WotC Staff Responses in Web Tools thread

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The web tools thread is long. Really, really long. 800+ posts long. And there are some posts from Paolo in there that answer some questions people ask.

This thread will consist of me posting these questions and answers. If I have missed a answer, post in this thread and let me know, providing a link to the post in question.

This is not a thread for discussion.

And now I go off to do battle. I hope these goggles do some good.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Paolo - Post 40
Show

Let's reply to some previously asked questions:

1. Will these tools Replace the existing Character Builder(CB) and Adventure Tools(AT), or will they be a supplement?


Some will replace, some will supplement, some will augment, some will be completely new.

2a. What tools will be included? Virtual Table Top(VTT)?


As of today, I can only talk about the Rules Compendium (released on Oct 12th) and the Character Builder (to be released on Nov 16th).

3. Will they be built on flash, silverlight, or HTML 5?


Depending on their purpose and intended usage, we'll use the technology that better solves the problem. In the case of the Rules Compendium, it was HTML/JavaScript, in the case of Character Builder it was Silverlight 4.

4a. What is the current state of development of the web based tools?


Working on it smile.gif

4b. Are  they basically working and they are just fixing minor bugs?


They are in various states of advancement. Some are even released!

4c. Is there  anything working at all?


Magic 8 ball says "Yes" smile.gif

4d. Can we see some screen shots?


Yes. We posted some today and I plan to post more as appropriate.

5. Can we get regular updates on progress and problems?


That's the plan.

6. When will they be available?


First one was on Oct 12th, 2010. We'll keep releasing tools for quite a while.

7. Will they require an active connection to the internet to use?


Most of them, yes.

8. Will there be a beta-test?


Some tools will have a beta program.

9. Will there be a demo available for non-subscribers?


Depending on the tool.

10a. Will the web-based tools be updated more often? 


Now that the studio is not split in two anymore - trying to support legacy and new development - we plan to have an aggressive feature update schedule. I can't promise that updates will be more frequent than monthly, but they won't be purely content.

10b. Will the updates come faster, with less lag between a book/magazine being published and getting updated to the software?


Not for now. The current process we have between R&D and the studio makes quite difficult to release digital information earlier, but we're working on improving this publishing process as well.

11a. Are you prepared for the load this will place on your servers? 


We hope so.

11b. Can you ensure they can handle the load?


Nothing can be certain, but we did load tests for the past month with several times the number of current DDi subscribers. Everything should be fine.

11c. What if your servers go down?


Wibbles wooble but... no wait. We have redundant server farms, fully load balanced in all components.

12. When someone's account expires, what access will they retain? Any files they've created? Characters/Monsters they've built?


User created content is kept on WotC servers for at least 12 months after a subscription expires.

13. If it does replace the CB, will it be able to track resources, such as Hit Points, Healing Surges, etc, similar to iPlay4e.com?


The new Character Builder replaces the old one (or, as we call it here, Character Builder Classic) in functionality. The old one didn't track anything at play time, so the new one doesn't either.

14. Will the web tools be included in the standard subscription price, or will there be an additional fee? Will there be an increase in the subscription price?


There is no plan to increase the subscription fee.

15. Will the tools be released as a bundle, or one at a time?


One (or more) at a time.

16. How much access will WotC have to the user data collected by the tools? How will you address privacy concerns?


User generated content will link to the originating user only via a GUID. This GUID is the one provided by the WotC login and membership process that is already compliant with all privacy and security regulations. In other words, if I run queries on the database, I can only figure out WHAT paople are creating, but not WHO is doing that. Speaking of this, we plan to mine the databases constantly, in order to better understand usage patters and the kind of content pleople are most likely to use. For example, if suddenly 90% of new characters are Muls, then R&D may take a look into writing some special Mul content smile.gif

17. How will data persistence be handled? Will the tools require any data installed on my system? savedata, logintools?


Nothing on the client machine, except for your login token cookie. State and data are all stored in the cloud.

18. Will any of the tools allow for shared use? Such as a VTT allowing the entire party to participate with a single account?


This would go against the Terms of Use.

19. Will it be possible to use the tools with more than one IP at a time? Such as a VTT on the PC and the compendium on the laptop?


In general, I don't see why not. There may be issues working with the Character Builder on the same character at the same time from multiple locations, so please don't do that.

20. Are there any plans to offer an API?


Plans in that area are being discussed.

21. What Operating Systems and Browsers will be supported? Will the tools be accessible via smartphone browsers? What about tablets/iPads?


See the FAQ for the supported platforms.

22. What export options will there be for characters, monsters, and other items created with these tools?  XML files? PDF Files?


At launch, we won't support any kind of export. Of course, you can always use free tools (like PDF Creator), to print your character sheet to PDF.

23. Who is working on this project? Is it the same dev team that created the CB, or are new people being brought in?


The D&D Digital Studio is working on this project. Involved are some members that worked on the legacy tools and some new faces (like me).

24. If the CB is replaced by the web-tools, will a refund be offered for people who wish to cancel their subsciption?


You should discuss this directly with Customer Service.

25. Will Dark Sun support be available with the web-tools?


Yes.

26. If the CB is replaced, will the last updated version still be available for subscribers?


No.

27. How will we be notified about updates to the Web-Based tools? Will the new email system be used, or is there some other process?


The web tools will be automatically updated, so there won't be any need for user initiated actions. Notifications will be handled as usual.

28. Is this the cool thing that the VCLs hinted at before?


Part of it smile.gif

29. What benefits are you hoping we will enjoy most from the Web Tools?


Cross platfom compatibility, centralized storage, better visuals and user experience, a very solid platform for future development.

30. Will characters created with the Offline Character Builder be usable by the web tools?


Yes. You can import them from the Load screen.

31. If the CB is going web based, will it still have the same filtering abilities as the Desktop version?


If by filtering you mean campaign settings, it will have the capability but not, at launch, the user interface component for changing them.

32. Will we be able to alter magical items? 


Not at launch.

33. Will we be able to add House Rule feats and  powers, or other elements?


Not at launch.

34. Will we be able to save data(characters, monsters, etc) to your servers, so we can access them from anywhere?


Yes. That's the whole point smile.gif
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Paolo - Post 93

Question - Will the web-based Character Builder support Out of Browser mode?

Answer - While Silverlight supports OOB mode (Out Of Browser), you'd need an active internet connection to get to the actual data and the rules engine.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Paolo - Post #100

Question - Is there any plan to address sharing between accounts?

Answer - Absolutely. We're planning to address the sharing scenarios with one of the next updates.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Paolo - Post #106

Question - Any chance of iPad support in the future?

Answer - I can't promise anything smile.gif
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Paolo - Post #138

Question - The screenshots don't show non-Essentials stuff!?!?!

Answer - You saw four screenshots from a very complex application. I'm preparing a longish post to describe how the system works, but for now let's just say that you're not losing any "browsability" smile.gif


Question - What about the loss of being able to see your character when you are someplace without internet??

Answer - You can save them locally as PDFs.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Paolo - Post #547

Question - Will access to our characters and the tool online now be limited when updates actually do occur?  Will that process take hours to complete still?

Answer - There won't be an update process anymore. The rules engine will get new content as soon as we push it and the only time when you'll experience some delay is when we roll out new features and you have to reload the Silverlight client (around 13Mb).

Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Paolo - Post #555

Question - You said it will support Dark Sun... Will it support themes?

Answer - Yes.



Question - Will it support themes outside of Dark Sun?


Answer - No.

Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Paolo - Post # 629

Not so much a question as a brief explanation of how Silverlight works.

The new Character Builder is a web based application in the sense that it's lunched from a web page. From there, a Silverlight package is downloaded to your machine and executed locally.

And let's see another screenshot from the Dark Sun class selection page for my lovely barbarian smile.gif

See post for screenshot - mudbunny
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Paolo - Post #707

Question - Do we retain all rights to the creative aspects of the characters on your servers? (I.E. We don't own all Warlords or their powers, but the character concept of "Natasha the scarred warlord from the Underdark" remains the property of the creator and needs permission to be used in a book or upcoming dragon article.)

Answer - I am not going to comment on legal stuff, but I'll try to find out smile.gif


 


Question - Do you have plans allowing players to keep copies of their characters offline in the near future, beyond unmodifiable and static PDFs?


Answer - Yes, but not at launch.


 


Question - Why was the call made to release this version of the tool when not everything is up and running compared to the currently working character builder?


Answer - Good question. Essentials content was a very hard fit into the Character Builder Classic and we really wanted to get it out as soon as we could. With the plan for more frequent feature updates, we felt that we could ship something working well - but lacking a few features - now, as opposed to something working completely later.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Paolo - Post #710

Another request for export of character sheets.

Answer - It will not be fixed before launch. Export will be added soon after launch.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Paolo - Post # 759

Question - Is anyone at WotC actually reading this monstrosity of a thread?

Answer - Of course what you guys say matters! For example, exporting characters got a healthy bump in prioritization today and it will be available sooner that we planned. Other things are taken into account and will be considered.

But there are some things - like the offline access option - that are not possible, sorry.

And, as someone many pages ago pointed out, what we have today in our build is what will be released on the 16th. For launch, there is no chance that any feedback generated today is going to be incorporated.

And one more thing, before I go home in a bit, this is the first (well, the second) in a set of integrated tools. The advantages of our architectural choices will be more and more evident as the releases will come smile.gif
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Paolo - Post #802

Question - How can themes be supported only in Dark Sun?  How would the CB even know what campaign world you're playing in?  Are you forced to specify a setting for characters, and it's impossible to choose options from outside that setting?  I don't follow.

Answer - Image in reply - see OP for image. When you create a custom D&D character, you can select the campaign settings you want to use. Every choice afterwards is driven by this, and we enabled Themes only for the Dark Sun setting.

At launch, this cannot be changed, but we plan to address it later.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Paolo - Post #973

Question - Could someone not just copy the .htm file to their computer??

Answer - Sorry, but there are no .htm files to be saved. It is a Silverlight application, running on your machine with all the graphic capabilities of your hardware and relying on the network connection to access the rules engine and character storage. smile.gif

That said, we'll push the Export to .dnd4e function as quick as we can.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Tag post for myself - Read up to post # 1002

And now, to go to bed and recover.

Again, if I missed any, please let me know with a post in this trhead and a link to the post.

Thanks!!
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
From the same thread:

community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

Basically races etc. will work in different campaigns.

Mudbunny - a massive thanks for this thread.  I just got up and don't want to have to read through 100+ pages of bleating to get to the important points.  You saved me hours of my life.   I salute you.

Blakey - who is really looking forward to the new CB, once it gets .dnd4e export support.

Thank you so much for making this thread!  You da' man MB. 

MB,


You might want to sticky this thread.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

I will be putting in the request to sticky this thread in a minute.

While I would like to go through the other threads that have staff responses, I just don't have the time. If someone (or a couple someoenes) want to get together and grab those responses and put them in this thread, PM me and go for it!! The format I am using is pretty clear.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...


post 10
Will it include Gamma World materials?

post 12
No.
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...


post 10
Will it include Gamma World materials?

post 12
No.


They should have made this announcement while everyone was busy hugging Gamma World.

thx
for this thread.

makes many things much clearer and gives  hope that this new tool will be the great  tool wotc announced.

I found this one very helpful:


community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...


I am trying to delete all of my posts in these forums, if someone will be so kind as to repost this link then I can delete this post as well.



Quoted as you wished. Btw I am curious why you want to delete all your posts...

And if you want I can also remove your quote. Please PM if you want me to do so.


Ceterum censeo capsum rubeum esse delendam

Cheers MB.  Saving me loads of time (Content Removed) its much appreciated.

To be or not to be.......Bill couldn't decide if he like the idea of being a Bard or possibly a Warlord or maybe a Spell singer........
Great thread. Thanks MB for setting this up.

Now I don't have to trawl through the original thread looking for answers.

Still pleased with what we are getting and what is promised.
I've removed content from this thread because baiting is a violation of the Code of Conduct.  You can review the Code of Conduct here.

ORC_Chaos
Hey guys, instead of doing a big post with lots of cool stuff that's going to take me a while to write, I wanted to start sharing

We'll start off with the power card changes, a lot of which I'm pretty stoked about. Here's an example of what they look like (you'll want to right click and view image to get a better view):



The first thing I want to point out is that the targeting icon has been included on the power cards, prominently displayed in the upper right hand corner. Now it's super easy to tell which are my melee powers, ranged powers, blasts, bursts, etc.

Next we have the power usage up at the top, just underneath the name. This is a small change, but we had a lot of feedback from you guys that it was a bit annoying to have it at the bottom, especially when printing things off in black and white.

We also have a significant layout change in the power description and rules. It's in the same layout and style as the powers in the books, so no struggling with transitioning your brain from one power style to the other.

So those are the basics. I'll be back on Monday with some screen shots and info of the two different CB character sheets we're currently offering. Until then, discuss and post up any questions you have about these powers cards and I'll answer what I can.


Hey guys. I don't have answers to all the questions yet, but I wanted to hop back in here with a few that I do have. 

Different paper sizes? Letter is common in NA, but Europe uses A4. They are *almost* identical, but not quite.


This should adjust to your page size. The print option links to your printer(s) and allows you to choose the preferences. I personally printed it out on a few different page sizes and it seemed to adjust just fine, but I didn’t have an A4 paper size to check this out on.


Copy To Clipboard/Import from Clipboard have been very useful to me for discussing characters. Is this functionality still going to be available?


The web-based CB allows you to copy and paste text into text fields that you could normally type into, but it does not allow you to copy the text of other areas of the builder or character sheet.


I have a lot of characters at any given time – How many characters can I save to the web-based Character Builder?

Currently, the limit for saved characters is set to 20. This is something we may increase in the future.


How much can I house rule my character?

Currently you can set your stats beyond the normal point buy thresholds like you could in the older versions of the character builder, so you can have alternate point buys. However, you’re not able to add or create additional feats, create magic items or new powers, or add more trained skills. We’ll be adding this level of customization in future updates.


Can we add and buy uncommon and rare items from the Character Builder? This functionality isn’t in the current version of the CB, but it should be in the CB if the DM wants to allow it.

You can add an uncommon item to a characters inventory or you can buy it and have it placed in the inventory. Currently there are no rare items in the CB or the Compendium, but when they are added, you should be able to add and purchase them as well.


I'll bring some more answers/questions as I get them, and I'm also putting together a larger post that focuses on the two different character sheet options in the updated CB, and some other cool features.



Wow, just wow!  Thank You Mudbunny.  I know that you've said in the past you don't want to get paid for this, so I just hope that WotC compensates you in some other way.  Bravo!

i REALLY APRECIATE all of your time an effort to make our time more valuable :D


~Teo
Another post by Trevor with power cards.  A utility and a magic item card.
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
Not really in the thread that initiated this thread, but information nevertheless. I thought we might as well collect it here too. If that's not OK, Mudbunny, please tell me.

Trevor with a full character sheet

Same, but Essentials version.
(only first page though)

But then the other pages are shared between both versions.

Q&A about the sheets.


@Mudbunny : After DDICB/ VT fixed and working. What will be the 3th tool developped?