Several weeks ago, I said that we were taking steps to improve the processes behind the scenes in R&D to ensure that we don’t repeat some of our mistakes of the last year. I’m happy today to talk about one of these changes – the creation of a new group within R&D called Play Design.
The purpose of Play Design is to be a group solely dedicated to the health of tournament environments, to make sure that playing Magic in structured settings is as enjoyable as possible. This will, of course, impact the quality of these formats even for players playing outside of tournaments.
We recently hired Dan Burdick to run this team and are currently staffing it up. This has included moving current R&D members onto the team as well as converting two of our playtesters (welcome Pro Tour 8’ers Melissa DeTora and Andrew Brown) into fulltime employees. We are also looking for additional experienced players outside of Wizards to bring onto the team.
Besides having a team solely focused on this task, we’re also changing how we build sets from the ground up to make sure that Play Design is involved at every step. Design, for example, will be working with Play Design to make sure that we are creating mechanics that can be properly balanced.
Dan is just settling in, but he’ll be writing an article (appearing in June, I believe) that will formally introduce the team and explain its philosophy.