Oops, They Did It Again

RPGA, the arm of Wizards of the Coast’s marketing department that handles their organized play campaigns like Living Forgotten Realms and Living Greyhawk, redid its members’ site a couple of days back.

The RPGA members’ site is the place where you log in to order RPGA events and then later report them. It’s also where you download the modules for your events.

Now, it’s been combined with the DCI members’ site. They’re the guys who run D&D Miniatures leagues and Magic: the Gathering leagues, and so forth.

And in the grand tradition of WotC’s online widgets, it doesn’t work. I went through a frustrating thirty minutes trying to delete some sessions that never ran and one I’d scheduled accidentally for the year 2022. Mind you, some of these sessions had already been reported and (I thought) removed ages ago. Also, here we have two threads on the LFR forum about problems reporting Living Forgotten Realms events.

Personally, I’m almost happy that Living Greyhawk is ending and I’m moving to Tampere, and I will no longer have reason to access it. I’m about this close to downloading everything that’s available and just removing it from my bookmarks for good.

Now… this weekend is the weekend of Gen Con Indy. When Living Forgotten Realms is officially kicking off.

I don’t know how many people they have with the responsibility of reporting every table, but I wouldn’t want to be them right now. Even though I do so enjoy screaming in righteous wrath.

Well done, WotC. Yet another successful launch.

This could’ve been averted, too. For one thing, whoever is responsible for the website should’ve been replaced long ago. There is not a single aspect of it that’s not an abomination, from the terrible front page with its occasionally functional Java and that horrible ad video with the crappy metal soundtrack to the forums, vacillating between unmoderated anarchy and a police-state of jackbooted power-trippers, with hours of downtime every day and the chat running on software that was old when the Red Box was young and a server that predates the invention of the dice pool.

Also, the LFR system requires the Game Master to report everything – not only the players’ RPGA numbers, but also treasure bundles, character information and story consequences. They’ve done this before, actually, on the Legacy of the Green Regent, Mark of Heroes and Xen’drik Expeditions campaigns. It sucked each and every time.

Living Greyhawk differs in this. We have an interesting an innovative way to track character advancement. We use this stuff called paper. You may have heard of it, though it’s a fairly new thing, only been around for about five thousand years.

There may be a reason it’s still in widespread use.

And if there are story consequences, we use e-mail. Online, we reported the players’ RPGA numbers and that’s it. Same web form for every module, nothing fancy, no glitches, so simple a moron could use it.

The system worked pretty well for eight years. Large-scale electronic tracking has been an abject failure for about four years, now. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of neophilia – let’s face it, new gadgets are fun – but the rest of us are getting a bit uncomfortable and weirded out by how they’re slobbering all over this one. It’s slowly moving into the realm of some sort of electronic pygmalionism.

Guys, it does not work! It never will work! It sucks!

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

8 thoughts on “Oops, They Did It Again

  1. It is WotC… what do you expect?
    They can’t get it right all the time… or even most of the time. Come to think do they even get it right half of the time?

  2. I have a firm belief that if we look back far enough, we will find at least circumstantial evidence of them getting it right.

    For one thing, the Living Greyhawk tracking system was also implemented under WotC, and it works fine. The people who did it, though… no longer work for WotC.

  3. So the problem isn’t whether WotC has ever done it right, but why they keep firing the people who do it right.
    I give WotC a lot of crap, mostly for all the goofs associated with 4e and some unkind business practices, but in truth I am a fan of their products. I hope that they eventually get everything in order and regain some cred in the eyes of gamers and industry pros that they have upset.

  4. Mmf. I used to be a fan of WotC. The old WotC, that didn’t have the smell of Hasbro’s marketing goons about it and knew its own product. The old WotC produced quality stuff.

    I want the old WotC back.

    So, every time they screw up, I will call them on it. It may not make a difference, but it’ll make me feel better.

    Also, I’ve been reading way too much Transmetropolitan.

  5. If WotC do it on a website, it’s bound to be messed up. I have yet to see anything work on launch that I’ve tried. What’s worse, at least to me, is that they seem to be pretty OK with it not really working.

    Of course, I also don’t spend a lot of time mucking around WotC’s website or anything, so who knows if my impression is right.

  6. “Simple is best” is a great motto, in web development especially. Wikipedia, for example, thrives on how easy is to edit.

    Wizards of the Coast’s D&D website is a joke. It launched as a bulky 1.1MB that collapsed the server, and when I last checked it was a colossal 2.5MB. That’s just for the front menu page – to actually find anything on the site I have to use Google.

  7. Well, the upside is that I can now enter up to 1000 PCs for the campaign.
    You have to admit that that is ambitious 😉

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