Saturday, July 18, 2009

Thoughts on Wizards Apology

Are you a person who sees a glass half-empty or a glass half-full? The answer to that may determine how you view the recent kerfuffle over Dragon Magazine's July 13th’s Class Acts: Ranger article.

The article had a number of errors in it that sparked an immediate reaction (pardon the pun) at various forums where D&D is discussed. Wizards of the Coast apparently got enough negative feedback on this article that Andy Collins actually published an apology for the lapse in quality! A new version of the article was posted on July 17th.

So what was wrong with the original article? The main problem was that several encounter attack powers were listed as immediate actions, but had no trigger mechanism. In 4E, immediate interrupts and immediate reactions always have something that triggers their use. Without a trigger, the concept of how an immediate action would work is a bit vague. When the article was corrected, the immediate actions were replaced with standard actions.

Another problem was that there was a utility power, Death Threat, which caused ongoing damage (with the save ends mechanic). Utility powers don’t generally cause damage... after all, that is what attack powers are for! When the article was updated, Death Threat was changed so that it made the target your quarry and granted combat advantage instead of causing damage directly.

If I had to guess, I would bet that the immediate action issue was a simple typo or "cut and paste" problem. The utility power acting like an attack power seems like a design problem. Of course, I could be completely off-base. In any case, both of these issues slipped past the editorial staff.

I know a lot of people are pissed off about this. After all, D&D Insider is a paid subscription service and subscribers (including me) expect a quality product in return. Posting an article that has enough problems in it that they actually have to post a retraction is not encouraging.

On the other hand, I feel Wizards of the Coast handled this situation as well as they could. They reacted to customer feedback quickly, confirming that the article had issues.. They addressed these issues and posted a written apology. More importantly. they promised to review their design, development, and editorial processes to prevent a reoccurrence of the issue.

Of course, that is what I meant at the top of the article where I asked if you are a glass half-empty or a glass half-full kind of person. While I am disappointed that the problems with this article were not caught before it was released, I truly appreciate the speed and seriousness with which it was handled.

Just try not to let it happen again, OK? After all, apologies seem a lot less sincere the second time around.


Todd said...

Actually, a review of basic procedures for design and development might lead to a lot of fun stuff. While it is clear that they need some slightly less streamlined editorial standards, a little shaking up of the status quo might be good.

I wonder how I could get the job of "devil's advocate" for new design. I figure I am just enough of a gaming luddite that I could keep the creative folks on an even keel. ^_^

Tom said...

Eh, mistakes happen. No need to apologize, just fix them ASAP!

There are still errors in the KOTS freebie, notably the Sir Keegan Skill challenge and the level 2 trap room. Is it so hard to open the PDF in acrobat pro and make a fix?

A Hero said...

RE: Eh, mistakes happen. No need to apologize, just fix them ASAP!

I tend to agree actually. The point of this post isn't that they needed to apologize, but more about the unusual fact that they did apologize.

I am very glad the addressed the issue quickly. D&D Insider is a paid subscription and its customers expect quality in return for their money.

I think WOTC realizes this and that is the reason they provided an apology. They know that if Dragon or Dungeon gained a reputation of being unusable, DDI subscriptions would dry up very quickly.