D&D Insider

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Here in the US there is the option of using a prepaid credit card (you load the amount that you want available to you). The downside is that there is typically a $5 fee for a money transfer into the account. The upside is that you don't have to worry about going over a budget or having a fit of buying depression that ends up costing you a couple of hundred dollars.

I am considering using this method for subscriptions like Tivo and Sirius sat. radio (works as a regular MasterCard) so that I don't have to worry about being auto billed on my debit card (that can be dangerous) or to a regular CC. I missed the above post about the $9.95US but that seems like a fair deal. It'd make one heck of a nice birthday/Xmas gift (tell them it's like a magazine subscription so the parental units can comprehend what you're asking for) wouldn't it?
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All I ask is that the DI (D&D Insider) be platform neutral.

No Silverlight. No Flash. No Java.

Do it so a standards-compliant web browser can do it all. AJAX should be all that is needed.

I for one would prefer a Silverlight or Flash implementation. AJAX is simply a stopgap technology, a bridge to more rich web based interfaces.

Scripted, complicated and definately easy NOT cross-browser compatibility requirements make AJAX inferior to Silverlight.

By the time this launches, AJAX will be a dated technology.
This is the first thing that WOTC has proposed to come out with that actually has me paying attention. If you get total access to all this great stuff for a reasonable price I'll be right in line. It definitely will depend on price, though. I think 10 bucks a month seems about right, but that's just me going off what others have posted and really don't know what they'll charge yet. But I'll definitely check it out.
I for one would prefer a Silverlight or Flash implementation. AJAX is simply a stopgap technology, a bridge to more rich web based interfaces.

I don't want a rich web interface. Good enough is good enough. I want a cross-platform, standard compliant tool.

And especially don't tie it down to a corporation with little history or incentive to keep its programs on alternate platforms equally up-to-date.
And for those of us that don't have and/or want a laptop computer at the game table? What shall they do?

If electronic media = cheaper than buying a $40 source or supplement book then it might be worth it. I somehow doubt that will be the case.

You, my friend are not the target market for 4E or the DDI. Both 4E and the DDI are woven together and support one another. My recommendation to you is just suck it up and move on.

On a separate note, WotC had promised about 4 months ago, a renewed dedication to publishing 3.5 errata. We've recently been told that the eratta is still a 3-4 months away, and would apparently only be updated on a quarterly basis.

My question is regardin g the 3.5 errata. Will it be part of the DDI? I cant seem to find any reference to it anywhere.

Thanks for the help.
What I want from the DI is some sort of scripting language so I can make my own feats and spells, add them into the game, and have them do more than just add a +2 bonus to some existing ability.
I do have to admit one thing after the experiences today with the countdown clock and the resulting crash of servers.

I no longer trust WotC to deliver online content in a reliable fashion. They're going to have to go a long way to prove themselves to me again in this.

I've gone from excited over 4E to extremely cautious and aprehensive in a matter of a few hours. I need proof that WotC is up to the task. I need to know appropriate levels of redundancy, not just in servers but also in physical locations, will be in place before I even begin to pay real money for online content from a company that didn't have enough foresight to realize that yes, you're hyping a major announcement of a major upgrade to a flagship product, so you'd better have enough server horsepower and bandwidth to be capable of handling the traffic you are purposefully generating.

With this demonstration of the IT prowess within WotC, I can only imagine the rubbish of a new issue of Dragon magazine hitting the site and the resulting crash of the servers.
What I want from the DI is some sort of scripting language so I can make my own feats and spells, add them into the game, and have them do more than just add a +2 bonus to some existing ability.

What I want first and foremost is some sort of guarantee they'll be able to keep the servers up.
I do have to admit one thing after the experiences today with the countdown clock and the resulting crash of servers.

I no longer trust WotC to deliver online content in a reliable fashion. They're going to have to go a long way to prove themselves to me again in this.

I've gone from excited over 4E to extremely cautious and aprehensive in a matter of a few hours. I need proof that WotC is up to the task. I need to know appropriate levels of redundancy, not just in servers but also in physical locations, will be in place before I even begin to pay real money for online content from a company that didn't have enough foresight to realize that yes, you're hyping a major announcement of a major upgrade to a flagship product, so you'd better have enough server horsepower and bandwidth to be capable of handling the traffic you are purposefully generating.

With this demonstration of the IT prowess within WotC, I can only imagine the rubbish of a new issue of Dragon magazine hitting the site and the resulting crash of the servers.

Amen to that!
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Will you be allowed to access content you had already payed for if you do not continue paying the fee? With a physical subscription magazine you get to keep the issues you payed for and if you stop they don't all spontaneously burst into flames. This is what I most dislike about monthly fee based access sites, in fact I down right hate it. This is the main part I extremely dislike about the way the D&D brand is going. Actually this is what I hate about the way computer software marketing and internet development is going in general. Renting is not the same as owning and I dislike the idea that I will only be renting something I have been able to own outright in the past.

A final general note, make sure your software and presentation are as computing platform independent as they can be. Mac, Linux, Windows... bio-comp2012. Don't be like Atari, your partner on NWN2 that left a large chunk of the user and fan base out in the cold.
Congrats WotC! you have finally lowered D&D to its competitor's (Warhammer Fantasy Battle, 40k) level and forcing people to subscribe to something in order to get full functionality from the game.

yes you could buy Dungeon and Dragon magazine, but they were not something you had to have, Now with the additional part that were planned to be left out of the books such as whatever content mentioned in your little GenCon presentation.

you have now made D&D like Warhammer in that you must purchase soemthing on a constant basis like Citadel Journal and White Dwarf respectively, in order to have full functionality from your products.

thank you so much for proving me right all this time in my assertion that WotC does not care so much about making good games as they do about lining their own pockets!

if you really wanted to make games for gamers you would try to give them everything they need in something they can hold in their hand for D&D is a tabletop game, not a laptop/desktop game.

you shouldn't need constant internet access in order to play.

For the record, I play 4e every Thursday night with my buddies. And the most complicated piece of tech at the table is a three-ring binder.

This doesn't mean I'm not excited to get some prep-time digital help when Insider is up and running. But the game I'm working on right now involves just as much sitting at the table, talking in funny voices, rolling dice, and moving little dudes around as it always did. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

--David Noonan, game designer, Wizards of the Coast.
For the record, I play 4e every Thursday night with my buddies. And the most complicated piece of tech at the table is a three-ring binder.

This doesn't mean I'm not excited to get some prep-time digital help when Insider is up and running. But the game I'm working on right now involves just as much sitting at the table, talking in funny voices, rolling dice, and moving little dudes around as it always did. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

--David Noonan, game designer, Wizards of the Coast.

here is the thing. you preach from on high because you know what 4th is and isn't while other only have the YouTube video to go from that says...paraphrased....

"4th edition will be simplified. you can get extra material with a subscription fee to D&D insider."


are you at liberty to give more details on what is and isn't a part of 4th and its mechanics to quell the endless posibilities that people can imagine?

i would guess not. and i am sure IF someone will finally just spell things out then the next 8 months would go by a lot smoother than i forsee them going by now.

just too little information and too much speculation with what little we have.
That's great Dave - what about the rest of us that can't see it, and already have a small fortune invested in 3.5, with the assurances from WotC representatives that 3.5 would be supported for at least a few more years?

What about us? The game might be great, but I'm not investing any more money to support a company that lies outright to its best customers.

Thanks for the great times, but here's hoping the competition has a little more respect for their customers.
Thanks for the great times, but here's hoping the competition has a little more respect for their customers.

Hey, the doomsday thread is elsewhere.

And then there is this utter nonsense:
you have now made D&D like Warhammer in that you must purchase soemthing on a constant basis like Citadel Journal and White Dwarf respectively, in order to have full functionality from your products.

thank you so much for proving me right all this time in my assertion that WotC does not care so much about making good games as they do about lining their own pockets!

What the heck? "full functionality"? Are books somehow crippled? The rest of it is just incoherent rage, I have nothing to say.
Congrats WotC! you have finally lowered D&D to its competitor's (Warhammer Fantasy Battle, 40k) level and forcing people to subscribe to something in order to get full functionality from the game.

yes you could buy Dungeon and Dragon magazine, but they were not something you had to have, Now with the additional part that were planned to be left out of the books such as whatever content mentioned in your little GenCon presentation.

you have now made D&D like Warhammer in that you must purchase soemthing on a constant basis like Citadel Journal and White Dwarf respectively, in order to have full functionality from your products.

thank you so much for proving me right all this time in my assertion that WotC does not care so much about making good games as they do about lining their own pockets!

if you really wanted to make games for gamers you would try to give them everything they need in something they can hold in their hand for D&D is a tabletop game, not a laptop/desktop game.

you shouldn't need constant internet access in order to play.


You don't need constant internet access to play. You don't need any internet access to play. Tone down the outrage. It's making you look foolish.
Tales from the Rusty Dragon (http://rustydragon.blogspot.com) - A 4th Edition Conversion Project Covering Paizo's Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path
For the record, I play 4e every Thursday night with my buddies. And the most complicated piece of tech at the table is a three-ring binder.

This doesn't mean I'm not excited to get some prep-time digital help when Insider is up and running. But the game I'm working on right now involves just as much sitting at the table, talking in funny voices, rolling dice, and moving little dudes around as it always did. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

--David Noonan, game designer, Wizards of the Coast.

Are you playing it (as in, are you playing a near final version) or are you playtesting it?
are you at liberty to give more details on what is and isn't a part of 4th and its mechanics to quell the endless posibilities that people can imagine?

(

Mostly no, I shouldn't give mechanical details. Two reasons: First, the game ain't done yet. That's a pretty obvious reason. Second, it's unfair and misleading just to give you little, disconnected peeks. You'd just be touching part of the proverbial elephant. The nifty part of the D&D ruleset--or of pretty much any hobby game--is how the parts work in concert.

So my "no mechanical details" answer is just the answer for right now, tonight. We'll inundate you with information long before you face a purchasing decision or need to do anything special with your ongoing game. We'll talk until we're blue in the face. You'll get those questions answered. We just aren't going to do it tonight. And we should probably get the game completely done, too. That seems important.

One thing I can tell you, right now, tonight, is how the game is functioning at my Thursday night table. We're getting around the table faster than we did when this was a 3.5 game. We're hitting rules hitches at more or less the same rate as in 3.5--but this is playtesting, where the only alternative to finding problems is, well, not finding problems. I gotta believe those will fade away as we polish things up. And as the DM, the "information processing" load (bookkeeping, lookups, resource management) on me is way, way down. This does wonders for my ability to DM because I can focus more brainpower on making the encounter come to life.

My players--a mix of other game designers and friends from outside the game industry--are having a good time. (But the point is that we're friends, so the rules can't really take credit for that.) My players have some issues with the game still, and I'm madly taking playtest notes as we play.

So that's where we're at right now. If I were in your shoes, I'd sure want to know as much as possible, right away, proverbial elephants be damned. But May 2008 is a ways off. Just check in with us, volunteer to playtest, and eventually you'll see for yourself, long before the book is on the shelves.

--David Noonan, game designer, Wizards of the Coast.
I reiterate -

That's great Dave - what about the rest of us that can't see it, and already have a small fortune invested in 3.5, with the assurances from WotC representatives that 3.5 would be supported for at least a few more years?
One thing I can tell you, right now, tonight, is how the game is functioning at my Thursday night table. We're getting around the table faster than we did when this was a 3.5 game.

Hey Dave, regarding getting around the table faster, will 4e turn undead practically require someone pulling out the book to reference a table everytime? Has that been smoothed out and streamlined?
Can we at least get a reply as to whether or not we'll have to shell out for D&D Insider to recieve access to errata for 4th edition.
Are you playing it (as in, are you playing a near final version) or are you playtesting it?

I've read that there is still significant playtesting to be done. I read elsewhere that if you are interested in playtesting that the D&D Insider page will have a place to sign up for it. I may be misremembering, or the post I read elsewhere was wrong, but it seems playtesting is still being done and will be done in the few months ahead.
One thing I can tell you, right now, tonight, is how the game is functioning at my Thursday night table. We're getting around the table faster than we did when this was a 3.5 game. We're hitting rules hitches at more or less the same rate as in 3.5--but this is playtesting, where the only alternative to finding problems is, well, not finding problems. I gotta believe those will fade away as we polish things up. And as the DM, the "information processing" load (bookkeeping, lookups, resource management) on me is way, way down. This does wonders for my ability to DM because I can focus more brainpower on making the encounter come to life.

i must ask this one simple question then and pray for an answer. ok maybe the question wont be simple, but shouldn't be anything revealing from a rule standpoint.

IF you player 2E, 1E, OD&D, etc as a DM as well as 3.x then with relation to the ability to speed the game along during the game session, does this mean that you find yourself needing to prepare more for your game session sicne more can and probably is getting done in the overall plotline?

considering the decreased amount of time needed by the "streamlined" DM functionality i mean purely from the adventure design standpoint and how much material you need to have for the adventure versus older systems.

example: one night in 2E encompasses going through a house, through town, and crossing a landmass in order to get to some cave where the meat of the adventure lies.

with YOUR version of 4th do you find you need to have more of the story prepared for the same amount of in session game time as with older editions?

hopefully you will have time, be at liberty to answer, and understand this question well enough.
I do have to admit one thing after the experiences today with the countdown clock and the resulting crash of servers.

I no longer trust WotC to deliver online content in a reliable fashion. They're going to have to go a long way to prove themselves to me again in this.

I've gone from excited over 4E to extremely cautious and aprehensive in a matter of a few hours. I need proof that WotC is up to the task. I need to know appropriate levels of redundancy, not just in servers but also in physical locations, will be in place before I even begin to pay real money for online content from a company that didn't have enough foresight to realize that yes, you're hyping a major announcement of a major upgrade to a flagship product, so you'd better have enough server horsepower and bandwidth to be capable of handling the traffic you are purposefully generating.

With this demonstration of the IT prowess within WotC, I can only imagine the rubbish of a new issue of Dragon magazine hitting the site and the resulting crash of the servers.

I don't think that is a completely fair assessment. The difference between an announcement like this and an always on service is something many online companies have problems with. How could they accurately depict how many hits they would get? What numbers would they draw from? Sure there are total number of hits per day, week and month, as well total number of unique hits per day, week and month, but how much more than normal should they expect? I mean, they don't have any reliable past experience is my bet. Announcing that SW Saga was coming out doesn't compare in the number of rabid followers D&D has (Not to mention putting a freaking community based time bomb that lead to every D&D fan not at GenCon to press refresh at the time time. :D ).

When they have subscribers they know exactly how many people they need to provide service for. Granted they don't have to provide the ability for every person who subscribes to be on at the same time, only the normal every day spike times and projected growth.
Will you be allowed to access content you had already payed for if you do not continue paying the fee?

A final general note, make sure your software and presentation are as computing platform independent as they can be. Mac, Linux, Windows... bio-comp2012. Don't be like Atari, your partner on NWN2 that left a large chunk of the user and fan base out in the cold.

I hope they allow us to download the content. Just don't use time bombed DRM like blueray and HD-DVDs do, huge backlash there. I want to be able to put my docs on a USB drive, goto someone's house and be able to look at them on their PC. I don't have a laptop so that is how I have to do it, being able to print out said docs while I am not at home on my PC is also important since I have to iether goto Staples or a friend's place to get a paper copy of anything.

Hopefully they are making the thing using C/C++ and openGL. I'll be angry wangry if they don't. I'll be angry wangry if they use that .Net crap as well, since that eliminates all the pros of using C/C++ (Being able to port it to linux easy) and openGL. Ajax just wouldn't cut it for something like that. Even SIMPLE java 3d rendering programs are slow and crawl on the fastest PCs out today. I don't know anything about being able to port to a mac, but isn't there something called a universal binary?
The port to the PowerPC will be harder depending on how complex their software is. If it'll work on Linux x86 it should work on the x86 Mac with less porting work. It really bites being the dogs tail on technology, however that is also something for WotC to consider. As long as someone can read and do basic math they can play P&P D&D. If you go digital you have to deiced how far back you're willing to support. What is the minimum hardware and software specs that act as a filter on who gets into the 'community' and who doesn't. It would be nice to know those kinds of details ASAP.
IF you player 2E, 1E, OD&D, etc as a DM as well as 3.x then with relation to the ability to speed the game along during the game session, does this mean that you find yourself needing to prepare more for your game session sicne more can and probably is getting done in the overall plotline?

That is a damn good question, and it's one that I hadn't given much thought to. So lemme see...

I think my away-from-table preparation time is a little lower than in 3.5. While it's true that I have to have more encounters ready for each given session, the prep process itself tends to go faster. Well, the implementation of my fiendish DM plans goes faster, anyway. Sadly, 4e doesn't make me hatch sinister plots any faster. The creative, brainstormy stuff is pretty much the same.

But I'd hesitate to draw any grand conclusions from that, for a couple of reasons. First, my prep time is highly variable. I'm (perhaps unreasonably) confident in my ability to improvise with this group, so I can get away with minimal prep sometimes. On the other hand, it's a complicated, intrigue-laden campaign, so there are a lot of NPC balls to keep in the air.

Second, the fact that we're playtesting affects the prep-to-play ratio. I have a whole department sitting around me, cranking out new monsters, etc., for me to use. That lowers my personal prep time. And my players tend to engage in rules theory digressions between encounters. That hurts our "encounters per night" pace a bit.

So I'm going to go with my "a little less prep time for a significantly faster play pace" answer, but I'm not totally confident in that answer.

--David Noonan, game designer, Wizards of the Coast.
ok thanks.
The port to the PowerPC will be harder depending on how complex their software is. If it'll work on Linux x86 it should work on the x86 Mac with less porting work. It really bites being the dogs tail on technology, however that is also something for WotC to consider. As long as someone can read and do basic math they can play P&P D&D. If you go digital you have to deiced how far back you're willing to support. What is the minimum hardware and software specs that act as a filter on who gets into the 'community' and who doesn't. It would be nice to know those kinds of details ASAP.

Well from the Youtube video the 3d board doesn't look too intensive. It is hard to tell, we don't know which version of DX or OpenGL they are using (Obviously a windows app with the title bar). Obviously the "Experimental" shaders/lighting effects will be more intensive than the not experimental features, or even not turning the feature on all together. I would think support would come down to how much they allow you to turn off.
Well, first, I'd like to say I like some of the idea's I'm hearing, such as racial levels, fighters that don't suck past level 4, wizards that don't play games with the universe while the party watches, and all, but I want some crunch to munch on.

Even if its completely wrong tommorow, I'd like to at least have a speculation on what races and classes are looking like they will make it into 4th ed.! Give us a nibble. Is BAB still going to exist? Itterative attacks? Are elves going to actualy be good wizards?

Tell us something so we can go and wildly speculate for 10 pages, just to be told we were wrong, so we can at least have something to do with our time. Who knows, we might kick out something you never thought of.
I want to playtest!
I do have to admit one thing after the experiences today with the countdown clock and the resulting crash of servers.

I no longer trust WotC to deliver online content in a reliable fashion. They're going to have to go a long way to prove themselves to me again in this.

I've gone from excited over 4E to extremely cautious and aprehensive in a matter of a few hours. I need proof that WotC is up to the task. I need to know appropriate levels of redundancy, not just in servers but also in physical locations, will be in place before I even begin to pay real money for online content from a company that didn't have enough foresight to realize that yes, you're hyping a major announcement of a major upgrade to a flagship product, so you'd better have enough server horsepower and bandwidth to be capable of handling the traffic you are purposefully generating.

With this demonstration of the IT prowess within WotC, I can only imagine the rubbish of a new issue of Dragon magazine hitting the site and the resulting crash of the servers.

Quoted as it need reiterating. Do not launch a new product that has online content delivery as one of its key features, and then have your web servers collapse from the strain on the day that it is announced.

People will expect the same will happen the day it is actually launched.
Yes, God forbid we have to pay for something valuable.

I don't mind buying something valuable, but leasing it sucks. I'd rather have decent software to purchase for a reasonable fee than online tools that I have to subscribe to. There's no need for character generators, DM tools, and the like to be forcibly tied to online usage via subscription. These are tools that should be readily available offline. The only thing you should have to pay for beyond the initial software are expansions and updates that aren't fixes.

Now, perhaps that's not what's going on, but that's what it looked like to me at a glance.

Being able to easily play online with people through this service makes more sense with a subsription fee, but it's the tools I'm mainly interested in. And such tools should be a flat fee software purchase rather than dependent upon an online subscription.

People pay $10-20/month for WoW and every other MMO out there.

It's a loathsome practice. And not *every* MMO does it.
At least I have my proper avatar now, I guess. But man is this cloud dark.
That is a damn good question, and it's one that I hadn't given much thought to. So lemme see...

I think my away-from-table preparation time is a little lower than in 3.5. While it's true that I have to have more encounters ready for each given session, the prep process itself tends to go faster. Well, the implementation of my fiendish DM plans goes faster, anyway. Sadly, 4e doesn't make me hatch sinister plots any faster. The creative, brainstormy stuff is pretty much the same.

But I'd hesitate to draw any grand conclusions from that, for a couple of reasons. First, my prep time is highly variable. I'm (perhaps unreasonably) confident in my ability to improvise with this group, so I can get away with minimal prep sometimes. On the other hand, it's a complicated, intrigue-laden campaign, so there are a lot of NPC balls to keep in the air.

Second, the fact that we're playtesting affects the prep-to-play ratio. I have a whole department sitting around me, cranking out new monsters, etc., for me to use. That lowers my personal prep time. And my players tend to engage in rules theory digressions between encounters. That hurts our "encounters per night" pace a bit.

So I'm going to go with my "a little less prep time for a significantly faster play pace" answer, but I'm not totally confident in that answer.

--David Noonan, game designer, Wizards of the Coast.

Hi David,

Glad to hear faster prep times are one of the new features of the new edition. As a DM, that's quite important to me.

May I ask a few questions regarding the general "philosophy" behind 4th Ed however? I'm not asking for specific mechanics, but I would like to ask if the following are high-priority objectives of the new edition:

1) Seamless transition from 3.5 Ed to 4th Ed - do you plan to design 3.5 Ed to be easily adaptable into 4th Ed, or is this just a secondary consideration?

2) Faster playtimes for resolving tasks - is one of the major goals of the new edition to streamline task resolution? Is it a major objective to have a 4th Ed Player (no matter their pace) be able to do things more quickly than a 3.5 Ed player, except for the non-mechanical aspects of the game like creative dialogue?

3) Is the preservation of long-time D&D hallmarks a priority? Is the direction to make D&D more generic, or to still maintain distinctive elements so that people can instantly recognize it's "D&D"?

4) Will the SRD be updated to 4th Ed? (Okay, maybe this one is for the marketing folks)

5) Is the focus on freedom still one of the overriding objectives? Is the focus still on "letting players practice their creativity while the rules get out of the way" or "providing a structured environment to ensure balanced play".

(I know the ideal is to have both, but trade offs often have to be made. As far as 4th Ed is concerned, which of the two is the greater good?)

Thanks in advance for any reply ^_^
May I ask a few questions regarding the general "philosophy" behind 4th Ed however? I'm not asking for specific mechanics, but I would like to ask if the following are high-priority objectives of the new edition:

We have answers to some of these things already. I'll fill in what I've heard.
1) Seamless transition from 3.5 Ed to 4th Ed - do you plan to design 3.5 Ed to be easily adaptable into 4th Ed, or is this just a secondary consideration?

The standpoint I've seen the developers take is - start over. Don't even try to transition an old campaign to the new rules. The changes are pretty significant, to the point that any sort of reasonable conversion guide would create problems.
4) Will the SRD be updated to 4th Ed? (Okay, maybe this one is for the marketing folks)

Confirmed "yes" here.
Tales from the Rusty Dragon (http://rustydragon.blogspot.com) - A 4th Edition Conversion Project Covering Paizo's Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path
We have answers to some of these things already. I'll fill in what I've heard.

The standpoint I've seen the developers take is - start over. Don't even try to transition an old campaign to the new rules. The changes are pretty significant, to the point that any sort of reasonable conversion guide would create problems.

Confirmed "yes" here.

Where did you get the "start over" directive? Source?
I have seen mention that when you buy a book you get a code, to unlock online content, say you get the 4E version of Eberron Campaign setting, you enter the code and you get to use the Eberron races in the character builder and all the feats in it, etc.

Is this code, a unique serial number like you have for games. Or is it one code identical in every copy of the book published and then you have a nominal fee to unlock the content?

1) A unique serial number would mean every player in my group would have to buy the 4E Eberron campaign setting book then enter their unique code in order for the group to play in the Eberron setting (Or use 4E Complete Warrior or whatever expansion).

2) If it is one code the same in each book, I could buy the book (for X amount) give the code to my friends and then we all pay a one off "nominal fee" and we can all play in the Eberron setting using Changlings and the like. They could access an online version to build there characters and the like and we could build a shared group library.

3) A combination of the two... Setting books (and other DM aimed books, a 4E version of Heroes of Battle for example) would have a code that could be shared but player aimed books like Complete Warrior would have unique codes.

4) Something different, the book owner has a unique code, that he can then give license to players in his group, or something else I've not considered.

I can see option 1, being a deal breaker for me personally as our group are use to sharing books, and if everyone had to buy a copy of a book to play in a setting or use feats then I can't see us wanting to subscribe to DnDInsider as we would not make use of the character builder and other tools.
I have seen mention that when you buy a book you get a code, to unlock online content, say you get the 4E version of Eberron Campaign setting, you enter the code and you get to use the Eberron races in the character builder and all the feats in it, etc.

I doubt it's like that. They're probably thinking about additional content for the book, like feats, spells, encounters. Limiting it the way you said is, well, death to the product. They're not that stupid.
Funny because that appears to be what was implied in the videos on YouTube part 1 and part 2. About 8 minutes into the part 1 video.

"that added functionality is basically databases that are populated once it (DnDInsider) knows you own the physical product."

and this commenthere.

Each paper product will include codes to unlock digital versions on the site for a "nominal" activation fee.

I don't think that is a completely fair assessment. The difference between an announcement like this and an always on service is something many online companies have problems with. How could they accurately depict how many hits they would get? What numbers would they draw from? Sure there are total number of hits per day, week and month, as well total number of unique hits per day, week and month, but how much more than normal should they expect? I mean, they don't have any reliable past experience is my bet. Announcing that SW Saga was coming out doesn't compare in the number of rabid followers D&D has (Not to mention putting a freaking community based time bomb that lead to every D&D fan not at GenCon to press refresh at the time time. :D ).

It's a VERY fair assessment, since I've been called upon to make such projections for requirements of server resources and bandwidth requirements to support similar marketing campaigns. I've been successful at this very thing multiple times over the past seven years and my expectations may be high, but they are very achievable.

And the big difference here is, what we experienced with the wizards servers in the current debacle was an issue related tot eh marketing wing. D&D Insider will be a subscription based revenue center and as such, will have to provide subscribers with a SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENT. WotC MUST guarantee a level of uptime. They MUST guarantee pre-announcements for maintenace downtime. They MUST provide for penalties should they fail to meet the terms expressed in the SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENT. They MUST guarantee 100% data retention as their subscribers will be depending upon WotC to keep their data safe.

This isn't some forum site dependent upon community donations to remain up. WotC is entering the realm of hosted services and as such, the expectations have just gone much higher. I suspect higher than WotC has prepared for at this time.

What happens if the data center that houses the servers is hit by a tornado? Do they refund the subscribers because they had no disaster recovery plan? If not, you might as well be sending $10 per month to WotC and expect ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN RETURN FOR YOUR CASH!

Quite frankly, I would hope that WotC got their IT folks ijnvolved at an early stage, though if they did the planning capabilities of those IT folks are seriously in doubt given the current debacle of inadequate resources to support the marketing initiative.

I can tell you with absolute certainity, had the marketing division of the corporation I work for come to me with projections of requirements and I failed to meet those requirements, I'd be on the street with a tin cup begging for money after the debacle of the wizards site. If the marketing people were unable to make projections, they'd be on the streets. The failure to plan in advance and project accurately what traffic expectations can be for a marketing campaign is unacceptable in today's highly competitive business environment. There are more than enough tools to be very successful with such marketing campaigns and have everything go off without a hitch.

WotC has announced they are entering the technology arena with gaming and have proven themselves incapable of delivering on their promises. This is undeniable given the evidence.
Quoted as it need reiterating. Do not launch a new product that has online content delivery as one of its key features, and then have your web servers collapse from the strain on the day that it is announced.

People will expect the same will happen the day it is actually launched.

Here's a better one. Some new widget is placed oin the site, word travels virally through the net about said widget and everybody wants it. D&D Insider crumbels under the increased traffic. What penalties must WotC now pay the subscriber base?

The marketing hypoe is I can play on the D&D Insider Tabletop 24X7. Thqt infers a service level agreement of 100% up time. What happens if WotC fails to meet that inferred agreement? My cable company has to deduct money from my bill on a pro rata basis for outages. I expect at a minimum the same from WotC.

HEre's another one. I spend hours upon hours creating my campaign setting on D&D Insider. I subscribe and I can store this data as I'm paying for the service. Server crashes due to hard drive failures. What guarantees do I have that WotC can recover my data? I'm paying for a hosted service and expect 100% data retention or I expect those guarantees to be spelled out in the subscription agreement. With no guarantees, you might as well flush your subscription money down the toilet.

My expectations are high but this is because I work in an industry that hosts services for customers and I know what expectaions should be for this sort of a proposed online initiative.