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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...

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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JThursby

Adventurer
This whole thing is one massive distraction.
How much of the OneD&D survey data is parsed to balance the game is irrelevant to the OGL conversation. Them using written feedback in some capacity, and them utterly ignoring or manipulating the OGL feedback, both of those can be true at the same time, as they're entirely separate issues.
 

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
He’s already walking the claims back.in his latest tweet with screenshots of his latest email exchange.

B94734F7-1BBF-4205-9BBF-33465F5ECBE8.jpeg
 

Remathilis

Legend
I'm with Riggs. D&D Shorts source "The Rogue" doesn't pass the smell test. They are either a false source, or it's all click-bait BS.
My guess is he got lucky on his OGL reporting (with all the copies of the contract floating in the ether, it seems that one of them would make it out in the wild). But since then, he's been looking for his next "hit". So, he probably grabbed onto whatever the next salacious rumor was.

I don't necessarily believe it was his intention to deceive; he could have been given bad info by a malicious actor moreso than he produced it whole cloth. But I do think he was rushing to get his follow-up out while the fires out outrage were still stoked. Either way, the damage is done; the narrative to those who are following this story through social media is that WotC is raising the price of D&D 400%, forcing everyone to use the VTT, and replacing live DMs with AI. And his tweet (and the fake screenshot) is being touted as proof.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
I know a lot of whistleblowers, and while they may have their own POV on events, I've never known any who are intentionally lying.
Whelp, in this case we have a concrete example of either:

  • three people colluding to make up a source
  • a source providing intentionally misleading information
  • three people mangling inside information so badly it cones out as incorrect information.

Option 3 is probably the most charitable read here, but at any rate the info is rotten.

If the leader is real, they apparently doesn't like Chrus Cao (the guy who built Magic Arena, git promoted, and IIRC appeared in the OneD&D announcement to introduce the VTT).
 

Hussar

Legend
Following up on my earlier post, here's a screengrab from the Discord (omitting username just in case).View attachment 273039View attachment 273041
Not to be dense or anything, but, isn't that the best way? I mean, you have this massive pile of feedback. Some of the stuff you have feedback on isn't actually going to make it into print - and you know it's not because it's low scoring. So, why would you spend hours and hours (and lots of dollars) going over material that no one actually wants?

Isn't this just basic market research? You need some way to sort through the massive pile of work to make it manageable. I'm not seeing the problem here.

Did anyone actually think that someone (and likely several someones) at WotC was getting paid a full time wage to actually read every single comment, then collate those comments, organize the entire thing, write a report based on tens of thousands of comments (some of which are barely literate because, well, I've certainly seen more than my share of online comments - never minding anyone with second language issues), all within a space of a couple of weeks in order that this feedback would all be taken into account?
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Not to be dense or anything, but, isn't that the best way? I mean, you have this massive pile of feedback. Some of the stuff you have feedback on isn't actually going to make it into print - and you know it's not because it's low scoring. So, why would you spend hours and hours (and lots of dollars) going over material that no one actually wants?

Isn't this just basic market research? You need some way to sort through the massive pile of work to make it manageable. I'm not seeing the problem here.

Did anyone actually think that someone (and likely several someones) at WotC was getting paid a full time wage to actually read every single comment, then collate those comments, organize the entire thing, write a report based on tens of thousands of comments (some of which are barely literate because, well, I've certainly seen more than my share of online comments - never minding anyone with second language issues), all within a space of a couple of weeks in order that this feedback would all be taken into account?
I always figured they did some autocollation of keywords, to see what was trending, at least.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Whelp, in this case we have a concrete example of either:

  • three people colluding to make up a source
  • a source providing intentionally misleading information
  • three people mangling inside information so badly it cones out as incorrect information.

Option 3 is probably the most charitable read here, but at any rate the info is rotten.

If the leader is real, they apparently doesn't like Chrus Cao (the guy who built Magic Arena, git promoted, and IIRC appeared in the OneD&D announcement to introduce the VTT).
There's another possibility, but it's so left field conspiracy theory, I'm not even going to say it.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
There's another possibility, but it's so left field conspiracy theory, I'm not even going to say it.
Like what, WotC is stringing these guys along in a guerrilla marketing campaign?

A possible move, particularly since these are people WotC has collated with before, but would require assuming too much competence from all parties involved.
 

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