October 2, 2008

What RPG Blog Readers Want From Dungeons & Dragons Insider...

A few days ago, I piloted a test of a new feature from Google Documents called "Forms" - its basically like a light version of SurveyMonkey that drops all the data into a Google Spreadsheets document for you automatically. I received 44 replies, which admittedly is not that many, but nonetheless served the purpose of testing out the Forms functionality with Google Documents.

Here are the responses to the questions I used for the test:
  1. Do you expect to be a paying subscriber to D&D Insider?
    1. Yes - 46%
    2. No -  54%
  2. On a scale of 1 (terrible) to 5 (awesome), how much of a "success" do you think DDI will be?

    Average score = 2.8 ± 0.9
  3. Which 4E D&D products have you purchased thus far?
  4. If you could suggest ONE thing for Wizards of the Coast to do differently with their D&D product line - what would it be? (collected responses)
    1. September 25, 2008
      1. Back to basics - they need to stop the splat book cycle and tinkering with the game.
      2. Adventures and settings should be their meat and potatoes
    2. September 29, 2008
      1. Non-random miniatures.
      2. Include handouts/pull out maps in the adventures.
      3. Match minis and tilsets to adventures. I would pay $30 bucks for an adventure with 2 dozen minis and a map tileset.
      4. Putting out supplements in a better order. Adventurer's Vault should not have been the first supplement.
      5. If you require your game to use mini's make it easier to purchase the ones you need to run an adventure.
      6. Screw the GSL & return to the original OGL!
      7. hire more and better skilled programmers to work on DDI
      8. Give us a variety of adventures that explore more than just long dungeon crawls.
      9. Drop DDI and bring back Dungeon and Dragon in paper.
      10. Make it 100% Free, and make it work. I would drop the "character visualizer".
      11. they need to make is cool
      12. Every book should be thoroughly indexed.
      13. Out-source their digital offerings to another company more knowledgeable and better equipped to make D&DI successful. Use their in-house talent, money, and resources to produce awesome PAPER products.
      14. Open up all 3.5 material as Open Content
    3. September 30, 2008
      1. Go back to BECMI D&D. Or realize Castles & Crusades did D&D better than the compan that owns the bleeding rights.
      2. Continue limited support of the 3.5 line & include it's content in DDI.
      3. I would love them to bring back the Basic and Advanced labels for 5th edition. I think this would give the ease of use and depth of rules both newbies and grognards look for. 4E is already too established for this concept. 5E would be the PERFECT place. Especially when looking at the divided fan base that exists today.
      4. Get the D&DI tools finished -- they're pretty much why I bothered getting the new books in the first place.
      5. Make the game directed towards face to face play, not online play.
      6. Include a free .pdf version of the printed books customers purchase. After all, anyone can download such files for free anyway.
    4. October 1, 2008
      1. Fire up the time machine and have the Character Builder done (DONE, NOT IN PROGRESS or COMING SOON) for Gen Con.
      2. Keep the Character Builder free... let it be the freebie intro that gets everyone hooked on D&D Insider, then charge them for the Char Visualizer, Gametable, Minis Online, whatever...
      3. To translate the service to other langs.
    Well, thats about it... the test worked.

    The collected responses about DDI seems to echo a general sentiment I've noticed from the blogs and forums...


    1. They still won't listen...They are too high up on the moutain to hear even hordes of us yelling at them.

      Forward this web link to Randy Buehler. He wanted questions and requests - give it to him.

    2. I hear the "high up on the mountain" argument before. But I have to be honest, having talked to several WotC folks for various interviews (www.thetomeshow.com) I have not been under the impression at all that there is any truth to that.

      I think the problem is WotC has been horrible at building a relationship with their fans/customers. They have a general policy to not participate in critical discussions on their own boards.

      They have well thought out, practiced, and workable games and rules and they sort of take the "proof is in the pudding" additude and to some degree a "we know best" mentality. I don't know if it's true or not, now that the game is out we'll have to see if they can overcome the PR nightmare they created and win over people with a solid game.

      But my experience is that the WotC folks are intimately aware of the image that they have (at least the writers are)...they just don't seem to know what the heck to do about it.

    3. Hey all! thanks for coming by!

      Well - since I'm a total outsider to the RPG development business, I have no idea what the heck WotC is thinking. All I can say is - as a fan - i think the best thing they have done is feature Randy Beuhler's weekly updates - at least he replies to what people say in the forums after he posts things each week. Other than that - and the "Ask Wizards Column", doesn't seem like there is much communication between the fan and them. Two way communication i mean. But.. heck Hasbro is a huge company - what do we expect anyway, right?

    4. "Putting out supplements in a better order. Adventurer's Vault should not have been the first supplement."

      ...This one, I don't get. One of the major complaints I always hear about the 4e books (right after the missing classes/races, in fact) is that there aren't enough magic items.

      So putting out a book full of them early on is... bad?

      I mean, I know it's one person's opinion, but...

      Anyway, very interesting to see the results. Thanks.

    5. Some great comments on what WotC should do with D&D Insider. Particularly the ones saying they should hire more developmers or outsource the project. An approach that has worked for Warhammer Online after the initial, more hands on approach failed in 2004.

      I did a post on this a little while ago called Oy! Hasbro! Developing Software Is Harder Than You Think about why D&D Inside is completely borked.

    6. Hello all!

      I just wanted to stop in and let you know that we realize that people feel they arent heard as much as we wish. To that end we are making efforts to increase the communication wherever, and whenever possible. Of course there are times that simply can not communicate what people want to hear for business reasons. If you take a look at Randy's most recent blog you will see that he did, in fact, not only listen to the community at large but he implemented the corrections and suggestions given in a very timely manner.

      Am I saying we are perfect? No. We are always looking for ways to improve. If you have specific suggestions on how the communication can be improved, never hesitate to let me know.
      ("They have a general policy to not participate in critical discussions on their own boards." I do not believe this is a current policy as such, but I understand the meaning behind the concern if it was. I will look into this in more detail to see if I can't get more feedback flowing where possible.")

      As the community manager for DDi I am always open to your voices. You can typically find me lurking on our forums, (though they are currently down for back end upgrades.)

      Thank you for playing and happy gaming!


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