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5E Kate Welch on Leaving WotC

Kate Welch left Wizards of the Coast a few days ago, on August 16th. Soon after, she talked a little about it in a live-stream.

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She started work at WotC as a game designer back in February 2018, and has contributed to various products since then, such as Ghosts of Saltmarsh and Descent into Avernus, as well as being a participant in WotC's livestreams. In December 2019, her job changed to that of 'senior user experience designer'.

"I mentioned yesterday that I have some big news that I wouldn't be able to share until today.

The big news that I have to share with you today is that I ... this is difficult, but ... I quit my job at Wizards of the Coast. I no longer work at Wizards. Today was my last day. I haven't said it out loud yet so it's pretty major. I know... it's a big change. It's been scary, I have been there for almost three years, not that long, you know, as far as jobs go, and for a while there I really was having a good time. It's just not... it wasn't the right fit for me any more.

So, yeah, I don't really know what's next. I got no big plans. It's a big deal, big deal .... and I wanted to talk to you all about it because you're, as I've mentioned before, a source of great joy for me. One of the things that has been tough reckoning with this is that I've defined myself by Dungeons & Dragons for so long and I really wanted to be a part of continuing to make D&D successful and to grow it, to have some focus especially on new user experience, I think that the new user experience for Dungeons & Dragons is piss poor, and I've said that while employed and also after quitting.

But I've always wanted to be a part of getting D&D into the hands of more people and helping them understand what a life-changing game it is, and I hope I still get the chance to do that. But as of today I'm unemployed, and I also wanted to be upfront about it because I have this great fear that because Dungeons & Dragons has been part of my identity, professionally for the last three years almost, I was worried that a lot of you'll would not want to follow me any more because I'm not at Wizards, and there's definitely some glamourous aspects to being at Wizards."


She went on to talk about the future, and her hopes that she'll still be be able to work with WotC.

"I'm excited about continuing to play D&D, and hopefully Wizards will still want me to appear on their shows and stuff, we'll see, I have no idea. But one thing that I'm really excited about is that now I can play other TTRPGs. There's a policy that when you're a Wizards employee you can't stream other tabletop games. So there was a Call of Cthulhu game that we did with the C-team but we had to get very special permission for it, they were like OK but this is only a one time thing. I get it, you know, it's endorsing the competition or whatever, but I'm super excited to be able to have more freedom about the kinds of stuff that I'm getting involved with."
 
Russ Morrissey

Comments










Jack Hooligan

Explorer
I don’t understand how the new user experience is so bad. I’m running games with many new players, several kids even, and the rules are clean, product readily available and accessible, adventures fun...new users are having a grand time, and I’m having the most fun I’ve had with D&D in 30years.

What am I missing?
 
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ChaosOS

Hero
Supporter
I think she's referring to the "older cousin" model - D&D is a hard game to learn if you don't have someone experienced to teach it. One example I've spent a lot of time dealing with is the spellcasting system. Unlike 4e, there's no small set of "suggested spells" for someone new who wants to play say a Wizard. Instead, they have to deal with the poorly organized spell compendium of chapter 8. Digital tools like DDB help a lot, but even then can be kinda daunting.
 


I think what ChaosOS is saying, there is some really unintuitive legacy things that are confusing to people making D&D a game you need to be shown before you can play it. It is harder to simply grab the box with you and your friends all being newbs and learn how to play.

Or that is my understanding of it.

(5E is way better for this than previous editions though)
 

matskralc

Explorer
I don’t understand how the new user experience is so bad. I’m running games with many new players, several kids even, and the rules are clean, product readily available and accessible, adventures fun...new users are having a grand time, and I’m having the most fun I’ve had with D&D in 30years.

What am I missing?
You're not a new player, though. All those new players that you're playing with have you to lean on and guide them through learning the game.
 

I don’t understand how the new user experience is so bad. I’m running games with many new players, several kids even, and the rules are clean, product readily available and accessible, adventures fun...new users are having a grand time, and I’m having the most fun I’ve had with D&D in 30years.

What am I missing?
I think perhaps its how new users are treated maybe?
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
I think she's referring to the "older cousin" model - D&D is a hard game to learn if you don't have someone experienced to teach it. One example I've spent a lot of time dealing with is the spellcasting system. Unlike 4e, there's no small set of "suggested spells" for someone new who wants to play say a Wizard. Instead, they have to deal with the poorly organized spell compendium of chapter 8. Digital tools like DDB help a lot, but even then can be kinda daunting.
Agree that it is easiest to pick up D&D when you start playing with someone who has experience.

But as for the claim that there is "no small set of "suggested spells""... it's right there in the 5e PHB for each class. Here's the wizard example (PHB p113):

Quick Build
You can make a wizard quickly by following these suggestions. First, Intelligence should be your highest ability score, followed by Constitution or Dexterity. If you plan to join the School of Enchantment, make Charisma your next-best score. Second, choose the sage background. Third, choose the mage hand, light, and ray of frost cantrips, along with the following 1st-level spells for your spellbook: burning hands, charm person, feather fall, mage armor, magic missile, and sleep.
 

matskralc

Explorer
I think what ChaosOS is saying, there is some really unintuitive legacy things that are confusing to people making D&D a game you need to be shown before you can play it. It is harder to simply grab the box with you and your friends all being newbs and learn how to play.
It is exactly this. My fiancee loves games but even with me being a decades-long veteran there to teach her, she's not interested in putting in the work to learn D&D. There is a ton of terminology, rules, processes, tropes, and very unintuitive things that we don't think about twice because we know it all.

But for somebody walking in blind, there is a lot to grok and the game tends to throw everything at a new player at once (think of all the different parts of the game that you touch before the game even starts just by creating a wizard with a familiar). There really isn't a good "tutorial" mode that isn't "play with somebody who's played before".
 

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