Kate Welch is WotC's New D&D Designer
  • Kate Welch is WotC's New D&D Designer


    WotC has a brand new D&D designer, and it's Kate Welch! She plays Rosie Beestinger, the Lightfoot Halfing Monk in Acquisitions Inc's "C Team". She starts work on February 2nd. That's all I know for the moment, but more info if I hear it!







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    Comments 256 Comments
    1. gyor's Avatar
      gyor -
      Congratulations, does anyone know what she will be working on?
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Thank you for the update!
    1. Istbor -
      Seems like a good edition given the direction of 5e so far. I like her thoughts on character creation/roleplay.
    1. lyle.spade's Avatar
      lyle.spade -
      Cool. She seems sharp and interesting, if the video is any indication - her idea about character type choice makes a lot of sense.
    1. Sacrosanct's Avatar
      Sacrosanct -
      I'm afraid I don't really know that much about her. But Congratulations to her! I wish her the best!
    1. ccooke's Avatar
      ccooke -
      So, wait. The D&D team is growing now? I thought it only ever shrunk or maintained size ;-)

      More seriously, this is great news. A little quick googling suggests she'll be an asset.
    1. darjr's Avatar
      darjr -
      Awesome! I also wonder what they’ll work on first?

      And SPEECH!
    1. Sacrosanct's Avatar
      Sacrosanct -
      Quote Originally Posted by ccooke View Post

      More seriously, this is great news. A little quick googling suggests she'll be an asset.
      She seems to have a lot of experience in illustration and web design, but I can't find any experience with actual game design. I'm assuming her web design experience gives her some experience with requirements, test scenarios, use cases, etc--all things critical for anyone doing any sort of design work.
    1. SolidPlatonic's Avatar
      SolidPlatonic -
      This is great news!
    1. gyor's Avatar
      gyor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sacrosanct View Post
      She seems to have a lot of experience in illustration and web design, but I can't find any experience with actual game design. I'm assuming her web design experience gives her some experience with requirements, test scenarios, use cases, etc--all things critical for anyone doing any sort of design work.
      I have to admit, the lack of previous RPG design experience is concerning, I mean even some DMguild products would be nice going in, just so we have a better idea of her abilities. I just want a taste so I know what to expect from her.

      Didn't they looking for someone for designing settings or something? Maybe that is what she will do?
    1. ccooke's Avatar
      ccooke -
      Quote Originally Posted by gyor View Post
      I have to admit, the lack of previous RPG design experience is concerning, I mean even some DMguild products would be nice going in, just so we have a better idea of her abilities. I just want a taste so I know what to expect from her.

      Didn't they looking for someone for designing settings or something? Maybe that is what she will do?
      There are also a few comments about character creation and other things tangential to design that I thought very promising. But this is based on a quick google and reading only a couple of things that came up. Good material that shows real thought into how people have fun with their characters, though.

      This is short, but I like the approach: https://www.dndbeyond.com/posts/36-t...ams-kate-welch (edited to add: And it appears to be a transcript of the video linked above, which I can't watch because I'm still in the office :-))
    1. DEFCON 1's Avatar
      DEFCON 1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by gyor View Post
      I have to admit, the lack of previous RPG design experience is concerning, I mean even some DMguild products would be nice going in, just so we have a better idea of her abilities. I just want a taste so I know what to expect from her.

      Didn't they looking for someone for designing settings or something? Maybe that is what she will do?
      Since the job appeared to be for design rather than development... it sounds like it could be more about coming up with ideas rather than trying to develop them into a balanced game form. Which is where a strong illustration background could be useful.

      It's the same way I see Alan Lee and John Howe worked for the Lords of the Rings movies. They basically did nothing but just sketch and design all day, and then Peter Jackson took the ideas of theirs that he liked and passed them on to the developers who had to figure out "Okay, so we have these elvish weapon styles, how do make these into practical props?"

      A lot of independent game designers nowadays end up doing everything on their own for their own independent projects... design the game, develop the game, balance the game, playtest the game, lay out the game, publish the game, market the game etc. etc. But for this particular job WotC had... they didn't need someone skilled at all of those facets necessarily, so being a DMs Guild published designer or Guild Adept might not have been necessary to get the job?

      It also probably didn't hurt that Kate was already living in Seattle and wouldn't have to relocate.
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Quote Originally Posted by gyor View Post
      I have to admit, the lack of previous RPG design experience is concerning, I mean even some DMguild products would be nice going in, just so we have a better idea of her abilities. I just want a taste so I know what to expect from her.

      Didn't they looking for someone for designing settings or something? Maybe that is what she will do?
      The job rec gave an example of a new setting book as the sort of project the new employee might do. Basically, she's in to lead a book the way that Crawford or Perkins do currently.

      Sent from my [device_name] using EN World mobile app
    1. Mathilda's Avatar
      Mathilda -
      I found the video a bit disconcerting due to her comments. In my opinion, she plays the game on a fringe, that fringe being heavy roleplay. There is nothing wrong with that if you can find a group of like-minded individuals that enjoy the game like you do.

      However, from a centrist viewpoint, more combat than once every 4 sessions would be middle ground lending itself to probably some sort of combat every game session in most groups. As a game designer, you have to consider the full audience of the game and not one element that you are most interested in.

      There is no evidence currently that supports she does not understand the role of combat in the game but I am reasonably sure based on comments within the video she does not understand extreme combat or powergaming which is on the other end of the spectrum of players that she is most comfortable playing at. Again as a game designer, she needs to address the powergamer needs as well as the heavy roleplayer
    1. Sacrosanct's Avatar
      Sacrosanct -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mathilda View Post
      Again as a game designer, she needs to address the powergamer needs as well as the heavy roleplayer
      She doesn't. But hopefully someone on the team has experience there to address them in the final product (assuming power gamers are even in scope of their target demographic for the product, which isn't a given). Seeing as how she's just a member of a team, it's not fair to expect her to focus on areas outside of her expertise. I doubt they were looking for a general jack of all trades designer, but had a specific specialization in mind. I'm assuming she fit that specialization otherwise why hire her? So she only "needs" to address those areas in which she was hired.
    1. darjr's Avatar
      darjr -
      Or maybe they have enough folks who are good at the power gamer thing.
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mathilda View Post
      I found the video a bit disconcerting due to her comments. In my opinion, she plays the game on a fringe, that fringe being heavy roleplay. There is nothing wrong with that if you can find a group of like-minded individuals that enjoy the game like you do.

      However, from a centrist viewpoint, more combat than once every 4 sessions would be middle ground lending itself to probably some sort of combat every game session in most groups. As a game designer, you have to consider the full audience of the game and not one element that you are most interested in.

      There is no evidence currently that supports she does not understand the role of combat in the game but I am reasonably sure based on comments within the video she does not understand extreme combat or powergaming which is on the other end of the spectrum of players that she is most comfortable playing at. Again as a game designer, she needs to address the powergamer needs as well as the heavy roleplayer
      Well, but are "powergame" the target audience for WotC..?

      Sent from my [device_name] using EN World mobile app
    1. ad_hoc's Avatar
      ad_hoc -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mathilda View Post
      There is no evidence currently that supports she does not understand the role of combat in the game but I am reasonably sure based on comments within the video she does not understand extreme combat or powergaming which is on the other end of the spectrum of players that she is most comfortable playing at. Again as a game designer, she needs to address the powergamer needs as well as the heavy roleplayer
      I don't think so.

      I am willing to bet that of the over 10 million D&D players, only a small number are playing on the extreme combat/powergaming end of things.

      Not only do I think there are few such players, but there are far better games for their needs. Catering to them will only tank sales. 5e has done very well with its published adventures that focus on the 3 pillars of play.
    1. The-Magic-Sword's Avatar
      The-Magic-Sword -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mathilda View Post
      I found the video a bit disconcerting due to her comments. In my opinion, she plays the game on a fringe, that fringe being heavy roleplay. There is nothing wrong with that if you can find a group of like-minded individuals that enjoy the game like you do.

      However, from a centrist viewpoint, more combat than once every 4 sessions would be middle ground lending itself to probably some sort of combat every game session in most groups. As a game designer, you have to consider the full audience of the game and not one element that you are most interested in.

      There is no evidence currently that supports she does not understand the role of combat in the game but I am reasonably sure based on comments within the video she does not understand extreme combat or powergaming which is on the other end of the spectrum of players that she is most comfortable playing at. Again as a game designer, she needs to address the powergamer needs as well as the heavy roleplayer
      While it's important that the designers of DND address the mechanical side of the game and the people that enjoy it (I love me some char op and build planning), if anything I think it's the other way around and the people who play it for primarily mechanical reasons are the fringe. Given the boom that surrounds 5e, it's tilt away from that, and the success of streams like Critical Role and DCA which are decidedly roleplay oriented, I think it's a pretty safe bet. I'm sure she'll be fine for the mechanical side of the game as well, she discusses the combat role of her character and shows an awareness of the mechanical side of the game, ergo what she mentioned about Way of the Open Palm being the optimized monk and the monk's role in combat and such, but either way I wouldn't be worried, the other members of the team have been gaming for decades and are more than capable of addressing our needs in that respect- off the top of my head I recall Mearls being fairly prominent in 4e which was a very tactical edition, Perkins is a legend, and Crawford has always been excellent.

      Additional info: Evidently she worked at arenanet on Guild Wars 2 stuff, which is pretty cool, from her linkedin:

      Web/UI Designer, Jan 2011-Jan 2012
      - Designed new sites and assets for GuildWars.com and GuildWars2.com.
      - Designed the UX and UI for features for the Extended Experience team, including the in-game Trading Post and Currency Exchange.

      Web/UI Lead, Extended Experience, Feb 2012-Sep 2012
      - Oversaw a complete redesign of GuildWars2.com.
      - Designed the beta registration and purchasing experiences for GuildWars2.com, with an emphasis on low barrier to entry and utter simplicity. This included the design for a dxdiag collection tool to keep manual input to a minimum and speed players through the beta signup process. This effort contributed to over a million successful beta registrations.
      - Designed several features, including the Guild Wars 2 launcher and the mobile authenticator.
      - Worked with a small team to design the box art and packaging design for every element of the standard & collector's editions of Guild Wars 2, as well as provide art direction for the Brady strategy guide for Guild Wars 2.

      UI Designer, Sep 2012-Sep 2014
      - Created the UX and UI of many in-game features, from initial wireframes to final deliverables.
      - Improved and upgraded many existing features as the game evolved.

      Host, "Points of Interest", June 2014-Sep 2014
      - Hosted a regular 30-minute livestream show on Twitch, spearheaded by the Content Marketing team, to spotlight developers in the company and discuss the PvE (player vs environment) and story side of Guild Wars 2.

      and also worked in Game development for Amazon Game studios:

      - Currently lead the vision, direction, and execution of the user experience & interface for the upcoming PC game Crucible.
      - Responsible for delivery of assets varying from high-level documentation to individual assets, including wireframes, interactive prototypes, and illustration.
      - Successfully drove an effort to review & re-engineer the UI solution for Crucible to orient around HTML/CSS/JavaScript-based technology.
      - Organized user testing with internal & external test groups to gather, triage, and address feedback. Oversaw the development, launch, and management of private forums to engage early members of the test community.
      - Collaborate with every member of the Crucible team, user researchers, and several international outsourcing firms, with a eye toward rapid interactive prototyping.

      Yup, that'll do it for qualification, especially those last two points- 5e is very playtest driven and it's been mentioned that they're taking a much more iterative approach based off feedback. I can also attest as a huge fan of guild wars, that if her job involves the creative vision for what the layout of various books and the like are going to be like, then we're gonna get some great looking books- if she was brought on to work on setting guides as some people have been speculating, this is going to be amazing and result in some very nice products. Also if she has any influence over the user experience side of the rules, ditto, because all the stuff she worked on that I've taken part in is great, and user friendly.
    1. Aebir-Toril's Avatar
      Aebir-Toril -
      Glad she's joining the team.
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