Edition Wars and Microlite74
I’ve just been asked a question that at first seemed silly to me, but after further reflection seems to deserve a public answer. The question was “Since Microlite74 3.0 is the current edition, why are earlier editions (back to 1.0!) still available for download?”
The answer is simple, with the exception of Microlite74 1.0, there is nothing wrong with the earlier versions. They are all playable and they all work (well, except for 1.0 after third or fourth level) as a version of 0e with some modern rules features. They are still available because some players/GMs prefer one of the earlier versions or started playing with version 1.1 or version 2.0 and see no reason to go to all the trouble to change rules in the middle of a long running campaign. I don’t see any reason to make life hard for people who prefer an earlier edition of Microlite74 just because I produced a newer edition that I believe is better — at least for some values of “better”. A number of people like to use Microlite74 1.1 for convention and open club games because the rules are very short: 2 pages of rules, 1.5 pages of spells, a bit over a page of monsters, and a page or so of notes on old school games and the copy of the OGL. Perhaps the rules aren’t as polished or complete as the second or third edition rules are, but they still work.
Many people see editions of tabletop RPGs as some type of evolution where each later edition is obviously better than the previous version — so much better that it should drive all the previous versions away. Unfortunately, that makes no sense. Games do not evolve — random changes aren’t made and the best of those random changes (as determined by use in actual play) don’t become the next edition. Games are designed by a person or group of persons to at least try to meet the designer’s goals for the game. Each edition of a tabletop RPG is just the current designer’s current thoughts on how the game should work — and that’s not something that every player or potential player is going to agree is objectively better than what came before. Why should they? No set of rules is objectively better as what is better or worse in a tabletop game is a subjective judgement — just like what flavor of ice cream is best or what color is going to look best on the walls of a room.
Therefore, I see no reason to try to force people to play the latest version of my games by removing the previous versions form the download area. What version of Microlite74 someone uses really does not matter to me. Even if I were selling them, it would not matter to me. It does not cost me anything to keep the old versions available in PDF (or even POD) form, so whether someone gives me X dollars for edition A or edition B would not really affect the bottom line. However, removing earlier editions could affect the bottom line as people who like them but do not like the current edition would not be spending any money with my games at all.