A Walk in the Dark A look in to the mind of an RPG designer



World of Fools

Even though I have sometimes participated in the antics, I really hate April Fools day. It's the sort of day when I should disconnect from everything and just crawl in to a closet, refusing to come out until 12:01am. I almost accomplished that today - went with the family to the beach - but I still managed to get online for an hour or so and experience the misery that is April Fools.

I don't really mind companies that participate in the April Fools antics so long as it doesn't directly interfere with customers or business practices. Just because Google decided to make an 8-bit version of Google Maps I still have access to the traditional system; I'm not forced to accept the goofy material made for this certain day because it's being rammed down my throat with no alternative. This situation is particularly annoying in cases of websites that decide to change their entire layout, and have made their websites unusable in the process. Last year several websites went the 8-bit route, and WotC themselves even cannibalized their home page in black and white once. Sites that I needed or depended on in one way or another were suddenly rendered useless just because someone at the company wanted to be cute and overhaul the template.

But the purpose of this post is not because of that (mainly because I've managed to avoid all that this year), but critical of Wizards of the Coast.

You see, in addition to April 1st being April Fools it is also the start of WotC's new submission window. The floodgates are open once again, and anyone and everyone can submit material in the hopes that they get published.

... But what to write about? Prior to April 1st, there was little indication of the sort of things they were expecting this cycle. Then, on April 1st, this article was posted.

I have two major problems with this article:

1) If read in its entirety, it's fairly obvious that it is a joke. But this bothered me:

D&D Gamma World: Our limited D&D Gamma World® product line made a big radioactive splash last year, and the game is 4th Edition compatible. We think our subscribers are ready for more D&D Gamma World support.

First of all, I admit it: I've been the one that has pretty much offered Gamma World content every time there was a submission window. I've ahd at least three different people tell me "Sorry, but no" in response to a submission email. This year I promised myself I would not do such a thing; if WotC doesn't want to pursue it, I won't either. So, quite honestly, the above statement almost felt like it was directed personally at me.

Secondly, if you take it to be an April Fools you can only assume that what they really mean is the opposite of what they're saying. Now it's one thing to not support a product any more, but to turn around and effectively suggest you really mean "Gamma World? Screw that!" is a stab at the game itself. Gamma World isn't just the forgotten child... it's the bastard one that nobody wants to acknowledge exists.

Gamma World does have an audience, and still has lots of people actively playing it. I don't know what brought on this attitude towards the game by its creators, but it's unwarranted. I accepted the "no more Gamma World content" statement at DDXP, but don't sandblast salt in to the open wound. If you want it dead, let it die peacefully.

2) So the submission window is now open... and the only guidance we have as to what materials they would like to see is a document that is - by design - a joke.You were open to make submissions, but you had absolutely no idea what they did or did not want; if you were excited to submit some ideas, like I was, you had no means to gauge whether they would be even remotely interested in them.

Only today, April 2nd, did they posted what they really want or don't want.

I sent a submission in already; I'd been thinking about it for a few days, typed it all up, and sent it early this morning before going about my day. I was going based on the information that I had, which was none. And this time I technically did not offer Gamma World content, but I did slightly rail on them for the reason I mention in #1 above.

Now I wish I could take that submission email back. Because, exactly 24 hours after the submission window opened, I am now told that what I sent is not what they want. I submitted options that they now explicitly state they are not interested in through the article posted today (April 2nd); had I known that when the submission window opened I would not have bothered, and now I look like an idiot for offering content they publicly stated they're not interested in.


So I'm kind of bothered, disillusioned and demoralized... I can't take what I sent back, so now I wait for the inevitable "God no, we don't want that. Ever!" email to come back from whomever's reading these things. I could have submitted other ideas, sure... But it may take a few days before my aggravation and anger subsides. And even so, if I send yet another email to them with "ignore my last one, this one is for real!" content, it feels like I'm spamming them. At this point I probably won't submit anything more this cycle, and I can only pray that the submissions I have sent in aren't laughed at for too long.

If anyone at WotC is reading this, let me offer some suggestions:

  • If you're going to offer suggestions on what you want or don't want, do it BEFORE April 1st. Not 24 hours after the window opens, because in those 24 hours people will submit things while being unaware of your expectations.
  • Do not mock the submission content on April 1st without setting a foundation of what you want or don't want before then. In the absence of valid information, do not cloud the waters with invalid info.
  • Change the start of your submission window to a day that's NOT April 1st.
Filed under: 4e, DnD, RPG, Submissions Comments Off
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  1. I feel you a right. The opening submissions pranks seemed unnescarly cruel and bad buisness. In fact i think the whole business of april fools pranks at such a critical time for the company seemed stupid and poorly thought out.

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