4E WotC, DDI, 4E, and Hasbro: Some History - Page 8
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  1. #71
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Yeah, but one can see how these money were used to fuel the production pipeline. Books and audio CDs are tangible, as are their production methods and its costs.

    Still what we are talking about here is development of digital tools. Costs can vary so much. Is there some method to control the costs and the progress of the process? The production value of the effort and the actual costs of your investment?
    Last edited by xechnao; Saturday, 7th January, 2012 at 02:16 AM.

  2. #72
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Gainesville, FL
    Quote Originally Posted by Aberzanzorax View Post
    November 22, 2010 Virtual tabletop initial, closed beta
    It's been in beta for OVER A YEAR?!?!

    I knew it had been a while, but wow....

  3. #73
    It's in open Beta now, anyone with a DDI sub can use it.

  4. #74
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Quote Originally Posted by DaveMage View Post
    It's been in beta for OVER A YEAR?!?!

    I knew it had been a while, but wow....
    A year isn't that unusual for a professional software company.

    WotC is anything but.

  5. #75
    Quote Originally Posted by Kzach View Post
    WotC: Hi.

    Developer: Hi.

    WotC: We want X, Y & Z for A dollars to be delivered by B time. Can you do it?

    Developer: Of course we can! GIMME GIMME GIMME! Yay! We're rich! Whooo!

    WotC: Umm... B time has arrived... err... where's our stuff?

    Developer: Erm... we spent all that money you gave us on whores and ale... they're very time-consuming activities!
    Cheap, fast, good. Pick 2. If you are lucky.

    And in case anyone thinks that I am being unfair to 4e about this... remember Fluid and e-Tools?

    Code Monkey eventually got it working, but damn.... WotC does not have a good history there.

    The Auld Grump

  6. #76
    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post

    It is widely held that both the Red Box and Pathfinder intro set are sold below their cost, on purpose. is this good? It depends on who you ask. Some hold that attracting new players is vital. Others say they learn just fine with core rule books.

    We can look at the decision to start a Pathfinder MMO as a separate entity, but with Paizo money, staff, and resources rather than licensing to a different company. For just $100,000 you too can be part of this. Genius or folly? Only time will tell.
    Pathfinder beginner box is not a loss leader: [Poll] Are you interested in the Pathfinder Beginner Box as a seperate line? [Archive] - RPGnet Forums

    Erik Mona
    10-25-2011, 06:55 PM

    We plan to make a profit on the Beginner Box. While we have a slightly lower profit margin on this product to keep the costs down and pack as much awesome stuff in there as possible, we are not intending to lose money on it, and are not treating it as a loss leader. Sure, we justified some of the margin we sacrificed by telling ourselves that this will bring more people to our game, but we emphatically do not make products we suspect will lose us money.

    --Erik Mona
    Paizo Publishing"

    Likewise with the 'paizo money'. I don't think Lisa is going to kill the goose that laid golden eggs.


    Lisa Stevens (CEO):

    "One thing I do want to make clear. Goblinworks won't have any negative impact on Paizo. Separate company. Separate staffs. Paizo is going to stay focused on what we do best which is making awesome pen and paper RPG products. Goblinworks will focus on the MMO. This is just like our relationship with Reaper or WizKids or any other licensor. Now if this is successful, it will impact Paizo is a positive way, which is good. But we won't have a lot of skin in the game. Our money is going back into making awesome products for you guys."
    Last edited by czak; Saturday, 7th January, 2012 at 08:07 AM.

  7. #77
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Eh. I think the best chance at really good electronic tools are an unrelated party that thinks they can produce a fully integrated product that works with today's technologies, which can be used for a large variety of games.

    Maybe something that can be hooked up to the kinect and the surface for nearly-in-person games.

    Very likely for the purposes of generic board games.

  8. #78
    Quote Originally Posted by OpsKT View Post
    As pointed out in between here and your original post, because it is the gateway brand/drug.
    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: D&D is currently the game you're most likely to start with because (a) it has the most players and (b) because you might google the name.

    D&D will probably maintain that position for a long time if it remains in print. Is Hasbro mothballs the brand, though? The player network will shift (probably in the direction it's already shifting) and the google searches will start pointing people at alternatives.

    (Don't get me wrong: I'd love it if WotC was actually reaching out to new players in some meaningful and substantial way. But they aren't.)

  9. #79
    Quote Originally Posted by xechnao View Post
    I wonder where these money ended.

    Can someone that has experience with this kind of business present us with a plausible scenario?
    Quote Originally Posted by xechnao View Post
    I mean, don't they exist some progress controlling methods regarding the development of software, especially for projects like that? What is usually happening in practice? It is this matter that puzzles me the most, yet this is not my field of knowledge, at all.
    Quote Originally Posted by xechnao View Post
    Still what we are talking about here is development of digital tools. Costs can vary so much. Is there some method to control the costs and the progress of the process? The production value of the effort and the actual costs of your investment?
    This is my field. (Companies hire me to teach them how to organize and manage software development teams.)

    The biggest issue is that software is intangible. It's like the proverbial iceberg; for the 10% of the software you can see, there's 90% more required to make that work. And software development is a huge amount of work. Polished, complete products typically take 5 or more people working for months (at least) or years. Big products take much more than that.

    But nobody, not even programmers, are good at estimating how much work software development requires. Remember, it's an iceberg. In one study, 90% of projects took longer than the programmers estimated, even though they updated their estimates as work progressed*. Half of them took more than twice as long. These results are typical.


    So even the best-meaning software team has a good chance of taking more than twice as long as their good-faith estimate.

    Now for the second-biggest issue. The people hiring software teams don't understand how costly and risky software development is. When they get a schedule estimate, they think of the 10% they can see, and respond, "How it could possibly take so long?" (Remember, this is a reaction to an estimate that's almost certainly too optimistic already.) And then they put pressure on the team to go faster.

    Programmers respond to the pressure by cutting corners. Here's the thing, though. The way you cut corners in software development is to be sloppy in the way you design and write source code. But sloppiness creates bugs and makes the source code harder to understand. This is called "technical debt." The net result is that if you do this for more than a handful of weeks, you actually end up taking longer than you would have if you had just tried to keep things clean.

    They also respond to the pressure by focusing on the 10% of the code you can see (such as the 3D VTT demo shown when 4e was released) and not the 90% required to make it work for real. This shows progress to the business folks, but creates unrealistic expectations about how long things will actually take.

    So here's how honest, well-meaning people create software debacles. This happens all the frikkin' time.

    1. Company asks software team for some software, and asks how long it will take, so they can plan their budget, marketing, and so forth.

    2. Software team creates an estimate that's 2-4x too low. They think they need 9 months and they actually need 2 years.

    3. Company flips out and says 9 months is too long and too expensive. "My nephew could do this in two weeks in his spare time." Demands that the software be done cheaper and quicker.

    4. Software team caves and says they'll be done sooner. After all, their estimate is just an educated guess; there's no proof, and maybe they actually will be done sooner.

    5. Team works on the 10% people can see first, to establish good will and show progress. It's also the most fun part to write.

    6. Company is overjoyed at rapid progress and happily signs checks. "I knew they were sandbagging us with that nine-month estimate."

    7. Team starts working on the remaining 90%. Company starts pressuring for more results. "You've already shown us everything working, what's taking so long?" Checks signed less happily.

    8. Team takes shortcuts, introduces bugs. Work slows down. Strings company along with increasingly desperate promises of progress.

    9. Company gets more and more impatient and eventually demands to see the actual software, not the demo they got over a year ago.

    10. Actual software fails in a big, spectacular way. It's riddled with bugs, doesn't work on the public Internet, and completely fails to protect company's IP. Furthermore, the source code is so badly written it's pretty much impossible to recover.

    11. Product is cancelled, team fired, and work starts over.

    There are ways of preventing this; the set of approaches I use are called "Agile software development," but it's by no means easy and most software teams don't even know they don't know enough.

  10. #80
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by Truename View Post
    Company is overjoyed at rapid progress and happily signs checks.
    How much does software teams cost (a usual normal-a usual high)? Are they paid by month?

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