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.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


log in or register to remove this ad

Sulicius

Explorer
One thing especially didn't sit with me (besides the overall OGL-gate elephant in the room):

“And yes, sometimes we get frustrated when people tell us how to do our jobs”

Well, ya know, in D&D we are literally all designers and peers—that’s part of the game, and is foundational to the culture.

We’re not coin-doling chumps.

There are other lines of work if WOTC’s feedback staff don’t actually want creative peer-like feedback.
They literally said they read our feedback and use it to steer their design?

I see my feedback reflected in their design changes all the time.
 

Sulicius

Explorer
The OGL was literally written by one of the major designers for 3rd edition, Ryan Dancey. It is, quite literally, the creation of actual D&D designers. (He was also the VP in charge of Wizards of the Coast's RPG arm.)
Sorry, I meant current designers. Ryan Dancey is not currently a designer for 5e.

I don’t understand how you think he decides anything 20 years after being laid off.
 


I don't think two weeks is an excessively long time for them to come out and say, "Whatever license we make, it will not, under any circumstances, revoke or invalidate the existing OGL. You can continue to use that license for new products forever, because we recognize that we don't have the ability to revoke it."

That's not a complicated thing to say. They have chosen not to say it. I consider that a serious issue.

See, I don't. 2 weeks is not a long time to throw away your 2 years plan. They need to think up what to do. They do have responsibility for a lot of people who work with them.
Cancelling their plan can mean that a few of them will lose their jobs.
 


ThorinTeague

Explorer
Not if the new OGL is actually good too.
It might not be A+ good. But it could be B with * because it will be irrevocable and still allows what 99% 3PP do.
They can do whatever they want with the new OGL. They can demand our first born child for the next 5 generations. They can promise to pave the world in gold and build bridges out of rainbows. The issue, the only issue, with a capital I is that "deauthorizing" the OGL 1.0a cannot be done. Just like with 4e. Make the GSL whatever you want, nobody cares, we're just going forward with 1.0a. The real OGL, in other words.
 

Remathilis

Legend
I go on Dungeons and Dragons Beyond
And the webpage says,
"Provide feedback for the next D&D"
I said, "Man! What I look like? A sucker?"
I took the site and threw it on the ground!

I don't need your surveys!
I'm an adult!
Please!
You don't even read them WotC man!

MV5BN2JkNTMwZWEtMmYxYS00NmQzLTk0YjktMWZmNWE5NzQ2MTljXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjA3NDg2Mzg@._V1_.jpg
 


Sorry, I meant current designers. Ryan Dancey is not currently a designer for 5e.

I don’t understand how you think he decides anything 20 years after being laid off.
...I don't, how on earth did you get to that?

Your claim was that the OGL has literally nothing whatsoever to do with the designers--that it was purely the creation of people who do no design whatsoever. That is not true. The man who was the main driving force behind it did--and does--RPG design. That is objective fact.
 

See, I don't. 2 weeks is not a long time to throw away your 2 years plan. They need to think up what to do. They do have responsibility for a lot of people who work with them.
Cancelling their plan can mean that a few of them will lose their jobs.
Figuring out what to do after you admit that your whole game plan was legally and ethically wrong? Sure, that's something that should take a long time.

But telling your customers, "We hear you. We get it. We screwed up. We should never have even considered revoking the OGL. We'll figure out something else. That's going to take time, and it may be a painful, difficult process. But it's a process you have shown us we need to go through--that that process is the only way forward."? No. That's no harder than the fundamental acceptance. Which, again, their repeated silence on that front is important.

I completely, 100% agree that because they screwed up, it may end up costing people their jobs. That's a deeply unfortunate situation, and I genuinely feel bad for anyone who suffers such a fate (or anything similar) because of WotC's greed, hubris, and foolishness. Such is unfortunately often the way of things: corporations have a great deal of power and almost no accountability, and whenever you have that combination, you will see crappy exploitation where no matter what kind of punishment or restitution you seek, innocent people will be harmed in the process. That doesn't mean we should just allow things to go on as they have been. Things need to change, and that change may end up being painful--we are obliged to reduce it as much as possible without allowing that to hollow out the change.
 
Last edited:

Clint_L

Hero
I'll once again share this - a mod on a Discord server I frequent has done freelance work for WotC/D&D and has contacts inside the company still.

According to them, it isn't that nobody reads the responses - it's that that data is restricted to a handful of senior employees who use it selectively to support their own biases. For instance - if a developer wants something in the game and it has 65% support, they'll point to that. If they oppose something that's popular (like the Warlord class) - they will suppress that information.

That kinda seems worse to me.

Of course, I am a rando, paraphrasing someone none of you know, paraphrasing anonymous sources. But for what it's worth, I have no reason to doubt them.
Well...exactly. No reputable journalist would report on what you have just shared. Your source is someone that you don't actually know, who may or may not have the credentials they claim, which are not exactly strong anyway, who may or may not be telling the truth or embellishing, which you are recalling from memory, paraphrased.

I'm extremely skeptical. Anyone should be extremely skeptical of that. So to use that to make a judgment about anything is impossible.
 

Gradine

Final Form (she/they)
I think part of the problem is that most lay people don't really understand how qualitative research works.

There's not going to be somebody or even a team of somebodies carefully reading through and reflecting on every individual comment as written. What's going to happen is that some researchers (or more likely, research interns) are going to code the responses; that is, dump all the responses in a spreadsheet and search for and notate common trends. It's not "this guy named Fred keeps asking us when we're going to bring back Warlord"; it's "hey, 42% of responses referred to this feature as 'broken' or 'OP'"
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I think part of the problem is that most lay people don't really understand how qualitative research works.

There's not going to be somebody or even a team of somebodies carefully reading through and reflecting on every individual comment as written. What's going to happen is that some researchers (or more likely, research interns) are going to code the responses; that is, dump all the responses in a spreadsheet and search for and notate common trends. It's not "this guy named Fred keeps asking us when we're going to bring back Warlord"; it's "hey, 42% of responses referred to this feature as 'broken' or 'OP'"
Exactly. Spreadsheet dump and some count if functions. They’re not closely reading and deeply ruminating over tens or hundreds of thousands of responses.
 

They can do whatever they want with the new OGL. They can demand our first born child for the next 5 generations. They can promise to pave the world in gold and build bridges out of rainbows. The issue, the only issue, with a capital I is that "deauthorizing" the OGL 1.0a cannot be done. Just like with 4e. Make the GSL whatever you want, nobody cares, we're just going forward with 1.0a. The real OGL, in other words.

Nope. Would not be enough. Trust on 1.0a is broken. As long as the deauthorization sword hangs over 3pp heads, it is not enough. Whatever they do. They need to get irrevocable in the text. It is an update. So no more 1.0a.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I'm not sure dogpiling a Twitter or Facebook post does anything more than make the social media manager miserable. They are providing us with an avenue to respond: the survey. That's the best mechanism for reaching them.
They are providing a controlled “proper channel” in the hopes they can get people to talk about it less publicly. To spend their energy in WotC’s private survey instead of openly on forums, reddit, twitter, etc. It’s a common and old trick.
 


They might have given 350 designers a job, because they planned for OGL 1.1.

So now you want them to say: "sorry guys, internet folk is outraged. We need to let go 150 of you guys. Too bad."

So of they have some decency, they need to actually make new plans for the people in their business.

Yes, they screwed up. But screwing something else up is not the best way of going forward.

And they did backtrack on most parts. The only thing they need to do is offering a good OGL 1.1 that makes sure no rug is pulled. If it disallows things in the future what may have been unclear under OGL 1.0a without harming any current user, then no harm is done.

And from a business point of view, it might be the reason why they can afford to hire 350 people in the first place. Because without the update, paying 350 a salary might be too risky.

So every coin has two sides. Not all is good not all is bad.

Clearly the way WotC handled it until now was a desater. Demanding to revoke everything in less than two weeks seem impatient to me.
Not being able to wait till tomorrow to actually see the real thing seems very impatient.

If Morrus or any other 3pp is impatient is a whole different story, because their business depends on it. But just some random guy crying that everything does not move fast enough seems entitled to me.
 

They are providing a controlled “proper channel” in the hopes they can get people to talk about it less publicly. To spend their energy in WotC’s private survey instead of openly on forums, reddit, twitter, etc. It’s a common and old trick.

Because that way it is easier for them to not miss something. Also people asked for a direct way to give them information. Now they open a channel and it is seen as a ploy. What else should they do?
I don't think they are dumb enough to think, that people suddenly stop talking in forums.
 

ThorinTeague

Explorer
o on Dungeons and Dragons Beyo

Nope. Would not be enough. Trust on 1.0a is broken. As long as the deauthorization sword hangs over 3pp heads, it is not enough. Whatever they do. They need to get irrevocable in the text. It is an update. So no more 1.0a.
No, it woudn't be enough at this point, I agree with that. In my view, nothing would be good enough, the bridge to my wallet has been incinerated. But that's what they need to do.
 


Visit Our Sponsor

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top