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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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

MacDhomnuill

Explorer
Soooo… In another life I did influence planning, not bikini models and beefcake on instagram but marketeers and crisis comms folks manipulating how you the audience feel about things. I have no doubt that WOTC and HASBRO have hired a crisis comms team who have already started to run a discrediting play on Dnd shorts. The speed with which they responded and the clean professional language being used stands in stark contract to all of wizards previous social media posts and press releases. Keep an eye out for more gaslighting and deception from wizards as well as targeting of YT and twitter accounts that have been posting leaks. As for me I will never doubt the greed and absolute scumbag nature of the C-suite, thus I will never believe anything wizards says.
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
Soooo… In another life I did influence planning, not bikini models and beefcake on instagram but marketeers and crisis comms folks manipulating how you the audience feel about things. I have no doubt that WOTC and HASBRO have hired a crisis comms team who have already started to run a discrediting play on Dnd shorts. The speed with which they responded and the clean professional language being used stands in stark contract to all of wizards previous social media posts and press releases. Keep an eye out for more gaslighting and deception from wizards as well as targeting of YT and twitter accounts that have been posting leaks. As for me I will never doubt the greed and absolute scumbag nature of the C-suite, thus I will never believe anything wizards says.
I mean, DnD Shorts walked into a rake face first and insulted the designers personally, of course they are going to go along with that bit of damage control with personal gusto.

And of course the C-suite is full of venal and greedy scumbags, that's how this all works. Did you believe WotC before...?
 

ThorinTeague

Explorer
Wow.

They really can’t win no matter what.

Say nothing and they’re wrong.

Say something but not fast enough and they’re wrong.

Say something but don’t use exactly the right phrases and they’re wrong.

Say something to quickly and they’re wrong.
Say what now? Who or what is this message replying to?
 


Haplo781

Legend
If you think every request to do things in a more efficient and productive manner is inherently dishonest and pointless, I'm not sure why you'd want to be part of anything resembling modern society.

At some point, it's worth downshifting from the Incredible Hulk back into Bruce Banner.

Fight the good fight, but don't do so in a way that means your goals are less likely to be accomplished.
Good idea - that way you can fit into the Hulkbuster suit and launch them into space with a detachable rocket arm.
 

darjr

I crit!
Wow.

They really can’t win no matter what.

Say nothing and they’re wrong.

Say something but not fast enough and they’re wrong.

Say something but don’t use exactly the right phrases and they’re wrong.

Say something to quickly and they’re wrong.

:erm:
They were wining with me when they stood with the OGL 1
 


ThorinTeague

Explorer
I mean, it applies to a lot of "The Discourse" pretty well right now.
Instead of adding any thoughts of my own, I'll just quote what WoTC has to say on the subject:
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
Instead of adding any thoughts of my own, I'll just quote what WoTC has to say on the subject:
Right, same now as it was then: smoke up where the Moon don't shine. Never trust the Corp farther than you can throw it. Doesn't have any bearing in this topic, however, which is about survey feedback. Hence the frustration from @Hussar and others: everything is being made about this tedious topic, in the form of a moral panic.
 

Hussar

Legend
Say what now? Who or what is this message replying to?
That would be @MacDhomnuill right above my post. And, of course, various other posts from here and there. No matter what WotC says, it will be taken in the absolute most negative way. And it's always been this way.

As @Parmandur points out - everyone is framing this as a moral issue. Comparisons to abusive spouses. Attempted murder. Drawing a gun. As in actual, real crimes.

WotC is trying to change the terms of a contract. They did so in a blindingly stupid way that has pissed everyone off. What they are doing is wrong and it should be called out as wrong. But, an endless stream of people trying to paint this as some sort of moral issue just clouds the whole thing and makes any actual discourse impossible. If you trusted WotC to do things that were not in keeping with their own best interests, that's on you. The point of a contract is to clearly outline what everyone's responsibilities are. WotC is trying to change that. That should be what we're focused on.
 


ThorinTeague

Explorer
. What they are doing is wrong and it should be called out as wrong. But, an endless stream of people trying to paint this as some sort of moral issue
If it's wrong and should be called out as wrong, then it is exactly a moral issue. That's what the word "moral" means.

That's not to say that nobody is being hyperbolic. But the other side of that coin that you haven't mentioned is hyperbole coming from the apologist side of things.

As always, it takes all kinds I guess.
 

Hussar

Legend
If it's wrong and should be called out as wrong, then it is exactly a moral issue. That's what the word "moral" means.

That's not to say that nobody is being hyperbolic. But the other side of that coin that you haven't mentioned is hyperbole coming from the apologist side of things.

As always, it takes all kinds I guess.
Sorry, I missed how the apologist side of things are comparing WotC to murderers and spouse abusers.

Wait a minute... What apologists? Who is saying that WotC did nothing wrong here? I've certainly never seen anyone who is excusing WotC here. The only thing that's getting said is that overwrought language comparing WotC to criminals isn't very useful or productive.

And, no, things that are wrong are not necessarily moral issues. 2+2=5 is wrong. But, I'd hardly call it a moral failing.
 


Haplo781

Legend
Sorry, I missed how the apologist side of things are comparing WotC to murderers and spouse abusers.

Wait a minute... What apologists? Who is saying that WotC did nothing wrong here? I've certainly never seen anyone who is excusing WotC here. The only thing that's getting said is that overwrought language comparing WotC to criminals isn't very useful or productive.

And, no, things that are wrong are not necessarily moral issues. 2+2=5 is wrong. But, I'd hardly call it a moral failing.
Can I borrow 500 bucks? I'll pay you right back.
 

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