Digital Insider #8: Feedback

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Hi folks,

Setting this feedback thread in advance for Randy's Digital Insider #8, due to go live later today.
Hi folks,

Setting this feedback thread in advance for Randy's Digital Insider #7, due to go live later today.

*cough*8*cough*:P
you guys should really automate this posting, it's a programming task that takes mere minutes... (unlike ddi tools)
Here be dragons: IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cydyvkj/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/c54g6ac/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/csw6fhj/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cbxbgmp/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cz7v5bd/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/ccg9eld/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/c8szhnn/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cp68b5u/.gif)
56767308 wrote:
Sadly, I don't think this has anything to do with wanting Next to be a great game. It has to do with wanting Next to determine who won the Edition War. [...] For those of us who just want D&D Next to be a good game, this is getting to be a real drag.
57870548 wrote:
I think I figured it out. This program is a character builder, not a character builder. It teaches patience, empathy, and tolerance. All most excellent character traits.
Can we get a feedback thread for this feedback thread? Seems the orginal poster does not know that #7 was last week.
Can we get a feedback thread for this feedback thread? Seems the orginal poster does not know that #7 was last week.

Notice the notice on the typo contains a typo...
"I'm not super interested in arguing about whether we're actually doing what we said we're going to do. If a lot of you are either confused or frustrated, then there is clearly something we could be doing better. Are the updates too hard to find? Is our schedule too difficult to follow? Is it good to see the Table of Contents ahead of time because it promotes interest and discussion, or is the tease a net negative? Is our website navigation so confusing that you didn't even know there was a Table of Contents or thrice-weekly content updates? From my seat, I remain convinced that the quality of the content we're generating is quite high, and I want to avoid any issues of presentation and expectation becoming a problem for us where one doesn't need to exist."

This reminds me of about a couple months or so back when the forum was screaming for any information on D&DI and Gamerzero asked what format we want it in. He really missed the point of what we were asking for. We wanted info and updates the editing and format was immaterial.
Likewise with these questions I think its the same thing. All of these questions are side stepping the issues that we are asking and talking about.

The overall issue is stick to what you say you are gonna do. We will work around that but when you set expectactions we expect them to occur.

Are the updates too hard to find? Every article has their own thread. Its easy enough to find when they come out. You also have a table of contents that sometimes will have a link when an article comes out. But not always. that part gets frustrating because we really can't trust it.

Is our schedule too difficult to follow? This question really ****** me off but I'll try not to answer emotionally. No its not difficult for us to follow its M-W-F. Putting articles up at 11:59 pm technically follows the letter of the release schedule but not really the spirit. And I guess saying that its not really a schedule but that its something you try to do but may miss some takes some of the edge off but again it goes back to expectations.

Is it good to see the Table of Contents ahead of time because it promotes interest and discussion, or is the tease a net negative?
Expectations. If you have a list of what is coming out this month it really needs to come out that month.

Please do jump on this week's forum and let me know whether you agree and what you think we should do to make things better.
Do what you say and say what you do. I dont know why the forum has to keep saying this month after month.
Link to #8 : http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/insidernews/20080924a


I like how he says in order to get into the beta of the character maker, it will only be open to subscribers first.
But in this thread: http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1090238

WotC_DM says: To be crystal clear, there are absolutely no plans to charge for the usage of the BETA version of the character builder.

Great update guys, at least you are being consitent with misleading your customers. No wonder you waited until 5 PM PST to put out this update, because you all knew the reaction it would get and did not want to face your customers.
Is our schedule too difficult to follow?

Apparntly so, because WOTC is the ones not following it.
It does say there are other groups that will get first crack, but doesn't specify, so it doesn't explicitly say that only subscribers will get the beta. But it sure sounds like it.

The two worst things about communications here are contradictions and unclear wordings. So much of what's gone on the last several months is due to both of those. The issue with the beta is an example.
Looks like the majority of the people that want to try the beta of the character maker when it first comes out will have to subscribe. Unles you are a "specifically selected playtester" But I bet WOTC will be very quiet on how to be one of those. I have never seen info on how to sign up for any of the beta on DDi.

This totally goes against what WotC DM said in my other post, that there was no plans at all for them to charge for the beta.

What one is it WOTC? But can we really trust your answer either way? This is really driving me away from the whole hobby, you misleading people. Is that what you want? to drive your customers away?
Are the updates too hard to find?
There is a very slight learning curve to figure this out, but once you know where to look, it becomes second nature. I would not lose any sleep over this at all.

Is our schedule too difficult to follow?
I hate the cocky way this was said above, but there is truth to it. Are you guys capable of following the MWF schedule? You did great to start, but the past month has been really sketchy.

For our part, the MWF schedule seems fine.

Is it good to see the Table of Contents ahead of time because it promotes interest and discussion, or is the tease a net negative?
This is the tricky one. There is a group of people who seem to have trouble grasping how the ToC is meant to work. For some reason, some people think that as soon as the ToC is up, every article along with the compiled magazine should also be available.

I don't know how to explain it properly myself. The closest I can get is that the ToC is sort of like the plans for a building that hasn't been built yet. As each article is released, its like a new floor has been added to the building until its complete. But the building doesn't instantly pop into existence just because you have the plans available.

Please do jump on this week's forum and let me know whether you agree and what you think we should do to make things better.

Here's the secret to giving delivery estimates... Lie!

Any true geek will remember the Star Trek:TNG episode where Scotty told LaForge the secret to looking like a miracle worker. Always lie when asked how much time you need.

Step 1: Figure out your best estimate for each unfinished project. Be as specific as you possibly can. Consider every possible downfall and drawback. Ask your developers for feedback.
Step 2: Whatever you came up with, Double it! Anytime my boss asks me for a time frame, I always do this, and even then, I usually only get it right about 2/3rd of the time. You guys don't have a lot of experience with this yet. You may even consider tripling your estimates.
Step 3: Take that padded timeframe, and post that on the page for each unfinished product. Make sure that you emphasize as strongly as you can that the dates are estimates. Every week, update these estimates until each product is released. With any luck, you'll deliver most things on or ahead of schedule.
AsmodeusLore D&D Insider News Guide Follow Me


D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium

Are the updates too hard to find?

I don't think so, but I have them coming to me via RSS feed. Perhaps point that out as a way to let people know. There are also the threads in the DDI Announcements and Dragon/Dungeon Article forums.

Is our schedule too difficult to follow?

The schedule is not hard to follow. M-W-F an article comes up. Some people comment that 11:59 on Wednesday night is not really wednesday, but I think that is a minor quibble. As long as three articles a week come out, that is what most everyone is looking for.

Is it good to see the Table of Contents ahead of time because it promotes interest and discussion, or is the tease a net negative?

The ToC is nice in that it teases things. That being said, I think that it is important to, if something is pushed off of the ToC, to let people know as soon as possible. For example, if it wasn't for the fact that it was mentioned in the podcast *why* the barbarian was delayed, we wouldn't have known. All we would have known is the cover change, and the ToC change.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
They've specifically said before that, at first, the Builder will only be available to special testers (who signed up at different conventions, as it said in #7, I believe) and subscribers. After a time, it will then be available to the public, and after "quite a while," as Mr. Buehler said, they will turn the Builder into a subscribed product, same as they've been doing for the other Tools. They will probably do something like increase the subscription fee to $10 Dollars a month and toss in the Viewer by that time, as well, who knows. However, their sales plans here are fairly transparent, and not too bad, as we get something for nothing, albeit only for a few months (though that's not horrible or anything).
Resident Logic Cannon
Put everything you guys say up against the Moron in a Hurry test.

Is what you are saying so clear, that a Moron in a Hurry would be able to understand it without confusion?

Disclaimer: I'm not saying D&D players are morons. I happen to think that 98% of the earth's population are morons. D&D players are no exception.
AsmodeusLore D&D Insider News Guide Follow Me


D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium

Link to #8 : http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/insidernews/20080924a


I like how he says in order to get into the beta of the character maker, it will only be open to subscribers first.
But in this thread: http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1090238

WotC_DM says: To be crystal clear, there are absolutely no plans to charge for the usage of the BETA version of the character builder.

Great update guys, at least you are being consitent with misleading your customers. No wonder you waited until 5 PM PST to put out this update, because you all knew the reaction it would get and did not want to face your customers.

Except for the part where it says nothing about charging money.

"2) We are hard at work finishing up the beta version of our Character Builder. The free public beta test will include all the content and functionality necessary to build a level 1, 2, or 3 character. At first, access to the beta will be restricted to subscribers and other specifically selected playtesters, but it will be opened up to everyone who wants to participate well before we begin charging for access."

Bolded parts are my emphasis. Where in this is it misleading? Especially when it matter-of-factly states "... but it will be opened up to everyone who wants to participate well before we begin charging for access"?
Now for my own response to the article. :D

Regarding the M-W-F releases: I'd recommend finding a way to make it clear to anyone looking at it that the articles are advance releases on the full issue (possibly as a notation on both the Dragon and Dungeon table of contents pages). I would not recommend that you place a specific date on them, just that some feature from the issue would be available on one of the release days. And as soon as that feature is available, that the table of contents be updated. [I personally don't care if it comes out at 11:59 p.s.t., but some others find that a solid sticking point.]

Without being clear on the fact that they are advances on the actual issue, I think it will continue to seem like a negative thing to a lot people as those people will probably end up feeling like they're being jipped in some way.
HURRAY ^_^ barbarian will be among the last free released articles!
Since there was a request to post feedback, here are my answers to the question:

Are the updates too hard to find? No. I can navigate the website fine. On the other hand, I have heard more than one complaint about the navigation. I've got it figured out, though.

Is our schedule too difficult to follow? No, and you don't need to question our ability to understand the schedule you hope to meet. The problem is that Wizards has gone from delivering tremendously on the schedule (look at August - a release every M, W, and F just for Dragon) to just skating by, and acting puzzled when we notice.

Is it good to see the Table of Contents ahead of time because it promotes interest and discussion, or is the tease a net negative? I don't mind it.

Is our website navigation so confusing that you didn't even know there was a Table of Contents or thrice-weekly content updates? Really, come on. That's a silly question.

From my seat, I remain convinced that the quality of the content we're generating is quite high, and I want to avoid any issues of presentation and expectation becoming a problem for us where one doesn't need to exist.

Well, I don't necessarily have a problem with the content. I don't care at all about any of the editorials, ampersands, or podcasts, but that's me (in fact, the only thing I'm really interested in is the magazines; DDI software is completely irrelevant to me). The other stuff (actual game stuff) has been fine. Actually, with one exception: I think putting the Red Dragon Interview as an "update" was completely cheating to meet your schedule, but hey, it made me laugh anyway.

The problem isn't content, it's delivery. I've greatly enjoyed the articles that have been published during the trial period, but the reliability of delivery had a real bobble over the last three weeks, and it has really turned me off the whole thing.
First, let me state that I find the online magazines with their continual incremental additions throughout the month much more to my liking than a monthly printed magazine. I do not find reading on computers, pda's, phones etc difficult or inconvenient. I do find a stack of old magazines that I need to search through and shuffle around inconvenient.

I appreciate having a Table of Contents posted at the start of each month and eagerly anticipate checking every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for new content. If there is something, great, if not yet, maybe next time. I personally don't feel robbed or cheated if new content does not appear each and every opportunity.

My largest concern is with the archival compilations at the end of each month. I would love to see corrected versions of the individual articles included in these archives. By this I don't mean finished versions of playtest articles or totally rewritten articles, but ones with the typos, oversights, and layout glitches corrected. I realize that you are working with limited personnel and that this may not be possible. On the other hand, however, I do no wantto let a chance or possibility of seeing this happen be missed, just because no one ever asked. If there is some method by which the readers could better contribute to this effort and allow you to more strategically utilize your existing workforce, I am sure that we would all be willing to do so.

Please keep the lines of communication open.
Is our schedule too difficult to follow? No, and you don't need to question our ability to understand the schedule you hope to meet. The problem is that Wizards has gone from delivering tremendously on the schedule (look at August - a release every M, W, and F just for Dragon) to just skating by, and acting puzzled when we notice.

This.

It's a question of expectations. For issue 364, we had one or two articles released every M/W/F, and the interesting ones were spread out through the month so we didn't feel forced to wait but still had cool stuff to look forward to. For 365, we started with the Artificer, which was awesome, and good stuff was released right through the month. For both of those issues, the last trickle of articles came right at the end of the month; it was obvious you had a plan and were following it.

Then came 366. Everything seemed a bit slower. Cool stuff was released right along, but we started getting towards the end of the month and there were a lot of articles left, and there was a big rush to play catch up during the last week.

And now 367. This month it has been obvious you're way behind, that you're throwing out whatever you have to keep to the letter of your release schedule (but not the spirit) - it was a week into the month before an article that wasn't an editorial was released. And I really don't see how the cartoon can be counted as an actual release. Even now, with only three release days to go, about half the material is still unreleased. You set us up to such high expectations with the first two months, and then you seem to act surprised when we don't like it when the level of service takes a drastic drop.

The final thought I'll leave you with is that I love the material from the magazines - I just hate having to wait for it.
HURRAY ^_^ barbarian will be among the last free released articles!

...What? I must have missed something. I read it completely different. I read that we were NOT going to get the barbarian before they started charging. Am I crazy?

I'm not super interested in arguing about whether we're actually doing what we said we're going to do.

Good. I'm glad that because you're not willing to argue, you see it is useless to try and twist the facts to make it look like you guys actually did what you said you would. Thank you for that. Now next time, why don't you just apologize for the poor release schedule?


If a lot of you are either confused or frustrated, then there is clearly something we could be doing better.

Not confused. We just don't want to be BS'ed. Frustrated... honestly? I'm serious. You DIDN'T that we were already frustrated?


Are the updates too hard to find?

No.

Is our schedule too difficult to follow?

Which schedule? The one that you tell us about or the one that you are actually using? The latter is horribly confusing.


Is our website navigation so confusing...?

The layout of the website is bad in the first place. It needs a revamp in a serious way. I'd love to see that happen.


From my seat, I remain convinced that the quality of the content we're generating is quite high, and I want to avoid any issues of presentation and expectation becoming a problem for us where one doesn't need to exist.

1st off. You sound really full of yourself. This coming from someone who writes their editorials and counts THAT as a part of useful D&D content. Sure, they're cool and all but they aren't what we're coming here for. You have some GREAT articles out there to be sure but the magazines aren't quite there yet IMO. Very close though. I would NOT count your editorials as content. While they're a good read, they aren't useful in terms of D&D gameplay.

I'm sorry, but as of now I am really disappointed with how you have decided to handle this. Especially since you're making some of your own look like absolute idiots (see WOTC_DM's quote in one of KM's posts in this thread). You're effectively barring many people from the BETA of the Character Builder and limiting the feedback you're going to get. It is just sad how things have shaped up around a product that received so much hype and had so much promise to it (The product being DDi). The more time goes on, the worse it is handled and the more WOTC seems to not care about their Customer Relations.

Just disappointing really. Just disappointing.
Here are my (constructive) answers.

Are the updates too hard to find?
Not really hard. If I come to the Insider forums, I get links to the articles. If I go to the main Web site, I see one new article with a little picture. The ones with pictures are the most easily noticed, because they're bigger and colorful (obviously). Those times when you release an article along with something like "Ampersand" or an editorial though, the editorial is much harder to notice because it gets no large picture, just sort of snuck into the list on the right.

Is our schedule too difficult to follow?
I will agree with previous posters that this question is a bit aggravating to me. The concept of your schedule is not a problem. The implementation of your schedule is: the fact that it is not always followed, or only followed in the most literal way possible and not keeping with the spirit.

When you say "Updates on M,W,F" people expect actual content updates. Not to knock your editorials and little videos, but that isn't what people first think when they see "Update." Earlier in this trial period, releases were pretty good. Usually a Dragon article and/or Dungeon adventure were released on one of the days, and not at 11:59 p.m. at that (unless I'm hallucinating and nostalgic for a nonexistent past).

I would love for your M,W,F schedule to work. Periodic updates are good, because it gives reason to keep checking back with the site, gives us things to look forward to etc. However, there is the expectation that when you set an update schedule you should actually follow it.

I do not get terribly upset when I come to the Web site on Wednesday and there is no article up. I do get a little annoyed though.

What I would like to see is substantive updates going live on days that were denoted, and at REASONABLE times of the day. I would recommend you further refine your schedule to be something like "10 a.m. PST M,W,F" or "5 p.m. PST M,W,F" because it seems just a "day" is not nearly specific enough of a deadline for the authors/web people.

Articles should be "in the can" hours if not days or weeks before they are supposed to be released. This often seems like they come in at 11 p.m. and someone has to load them really fast before being able to go home. It's not really fair to the customers, nor the employee who is waiting to get the darned article so he can post it.

Is it good to see the Table of Contents ahead of time because it promotes interest and discussion, or is the tease a net negative?

I think it is a very good thing for everybody. I do not feel "teased" about upcoming articles.

You would have had almost no "uproar" about the postponement of the Barbarian playtest if someone simply stated it was pushed back, and the reasons (regardless of whether the reason was as simple as "we didn't feel it was ready").

The way it was "handled," was it was stated in several venues it would be out in September, the cover art reflected it, and it was listed in the table of contents. One day, it was no longer listed in the table of contents, and people noticed. Another day, the cover was changed to be something else less barbarian-like, and people noticed. At no point did anyone come to the forums and INFORM us of what they were doing and why.

You left an information vacuum for days (if not a whole week), and information vacuums get filled with conspiracy theories, complaints, and ill will. Announcing reasons on a Podcast is not really an acceptable solution, because it takes too long and not everyone listens to them immediately.

If there is a schedule change, or something needs to be pulled for whatever reason, you will get infinitely more respect and backing of your product if you are prompt and frank in your explanations. You would generate almost no ill will whatsoever, and possibly even gain more belief in the quality of your product.

All you have to do is tell one of the community managers to post a thread in the "Article Discussions" stating that the article is postponed until next month, for X reasons, and most people would be happy. Quite a minor concession to keep people happy and quiet.

Is our website navigation so confusing that you didn't even know there was a Table of Contents or thrice-weekly content updates?
The actual Web site is confusing, or at least poorly made. That has been stated many times. I am aware of the table of contents, the updates etc. primarily from the Forums, which to date have been much clearer in their presentation.

My absolute largest complaint as pertains to the magazines is in the "Issue Archives" is that it is in no way intuitive to place the link for the Compiled Issue inside the cover picture. People simply do not expect to find links of any sort hidden in a PORTION of a picture, which they have looked at before, even though it now has a little green "button."

If you want to keep a "download complete issue" button there, then fine -- but also put a more "Mundane" link at the top of the table of contents area below it, so people can download it without having to even look at the cover to find it.

From my seat, I remain convinced that the quality of the content we're generating is quite high, and I want to avoid any issues of presentation and expectation becoming a problem for us where one doesn't need to exist.
I agree the quality is "high." I firmly believe however that you need better editing, which would push it even "higher."

Typos are present, sure, but I mean specifically things such as incorrect monster types, incorrect names of things, wrong rules being used (not using the errata'd rules) and the like. If you have an editor go over the documents before posting them (which honestly I am not sure I can believe), have another one also. One person can look for actual spelling and grammar, and another for purely rules elements.

P.S.
Thank you for continuing to post your Insider updates.
http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19670890/Keep_on_the_Shadowfell_Character_Errata
Except for the part where it says nothing about charging money.

"2) We are hard at work finishing up the beta version of our Character Builder. The free public beta test will include all the content and functionality necessary to build a level 1, 2, or 3 character. At first, access to the beta will be restricted to subscribers and other specifically selected playtesters, but it will be opened up to everyone who wants to participate well before we begin charging for access."

Bolded parts are my emphasis. Where in this is it misleading? Especially when it matter-of-factly states "... but it will be opened up to everyone who wants to participate well before we begin charging for access"?

I have said in another thread, the fact that if you have to subscribe to get into the early part of the beta, you are basically paying for the beta. Thats what was misleading IMO they are going to charge for the beta when WOTC DM said they were not going to charge for the beta. Bait and switch like they did with the barbarian playtest article.

I also find it funny how WOTC did not put this update on the main DnD page like they did with the other updates. Its like they did not want the public to see what was in this report. Interesting.
My take on the whole issue:

A) RELEASE Schedule APPROXIMATION
You wanted to deliver each M,W,F. Thus far, you failed to do it consistently. I don't care whether the articles are delivered 11:59 PM or 4AM. but it should be consistent, and most likely the articles should be ready before those deadlines. It's pretty obvious, that some of those articles really got ready like 11:58 PM and were posted soon after, just to meet the schedule. This cannot work for a product you want to sell. It forces people to check in often, sure. But this does not create happy customers.

when i check on time, i want the promised article to be there, and it's not like Dungeon and Dragon are entirely fan-driven magazines where you could say "ok, real life issues, personal issues have come up". To be able to deliver those articles, you should produce your online magazine as you would produce a print magazine - one month ahead. Else, you'll continue to fail expectations you set yourself.

B) The Content itself
is fine. i like what i'm getting, BUT: content is what is printed and usable in my D&D group. so: RPGA reports, Confessions, Ampersand, Editorials, Videos - They all make a good roundup to the print product, or the final PDF, but it is not considered content usually - at least not by me. Content is something i take and use in my game. So if the first articles up in a month are ampersand, confessions, editorial and interviews with the designers, this is NOT content, and likely to get people upset.

C) Beta Issues
I believe it to be a bad move to give out the beta to subscribers and non-subscribers at totally different times. for download reasons, it might be ok to differentiate this for one week, at most two. everything else just makes you look like you really want to charge for a beta product as well.

D) The Tone and Feel of your column:
please, don't do this again. you're sounding like a complete jerk, which i know you aren't. you're acting like from a high throne... we players (and soon to be paying customers) are not to be treated like peasants.

if you want us to buy something, go ahead and sell it, with the proper attitude. (the customer is king/always right)

I'm sure you didn't mean your article to get overly bossy etc - just have someone (previously they were called editors) go over the harsh passages and re-work them.
Here be dragons: IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cydyvkj/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/c54g6ac/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/csw6fhj/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cbxbgmp/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cz7v5bd/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/ccg9eld/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/c8szhnn/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cp68b5u/.gif)
56767308 wrote:
Sadly, I don't think this has anything to do with wanting Next to be a great game. It has to do with wanting Next to determine who won the Edition War. [...] For those of us who just want D&D Next to be a good game, this is getting to be a real drag.
57870548 wrote:
I think I figured it out. This program is a character builder, not a character builder. It teaches patience, empathy, and tolerance. All most excellent character traits.
...What? I must have missed something. I read it completely different. I read that we were NOT going to get the barbarian before they started charging. Am I crazy?

I mean no direspect when I say this, but I think your pessimism was coloring your view as you were reading it because it is pretty clearly stated in the article.

...and thus we're including this playtest as one of the last free articles. It will be one of the first articles that we publish in October.

I have said in another thread, the fact that if you have to subscribe to get into the early part of the beta, you are basically paying for the beta. Thats what was misleading IMO they are going to charge for the beta when WOTC DM said they were not going to charge for the beta. Bait and switch like they did with the barbarian playtest article.

I also find it funny how WOTC did not put this update on the main DnD page like they did with the other updates. Its like they did not want the public to see what was in this report. Interesting.

I had this thought too, but I think - though it's not clear - that they mean they will open the "public beta" before they start charging for the DDI tools. That is, before they start charging $15 or whatever it is for the "Full Package."

So yes, to get in on the early beta, you need to subscribe, and in effect, pay for access. But if you don't subscribe, I think they'll let you use it during a public beta before they charge the premium for DDI tools.
I'm not super interested in arguing about whether we're actually doing what we said we're going to do.

Please avoid this kind of tone. There may be some of your your customers interested in having some explanation (and WotC has been quite lacking in this field). The main cause of frustration has clearly been the continuous delay of a lot of the tools (builder, creator, virtual table) and some honest explanation would be welcome.

That aside I can say that I'm pretty happy about the magazines part of DDI and will subscribe from start. Just one question: why is the beta version of character builder limited to 3rd level? From what I can see a lot of the characters in real play are going to multiclass, often to cover missing roles in the party mix. The first power swap feat is available at 4th level and paragon multiclassing only at 11th. It would be good to be able to playtest them too.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

I'm not super interested in arguing about whether we're actually doing what we said we're going to do.

I wouldn't be either, if I were you. You know, because you haven't done what you said you were going to. There. Now we don't have to argue.


I have to agree with Whitebaron. What an insulting tone and feel of your column. It's almost like "Hey stupids! Figure out our product and start buying it already! Or are you too dumb to do that?"

It's almost, ALMOST, like you're trying to take WotC out of the defensive position it is in (you know, for screwing up royally with DDi, and mismanaging the magazine-I'd say magazines, but since your release schedule incorporates them BOTH it really seems like a single magazine with two differently named sections) and instead turn the defensive position onto the consumers: "You're all just a bunch of whiny babies! We're not to blame AT ALL! (And if you want to talk about if we are, well then, I'm just not interested in arguing about that.) Whiners!"


You want a solution? Here ya go. It's simple, elegant, and easily implemented.

Have ALL of the articles DONE before putting up the table of contents. Then automate their release at the BEGINNING of the day they are supposed to go live (instead of 11:59 at the end of the day, how's about 12:01 at the start?).

This is not a college paper that gets done five minutes before class starts. This is a professional magazine that you hope to charge for. Start treating it less like the former and more like the latter.

Also, once you do this (you know, actually have the content a month in advance like any respectable magazine...which should only take, you know, a month to get started), release either:
A. all at once
or
B. At an even rate.

I've been following these magazines since the beginning and all to often (Dungeon especially) your "comes out over the month" is actually "a giant bolus at the end of the month when everything finally got done".


So pick one. Either make it all at once, or evenly space the content. What you're doing now is clearly for YOUR benefit, not that of the consumer. It looks sloppy, like you're cobbling this together, like your editors are biting their fingernails at 11:30 hoping that the article gets uploaded in time for that 11:59 deadline. "Gosh I SWORE I wouldn't do this to myself again!"

Please note, I've been frustrated, (not really confused-except maybe to scratch my head and say, "Really, this is what we're to expect from them?") but your feedback article, your way of reaching out to us, the consumers, has truly inflamed me.

This rant has been a direct response to your condecension and unwillingness to actually admit faults and attempt to place it on us. Not good form. Not good form at all.
Link to #8 :
WotC_DM says: To be crystal clear, there are absolutely no plans to charge for the usage of the BETA version of the character builder.

Great update guys, at least you are being consitent with misleading your customers. No wonder you waited until 5 PM PST to put out this update, because you all knew the reaction it would get and did not want to face your customers.

There will be a closed beta for people who had the chance to sign up at DDXP earlier this year. It looks like they're extending that closed beta to subscribers as well (seems fair to me).

He also clearly states that the beta will be opened up to everyone who wants to participate before they start charging.

This has been the plan for a while now. Closed Beta (DDXP & Subscribers), Open Beta (Public), Release (Paid Access or Limited Trial for free).
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

I have to agree there are elements of the tone of this "Update" that are problematic. Sure people have been tearing strips of the DDi venture for a month and its hard not be defensive as a result, but you really need to be careful as that defensive stance has lead to poor phrasing and people getting the wrong message on 2 key matters you intended to please people with.

Are the updates too hard to find? Only when they do not arrive as expected. That does not mean they could not be easier to find (see below).

Is our schedule too difficult to follow? This seems to be an internal question rather than an external one. I have seen no sign on the forums that people cannot follow the schedule. The debate is always about your ability to follow the schedule. However that said the greater the clarity you provide for the release schedule the better. (Also see below.)

Is it good to see the Table of Contents ahead of time because it promotes interest and discussion, or is the tease a net negative? The table of contents is good. (Also see below)

Is our website navigation so confusing that you didn't even know there was a Table of Contents or thrice-weekly content updates?


I know there is a table of contents but it is an irrelevant page after its first visit, and this I think is a problem.

The table of contents to my mind should be the driving force behind the delivery of Magazine content. I should be looking at it to learn what is has been delivered and is yet to be delivered, and get an expectation of when it will be delivered (by week would do).

I think some of the problem is that people are not familiar with considering the amount of content they used to receive in a print issue of Dragon or Dungeon and are thus not making accurate assessments of the DDI delivered content, a matter that could be addressed by making better use of the table of contents to inform and direct customer attention.

Flicking through a few old Dragon issues I see the table of contents is broken up into 3 sections: Features, Table Talk, Familiars - why was this presentation abandoned?

Features - print dragon typically had 4 or 5 feature articles. That would be a release schedule of 1 Feature article a week for Dragon, that should be fairly easy to regulate and predict.

Table Talk - print Dragon had 3 static elements to this section: Editorial, Letters, and Previews. Two of these are now defunct as the Forums and the general web site previews have subsumed them.

Familiars - print Dragon generally had 6 sections that fell within this category; Comics, Adventure Path Info (when relevant), Volo's Guide, Dragonmarks, Sage Advice, and Class Acts.

There is no apparent reason that at least Volo's Guide (now Realmslore), Dragonmarks (now Expeditionary Dispatches), Class Acts and Sage Advice could not continue essentially as is in the digital format. And why isn't there a static "Tidings of War" article to flesh out the player information for the Scales of War AP? I also see no reason that CS questions cannot be incorporated into the Digital magazine (it might make them easier to find the answers for and cut down on different CS staff giving different responses).

With 1 feature a week, and 1 "Familiar" a week from Dragon that leaves basically 1 Dungeon Adventure and one other Dungeon article a month to hit a 3 article a week release from the 2 magazines. The fact Dungeon seems to have lost content in the grand scheme of things (Campaign Workshop articles are where?) just makes the situation a little worse.

The thing I find most difficult with the web site is actually tracking completed issues and thus the back issue archive. Where is the link to the completed issues and their ToC? The ToC for the completed issues would seem to be a prime way of advertising that particular issue/product, to encourage subscription to the magazines.
I have said in another thread, the fact that if you have to subscribe to get into the early part of the beta, you are basically paying for the beta. Thats what was misleading IMO they are going to charge for the beta when WOTC DM said they were not going to charge for the beta. Bait and switch like they did with the barbarian playtest article.

I also find it funny how WOTC did not put this update on the main DnD page like they did with the other updates. Its like they did not want the public to see what was in this report. Interesting.

You still get in on the beta without paying. There are two stages to a typical Beta.

Closed beta - where you offer the software to a limited base. They're limiting to DDXP signups, and to subscribers.

Open Beta - Open means just that - open to anyone. It's for working out the final bugs in the system.

You're not paying for the beta - unless you specifically choose to signup for DDI for the closed beta and the closed beta only. That's your perogative.
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

I'd say magazines, but since your release schedule incorporates them BOTH it really seems like a single magazine with two differently named sections

Actually with the change in the format, and the current presentation this I think is a very valid observation. In considering a DDI subscription I do not feel that I'm getting 2 magazines, I cannot subscribe to only 1 of them for example. I feel I'm getting one "DDI Magazine" and it has two parts "Dragon" and "Dungeon"

I've not held a Dragon subscription since the early 90's, but subscribed to Dungeon for the Savage Tide AP, under all currently revealed plans I could not do that with the digital magazines. Further reinforcing the 1 magazine view.

This is also essentially a further extension of how the ToC is not being utilised to create product homogeneity and identity for the magazines. Its a look once and forget option, rather than a reference point. Instead the effective ToC is more often the front page of the site, where I can track what is new to the site today, which simply further subverts the actual ToCs you provide.
When you say "Updates on M,W,F" people expect actual content updates. Not to knock your editorials and little videos, but that isn't what people first think when they see "Update." Earlier in this trial period, releases were pretty good. Usually a Dragon article and/or Dungeon adventure were released on one of the days, and not at 11:59 p.m. at that (unless I'm hallucinating and nostalgic for a nonexistent past).

I have to object to the complaints about the articles being released at 11:59PM. You aren't the only one to say this Kouk. I've seen others say the same thing.

The articles have all been released before 6PM, pacific. If you are in a different time-zone, it may look like they are being put up at the very last minute of the day, but thats simply not the case. There's no call to complain about the time something was released.

I think the better argument is that they aren't releasing actual articles. Releasing a cartoon or an editorial is fine and all, but don't make that the only release.
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I have to object to the complaints about the articles being released at 11:59PM. You aren't the only one to say this Kouk. I've seen others say the same thing.

The articles have all been released before 6PM, pacific. If you are in a different time-zone, it may look like they are being put up at the very last minute of the day, but thats simply not the case. There's no call to complain about the time something was released.

That's not entirely accurate, though? If they were released by 6PM pacific, they would have been out by 9PM Eastern, right? Not the case. I wish I could remember which ones, but I can distinctly remember at least 2 articles that came out either at or after midnight on the Monday, Wednesday, or Friday they were released.

I have a thread around here somewhere on it...lemme see if I can find it.

Edit: yeah, it's over in the "Um...new content this week?" thread - Oozes Slimes and Jello Molds came out after midnight, EST; mudbunny has also observed articles get pushed out really late for EST folks. Perhaps that's just some artifact of their CMS, but it doesn't help.

Edit: also removed the "that's not true" because I'm not accusing you of lying, it's just that we're seeing some sort of 6-hour lag, then, for some articles. They have been better lately - coming up in the evening instead of at midnight the last couple times.
I stand corrected.

Feel free to flame at your leisure.
*puts on his fire-proof undies*
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I stand corrected.

Feel free to flame at your leisure.
*puts on his fire-proof undies*

Hm? No, no flames. Sorry if my tone was harsh; I just wasn't sure if people on PST are actually always seeing them before 6PM, while the East Coast gets some sort of odd lag (and if so, that is contributing to the perception that they're squeaking by, when they might be thinking, "What are you talking about? We publish by 6PM!")
Here in Central, it's almost always up by 6-9, depending (usually 6-7).
Resident Logic Cannon
Here in Central, it's almost always up by 6-9, depending (usually 6-7).

That's very...odd. Perhaps I'm conflating a few really late releases into a bigger problem than they've been, but that is strange.
I mean no direspect when I say this, but I think your pessimism was coloring your view as you were reading it because it is pretty clearly stated in the article.

Wow. I cannot believe I missed that. I'm very pleased with this though! But, I do feel like an absolute doofus. How in the world did I miss that...?
The MWF thing is all about expectation management. People, rightly or wrongly, assume that is "content they can use" and that it will always be posted at the same time or when they are awake. WotC needs to communicate more clearly about this somehow.

If you always had updates come up at X p.m. Pacific, people would get used to the schedule and stop complaining about it, eventually. Frankly, I don't get the fuss. It's no less useful to me if I get it on Thursday than on Wednesday (other than it decreases my confidence in your ability to deliver in general).

The tone of this was a tad snarky, frankly.

And, I do think the navigation and ToC are not quite as easy as they could be. I don't have a specific suggestion right now, as I should be working....
Don't worry, Kyros. You and me can feel like doofuses (doofusi?) together!
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