When I signed my D&D Next playtest agreement yesterday, I do not recall a section indicating I couldn't play the game (it is a game, right?) using Google+ Hangouts, Skype or some other VTT. Then WotC posts a D&D Next Playtest FAQ, and lo and behold, the FAQ says you can't:
Can I run an online game via email, Skype, Google Hangout or a play-by-post forum?
No, you may not run an online game on third parties sites at this time.
Which I guess means you can use WotC's not ready for prime time VTT, but even that isn't spelled out. Strangely enough, I never agreed to this when I signed the agreement.
Do they think we are going to record a session and send it out into the world? Why do that when the playtest documents were already on rapidshare by yesterday afternoon for all the world to grab without signing off on any agreement?
But wait, its gets better. Here's a piece from Mike's interview at Kobold Quarterly (because you know he had to make the media rounds before the playtest released)
- Wolfgang: D&D Next provides a lot of support for “theatre of the mind,” also known as running your game without minis. I’ve found this extremely enjoyable in online games using Google Hangouts. Is that form of online play a design goal?
- Mike: I’m not sure if it started as a design goal, but since many of our playtests took place using Hangouts it helped evolve it that way. When you don’t have minis and grids to represent things, it forces you to make sure that your rules don’t require them. So I think a good way to think of it is that if playing via Hangout works, then the game should also work fine if you and your players want to sit on couches in your TV room without a table, or while driving to GenCon, or wherever.
Emphasis above is all mine.
I'm left with just these thoughts: Mike, what the fuck is going on? Did your handlers let you know that Google+ Hangouts and the like were now verboten before you spoke so glowingly about it in an interview? Why can we not do now what we could do before? Are you trying to use this as a way to push WotC's VTT?
Talk about shooting yourselves in the foot. This is one of the worst decisions the paper pushers could have made, especially after it was so largely used in the Friends & Family part of the Beta. I know first hand, as my group use G+ Hangouts for our sessions. Whatever faults we had with the system, it wasn't that it didn't work well over Hangouts.
As a side note, how the hell would you even know if members of your gaming group signed off on the agreement to Playtest D&D Next? Just their word from what I can see. There is no way to verify.