4E WotC, DDI, 4E, and Hasbro: Some History - Page 10
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  1. #91
    Rule of thumb I use for system design is double the number and increase the time increment one step.

    If I think it'll take 1 day, it'll probably take 2 weeks. If I think it'll take 2 weeks, it'll probably be 4 months. It tends to break down after the months stage a bit.

    This makes me slightly conservative compared to reality and always draws stares od disbelief when I first present the estimate -- no way it could take that long! I take pains to remind everyone of my original estimate once the system does go live close to my original target.

    And this isn't because people are trying to underbid to win business. It happens to internal teams at least as much.

  2. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by Truename View Post
    More honesty would help, to be sure. But it isn't sufficient on its own. Many software teams honestly believe in their estimates. Others present a more realistic schedule, only to be ignored or shouted down.
    I just don't believe the honesty part on estimates. I might believe it from someone who's only had a year or two in the industry, but not from anyone else. What you're telling us is what you've learned over time from countless examples, right? So either estimates are dishonest or the people giving them are delusional and lying to themselves; otherwise simple experience would tell them that their estimates are way off because they always have been in the past.

    What's more, why are the more realistic estimates shouted down? Can you honestly tell me that the reason for such a social dynamic isn't because they don't want the employer to hear such estimates? Why be so vehement otherwise?

    Wouldn't it be better to develop a reputation for getting things done UNDER budget and either on-time or before time by giving conservative estimates based on realistic goals than constantly being excessively (and let's face it, how many times is it just a few days over or just a few hundred dollars difference as opposed to months and tens of thousands of dollars or more?) late and over budget?

    To me it's the difference between buying a budget Kmart TV and a Sony Bravia. In a sense it's not just the developers fault since anyone who doesn't do due diligence before committing to such outrageously inaccurate estimates is only getting what they paid for; maybe if WotC hadn't been so cheap, they wouldn't have ended up wasting hundreds of thousands (or perhaps millions?) of dollars on a project that died horribly before it had even begun.

  3. #93
    Quote Originally Posted by Kzach View Post
    <snip>

    What's more, why are the more realistic estimates shouted down? Can you honestly tell me that the reason for such a social dynamic isn't because they don't want the employer to hear such estimates? Why be so vehement otherwise?


    <snip>
    Typically, it is the employer/management/executive doing the shouting -- not a vendor or salesman.

    People, even very smart and educated people, simply have no clue as the the difficulty and complexity required to get their requirements met.

    *edit*

    And that doesn't even begin to touch the situations where those same people have already built an emotional investment in an outcome. "How dare you say it'l take 3 months?!? I told the CEO we could do it in time for his speech next week!"
    Last edited by Nagol; Sunday, 8th January, 2012 at 01:46 AM. Reason: added a bit

  4. #94
    Quote Originally Posted by OpsKT View Post
    Agreed. Encounters is not really a 'learners' style game.
    Although Encounters doesn't reach out to new players in any appreciable fashion, it does serve a few valuable functions:

    (1) It gives players a chance to play who would otherwise drop out of the hobby due to lack of a group.

    (2) It allows players to meet other players, which may allow non-Encounters groups to form.

    (3) It brings people into the local game stores, which not only helps the local game store but can also help sell auxiliary products.

    Despite its many limitations and faults, Encounters is a great program and it's great that WotC is doing it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kzach View Post
    I just don't believe the honesty part on estimates.
    That's your prerogative, of course. But we're talking about studies which include internal and private estimates which have no motivation for under-bidding the actual time (and a lot of reasons not to do so).

    The reality is that this is a phenomenon that isn't limited to software development. You can find another well-known example with authors: Finishing a novel is often the quickest and easiest part of writing the book (because you've already done the "iceberg work"; because the finish line is in sight; because it's easy to motivate yourself; because you're often revising work instead of writing a rough draft from scratch). Novelists fresh off finishing a book remember the good times of the past month and think to themselves, "If I just keep up that pace, the next novel will be a breeze."

    And then they quickly discover (and remember) the iceberg and the next book takes much longer than they estimated.

    This happens all the time, across industries, and in many different kinds of projects.

  5. #95
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    I got to watch a small buisness get it's first real computers (a driving school).

    All we wanted was a program that we would put 45 instructors into, and keep track of there scheduils... 2 hr/ 3hr/ or 4hr blocks at a time. then connect that to a database of students to cross ref witch students were in the scheduil.... we asked if as a bonus feature if it could in the database of students have a notes section and a bill section.

    We were told 3-5 months for a new program, or 3 weeks to modfy a program the computer guys already had. we went for the modfy. 3 weeks and nothing... 2 months and they were working bugs out.

    I was asked after 6 months to look at a beta of the program and try it... all it had was instructor names, blank notes fields for txt, then a second (non linked) database of customers Name/date of birth/ addresss, and a notes field with a 30 character limit.

    I told the owner of the school this would not do, he asked me to talk to the computer guys... I tried to explain that I could do what they just gave me with microsoft office, only better. I could make a database of customers in access, link it to a series of excel books that where instructor scheduils, and link it to word for printing out reports.

    I was onto a new job about 8 months after that, but when I left this program was still not functioning. I herd they did get it up and running at some point....

  6. #96
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    So as I digest all that's been written here, it seems that in 2006 the D&D team faced a quandary: find a way to have the brand generate $50+ million or risk all members of the D&D team losing their jobs.

    Is that correct?

    I'm glad I don't work there.

  7. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveMage View Post
    So as I digest all that's been written here, it seems that in 2006 the D&D team faced a quandary: find a way to have the brand generate $50+ million or risk all members of the D&D team losing their jobs.

    Is that correct?

    I'm glad I don't work there.
    Just my guess, but I would guess it was more like "Hey, here's an exciting way that we might create the best version of D&D ever AND finally solve the RPG industry's problem around revenue! It's risky, but we think it could work." It was probably very cool for many involved.

    Again, I'm just guessing. A lot of companies go through these kinds of moments at some point in their history. Given a good team, it can be a lot of fun to try something risky and huge and new. I've been fortunate to have been through such an experience. It didn't pan out in the long run, but everyone learned from it and we all are stronger for it. I don't regret any decision I made, nor that anyone below me made. Also, much of the time was very fun.

  8. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by czak View Post
    Pathfinder beginner box is not a loss leader
    I stand corrected, thanks! I assumed that, based on the logic we've heard so often that boxed sets are low on profit, and given that these two intro sets have more stuff than most, they had to be either 0 profit or negative (especially once you threw in advertising). But those quotes indicate that at least the Paizo set is not a loss. That's great news!

    Quote Originally Posted by czak View Post
    "One thing I do want to make clear. Goblinworks won't have any negative impact on Paizo. Separate company. Separate staffs."
    That one isn't so clear. Separate companies is a typical arrangement. It means that if the MMO completely fails, then the banks take all that Goblinworks owns, not what Paizo owns. That's normal. Now, perhaps Lisa is also saying that they aren't using any money from Paizo to build it, but that isn't clear from what she wrote. Someone is paying salaries, office space, and money to fuel the partnerships or technology. Maybe this is all separate loans, but even then it has a common origin (the collateral has to come from the same space, at the very least, and impacts the ability of Paizo to do the same).

  9. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Agent View Post
    While it's true that D&D continues to occupy that position by virtue of public awareness, I'm not sure we'd actually notice anything if it went away.

    The products aren't available in mainstream markets. WotC isn't advertising to non-gamers. There's no value-add happening here in terms of picking up new customers
    Seriously? Have you seen the adds for Red Box that popped up when you used Yahoo mail or Google for e-mail related to gaming? Did you see the adds when Target carried the Red Box (still does online)? Did you see the advertising of the D&D Bus at PAX and the lines of gamers that were new, young, and/or female, at PAX? Do you see the online communities that talk D&D due to the work of their community guys? How many other RPGs have authors with books like ôConfessions of a Part-Time Sorceress, A Girlĺs Guide to the D&D Gameö and "Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons"? Just those two books have landed Shelly Mazzanoble on CNN, Wired/GeekDad, Random House/Suvudu, Forbes, Gamers Daily News, Escapist, Amazon, and a ton of blogs and podcasts and radio shows. Let alone that any prominent new products (say, Dark Sun when it released, or the board games) get covered by tons of sites.

    And Encounters does make a big impact. It does come with easy-to use pregens and start at level 1 and only reach level 3 for a reason. Sure, it could be better at speaking to just intro players, but that isn't the only audience. Of the 300+ different gamers that played Encounters in just the first two Encounters seasons at my store I saw brand new players, young kids with parents, players that had not played since 1st edition / 2nd edition / 3.0 / 3.5 / Pathfinder / other RPGs, casual players, players that couldn't fit games into their busy schedule, parents that can't play on weekends, etc. Other RPGs would kill for a program like this, and the budget to run it! But, more importantly, when a player comes into the store for Encounters they get a chance to see what the store offers. They might pick up Deadlands, EclipsePhase, or even Pathfinder. If the store really is as important as Ryan Dancey / Paizo and Wizards say it is, then Wizards is a very important part of the equation.

  10. #100
    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    Seriously? Have you seen the adds for Red Box that popped up when you used Yahoo mail or Google for e-mail related to gaming?
    Targeted at existing gamers.

    Did you see the adds when Target carried the Red Box (still does online)?
    They weren't able to keep it on Target shelves for more than a few weeks and their ads were, again, targeted at existing gamers.

    Did you see the advertising of the D&D Bus at PAX and the lines of gamers that were new, young, and/or female, at PAX?
    Advertising to gamers.

    Do you see the online communities that talk D&D due to the work of their community guys?
    More existing gamers.

    Everything you've said here just ends up supporting what I said originally: The products aren't available in mainstream markets. <acronym title="Wizards of the Coast">WotC</acronym> isn't advertising to non-gamers. There's no value-add happening here in terms of picking up new gamers.

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