Ampersand and the "Benefits" of the Online Character Builder

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I read the latest Ampersand and had a reaction to it, but my friend Matthew posted this on another forum and I think it succinctly sums up my feelings on the matter. 

www.wizards.com/dnd/article.aspx?x=dnd/d...

Matthew;13064571 wrote:
This seems to be turning into a real problem for WotC. I mean I don't see any...I don't see a *single* benefit to the CB being online only, if not to leverage the power of the network. And they don't appear to recognize the benefit in this.

Often there's two sides to any new content update, but here it seems like "you can run it on some Macs, if they're online" is the only benefit. I mean...the *only* benefit. And if you're on a PC, you just lost some functionality.

Bill Slavicsek saying it's "ultimately portable" is absurd. It's the *opposite* of portable, you can only use it where you have an internet connection.

I guess the question everyone should be asking is; "How is this new app better for us than the old one?"

Let's look at Bill's column:

1. It’s ultimately portable. I can use it on any computer or computer-like device, wherever I am.

Unless there's no internet where you are. 
Here's the thing, Bill. If you have your computer with you, the one thing you can be certain of is; you have your computer with you. If the CB is *on* that computer, then you have the CB with you. That's portable. If it's on my laptop, then anywhere I have my laptop, I have the Character Builder.
In other words, you've made the app less portable because now instead of *merely* needing my computer, I now *also* need the internet. 

2. It’s both PC and Mac friendly. I can access it from either kind of machine.

Only if that machine is on the internet.
So, look at it this way; instead of making a mac version, or writing it in something awful like Java, which would then literally mean you could access it from either machine, you've actually disabled use of the character builder on some PCs. Used to be, I could load it onto my laptop, take it anywhere. Now, this is no longer the case. Also, personally, my internet goes down all the time. Like...all the time.

For the set of all existing users, you've *lowered* functionality.

3. There are multiple character sheet options. I can pick an Essentials character sheet or a sheet that takes advantage of the digital medium, and we can add other versions of sheets as demand warrants.

You didn't need to go Online Only to get different character sheet options, you already *had* different character sheet options in the old builder. This does not seem to me like a new feature, it seems like an existing feature that will still work.

4.The user interface is better. We’ve learned a lot, tested a lot, and made a tool that is easier to navigate and use.

This is not an advantage of being online. You could have improved the old builder's interface.

5. Content filters are better. The D&D game is loaded with content, and the new Character Builder offers lots of ways to filter that content for you. You can make choices up front to limit the amount of information you’re bombarded with, and you can add more elements later as your play style and game mastery demands.

This is not an advantage of being online. You could have added better filters to the old version.
So, from where I sit, this is shaping into a disaster. The head of D&D cannot think of a single advantage to the new builder other than "it will run on some Macs now, if they are online and have Silverlight."

He's made a classic and critical mistake. He thinks that advantages for *development* can stand in for advantages in usability and this is the result. I'm sure there are lots of good development reasons for them to switch. But EVERYONE *currently* using the Builder is now looking at a *decrease* in functionality. "Used to work offline, now it doesn't." That's the new feature. 
That's not a feature, Bill. That's a bug.

I can think of *one* real advantage to being online and that is networking and crowdsourcing. And it's the one thing they apparently haven't thought of. It's, you know, the basis of the success of YouTube and Netflix and Amazon and Facebook. I can see what the rest of the network thinks. I can instantly access the combined wisdom of all the users. And it's the one thing they appear actually clueless about. "We haven't thought about that," says Paolo. In the midst of revealing he doesn't actually understand it, either.

When Blizzard made a mistake this big, they went back on it. I'd love to see WotC announce either an offline version (that can run in Silverlight too!) or some actual, new features that *utilize* the advantages of being online. Not a smokescreen of features they could have added to the old builder.

I'll ask again; Bill Slavicsek; what is the unambiguous benefit, for us, for us the existing users to the Character Builder being exclusively online?

The more I keep hearing about this new character builder the more surprised I am by the downgrading of functionality. Twenty character limit? Really? No exporting? Really?

WoTC: "The good news is the new webtools allow us to quickly and more rapidly update without any problems."
Users: "Oh good! So that means that the issues we're seeing with missing features (like export) will be fixed quickly?"
WoTC: "Oh no. We're still only going to update things once per month. Maybe!"

So I guess I will repeat Matthew's question: 

What is the unambiguous benefit, for us, for us the existing users to the Character Builder being exclusively online?


1. It’s ultimately portable. I can use it on any computer or computer-like device, wherever I am.

Unless there's no internet where you are. 
Here's the thing, Bill. If you have your computer with you, the one thing you can be certain of is; you have your computer with you. If the CB is *on* that computer, then you have the CB with you. That's portable. If it's on my laptop, then anywhere I have my laptop, I have the Character Builder.
In other words, you've made the app less portable because now instead of *merely* needing my computer, I now *also* need the internet. 




This is the kind of argument that makes the "naysayers" sound unfaithful. It's impossible to take seriously. It's completely bloody ridicolous. If you think that the event of someone having his laptop with him is more likely than someone having access to an internet connection, I don't know what.

A tiny fraction of the adult population brings his laptop with him every day. The vast majority of students, office workers, store clerks, bank accounters, lawyers, doctors, secretaries and basically anyone that isn't doing hard labour has access to a computer several times a day, and that computer is connected to the net, and when the webtools go online, it will be a character creating machine.


Stop the nonsense. Bill is bloody right, and you're not making any sense. I preferred the old CB too, but you won't persuade WotC of its merits with this kind of absurd argument.
Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord
I think if someone has his laptop with him, the only thing you can be certain of is; he has his laptop with him. You can't be certain he has internet access.

It sounds like you're saying that's not true, but you can't be saying that, so I don't know what you're saying.

All existing users just lost some functionality. That loss will only impact a certain percentage of those users.

What, then, is the benefit gained? We can no longer user the Builder where we don't have internet.  

What is the unambiguous benefit, for us the existing users to the Character Builder being exclusively online? 


1. It’s ultimately portable. I can use it on any computer or computer-like device, wherever I am.

Unless there's no internet where you are. 
Here's the thing, Bill. If you have your computer with you, the one thing you can be certain of is; you have your computer with you. If the CB is *on* that computer, then you have the CB with you. That's portable. If it's on my laptop, then anywhere I have my laptop, I have the Character Builder.
In other words, you've made the app less portable because now instead of *merely* needing my computer, I now *also* need the internet. 




This is the kind of argument that makes the "naysayers" sound unfaithful. It's impossible to take seriously. It's completely bloody ridicolous. If you think that the event of someone having his laptop with him is more likely than someone having access to an internet connection, I don't know what.

A tiny fraction of the adult population brings his laptop with him every day. The vast majority of students, office workers, store clerks, bank accounters, lawyers, doctors, secretaries and basically anyone that isn't doing hard labour has access to a computer several times a day, and that computer is connected to the net, and when the webtools go online, it will be a character creating machine.


Stop the nonsense. Bill is bloody right, and you're not making any sense. I preferred the old CB too, but you won't persuade WotC of its merits with this kind of absurd argument.



For a group of people who has internet connecticity severely restricted, might I direct your attention to this thread:
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
I think if someone has his laptop with him, the only thing you can be certain of is; he has his laptop with him. You can't be certain he has internet access.

It sounds like you're saying that's not true, but you can't be saying that, so I don't know what you're saying.

All existing users just lost some functionality. That loss will only impact a certain percentage of those users.

What, then, is the benefit gained? We can no longer user the Builder where we don't have internet.  

What is the unambiguous benefit, for us the existing users to the Character Builder being exclusively online? 




No, what I'm saying is that I got a laptop, I take it with me fairly frequently and still I know that after the CB goes Web 2.0 I will have access to character creation infinitely more often then I did before.

And anyone can see that.
Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord
Infinitely more sounds like a lot, I'm not sure exactly what you mean by that.

Do you believe that someone who wants to use the CB, but is for the moment somewhere without internet access will be able to use it?

Or do you believe there are no such people? 
This is the kind of argument that makes the "naysayers" sound unfaithful. It's impossible to take seriously. It's completely bloody ridicolous. If you think that the event of someone having his laptop with him is more likely than someone having access to an internet connection, I don't know what.

A tiny fraction of the adult population brings his laptop with him every day. The vast majority of students, office workers, store clerks, bank accounters, lawyers, doctors, secretaries and basically anyone that isn't doing hard labour has access to a computer several times a day, and that computer is connected to the net, and when the webtools go online, it will be a character creating machine.

Stop the nonsense. Bill is bloody right, and you're not making any sense. I preferred the old CB too, but you won't persuade WotC of its merits with this kind of absurd argument.



Sorry to say this, but the one making no sense seems to be you.

There is no way, an online tool like this one will ever be more "portable" than an offline version of it.
The only thing you need to do, once you have downloaded and installed an offline CB on your PC, is to simply use it. If that PC is portable, so is the tool.

An online tool requires me to use a PC aswell, but it also requires an active connection to the internet. The only thing i dont have to do, is to install the tool itself. The moment i disconnect that PC or move somewhere without an internet connection, i can no longer use the tool.

And what do you want to tell me about the office workers? There was nothing that cept them from installing the CB and use it at their workingplace, unless their boss didnt allow it. Belive be, if he didnt want his men to use the offline CB at work, he sure as hell doesnt want them to waste time at work doing character creation online.

If they want to produce something that is more portable than the old CB, i expect a tool that runs in offline and online mode, so basicly an offline CB that is able to save my data online so i can access it using an online interface, once i am no longer sitting at my local PC.
D&D Outsider since Nov 18th 2010, if you wonder about the little red dragon, this one is dedicated to the great VT community.
@djordi: I won't comment on your "20 character limit" and "no exporting" comments, because WotC has addressed these issues, and I'll just presume you haven't read about that yet.

If internet connectivity is your main gripe, there's really only one thing to say: Get over it. It's harsh, and it doesn't pain WotC in a very considerate light, but WotC has made it abundantly clear that this is the direction they're going in, and they won't consider changing. From a business standpoint, it's an extremely well motivated change, and asking for an offline character builder is essentially like asking Blizzard to make WoW available offline. It limits them, and what limits them ultimately limits what they are able to deliver to us.

WotC is being very considerate in addressing our concerns and requests these past few days, and they've already said that they intend on adding a slew of features that will be missing at launch. I am an "existing user" you referred to in your post, and the unambiguous benefit for me is this: I don't have to boot up a resource heavy virtual machine to get the CB running on my mac. I don't own a Windows PC, nor do I feel like spending several hundred dollars on one.

And here's another one for free, globally applicable: more frequent content updates with a faster response time to new content. 

@Matthew: You know that cutting the cost to WotC means more money for development... right? Maybe hiring a few more programmers, or people to add content to the database. 

If they want to produce something that is more portable than the old CB, i expect a tool that runs in offline and online mode, so basicly an offline CB that is able to save my data online so i can access it using an online interface, once i am no longer sitting at my local PC.


No no no. You're requesting they keep compiling and distributing their entire CB database, a redundancy that requires manpower to make, and then requesting online storage... That's an entire different service which already exists, and it's called Dropbox.

You're asking WotC to continue supporting a product which has proven to be an inefficient use of their developers time, and has extremely low potential for interaction between released toolsets. If they were to release a campaign management tool tomorrow that wants to access data from the character builder, it presumes the DM has all the .dnd4e files ready and available for use. You're thinking they're going to be hosting these characters as .dnd4e files - they're more than likely not! They're going to be in an indexed database. It's why they don't have export available on launch.

Going online means the DM could add his players to a friend list, and they could add whatever PCs they wanted to use in a campaign at the DMs discretion. He could then take monsters he built (from the same database) and upload them into an encounter he's been working on for a while, and run combat online, adding XP and rewards to the PCs as needed.  He could then create a magical item using the item creator they release, also in the same database, and insert it directly into a PCs inventory, visible immediately to the owner of the PC.

This is all speculative, but putting characters in a single persistent database has a million applications that don't require the sharing of multiple created files between computers, and are available at every single Silverlight 4 enabled PC in the world with an internet access (which is a sizeable fraction of them). I think this is the direction they're aiming to take D&D in, and I think it's pretty exciting.

 


@Matthew: You know that cutting the cost to WotC means more money for development... right? Maybe hiring a few more programmers, or people to add content to the database. 



Nono, I don't dispute that this change creates some advantage for WotC. Let's all take that as a given, I don't even think it matters what that is. 

All I'm asking is;  What is the unambiguous benefit, for us the existing users to the Character Builder being exclusively online? 


@Matthew: You know that cutting the cost to WotC means more money for development... right? Maybe hiring a few more programmers, or people to add content to the database. 



Nono, I don't dispute that this change creates some advantage for WotC. Let's all take that as a given, I don't even think it matters what that is. 

All I'm asking is;  What is the unambiguous benefit, for us the existing users to the Character Builder being exclusively online? 


How are more developers to make more tools and add more content faster for we the people not an unambiguous benefit? None the less, see my previous post.
Hah, nono. When I say "benefit" I mean "feature of the new software." I don't mean "why would WotC do this?" I mean "what feature are we gaining?"

If you compare, in other words, the old software with the new, what *feature* are we gaining *in the new builder?*

Not what feature would you *like*, or what feature *might they add*, we can all think of lots of those. My question is in direct response to Bill Slavicsek's article. 

What is the unambiguous benefit, for us the existing users to the Character Builder being exclusively online? What feature are we gaining, in the builder?

 
No no no.


What exactly are you "No no no"ing me for?



I simply said, that the most "portable" characterbuilding tool, usable at a PC, is the one, that i can use whereever i take my PC to and that I can use whereever i have access to a random PC and the internet.
Up until now, we had the first option of offline usage, from now on, we will only have the second one of online usage.

You're requesting they keep compiling and distributing their entire CB database, a redundancy that requires manpower to make, and then requesting online storage... That's an entire different service which already exists, and it's called Dropbox.


To make this one clear, i didnt request anything at all, i simply said, what i think, is one valid way to actually improve "portablility". If that means they have to keep doing what they did so far, that sounds only fair to me. I was sattisfied with the product as it was and so were many other users. If they want to change it, they have to make sure we stay sattisfied if they want us to be their customers. Who pays money for a product he doesnt want?

You're asking WotC to continue supporting a product which has proven to be an inefficient use of their developers time, and has extremely low potential for interaction between released toolsets.


Well they had enough "developers time" to maintain the old builder and develop this new onlinesystem in less than six month, seems like a lot of free workpower for me.
And what is this talk about "interaction"? There are no tools to interact with on the first place, as far as it concearns any use for the customer. If there will ever be a VTT to be released, that is the time i will be glad to have that sort of potential conectablility.
If they were able to maintain an offline tool up until now, and an online tool is very easy to maintain, then they shall do both at the same time if they want to have an online only product.
The last thing i want as a customer, is a product that looses functions that i wanted to have, in order to be compatible with something that doesnt exist yet.

If they were to release a campaign management tool tomorrow that wants to access data from the character builder, it presumes the DM has all the .dnd4e files ready and available for use. You're thinking they're going to be hosting these characters as .dnd4e files - they're more than likely not! They're going to be in an indexed database. It's why they don't have export available on launch.


So you dont know how they host their data, but you are sure it isnt the way required to make my idea an usable alternative at this time?
I dont expect them to have the product id like to see, ready for release, but not released yet to make me angry. All i say, is that it whould be possible to provide a product that combines what we had and what they want us to have, with little more effort than they allready invest now.
If this requires changes that are managable and they are willing to do it, they shall go ahead.
If they dont want to do the extra work, the least thing i expect as a customer is to maintain the "status quo" and not switch to a system that gives them more freedom and controll and leaves us with less quality and functionabilty.
D&D Outsider since Nov 18th 2010, if you wonder about the little red dragon, this one is dedicated to the great VT community.


All I'm asking is;  What is the unambiguous benefit, for us the existing users to the Character Builder being exclusively online? 



I will be able to make Character Sheets from all of my office computers, instead of needing my laptop.

I won't need to install content on my own hard drive.

I won't risk using a not updated tool - as long as I got access to it, it's updated to the last patch.

There's a solid list of benefits - do they really matter? About as much as not being able to use the tools offline matter.

Once again, Internet is everywhere these days. If you want to have internet where there's no internet, you can achieve that. Expecting WotC to modify their business plan to accomodate for something that is entirely indipendent from them (ie your access to the net) because at some point the tools worked without requiring internet is unreasonable.

The service is perfectly functional, and for the vast majority of people it will be as accessible if not more than before. The fact that you can't do character sheets on the tube* is certainly not on any priority list. It's simply irrelevant. You can't ask a company to plan a web based set of tools around people who have no internet access.
Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord


All I'm asking is;  What is the unambiguous benefit, for us the existing users to the Character Builder being exclusively online? 



I will be able to make Character Sheets from all of my office computers, instead of needing my laptop.


Yes you are. If you don't already have Silverlight installed you are going to need to download and install that. Then that Silverlight component is going to download and install an about 13MB large Character Builder application that is run inside your web browser according to Paolo
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All I'm asking is;  What is the unambiguous benefit, for us the existing users to the Character Builder being exclusively online? 



Once again, Internet is everywhere these days. If you want to have internet where there's no internet, you can achieve that. Expecting WotC to modify their business plan to accomodate for something that is entirely indipendent from them (ie your access to the net) because at some point the tools worked without requiring internet is unreasonable.


Perhaps where you are, lucky person!
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Sorry to say this, but the one making no sense seems to be you.

There is no way, an online tool like this one will ever be more "portable" than an offline version of it.



You're not looking at it with a business perspective. A browser based application is infinitely more portable than an hefty download with limited monthly updates that, IIRC, doesn't even work on Mac.
There's no possible comparison.

Look at these boards. Now ask yourself how many of the people posting here had access to their CB while posting on these boards. All the people who posted messages from computers other than their home ones (or computers where they could install their own .exes) can, with the new tools, access the CB ANYTIME.

The only sensible complaint is that of those who complain their stores have no wifi, but that's not something WotC should take charge of.

The only thing you need to do, once you have downloaded and installed an offline CB on your PC, is to simply use it. If that PC is portable, so is the tool.



And that's why this solution improves portability.

Does the entirety of the CB userbase own a computer? Yes. 100% of the CB users have a computer.
Is each one of those computers a laptop? No. Quite likely far less than half the CB userbase uses a laptop.

If you still can't see how portability is exponentially increased I dunno what.


An online tool requires me to use a PC aswell, but it also requires an active connection to the internet. The only thing i dont have to do, is to install the tool itself. The moment i disconnect that PC or move somewhere without an internet connection, i can no longer use the tool.



True. Is this a relevant problem?
Let's analize it.

1) when are you connected to the net?


  • at work

  • at home

  • in net cafes

  • in most stores


2) when are you not connected to the net?


  • while moving or traveling

  • in isolated areas

  • in stores with no wifi support


Conclusion: of all these places, where are you most likely to have the time to access the tools and modify character sheets?
Making characters on the sub is not a primary need for a RPG. Not a single cent or second should be wasted on working on that. There's simply no userbase for that. It's completely irrelevant.

You could argue that you could make characters while flying before. Now you can't anymore. You lost some versatility? Yes. It is a problem worth considering? No.
Once again, the only sensible issue is not having access to the CB at your LGS. A problem that isn't up WotC to fix.
And what do you want to tell me about the office workers? There was nothing that cept them from installing the CB and use it at their workingplace, unless their boss didnt allow it.



"Boss, can I install this gaming tool on my work computer?". Be serious, please.

Belive be, if he didnt want his men to use the offline CB at work, he sure as hell doesnt want them to waste time at work doing character creation online.



False. The vast majority of workplaces don't give admin passwords to workers (so they can't install anything); yet the majority of people wasting time on Youtube is workers. Besides, if you're right then what's the problem? You can't use it at work now. It's not like you could before.

If they want to produce something that is more portable than the old CB, i expect a tool that runs in offline and online mode, so basicly an offline CB that is able to save my data online so i can access it using an online interface, once i am no longer sitting at my local PC.



You're failing to see the power of portability.
With this system, you don't have a laptop or you don't want to take it around, you log on your pc, make your character, go to your friend, log in on his computer with your account, and you still have your character. You can go to a net cafe and retrain talents. You can scroll through powers during your coffee break.

Your argument is absolutely illogical. A web based tool is infinitely more portable that your laptop. As long as *someone* has a computer at the table, *everyone* has access to their characters.
Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord
[offline/online rant]


It probably never occured to you that some people don't play at the exact same spot they use for role playing.
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All I'm asking is;  What is the unambiguous benefit, for us the existing users to the Character Builder being exclusively online? 



Once again, Internet is everywhere these days. If you want to have internet where there's no internet, you can achieve that. Expecting WotC to modify their business plan to accomodate for something that is entirely indipendent from them (ie your access to the net) because at some point the tools worked without requiring internet is unreasonable.


Perhaps where you are, lucky person!




Once again, not WotC's problem. If they find out that people unsubscribes to DDI because they have very limited access to the web, they'll consider the option of improving offline portability.

But the entire DDI package is based on access to the net. It would help the discussion if someone started citing situations where internet isn't accessible and using the CB is needed. The only sensible example so far is stores, and that is something the storekeeper can solve at zero cost. Heck, as long as he has a printer and a computer (99% of gaming stores do, for sure) you don't even need wifi. And every store has a computer and internet. EVERY SINGLE ONE. If it doesn't, it's not WotC's problem; they need to plan on the majority of users.


Can you please cite a single situation where it would have been sensible to expect being able to use the CB and that won't be possible anymore with the new tools?
Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord
[offline/online rant]


It probably never occured to you that some people don't play at the exact same spot they use for role playing.



Eh? I think you mistyped something there. Care to explain?

Interested in reading about a Dark Sun 4e game? Here's the blog of our current campaign. My homebrew Dark Sun material: - the Lord of Blades, a melee oriented Kaisharga/Dead Lord


All I'm asking is;  What is the unambiguous benefit, for us the existing users to the Character Builder being exclusively online? 



Once again, Internet is everywhere these days. If you want to have internet where there's no internet, you can achieve that. Expecting WotC to modify their business plan to accomodate for something that is entirely indipendent from them (ie your access to the net) because at some point the tools worked without requiring internet is unreasonable.


Perhaps where you are, lucky person!




Once again, not WotC's problem. If they find out that people unsubscribes to DDI because they have very limited access to the web, they'll consider the option of improving offline portability.

But the entire DDI package is based on access to the net. It would help the discussion if someone started citing situations where internet isn't accessible and using the CB is needed. The only sensible example so far is stores, and that is something the storekeeper can solve at zero cost. Heck, as long as he has a printer and a computer (99% of gaming stores do, for sure) you don't even need wifi. And every store has a computer and internet. EVERY SINGLE ONE. If it doesn't, it's not WotC's problem; they need to plan on the majority of users.


Can you please cite a single situation where it would have been sensible to expect being able to use the CB and that won't be possible anymore with the new tools?


See above. I also play once a week at a Role Playing Club locale with no wired or wireless internet.

[offline/online rant]

 
It probably never occured to you that some people don't play at the exact same spot they use for role playing.

 

Eh? I think you mistyped something there. Care to explain?



Yes, it was a freudian mistype. I meant to write "people don't post [on the forum] at the exact same spot they use for role playing.
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I will be able to make Character Sheets from all of my office computers, instead of needing my laptop.


You dont need your laptop to use the old CB on an office PC. What sort of strange logic is this? The only thing you need is to install it a single time on the PC you want to use it. If you cant install the program on that PC, there will be a good reason you cant do so, maybe your boss dont want you to spend time on something he doesnt pay you for while you are at work.


I won't need to install content on my own hard drive.

That is not a feature of the online tools and from a logical standpoint it is even completely wrong. What do you think the temporary internet files on your PC are? They are downloaded content that is loaded to your harddrive. If it takes 1 min of downloading data while using the online tools, that is literally the same as "installing" whatever data you need to interact with the tool.

I won't risk using a not updated tool - as long as I got access to it, it's updated to the last patch.

What are you risking here? If you use an onlinetool it is up to date as long as you can access it.
If you use the offline CB, the first thing it does is to check for an active internet connection and tells you, if there are any updates available. So Whenerver you whould be able to use the online tools, you are also able to use the offline tools with the newest version.
If you dont have an internet connection, you might not be able to check for updates, but you whould not have been able to use the online tools at such a time in the first place.

Once again, Internet is everywhere these days. If you want to have internet where there's no internet, you can achieve that. Expecting WotC to modify their business plan to accomodate for something that is entirely indipendent from them (ie your access to the net) because at some point the tools worked without requiring internet is unreasonable.

The service is perfectly functional, and for the vast majority of people it will be as accessible if not more than before. The fact that you can't do character sheets on the tube* is certainly not on any priority list. It's simply irrelevant. You can't ask a company to plan a web based set of tools around people who have no internet access.



Unless you have some sort of wireless internet device that allows you to log in from allmost everywhere, you dont meet those requirements.
This is a product people pay for in advance to use it, so did so for 12 month. It wasnt a requrement to have internettaccess 24/7 to subscribe, nor did anyone tell the customers they will have to buy that sort of connection device to use the product. When i subscribed, the only thing i need to do was download the tool once to use it. Now i have to buy a second product i dont want to, to use the features i had so far and noone told me in advance i whould have to do so. So now i have a running subscribtion for a product i can no longer use with the resources i had when subscribing.

D&D Outsider since Nov 18th 2010, if you wonder about the little red dragon, this one is dedicated to the great VT community.
I think it is safe to say that when it releases the new CB will be worse than the CB classic.  We already know it will release with less functionality than the CB classic.  Granted.

BUT, sometime "soon" it will surpass what the CB classic does now.  That is also pretty much guaranteed.   And, moving forward, the benefits of it being online - specifically the fact that all the online tools can be made to easily share information - will far outweigh the short term disadvantages of the online tool on launch.

I see it as one step back, three steps forward.  And during the time that we take that 1 step back I'll continue to use the offline CB as it's still pretty much fully up to date. 
I won't need to install content on my own hard drive.

That is not a feature of the online tools and from a logical standpoint it is even completely wrong. What do you think the temporary internet files on your PC are? They are downloaded content that is loaded to your harddrive. If it takes 1 min of downloading data while using the online tools, that is literally the same as "installing" whatever data you need to interact with the tool.


That's not one hundred percent true either, the new character builder downloads exacutable code and installs it, it is not doing this in the cache, but actually installing an application that is permanently stored (until manually removed). That application is launched inside the Silverlight runtime, which in turn runs inside the web browser.
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All I'm asking is;  What is the unambiguous benefit, for us the existing users to the Character Builder being exclusively online? 



I will be able to make Character Sheets from all of my office computers, instead of needing my laptop.

I won't need to install content on my own hard drive.

I won't risk using a not updated tool - as long as I got access to it, it's updated to the last patch.

There's a solid list of benefits - do they really matter? About as much as not being able to use the tools offline matter.

I regularly go to cons in hotels that charge for internet access.

Right now I can bring my character on my laptop. With the new version, I can do the same thing, but have to pay a daily toll to access my characters.

Presumably, if I cancel or are late with my DDI access, they will disable access to the character builder, meaning my characters are now held hostage by WOTC. (I can see how this benefits WOTC, I don't see how it benefits me.) Whereas right now if I cancel DDI, I merely lose the ability to update the CB, but can otherwise keep my characters.

The one really neat advantage of moving it to the web would be the ability to share character sheets with other people (say... your DM, or other people on the CO forums). But they say they won't do that, so that's that.

It's looking like I won't renew DDI the next time it comes around.
I think it is safe to say that when it releases the new CB will be worse than the CB classic.  We already know it will release with less functionality than the CB classic.  Granted.

BUT, sometime "soon" it will surpass what the CB classic does now.  That is also pretty much guaranteed.   And, moving forward, the benefits of it being online - specifically the fact that all the online tools can be made to easily share information - will far outweigh the short term disadvantages of the online tool on launch.

I see it as one step back, three steps forward.  And during the time that we take that 1 step back I'll continue to use the offline CB as it's still pretty much fully up to date. 


That is more or less my thought also. I like not having to boot inot windows and most (not all) of my gaming is where I have WiFi or corded internet. I also happen to like the Essentials layout as well as the prospect of a better framework for Paolo et al to update new content and rules much easier. The general layout of the tools seems fine and I suspect it will be a little faster than the current slow thing. In the long run this may very well be better, but I am (and one of my groups are) currently so put off that we will start a non-D&D campaign in a few weeks as we finish the current.
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I think it is safe to say that when it releases the new CB will be worse than the CB classic.  We already know it will release with less functionality than the CB classic.  Granted.

BUT, sometime "soon" it will surpass what the CB classic does now.  That is also pretty much guaranteed.   And, moving forward, the benefits of it being online - specifically the fact that all the online tools can be made to easily share information - will far outweigh the short term disadvantages of the online tool on launch.

I see it as one step back, three steps forward.  And during the time that we take that 1 step back I'll continue to use the offline CB as it's still pretty much fully up to date. 


The problem is, it depends very much on your personal resources. If i keep my internet access as it is and dont invest about 30$/month to be able to connect at places i have an UMTS net or the like available, i wont be able to use the tool the way i used to, ever again.
Sure there will be a time it has some new features the old one didnt, but those wont replace the features i had and it is up to me to decide if what i gain is an equal compensation for what i have lost.
To addept your "step" picture: If one step back is all it needs to make me fall off the cliff, i wont be able to get up ever again once i fell down. Those three steps forward, might do nothing more than make me run against the wall of the cliff, which is now right in front of me.
D&D Outsider since Nov 18th 2010, if you wonder about the little red dragon, this one is dedicated to the great VT community.
The problem is, it depends very much on your personal resources. If i keep my internet access as it is and dont invest about 30$/month to be able to connect at places i have an UMTS net or the like available, i wont be able to use the tool the way i used to, ever again.
Sure there will be a time it has some new features the old one didnt, but those wont replace the features i had and it is up to me to decide if what i gain is an equal compensation for what i have lost.
To addept your "step" picture: If one step back is all it needs to make me fall off the cliff, i wont be able to get up ever again once i fell down. Those three steps forward, might do nothing more than make me run against the wall of the cliff, which is now right in front of me.



Yes, this is true.  And there are clearly (from the huge amount of posts about it) a bunch of people who wont be able to, or will take the choice not to, take the steps forward due to lack of internet access.

To me, this is a benefit.  I can see there are a lot of people to whom this is a big step back.  But I really do think that moving forward the internet is just going to get more and more prevalent rather than less so.  And I think cloud computing is the way forward, I really do.



Can you please cite a single situation where it would have been sensible to expect being able to use the CB and that won't be possible anymore with the new tools?



I'll give you a selection, all of which will affect me:

 - On the train to work, no wi-fi. And for 2/3 of the journey I'm nowhere near any cells for my 3G dongle to work, and even if it did transition from cell to cell causes frequent drop outs

 - At work - we have limited internet access and an EM screened building, so even with my own computer I can't access the character builder

 - The games club I play in has no free wi-fi access, I'm back to relatively limited and expensive 3G coverage

 - 2 out of 3 cons I go to - limited wi-fi access and the more expensive of my 3G options for connection with very poor coverage in a couple of the locations

All four of those seems like sensible times/places to want to access the character builder. With these changes I won't be able to - hence why the dragon icon is missing from under my piccie.

Now I'm probably the sort of customer that WoTC doesn't really care about as I'm pretty choosy about what I buy - but there are loads of other 4E junkies I know and play with that are affected in the same way.

Cheers,

Ash
I think it is safe to say that when it releases the new CB will be worse than the CB classic.  We already know it will release with less functionality than the CB classic.  Granted.

BUT, sometime "soon" it will surpass what the CB classic does now.  That is also pretty much guaranteed.   And, moving forward, the benefits of it being online - specifically the fact that all the online tools can be made to easily share information - will far outweigh the short term disadvantages of the online tool on launch.

And all the advantages would be gone when Wizard kills it in a few years, which is about or less then *half* as long as I've used GMail by then.  Are they still long term advantages in light of this?

By the way, "soon" may not be the best choice of word around here at this moment.
Yes, this is true.  And there are clearly (from the huge amount of posts about it) a bunch of people who wont be able to, or will take the choice not to, take the steps forward due to lack of internet access.

To me, this is a benefit.  I can see there are a lot of people to whom this is a big step back.  But I really do think that moving forward the internet is just going to get more and more prevalent rather than less so.  And I think cloud computing is the way forward, I really do.



Going online is definitly a good way to improve a product and moving vorward, the big mistake maken isnt the fact they produced those tools, what most people in my situation criticise, is the fact that they go online "only".
This tools whould be a great improvement, even for me, but this is only the case if they are an addition to what we had available up until now, not a replacement.

Going only "only" is like abandoning the old and sick in order to move on faster.
D&D Outsider since Nov 18th 2010, if you wonder about the little red dragon, this one is dedicated to the great VT community.
yall are only looking at part of what he said. he also said this will help them to combat piracy, and update the thing faster. the online only design flows from those two points, not really from user convenience
I am the only person of 3 or 4 that routinely bring lap tops to LFR Game Days at the LGS that has an internet connection. All of us have the character builder installed.

It is also false that there is no download and install for the web character builder. If your boss stops you from installing the OriginalCB, your boss will stop you installing the WebCB as well. So that is dusted as an argument.

So the WCB drained resources from refinenment and improvement of the OCB and offers what exactly to improve it that couldn't have been done with the OCB?  The answer is "Mac Support". We best hope that "Mac Support" pulls a lot of subscriptions because there is no trying the WCB before you buy - just videos. There will be losses from current subscribers that need to be replaced.

Now I'm actually pretty OK with the idea of web tools - that actually seems to me to be the way to really move forward and get to the VTT we were promised back in the day. But frankly the people at WotC seem to have no idea where to go or how to get there. Bill talking about "tablets and mobile devices" (for whom the WCB is a non-option) and "computer-like devices" (again no hope of WCB) just seem to be symptoms of a larger problem. This sort of stuff worries me.

Now I'm not cancelling my subscription, but I would have not renewed for 12 months had I known this was the immediate future. I hope that in the next 12 months WotC really does some good stuff with their Web tools and makes me glad I re-subbed before the current events started. But right now I'm looking at the train wreck of two tools I have loved using and their replacement is incomplete and offers a significant downgrade for many of my immediate fellow gamers. This leads me to being ambivalent.

I'm hopefull for the future, but I'm feeling let down by the now.
I think I read somewhere here that a demo mode would, in fact, be available, or they were working on making that possible.

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I hope so, because Bill's article just says "video" and that would be terrible.
yes it will be a video apparently
With all the ranting and raving of the board this week I dont see how lack of internet connection is a problem for players.
And all the advantages would be gone when Wizard kills it in a few years, which is about or less then *half* as long as I've used GMail by then.  Are they still long term advantages in light of this?

By the way, "soon" may not be the best choice of word around here at this moment.



When you talk about Wizard killing this in a few years I think that is unlikely.  Why?  Sure we'll go to 5th Edition about that time but think of this:  5E will be almost entirely online or at least will be hugely supported with online stuff.  So if they kill off 4E support when  5E comes out and they shaft loads of people who are playing and wanting to continue playing 4E then that will be a good reason for people not to go to 5E, because they'lll see they'll get shafted when 6E comes out.    It's important that Wizards support 4E DDi after the life of 4E for that reason.

And the choice of "soon" was a deliberate one. 

@djordi: I won't comment on your "20 character limit" and "no exporting" comments, because WotC has addressed these issues, and I'll just presume you haven't read about that yet.



Can you point me to this info please, the part abut the 20 chr answer from WotC, I have not seen it and frankly, not sure I want to scoure 100000000000000 posts to find it, thanks in advance!

"The turning of the tide always begins with one soldier's decision to head back into the fray"

@djordi: I won't comment on your "20 character limit" and "no exporting" comments, because WotC has addressed these issues, and I'll just presume you haven't read about that yet.



Can you point me to this info please, the part abut the 20 chr answer from WotC, I have not seen it and frankly, not sure I want to scoure 100000000000000 posts to find it, thanks in advance!


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

There you go, just scroll to Trevors post.
D&D Outsider since Nov 18th 2010, if you wonder about the little red dragon, this one is dedicated to the great VT community.