Exalted 3e Playtest Documents Leaked

So it seems that one of the Exalted 3e playtesters leaked all six of the latest playtest files on 4chan. This sort of thing is always a risk in game development. Witness the “godbook leak” for the New Phyrexia set of Magic: The Gathering, where images of the entire card set were leaked a month before the release date, thoroughly ruining Wizards of the Coast’s plans for the prerelease spoiler season.

The developers are currently investigating the source of the leak. The exact nature of Onyx Path’s response remains to be seen, but simply letting it slide doesn’t seem like an option, insofar as the company needs to ensure that its nondisclosure agreements retain some teeth. I can’t think how we can playtest effectively otherwise. If external playtesters can’t be relied on to adhere to their NDAs, we’ll have to do all playtesting in-house, and without fresh eyes we’ll get substandard results.

As to the effect on the schedule, I doubt there will be any major long-term impact. We’re not going to rewrite things just so they’re different from the leaked material. And while I am not a lawyer, it seems reasonable to say that although any legal action that may result from the leak will soak up money that Onyx Path would otherwise put toward other purposes, it won’t affect the developers directly. On the other hand, I expect that everyone’s productivity on the design team will be shot for the next few days as we spend a chunk of our free time online following the impact of the leak and performing damage control.

Regardless, I’m pleased by the fanbase’s strength of character, insofar as the vast majority of those who’ve had access to the files have refrained from reposting the leaked material. This is to everyone’s benefit. The playtest packets are still raw; the text needs editing, and doubtless there are still mechanical issues that need ironing out. And any ruleset reads better in the context of the completed book, anchored as it is there by setting material, layout, and illustration.

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12 comments

      1. If you’re ever in my neck of the woods, I’ll buy one each for you and any other Exalted writer.

  1. Excellent news! Good on that brave playtester, to take a bullet for all of the rest of us! It’s a pity he did so so incompetently, though; the Google docs he linked to went down in under an hour and it doesn’t look like any other links to any proper file-sharing sites have popped up, so he’s going to get hammered for leaking them, when the amount that was actually leaked was very small.

    Well, assuming that the leak wasn’t deliberately orchestrated by someone at Onyx Path, anyway.

    Ah well. Hopefully Onyx Path will be smart enough to use this to their advantage by transitioning to an Open Playtest instead, like I’ve been saying they should have been doing from the very beginning, or at least use it as free publicity.

      1. It sounds as if someone failed to do any proper risk assessment regarding the playtest docs. There should have been a plan in place for mitigating the damage done by leaked documents before the playtest was ever started.
        That said, consider the amount of damage that actually was done, and how useful the leaked “product” is in its partial state. All that really happened is some fanboys got their spoilers, and its far less harmful than even “Snape kills Dumbledore”.
        If you think about it, “leaks” happen all the time to generate hype these days (especially in Hollywood), and it seems like no widely known product goes without a leak. The only way you can tell if the leak was intentional or not is how complete the leaked information is.
        So I begin to wonder, as the business folks at Onyx Path should themselves, how they can turn this to their advantage. Leaks generate hype, because everyone knows that taking a peek under the covers is a lot more fun when you’re not supposed to.
        Certainly enforce your NDAs, but dont pretend like a youtube video for your latest beta test game wasnt going to show up, because thats just naive.

  2. I don’t understand. It’s June 2014. Exalted 3rd was meant to release December 2013. These are some really late spoilers.

    That or Onyx Path has bigger issues than a playtest leak and maybe they should have kept their fans in the loop themselves.

    1. Andy:

      The release date was always fluid and the devs have always said “It’s done when it’s done. And Onyx Path does regularly release updates on the project’s progress, including when they decided to go back and redo everything to make sure the core system and charms were as fine-tuned as possible. Having the system start to break down around the 3rd splat book or so would be more disappointing to fans than delays in the release.

      The issue here isn’t that Onyx Path didn’t communicate, and ultimately, OP’s behavior isn’t an excuse, legal or otherwise, for the play tester to break their contract.

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