Kyle Brink Interviewed by Teos Abadia (Alphastream) on OGL, WotC, & D&D

D&D executive producer's Kyle Brink's second hour-long interview OGL/D&D has dropped--this one...

D&D executive producer's Kyle Brink's second hour-long interview OGL/D&D has dropped--this one is with Teos Abadia, otherwise known as Alphastream. The notes below are my attempt to paraphrase the main things Brink said, but as always you should watch the actual video if you want the full context.

Company Structure
  • There's around 30 people on the D&D team, and that many again freelancers.​
  • The hiring process has equity targets to bring in a representative sample of candidates, after which it is who is the best candidate.​
  • There has been increasing diversity in the pool of designers while maintaining quality.​
  • Brink reports to Dan Rawson, senior VP of D&D, who reports to Cynthia Williams, president.​
  • D&D Beyond is the front door to D&D on the web and will be even more so. It is the D&D website, and will become more so.​
  • D&D Game Studio is center for game content. D&D Beyond turns that into a play service. Content gets expressed in ways appropriate to an audiance (ie digital, book, etc.)​
OGL/Creative Commons
  • It was a surprise to some of the D&D team that the OGL might be changed. Partly that was about shielding them from distracting stuff. Brink feels that was too strong a wall and their views might have been beneficial.
  • Some internal feedback from the D&D team reflected the views of external creators.
  • The community's point of view was not the one wining internally, but may have been had people there been able to speak more loudly.
  • The worry was about new technologies and big companies--Brink uses the VR example, with user generated content but poor content controls. They didn't want the term D&D to become 'that video porn game' looking ahead.
  • The position now is that the community is the strongest weapon against that.
  • The royalties were to discourage big companies moving in and redefining D&D. By 'drips and drips' they got to the wrong position. $750K was a ceiling which they felt would not affect most creators, and larger companies would deal directly with WotC.
  • Right now they're looking at protecting D&D via things not now in the Creative Commons. Community protects the open space and WotC protects copyright and trademark.
  • They feel that the community is able to take care of hateful content.
  • They want the creator community. A deal where WotC got more powers to act but lost the creator community was not a good deal.
  • NFTs are not the concern, it's about how people use them for scams.
  • WotC will be publishing a content policy (for representation, hateful content, etc.) and hold themselves to it. They cannot hold others to it.
  • The Creative Commons license chosen's lack of sharealike attribution isn't a problem for WotC. They want people to build stuff they own and don't have to share and build value in their own IP. They've chosen the road which gives creators the choice, and can make any of their content sharealike, but WotC isn't forcing them to.
  • CC means that nobody has to take WotC's word for anything as they don't control that license.
  • The drive to change the OGL was coming from various parts of the organization (legal, business, studio). It was an ongoing effort when Brink arrived.
  • The faster the audience grew the bigger the risk that hateful content or scams would arise, so there was a rising sense of urgency to take action.
  • Did anybody sign the v1.1 version? It was distributed with an NDA, and with some creators a discussion about other arrnagements/licenses they might make separate from the OGL.
  • 'The impression someone could get that I have to sign v1.1 is absotely a believable impression for someone to get'.
  • The design of v1.1. was always going to be an ongoing no-signature process.
  • Feedback from larger creators like Kobold Press, the failing is on WotC for not communicating that they were listening. 'Thanks for the feedback' isn't enough.
  • 'If you're going to write a new OGL to protect yourself from the vulnerabilties of the old OGL, you kinda have to take the old OGL off the table, otherwise you're not protecting yourself at all'. There's no point in changing the OGL if you don't de-authorize the old one.
  • They weren't worried about competitors arising from within the community. They love the creator community, and WotC can't satisfy all appetites. That serves the broad needs of the player community.
  • They wanted to have closer relationships with the most successful creators, talking to them about licenses and going bigger. The tiering structure was meant to identify those creators. 'The way it was executed was very cleary going to be an attenuating destructive structure which we did not want.'
  • The OGL survey results were clear, from a range of people, 15000 responses. The intent was to treat it like a playtest but it became obvious where it was going. The survey feedback supported CC, and there was no reason to drag it out.
  • WotC still has their concerns, but their approach to it has changed (to a combo of copyrght/trademark and community).
  • Putting D&D into CC has made de-authing the OGL unimportant to WotC.
  • The SRD will be updated to continue to be compatible with evolving rules.
  • They're looking at adding the 3.5 SRD to the SRD but they have to review that content to make sure they're not accidentally putting stuff into CC.
Company Culture
  • People being afraid to speak up is a sign of 'immature management' and leading from ego.
  • That's not the kind of leaders WotC has today, but Brink cannot speak about those who were there before he arrived.
  • Brink feels that every month he is there people feel more comfortable speaking up, though that doesn't mean they'll always agree. But they will listen.
  • 'That's not how we operate today but I can certainly believe echoes of that in the past'.
  • Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds are important to the hobby and WotC.
  • WotC is also making digital playspaces. The goal is to give more choice. The way WotC succeeds is if they make the best stuff. It's a 'virtuos' competition.
  • The license that Roll20 etc. has to sell WotC content still applies. Remains to be seen down the road.
  • It's possible that third party content will be seen inside DDB or the VTT but it takes a fair amount of work to being a piece of content in. It would have to be a pretty important piece of third party content. Brink could see a day when that would happen.
One D&D
  • The OGL issue has not impacted the One D&D strategy. It has maybe helped WotC express their plans publicly.
  • D&D should be a living game which evolves but is familiar.
  • The One D&D timeline is not changed, but the playtest timeline was impacted by the OGL situation. They'll get back on track real soon.
  • A professional research team gathers the survey information.
  • There are also internal playtests with robust feedback.
  • The game team has gained more of a voice.
  • More trust has been built between design leadership and the executive team.
  • Dan Rawson's role is new and is the first time the D&D brand has been represented at that level at the executive level.
  • Cynthia Williams is empathetic and data-oriented, and willing to change direction.
  • It sounds like they'd consider the SRD being placed into French, German, Italian, and Spanish, though Brink did not promise.

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People not doing their homework, you are new to the game, you like the campaign idea, you buy it. People liking the idea enough to give it a shot despite the middling reviews, it's not like anyone is saying this is unplayable, only that there are better ones.

So gamers are stupid then. Fair enough. Not a take I would go with but one that is unfortunately all too common.

And if you cannot read other comments that’s not my fault. Go back a few pages and I believe it was @Retreater who compared it to the Forest Oracle.

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I just double checked, and at around 46:20 he does actually say they don't have any plans right now. He included a caveat, despite the rest of the quote above. Hmm.
Then he twirled his handlebar moustache and muttered "and if you meddling kids try to stop us, it's curtains for you! Mwahahahaha!"


So gamers are stupid then. Fair enough. Not a take I would go with but one that is unfortunately all too common.
not doing research and being stupid are not the same. Deciding to give it a shot despite the research showing average reviews is not either.

And if you cannot read other comments that’s not my fault. Go back a few pages and I believe it was @Retreater who compared it to the Forest Oracle.
I am not going back through 18 pages looking for a post that may or may not exist, with nothing to go on. Esp. when you say it in a reply to a post that talks about ToD but says nothing like that, so it looks like hyperbole by you.
Found it on page 9 given your hints.

So yeah, one guy does not like it, and? Pointing to other reviews would have been better than pointing to sales, because sales and quality have no correlation. You could have saved us that detour ;)
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Staff member
Mod Note:

It seems I was unclear a few page ago. When I admonished one poster about keeping things civil, I had hoped that would be taken to heart by all of this thread’s participants.

Sadly, I was in error.

As yet, nobody had crossed a line that would warrant actual moderation, but there’s still enough incivility occurring that the general tenor of this thread is deteriorating. This thread is generating an unusual number of reports- not a good sign for its future viability.

So, without calling anyone out by name, let me advise the the assembled to dial back the snark and stop trying to land rhetorical jabs & haymakers, or people will be getting yeeted.


A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Are you suggesting because I recommended you watch the video and make up your own mind I am a Hasbro employee?!

I never thought suggesting someone think for themselves would mark me as a corporate plant!

So let me clarify: no, I do not work for Hasbro. I am an architect in Ohio, USA. Though, oddly enough, I am possibly looking to move to Seattle (thought that is WotC HQ - not Hasbro HQ).
I KNEW it! Guilt by proximity @dave2008 !~



A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Just to be clear, Kyle claimed there never was nor never would be a way to "sign" the OGL 1.1. It was to be certified online only. The NDA was signed, and certain partners were offered better terms. I don't know if signatures were involved with those terms or not. He could of course be lying. However,...

...I will say, I have heard a lot about the signature requirement in the leaks, but off all the posts of the leaks have seen, I have never seen an actual leaked document that required a signature. If you have, please provide a link, because I am confused myself. I initially took it as truth because so much else was - however, I haven't seen any proof that the signature line was there. I would love to point to some hard proof that they are lying, but I couldn't find it. At this point it is feeling like a lie or misunderstanding that the 1.1 asked people to sign it.
Well, final draft or not, when a big corporation with big-law representation hands you a draft contract for negotiations, it can feel like the Mob giving you a deal you can't refuse. They are not say saying you have to sign, this is just a heads up, let's discuss, you can walk away, but...


A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
And yet, Tyranny of Dragons is probably the most successful module ever written. Keep on the Borderlands maybe about the same level of success. But, Tyranny in one form or another has routinely sat in the top few hundred on Amazon for almost ten years. That's unheard of for a module. I find it rather baffling for people to constantly claim how this is one of the worst modules ever written - I believe someone earlier compared it to "Forest Oracle". Yet, this is THE module. This is the formative adventure for the game. Comparing it to Keep on the Borderlands is not unreasonable at all.
[Refills coffee for the inevitable tangent into debates about success versus quality.]


A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I keep thinking back to my 2e copy of Undermountain - it was even more empty than DotMM is. I feel like they pared down the amount of empty space in the dungeon compared to 2e. (Though honestly I agree with the folks who think they could have pared it back further).

I'm not sure I like either version in the end tbh. Mega dungeons can be fun if you go in with the right mindset, but Undermountain feels ... I dunno. Like TSR knew people wanted Castle Greyhawk but didn't want to/couldn't give that to them, so we got Undermountain instead. But it does feel to me like they were trying to make the 5e version feel like the 2e version.
I don't know the history of Undermountain specifically, but at least in the early days their was demand for dungeons and areas you would dress yourself. Really not much different than buying generic battlemaps for VTTs that you fill in with monsters and story.


A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
There has to be at least SOME connection, right?
Not when sales are very quantitative and quality is very qualitative. Most afficiandos of a thing will find the mass-produced version of the thing of less quality than the artisanal versions. So some degree we are all hipsters about the things we love, be it science fiction literature, coffee, or D&D adventures.


A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
no, absolutely not. Is McDonalds one of the 10 best restaurants?
Depends on your tastes and how you measure things. Which is why these debates get rather silly in my opinion. As for McDonalds, I'm not much of a fan, but after decades of travelling and living abroad, I am still impressed that I can go into a McDonalds anywhere in the world and with a few exceptions find the french fries are the same and the bathrooms clean. In the sense of offering a consistant experience and product, their quality control is pretty amazing. Not that I think McDonalds is a good analogy for WotC adventures as I find that them not to be particularly consistent, which works for me. I like that they are experimenting with various themes and formats. But that means there will be a rare one or two that I love (Curse of Strahd and Tomb of Annihilation) and others that I have little interest in running (all the other larger 1-10/15 campaign-length adventures). I just wish they would experiment more with different approaches to helping the DM run the game. I find much more innovation in third-party products in this regards.

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