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D&D 5E D&D Beyond No Longer Supporting Unearthed Arcana

Announced on their livestream Dev Update, D&D Beyond will be refocusing development on new features and content, citing an inability to keep up with Unearned Arcana in a timely fashion.


We at D&D Beyond regret to inform you that we will no longer be supporting Unearthed Arcana content on our platform.

While we have loved giving users the opportunity to use new Unearthed Arcana playtest material offered by Wizards of the Coast on D&D Beyond, there are a multitude of factors that have made it difficult for us to do so in a way that presents the content the way it was intended, and in a timely way that does not divert our development resources.




 
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Is that mechanics built in or just the articles? I wonder why they don't advertise that. Is that in their app? I couldn't find it on their website and a google search was rather futile.
Mechanics. At least it appears to me. To be sure, I made a Bard and levelled them up, at level 3 I was given the choice to choose a subclass and was able to chose the Mage of Lorehold as my subclass. Is there something else I should look at?
 

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Oh, as for advertising it... Seems like having the Strixhaven mechanics in character creation is a pretty small aspect of the program. Not sure how you would advertise such, or even if the market of potential users would be that big.

Or perhaps it's just seems trivial to those that use FG, that if it exists from WotC, then of course it's in FG if you have the module? Not for that to sound conceited, but it is the assumption I made with in this instance, and seems to be correct.
 


Dausuul

Legend
No. Adding engineers without structure and support staff and vision does.
It's more to do with ramp-up time IMO. When you add an engineer to an unfamiliar project, they won't be very productive and they will need help from the existing team, slowing the team down. Once they get up to speed, they stop needing their hands held and start contributing at full power, which eventually pays off that initial investment.

However, the farther along the project is, the more time and help it takes to ramp up (bigger, more complex codebase to wrap your head around). On top of that, the project being closer to completion means there's less opportunity for the newcomer to "earn back" the lost time. At a certain point, the lines cross and the new engineer becomes a net cost to the project.

And, of course, this is precisely the point when the project is most likely to be past its deadline, making panicky execs try to throw warm bodies at the problem.
 
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Counterintuitively adding engineers makes a project take LONGER.
That depends on a lot of things. In many cases, I would push back against simply adding an engineer to a team that has been working together for a long time if the hope is that engineer will suddenly increase velocity to immediately get something out the door, although I more likely than not would advocate to bring in another entire team that has been working together for a long time to take on some of that work. Individual engineers probably need to spend time ramping up, onboarding into the team's processes, learning how the team communicates, aligning on how the team estimates work, etc. Another entire team already works well together. But that's very generally speaking... would need to look at specifics of a scenario. :)
 

@Nathaniel Lee, I think the majority of your points are good ones, and I certainly don't mean to start an argument. But I would like to dive down just a bit on this one part:

I still don't quite buy this ... I wish there was some statistic we could consult that would settle the question, but I don't believe there is. In the end, we mostly have to agree to disagree, but there are a couple of points that seem salient.

In my very first game of D&D (this woud have been Basic rules, I believe), we homebrewed. Then I moved on to 1e, and we homebrewed. Then 2e, and then 3e, and then 3.5e, and then Pathfinder: homebrewing every time. Now we're on 5e, and we're still homebrewing. I don't think I ever even met anyone who wasn't doing at least some homebrewing in their games.
We'll definitely have to agree to disagree because in my own experience I have met very few people who have used homebrew classes, specifically, since that's what I was referring to. People will homebrew monsters, magic items, spells, etc. up the wazoo, but homebrewing an entire class entirely, in the wise words of Samuel L. Jackson, ain't the same ballpark, it ain't the same league, it ain't even the same sport.

Over the past three 1/2 years, I've run nine 5E campaigns for 31 distinct players of varying levels of experience. Of all of them, only one has expressed real interest in trying out a homebrew subclass, let alone a homebrew class, for something beyond a single session one-shot. So, yeah, my experience is quite different than yours.

Perhaps interestingly enough, I, as the DM, am the one who has spent all the time and effort trying to homebrew entire classes as well as subclasses as that holds a lot of interest to me, personally. The overwhelming majority of my players aren't really all that interested because they're looking at things from the lens of someone who's going to be playing the same character for the length of a campaign which, if all goes well, lasts for the better part of a year (most of the groups have played on 3-4 hour sessions on a weekly basis through all this time) and there are tons of subclasses they have never played in a game.
Now, as you point out, the majority of current 5e players aren't like me (or most of us on this site, I suspect): they haven't been playing forever, and thus homebrewing forever. But a significant number of these players—perhaps even a majority—are learning about D&D from streams and podcasts. What DMs are they watching/listening to that don't do any homebrewing? Not Mercer, Colville, or McElroy(s); not Iyengar or Woll or Walters; not Phoenix, nor Mulligan, nor Hulmes, nor Vorpahl, nor Tang. Maybe they're not learning from actual play, but more from advice streams? Dungeon Coach talks about homebrewing a lot, as does Nerdarchy, or Dael Kingsmill .... It just seems to me that, even if you're brand new, you would have been exposed to the concept of homebrewing, and you've explicitly been sold on D&D being a game where you can play whatever you like. So I'm not sure why the majority of these new players wouldn't be homebrewing.
There's definitely a vibrant homebrew scene online, for certain, but in the long run, you're looking at very much a definitive minority of the 50 million 5E players out there, the majority of whom only started in the past 3 or so years. I'd be willing to bet you that most of those new players don't spend all that much time watching those advice channels. Again, most players are casual players. They're not scouring the Interwebs for every last bit of content they can find. They're playing with a few friends in the library. Hell, a lot of them are going to be little kids who have myriad hobbies that take up the rest of their free time. :)

Most of the players out there are not going to know who Matt Colville is. They'll have never seen Deborah Ann Woll outside of Daredevil or True Blood. They're not going to know who Satine Phoenix is. The name Dael Kingsmill won't mean a thing to them. But, sure, they'll all know who Matt Mercer is, because, well, he's Matt Mercer. :)
I hope you're right. Whether a company actually produces what their customer wants isn't a given, though. Especially at the scale DDB is now ... it's possible (and I stress I'm not saying this is true, just that it's possible, based on my experience in the industry) that the folks at the bottom (devs, customer support, etc) are telling the higher-ups that this is what customers want, but the higher-ups aren't listening. Unless they're doing some focus group testing or that sort of thing, corporate executives can be sadly unaware of what their customers actually want.
That's as fair a guess as any. However, while there are lots of horror stories about companies failing when not listening to the demands of their customers, the dev team has traditionally been pretty transparent about what people have been asking for, and it tends to be pretty logical stuff. And, in any case, the devs I spoke with were pretty clear that while they think it would be pretty cool to have a homebrew class feature in the platform, not too many people were actually asking for that, at least not 3 years ago. Things could have changed, but given what I've seen people in the forums ask for, it doesn't seem that way. Homebrew classes isn't a very common ask. 🤷
On the other hand, I know Morrus is on this site every day, and he knows what his customers want, and he's producing homebrew material. And I know that Colville is doing surveys asking his customers what they want, and he's producing homebrew material. So somebody must be asking for it. :)
Homebrew what, though? Again, I'm speaking very specifically about homebrew classes here. Has Colville released a homebrew class other than the Illrigger, which is commonly known as an overpowered class and which Colville himself has stated is not likely to appeal to the majority of tables and playstyles. I know that EN has published a bunch of those homebrew classes (some of which are pretty cool) and had a successful Kickstarter to get that out to the world, but again I have to ask what percentage of the 50 million players are we talking about here? We're looking at a few tens of thousands of people, maybe? Ultimately, that's a drop in the bucket.

On top of that, how many of those people who are buying up the Masterclass Codex and paying for the Illrigger and nabbing the Pugilist off of DM's Guild also use D&D Beyond regularly? And then how many of those people are actually paying users with subscriptions where they'd even be able to share anything in the first place?
This is another excellent point that you make. I do want to clarify, though, that my lack of resources had nothing to do with being able to handle homebrew: that's a question of designing for that up front, which I have always done in every one of my attempts.
Of course! You've also clearly been a developer for a very long time, as have I. We've had a ton of experience learning how not to do things. :)

What do you think the level of experience was for the tiny team that put together the MVP for D&D Beyond? I'm not even sure if Adam Bradford himself had any sort of hand in designing that since, as far as I can tell from his LinkedIn profile, he isn't actually a software engineer (I think he had a short stint as a quality engineer at one point)? Curse wasn't even in the application development business — they primarily ran a bunch of video game websites and maintained a number of game fan communities. That's not to say that they couldn't possibly have a strong engineer who graduated from a "traditional" computer science or engineering background, but I'm not sure how likely that would be given that they weren't a massive business that might feel it pertinent to pay someone with that sort of background the salary that they would need to.
My lack of resources mean that none of my results have been scalable, which as you (and Umbran) noted, is crucial to producing something that people can actually use. Otherwise, you're just producing toy software ... which is, sadly, all I've ever managed to produce. :confused:
We're hiring. ;)
So the DDB devs managed to produce something scalable which doesn't handle homebrew very well, which, from my perspective, feels like they got the hard part right and whiffed the easy bit. But I do concede that I don't have any special knowledge of their challenges, so obviously I'm just projecting my own mindset onto them.
I think beyond the scientific, technical aspects of it, most of the challenge they faced is going to be nothing new in the "startup" world... you've got a tiny team tasked with producing a massive MVP on a tight schedule and then pressured to just get more stuff done so people will fork over cash... over and over again until they woke up one day and realized, "Oh crap, we really need to refactor this at some point."

Most of us in this industry have been there at one point or another in our careers. :)

And maybe that's why I'm a little more understanding and defensive of them, despite being someone who very much is in the camp of people who want one of those features I've been defending them for not being able to do. LOL
Heheh. Yes, that's the main thesis of The Mythical Man-Month, which should be required reading for all developers. :) But Brooks also tells us how to address those problems, which is the real point of the book.
Sadly, most software developers/engineers have never read that book... because they're too busy trying to push out a massive MVP on a tight schedule so customers will open their wallets. ;)
 

All the digital partners get pre-release copies of new content. I suspect they all get it when the final copy goes to the printer. Part of how we know that DDB does indeed get pre-release info is some of the upcoming release spoilers are directly done because people interrogate the DDB API and find new stuff. For instance... shows how this method was used to discover the Name of Fizban's book.
They get that sort of heads up for the official publications so they can actually have the content ready on the release date. :) IIRC there was even one case where people who had pre-ordered one book on D&D Beyond were able to access parts of it before the official release date, but I may be misremembering...

It's not the same deal with UA. The dev team has said on numerous occasions that they find out about it basically when everyone else does.
 

Is that mechanics built in or just the articles? I wonder why they don't advertise that. Is that in their app? I couldn't find it on their website and a google search was rather futile.
That's just the JSON dump you can get if you know how to construct the appropriate URLs for the API endpoints. It's how third-party developers are able to build tools around the D&D Beyond content, e.g. the Beyond 20 extension.
I looked at the completely wrong thing there. LOL. My bad.
 

They get that sort of heads up for the official publications so they can actually have the content ready on the release date. :) IIRC there was even one case where people who had pre-ordered one book on D&D Beyond were able to access parts of it before the official release date, but I may be misremembering...

It's not the same deal with UA. The dev team has said on numerous occasions that they find out about it basically when everyone else does.
Correct for UA articles. Didn't realize that was the limit of the point in discussion. But it makes sense.

I will say though, that each UA article is usually not very long. They normally come out at a somewhat regular schedule, so having resources available to start converting them in a reasonable time frame shouldn't be too hard. And, again, depending upon your platform's architecture, should take all that long to convert the very limited amount of content that any given UA article releases. 8-1/2 pages in this case. And I don't see why it matter so much if the content is not available for a week or two after release. So what if the content is not available when the survey comes out. Is the survey really that important for the majority of the user base?

I also don't understand why it would be hard for DDB to implement. Sure, normally sub-classes are linked to a specific class only, but even if your architecture is limited this way, just make duplicates of the Strix sub-classes, one for each primary class that the sub-class can be used with. That's the solution FG seems to have used. It seems to work just fine.
 



lkj

Adventurer
I keep waiting for them to finally reveal all this exciting news that seems to be related to their 'game space'. They've been hinting about it for a month or two. Of course, I've learned over the years that 'soon' for developers is on the 'months' not 'days or weeks' time frame.

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Xotli

Explorer
... I'd be willing to bet you that most of those new players don't spend all that much time watching those advice channels. Again, most players are casual players. They're not scouring the Interwebs for every last bit of content they can find. They're playing with a few friends in the library. Hell, a lot of them are going to be little kids who have myriad hobbies that take up the rest of their free time. :)

Most of the players out there are not going to know who Matt Colville is. They'll have never seen Deborah Ann Woll outside of Daredevil or True Blood. They're not going to know who Satine Phoenix is. The name Dael Kingsmill won't mean a thing to them. But, sure, they'll all know who Matt Mercer is, because, well, he's Matt Mercer. :)
Sure, I agree that few players are going to be watching all the content. But I was just pointing out that if we accept that streaming is bringing in a majority of the new players, they have to be watching something. :) They can't all be watching Critical Role. Maybe some of them checked out Relics & Rarities because they knew DAW from her acting. Maybe some of them got exposed to B. Dave Walters because they play Idle Champions. Following any number of Twitch streamers (e.g. Jasmine Bhullar, Nathan Sharp, dozens of others) could have led them to D&D. So, no: the majority of the new players don't know any given one of those folks. But I bet the majority of them know at least one of them, even if we throw out Mercer. ;)

Homebrew what, though? Again, I'm speaking very specifically about homebrew classes here. Has Colville released a homebrew class other than the Illrigger, which is commonly known as an overpowered class and which Colville himself has stated is not likely to appeal to the majority of tables and playstyles.
Not yet. But he did mention in the Q&A for Arcadia #6 that they're working on a second one, hopefully to be released before year's end ...

What do you think the level of experience was for the tiny team that put together the MVP for D&D Beyond? I'm not even sure if Adam Bradford himself had any sort of hand in designing that since, as far as I can tell from his LinkedIn profile, he isn't actually a software engineer (I think he had a short stint as a quality engineer at one point)? Curse wasn't even in the application development business — they primarily ran a bunch of video game websites and maintained a number of game fan communities. That's not to say that they couldn't possibly have a strong engineer who graduated from a "traditional" computer science or engineering background, but I'm not sure how likely that would be given that they weren't a massive business that might feel it pertinent to pay someone with that sort of background the salary that they would need to.
Wait, I thought your viewpoint was that they didn't start with a bad design ... :LOL:

We're hiring. ;)
Awesome! While I deeply suspect that the job I have now is the one I'll retire from, I would welcome a DM with a job listing, just to check out what's out there. :)
 

jasper

Rotten DM
They...they can't keep up with a few pages of mechanics that comes out barely every 2-3 months...?

I'd hate to see how they keep up with anything if they can't manage that. :cautious:
As a programmer I would pound my head against the desk but I quit doing that a decade ago when people talked about programming. They need advance notice. My shop has a two month turn around on new systems WHICH TOTALLY fit the laws, rules, best practices, and we have the data already. Four months if the government is making new laws. And we have people watching out for laws which will change our programming.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Oh anyone know what language they program in, and have their data dictionary.
  • Expertise in a modern form of 1 or more of the following languages: Java, Python, Golang, Kotlin
  • Designing and architecting scaled-up back-end systems (Kafka, MySQL, NoSQL, MongoDB, Neo4j), with expertise in both relational and nonrelational systems and when it is necessary to choose each one
  • I know only ONE of these. But I an old Cobol dude.
 
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Sure, I agree that few players are going to be watching all the content. But I was just pointing out that if we accept that streaming is bringing in a majority of the new players, they have to be watching something. :) They can't all be watching Critical Role. Maybe some of them checked out Relics & Rarities because they knew DAW from her acting. Maybe some of them got exposed to B. Dave Walters because they play Idle Champions. Following any number of Twitch streamers (e.g. Jasmine Bhullar, Nathan Sharp, dozens of others) could have led them to D&D. So, no: the majority of the new players don't know any given one of those folks. But I bet the majority of them know at least one of them, even if we throw out Mercer. ;)
You're definitely right about that. While Critical Role is the definitive gateway drug, not even close to everyone is watching it. But most of the people you're referring to aren't pumping out homebrew classes, which is what I'm entirely focused on here. :) Homebrewing something is uber common, but homebrewing entire classes is a whole different thing.
Not yet. But he did mention in the Q&A for Arcadia #6 that they're working on a second one, hopefully to be released before year's end ...
I almost cringe at what it could be given what he has already produced. LOL
Wait, I thought your viewpoint was that they didn't start with a bad design ... :LOL:
Oh hell no. Even the developers that I talked to at PAX admitted that aspects of the design could have been done better and that the classes were too entangled in the core architecture to open up for people to play with. Adding Mercer's blood hunter was quite the endeavor for them.
 

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