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 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'.
VTTs/Digital/DDB
  • 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.
Other
  • 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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Parmandur

Book-Friend
Furthermore, the consistent quality of the McDonalds food is often one of the only "safe options" for kids with ARFID (an eating disorder that is a common comorbidity with Autism that causes the fight-or-flight response to kick in when eating foods that the mind feels are "unsafe"). There is sometimes virtue in having things of a consistent quality, even if that quality isn't winning any awards or competitions.

I'm not exactly sure why this tangent happened, but I think it's partially my fault and that this doesn't help the position I had yesterday, but I don't really care. Consistent quality in itself can be a virtue, at least in specific cases when it comes to food. Not sure if that applies to book/adventure quality, though.
I think the value of the tangent is that quality is not a linear spectrum from "good" to "bad," but thst different people are balancing different values when making purchasing decisions. And in so doing, there is always a connection between some value desired by people and something selling well. So, yea, Tyranny of Dragons has many faults...but it has qualities that have kept it going, too.
 

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mamba

Legend
What you want to know and what he should know as the figurehead of this whole debacle don’t need to be the same.
no, but if you assume he follows a similar priority, it explains why he could not answer it.

As to should, I’d argue that just because he might want to eventually find out does not mean it is an immediate concern, the man has more pressing things to address. This is a curiosity without any relevance.
 

Heilemann

Explorer
no, but if you assume he follows a similar priority, it explains why he could not answer it.

As to should, I’d argue that just because he might want to eventually find out does not mean it is an immediate concern, the man has more pressing things to address. This is a curiosity without any relevance.
No, it very much isn’t for a host of reasons:

  • The question stands whether the ‘draft‘ was intended as a draft, or if it was signed. If it was signed, it was not a draft any longer it was an enacted contract, and WotC is lying through their teeth about their intentions, which very much seems to be the case, because…
  • Now that Brink is on an apology tour, he’s leaning very hard into somehow having fear that Disney or Meta would come and use their brand, yet they were actively talking to Kickstarter about the $750K ceiling and their take above that (which was exorbitant, which they would or should know, Kickstarter certainly did). That draft shows that they wanted a cut of most everything; it wasn’t targeting some massive global media empire, it was literally targeting Kickstarters, in practice. So if it was enacted as a contract, liar liar pants on fire.

I could go on, but nothing here is adding up except organizational disorganization and the sort of baffling media tour that would give birth to.
 
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mamba

Legend
No, it very much isn’t for a host of reasons:

  • The question stands whether the ‘draft‘ was intended as a draft
this has already been answered

  • Now that Brink is on an apology tour, he’s leaning very hard into somehow having fear that Disney or Meta would come and use their brand, yet they were actively talking to Kickstarter about the $750K ceiling and their take above that (which was exorbitant, which they would or should know). That draft shows that they wanted a cut of most everything; it wasn’t targeting some massive global media empire, it was literally targeting Kickstarters, in practice. So if it was enacted as a contract, liar liar pants on fire.
also answered

I could go on
or you could watch the interviews, because so far it does not look like you have
 



mamba

Legend
Maybe you could try to read the details I wrote about? Let’s agree to disagree.
I read them, they were answered

1) every draft is sent out as if it were the final version, what distinguishes a draft and a final version is that everyone agreed to the final version. This agreement is what turns a draft into the final version.

2) the amount was changed repeatedly, as they were trying to find the right point between what leaves out Disney and what leaves in 3pps. He agrees that the 1.1 result is very misaligned with their intentions and was a bad fit for their goals entirely. He himself has always been arguing for a higher threshold, but different people in the room have different goals and in their attempt to shield themselves from Disney, they lost track of the harm it would do to 3pp (or rather those that pointed it out were ignored)

I tried keeping it concise. Is there something you asked and this does not address?
 
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you are aware that quality has more than one meaning…

1) the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind

2) a distinctive attribute or characteristic

You are using 2) when they are using / we are discussing 1)
I think the "of a similar kind" is a bit weasel words there. Not that you're being a weasel, just conceptually!

Like, is say, a full-price sit-down burger restaurant actually "of a similar kind"? Let alone some Michelin star place.

And once we do, say, determine that in this case, McDonalds is being more narrowly compared to say, other fast food restaurants, what does quality mean? I think quality is going to mean a lot more than "how tasty/nutritious the food is", for example, within that sector.
 

bedir than

Full Moon Storyteller
Unlikely. Despite what they seem these fireside chats are designed to obfuscate, not enlighten.
Quite the contrary, we've learned clearly that the game studio is now in an elevated position after being an afterthought. We've learned that Brinks is an advocate of expanding diversity and internal promotion. We've learned that he feels one of his mistakes was trying to protect his creators by having them create rather than focus on internal politics with divisions that they'll never deal with.

These are substantial changes
 

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