D&D General WotC hiring a Principal AI Engineer


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SlyFlourish

SlyFlourish.com
Supporter
I'm late to the show but I've had some thoughts about this.

First, it seems like WOTC is talking out of two sides of its mouth. At the summit last year, on X, and in their FAQ they talk all about the importance of human-created art. But then Chris Cocks talks about wanting to harvest old D&D material for large language models and how they're experimenting with these ideas all the time. Then they put out a job req which says nothing about video games but then claim it's all about video games.

I don't think WOTC is going to start pumping out hardcover books with AI-generated art or words in it. It doesn't make business sense even beyond being a naughty word thing to do. But I could totally see their interest in doing things like an LLM-backed background generator for characters, NPC descriptions, story prompts, or character portraits on D&D Beyond. That seems like something they'd considered.

In Christian Hoffer's Comicbook article WOTC basically says "we stand by our previous statements and the FAQ" (paraphrasing). But that FAQ is nothing. It's air. They can nullify the whole FAQ with four words:

"we changed our minds".

So what then?

I think about something Cory Doctorow described as a "Ulysses Pact" – something a company does that they can't take back. Putting the 5.1 SRD into the Creative Commons was a Ulysses pact. They can't take that back.

What Ulysses pact could they do for this?

The best idea I can think of is Chris Cocks himself, during a Hasbro shareholder meeting, making it clear where they're considering using generative AI and where they're not. Basically he can read the FAQ to Hasbro's shareholders from his own lips in an official shareholder meeting. If WOTC goes against it, that's not just people being angry on X, its something shareholders could sue over (though I doubt they would being so excited about generative AI).

Honestly, I'm not too bent out of shape about any of this. I don't expect Hasbro to start throwing generative art or words into their products. I could see them wiring things into their various digital tools like D&D Beyond or the 3D VTT. I know others who hate that idea far worse than I do.

But I don't think we should give them a pass because they wrote it in a FAQ. That can be rescinded easily. Instead, what sort of Ulysses pact can WOTC do to ensure they can't change their minds?

That's what I've been thinking about on this.
 
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Parmandur

Book-Friend
Honestly there is a real lack of D&D adventures with the sort of epic sweep and wilderness focus of LotR. I genuinely think a "rip off LotR adventure" would be like, quite a good idea in a lot of ways.
Quite the opposite of unwanted, I would say rather it is extremely hard to do, but people would eat it up. Tyranny of Dragons is a pretty half-assed attempt at that, and as a consequence is one of the best selling Advenyures of all time.
 

Quite the opposite of unwanted, I would say rather it is extremely hard to do, but people would eat it up. Tyranny of Dragons is a pretty half-assed attempt at that, and as a consequence is one of the best selling Advenyures of all time.
Exactly. If they did it well, I think it's precisely the sort of thing I might pick up.

But the odds of them doing it well whilst "Good Enough" Perkins is in charge are basically nil. I mean, jesus christ, the stuff that man has let out the door (particularly the spectacularly "Follow this jerk NPC around" back half of Dragonlance ugh).
 

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