The talk in gaming circles these days has largely been centered on 4e AD&D. Unfortunately, that generally leaves me out of the conversation.
Even though my gaming days began with the (original) D&D box set back in the late 1970’s, and continued through 1e and 2e, I have to say that I lost interest when 3e was released. To be honest, I was doing more non-AD&D gaming during that time period, sticking largely to Sci-Fi and pseudo-historic games, and simply didn’t have a lot of room in my schedule for this old fantasy warhorse.
Nonetheless, I did buy the core rulebooks for collecting, stacked them on my shelves, and promptly forgot about them for a few years. When I finally did bring the PHB off the shelf, I discovered that Wizards had created a product that I was likely to never use.†
While I’ll be the first to admit that 1e and 2e had their problems, the thing I always enjoyed about the earlier editions was how easy it is to strip away all those gnarly bits that you hated and just play a simple RPG. For example, my fondest memories of AD&D comes from running a 2e game stripped to its core rulebook state; in my opinion, the huge collection of handbooks were only really necessary if you were attempting to create a tabletop warfare game.
If, however, you wanted a streamlined fantasy game, that was roleplaying heavy, you didn’t need all those extra bits. Not surprisingly, as Wizards continued to work with AD&D, they kept pushing that side of the game – the side you don’t need in order to run an exciting roleplaying game.
That’s why I never bothered with 3e. As Wizards was focusing on the roll/wargaming aspect of their RPG, I was searching out those products that gave me what 1e and 2e AD&D core books had given me; a system that might not be 100% elegant, but was simplistic enough to allow me to weave plots without being hindered by so much noise.
For whatever reason, Wizards product line seems determined to bring on the noise.
†For the sake of full disclosure, I do own True20, d20 Thieves World, d20 Modern and d20 Cthulhu.