DDI Content Calendar

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So things have changed, and like most change, this was heralded with some pain and confusion. I’m here to talk a little bit more about the change to the calendar and where and when all the important information can be found.

First off, for those who missed the message, Dragon and Dungeon articles will no longer be posted to the Content Calendar at the beginning of the month. Instead, an article is posted up at the beginning of the week detailing the articles coming later in the week. Also, links to articles are added to the calendar after those articles have gone live.

Why make this change? Well, we’ve been treating this web content in many ways like it’s a monthly magazine, and that’s just not how it’s being developed or delivered. Articles are designed, developed, edited, formatted, and delivered to you individually. When a delay happens at one of those steps, it throws off the planned delivery date for that article, which in the past has meant that we do some juggling with the calendar. With these changes, that juggling will still likely happen, but we have a lot more flexibility with moving articles around than we had before, and hopefully this will mean less dashing of people’s expectations.

So where is that weekly update? It’s obvious that this last week’s article update was missed by some, and we’re working on making that more visible. You can find the update on the main D&D page titled “Magazine Content.” The plan is to have it go up every Monday, and it should show up just like an article. Currently Bart is doing that as an article from his page, but we’ll be moving it to the D&D Group going forward. We’ll also be doing a broadcast to D&D Insiders linking to the article, so if you have everything set up correctly and the web doesn’t eat it, you should be getting emails on the topic starting next week.

We still get article content every week day, and we should find out every week what articles to expect. “But Trevor,” I hear you ask, “what time can we expect those articles?” Well, if you’ve been paying attention this last week, you probably noticed that the articles went out on different times throughout the day, and sometimes people were worried that we were going to miss a day. The plan is to get those articles up at midnight West Coast time just like they were before.

Speaking of the plan, there’s an element to it that, ideally, will become invisible to readers. That is, online articles are being integrated into the same production channel as all other D&D products—which means they go through the same department-wide reviews and approvals as printed rulebooks. Because this is a new process, there are scheduling and procedural kinks to work out. We’ve seen some of them already this week, when articles didn’t appear on Monday or Tuesday. Those articles will still appear this week, but they’ll be bunched up toward the end. As everyone involved adjusts to this and gets into the new groove, you should see things get back to normal. AKA – midnight article updates, Monday update of coming articles clearly presented, and article links hitting the calendar as the articles appear.

There you have it, the new content calendar in a nutshell. Hopefully this covered the basics, but if you have any questions about the change or how we’re communicating weekly updates that this doesn’t answer, please let me know and I’ll do my best to get you a reply.

_____________________

Edit made for clarity

Trevor Kidd Community Manager

Thanks Trevor!
Matt James Freelance Game Designer Loremaster.org

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Steve just posted up some more infomration about the reviews process and the delays we're seeing in articles this week. You can find that right here.

Trevor Kidd Community Manager

Lets be clear about content every day. Does that mean a DDi article every day? If you are saying that, you need to deliver on that, every single day, you know.

Please clearly define what content every day means, so there is no confusion later.
So yes Dane, we intend to have a web article up every week day. As Steve points out in his post which I linked above, we're adjusting to that new process and we'll likely miss a few over the next few weeks - but our intention is to get to the point where we have a DDI web article every week day. Also, updated the text in the original post to be a bit clearer.

Trevor Kidd Community Manager

So yes Dane, we intend to have a web article up every day. As Steve points out in his post which I linked above, we're adjusting to that new process and we'll likely miss a few over the next few weeks - but our intention is to get to the point where we have a DDI web article every week day. Also, updated the text in the original post to be a bit clearer.




Hadn't gotten to that yet. Thanks.

Also, Content every day, and intend to have a web article up every day, can mean two very different things to people. To me, content every day means there could be times (Hopefully rare) where something that happens and we don't. But to others, it means regardless of what happens, you have to put up new content. it's why we have factions of RAI vs RAW, it's the kind of people we are.

WoTC gets grilled for every word it says, so I just think it's best to be clear.

Thanks.
Some valid points there Dane. I want to make it clear that when I say we're doing something, I try to use the word "intend" or "we're planning on" specifically to reiterate the fact that these are our plans and things happen all the time to disrupt plans. I am not promising that we will definitely have content every week day from here unto infinity. I am saying that our plan/goal is to do that.

Even if I neglect to put in those words, I hope people understand that we can't control everything, we can't foresee everything, and we aren't making promises that no disruptions will come along. I'm simply talking about our plans. We should count on the fact that disruptions will happen, and when they do, I'll do everything I can to make sure you guys hear about it before hand, and if I'm not able to do that, I'll still do everything I can to make sure you have what information I can share after the fact.

Trevor Kidd Community Manager

We still get article content every week day



No we don't.  1/11/11.

There you have it, the new content calendar in a nutshell. Hopefully this covered the basics, but if you have any questions about the change or how we’re communicating weekly updates that this doesn’t answer, please let me know and I’ll do my best to get you a reply.

_____________________

Edit made for clarity

Would it be reasonable to add the Monday article announcements to the Content Calendar?  I've always been a heavy user of the Content Calendar, so having as much as we can have listed from there would be very much appreciated.
We still get article content every week day



No we don't.  1/11/11.




I so wish this was humor. Please tell me that it's humor, and you just forgot the smilely faces.
We still get article content every week day



No we don't.  1/11/11.




Did you read the rest of the post???? I put the important part in bold.

We still get article content every week day, and we should find out every week what articles to expect. “But Trevor,” I hear you ask, “what time can we expect those articles?” Well, if you’ve been paying attention this last week, you probably noticed that the articles went out on different times throughout the day, and sometimes people were worried that we were going to miss a day. The plan is to get those articles up at midnight West Coast time just like they were before.

Speaking of the plan, there’s an element to it that, ideally, will become invisible to readers. That is, online articles are being integrated into the same production channel as all other D&D products—which means they go through the same department-wide reviews and approvals as printed rulebooks. Because this is a new process, there are scheduling and procedural kinks to work out. We’ve seen some of them already this week, when articles didn’t appear on Monday or Tuesday. Those articles will still appear this week, but they’ll be bunched up toward the end. As everyone involved adjusts to this and gets into the new groove, you should see things get back to normal. AKA – midnight article updates, Monday update of coming articles clearly presented, and article links hitting the calendar as the articles appear.



Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere

Thanks Trevor. This is very reassuring.

Was getting worried that the new system was going to ruin my daily article reading when I get home from work (I'm on GMT). Many thanks for clarifying the current teething problems.

We still get article content every week day



No we don't.  1/11/11.




Did you read the rest of the post????



Of course not.  Exhibit A of why WotC can't be more forthcoming with information.

Thanks, Trevor.  I appreciate the communication.
Well that settles it then. Hopefully you guys will be able to get on track soon. I can understand having some hiccups at the start but I think you guys honestly probably should have made this post last week.

But overall again glad to have some info.  
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move."-Douglas Adams
Well that settles it then. Hopefully you guys will be able to get on track soon. I can understand having some hiccups at the start but I think you guys honestly probably should have made this post last week.

But overall again glad to have some info.  



I agree, this kind of post should come before the horses have gotten out of the barn and eaten the children.
We still get article content every week day



No we don't.  1/11/11.


Yes, we've missed some days so far as we get this started on this which I covered in my original post, and Steve covered in his blog about the new vetting process.

Trevor Kidd Community Manager

Thanks Trevor, You've eased some of my fears that my favorate game is getting ready to fall off a cliff. Can we perhaps get an update like this regarding the removal of products from the product calender?
Thanks Trevor, You've eased some of my fears that my favorate game is getting ready to fall off a cliff. Can we perhaps get an update like this regarding the removal of products from the product calender?



I have poked him about that issue, and it will be getting addressed in the next issue of Ampersand, which is to come out this week.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
I bookmarked the General Archive (www.wizards.com/dnd/Archive.aspx), and check it every day instead of sorting through the crowded main page. Just keep putting links there, and I'll read them. Let the fan boys and forum trolls whine; nothing has really changed when it comes to content. I don't need an article a day, just good articles. The stuff you've been putting out lately has been good; keep it up!
Thanks Trevor for clearing that up.
I have poked him about that issue, and it will be getting addressed in the next issue of Ampersand, which is to come out this week.


Hopefully such an article will alleviate some of the fear and end of the world (or at least D&D) posts that have been going on lately.
Thanks Trevor, You've eased some of my fears that my favorate game is getting ready to fall off a cliff. Can we perhaps get an update like this regarding the removal of products from the product calender?



Yeah, as MB mentioned, Bill is going to touch on that in his next Ampersand. After that I'm sure there will still be some questions and comments - I'm already trying to get ahead of those by tracking down what answers I can. We'll be able to have a discussion about it once the Ampersand hits and hopefully I can make sure we get everything covered.

Trevor Kidd Community Manager

Thanks for the updates, Trevor. As always, I appreciate the communication.
I think we as subscribers need to think about this from the developer's side of things.  As outsiders, we have no real idea how it works at WotC.  However, assume it's more work than play.  Apply the politics, deadlines, and stress of your own job to the people at WotC.  We know they're under pressure from the public to produce "better" content as often as possible; they most certainly feel something similar from the powers-that-be at Hasbro.  In my experience, "better" and "faster" are often mutually exclusive.  (As a general statement, expectations for the production of immediate, quality material in the digital age are ridiculous.  The speed of content releases on DDI would've boggled the mind of -and scared the $#!+ out of- editors 20 years ago.)

So what do you want: more content that so many of you call garbage, or quality content that takes longer to produce? 

Remember that at certain stages, the creation of this content does not work as a formula that you plug into a system; someone has to imagine this stuff up, it gets fleshed-out by committee, playtested (if applicable), and then released.  (I probably skipped about twelve steps of development, but I hope you get the point.)  The least reliable part of that is the imagining-up of good ideas, because it's HARD to do that consistently, even if you had a brilliantly imaginative staff.  Add to that demands from the public (and probably management) to develop certain classes or worlds.  Now they're forced to come up with awesome ideas for something they potentially couldn't care less about.

Also, I want to reiterate that one man's garbage is another man's gold; just because you don't like the latest article doesn't automatically make it worthless.



Finally, kudos to the people at WotC for producing your product in the face of so much anger while maintaining the corporate equivalent of a smile.  I'm sure you're all doing your best to make (almost) everyone happy.
I think we as subscribers need to think about this from the developer's side of things.  As outsiders, we have no real idea how it works at WotC.  However, assume it's more work than play.  Apply the politics, deadlines, and stress of your own job to the people at WotC.  We know they're under pressure from the public to produce "better" content as often as possible; they most certainly feel something similar from the powers-that-be at Hasbro.  In my experience, "better" and "faster" are often mutually exclusive.  (As a general statement, expectations for the production of immediate, quality material in the digital age are ridiculous.  The speed of content releases on DDI would've boggled the mind of -and scared the $#!+ out of- editors 20 years ago.)

So what do you want: more content that so many of you call garbage, or quality content that takes longer to produce? 

Remember that at certain stages, the creation of this content does not work as a formula that you plug into a system; someone has to imagine this stuff up, it gets fleshed-out by committee, playtested (if applicable), and then released.  (I probably skipped about twelve steps of development, but I hope you get the point.)  The least reliable part of that is the imagining-up of good ideas, because it's HARD to do that consistently, even if you had a brilliantly imaginative staff.  Add to that demands from the public (and probably management) to develop certain classes or worlds.  Now they're forced to come up with awesome ideas for something they potentially couldn't care less about.

Also, I want to reiterate that one man's garbage is another man's gold; just because you don't like the latest article doesn't automatically make it worthless.



Finally, kudos to the people at WotC for producing your product in the face of so much anger while maintaining the corporate equivalent of a smile.  I'm sure you're all doing your best to make (almost) everyone happy.



Seconded.  I won't also like to state for the record that I've absolutely loved both of the "Heroes of..." books and based on the previews I'm sure I'm also going to love "Heroes of Shadow." I'm especially looking forward to the Vampire class and the new Essentials-style classes/sub-classes/builds for the Assassin, Paladin, and Warlock. (And for more Warlock Pacts; those are always awesome... well, except for the vestige one.)


Recent articles I've been especially happy about:

Class Acts: Knight (Dragon #395) (extremely excited about this)
Bases & Strongholds (Dragon #395)
Assassin: Executioner (Dragon #394) (love this class)
Hexblade: Star Pact (Dragon #393)
Class Acts: Cavalier's Mounts (Dragon #393)
Hexblade: The Lady's Gift (Dragon #393)  (absolutely loved this one)
Clerics: Earth Domain (Dragon #392)
Class Acts: Fey Wardens (Dragon #392) (rather like the flavor in this one)
Class Acts: Pyromancers (Dragon #391)
Class Acts: Staff Fighter (Dragon #391) (really enjoy these fighter and wizard options)
Winning Races: Mul (Dragon #391) (really like this fluff and that it makes the Mul into a core race)

Thank you and please keep up the good work WotC!
I don't buy any of this!

I mean come on guys did anyone else notice this all began when they tried to release an article exposing information of Vecna, the evil God of lies, secrets, and misinformation ? ? ? 

I'm guessing a certain maimed power is behind all of this . . . 


I don't buy any of this!

I mean come on guys did anyone else notice this all began when they tried to release an article exposing information of Vecna, the evil God of lies, secrets, and misinformation ? ? ? 

I'm guessing a certain maimed power is behind all of this . . . 

LOL!

Trevor, another question. It used to be that each magazine was to have minimum 60 pages of content each month. But it no longer says that as part of what you get with your DDi subscription.

Has that changed? Is there no longer a minimum page amount for each magazine?
thanks for the updates, appreciated
Thank you Trevor for the update.

Bill is going to touch on that in his next Ampersand. After that I'm sure there will still be some questions and comments - I'm already trying to get ahead of those by tracking down what answers I can. We'll be able to have a discussion about it once the Ampersand hits and hopefully I can make sure we get everything covered.



I understand book delays or cancellations.

But I am rather sad to see Dragon & Dungeon Magazine compilation going away to instead have bunch of dissociated Dragon & Dungeon articles weekly. Cry 

Why killing the Magazine format because people read then on a daily basis ? Sure we consume them as you feed us, we are eager to see those articles and comment on for possible Erratas etc...

Now, it won't feel like a Magazine anymore...

Please continue monthly Magazine compilations and archiving. Please keep supporting PDF format


Finally, I wanted to let you know that we’re making a change to the way we handle D&D Insider content. Subscriber data informs us that the vast majority of you consume our articles individually, when they are posted, as opposed to downloading the monthly compilations. So, starting this month, we’re just providing the articles. There won’t be any more monthly downloadable compilations. This is not a reduction in content, just a clarification of presentation and putting the emphasis where the majority of you are using it. Corrections and updates to articles which used to appear only in the compilations will now be made to the individual articles a few weeks after the original posting.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter



I understand book delays or cancellations.

But I am rather sad to see Dragon Magazine compilation dying out to instead have bunch of dissociated Dragon & Dungeon articles weekly.  

Why killing the Magazine format because people read then on a daily basis ? Sure we consume them as you feed us, we are eager to see those articles and comment on for possible Erratas etc...

Now, it won't feel like a Magazine anymore...

Finally, I wanted to let you know that we’re making a change to the way we handle D&D Insider content. Subscriber data informs us that the vast majority of you consume our articles individually, when they are posted, as opposed to downloading the monthly compilations. So, starting this month, we’re just providing the articles. There won’t be any more monthly downloadable compilations. This is not a reduction in content, just a clarification of presentation and putting the emphasis where the majority of you are using it. Corrections and updates to articles which used to appear only in the compilations will now be made to the individual articles a few weeks after the original posting.



I agree, unfortunately.
I always waited until the whole mag came out and dl'd the whole thing.

This whole DDi thing just keeps getting suckier and suckier by the week.

A bit more information on the changes to the product line-up can be found in the following WotC Knowledge Base Article:

wizards.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/wizards.cfg...
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Good luck pals. WOTC has made so many 'changes' and promises to their content schedule I'm permanently on wait and see mode.
I am sorry to see the magazines no longer have a monthly compiled issue. It was very useful for me as a reader and enticing as a collector, plus a useful way to gather and refer to the information. The final issue also gave me a reference point that encouraged me to "catch up" on any articles I had not read. Finally, mentally I thought of articles as belonging to an issue, which helped me find them. Having issues gave an organization to which I was accustomed.

I can envision other models working well, but for that to happen WotC needs to add much more functionality for searching/finding articles, grouping topics, and even downloading the content. I don't want a folder on my PC with 3000 articles, nor do I want to have 200 folders (one for class builds, no... wait... one for swordmages, one..., no... wait...).

We will also need new ways to track errata. Before we knew that the compiled issue was the final attempt by WotC to make errata updates. If it wasn't in that, the only changes would be in Dungeon or Dragon Annual. That gave me a solid feeling for what I could expect. I would like greater errata of "mistakes" (for example, typos remain in the Dark Sun monsters in Dungeon even after compilation - see Half-Giant Thug or Broken Builders). But, I don't want to miss errata. I need to know if errata comes out, either because there is a stated time period or because I can subscribe and get an alert. I ultimately want to download the issues as I vastly prefer to read them on my PC out of the browser and to be able to take them with me when I don't have online access.

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I'm still confused as to why the sorting system on these articles aren't more modern. I mean seriously has no one at DDi heard of Tags? Most articles would only need a handful of them swordmage/eladrin etc. to find them. As is I actually tend to use the Compendium to find what I'm looking for searching for Wizard feats with the fire keyword in the compedium shows me a citation and I go to that article, but it's still a little unwieldy.

Dungeon certianly should have a searchable filter enabled adventure database. I don't know how I'm supposed to know if there has been a shadowfell adventure written up, or what adventures have been made for parties of 7th level. I'm less amazed that the magazine is breaking down, than they haven't made these basic modernizing steps.

 
Count me as another one who is dissapointed to see the monthly compilation going away.  While I always download and read every article as it comes out, it's the monthly compilation which gets saved to my hard drive long term.  As a result, I think the statistics about downloading might not be reflecting actual value to the readers.
I don't want to search and download every single article. So I won't read those magazines any more.
While I sympathise with R&D's desire to streamline production, I too regret the loss of the compilations.

I don't read the site daily, but I love getting Dragon at the end of the month and throwing it on the iPad. I can run the game directly from there.

PDF downloads are one of fhe killer apps in DDi for me.

M.
Thanks for the update, but still want the compilation of the magazines at the end of the month...
While I sympathise with R&D's desire to streamline production, I too regret the loss of the compilations. I don't read the site daily, but I love getting Dragon at the end of the month and throwing it on the iPad. I can run the game directly from there. PDF downloads are one of fhe killer apps in DDi for me. M.


Seconded. I'm still trying to figure out a tablet-friendly way to store the individual article content. 
John du Bois Living Forgotten Realms Writing Director, Netheril story area Follow me on The Twitter: @JohnduBois Follow my presence on The Intertubes: johncdubois.wordpress.com
Seconded. I'm still trying to figure out a tablet-friendly way to store the individual article content. 

What PDF viewer do you use on your iPad? If you use GoodReader, how about creating a folder called 'Dragon' and then folders for each month/issue, and putting the individual PDFs in the appropriate folder?

I don't use iBooks - I think that it displays each PDF individually on the visual bookcase thing, which obviously isn't very helpful unless you can combine the individual PDFs into larger collections. A cursory Google search led me to this: http://www.mergepdf.net/ though whether that's any use I don't know. 

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