser games dare do at their tables is counter to everything that RPGs are about. Quoting Gygax chapter and verse to figure out the right way to play, stuff like that, is the antithesis to the creativity, freedom, and intellectual curiosity RPGs, at their best, can and should encourage.
So yeah, old games are cool. The gaming Taliban? Not so cool. Let's enjoy retro games without getting all bitchy about new ones.
I actually do agree with a lot of those, though I think the last bit is harsher than it needed to be. There are really two issues here. Definitely it is the case that there are probably half a dozen or a dozen jerks out there who may or may not worship the old AD&D manuals like a saint-kissed bible. Those few people are sometimes very vocal. The other issue, though, is that people are just going to have to understand, especially people responsible for creating games, that many people don't approve of the design direction. Sometimes people are unkind in their criticism, and make it personal, and that's unfortunate. On the other hand, I don't think we should err by being too polite to point out that we don't like the design of a game, it's aesthetics, or its cultural and corporate origin. I don't think anyone can in honesty disagree with the idea that recently the primary reason for a new edition is to earn new revenue from the brand. In so doing, many fans who prefer the old game will bitch about it. That's life.
I'm editing this to add that at the same time, I think it's great that some people enjoy 3rd edition and 4th edition. It would be sad indeed for those people not to have some game that appeals to them. Personally, even though I don't like D&D post 2nd edition, I do not in any way wish failure on the current version. I don't like it, but I don't wish ruin on those who designed it!