D&D General Is D&D Survey Feedback Read? [UPDATED!]

If you watch a lot of YouTube videos, you may be aware that there's a narrative going around, with 'anonymous' sources that contain Machievellian quotes about how WotC ignores survey feedback, and uses it as some kind of trap to keep discussion off the internet.

We're all unhappy with WotC and its approach to the current licensing situation, and we're all concerned about the fate of the third-party D&D publishing industry which supports hundreds, if not thousands, of creators and small publishers. I'm worried, and afraid for the fate of my little company and those who rely on me to pay their rent, bills, and mortgages.

But it's important to stay factual.

Ray Winninger, who ran D&D until late 2022, said "I left after the first OneD&D feedback was arriving. I know for certain UA feedback is still read."

He went on to say "This is simply false. Before I left WotC, I personally read UA feedback. So did several others. Many, many changes were made based on UA feedback, both quantitative and written. The entire OneD&D design schedule was built around how and when we could collect feedback."

Winninger previously spoke out in support of the OGL movement, after WotC announced their plans in December.

Another WotC employee tweeted, too -- "I read nearly half a million UA comments my first year working on D&D. I was not the only one reading them. I understand the desire to share information as you get it, but this just feels like muckraking."

It's important to stay on the right side of this OGL issue -- and make no mistake, any attempt to de-authorise the OGL is ethically and legally wrong -- but just making stuff up doesn't help anybody.

Benn Riggs, author of Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons, chimed in with his own suspicions.

Here is why I am growing more and more suspicious of @DnD_Shorts and their purported source in WoTC. Let's call that source "The Rogue."

1) Getting a source on the record takes time. DnD Shorts is getting commentary incredibly quickly. WoTC's statement came out this morning, and by this afternoon, we know "The Rogue's" thoughts. The statement talks about a survey? "The Rogue" tells us no one will read what we write to the company.

Then there is the logistics. Is "The Rogue" contacting DnD Shorts from WoTC HQ? Doing it from the bathroom? On their lunch break? All while knowing they'd be fired if found out? They don't at least wait to contact DnD Shorts from home?

2) The info provided by "The Rogue" is simply too good. They have mentioned where they work in the company, and directly quoted powerful people within the company. All that means that within WoTC, tracking down "The Rogue" and firing them should take about two hours. Frankly, if "The Rogue" exists, the best proof of it will be when they are fired.

I'm upset about the OGL too, and it's easy to cast doubt on anonymous sources. People have done it to me. So I will say upfront I could be totally wrong about this and if DnD Shorts reads this and curses me for a bastard because they're honest & good & true and I am besmirching them, well I'm sorry.

But something here just feels wrong, and I cannot keep my peace.

And of course, all this fracturing of the 'resistance' only weakens the position of those who are working against the de-authorization of the OGL. The more click-bait nonsense out there, the less seriously anybody takes the real issues which affect real people.

UPDATES! WotC designer Makenzie De Armas has weighed in to describe the survey process:

Hi, actual #WotCStaff and D&D Designer here. I am credited on several UA releases—and I’ve made edits to that content based on both qualitative and quantitative survey results. Let’s walk through what happens behind the scenes of a UA, shall we?

1. We design player-facing mechanical elements that we hope to include in a future product. We then place those mechanical elements into a UA document and release it, to see what our player base at large thinks of it.

2. We release a survey about the UA.

3. The survey information is collated by members of the team. It’s broken down into two parts: quantitative satisfaction expressed as a percentage, and a summary of qualitative feedback trends noticed in the comments.

4. That summary is reported back to the product teams. The designers on the product teams then make edits to the mechanical elements based on the feedback summary.

5. If satisfaction doesn’t meet our quality standards, we’ll rerelease mechanical content in a followup UA.

This is a proven process. Take for example the Mages of Strixhaven UA, where we tried to create subclasses that could be taken by multiple classes. (Fun fact: that was my first UA.) Did we, as studio designers, want that to work? Yes! But it didn’t.

And we learned that it didn’t BECAUSE of the UA process. We learned that it wasn’t something a majority of our players wanted; we also learned what small elements of that design DID bring joy. We salvaged those elements, redesigned them, and put that changed design in the book.

If we didn’t read or listen to feedback, we would have put those polyclass subclasses into the final book, and the product would have been worse for it. Yes, of course we want to know if you like something—we’re game designers! We’re creating something that is meant to be FUN!

And yes, sometimes we get frustrated when people tell us how to do our jobs, or use those feedback opportunities to belittle us; we’re human. But despite all that, we’re still going to listen and always strive to improve. That’s the truth.

They went on to say:

When I say ALL the comments, I mean it in the most literal sense. We have team members who have dedicated WEEKS to diligently reading through feedback. It’s honestly incredible, and I applaud my team members’ work!

Gamehome Con director Alex Kammer added:

Hey everyone. I personally know the guy at Wizards whose job in part is to read and organize all the comments from their surveys. Reasonable OGL talk and demanding action is great. Fallacious hit pieces only cause harm.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yeah. This accusation simply doesn't keep sense of events as recent as the Holidays...when Crawford went into detail on survey feedback.
Yeah, the claim was immediately suspect.

Like, we have watched in real time as wotc course corrected due to qualitive written feedback. Stuff that had to come from the comments.

And how else would they even identify the well liked parts of unpopular options, which they’ve done many times?

It was just obviously not true to anyone not really deep into that familiar bias, the name of which I can’t recall, where if someone you dislike says a thing you view it negatively even tho from someone you don’t know you’d agree with it, or if someone makes a baseless accusation against them it’s easier to convince you it’s true because you already dislike them.

It’s a bias I have worked really hard for years to marginalize in my own behavior, and not fully succeeded, so I get it, but I do hope this causes folks to slow down and take a breath.
 

Here the mistake is by fault of sharks within Hasbro who don't understand the product and the players. This controversy has caused a serious damage against the prestige of the company and this can't be recovered easily. Even when the product was with a right quality we don't want to feel being tricked paying more really necessary, and worse if we see tittles by other publishers with a better relation quality-price. It is a serious insult to our inteligence if I pay less for a sourcebook with more crunch+lore by other publisher. This is not a monopoly and it shouldn't be it.

And the lost prestige can't be recovered easily only spending more into advertising.

We understand they want to make money, but they can't forget the good manners and the fair-play. They shouldn't understimate us. We aren't a blank check. They have to offer the things we want to buy, they shouldn't try to change our minds about what we want to buy. We aren't so easy to be manipulated. We aren't sheep blindly following the shepherd. We are people with a lot of imagination, and we have to smarten up if we want the survival of our characters for their adventures.

And I say it again. In the digital market their rivals are the heavyweight in the videogame industry. If somebody has got a good idea, the other can find a way to do it better.
 

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
Machiavellian quotes? ;)

And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things, because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly, in such wise that the prince is endangered along with them.

(The Prince, chapter 6)
 

ad_hoc

(they/them)
If you’re spending half a second per comment, you’re not reading them. And you’re not doing that for 8 hours per day for a year.

And yet I read those full page reports in seconds and was able to catch all the typos and other errors like names and birth dates not matching IDs.

Just because you don't have the skills to do so doesn't mean other people don't too.

If the comments are sorted well then I could take them all in very quickly.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
And yet I read those full page reports in seconds and was able to catch all the typos and other errors like names and birth dates not matching IDs.

Just because you don't have the skills to do so doesn't mean other people don't too.

If the comments are sorted well then I could take them all in very quickly.
agree - there are other ways to read than just word by word (for example putting things into columns and looking at a vast array and seeing where the outliers are and focusing in on those; or scanning for a few keywords)
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
DnD Shorts dropped a video this morning discussing the OGL playtest and near the end apologized for the miscommunication of his sources’ intel.

 

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