D&D Ex-WotC Employees Weigh in on the No M:tG RPG Debate
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  1. #1
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    Ex-WotC Employees Weigh in on the No M:tG RPG Debate

    From the front page.

    I mentioned Ryan Dancey's Reddit comments about why there was no M:tG RPG a couple of days ago. That story isn't over yet, though; this thread on Ryan Dancey's Facebook page exploded with information as ex-WotC employees (including brand managers, designers, and more) added their thoughts. The thread is public, and has been shared publicly, so you can read it yourself, but here are some of the highlights.

    • RPG designer John Wick kicks off the discussion by reminding folks that the M:tG team and the D&D team couldn't agree on how the profits for such a game should be divided.
    • Mike Selinker refers to a pile of "doomed products" - work put in on products (he mentions 28 products "imploding" in an 8 month time period and that only 20% of licensed or cross-branded products actually made it to market) which never got produced. The D&D/M:tG crossover was restarted multiple times.
    • Other potential crossovers which suffered similar fates included a line of Magic miniatures. Distributors were gathered for the announcement; and then Dreamblade was announced instead to a "collective sigh".
    • Dancey mentions that he and Keith Strohm always tried to "kill" products early if they were likely to not make production, although wasn't always successful.
    • Joseph Hauck confirms that neither the head of the D&D brand nor the head of the Magic brand thought that the project should move forward, and yet were overruled, which meant that people still worked on the project for a time until the cancellation and observes that "corporate culture, clear roles and responsibilities (including decision making) and accountability are the responsibility of the CEO", and that these decisions caused the loss of valued employees.
    • Lisa Stevens (currently Paizo's CEO) confirms that she was tasked with starting up a M:tG RPG three times, only to have it cancelled each time, mainly by the Magic side.
    • The licensing issues were more widespread, though - Anthony Valterra (former brand manager) talks of frustration when they could not put out the Dune product or do a Star Trek product or do a Harry Potter product all because of licensing issues beyond their control, and reflects on being handed a failing project that he had already recommended be killed - apparently the phrase "sunk costs" was used a lot. Dancey mentions losing the Harry Potter card game rights, and losing corporate mandates for Pokemon RPGs.
    • There appears to be an undercurrent of dissatisfaction at how folks were treated. Ron Richardson says "We were good at lots of things at Wizards, treating each other well wasn't one of them" and that "decisions were made more difficult than they had to be and folk weren't as respected as they should have been"; and Mike Selinker says "R&D members was treated extremely cavalierly by Brand team members" and refers to "the low value placed on designers". Additionally, Lisa Stevens comments on layoffs that doomed any team that wasn't a TCG one.

    All in all, it doesn't point to a happy environment at WotC at the time. This was all a decade ago, of course, and WotC has a very different lineup these days.
    Last edited by Morrus; Thursday, 7th November, 2013 at 03:51 AM.

  2. #2
    Be interesting to read the 4E development dirt.

  3. #3
    Eye see you little fishie
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    Not one but two Magic RPGs were developed, only the second was a D&D one. If they still have them maybe an easy peasy PDF release????

  4. #4
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    Woof. The corporate culture over there a few years back sounds pretty toxic. Nothin' like feeling your opinion is irrelevant to make you question your career choices!
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    I can understand that it sucks when a product gets canceled, particularly when you've been working on it. But I have to say, that's part of the nature of R&D. If you're going to call yourself R&D, you have to realize that sometimes that research and development effort is speculative and doesn't pan out. That's why companies receive tax breaks based on the amount of R&D they do as a proportion of their overall work. Though I think one generally hopes that R&D failures are more because of technical issues and external factors like license deals falling through rather than slow decision-making and poor intrabusiness communication.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Zardnaar View Post
    Be interesting to read the 4E development dirt.
    It does sound like Rouse is itching to talk.

  7. #7
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    Wow. That's all pretty shocking stuff.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by dd.stevenson View Post
    It does sound like Rouse is itching to talk.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Zardnaar View Post
    On dancey's facebook page convo.

  10. #10
    These things are to be expected when working for The Dread Pirate WotC...

    "Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill (fire) you in the morning (Christmas)."
    Last edited by YourSwordIsMine; Thursday, 7th November, 2013 at 05:22 PM.

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