Posted by: NiTessine | August 15, 2009

Award News – Bleargh

The results of both the ENnies and the Diana Jones Awards are now in.

The Diana Jones people haven’t yet updated their website, though. According to Robin D. Laws, it went to Dominion.

The ENnies, this year, featured a lesson on why the popular vote doesn’t work when one of the contestants is orders of magnitude larger than all the others combined. WotC sweeped nearly all categories it was nominated for just by being better known, including the Fan’s Choice for Best Publisher, which is beyond ridiculous. Their marketing has featured outright lies (At D&D Experience 2007, the official line was that 4E is not in the works. At Gen Con…), promised products have never materialised (The online game table is now over a year late and still not in sight.), their website is a travesty, the first draft of the GSL was a direct attack against the open gaming movement, and their policy on PDFs has less connection to the real world than the D&D economic system.

I would also contest the Product of the Year going to Player’s Handbook, which is only a third of a game and despite being laid out for eight-year-olds with lots of white space and a ridiculously huge typeface still doesn’t contain enough empty margins to write in all the errata.

Best Aid or Accessory to D&D Insider? A user-hostile collection of occasionally functional applications and features that never were? Are you kidding me?

Howl of the Carrion King, at least, won the Best Adventure it deserved – and it really is a splendid module. Still, WotC’s King of the Trollhaunt Warrens, which nobody seems to have even heard of, nabbed second place apparently just by being 4E. Seriously, I can’t even find reviews for it outside of Amazon.com, and even there the most positive one of the three states that “The module is similar to all WOTC and TSR adventures and has little to no role-playing. This adventure is basically fight after fight.”

Silver. Over Purge the Unclean or Barrow Grounds. My ass.

Then there’s Best Monster Book, with Monster Manual, a collection of stats and occasionally questionable art choices beating Creatures Anathema, a book chock-full of flavour, great ideas and adventure hooks. It also contains the following: “The most infamous of Attack Squigs is the Ravenous Face-Biter, appropriately named for the way in which it tries to bite the faces off of its enemies, ravenously. Other less well known, but no less vicious, varieties include the Drooling Snapjaw and the Pig-eyed Gouger.” It’s got orks! It’s got the eldar! It’s got ‘nids! And it got beaten by the adorable dire puppy!

Another serious issue is that the Best Free Product category pitted freebie quickstart rules – marketing materials, essentially – against genuinely free games, and then one of the damn things was actually allowed to win. The D&D retroclone game Swords & Wizardry got silver, at least, but in my view, and the view of quite a few others in the blogosphere, there were only two nominees there that should have been eligible in the first place. The other was Trial & Terror: Supernatural Victims Unit.

Dark Heresy received a well-deserved Best Production Values award. I mean, you can say what you will about recycling art, glorious though it be, but that book, as a physical object, is one of the finest items in my game collection. I accidentally dropped it a while back, and the pages tore away from the covers. I pushed them back in, and they stuck. In normal use, you wouldn’t know anything had happened. That’s quality. I can’t say how it stacks up with the competition (except that CthulhuTech is also a very pretty book, though I understand that an early print run was somehow faulty), but it is not a misplaced victory.

Also, Best Setting went to Paizo’s Pathfinder Campaign Setting, which really is one of my favourite fantasy settings, nowadays. It combines elements of classic pulp fantasy and horror literature with Dungeons & Dragons to great effect and manages to create a kitchen sink setting with a distinct feel of its own instead of just a mishmash.

In other news, WotC has announced that in 2010 they shall be revisiting Dark Sun for 4E. I shall politely refrain from posting my thoughts on this.


Responses

  1. Lol, I love it, the haters are all in a tizzy. If its just because of their size, what stopped WotC from sweeping the awards every other year? Your logic is flawed (as logic arising from nerd rage usually is).

    I especially love how the haters have built this whole myth of D&D Insider as some failed product, when it is immensely popular among the target audience (actual 4e gamers). The best character building software out there, two complete monthly e-magazines, complete access to every product released through the Compendium (whether you bought them or not), monster and encounter builders, all for $6 a month? Yeah, that really sucks! I don’t know of a single subscriber to DDI who doesn’t love it.

    But by all means, rant on! It’s keeping me entertained on a boring Saturday.

  2. Of course it is a failure. It may not be a complete failure, but it has failed to deliver the promised features. Their monthly magazines are a pale shadow of what they once were (indeed, Dungeon/Polyhedron won an ENnie in 2002). And the character building software is only the best out there because, well, only WotC can make a commercial character builder for 4E. It’s easy to be number one when there is no number two.

    As for how WotC hasn’t sweeped the awards every year… well, they last entered in 2003, and that was with the Epic Level Handbook. No win, unsurprisingly. 2002, 12 nominations (some of them in the same categories), eight awards, including for the interior art of Deities & Demigods, which includes several pieces that make my eyes bleed.

  3. The one thing I agree with you on is that Cthulhutech is a very pretty book. I’m so glad that it won best art. Mike V. deserves that one!

  4. It’s not a failure if it’s a huge success. You are trying to play a semantics game, but are failing. No, it doesn’t have some of the things they wanted to do in the beginning, but subscribers have received great pricing and honest communication about what is and isn’t being developed for the ongoing product. And again, complete access to all rules, races, powers, items, etc., from every product released period. What game company gives you all the information even if you don’t buy their products (excepting the awesome free RPGs out there of course)

    As for the magazines, how would you even know? You state your hatred for 4e and remind everyone often about this. So it’s hard to believe that you have been diligently following Dungeon and Dragon content over the past year (since DDI is such a huge failure and all). Their current incarnation is great, not up to the golden years of Dragon myabe (back in the wild and loose 1e days) but certainly great resources. Maybe, just maybe, you are trying to manufacture “facts” to support your ill-informed notions?

    Oh, and I forgot to mention this before? No one’s heard of Trollhaunt Warrens, really? The adventure universally acclaimed by 4e players as the best adventure, by far WotC has put out since it bought D&D? The adventure with tons of reviews online, numerous threads on EnWorld and RPG Net and in the blogosphere? That adventure no one has ever heard of? KotS sucked, it was linear, too long, full of useless filler encounters. Trollhaunt Warrens is a new classic and a hell of an adventure.

  5. DDI still lacks the biggest thing they were puffing up, the online game table. If you’re trying to build a Cadillac and get yourself a Lada, you have failed.

    Admittedly, I haven’t read the 4E versions of Dungeon and Dragon since they started charging. Of the ones they released back then, I remember there being one adventure that I’d deem playable, which was hurt by its conversion from 3.5 to 4E, and one or two decent articles. Then there was a bunch of drek, pixelated maps, and that one railroad where the module declared that the PCs will flee from oncoming cultists into a side passage. That one was amusing.

    I searched for info on King of the Trollhaunt Warrens. The only forum threads I can remember seeing on it was a short one on either RPG.net or EN World, where someone asked what the hell it is since he’d never heard of it either, and got the enthusiastic reply of “eh, it’s decent”. RPG.net has no reviews. I can’t tell if EN World does, since the review database, as far as I can tell, is unnavigable and unsearchable. I googled and found only websites selling it. I checked Amazon.com and found a five-star review declaring it to be nothing but fights. If you’ve got links, gimme!

  6. Ridiculous. Do you really expect anyone to take your criticism of the ENnies seriously when you fill it with what is so clearly hate-fueled invective towards WotC? You had a chance to offer a level-headed criticism of the awards program and offer some solutions in a forum where others might read it. Instead, you’ve taken every opportunity to turn it into a bash-the-WotC rant (even your no-comment on Dark Sun is a too-obvious veiled jab). You have demonstrated that you cannot be objective on this subject, and the credibility of your criticisms is crippled as a result.

  7. Well, bashing WotC is very entertaining.

    Mostly, I’m criticising WotC, not the ENnies. WotC clearing it out is a result of the shape of the market – D&D is so much bigger than anything else that in the case of popular vote, the less well known products of smaller publishers have little to no chance. I personally do not see a way to fix this except by WotC being gentlemanly and abstaining as they have done in the past. Banning WotC from the competition wouldn’t be very constructive.

    The freebie product thing, though… that was the ENnies’ bad.

    As for Dark Sun… well, I’ve seen what happened to the Forgotten Realms, and that one had Ed Greenwood on the team. The Greyhawk community breathed a collective sigh of relief when they heard the news. Me, I would’ve preferred Dragonlance, since I don’t particularly like it and the fans should be used to their setting getting nuked every five years or so.

    And they didn’t even get a Brom cover. No hope for this one.

  8. Really, how DARE they let the consumers have a say in the awards process!

  9. Didn’t say that.

    However, I do prefer awards handed out by a panel of judges, because then every vote cast is an educated one, by a person who is familiar with all the nominees and has weighed them against each other. At least hopefully.

    With popular vote… well, dunno about you, but I knew maybe a third of the products, and I buy a lot of RPGs. There wasn’t a single category where I was familiar with all of the nominees (except website, free product, podcast and so forth, where it could be arranged). I am going out on a limb here and assuming that the vast majority of voters was operating on as only a little more, as much, or less information as I was. I could not cast fully educated votes.

    This makes it likely that some or all of the winners would not be deemed the best even by the voters, were they familiar with everything nominated.

  10. Ah, in response to the “nerd rage” (disagreeing with anything), the “nerd jerkoffs” have arrived. Your facts are hate-filled invective! We shall use FOX news tactics on any blog post we don’t like! WHARRRGARBL

  11. For crying out loud, mxyzplk. Acting like the trash you’ve thrown in WotC’s direction resembles fact is a real problem. Your language is radicalized and you have demonstrated an inability to empathize with an opposing viewpoint.

  12. Insider is not what was promised (or advertised), but from what I have heard it is very useful product none the less.

    I feel more inclined judging it for what it is, as opposed to what it was promised to be, while judging WotC for false promises at the same time.

  13. And also, there’s people like me who thought the character visualizer and 3D online table were pretty much useless eye candy and that hope they are never prioritized over anything simpler yet more useful (like the monster builder.)

  14. This is why getting nominated is the real award, IMO.

    Joseph Browning
    Expeditious Retreat Press


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