Liar Liar Pants on Fire or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Character Builder

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I can understand why people are upset about the new Character Builder.  There are definitely a lot of questions marks, and several 'features' that aren't in everyone's best interest.

The worrisome point for me, however, is how many people seem to believe that Paolo, Trevor, or anyone else lied to them.  I can see how one might believe this emotionally.  Some of what they said did not come to pass and I am angry about it: ergo they must have been lying.   But logically?  Not even Disney villains are so cartoonishly evil.  There's quite simply no motivation behind the lies nor is there any attempt to mask them.  If they weren't lying though, what really happened?

So I decided to look at the 'lies' logically and try to figure out what happened between then and now to make the statements untrue.  The exercise was fairly fun and for me was therapeutic (walking a mile in their moccasins so to speak).  

I welcome anyone else to hypothesize on what happened behind the scenes, but would appreciate that any "Paolo is a liar" type comments go to that thread.  I'm not going to report them or anything, I'm just asking politely.  




First, my assumptions...
1) Development of the 'Online Character Builder' started at least 3-4 months ago (likely longer, but for this exercise that time frame seemed right).   
2)  The 'Online Character Builder' was developed due to a need to satisfy programming limitations that the current 'Classic' CB was unable to satisfy (integration with other tools, information sharing, etc).
 3) The 'Online Character Builder' was at least partially motivated by a desire to lock down illegal or improper use (account sharing, piracy, etc).

Next, my point of reference...
I have worked in the gaming industry for almost a decade, first as an artist and graphic designer and now as a store owner.  I have also worked as a web developer and online marketing consultant for a large VOIP messaging provider.



Now... the 'lies':

This new webtool is going to be awesome! You will find it supplements our existing tools very nicely. We aren't ready to tell you what it is, but when it comes out you'll be happy. Seriuosly, I'm quite proud of the work we did. I really think you'll like it.



My Emotional Interpretation:  Paolo is lying.  The Character Builder does not supplement the existing tools, but rather replaces them.

My Logical Interpretation: Paolo is not talking about the Character Builder, but rather additional tools that are going to be added.  Moving the Character Builder online allows it to integrate more fully with other tools.  The move online is a foundation for this 'webtool',  but is probably not the only piece.  Nowhere did Paolo say that parts of the existing framework wouldn't be replaced or modified; moving the Character Builder to an online only format is not strictly-speaking replacing the Character Builder nor is it a 'new' tool, but rather it is a significant change in functionality.  

We’ve unfortunately skipped the September update as we have been extremely busy with the new projects that are taking shape at the Studio. We are now back in the groove and ready to keep our monthly update schedule.



My Emotional Interpretation: They missed the date!  An announcement of a future update isn't the same as an actual update!

My Logical Interpretation:   They intended, as of October 12th, to be able to make monthly updates.  They made an update on October 12th and will have another update on November 16th.  This fulfills the expectation of one update per month.   Additionally, the November update will have us fully caught up to the point that we should be (albeit in a slightly different platform).  

We will not have a data update ready for the D&D Insider tools in September.  We plan to update the Character Builder in early October with changes to support Dark Sun and the Essentials.



My Emotional Interpretation:  Those dirty double-dealers!  They aren't ever going to have Dark Sun OR Essentials on the CB (Classic)!  They probably never even wanted to!

My Logical Interpretation:  As of early September, they probably had every intention of pushing Dark Sun and Essentials into the CB (Classic).  Somewhere along the way, likely early October, they realized it was just more effort than it was worth.  I envision a meeting that went something like this:

Suit: "How we doing on that Dark Sun and Essentials update?"

Codemonkey (Paolo?):  "Way behind schedule.  The  Character Builder (Classic TM) wasn't made to handle some of this stuff, and we're having to do a lot of shoe-horning to make it work.  It's already late, and it's going to take another [Amount of Time] to make it work."

Suit: "What about that other Character Builder?  Will it handle it?"

Codemonkey:  "Sure, but it's not quite ready.  We could get it out the door and functional this time next month if we cut a few features from the initial release and stopped putting resources into legacy development."

Suit: "Make it ready.  Get something out for the Old... I mean... Classic Character Builder as quickly as possible, but don't worry about anything major.  Just get the new one up as soon as possible." 




DISCLAIMER:  I am not asserting that any of these scenarios is true.  I am simply saying that logically, they seem to be more likely than the idea that Wizards of the Coast was lying to us (in between maniac cackling, twirling their long black mustaches, and tying little girls with pig tails to train tracks).  

So... what are your opinions?   
ok so if they werent evil then i have this question

they knew they were moving away from the cb to an online one, why would you go in and delete content and add item rarity to it? that is evil
ok so if they werent evil then i have this question

they knew they were moving away from the cb to an online one, why would you go in and delete content and add item rarity to it? that is evil

These were probably low-hanging fruit that could be easily done, and add some padding to the change list for last update for CB Classic.
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its not 'adding padding' to delete material

ok so they dont have the ability to export at launch. wouldnt it have made a lot more sense to pull the guys adding rarity and deleting items from the old cb onto that task? how much time was wasted doing these changes when they knew the whole thing was being dropped? it makes no sense

This new webtool is going to be awesome! You will find it supplements our existing tools very nicely. We aren't ready to tell you what it is, but when it comes out you'll be happy. Seriuosly, I'm quite proud of the work we did. I really think you'll like it.



My Emotional Interpretation:  Paolo is lying.  The Character Builder does not supplement the existing tools, but rather replaces them.

My Logical Interpretation: Paolo is not talking about the Character Builder, but rather additional tools that are going to be added.  Moving the Character Builder online allows it to integrate more fully with other tools.  The move online is a foundation for this 'webtool',  but is probably not the only piece.  Nowhere did Paolo say that parts of the existing framework wouldn't be replaced or modified; moving the Character Builder to an online only format is not strictly-speaking replacing the Character Builder nor is it a 'new' tool, but rather it is a significant change in functionality.  



You're interpretation seems to be a bit of a stretch. The most direct way to interpret what Paolo said is that there is a new web tool coming out that will supplement the existing tools (which includes the old CB). Now, he might have been talking about a new webtool which we have yet to see. But when the new CB came out in an online only version is it so hard to figure that people will think that's what he's talking about?

And to say that the new CB doesn't replace the old CB after Wotc said they will no longer be supporting the old CB sounds disingenuous at best.

Seems like you're basing your interpretation more on what he didn't say than what he did.  And that may be how a lawyer would argue it, but this is not a court of law.
its not 'adding padding' to delete material

ok so they dont have the ability to export at launch. wouldnt it have made a lot more sense to pull the guys adding rarity and deleting items from the old cb onto that task? how much time was wasted doing these changes when they knew the whole thing was being dropped? it makes no sense

Depends, i suppose.
Its not padding for us, but if its something thats going to happen anyways, it gets it off their plate for the future, and lets them focus more on the bigger issues they are tackling.
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You're interpretation seems to be a bit of a stretch. The most direct way to interpret what Paolo said is that there is a new web tool coming out that will supplement the existing tools (which includes the old CB). Now, he might have been talking about a new webtool which we have yet to see. But when the new CB came out in an online only version is it so hard to figure that people will think that's what he's talking about?

And to say that the new CB doesn't replace the old CB after Wotc said they will no longer be supporting the old CB sounds disingenuous at best.

Seems like you're basing your interpretation more on what he didn't say than what he did.  And that may be how a lawyer would argue it, but this is not a court of law.




I'm basing it more on the fact that Paolo's statements don't even make sense in reference to the Character Builder (it isn't a new tool, and doesn't do what Paolo is saying it does).  If he was lying he was REALLY lying, and I don't see Paolo as that kind of person from my interactions with him.

I can understand people interpreting it that way emotionally, but logically it doesn't make sense to me. 
You're interpretation seems to be a bit of a stretch. The most direct way to interpret what Paolo said is that there is a new web tool coming out that will supplement the existing tools (which includes the old CB). Now, he might have been talking about a new webtool which we have yet to see. But when the new CB came out in an online only version is it so hard to figure that people will think that's what he's talking about?

And to say that the new CB doesn't replace the old CB after Wotc said they will no longer be supporting the old CB sounds disingenuous at best.

Seems like you're basing your interpretation more on what he didn't say than what he did.  And that may be how a lawyer would argue it, but this is not a court of law.




I'm basing it more on the fact that Paolo's statements don't even make sense in reference to the Character Builder (it isn't a new tool, and doesn't do what Paolo is saying it does).  If he was lying he was REALLY lying, and I don't see Paolo as that kind of person from my interactions with him.

I can understand people interpreting it that way emotionally, but logically it doesn't make sense to me. 



It's like when a man says he has an elephant in his house. But when you look inside, you see a cat. He wasn't lying because obviously a cat is nothing like an elephant.

I don't think Paolo intentionally lied either. But I can totally see how people can accuse him of it, especially if they renewed their year subscription thinking the new web tool would be complimentary to the existing CB.

Would be nice to hear his side of it. But I doubt he'll be saying much around here anymore.
The way I see it, it this:

There's a huge issue on these forums with wotc not saying anything, and when they do there's usually a huge issue with what they said.

Paolo got caught in that.

However, I can only assume he knew of the coming online CB and knew it was coming out very soon. So if he was talking about some other web tool, he made a huge mistake to say what he did.

There seems to be a lot of times where someone from wotc or a board admin say something, people interpret it a certain way (usually at face value IMO). When that interpretation turns out to be wrong, wotc and board admins spend a good deal of spin to make it seem like they actually meant something else when they said it. This happens way too much to signify that wotc is putting a lot of thought into what they say.

It seems to me that wotc can say things about what's going on, but they need to figure out how to do it first. Otherwise we end up with folks who probably have no business doing PR, saying nebulous things that get misinterpreted frequently.
It's like when a man says he has an elephant in his house. But when you look inside, you see a cat. He wasn't lying because obviously a cat is nothing like an elephant.

But... if there were a cat in the foyer I'd still be willing to check the rest of the house to see if perhaps there was an elephant in the bedroom... 

I'm not saying he's in the clear, but I am saying that it's at least possible (if not probable) that he wasn't referring to the Character Builder by that particular statement, and that there is a new tool that will enhance the existing ones in the pipeline that may be announced sometime soon.

I don't think Paolo intentionally lied either. But I can totally see how people can accuse him of it, especially if they renewed their year subscription thinking the new web tool would be complimentary to the existing CB.

In this we agree.  I don't think he was clear enough, and can understand people's initial reaction.  But I don't see it as intentional bamboozling on Paolo's part.
I'm basing it more on the fact that Paolo's statements don't even make sense in reference to the Character Builder (it isn't a new tool, and doesn't do what Paolo is saying it does).  If he was lying he was REALLY lying, and I don't see Paolo as that kind of person from my interactions with him.

I can understand people interpreting it that way emotionally, but logically it doesn't make sense to me. 





As I understand it...and this was recently explained to me because I hadn't grasped the full awkward situation...what appears to have happened in that thread was that a poster said "I wish someone would just say 'The tools are awesome and they're a great supplement to the existing tools.'"

PaoloM copied and pasted that "wish" quote verbatim into his post. He followed it with a smiley, and then something like "but seriously, we're proud of what we've done." None of these are exact quotes, but that's what appears to have happened.

Paolo made a bad judgment call there, to make a joke like that. I don't think (anymore) it holds up to emotional or logical interpretation as lying. He's responsible for the judgment call, certainly, since he can't really post "just as a user" here on these forums - he always represents WotC - but I do not believe there was one iota of malice in it.



As I understand it...and this was recently explained to me because I hadn't grasped the full awkward situation...what appears to have happened in that thread was that a poster said "I wish someone would just say 'The tools are awesome and they're a great supplement to the existing tools.'"

PaoloM copied and pasted that "wish" quote verbatim into his post. He followed it with a smiley, and then something like "but seriously, we're proud of what we've done." None of these are exact quotes, but that's what appears to have happened.




And then later in the thread when people were pointing out that his statement excluded an online CB replacing the current one and other people were saying that he might just be joking he came back and posted that he had not said anything untrue.  Not that it necesarily makes it any more malicious, but that's an important part of the story.

I see the forum population breaking down as follows (warning, some hyperbole follows):

Extreme Pro-Wizards Stance -- "Serves all you folk who bought one month of the cb x4 a year right!" or "There were no lies told, and now I will argue semantics with you incessantly!"
Extreme Pro-CBClassic Stance --"WotCPaolo LIED" or "I'm canceling my subscription and boycotting all Hasbro products indefinitely!"



Rational Pro-Wizards Stance -- "I understand why they would move to an online version of the character builder. I'm looking forward to it" 
Rational Pro-CBClassic Stance -- "I'm not happy with the suddenness of this announcement. I feel disappointed and saddened, but I don't hold anyone personally accountable. I will seek a refund / let my dndi subscription lapse because/in part due to this event."


Clearly, we want to move people from the two former groups into the two latter groups. 
If you look past the plot and the voice acting, Metroid: Other M was an okay game. Not a great game, but an adequate one. Not using the Metroid item collect jingle though? That, was a mistake.
And then later in the thread when people were pointing out that his statement excluded an online CB replacing the current one and other people were saying that he might just be joking he came back and posted that he had not said anything untrue.  Not that it necesarily makes it any more malicious, but that's an important part of the story.






Aha.

EDIT: nevermind. I see where you do cover it in your post.

I firmly disagree that they intended in 3 weeks to november 2nd to get the dark sun material out to the CB. That is their regular schedule not november 16th 
I see the forum population breaking down as follows (warning, some hyperbole follows):

Extreme Pro-Wizards Stance -- "Serves all you folk who bought one month of the cb x4 a year right!" or "There were no lies told, and now I will argue semantics with you incessantly!"
Extreme Pro-CBClassic Stance --"WotCPaolo LIED" or "I'm canceling my subscription and boycotting all Hasbro products indefinitely!"



Rational Pro-Wizards Stance -- "I understand why they would move to an online version of the character builder. I'm looking forward to it" 
Rational Pro-CBClassic Stance -- "I'm not happy with the suddenness of this announcement. I feel disappointed and saddened, but I don't hold anyone personally accountable. I will seek a refund / let my dndi subscription lapse because/in part due to this event."


Clearly, we want to move people from the two former groups into the two latter groups. 


Too bad it isn't going to happen in my case, considering I am not and never have been rational.
In the words of J.T. in Mallrats: "Brody, that is one of your more admirably deplorable traits. You, unlike me, would beat up somebody's grandmother or an entire senior citizens' community if you believed in the principle."
Those who keep quoting the EULA at our complaints should live in shame for their reprehensible behavior, as should WotC. Nicolae Ceauşescu never committed acts as reprehensible as the last few weeks here.
Nothing quite like setting the bar high.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.



As I understand it...and this was recently explained to me because I hadn't grasped the full awkward situation...what appears to have happened in that thread was that a poster said "I wish someone would just say 'The tools are awesome and they're a great supplement to the existing tools.'"

PaoloM copied and pasted that "wish" quote verbatim into his post. He followed it with a smiley, and then something like "but seriously, we're proud of what we've done." None of these are exact quotes, but that's what appears to have happened.



And then later in the thread when people were pointing out that his statement excluded an online CB replacing the current one and other people were saying that he might just be joking he came back and posted that he had not said anything untrue.  Not that it necesarily makes it any more malicious, but that's an important part of the story.


And this, in my opinion, is a perfect example why honesty in communication is needed. Paolo only needed to return and post something along the lines "Wait a minute guys, I was just having a laugh, look at that smiley" and perhaps add "wait for something really awesome next week" when the forum dwellers started taking his comment more seriously than he perhaps imagined people would do. He has also had the opportunity to respond in the thread dealing with just this topic but he has refrained, which only fuels the fire.
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Yeah but I imagine by the time he could come back and respond came, the gag order was already in place.
Oh you forgot this lie as well.....


Sept. 7 Update Announcement by VampireGuy

Hi all, 

The September 7th tools update will launch September 21st. We're sorry for the delay. Stay tuned for more detailed release notes mid-September. We'll have some tasty new tools content for you including the first book in the Essentials line and stuff from Dark Sun!




 
Oh you forgot this lie as well.....


Sept. 7 Update Announcement by VampireGuy

Hi all, 

The September 7th tools update will launch September 21st. We're sorry for the delay. Stay tuned for more detailed release notes mid-September. We'll have some tasty new tools content for you including the first book in the Essentials line and stuff from Dark Sun!




 



That would only have been a lie if the 21st came and went with nothing being said and no update.

But since they let us know on the 15th, that the update had to be pushed back to October, then it's not a lie, it's a change in plans.

Look there real things to be upset about. It doens't make it better by inventing stuff that didn't happen. They didn't lie about the the Sept 21st update, they had to change thier plan. And they let us know about well enough in advance.

What really was annoying is that was announced to be in the updated, all of it didn't make it.
Oh you forgot this lie as well.....


Sept. 7 Update Announcement by VampireGuy

Hi all, 

The September 7th tools update will launch September 21st. We're sorry for the delay. Stay tuned for more detailed release notes mid-September. We'll have some tasty new tools content for you including the first book in the Essentials line and stuff from Dark Sun!

 



That would only have been a lie if the 21st came and went with nothing being said and no update.

But since they let us know on the 15th, that the update had to be pushed back to October, then it's not a lie, it's a change in plans.

Look there real things to be upset about. It doens't make it better by inventing stuff that didn't happen. They didn't lie about the the Sept 21st update, they had to change thier plan. And they let us know about well enough in advance.

What really was annoying is that was announced to be in the updated, all of it didn't make it.



Yeah, that was the 'lie'. "including the first book in the Essentials line and stuff from Dark Sun"

Which, I believe, was repeated in the announcement of the October update.

Now, I absolutely believe that, at the time, they thought they would be able to get that content into the Character Builder Classic. And it did prove more difficult then expected, and that was when Paolo decided that splitting workload resources was getting them nowhere, and shifted focus to getting the online Character Builder out soon with the Dark Sun / Essentials content.

I don't think any actual deception was intended here. Just... well, like with the original launch of DDI, just an inability to deliver on what was promised. And honestly, all communication issues aside (as those I lay at WotC/Hasbro's feet), I feel this area is where Paolo really let the community down.

It was pretty clearly (according to posts he has made) his decision to not release Essentials/Dark Sun content for the offline Character Builder, and instead 'get it out as soon as possible' by getting the online CB up and running. And I think that was, absolutely, the wrong call.

Imagine a timeline where they pushed back the launch of the online CB to January. They instead bit the bullet, focused workload on getting a final update out for the offline CB - one that included the Essentials and Dark Sun content. Then, following that, they announced the upcoming launch of the web-only CB. They give two months advance notice. They announce that there won't be an update in December - a time when, due to the holidays, people are already somewhat expected content to be low. In January, they unfurl the new web-tool and proceed from there.

Was a scenario like this viable? I can't say for sure. But I think how they handled things was definitely a disaster, and while some of that can be laid at the feet of upper management, some of it came down to decisions they made about the timetable they chose. And I can't believe that Paolo had absolutely no influence over that. Would they have retained all subscribers with a different approach? Of course not - many would still have no use for an online CB. But I wouldn't be surprised if a smarter approach would have cut those unsubscriptions in half. On the order of hundreds, still, but maybe not thousands.

That said, again... claims of deception, malice, conspiracy? Yeah, I just don't buy that. Poor communication, missed deadlines, failure to delivery on goals, largely due to company interference and an undersized team? Sure, and that certainly isn't to be celebrated. But that's about as much as I can hold against them.
My interpretation, which involves not accusing people of dirty dirty lies, is that they fully intended for the SEPTEMBER update to be the new web-based character builder, *including dark sun and essentials*.  By their (horrificly flawed) interpretation of the web-builder as an "update", what they said was intended to be fully true.  It also matches the mysterious "soon" comments we started getting AROUND GEN CON that something new was a few weeks away.

It's not unheard of for a project this large to get delayed by 2 and a half months as it has.

Personally, it's still a dirty, dirty way of doing business, to suddenly spring this value-subtracted software on people who may have just bought a subscription a month beforehand without even announcing it, let alone offering refunds to people who can't use the new web model.  I'm also cheesed off that they pulled half the team away from providing me with regular updates so that they could gird themselves against cherry-picking update subscribers *to no benefit to myself*.

I stopped subscribing because they stopped updating.  I won't RE-subscribe because a handy character creation tool isn't worth a monthly subscription.  Permanent access to every book certainly was too good, and I don't fault them for realizing they were idiots for doing things that way, but that doesn't make them lesser idiots for thinking I'm going to pay for temporary access to their obfuscated, buggy, poorly supported, minimally functional software suite.
My interpretation, which involves not accusing people of dirty dirty lies, is that they fully intended for the SEPTEMBER update to be the new web-based character builder, *including dark sun and essentials*.  By their (horrificly flawed) interpretation of the web-builder as an "update", what they said was intended to be fully true.  It also matches the mysterious "soon" comments we started getting AROUND GEN CON that something new was a few weeks away.



I don't believe this is the case - I'm pretty sure Paolo said something very much along the lines of, "When we realized how much difficulty we were having adding Dark Sun and Essentials into the current CB, I decided the best way to get that information to subscribers as soon as possible was to divert all resources to the online CB and get it running as soon as we could."

But I'm also way not invested enough to actually dig through the current forums to hunt down the exact quote.

Oh you forgot this lie as well.....


Sept. 7 Update Announcement by VampireGuy

Hi all, 

The September 7th tools update will launch September 21st. We're sorry for the delay. Stay tuned for more detailed release notes mid-September. We'll have some tasty new tools content for you including the first book in the Essentials line and stuff from Dark Sun!

 



That would only have been a lie if the 21st came and went with nothing being said and no update.

But since they let us know on the 15th, that the update had to be pushed back to October, then it's not a lie, it's a change in plans.

Look there real things to be upset about. It doens't make it better by inventing stuff that didn't happen. They didn't lie about the the Sept 21st update, they had to change thier plan. And they let us know about well enough in advance.

What really was annoying is that was announced to be in the updated, all of it didn't make it.



Yeah, that was the 'lie'. "including the first book in the Essentials line and stuff from Dark Sun"

Which, I believe, was repeated in the announcement of the October update.

Now, I absolutely believe that, at the time, they thought they would be able to get that content into the Character Builder Classic. And it did prove more difficult then expected, and that was when Paolo decided that splitting workload resources was getting them nowhere, and shifted focus to getting the online Character Builder out soon with the Dark Sun / Essentials content.

I don't think any actual deception was intended here. Just... well, like with the original launch of DDI, just an inability to deliver on what was promised. And honestly, all communication issues aside (as those I lay at WotC/Hasbro's feet), I feel this area is where Paolo really let the community down.

It was pretty clearly (according to posts he has made) his decision to not release Essentials/Dark Sun content for the offline Character Builder, and instead 'get it out as soon as possible' by getting the online CB up and running. And I think that was, absolutely, the wrong call.

Imagine a timeline where they pushed back the launch of the online CB to January. They instead bit the bullet, focused workload on getting a final update out for the offline CB - one that included the Essentials and Dark Sun content. Then, following that, they announced the upcoming launch of the web-only CB. They give two months advance notice. They announce that there won't be an update in December - a time when, due to the holidays, people are already somewhat expected content to be low. In January, they unfurl the new web-tool and proceed from there.

Was a scenario like this viable? I can't say for sure. But I think how they handled things was definitely a disaster, and while some of that can be laid at the feet of upper management, some of it came down to decisions they made about the timetable they chose. And I can't believe that Paolo had absolutely no influence over that. Would they have retained all subscribers with a different approach? Of course not - many would still have no use for an online CB. But I wouldn't be surprised if a smarter approach would have cut those unsubscriptions in half. On the order of hundreds, still, but maybe not thousands.

That said, again... claims of deception, malice, conspiracy? Yeah, I just don't buy that. Poor communication, missed deadlines, failure to delivery on goals, largely due to company interference and an undersized team? Sure, and that certainly isn't to be celebrated. But that's about as much as I can hold against them.



Look to actually be a lie, means they said all that KNOWING full well at the time they said it, it wasn't true.

Could that be possible? Yes. Are the chances high that happened, NO. Chances are very low that was the intent.

If I say, I will have the update ready for the 21st, and come the 15th I realize that's not possible and tell you on the 15th, then it's not a lie.

As for what was in the update, again I don't think they told us all that, knowing when they did, that all of it wasn't going to be in the update.

More then likely they planned for all that to be in the update. And more then likely, they realized that it wasn't going to happen. Now they should have told us. I totally think they dropped the ball there.

However, considering that with all they were doing, and how often they have had to push things back, it's clear that they probably couldn't get everything they wanted in the update ready. And somewhere internal, the information didn't move fast enough for them to tell us, or someone forgot.

Which isn't good either.

There is also the possiblity that someone high up decided that NO they would not put all of of DS into the standalone update, because having it in the Online tool, will make people have to keep their accounts to access it all. Rather then getting all that material for $7, and then dropping their account, and just use the Stand alone from now on, with no more updates.

Because lets be honest. The point of the DDi product is for WoTC to make money off of people paying a monthly fee for thier accounts. It was never meant to sell anyone all their published materials in a year for ten dollars.

So yeah, not including all of essentials and DS in the last update was smart of them, business wise (Why buy the cow when the milk is free). But the communication of that wasn't good. But hardly a lie.

Because when it was posted, that probably was the plan at the time, and they either couldn't get it all done, or they were told to leave stuff out, and NOT say anything.


I can understand why people are upset about the new Character Builder.  There are definitely a lot of questions marks, and several 'features' that aren't in everyone's best interest.

The worrisome point for me, however, is how many people seem to believe that Paolo, Trevor, or anyone else lied to them.  I can see how one might believe this emotionally.  Some of what they said did not come to pass and I am angry about it: ergo they must have been lying.   But logically?  Not even Disney villains are so cartoonishly evil.  There's quite simply no motivation behind the lies nor is there any attempt to mask them.  If they weren't lying though, what really happened?

So I decided to look at the 'lies' logically and try to figure out what happened between then and now to make the statements untrue.  The exercise was fairly fun and for me was therapeutic (walking a mile in their moccasins so to speak).  

I welcome anyone else to hypothesize on what happened behind the scenes, but would appreciate that any "Paolo is a liar" type comments go to that thread.  I'm not going to report them or anything, I'm just asking politely.  




First, my assumptions...
1) Development of the 'Online Character Builder' started at least 3-4 months ago (likely longer, but for this exercise that time frame seemed right).   
2)  The 'Online Character Builder' was developed due to a need to satisfy programming limitations that the current 'Classic' CB was unable to satisfy (integration with other tools, information sharing, etc).
 3) The 'Online Character Builder' was at least partially motivated by a desire to lock down illegal or improper use (account sharing, piracy, etc).

Next, my point of reference...
I have worked in the gaming industry for almost a decade, first as an artist and graphic designer and now as a store owner.  I have also worked as a web developer and online marketing consultant for a large VOIP messaging provider.



Now... the 'lies':

This new webtool is going to be awesome! You will find it supplements our existing tools very nicely. We aren't ready to tell you what it is, but when it comes out you'll be happy. Seriuosly, I'm quite proud of the work we did. I really think you'll like it.



My Emotional Interpretation:  Paolo is lying.  The Character Builder does not supplement the existing tools, but rather replaces them.

My Logical Interpretation: Paolo is not talking about the Character Builder, but rather additional tools that are going to be added.  Moving the Character Builder online allows it to integrate more fully with other tools.  The move online is a foundation for this 'webtool',  but is probably not the only piece.  Nowhere did Paolo say that parts of the existing framework wouldn't be replaced or modified; moving the Character Builder to an online only format is not strictly-speaking replacing the Character Builder nor is it a 'new' tool, but rather it is a significant change in functionality.  

We’ve unfortunately skipped the September update as we have been extremely busy with the new projects that are taking shape at the Studio. We are now back in the groove and ready to keep our monthly update schedule.



My Emotional Interpretation: They missed the date!  An announcement of a future update isn't the same as an actual update!

My Logical Interpretation:   They intended, as of October 12th, to be able to make monthly updates.  They made an update on October 12th and will have another update on November 16th.  This fulfills the expectation of one update per month.   Additionally, the November update will have us fully caught up to the point that we should be (albeit in a slightly different platform).  

We will not have a data update ready for the D&D Insider tools in September.  We plan to update the Character Builder in early October with changes to support Dark Sun and the Essentials.



My Emotional Interpretation:  Those dirty double-dealers!  They aren't ever going to have Dark Sun OR Essentials on the CB (Classic)!  They probably never even wanted to!

My Logical Interpretation:  As of early September, they probably had every intention of pushing Dark Sun and Essentials into the CB (Classic).  Somewhere along the way, likely early October, they realized it was just more effort than it was worth.  I envision a meeting that went something like this:

Suit: "How we doing on that Dark Sun and Essentials update?"

Codemonkey (Paolo?):  "Way behind schedule.  The  Character Builder (Classic TM) wasn't made to handle some of this stuff, and we're having to do a lot of shoe-horning to make it work.  It's already late, and it's going to take another [Amount of Time] to make it work."

Suit: "What about that other Character Builder?  Will it handle it?"

Codemonkey:  "Sure, but it's not quite ready.  We could get it out the door and functional this time next month if we cut a few features from the initial release and stopped putting resources into legacy development."

Suit: "Make it ready.  Get something out for the Old... I mean... Classic Character Builder as quickly as possible, but don't worry about anything major.  Just get the new one up as soon as possible." 




DISCLAIMER:  I am not asserting that any of these scenarios is true.  I am simply saying that logically, they seem to be more likely than the idea that Wizards of the Coast was lying to us (in between maniac cackling, twirling their long black mustaches, and tying little girls with pig tails to train tracks).  

So... what are your opinions?   

My general opinion is this:

The situation was handled badly. I put the blame for this situation on Hasbro, if anyone. I can understand folks voting with their feet and walking away from DDI. I agree with the OP's general notion that applying Occam's Razor here serves well.

I can understand that some people are upset. I personally feel that alot of the hostility, anger, and pugnacious behavior is dumb. Howling at the moon won't change the tides, and denigrating the few folks from WTC that stuck their neck out and tried to put a positive face on in a malestrom of snark is petty (and at times overtly cruel).

I am excited about the web based tool, and I am excited that this will actually make it easier for WTC to put out more tools more often. I think it's excellent that I won't have to wait for updates to the CB and compendium, but instead have access to content shortly after publication.

I am anticipating that in the next year or two, WTC will actually have DDI approaching what they had intended it to be in the first place, and that there will be a suite of webtools that will permit for campaign management, character building, and world building. It is my hope that this will contribute to a robust and enthusiastic source of content DDI subscribers could (at their discretion) share with each other.

If, however, this is what WTC aims for (or anything along those lines) they need to get the gag off, and start generating buzz and enthusiasm. The once bitten twice shy (or n bitten n+1 shy) approach to communication is probably more disasterous to their customer base. If WTC intends on marketing DDI to new consumers generated from the essentials product line, then they really need to develop a coherent policy of communictaion that is perceieved as fair by all potential subscribers to DDI.

I don't feel lied to, i feel slightly mislead...and I'm not going to scream for some poor dude's blood over it. I hope, however, that folks at WTC can take some of the lessons learned here back to Hasbro and show them suits that they really need to rethink their strategy.
We'll have some tasty new tools content for you including the first book in the Essentials line and stuff from Dark Sun!



There was tools content for those books. The online compendium got content from those books. This wasn't a lie just because you misread the quote as "... new [character builder] content for you..."