WotC D&D Beyond current development

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
Does anyone know what is the current status of DDB development? I haven't followed too closely, but there are no more development updates and I think that the devs are also not posting anymore on the forums. The latest software update appears to have been in August and the upcoming "general features system" still seems to be in limbo.
 

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Does anyone know what is the current status of DDB development? I haven't followed too closely, but there are no more development updates and I think that the devs are also not posting anymore on the forums. The latest software update appears to have been in August and the upcoming "general features system" still seems to be in limbo.
Yeah people have been wondering, but AFAICT, you have the same information as the rest of us.

WotC took over, everyone breathed a sigh of relief as were sure WotC money would ensure DDB improved, particularly in terms of communication and development, and now DDB seems to be "worse than ever" in both of those regards, and just basically a vehicle from promoting WotC products (even more than it was before).

There are still key features that were noted as being needed in 2019 and 2020 by the DDB dev team (and indeed, were expected by early-mid 2021) that are totally missing, as we approach 2023. If they don't manage to add starting Feats for Dragonlance in a few days that's going to be... pretty bad.

It's pretty weird. I can only assume WotC have some sort of revamp planned and are working entirely on that, with the current DDB just in "maintenance mode" so it can keep pulling in those tasty subscriptions.
 

There are still key features that were noted as being needed in 2019 and 2020 by the DDB dev team (and indeed, were expected by early-mid 2021) that are totally missing, as we approach 2023. If they don't manage to add starting Feats for Dragonlance in a few days that's going to be... pretty bad.
Glad it's not just me that noticed this missing. It seems like the workaround is to manually add a feat once the character is created. Hope they provide an actual fix.
 

Glad it's not just me that noticed this missing. It seems like the workaround is to manually add a feat once the character is created. Hope they provide an actual fix.
Yeah at least they're Feats this time so we can just buy the book and do that!

Their "workaround" for both Theros and VRGtR was completely unacceptable, which was "manually homebrew-create every single Supernatural Gift/Dark Gift you want your players to be able to use, as Feats, using our incredibly clunky and tricksy system, then apply them as Feats, post-creation. Oh and if you try to share them to save others the trouble in future, we'll shut you down and you may also get in trouble! No we won't create them as Feats ourselves, we point-blank refuse to do the 'extra' work, because the real feature will arrive in a couple of months*!"

* = That "a couple of months" was prior to June 2020, note. There's literally no possibility they couldn't have done it by now if they'd wanted to. Jerks. It's the opposite of a priority for them I guess.
 

Oofta

Legend
We simply don't know what's going on behind the scenes. The impression I get is that initial development was rushed (big surprise) and they didn't build in enough flexibility. They could be doing a major revamp internally to get ready for the 2024 release, but who knows. They were bought out in April, between project planning, determining budget and establishing goals, there's a good chance any major revision, if any, was started months after they were bought out. Depending on the scope of the change it could be a months long project or a year long project.

D&D is a complex domain and is quite difficult to model in a way that it all works together, there's a lot of weirdness they have to figure out and testing any modification at all would be a bear.

The only ones who could provide more details are on the DndBeyond team and they aren't talking for obvious reasons.
 







phuong

Explorer
Does anyone know what is the current status of DDB development? I haven't followed too closely, but there are no more development updates and I think that the devs are also not posting anymore on the forums. The latest software update appears to have been in August and the upcoming "general features system" still seems to be in limbo.
I believe WOTC brought in a software developer to look at their code, and the dev started crying because the D&DBeyond devs used 10,000 tables to build out all the content, not understanding how to use a relational database.
 

We simply don't know what's going on behind the scenes. The impression I get is that initial development was rushed (big surprise) and they didn't build in enough flexibility.
That's not just "your impression", that's literally what they said, in no uncertain terms.

But they said that they were making specific changes/developments that would add the needed flexibility, and this was required to allow them to implement Tasha's, and that once they'd implemented Tasha's, implementing stuff like Supernatural Gifts would be a gimme (barely even paraphrasing). Then they did implement Tasha.

Of course that appears that the repeated assurances that they'd add other stuff and have flexibility going forwards because of these changes were straightforwardly a lie. Or rather as businesses like to suggest "no longer true". LMAO. Good luck getting even your fingernail between those concepts.
D&D is a complex domain and is quite difficult to model in a way that it all works together, there's a lot of weirdness they have to figure out and testing any modification at all would be a bear.
Complex compared to stuff "normal" businesses (like my own) do with similar products? I work in "legal engineering" myself and nothing at all about Beyond seems complex. I've used products from companies with five employees that were dealing with far more complex and content-heavy rules-based stuff (and rules you REALLY can't afford to mess up, either!).

I'm sorry but it simply is not "complex" in any way that matters, and aren't you a software dev? It seems like you're aware of that. Official WotC D&D 5E just isn't that complex - nor was 4E. It's a relatively straightforward set of rules, which relate to each other in extremely predictable and well-bounded ways. The content they've point-blank refused to implement is well within those bounds - easy to prove because you can, manually, implement it, it's just banned to share the implementation. We were told, repeatedly that this was solely because of a restrictive licencing agreement with WotC. Now it appears that even with WotC in charge, and thus no licencing agreement in place, the same policy still applies, which undermines trust rather severely, given it appears to make them liars once more.

Now, if you were talking 3PP content, I'd agree completely. 3PP content often goes wildly off the reservation in terms of what it does with the rules. But that's not the case.
The only ones who could provide more details are on the DndBeyond team and they aren't talking for obvious reasons.
They used to talk a lot and accurately about upcoming stuff.

For the first 2 years they were actually pretty great at communicating, dealing with some thorny issues even, and maintained good info on what they were working on and likely timelines. This was whilst Curse owned them.

They started talking less when they got sold to Fandom, at which point it seemed like they were being pushed more towards making as much profit as possible, rather than proving a really good product with continual upgrades. Then shortly after they lost a bunch of staff who were the talkers, most of whom didn't get replaced. All the well-maintained info gradually slowed/stopped being updated, and previously-accurate info started getting wider and wider off the mark.

There was a lot of hope this would improve with WotC taking over, indeed I believe that was even implied by WotC (albeit circumspectly) at one point, but it's got significantly worse. Under Fandom the info about updates/changes did exist at least. Under WotC it's trickled off entirely.

So I pray WotC are just rather badly handling a change to a better product, but if that doesn't happen, eesh.
 

Oofta

Legend
That's not just "your impression", that's literally what they said, in no uncertain terms.

But they said that they were making specific changes/developments that would add the needed flexibility, and this was required to allow them to implement Tasha's, and that once they'd implemented Tasha's, implementing stuff like Supernatural Gifts would be a gimme (barely even paraphrasing). Then they did implement Tasha.

Of course that appears that the repeated assurances that they'd add other stuff and have flexibility going forwards because of these changes were straightforwardly a lie. Or rather as businesses like to suggest "no longer true". LMAO. Good luck getting even your fingernail between those concepts.

Complex compared to stuff "normal" businesses (like my own) do with similar products? I work in "legal engineering" myself and nothing at all about Beyond seems complex. I've used products from companies with five employees that were dealing with far more complex and content-heavy rules-based stuff (and rules you REALLY can't afford to mess up, either!).

I'm sorry but it simply is not "complex" in any way that matters, and aren't you a software dev? It seems like you're aware of that. Official WotC D&D 5E just isn't that complex - nor was 4E. It's a relatively straightforward set of rules, which relate to each other in extremely predictable and well-bounded ways. The content they've point-blank refused to implement is well within those bounds - easy to prove because you can, manually, implement it, it's just banned to share the implementation. We were told, repeatedly that this was solely because of a restrictive licencing agreement with WotC. Now it appears that even with WotC in charge, and thus no licencing agreement in place, the same policy still applies, which undermines trust rather severely, given it appears to make them liars once more.

Now, if you were talking 3PP content, I'd agree completely. 3PP content often goes wildly off the reservation in terms of what it does with the rules. But that's not the case.

They used to talk a lot and accurately about upcoming stuff.

For the first 2 years they were actually pretty great at communicating, dealing with some thorny issues even, and maintained good info on what they were working on and likely timelines. This was whilst Curse owned them.

They started talking less when they got sold to Fandom, at which point it seemed like they were being pushed more towards making as much profit as possible, rather than proving a really good product with continual upgrades. Then shortly after they lost a bunch of staff who were the talkers, most of whom didn't get replaced. All the well-maintained info gradually slowed/stopped being updated, and previously-accurate info started getting wider and wider off the mark.

There was a lot of hope this would improve with WotC taking over, indeed I believe that was even implied by WotC (albeit circumspectly) at one point, but it's got significantly worse. Under Fandom the info about updates/changes did exist at least. Under WotC it's trickled off entirely.

So I pray WotC are just rather badly handling a change to a better product, but if that doesn't happen, eesh.

Are you a software developer? Have you ever worked on rebuilding systems that were poorly designed?
 

Reynard

Legend
Is it conceivable that since WotC bought DNDB that the capabilities of the service will have an impact on what the game dev team puts out. Meaning, if something would be cool but hard to implement in DNDB, would WotC cut it?
 

Are you a software developer? Have you ever worked on rebuilding systems that were poorly designed?
I'm a "legal engineer", not directly a software dev (though sort-of - I use a lot of products for building rules-based automation solutions and even apps - mostly low-code stuff), and I work with devs literally every day. So if you're trying to argue I don't know enough, sorry, that's bollocks. I do. This is just a database with a rules-system attached. Legal tech is absolutely chock-full of these. Automation is chock-full of these. And yes I work with companies who are rebuilding systems that were poorly designed. Sheesh that was the entire focus of my meeting earlier today.

EDIT - I should also note that back when they used to communicate, the Beyond team were not shy about discussing how their product worked and its limitations and future needs, so this isn't "in the dark" guesswork or something.

What is possible is that they simply lost the vast majority of people who understood how the system worked and how to make the changes/improvements they were planning. That would sadly not be unprecedented.

Which leads to of course one of two situations:

1) A bunch of new people have to try to work out how it works - which is helped if there's good documentation etc. but that's not always the case.

or

2) The new people simply build another system whilst maintaining the existing one.
 
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Oofta

Legend
I'm a "legal engineer", not directly a software dev (though sort-of - I use a lot of products for building rules-based automation solutions and even apps - mostly low-code stuff), and I work with devs literally every day. So if you're trying to argue I don't know enough, sorry, that's bollocks. I do. This is just a database with a rules-system attached. Legal tech is absolutely chock-full of these. Automation is chock-full of these. And yes I work with companies who are rebuilding systems that were poorly designed. Sheesh that was the entire focus of my meeting earlier today.

EDIT - I should also note that back when they used to communicate, the Beyond team were not shy about discussing how their product worked and its limitations and future needs, so this isn't "in the dark" guesswork or something.

What is possible is that they simply lost the vast majority of people who understood how the system worked and how to make the changes/improvements they were planning. That would sadly not be unprecedented.

Which leads to of course one of two situations:

1) A bunch of new people have to try to work out how it works - which is helped if there's good documentation etc. but that's not always the case.

or

2) The new people simply build another system whilst maintaining the existing one.

So, no. You are not a software developer.

More than once I've worked on badly designed software that needed a complete rewrite to achieve company goals. Most non-IT people underestimate the effort that will be required, heck most IT people underestimate the effort.

We have no idea what happened, what is currently or why. My guess is that the dev team previously went to management, told them what needed to be done with a guess how much it would take to fix it and were not given the budget or time to actually fix it.

The fact that there have been no changes yet is no indication one way or another. If they need to make fundamental changes to the core, it takes time. They could make some cosmetic, easy fixes, but that's just taking time and resources away from what really needs to be done and doesn't address the real issues.

Maybe they're working on an entirely new infrastructure in a way that will not change the interface one iota, people tend to vastly underestimate how difficult that is to do. Maybe they're in total disarray and the entire thing is a giant hairy cluster ****.
My guess? If they were smart they told WOTC that they need to make significant expenditure to fix the existing technical debt and that it will have new core systems that run things behind the scenes. They're doing their best to build in customizable rule set instead of hard-coded rules implementation and so on while not breaking existing functionality.

All of that takes significant time and effort. You may not think modeling D&D rules is difficult, all I can say is that the exceptions, options and interactions means that I disagree.

I don't assume the worst of people. I don't assume everyone else is incompetent at their jobs or that they don't know what they're doing. I find that life is too short to assume the worst.

Time will tell but I don't think it's time to assume they are doing nothing. For all we know they're waiting on major revisions until they have a better idea on what's in store for the 2024 edition.

Sometimes it just takes 9 months to get a baby no matter how much you want it more quickly.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
Yeah people have been wondering, but AFAICT, you have the same information as the rest of us.

WotC took over, everyone breathed a sigh of relief as were sure WotC money would ensure DDB improved, particularly in terms of communication and development, and now DDB seems to be "worse than ever" in both of those regards, and just basically a vehicle from promoting WotC products (even more than it was before).

There are still key features that were noted as being needed in 2019 and 2020 by the DDB dev team (and indeed, were expected by early-mid 2021) that are totally missing, as we approach 2023. If they don't manage to add starting Feats for Dragonlance in a few days that's going to be... pretty bad.

It's pretty weird. I can only assume WotC have some sort of revamp planned and are working entirely on that, with the current DDB just in "maintenance mode" so it can keep pulling in those tasty subscriptions.
Otherwise, it runs the risk of being Dragon+ (a house organ for WotC with little intrinsic value).
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
That would be my assumption too. Probably they're aiming for a big update to support 1D&D by release, which would require major changes anyway.
Funny how a game that requires major software changes from the baseline to be supported properly online is somehow still not considered a new edition.

Weird.
 

So, no. You are not a software developer.
Your post is a good demonstration that I don't need to be, though. You're teaching grandma to suck eggs.
My guess? If they were smart they told WOTC that they need to make significant expenditure to fix the existing technical debt and that it will have new core systems that run things behind the scenes. They're doing their best to build in customizable rule set instead of hard-coded rules implementation and so on while not breaking existing functionality.
Have you even been following DDB's development?

So that's a serious question that needs an answer. Especially as you previously "theorized" something the Beyond team had literally outright said. That's like "theorizing" that Teslas use electric engines and a lithium-ion battery.

They literally already said they did the bolded bit, starting in 2019. The big motivation to get it done was the pre-Tasha's UA. They said the only way to get Tasha's working was to do it, and that it would give them a customizable approach to rules whilst not breaking the functionality, exactly as you are "guessing" (lol?!!?). And when Tasha's went live, they confirmed that they now had this.

Which seems to be a hilarious lie or more likely, they just didn't want to actually add the other content.
You may not think modeling D&D rules is difficult, all I can say is that the exceptions, options and interactions means that I disagree.
LOL. You try doing some legal automation then.
 

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