Why DDI will not happen...

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Hello, I am just going to vent/present some personal opinion here. Take it with a grain of salt; feel free to criticize or flame.

First, my credentials. I am a professional programmer with some experience in web development. I have worked with PHP, java server pages, Apache, MySQL, the usual suspects.

But you don't have to be a developer to see the writing on the wall. Has ANY software product from this company EVER been released on time or lived up to its marketing promises?

It is my opinion that DDI will never happen. If it were going to happen we would see something by now. Time is money, so at this point the project is taking too many resources. Features are probably being cut like mad as we speak in a desperate scramble to get something out the door.

The effective way to develop a new technology is iteratively. Especially with web technologies where you can count on frequently updating your customers code, "tape out" is not a big deal. So, there is no reason not to start getting things out there to get feedback.

Feedback is absolutely critical to focusing development effort. With a radical new application like this, nobody can predict what features are going to be useful. It would be very easy to miss the ball and spend a lot of development efforts working on things your customers don't want.

For example, how important/useful is multimedia integration? What level of support for house rules is worthwhile? What kind of interface is best to let people connect for games?

It is *very* hard to predict in advance what your customers will want from your code. The only way to really tell for sure is to just throw it out there and see what people want.
Nah, it'll happen. These things can be delayed and still come out.

I mean.. look at Dai Katana!
I hope for Wizards sake you are wrong...

They're going to have to shell out quite a bit of cash to buy back the 4e books if they don't get it out soon.
Good luck with that. I just about returned the books to my local game shop, but I am quite positive that Wizards would not have then had to buy the books back from them.
Good point. Wiz won't buy them back. The FLGS' and Amazon get the shaft in that case.
I'm just amazed how badly this was fumbled.
It is my opinion that DDI will never happen. If it were going to happen we would see something by now. Time is money, so at this point the project is taking too many resources. Features are probably being cut like mad as we speak in a desperate scramble to get something out the door. ...

The effective way to develop a new technology is iteratively. ...

My own background is director of marketing for a software company, and I'm afraid that I think you've nailed it to some extent. To take what you've posted a little further...

I do think DDI will appear, but it will never be all that was promised, and it won't meet our expectations.

Part of this will be due to the pressure to rush something, unfinished, out the door, something they'll never get around to finishing. But you (doublereedkurt)also have to know from where you're coming from that they cannot possibly re-gear and decide to start throwing this out iteratively as some sort of public beta test, unless they'd always planned on doing so. To do so at this late stage can have no positive benefit. For example, do you get the impression that they even have a significant QA and support team in place to handle a beta test? I don't.

When I read Ken Troop's posts tonight, I get the distinct impression that this team is not, internally, on the same page with this project. He seems genuinely surprised that customers are so upset and surprised about the state of things. He seems to imply that customers would consider D&Di almost a bonus or an afterthought to 4e itself.

And yet, look at the past almost-year marketing for 4e. The emphasis was always placed on D&Di, even up to last week's Wired article. So WOTC Marketing is out of touch with the Executive Producer of the project, and apparently so are those responsible for the website (the only method of communication between WOTC and its customer-base), and the physical books themselves (if nothing is ready today, then there is no way they didn't know that when they let that last page plugging D&Di go to press).

So I have to wonder if the software engineers, product manager, QA, support and so on are any better connected to the project then everyone else? If not, then D&Di is in deep doo-doo. Even as a concept, D&Di is far too complex and ambitious to have been managed this way. And therefore, IMO, it will be ages (a year?) before it can possibly be stable and featured enough to meet the original PRD. Do you think budget internals at WOTC will support the project going on for another year? I don't.

Finally, I have to wonder how much market research was put into this. I personally have no problem with the pricing/features, but it's obvious from the response here that many do. Again, looking at the response from TPTB, they seem genuinely surprised about our reaction, and don't quite seem to have their messaging together on things like v-minis, add-ons, etc. I suspect there would have been much less objection to the pricing had D&Di been ready to go live this weekend with everything that was promised. Unfortunately, they're now stuck rolling out things one by one, and trying to figure out how and when they'll pull the trigger on pricing.

And yet they must have know at least 2 months ago that they were not going to hit the deadline, and they should have figured out how to adjust accordingly. Of the dozens of releases I've been involved with at my own company, I'd say only 1/3 met their original target date. But I certainly knew 45-60 days beforehand if they would or if they wouldn't. I also get the impression that they are, only now, looking to the forums as to how to prioritize the components of D&Di and in what order and in what state to roll them out. Admirable, but frankly, they should have already had a good idea of this before they even announced a single thing about 4e. This is not the time for market research anymore than it's time for unplanned beta testing. It indicates to me that the product may have been greatly designed in a vacuum, with little or no involvement of focus groups or any contact with the actual target customer base. If that's the case, do you think it will meet our expectations? I don't.

I'm not trying to be mean. I don't envy Ken or the staff here at all right now. I'm just being practical, and this is of course just my opinion. But it's an opinion based on my own experience, both directly in my field, and the history of WOTC in these kind of endeavors.

Perhaps, honestly, I'm just a little bitter, too. I'm a 42 year old who bought the 4e set on Friday. My first D&D purchase since the Mentzer boxes in the early 80s. I was so jazzed about 4e and D&Di that it pulled me back into a hobby I haven't touched in over 20 years! So, yeah, I'm disappointed. I feel like another company's deceptive marketing has let me down, and kicked me in the nostalgia part of my brain while they were at it. I know that wasn't the intention of anyone at WOTC. But "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

I wish them luck. I'm going to try to enjoy the books for what they are. Or maybe just pull out my old ones. If D&Di is, in fact, ever ready, I hope I'll still be interested.
Perhaps, honestly, I'm just a little bitter, too. I'm a 42 year old who bought the 4e set on Friday. My first D&D purchase since the Mentzer boxes in the early 80s. I was so jazzed about 4e and D&Di that it pulled me back into a hobby I haven't touched in over 20 years! So, yeah, I'm disappointed. I feel like another company's deceptive marketing has let me down, and kicked me in the nostalgia part of my brain while they were at it. I know that wasn't the intention of anyone at WOTC. But "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Meachscorpio's comments here are the crux of the issue for me. If, as Ken has said, the DDI epic fail was not a case of WotC deliberately misleading its customer base then it is definitely a case of WotC NOT CARING enough to make sure that the information got out there.

I am afraid that some of Ken's argument may have hoist WotC on its own petard so to speak. His own posts have proven that WotC was aware a month before launch that all of DDI would not be ready. This is a marked change from the way DDI was being marketed before and then at launch all of the promised features namely the Compendium, were functional.

Pretty epic fail all around guys.

and just in case you hadn't thought to already I am encouraging everyone on the forums who is always hoping that WotC will listen to us to start emailing Internet news oulets, podcasts, blogs, ect. and get the word out about the DDI fiasco. 4th edition got alot of good internet press. Maybe with some bad internet press we can actually affect the company in a positive way.

check out the "Get the Word out" thread for the email adress of the Wired author of the 4th edition article.

Cheers!
WotC needs to contact an actual MMO developer/producer and bloody get their help with this. That's how they are trying to run this, as an MMO. Go to Blizzard or something (Yes I said Blizzard, their game is up, and running and catering to the amount people playing).
I am also a software developer (VB,C#,SQL, etc...) and I have to say that actually a major disconnect between sales/marketing and development is par for the course for failing companies. I worked for a company in 2000 that made a case management software for District Attorneys. I was the lead developer on an implementation project. I read a press release one day for our product that stated that it would be available via PDA. This was news to me. It certainly wasn't in any specification I wrote.

/sigh

/mourn the potential D&Di had.

It's too bad that WotC (apparently) didn't have the guts to sack up and pay for a real design analyst to generate real specs, define scope and build code on a real schedule.

They should have realized from past history that they suck at this and brought in some real talent.
WotC needs to contact an actual MMO developer/producer and bloody get their help with this. That's how they are trying to run this, as an MMO. Go to Blizzard or something (Yes I said Blizzard, their game is up, and running and catering to the amount people playing).

No, not unless you want to wait another 2+ years for D&Di. Maybe a good idea for 5e. In the meantime, they need to get the heads from each of their teams (including Marketing, PR and the web content folks) together, prioritize the work, and decide if they can communicate something more substantial than "when it's done" back to their customers. Or not. At this point, I'm not sure communicating any details will improve the situation (other than, you know, actually putting something on the D&D and Insider home pages). Ken is right when he says they need to focus on getting it done, and getting it done right. To change course now will ensure we never get anything. The best we can hope for is that they now realize how important it is to communicate accurately and set expectations in such a way as to avoid further backfires like this.

Unfortunately, when I see that the website still remains completely enigmatic about the true status of Insider, I can only suspect that there are other forces at work. At the end of the day, WOTC wants to sell 4e books above all other considerations. Transparency about Insider is likely not considered to be in the best interests of the corporation at this time.
At the end of the day, WOTC wants to sell 4e books above all other considerations. Transparency about Insider is likely not considered to be in the best interests of the corporation at this time.

I agree wholeheartedly which is why it is up to the fans and customers to raise the hue and cry to make sure that there is enough PR stink that transparency does become the best interest of the company.

One thing the internet is good at is blowing things up really really fast. The quicker the word spreads the quicker WotC becomes transparent.

Cheers!
I agree wholeheartedly which is why it is up to the fans and customers to raise the hue and cry to make sure that there is enough PR stink that transparency does become the best interest of the company.

If you are inclined to do so, express you dissatisfaction to Wizards and/or Hasbro's customer services lines.

http://www.hasbro.com/default.cfm?page=cs_contact

http://ww2.wizards.com/Company/info/default.aspx

If you really want to get into it, look up their SEC filings and you find the names of the top Hasbro execs.
Wow thank you so much for all the thoughtful replies to my rant :-)

The reason I think this project is going to wither and die is the social aspect. If nobody uses it, nobody will want to use it.

When they first announced gleemax I went and took a look. The very first thing that occurred to me looking at that site was that they SHOULD have started adding features to the message board. The whole thing just looked like nobody had actually sat down and thought the hard thoughts about how it would all fit together yet.

How do they possibly dream they are going to go from plain vanilla pre-packaged message board to fancy cutting edge web app in one step?

If I were in charge of this project, I would have started by adding more and more features to the message board. Expand the ability of users to write and rate articles. Get people started posting fan created content, including adventures. Start putting more and more generators and stat block/mapping tools into the adventures.

Then once all that is up and working properly, look at doing something like a virtual gaming table.

There is already a great community here on the boards, they should build on that.
Hello, I am just going to vent/present some personal opinion here. Take it with a grain of salt; feel free to criticize or flame.

First, my credentials. I am a professional programmer with some experience in web development. I have worked with PHP, java server pages, Apache, MySQL, the usual suspects.

But you don't have to be a developer to see the writing on the wall. Has ANY software product from this company EVER been released on time or lived up to its marketing promises?

It is my opinion that DDI will never happen. If it were going to happen we would see something by now. Time is money, so at this point the project is taking too many resources. Features are probably being cut like mad as we speak in a desperate scramble to get something out the door.

The effective way to develop a new technology is iteratively. Especially with web technologies where you can count on frequently updating your customers code, "tape out" is not a big deal. So, there is no reason not to start getting things out there to get feedback.

Feedback is absolutely critical to focusing development effort. With a radical new application like this, nobody can predict what features are going to be useful. It would be very easy to miss the ball and spend a lot of development efforts working on things your customers don't want.

For example, how important/useful is multimedia integration? What level of support for house rules is worthwhile? What kind of interface is best to let people connect for games?

It is *very* hard to predict in advance what your customers will want from your code. The only way to really tell for sure is to just throw it out there and see what people want.

Obviously, I do not share your opinion that D&DI will never happen. Yes we have delays, and yes we would have preferred not to have those delays, but in term of development, we have been using for months the agile methodology , which is essentially iterative.

Regarding the applications themselves, it is indeed very hard to predict in advance what the customers will want with these tools, but we feel that when we can launch them, the D&DI applications will be generic enough within our clearly established guidelines (like no rules adjudication, maximum flexibility, usage of 3D and support of 4th Edition) for people to enjoy them when they are ready to be released.

They won't be perfect, and we will continue to iterate using the community feedback, following the iterative process track we have already put in place.
Kurt, Kurt, Kurt

You actually expect WotC to take something like a Successful Web 2.0 model and use it for something like gaming. I mean We are talking about something where people come together in a social setting and exchange content and ...oh wait....yeah that probly would have made sense...lol

Cheers!
Obviously, I do not share your opinion that D&DI will never happen. Yes we have delays, and yes we would have preferred not to have those delays, but in term of development, we have been using for months the agile methodology , which is essentially iterative.

Regarding the applications themselves, it is indeed very hard to predict in advance what the customers will want with these tools, but we feel that when we can launch them, the D&DI applications will be generic enough within our clearly established guidelines (like no rules adjudication, maximum flexibility, usage of 3D and support of 4th Edition) for people to enjoy them when they are ready to be released.

They won't be perfect, and we will continue to iterate using the community feedback, following the iterative process track we have already put in place.

If you are using Agile methodology then there should be working builds and SCRUM every day right? There should be a regression testing system in place? So how can it be that there is nothing that is good enough to show the public yet?

Not to pick on you or anything. It just seems strange that an Agile process would have a problem meeting a deadline. The last place I worked that used that methodology would do monthly feature pushes. So, whatever didn't make it one month would just go into the next months release. At any time there was a working, production ready build that was at most 3 weeks of features behind the latest bleeding edge stuff.
If you are using Agile methodology then there should be working builds and SCRUM every day right? There should be a regression testing system in place? So how can it be that there is nothing that is good enough to show the public yet?

Not to pick on you or anything. It just seems strange that an Agile process would have a problem meeting a deadline. The last place I worked that used that methodology would do monthly feature pushes. So, whatever didn't make it one month would just go into the next months release. At any time there was a working, production ready build that was at most 3 weeks of features behind the latest bleeding edge stuff.

What you describe is where we want to be: as close as possible from the Agile textbook. We are not fully there yet, but hard working toward it...
All the demos we have done to the public always have been done with the latest builds, including last Saturday at Neumo's.
Did you notice the part where they said that if you stop paying, you can still use the program, you just don't get updates. you don't need to be a genius to see that is a very bad idea (for them, i like it)
they are going to get hoards of people paying for one month, downloading everything, cutting it off, then repeating 6 months later.
Same content. Only 30 dollars a year. stupid move. I wonder how long this will last.

Sorry this has nothing to do with programing. i just don't think this will go very well
It is my opinion that DDI will never happen. If it were going to happen we would see something by now. Time is money, so at this point the project is taking too many resources. Features are probably being cut like mad as we speak in a desperate scramble to get something out the door.

I think this is likely to be correct. It seems very clear to me that there's been some kind of major disaster in the development process. I can imagine a lot of scenarios, and I doubt outsiders will ever know which is true. I think the roadblock is that there's an announced pricing model out there that more or less requires that there be a base product that's of substantially higher quality than freeware alternatives, and that it function fairly well at launch. So WoTC dare not let anything out the door until it's at least up to that standard, and I suspect that whatever they do have in hand is a long ways from that. At which point, they might well conclude that it's a sunken cost, and to just forget about the whole thing. Despite the fact that the entire business model of the 4E ruleset itself is about facilitating online play.
doublereedkurt,

There are several things I don't get about WotC's handling of D&DI.

First, I don't understand how all the parts of the D&DI can not be ready? Why isn't at least the character builder up and running for June 6th? That can't have all the technical hurdles as the virtual gaming table. At the least, why not have had a couple of issues of Dragon/Dungeon standing by in May? Currently they have four articles... all welcome and marketting.

Second, I can't for the life of me understand why their web-site still does not clearly state that D&DI is not available. A large "Coming soon", the Recent News should state that things are not available yet, each of the tools pages shoud have a "Coming soon" at the top of the page and a current status of each of the tools.

Third, I don't understand why they didn't try to contact folks in the stores and running WWD&DGD prior to the 7th (knowing full well it wouldn't be ready) with instructions to tell new players that the D&DI would not be ready. There is something unethical about selling books which give away free offers or having thousands of folks giving away hundreds of thousands of flyiers talking about the online tools... knowing that none are ready. Emails, forums posts, contacting stores, etc. A lot of stores and people volunteered to run WWD&DGD and hand out flyiers for WotC. An appology letter/post on the site might also go a long way.

Forth, I don't understand why they can't answer the basic questions about the system. I see know reason why folks going to the site (and this forum) don't receive immediate information on pricing, target dates for release, weekly update of development.

Fifth, I can't understand why they don't make some type of effort to make-good for folks who are upset. A number/email for returns, some type of system to give folks say an extra 10 days in their trial for those faxing/emailing/mailing receipts prior to X date, a coupon for free figs or 10% off their next book, some type of "email me when it is ready" list, etc. Something? Anything?

The worse thing is not that they missed the release date, it is the total silence coming out of them. They can spend all this time, effort, and money marketting this product, yet they can't make any real effort keeping folks informed. This does not speak well of the company.
The worse thing is not that they missed the release date, it is the total silence coming out of them. They can spend all this time, effort, and money marketting this product, yet they can't make any real effort keeping folks informed. This does not speak well of the company.

I think either:

a) People at WoTC themselves don't know any of this, because the project team working on D&D Insider has systematically misrepresented or obscured information about the status of their project, and have been in frantic meetings for several weeks now getting up to speed, leaving no time or clarity for issuing clear information.

OR

b) WoTC has known for some time that the tools are working very poorly in their current build and may never work as described by marketing and promotion, but lacked the integrity to say so, figuring that it was better to sell as much of the 4E as they could before they had to come clean to some limited extent.
From everything I have been reading and following with D&DI is that WOTC went in the wrong direction with development.

They looked at Blizzard and Sony and all the other online MMOs and saw that people were willing to pay $15 for a subscriptions service. This whole D&DI feels like they saw that, wanted in on the action, and then tried to make something that would fit into an existing model. And hey people already are used to buying packs of minis for tabletop games we could do the same model for vminis and people will naturally pay extra for that.

I have to wonder if this all would have gone better if they planned out what services they could have offered, then developed them and then figured out a pay method.

I disagree that it wont happen. It will. It will be stripped and rushed to start getting subscription money because that was the plan and focus. Customers pay for any old thing at $15/month right? Unfortunately there are far more failed online subscription services the successful ones.
WotC needs to contact an actual MMO developer/producer and bloody get their help with this. That's how they are trying to run this, as an MMO. Go to Blizzard or something (Yes I said Blizzard, their game is up, and running and catering to the amount people playing).

Actually (and I mean this in no way to be flameful) if you look at the people developing or creating DNDi apps, you can see that they have a pretty decent grasp on the current industry.
When they first announced gleemax I went and took a look. The very first thing that occurred to me looking at that site was that they SHOULD have started adding features to the message board. The whole thing just looked like nobody had actually sat down and thought the hard thoughts about how it would all fit together yet.

How do they possibly dream they are going to go from plain vanilla pre-packaged message board to fancy cutting edge web app in one step?

Gleemax itself is bug ridden, un-reliable, and slow. It's not very confidence inspiring that they can't even get a message board right but are trying something more ambitious.

There really isn't a reason that the character creator, at the very least, couldn't have been ready to go.

Personally I don't need DDI, but I do wish my books weren't peppered with ads for vaporware.

Whether it eventually comes out at this point or not it'll probably be a laughing stock. Right now they're on the second printing of books that advertise something that doesn't exist in any meaningful way. It's a joke.

"Too little too late" is my prediction. Every day that passes reduces the probability that it will be well received. I'd be glad to be wrong and have it come out and be fantastic, but nothing I've seen said or done instills any confidence whatsoever.
Regarding the applications themselves, it is indeed very hard to predict in advance what the customers will want with these tools, ...

Again, I feel for you guys, but just wow. This says volumes. It is not hard to predict. Look at what's on the market. See what works and what doesn't. Directly ask your potential customer base well in advance of starting the engineering side of the project. This is Product Marketing 101, virtual or otherwise.
Shepstone

I think either:
...

(A) does not make sense since at some point, someone in sales, customer service, or marketting would demand to see the functional product. At about a month prior to June 6th, I'd want a "lock down" on the release. I'd want to see an issue of Dragon/Dungeon up there, the character builder, the dungeon creator, etc. Otherwise, I'd go through my list, put an X through each and say... "Better state they will be in a future release."

(B) does not make sense either. Ultimately, WotC isn't going to survive based on the initial release. Like all releases, only a small percentage of folks buy the first few weeks. Others hold off and in the end they make money on folks buying many books, figs, modules, etc. over time. Any company knows that a happy customer tells a friend, and that an unhappy customer tells ten. In even the short term, they would do better overall just coming forward.

I would vote for ...

c) Incompetence. They aren't a software company. They make books and figs which don't typically miss timelines. They don't have a corporate culture/policies such as milestone dates which cancel releases, IT staff ready to change their web-site hourly, ways of informing clients, plans for missing release dates, etc. I wonder how they managed Magic the Gathering Online?
Again, I feel for you guys, but just wow. This says volumes. It is not hard to predict. Look at what's on the market. See what works and what doesn't. Directly ask your potential customer base well in advance of starting the engineering side of the project. This is Product Marketing 101, virtual or otherwise.

This is again one of those moments where we have a choice, no matter how politely you put it, between "they're amateurs" and "they're covering their asses".

The many replies in this forum and the larger positive response to the 4E publicity suggests that it's very easy to say what the customers want. Most of all, clearly, they want the Game Table. I think many of them might even be willing to pay the announced subscription fee to get it, if it has the functionality that publicity describes it as having.

The rest of D&D Insider is fluff, and I don't think many people would pay the subscription to get it unless it's truly wonderful in some respect.

So if the people making D&D Insider don't know what the customers want, no wonder they're flailing around helplessly. If they *do* know, then my suspicion is that they've found that building the Game Table as it has been described in the publicity has turned out to be very, very difficult to do while keeping the development process cheap (I'm guessing that the functionality of going from the Dungeon Builder to Game Table is probably one of the prime difficulties, but who knows.) So if that's the case, they're in a bind: the service that would make the business plan viable is going to be long-delayed and may never work well. If you try to go with a subscription fee for the easy stuff, no one will subscribe. If you let people use everything but the Game Table for free, they'll squawk a lot more when you try to move it behind a paywall later on.
OH this is delicous. I wish it were simply a case of mere incompetence. that the programs were not ready. everything i have seen has indicated that many if not all of the programs are ready. (the articals in dragon make extensive mention of the authors playtesting the aplications themselves)

this is worse, it appears from what was said that the delay is deliberate to find the time when we are most likely to be willing to pay.
it is certain that at least the compendium and the visualiser work. The compendium was up breifly, and the visualiser was discussed in detail in "confessions"
this is the worst marketing ploy ever.
OH this is delicous. I wish it were simply a case of mere incompetence. that the programs were not ready. everything i have seen has indicated that many if not all of the programs are ready. (the articles in dragon make extensive mention of the authors playtesting the applications themselves)

this is worse, it appears from what was said that the delay is deliberate to find the time when we are most likely to be willing to pay.
it is certain that at least the compendium and the visualizer work. The compendium was up briefly, and the visualizer was discussed in detail in "confessions"
this is the worst marketing ploy ever.

In fairness, I think this is unlikely. You can have mostly working versions of software that still have tons and tons of bugs or are not yet finished.

Although at this point, it is probably a good idea to just slap a 1.0 on some of those things and get them out there. I remember seeing a comment from the "Oak" compiler. (Which would eventually become Java). The comment was "don't have time right now to do unsigned data types, will do later". To this day, Java does not support unsigned data types. This would be a crippling lack for C, but it turns out people didn't use Java for C type tasks. They used Java for new things nobody had done before. If the folks at Sun had held the release of Java for unsigned, it would have been a waste of effort.

If you have a highly limited budget, you want your features to be as targeted as possible. Nothing is as good at teaching you what is important than getting your customers to use your product.
You know guys D&DI shouldn't have been the reason you bought the books in the first place. I mean really do you all like what 4th ed did to D&D or not? If you don't then you probably won't like the D&DI any how, since thats what it is, but if you do then the books, dice, and a group of friends should be all you need.
You know guys D&DI shouldn't have been the reason you bought the books in the first place. I mean really do you all like what 4th ed did to D&D or not? If you don't then you probably won't like the D&DI any how, since thats what it is, but if you do then the books, dice, and a group of friends should be all you need.

BS... WOTC advertised a product and then didn't deliver on that product. Just because you are willing to take one in the gut doesn't mean the rest of us should feel obliged to do the same.
You know guys D&DI shouldn't have been the reason you bought the books in the first place.

Why in the world not? It was marketed as a feature that was going to be available, and I determined that this would be an important, appealing feature to me. There are plenty of FRPGs out on the market, but this seemed to be a unique feature-set that would bring me back to D&D for the first time since 1986.

Imagine if I'd bought the red box D&D in 1981 based on the features marketed on the outside of the shrinkwrapped box, only to take it home, open it up, and find out there were no dice inside. And it turned out that there weren't any die in any of the packages, because of a manufacturing problem. I call TSR up and they say "Yeah, we're as bummed as you are, but don't worry: you'll be able to buy some dice from us later this year". Sure, I have the rules. And I guess I can make some dice out of paper. But it's not what was represented, and it's not what I intended to buy.

That's kind of what this feels like. So, really, thanks for the concern, but I think many of us know why we bought it, and on what we based our decision. It's sort of like telling others here "Well, ink that actually stays on pages shouldn't have been the reason you bought it in the first place." :D
Why in the world not? It was marketed as a feature that was going to be available,

This is what i don't get. everyone is acting like it is gone and never going to be here. It will be up eventually. After 3yrs of waiting a few extra weeks is nothing.
...waiting a few extra weeks is nothing.

Weeks? Please provide proof. Because I can point you to plenty of Ken Troop's own words that indicate months, not weeks. They can't and won't even commit to 2008. Please. Again, I'm not at all interested in your opinion of how I should feel.
This is what i don't get. everyone is acting like it is gone and never going to be here. It will be up eventually. After 3yrs of waiting a few extra weeks is nothing.

Dear god man. Lets try this dance again shall we. Mind you when I talk about marketing promises I am not talking about things in terms of things i really really wanted to see and really really hoped in my heart of hearts that WotC would have ready for me when I woke up and ran down the stairs on GameDay.

Most of us at this point are speaking in LEGAL terms about the way WotC put out a blanket marketing campaign, not just Youtube videos, while I accept the fact that you seem to reside soley on the internet the rest of us have seen actual physical marketing materials printed on celulose material called PAPER with a substance called INK. This material was distributed far and wide in an effort to reach people WotC was no doubt aware could not be reach by internet marketing, thus the need for the aforementioned paper and ink substitutes. On said materials hereafter referred to as DOCUMENTS there were statements such as "Log on to the DDI Web Site and sign up for a FREE 10 Day Trial!". All the Documents and the video and other internet media prior to the publication of the may Ampersand article showed DDI as being the Game table, Character Creator, Dungeon Creator, Compendium, Magazines, Etc. Nowhere was there ANY indication prior to the May ampersand article that these services would not ALL be included in DDI on Launch day. In fact DDI was for all intents and purposes ALL of those services TOGETHER and WotC had spend alot of time effort and $$$$ making sure that people thought that was the case.

Now in May there was the Infamous Ampersand Article. Which really did amount to whispering in a corner after shouting from the rooftops. WotC had an obligation to make at least as much effort to dissiminate the information that DDI would not meet the expectations that WotC itself had spent so much time effor and $$$ building up too. WotC failed at that.

Furthermore the purpose of Marketing is to get people to BUY things. WotC used DDI to get people who would not have otherwise been interested in purchasing the game or would have at least waited till later to spend cold hard cash on pre orders or on launch weekend.

No WotC can trumpet staggering Sales for the launch of 4th edition. Possibly record breaking sales. Now pressurepoint how many of those record breaking sales were made by deceptive marketing practices? How many of those staggering sales numbers would have slipped if WotC had addmitted a month ago that their own marketing was a bit off target.

This isnt a matter of whining because we didn't get something when we were promised. It is a possible LEGAL matter of deceptive marketing practices. Furthermore WotC has CONTINUED to show they don't care by refusing to place ANY kind of link or FAQ or Substantive news item on the D&D home page or DDI home page to let customers who are not aware of what is going on but who bought the books with a clear expectations guided by WotCs own marketing and are coming still to find nothing but empty promises.

This is bad for their business. This is bad for Our hobby. This is Bad for D&D.

Cheers!
This is what i don't get. everyone is acting like it is gone and never going to be here. It will be up eventually. After 3yrs of waiting a few extra weeks is nothing.

Well we are waiting far longer for Mastertools and that nears 8 years, yes a cut down version was finally put out.
Also they hope to get all tools up by end of year, which in my world is not a few weeks.
Plans are always subject to change.
they did say at the d&d experience that they intended to release the tools throught 2008.

And yes i agree 100% the lack of communication on their web site is rude. Every time i see that stupid "coming soon" with no info no indication of time scale. it pisses me off. "comming soon" could mean a few houres or a year. it's bloody anoying. and yes terrible for buisness.

Unfortunatly as much as i would like to agerr with you about their marketing practices (they are un ethical) it's all tecnically legit. you will eventually get your ten day trial. this is underhanded and full of bs, but legit.

On the other hand, they did say that they would not start the pricing plan untill they think people will be willing to pay, i take this to mean that we may get to try some of the features for considerably longer than ten days. i hape so
Heres what really get's me:
Almost all programmers (that is the good ones) keep some sort of log. To keep track of bugs document changes and so forth.
It would take hardly any time at all to summerise this in a blog or column each time there is an entry. Yes most people would not understand alot of it, but just seeing that there is progress would go a long way to diffusing the situation.
we just need a bit of conformation (ideally somewhere on the actual site) that they are trying.
Software development is not easy. If you want to put out quality software, you need to either invest in world-class talent and effectively build an in-house software company, or you need to contract out the project to an existing company that knows what it's doing.

I saw this coming as early as the original 4ed announcement, which was handled exactly like a software company announcement run by people who didn't know what they were doing and were in way over their heads. I've worked in the software industry for over ten years, seen what both successful and disastrous product development looked like, and DDI had disaster written all over it from the word go.

Wizards is a publisher of game books, accessories, and novels. Hasbro is a toy giant. Neither company has any positive experience producing software. They should have contracted the whole thing out. There's an opportunity here to create a completely new category of truly interactive online gaming, but it will require investment and real talent. D&D is probably not a lucrative enough brand to get Hasbro to front the necessary capital, though. I think the best bet would be to make a deal with a company that can deliver the larger vision but has the deep pockets to follow through with a couple years of losses to give the experiment a chance. Find a high-level project manager in the Microsoft games group and sell them on a long-term vision of an interactive games and environment hosting service. Tie that into existing properties like X-Box Live, Surface, and Media Center. Make D&D the central brand for the effort, but have MS go after other brands too. Wizards needs to send some suits from Renton to Redmond, pitch the vision, and make a deal--it's just a few miles up Interstate 405.

Other than that, scale back promises to simply deliver an in-house version of the kind of toolsets that are already out there, and price them similarly ($20-50 one-time fee). If you're going for a $15/month revenue stream you have to provide a high-end service worth that cost.
You know guys D&DI shouldn't have been the reason you bought the books in the first place. I mean really do you all like what 4th ed did to D&D or not? If you don't then you probably won't like the D&DI any how, since thats what it is, but if you do then the books, dice, and a group of friends should be all you need.

This was actually one of the main drivers for me buying the books. Consider this: What if your in an area where there aren't many (if any) D&D groups? My local area has a couple that are basically full. So here I am stuck, wanting to play but have no one to play with. So along comes WotC advertising their DDI which now means I can link up with other guys/gals like myself who are looking for a game and now I can play and have a good time.

Now here I am, stuck with my books and no group to play with no date of when I can get on in site. It just straight blows. I'm right on the fence on returning these books cause this is just ridiculous.