I'm going to be honest, I really don't think you VCL guys can get important things changed. You guys do a lot of helpful things and get little things changed but I highly doubt personally one of you could do something like try to get articles improved on the site. In general I've gotten the feeling for a few years now that WotC really doesn't listen to what we, the fan, wants. I know being polite with people will get you a long way but at some point you need to get fed up and say what's wrong with everything because being nice just doesn't work anymore.
I was going to respond directly to the thread, but thought that it would take long enough for me to compose a decent response (and also to pimp out my profile to get more friends.)1
Before I go any further, let me just go over what, in my mind, VCLs do.
VCLs serve two masters
We serve the community, in that we are responsible for bringing forth the opinions and feelings of the community to the inboxes of WotC, and explain it in a manner that makes sense. Note that whether or not the VCL agrees with the point of view or not makes no difference. If it is something that concerns the community, your VCL should be bringing it forward.
We serve WotC, in that we are expected to assist WotC in the release of new programs to the community. We are to help WotC communicate their intentions to the community and tell them (WotC) what the community is saying.
We act as guides to people new to the forums.
We ensure that posts are put in the right place and, when required, move them to the appropriate place.
We help to keep a nice, friendly atmosphere in the forums.
We make annoying posts telling people to "play nice" (or some other variation of that...)
So, as stated above, the poster doesn't feel that we, as VCLs can directly effect major change at WotC. I have to both agree and disagree with this statement.
Agree We as VCLs are very limited in our powers. We do not have the ability to ban anyone, give warnings to anyone or anything cool like that. We do not even have, despite assurances from WotC CM that it is coming "real soon now", the ability to shock people through the intartuoobies. Despite having a direct line to WotC CM (which is not a lie, I suspect that CM chats with most VCLs via IM at least once or twice a week, even if it just to say "Hi, how was your weekend?"), we are not massive agents for change. We do not have the ability to get things on the "to do" list , nor do we have the ability to get people reprimanded/fired/promoted/etc. Things like that are solely within the realm of WotC to decide.
Disagree As VCLs, we do have one amazing power. We can collect the ideas and opinions of the forums and present them to WotC. While some people may scoff at this, it is something that is not to be taken lightly. WotC picks the VCLs because of their familiarity with the forums and forum issues and the ability to present things in the forums to WotC CM (who then pass it up to the various brands). This results in VCLs weeding out all of the "Me toos" and No True Scotsman arguments and saving CM a lot of time and effort. Time and effort which they can spend much more effectively advocating for us. Of course, this is much more effective when the arguments behind the position are well-written and have a basis in something other than emotion and rage.
I have been VCL for the DDI forums since shortly after DDI was announced. I started, back on the old GleeMax site, a blog where I provided daily updates and links to the information that was being released about the Digital Initiative. From there, I started getting direct links provided to me by Gamer_Zer0 and then Solice. That also turned into DDI getting their own forums and VCL. As 4E went live (and beforehand) there were a lot of discussions on how things were "going to be done" by WotC. Some of which were well-received by the forum goers, some of which were not. There are a couple of things that were announced by WotC that were not well-received by the forum goers.
One of these things was the use on digital miniatures on the Digital Game table.3The original plan was to have people pay for each copy that they wanted to use. Need 4 orcs?? Buy 4 orcs. I started a "Directed Discussion"2 thread in the forum about it to give people a place to discuss it free from flames and arguing.. There were a lot of opinions presented, all the majority of them well-written and passionate. In addition to saying why they didn't like WotCs idea, they gave reasons why it was bad and other possible options. WotC eventually changed their minds and the current plan is to have subscribers getting unlimited copies of digital miniatures. (They did allow for the possibility of special miniatures or adventure packs costing money, however.)
Another thing that occurred that I (and the rest of the DDI CM team are proud of) is the increased communication from the DDI dev team that we have achieved. It didn't come overnight. It took about 6-9 months of the DDI Cm team pointing out situations where a simple post or comment by a DDI dev resulted in interesting discussion and feelings of "not being ignored" to arise. Eventually, the message got passed on enough times that WotC is now posting more often to the DDI forums, to the appreciation of the forum-goers.
So the point of what I was trying to say is that while we VCLs cannot directly effect change, we are the best way for the users to effect change. WotC is not stupid. They know that they live or die by selling things to the community. And if the community comes forward with well-written arguments that are passionate, yet avoid personal attacks, chances are very good that they will consider the argument. It does not mean that they will always do what we, the forum users, think is the best thing to do, but they will read and consider it.
1 - Why yes, I am a bit of an attention-whore online. Why do you ask?? 2 - A directed discussion thread is one where I work harder to keep the topic of the thread focused. Topic drift is combated quite vigorously and the threads are usually quite productive. 3 - Note, any attempt to turn the responses on this blog into a flamewar on the digital game table and how WotC "lied" will be deleted. You have been warned.
Rob, you and Shannon are about to exit one stage of your life and enter another. Your daughter is due this december. In a surprising burst of long-range planning, I have decided to put together some tips and tricks for you as you enter fatherhood.
Advice on Advice The following people will, now that you are going to/have had a child, will attempt to give you advice:
Anyone who has had kids
Anyone who is an Aunt or Uncle
Anyone who has friends with kids
Anyone who has seen a TV show or listened to the radio where someone with kids talked about raising their kids
People who can move air over their vocal cords and make noise.
Actual intelligent noise is not actually required
Keep the following thoughts in mind when you are listening to their advice:
As tempting as it is to kill the person who has offered you the three thousandth piece of advice on how to properly change a diaper, do not. Your child needs a father and mother.
They are doing it not because they feel that you are doing a bad job, or that they feel that you need help. Rather, they are doing it because they *want* to help. It is a basic part of the human condition to try to help or offer advice.
Ignore what you want. (Even this) In the end, it all comes down to three people. You, Shannon, and the baby. You three need to feel comfortable with what is going on. Feel free to throw the advice that you don't feel comfortable with right out the window.
So, keeping the above in mind when reading this (and if you ever start to feel offended, go read # 2 again until the feeling passes), here are some tips and tricks that I have come up with over the past 4 years:
Childbirth is a wonderful, wonderful moment. At the same time, it is one of the most terrifying things that you will ever go through. Shannon will be in a lot of pain (unless she gets an epidural), will be doing a metric butt-load of work, and all you can do is stand back and provide support. You will probably get yelled at, you will probably get pushed aside, you may feel ignored at times. This is to be expected. You are nothing more than a secondary (at best) actor in this drama. This is the time for Shannon to be the centre of attention.
Even in this, enlightened day and age, it is still considered unacceptable for guys to cry. Screw that idea. The birth of a child is the perfect time to cry. Don't be afraid to. I was crying like a baby for the birth of both Emilie and Sofia.
Bring a camera. Shannon may tell you that she doesn't want a picture after the has gone through labour. Ignore her. The picture of Shannon, holding your newborn child after labour is one of the most beautiful pictures that can ever be taken.
Bring a cellphone. As soon as your spawn...errr....child is born, start making phone calls and sending text messages. This is one time that how early in the morning or late at night it is doesn't matter.
Bring food to eat. Depending on how smoothly the labour goes, you may be in the delivery room for hours. You may not have a chance to go grab something. Small snacks, granola bars, etc, will save your life.
Your child is now born, and your job has begun. It is a job that will last you for the rest of your life. Enjoy it. There are people that find pleasure in serving others. You must become one of those people. For the next XX years (where XX is a number that is large), you will be serving this little being. You will be at its beck and call, at all hours of the day.
Find pleasure in the little things: The first smile, the first time you get looked at, the first time they spit up.
Kids are like guns, you never point them at people. Never, ever change a child, or take the safety...errr...diaper off of the child while standing in the line of fire (between the legs). Doing so increase dramatically the likelihood that you will get pooped or peed upon.
This one is aimed at Shannon more than you, but for the first couple of weeks, when the child is sleeping, Shannon should be sleeping. The cleanliness of the house, laundry, etc, that is all of secondary importance. Being a mother is not easy.
Taking care of a child isn't easy. Anyone who says it is easy is the exception that proves the rule. You know the experiences with Emilie (whom I had to walk for 45 minutes a night to get her to go to sleep) and Sofia (who threw up pretty much constantly for the first 12 months). Don't try to be a superman (or woman) and do it on your own. Ask for help. You have mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. Your child is an excellent source of emotional blackmail to use on them. You have friends with kids who are more than willing to do it for free. Come over, and you have someone who has been there, done that, and will change the diapers for you. Asking for help does not make you weak, it means that you are both wise enough to know your limitations, and that you want the best for your child.
Learn to love naps. When Emilie and Sofia were born, we would be going to the in-laws place for supper every weekend. Immediately after supper, I would go down to the basement and nap for an hour or two. An hour-or two of sleep for me made the upcoming week of sleeplessness easier to face.
Don't think. Sometimes with a child, all you need to do is react. Change the diaper. Grab the soother. Rock the rocker. Swing the swinger-thing. That sort. If you stop and actually think of the things that you need to do, you will start to get overwhelmed.
There will be times when you will ask yourself "I wonder what kindof trade-in value a screaming 3-month old has." That also is normal. It will pass. Learn to look at things like that with a sense of humor.
Having a child is a great excuse for when you are late. "The baby threw up." "The baby was asleep and we didn't want to wake her." "The baby wanted to finish watching Destroyed in Seconds on the Discovery Channel".
Here are some thoughts and lies that the universe tells you, that you only find out after you have a child:
The first lie - Matter cannot be created or destroyed. You will discover just how much of a lie when you start changing diapers. Your child will drink 2 ounces of milk (or breast formula, or whatever), and will proceed to spit up 2 ounces, pee 3 ounces and poo 4 ounces.
The second lie - Humans cannot absorb food through the skin. You only discover this one once your child starts eating "mush".
The third lie - Humans need 8 hours of sleep a day. You will discover this one for the next several years, when you add up the sleep that you have gotten over a couple of days, and discover that it you can do so on your fingers.
This is a big one. There is a lot of pressure out there to breastfeed. "It is natural" "It provides the best health benefit to the baby" "It promotes bonding". All that is true, but they leave out one very, very important point. Breastfeeding is, unless you are lucky, not easy. Your daughter will not know what she is supposed to do. It may take a while for the baby to latch on.
Develop a routine for the evening. Routines help you, they help Shannon, they will help your child. Have a comfortable chair somewhere for Shannon to sit in. Make sure that all of the stuff that she will need to breastfeed is nearby so that once she is installed and ready to go, she doesn't need to move. Bring her something to drink and maybe something light to snack on if she wants. With Gen, when our daughters would wake up, I would go change the diaper while Gen got ready. I would help install the baby, and then nap on the sofa next to Gen. When it was time to change sides, I would wake up, change sides and then nap again. I would then put the baby back in the crib when feeding was over. Your plan may differ.
Consider having some formula on hand, just in case. Once your daughter starts screaming for food, it is not the time to teach her how to latch on to the nipple and start suckling. An occasional bottle will not, no matter what other people say, harm your daughter. And if it means that Shannon can take a nap a bit longer, go for it.
There are lots of parenting books out there. A quick look through Google or any bookstore will tell you that. Read them if you want, but keep this in mind. People had and raised kids for thousands and thousands of years without books. Don't feel guilted into reading them, nor should you feel worried if you try the things in the books and they don't work. Don't worry if your daughter doesn't act the way that she is "supposed to act". She hasn't read the books yet. Anyone who has had kids will tell you variations of the same thing: You need to find what works for you, Shannon and your child, and go from there.
So, based on some discussions offline, as well as a great comment (Hi Dieffenbachj!!) on my previous blog post, I have decided that it will be infinitely simpler for me to start with a pre-existing campaign world. So, seeing as how today is payday, I am going to drop by my FLGS to see if they have the Eberron 4E books in stock. My FLGS is, to be more precise, a not-so friendly GS, being much more concerned that their Magic: The Gathering games/trading sessions not be inerrupted by something as trivial as people wanting to spend money.
Do I use an official Campaign setting (like Eberron), or do I make one myself?
Right now, I am leaning towards using an official campaign setting, if only for the maps and information that is available. I will probably use Eberron, if only because the theme of dragons and draconic prophecy runs rampant through the setting.
I am thinking of having the undead dragon attempting to forge a pact with Orcus be a part of a branch (real or imagined, I haven't decided yet, although I am leaning towards real) of the prophecy that most dragons (read, alive, sane dragons) are working towards avoiding. Something about extinction of all live on the planet being bad...
So for a while now, I have been thinking of writing up and plotting out a campaign. Full length, from 1-30, but for the life of me, I just couldn't figure out the overall plot.
One of the things that I knew I wanted was dragons. Dragons are cool, and the draconic template is something that I can see myself applying to lots and lots of monsters. But while dragons were cool, it seemed a little bland. Dragons are a dime a dozen, to be honest, and I wanted it to be more than that.
And then I watched the trailer for Guild Wars 2, and it all became clear in my mind.
A Dracolich, teaming up with Orcus to try to take over the world.
The heroic levels will start off with the heroes investigating some undead outbreaks that will eventually lead to a cult of Orcus. Scattered amongst the battles will be some dragons and various draconic creatures. The climactic battle for this level will result in them taking on the upper levels of a cult of Orcus for the region in which they are located.
Paragon level will have them discover a link between the cult of Orcus and a draconic cult. 1 They will eventually come to realize that the draconic cult is an undead draconic cult, and that the dracolich involved worships not Tiamat, but Orcus. Sometime around the mid-upper paragon levels, they will run across some people who worship Bahamut who are also investigating this. They will be pretty aloof and not want help from the heroes. However, people working for Tiamat, who are also trying to stop this (as some dragons are no longer worshipping Tiamat, but are worshipping Orcus) are more than willing to work with and help the heroes.
Epic levels will involve them working their way through the upper levels of the draconic cult. By the mid levels, they will be reaching the head of the draconic cult, a dracolich. When they deal with the dracolich, they will find themselves having to deal with some of the upper agents of Orcus who are, to put it mildly, not happy at all with what has transpired. The penultimate encounter will be between the heroes and Orcus, with the heroes possibly aided by an aspect of Tiamat, who may turn on them just as they defeat Orcus, so that Tiamat can take Orcus' power for herself.
If anyone has any advice, suggestions or ideas to help me flesh it out, feel free to chime in!!
1 - I need to dig through the FR Campaign setting for some info on this, and probably also get my grubby little paws on a copy of the Eberron CS to see if there are any ready-made cults in there)