On What is Codename:MORNINGSTAR?

Uhhhh. . .

Here's the link:


Official Companion? Picture of a tablet?

The announcement from June 10th is here: Announcement.

What do those links say? NOTHING.

The problem here, is that Hasbro, and by extension WotC, is a gaming and toy company, not a software company. Easily available reviews of Wizards talk about some of the issues of working for a company like WotC.

Don't take my word for it, this review says: "Cons – Completely incompetent at implementing any kind of digital media. I was tossed into a web design team even though I had no experience in and was not hired for coding. Had to deal with contracted web app companies that could not care less. I was placed almost exclusively in teams that had little to do with the job I'd been hired to perform."

There was in fact a tragedy during the development of DDI that scrapped many of their plans for the digital platform initiative. A Senior Manager of the Digital Technology Projects shot and killed his wife and then himself. This was a large part of why the planned Virtual Table Top technology release with 4th edition never made it to market.

What does this say for Codename: MORNINGSTAR? They have hired a small team with a three person core and about 15 total employees, up from their previous team size of 10. The primary project they have completed to date is a automated cloud publishing engine for books.

I have to wonder how many conflicting directives has the team been given? How much experience do they have delivering products on time? What are the teams goals? What are the dates? None of this information is available. It's clear the intent is to provide a character builder and distribute content, but it appears they are keeping it separate from DDI. No word on what it will cost. They've stated that they are not attempting to provide a Virtual Table Top.

I have high hopes for the company and the idea, especially since fifth edition so far has been full of very positive content. But I get the impression that anyone trying to do any good over at WotC is besieged by dozens of conflicting demands from mid and upper-level managers more interested in making themselves look good than in the strength of the Dungeons and Dragons game.

But what do I know? If you have information about Project: MORNINGSTAR, let's talk about it!

Hack & Slash 
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  1. C, This article wasn't up to your quality standards.

    I will, however, take you up on your request for more info (which is scarce).

    First-hand account from Origins:

    Morrus' roundup from June 12

    Morningstar FAQ:

    1. Curious about the perceived lack of quality.

      Personally I thought the link to the glass door reviews was entertaining enough for a post. Not to. Mention the secret digital project. I'm interested in specific feedback!

    2. Probably just grumpy that day, ugh, I hate reading my own comments.

      Your stuff is insightful, well-sourced, and regularly comes from a sincere love of the hobby. I'm going to list specifics but please don't take this as an attack. I recommend your site to all of the DMs I coach in our organized play and am in on the Patreon.

      This article is thinly sourced on actual Morningstar info (what it's supposed to be about). In the intro, "What do those links say? NOTHING." suggested you weren't familiar with the site, which introduced the team and their experience. The Glassdoor review is entertaining but unlikely to apply to the D&D team at Wotc, and the inclusion of the juicy tidbit about the murder suicide in the original DDI team was interesting reads more as gossip. The hypothetical: "I have to wonder how many conflicting directives has the team been given?" is non sequitur and comes off as strangely hostile FUD.

      I'd be very interested where you think tablets could aid or detract from it. I'm a BECMI DM running 5e now and see tablets as more of the enemy.

  2. The relationship with Morningstar is somewhat interesting. WotC seems to be stand-offish treating this as purely a 3rd party venture, as opposed to a key part of their digital strategy.

    It make sense for WotC to outsource development which they are not able to do well themselves, but they seem to be treating it as if it is not a collaboration at all.

    1. Wotc D&D is keeping overhead low, it's less expensive to farm things out than hire staff. No new retail product for a year will do that.

      Seems like they're sticking to things within reach of their 15-person team and bringing in freelancers and contract work for everything else.


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