“We Need to Talk”

To begin, credit where its due: thanks to Wolfstar76 for live-blogging the DDXP panels. Also thanks to The Tome for putting out podcasts of the DDXP seminars. Very cool service to the D&D community.

That having been said – D&D Community, I’m very disappointed in some of you.

I look online – and with the exception of the apologists (we’ll get to them another time), the community is abuzz with discussion of bad WotC decisions lessening the quality of our game. You see it everywhere – high-profile guys are either quitting D&D or playing something else. Oh sure, there’s no shortage of commentators to take their place – but it illustrates a point. Look on the message boards, review sites, blogs, fan podcasts – pretty much everywhere in D&D fan world, people are concerned.

So why is it, that during these panels, WotC is only challenged twice?

To be clear – I’m not suggesting that anybody be uncool to guys who come out to cons and discuss our game with us from their unique POV. We’ll be having some of these guys at Houston’s Comicpalooza (that’s one) soon, and if anyone’s uncool to them I’ll personally punch them in the junk.

But there are obvious problems that are being ignored, and when WotC asks “any questions?”… c’mon. Don’t throw softballs. If you care about the game enough to go to a con panel, you care enough to create an awkward moment. You can suck up to world-famous game producers later – for now, let’s demand higher standards.

My two favorite moments on the seminars were when someone asked about digitally publishing the rulebooks, and the answer (I forgot from whom) was that WotC’s looking into it. The audience member then followed-up with “not to be a jerk, but its been three years – how long does it take?”

Exactly! And that was a fair question, and one that should be asked. Since we didn’t get an answer, its one that should be asked again. I realize, R&D doesn’t make those decisions – so someone that does should’ve followed-up on the WotC website.

At another panel, an audience member made the comment that epic monsters didn’t feel epic – they were just the same ol’ bad guys with higher damage numbers and defenses. To his credit, Perkins (I think it was) agreed. Hopefully, we’ll see some tweaks sooner rather than later.

If you’re wondering what I would’ve asked if I were at such a panel, I would’ve commented that the game breaks at paragon tier. I realize that’s not a question, but it is a problem.

When you and I are sitting around the table, complaining about how lame it is that we’re going to have vampire classes soon (YA RLY), it doesn’t change anything. When you comment on our blog (not that you do) and say that WotC’s giving too much attention to D&D’s extracurricular activities (board games, movies, novels), its a fun discussion – but ultimately doesn’t change anything. When you’re on twitter, bemoaning that WotC takes every unique thing about a campaign setting (action points, character themes, races) and puts them in core – nobody really cares.

Pay no attention to the fact I do all of the above. I’m not advocating we stop any of those things. They’re fun, but…

WAT DO?

The message – whatever your message is – needs to go to WotC. Respectfully. Cool-like. Don’t be a jerk – but there needs to be a discussion. Sometimes, when your chick says “we need to talk” – you really do need to talk. And sometimes, you’re glad you did. Sometimes, you hear harsh truth… and need to make a decision.

WotC, we need to talk. Its not me, its you. wth are you doing?

WAT NOT TO DO

Don’t take your marbles and go home. I’ll be honest, fortune cards has me thinking about splitting. Well, not really… fortune cards were the last straw – then I heard about what’s going to be in the “shadows” book, and that was beyond the last straw. Yet, I’m still here. I’d really rather not leave. Let me give an example to tell you why.

WAIT. Before I do. I just got a message from Jason. He bought a pack of fortune cards. Be sure to tweet Jason @priesmeyer and scold him for being part of the problem. Back to the example…

You know how MTV doesn’t play music anymore? And when they do, it isn’t rock music?

To their credit, they tried it. They just got the wrong message.

In 2002, they brought out a “reunited” Guns N Roses to cap off the Video Music Awards. It was awful. Axl looked and sounded bad, and that wasn’t the classic GNR lineup. They did “Welcome to the Jungle”, poorly, and a new song that the fanboys already heard.

It generated zero interest. MTV saw the data said “well, people aren’t interested in rock music anymore”, and well… we have what we have now. Guys in suits made decisions that people that know music wouldn’t have.

Similarly, if we all leave 4E en masse (pardon my French) – Hasbro’s not going to get the message that its a protest, or that people don’t appreciate certain nuances of the game, or that trying to apply the same marketing to D&D that worked for Magic: The Gathering just doesn’t work.

No. They’ll say “Well, apparently people aren’t interested in Dungeons & Dragons anymore” and stop producing game content. They’ll keep the name and slap it on a video game or movie here & there, maybe re-release the classic red box every few years – and that’s it. They’ll get a message, just the wrong one.

If you love the game, support it. We can’t trust guys in suits to understand gamers. I’d like to think some of the things WotC is doing are decisions made by guys in suits. I also believe five years from now, we’re going to hear some crazy stories from WotC employees that won’t be there for 5E.

Its pretty clear the people that design and develop the game care deeply for it and have roots going way back. Those are the guys we need to talk to. We need their help. Those are are the guys that need to take printouts of emails they’re getting to the corporate guys and say “The people we’re selling to don’t want this new thing you’re thinking of, here’s the evidence”. Those are the guys that need to come back from cons and say “hey idea X is very popular – idea Y, not so much. I got lots of feedback, let’s re-think things.”

WotC, we need to talk.

…as for you, people at the VTT panel – not one of you boos when a fortune card is played? Shame on you.

I’m not sure what Jason’s going to talk about in his next update, or when it is, or whatever. I think its clear that we don’t plan things out that much and just write when inspired. Soon, though, you’re going to meet a new member of the staff. I know you can’t wait.

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About Matt Savage

Matt Savage once had a torrid affair with a gelatinous cube.
This entry was posted in Comicpalooza, Fortune Cards. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to “We Need to Talk”

  1. eudemonist says:

    Excellent column, sir Dick. You’re spot-on correct about leaving en masse, and the message it would send. I really believe that they do have at least a few people there in the corp structure that have good ideas and vision for the campaign, and I personally feel like getting on the WotC boards and making the voice heard does make a difference. I know for a fact global admins have seen posts about our stuff at OwlCon, even pointing other people at them as an example of how LFR and cons can continue to offer new, exciting, and meaningful play opportunities.

    The game is what WE make it–if we care enough about it to make it good, people will notice. Lotsa folks looking for a good game, these days.

  2. Dwayne says:

    It would be nice if you linked a place where someone could make some of the comments that you recommend.

  3. eudemonist says:

    One good place, for those involved in Living Forgotten Realms, is the Wizards forum. http://community.wizards.com/lfr/go/forum/viewboard

  4. Pingback: Weekly Roundup – Still No Legion of Gold Edition | Roving Band of Misfits

  5. Chris McNeil (a.k.a. Gwarh on Twitter) says:

    Excellent post. Time for me to get off my arse and email Wizards. I think I’ll email the DDI Insider one, maybe my letter will make it onto the Podcast.

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