Stats to represent your dude
To Hit Charts
Progressing your character
Rolling funny dice
Incorporating any other game into this game for the illusion that your dude is progressing
The Dungeon Master bending the Universe as needed (with suspended disbelief)
Everyone has been just selling mostly the same snake oil since then.
But this time, I roll a d11 rather than a d10 said Spinal Tapzzz69.
Rangers are just "Fighting Men" who get a few extra hit points and remind us of Aragorn.
Paladins are just "Fighting Men" who can heal a few points and get this whack sword.
Monks are just Cain from Kung Fu only ... not really as good.
Each iteration of DnD is just a slightly different flavor. There's nothing in DnD 5 that wasn't in DnD 1 or White Box. Perhaps different organization. Perhaps more pretty pictures. Perhaps less. Better binding. Worst binding. Ho hum.
We were making our own "classes" 40 years ago. We wrote our own spells systems too.
They won't make radical changes ... they tried that in the 4E days and ... they didn't like the result.
It will be both "different" and the "same", "simplified" and "crunchy". More detailed and less detailed. It will solve all your problems and make you more attractive to the ladies (or dudes ... just saying).
It will come in three books and then a dozen ore more supplements repeating the same stuff we already got.
They will tell you it's the greatest thing ever ... nothing will ever be more better. Ever. Really ... this time we mean it.
Then, in 8-10 years, they will tell us what is wrong and was always wrong with it and offer DnD .... SEVENZZZZZ!!!!!!
In the end, it is what you make of it. That's the bottom line after it's all done and said.
Now, I'm not saying steal Zen Fantasy
or nothing ... but ... it's 2 pages people. You could hand write it in an hour. Not even the 2 bits to run the copier. Though you're going to have to steal your paper from someone else. Throw a dog a bone and see what he can do with the seventy coppers he makes from the game.
(Though I did hand copy the entire Cosmic Encounter game way back when. Damn that was a fun game.)