So you just sat down with your shiny new 4e PHB and are thinking, boy this sucks; or maybe you just tried to install the character builder and it won't work; maybe you are sitting around thinking that you wish the assassin was available for those people who can't afford (or don't want to pay for) a DDI subscription.
Damn those Wizards of the Coast, they just suck! Well, do they?
I've seen a little too much complaining about Wizards for my tastes lately, that isn't to say the company or their products are perfect (far from it) but I do mean that too many people seem to be blaming Wizards of the Coast for things which they just aren't at fault for.
I am from a background in Communications Electronics, specifically as a maintenance engineer. This means that the majority of my work time used to be spent sitting fixing things that other people saw as problems. I'm going to let you in on a little secret, 90% of the time the problem was with the person operating the equipment, not with the equipment itself, and the same thing is going on here.
So you sat down and opened up your 4e PHB and are thinking that it doesn't look like that rough and tumble, familiar Dungeons and Dragons you have been playing for 20 years. You know what, it isn't. I'm lucky enough to have spoken with some of the guys from WotC and I understand their design decisions for 4e. The R&D team at WotC sat down with 4e to design a game, which is a rules system with the purpose of creating a fun experience.
You need to understand this when you walk into 4e. It is a game. It is for having fun. It is not designed to simulate those classic fantasy novels from 20 years ago, it is meant for people here and now to sit down (regardless of their amount of RPG experience) and have fun. The rules system is quick and easy, but has enough scope to cover just about anything you could ever want to do.
If you are one of those people who opened the PHB and thought the game sucked, you probably didn't understand the reasons behind the changes they made. Y ou need to sit down and play 4e to really get it. You need to be ready for some suspension of disbelief because 4e ignores some "real" things in order to create a fun experience. Just sit down, don't think about rating 4e as a Role-Playing Game, just enjoy it as a game, and then start to role-play.
So, you just downloaded the Character Builder and it doesn't work huh?
Well, you know how I was saying that the majority of the problems with equipment are down to the user, that’s really important right here. The Character Builder is a tried and tested piece of software. A very large number of people are using it right now with no problems. So why can’t you? Quite probably because there is something on your end that is preventing it. It could be a problem with a 3rd party piece of software (such as an anti-virus or problems with the .NET framework software), driver issues or any number of problems.
If you are having a problem, what you need to do is speak (very nicely) to the guys in Customer Service, and follow their instructions to the letter. Don't skip a step because you think it’s unimportant, and I say this from experience. For example, I recently changed OS and was unable to get the CB working afterwards; I spent almost 12 hours before I finally realized I was simply missing an update (through Windows Update) for the .NET framework. The CS guys had told me to ensure the updates were all downloaded before I started with the CB, but I thought I knew better. Needless to say, I felt like something of an ass afterwards.
Also, if you use Linux, Ubuntu, a Mac or similar, please do not complain when software doesn't work for you. When WotC make a product they make it for everyone, that is, they make it for the majority. The reason WotC don't make digital products for Linux is the same reason they don't translate their paper products into Aboriginal, because the amount they have to spend on the development far outweighs any return they would get.
Now I know some of you are saying, "Yes, exactly! That's because WotC are a money grabbing, evil corporation intent on world domination," and you would be wrong. WotC is a business, that means they need to have a level of profit. Without that level of profit no one is willing to invest in the company, which means the company has no capital to spend on developing new products (such as DDI applications, new D&D books, new Magic sets). Don't think that all they are after is money, yes it is important to them, but it is far from everything. Just take a little time out, read through the blogs of the WotC staff and you will quickly come to realize that they make games because they like playing them. And because they play the same game as you, they are intent on making it the best game it can be. They want to have fun just as much as you do.
Last but not least, the DDI issue.
A lot of people seem to think that the Dungeon and Dragon content should be available to everyone. Well, quite simply, No it shouldn't. I understand there are people out there who can't afford to pay for that content, or are unwilling to. However, there are a large number of people who want, and are able, to pay out for those new articles, digital applications and exclusive content. If they want to do that, and are able to they should be able to. If people didn’t pay for that content, it would probably never see the light of day here on the WotC website. It would languish in obscurity on some 3rd party developers site, if those writers even bothered at all.
Dungeon and Dragon are good magazines; they allow the R&D staff, along with freelance writers, to expand the D&D world without needing to publish a full supplement about it. The digital tools offered by DDI are excellent tools, they are high quality and relatively bug-free (when compared to how complex the programming is). Yes, you do need a subscription to keep up to date, but that subscription is split between paying Dungeon and Dragon writers; and on going to update the content in the digital tools. The price is only marginally more than a pair of magazine subscriptions, which is fair considering the digital tools that are shipped with the magazines.
So all in all, before you turn around and start blaming all your troubles on Wizards, take a moment, sit back and think "Is some of this my fault?" Are your expectations too high, are you forgetting that Wizards is a business, are you simply overlooking something simple on your part that may have nothing to do with Wizards at all?
As I said earlier don't think that I believe that Wizards is a perfect, flawless entity which can never do anything wrong, just understand that they may not be responsible for everything you think they are; or may have very good reasons for doing what they do.