Now, I don't care about 4e, or even 3e, 3.5e, whatever. I stopped buying mid-2ed when it seemed like things were getting out of control (Complete Every-Freaking-Thing-We-Can-Think-Of Handbooks) but I have checked out a lot of 3e and beyond adventures.
Anyway, the point is that in Mearls' little explanation linked above, he says
When 2e came out, I was torn. There were plenty of things to like about the game, but the attitude around it was off. It almost seemed like the people behind D&D didn't particularly care for the way I loved D&D. Maybe I was completely irrational, but the game felt changed in some insidious way.
As time went on, that feeling only increased. There were bright spots, most notably Dungeon magazine, but a lot of the stuff TSR put out didn't really speak to why I fell in love with D&D in the first place. I wanted to love D&D, but it wasn't really clear that the company behind D&D wanted to return that love.
2e killed D&D for him... I guess I kind of get that - as I said above, it seemed like 2e just became bigger and more complicated and I couldn't keep up with all the rules (hated the kits - if I want a super spy ninja cleric...well, then maybe I should look at a different system - but that's just me, I get it).
So, he says he went to GenCon and heard Ryan Dancey give the 3e is coming speech and he writes:
Then something pretty cool happened. In 1999, at my very first GenCon, I sat in the audience as Ryan Dancey announced 3rd edition. It was like a religious revival. One presentation and free t-shirt later, and I was a complete convert. My friend Nate called it a money grab, an appeal to munchkins. I think my exact response was, "**** you dude. This is the best thing that's ever happened to D&D."
For whatever reason, the entire presentation of 3e's announcement felt like it had been directed straight at me. I was a complete D&D goob again. Hallelujah, praise Gygax, my faith was restored.
A year later, my faith had been well-placed. 3e was awesome. D&D felt like the game I always had wanted it to be.
So... 3e was D&D as he always wanted it to be...
Okay... And that's where we part ways. I think 3e is a natural progression from 2e, but in directions that I really didn't like. When I got back into rpgs, I looked closely at 3e and then 3.5e (what the heck?) and, well, it just went off on all the things I didn't like about what happened to 2e - and while 3e was pretty backwards compatible with late 2e, and 2e was generally backwards compatible with 1e, 3e and 1e don't play well with each other.
(4e is a whole different animal, and I don't have significant experience with it - heck, the nearest even chain bookstore like Borders (forget flgs) is 1.5 hours from me, so I can't even hang out and peruse the books without buying them sight unseen...I live in a cultural wasteland...sigh)
So 3/3.5e brought us the OGL and I guess that has been a good thing (though it seems like there's a new ruleset brought out every couple months - not a bad thing, I guess - but I just don't have the time - I download the free ones, read them once and save them on the hard drive - occasionally I'll pull a rule from one as a houserule for Daen-Ral, but that's about it...)
Anyway, I just found that bit about 3e being the D&D he always wanted interesting. I wish Mr. Mearls well - I don't know anything at all about him. He says that in the 80s he devoured everything Gygax, Moldvay, Niles, Hickman, etc. wrote about the game - I find that encouraging. But he's in a really tough job - make sales, make new converts, make lots of money.
So - Mr. RPGBlogII says email Mr. Mearls and see if we can get pdfs of the old stuff sold again. Good idea. Might as well shoot for the moon and see if they'd do collector's reprints, too... What the heck, could it hurt?