Will we have to buy V-Minis?

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I hope not. I'm actually very excited about this tool, but it's little nickel and dime stuff like this that will make me not subscribe to D&DI. I want this tool to be good. I want to love it.

I read about the possibility of having to buy boosters of V-minis in a blog article. I don't like collectible games. I don't even buy ringtones. I do not want random collectible minis controlling what monsters we fight in D&D.

I don't mind paying for a product, but I don't like paying tiny incremental fees to get stuff. If the argument for selling the V-minis has to do with the cost of developing them, then allow the community to make them. I sure they will be more than happy to.

The same goes for dungeon tiles. Especially dungeon tiles. Since they're just scanned textures. No modeling involved.

Anyway, I wanted to end on a happy note since this post feels more negative than I intended. I am concerned about this issue, but in general, I'm pretty excited about the whole tool. Initially I was wary of D&DI, but now I think I'll even subscribe to that. So hopefully the final product will truly deliver!
I share your concerns, but am faced with the fact that some does have to create the original artwork even though now it's electronic and duplication costs are negligible.

When they charge for these, if they aren't covered by the monthly/annual fee, I hope they keep the costs appropriately low. I'll never pay per figure, but I might drop $10 for a pack of 100 dungeon tiles or v-figures if the quality is acceptable.

Ideally they'll release the tools/specs to the community so we can create this content or create the tools for creating this content.
I'll be honest with you here. Even if I had a Windows machine that was supported by the DDI... I would never pay extra for v-mini. I would be more than happy to pay the monthly fee, but paying for a v-mini would be out of the question for me.

While it's important to point out that yes, someone has to design the mini. The main difference is that no one has to design anything beyond that. With the physical D&D Minis, the design process includes all of the following: Graphics, D&D Stats, Skirmish Stats and Costing, Typesetting, Production. I'm more than happy to pay for all that. The virtual mini only requires the graphics. That's it really because the Game Table doesn't adjudicate anything it doesn't need all the stats tied to anything. The DM is supposed to handle that.

In my opinion that should be rolled into the subscription. It's just not worth it to me to pay extra for that. This is doubly true for randomized v-minis.

Don't get me wrong about randomization. I'm a huge fan of D&D Minis. I buy boosters from my local store, and I've even bought cases in the past, but I'm paying for a lot of design and effort when I buy those.

--sam
If they do this, they should also make fan-made minis importable. Maybe the advantage of a WotC v-mini is that it can have it's pose changed, different colour applied, etc. and fan made v-minis are static.

I think this would satisfy everyone. :D
When I first saw the presentation of the game table I thought it was cool, and the question quickly came up about the V-mini's between our group. I had thought that when you purchased a Monster Manual and entered the e-code to "unlock extra stuff"; I figured that the V-mini's would have been included in the extra stuff. I, along with most others in my group were greatly disappointed by the fact that they are not included.

We had all thought that getting all the V-mini's would be a great incentive for buying the MMI, not to mention the MMII, MMII, and so forth. With the pirating of books the way it is these days we all figured that WotC would really try and entice people to buy the books by giving the V-mini’s with the purchase of the book.

We then began discussing that if we had to buy these V-mini's how should it work? Random V-booster packs is ridiculous. At least if we got to choose which mini's we wanted and then could only buy the mini's we would use that would be OK. Then if I buy a skeleton V-mini, I had better darn well be able to duplicate him on my Virtual game table as many times as I want, so if I wanted a room filled with 10 skeletons, I had better have only had to pay for that skeleton once. If they expect me to have to then buy 10 V-skeleton mini's to populate my dungeon, they are crazy.

I agree that it cost money to develop. But compare that cost to the actual mini's you buy. In both cases someone has to come up with the artwork. In both cases someone has to sculpt the figure, be it either on the computer or a block of clay. Now that is where the difference ends. With actual mini's there is a lot more work after that, like the molds, the material, the packaging, the shipping, the merchandising, etc. So a pack of actual minis cost what, $19.99 and you get 8 minis. These v-mini's had better be at least a 10th of the cost or less to be of comparative value. $1.99 for 10 mini's (of your choice) seems reasonable to me.

Also, with actual mini's you can put them up on your shelf, and they look really cool. They are useful outside of the game itself, and you have them for the rest of your life. V-Mini's are only on the computer...can't display them, can't trade them (well maybe), and are only useful on the Digital Game Table.

We are all waiting to see what they are going to charge for V-mini's, and what kind of features the V-mini's will have . If you are able to customize the V-mini's like they were doing in the character creator then that would make them a little better.

One of the things I hated most with real mini's was that during the game whoever was DMing our group was too lazy to dig through the mini box to find the correct mini, so they would jsut throw out the same purple and red guys that they had used for the last encounter, and the one before that, ect. I was really hoping that the virtual game table wouldn't be the same.....oh, well.
Fine time posting.

How Excited I am about Game Table: I have been a mac user for 8 years now and I am saving money for a PC just to run Game Table. The prospect of playing D&D with my old High School friends who live in other states and countries, coupled with how pretty the gencon demo was = me stoked. Monthly fee? Fine. PC only? I'll do my best. Random V-minis? Um...your kidding right?

Here is the way it should work. You buy the Monster Manual, you get the code for ALL the monsters in the book. Each core Monster Manual can work that way and we can all play the game. To please the "Board" perhaps game table users can purchase exclusive minis (like named NPCs, Monsters with classes, different poses, etc.). So there is a generic skeleton that comes free with the book purchase, and then perhaps a skeletal orge that you have to pay extra for. If you really want that Skeletal Orge, you got to pay.

But if they expect us to buy random virtual merchandise then I think they expect a lot.


For The Greater Good.
Here is the way it should work. You buy the Monster Manual, you get the code for ALL the monsters in the book. Each core Monster Manual can work that way and we can all play the game. To please the "Board" perhaps game table users can purchase exclusive minis (like named NPCs, Monsters with classes, different poses, etc.).

I really really hope they do this. I will not be buying randomized online minis, and am still doubtful about even buying the online gaming table. They have said you will be able to craft as many PC's as you want, and I can see myself as a DM creating many many diffrent ones, and just using them as a mini in duplicate if I don't get the ones in the book i bought and paid the x$ to activate virtually.

Exclusive minis can be things like the iconic charaters- if included-, or things like premade classed npcs. You get as many orc's as you want. But any orc warlord5/palidin7's on a unicorns are going to cost you.

If i pay for the MM to be virtually active, I would like to be able to pull minis directly out of it and onto the map VIA some form of drag and drop. I would also like the to be an option for any adventures i purchase vitually. Open to encounter 7b of the adventure, and push preload. It then has the dungeon tiles arranged as needed and the minis positioned correctly. I can modify as needed and then drop the PCs as approperiate.

I would also like some form of virtual world builder to be included, but thats another thread.

I'll just end with the note, that i would be very unhappy/unwilling to buy virtual minis at an extra cost to virtual activation of my books. It is one thing to pay for software, DND GAME TABLE, but another to pay for each individual part of the software in addition.

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"

We then began discussing that if we had to buy these V-mini's how should it work? Random V-booster packs is ridiculous. At least if we got to choose which mini's we wanted and then could only buy the mini's we would use that would be OK. Then if I buy a skeleton V-mini, I had better darn well be able to duplicate him on my Virtual game table as many times as I want, so if I wanted a room filled with 10 skeletons, I had better have only had to pay for that skeleton once. If they expect me to have to then buy 10 V-skeleton mini's to populate my dungeon, they are crazy.

If they are on a "random booster" thought pattern, they have to be on a "buy 10 v-skeleton mini's to populate your dungeon" thought pattern as well. The two thoughts are exclusive to one another.

I agree that it cost money to develop. But compare that cost to the actual mini's you buy. In both cases someone has to come up with the artwork. In both cases someone has to sculpt the figure, be it either on the computer or a block of clay. Now that is where the difference ends. With actual mini's there is a lot more work after that, like the molds, the material, the packaging, the shipping, the merchandising, etc. So a pack of actual minis cost what, $19.99 and you get 8 minis. These v-mini's had better be at least a 10th of the cost or less to be of comparative value. $1.99 for 10 mini's (of your choice) seems reasonable to me.

The V-minis and Game table take no more, and likely less, work to create than most video games. How again do they get away with charging several dozen times that for this 'tool' that is not even supposed to be more than a convenience?


One of the things I hated most with real mini's was that during the game whoever was DMing our group was too lazy to dig through the mini box to find the correct mini, so they would jsut throw out the same purple and red guys that they had used for the last encounter, and the one before that, ect. I was really hoping that the virtual game table wouldn't be the same.....oh, well.

And wizards response: Yes, it's just like your kitchen table, just like we promised.

They have said you will be able to craft as many PC's as you want, and I can see myself as a DM creating many many diffrent ones, and just using them as a mini in duplicate if I don't get the ones in the book i bought and paid the x$ to activate virtually.

They said the likely number of savable characters is *drum roll* 10.
I hate to say it, but it sounds like the MM won't be worth the money when compared to the other books.

When we buy sourcebooks, Insider subscribers will have the rules from that book unlocked for their account. Classes, spells, feats, and everything else available for easy access and use online.

The monster manual is focused on one thing: monsters, as it should be. But whereas other books add to the database we have access to and increase our ability to utilize the internet tools offered with Insider, the monster manual really adds nothing of value. Players don't need access to the stat blocks of creatures they encounter, and I'll probably have my physical book open on my desk whenever I run a game via the Game Table. Having the stat blocks available digitally will help with adventure creation, but not likely much else.

The V-Minis are a vital web features of the MM. Forcing us to purchase them separately is equivalent to forcing us to buy the MM more than once if we want to utilize it to the same extent as other sourcebooks.

They said the likely number of savable characters is *drum roll* 10.

They did mention they would look into the possibility of allowing us to save additional characters on our hard drives, though.
They said the likely number of savable characters is *drum roll* 10.

Well crap, last i had heard they were stillup in the air as to the number leaning to limitless.

Can you link me to where you found the number 10? Id like to be able to stay up to date with that in case they change the number to higher. WHich i hope they do, as when i play i like to save my sheets from campaign to campaign, and i think it would be cool save all my virtual ones as well. Especially if the virtual ones come with a visual representation. -at least i can save them to harddrive-

I agree without this the MM virtual content will not be worth the money.

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"

When I first saw the presentation of the game table I thought it was cool, and the question quickly came up about the V-mini's between our group. I had thought that when you purchased a Monster Manual and entered the e-code to "unlock extra stuff"; I figured that the V-mini's would have been included in the extra stuff. I, along with most others in my group were greatly disappointed by the fact that they are not included.

...Here is the way it should work. You buy the Monster Manual, you get the code for ALL the monsters in the book. Each core Monster Manual can work that way and we can all play the game...

I agree totally.

If I have to start buying v-mini's to enjoy the Game Table, I'm a lot less likely to support the game as a whole...and I was honestly psyched to see this product.
I agree that v-minis should be free with a DDI account, or at least unlocked when you buy a Monster Manual, but if that's not going to happen, what about getting codes with each mini you buy in real life? So the card for your skeleton mini would include a code to unlock it on the Game Table. This way, we'd only have to pay once (and would still get a sweet real mini), and rarity of figures would still act as an impulse to buy (e.g. you'd still have to buy a bunch of packs to get that Tordek mini, online and off). It's not a perfect solution, but it's an idea.
I agree that v-minis should be free with a DDI account, or at least unlocked when you buy a Monster Manual, but if that's not going to happen, what about getting codes with each mini you buy in real life? So the card for your skeleton mini would include a code to unlock it on the Game Table. This way, we'd only have to pay once (and would still get a sweet real mini), and rarity of figures would still act as an impulse to buy (e.g. you'd still have to buy a bunch of packs to get that Tordek mini, online and off). It's not a perfect solution, but it's an idea.

And what about people who already have minis? They are just SOL?

Krusk
- Sorry mate, I can't find the quote, it was some one other than the WotC_DM that said it, might have been a moderator. So I can not confirm that number any more, I know I saw it, in an official post, I just can not find that post.
I agree that v-minis should be free with a DDI account, or at least unlocked when you buy a Monster Manual, but if that's not going to happen, what about getting codes with each mini you buy in real life? So the card for your skeleton mini would include a code to unlock it on the Game Table. This way, we'd only have to pay once (and would still get a sweet real mini), and rarity of figures would still act as an impulse to buy (e.g. you'd still have to buy a bunch of packs to get that Tordek mini, online and off). It's not a perfect solution, but it's an idea.

Thats a very cool idea, i was thinking something along the same lines but couldnt think how to intergrate it. I wouldnt even mind if they upped the cost of minis by a buck or two, or threw the charge to when you unlock your mini online like they are doing with the books.

My one problem with it is, that I would rather get a bunch of skeletons than get a bunch of dire were-rat skeleton berserkers, and black-flame initate kobold mercenary minis.

Gwydeon- no problem, im just gonna go scower the forums/website for it now.

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"

Gwydeon: And what about people who already have minis? They are just SOL?

Word. Definitely a problem.

Krusk: My one problem with it is, that I would rather get a bunch of skeletons than get a bunch of dire were-rat skeleton berserkers, and black-flame initate kobold mercenary minis.

Either getting one skeleton would let you unlock as many skellies as you like, or (and I've always thought they should do this anyway) there should be non-random packs of minis as well. I totally agree that I usually buy minis to get, like, swordsmen and archers, rather than dire badgers. Imagine the prepacked Undead Box, or the Gang of Ruffians Box, or something.
Either getting one skeleton would let you unlock as many skellies as you like, or (and I've always thought they should do this anyway) there should be non-random packs of minis as well. I totally agree that I usually buy minis to get, like, swordsmen and archers, rather than dire badgers. Imagine the prepacked Undead Box, or the Gang of Ruffians Box, or something.

Those would be sweet, so hopefully thats how they do it.

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"

I know that details on the v-mini cost have not been released, and I'm not usually one to whine before details are available, but I have a massive emotional investment in D&D (I've played for 20 years and was only forced to stop in Dec 05 when I moved cities) and this issue is the only thing standing between me and re-kindling that love affair. As such, it's important that I tell WotC how I feel about this ahead of time:

If the monsters in the monster manual are not immediately available on the VTT without further cost (other than the activation key for the book itself), I think D&D will have lost me as a player for good. If I buy a book that contains stats for an Orc, I better get a v-mini of an orc when I activate my E-copy, and I better be able to have as many of those v-minis on screen as I want at the same time.

While I might agree to pay an extra one-off fee extra for "unique" v-minis (such as an Orc Sergeant, Dwarven Defender or a fiendish T-rex), the price had better be very low (less than $1.00 per mini) and non-random or I'm not interested. Just as with the non-unique minis, I should be able to have multiple copies of that v-mini on screen at once. WotC only pays for the design of the v-mini once, so I will look very poorly on them asking for me to pay for it twice or more.

When I moved, my entire gaming group broke up and the others stopped playing as well. I am the one pushing for us to leap on 4E and the digital initiative. Please think carefully about this WotC, there's a lot more than individual customers on the line. One unhappy non-customer can cost you 4+ customers.
When a new sourcebook comes out, all of that information should be available on DDI.

I don't care if it comes as a code in the book or a separate bulk pack for purchase online. It needs to be consistent and it needs to be complete. If your corresponding v-mini pack and new player-race options or whatever aren't finished yet, don't release your book.

I'll pay $30 for a Monster Manual and $5-10 for all of the v-minis in it if necessary. If I have to purchase them individually, wait until some become available while others aren't, or if some official monsters never become minis, then I'm just flat out not going to use DDI.

If I want crappy, incomplete RPG management there are about a hundred free applications out there that fit that role. But if I'm going to be paying $10 a month plus extra unlock fees for a RPG management suite that (AFAIK) is totally un-moddable by the end user, you better damn well not miss a beat.

For me and every other DM, we could possibly bring in 4+ players each to your DDI initiative. Or we could tell 4+ players that you dropped the ball and it isn't worth it. Consider this carefully when weighing the value of forum suggestions.

I'll be real honest. I'm a game programmer by trade -I know making an online tabletop and all of the tools that work with the crazy data you guys crank out every month is no small task. But I saw what happened with eTools and I don't have any faith in DDI at all. I think you guys have a good idea here and probably have a great team working on it, but somebody in management or marketing is going to come up with a distribution model that makes it unattractive and drives it into the dirt.

I sincerely hope you prove me wrong.
Like many on this thread, I flat out will not pay extra for v-minis. If I buy the Monster Manual it should unlock every monster inside from cover to cover. Otherwise, what's the point? I find this micro-transaction formula distateful garbage. It's a cash grab that would drive loyal customers away from the game. It would make creating an adventure totally dependent on how much cash you have on your PayPal account to buy more enemies. Hopefully, WOC won't make this mistake.
As much as I'm against the idea of buying v-minis, I should note here that according to Didier, there will be a way of representing monsters on the Game Table without the minis (probably the way we do now, with tokens of some kind).

So even if they decide to charge for v-minis, you'll still be able to run adventures without them... they just won't be as "cool". I can understand, why they might want to charge for the "added value" of playing with v-minis. I just can't imagine people buying them. Maybe that's just me... but it's not something I would do. Then again, I'm probably not the target market. LOL

--sam
As much as I'm against the idea of buying v-minis, I should note here that according to Didier, there will be a way of representing monsters on the Game Table without the minis (probably the way we do now, with tokens of some kind).

I can just imagine. A free library of things like erasers, pennies, dice, M&Ms, coins, etc. While it would be funny to see, I'm hoping that the Game Table will leave the days of weird stand-in minis behind. And they can do that by providing a good selection of minis as part of the standard cost of DDI or D&D books, or by allowing third parties to create minis for free.
If the game table does not include the V-mini's and all sourcebook material for free then I will definetly not subscribe.

Everything should be included in the subscription. Otherwise I'll stick to pen, paper, my battle map and figs.
I can just imagine. A free library of things like erasers, pennies, dice, M&Ms, coins, etc. While it would be funny to see, I'm hoping that the Game Table will leave the days of weird stand-in minis behind. And they can do that by providing a good selection of minis as part of the standard cost of DDI or D&D books, or by allowing third parties to create minis for free.

"I thought the troll was the eraser?"

"No, the giant is the eraser. The troll is the pencil."

"Then what's that fuzz?"

"Oh, that's just fuzz..." :P
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"I thought the troll was the eraser?"

"No, the giant is the eraser. The troll is the pencil."

"Then what's that fuzz?"

"Oh, that's just fuzz..." :P

Exactly. Why was this example given in the promotional video? If it is one of the issues they are supposidly trying to repair (in the case of the Game Table) then how are they repairing it with the same solution we have in real life: "Buy minis"...


...
I really dislike the taste of both having to pay a subscription fee and then payments for items inside that subscription. I can kinda see the point of payments to unlock books (as it includes extras beyond just the electronic book). But having to pay to get every small little thing after having to pay a not insubstantial price per month is like trying to go to the mall and having a cover charge to get in.
I don't like the idea of paying for v-minis at all.

I hope that, if this happens, there is an option for using non-3d custom images as a "token" mini on the board. That would be what I am doing.
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Exactly. Why was this example given in the promotional video? If it is one of the issues they are supposidly trying to repair (in the case of the Game Table) then how are they repairing it with the same solution we have in real life: "Buy minis"...

PRECISELY.
The one thing I would support is if the activation cost of the MMs was $5-7 dollars more than for other books in order to cover the extra cost of producing the v-minis. That would be the smart way of charging for v-minis, one that people probably wouldn't notice.
The one thing I would support is if the activation cost of the MMs was $5-7 dollars more than for other books in order to cover the extra cost of producing the v-minis. That would be the smart way of charging for v-minis, one that people probably wouldn't notice.

I'm not a big fan of things that screw DMs. Making them pay extra for books isn't a good reward for WotC's largest evangelists.
I don't think that paying a price based on the amount of content received is screwing the DM.
Right, but as DMs are mostly the ones using MMs, and having an electronic version of that info is gonna be even more important for a DM, if you raise the price of opening up the online stuff (which thus far includes the electronic copy, detailed info in character creation, etc) it is making DMs pay even more. Especially as most will not be using these v-minis, but just using the tools to create and run adventures.
Right, but as DMs are mostly the ones using MMs, and having an electronic version of that info is gonna be even more important for a DM, if you raise the price of opening up the online stuff (which thus far includes the electronic copy, detailed info in character creation, etc) it is making DMs pay even more.

It makes GM's without a group pay even more. A dedicated group who wants to get into 4e should have no problem sharing the cost. If this is the only solution that negates buying individual or 'random pack' v-mini's I support it.

Especially as most will not be using these v-minis, but just using the tools to create and run adventures.

This while possibly true is major conjecture on your part and not constructive to the dialog.
It makes GM's without a group pay even more. A dedicated group who wants to get into 4e should have no problem sharing the cost. If this is the only solution that negates buying individual or 'random pack' v-mini's I support it.



This while possibly true is major conjecture on your part and not constructive to the dialog.

DM's can make their players pay for their books? Sweet. And pointing out that most DMs do not want to pay a significant amount for stuff they will not use is constructive. Its pointing out what I see as a major error in strategy.
I can only speak for my wallet.

If you want me to get onboard and play with your program for my online gaming needs, something I do exclusivly (ie. no table games) then you had better make it free because if you don't then I will direct my time and energy to one of the many to come replicas of your little service that will be better quality after 6 months than your team can make.

And to spite the nickel and dime crap that a subscription plus paying for v-content is I will donate money to their little open source project.

Don't get me as a mal-content, I'l be the first in line to buy the new books but online content had better be free and the subscription better cover it all or I'll happily enjoy the game outside your virtual borders and all the linking to ads and new products that you could have carefully marketed to me.

Rob
DM's can make their players pay for their books? Sweet.

Please, I said they could 'share the cost'. This is deliberate misinterpretation.

And pointing out that most DMs do not want to pay a significant amount for stuff they will not use is constructive. Its pointing out what I see as a major error in strategy.

What is your basis for this statement? How are you gaining info on how 'most' GM's will and wont access the tools that WotC is preparing to provide?

I'm sure that for YOU and some people you speak with commonly this may very well be quite true, however, as a DM looking forward to the tools to be made available and having more posts on this board with hopeful interest in them than comments of uselessness I find it unlikely that your opinion in this respect matches that of the community.

My sense of fairness dictates that I relent the fact that the message boards are hardly a good example for any percentage of public opinion, it is merely the vocal minorities in each group speaking out. The fact remains however that we can look at these numbers where as your pulling your statement and its sweeping assumption out of your posterior.
Please, I said they could 'share the cost'. This is deliberate misinterpretation.

What is your basis for this statement? How are you gaining info on how 'most' GM's will and wont access the tools that WotC is preparing to provide?

I'm sure that for YOU and some people you speak with commonly this may very well be quite true, however, as a DM looking forward to the tools to be made available and having more posts on this board with hopeful interest in them than comments of uselessness I find it unlikely that your opinion in this respect matches that of the community.

My sense of fairness dictates that I relent the fact that the message boards are hardly a good example for any percentage of public opinion, it is merely the vocal minorities in each group speaking out. The fact remains however that we can look at these numbers where as your pulling your statement and its sweeping assumption out of your posterior.

Wow, pretty testy over v-minis... ...

I think what he was trying to say, and it was pretty clear, was that people won't pay for things they can't or won't use. That seems a sound and logical deduction. He didn't seem to assume about whether the lion's share of DM's would find certain gaming tools useful. And I have no clue what numbers you speak of...

Oh, and I'm glad your sense of fairness includes telling people their thoughts came out of their butts. Very nice.

Go take a tylenol before you have a stroke. :headexplo
What is your basis for this statement? How are you gaining info on how 'most' GM's will and wont access the tools that WotC is preparing to provide?

How many DMs currently use electronic tools to prep for gaming? By my estimation, a lot. So its pretty reasonable to assume that they will the tools that WotC provides, if they are "better" than other options.

Now, how many DMs use electronic table solutions? Its gonna be a fraction of the DMs who use electronic tools to prep. I think its a bad idea to significantly raise the price of the tools for a feature that only a fraction of the users will use.
How many DMs currently use electronic tools to prep for gaming? By my estimation, a lot. So its pretty reasonable to assume that they will the tools that WotC provides, if they are "better" than other options.

Now, how many DMs use electronic table solutions? Its gonna be a fraction of the DMs who use electronic tools to prep. I think its a bad idea to significantly raise the price of the tools for a feature that only a fraction of the users will use.

I use electronic tools to prep and to run my game, everything I am running during the game is on my laptop. Granted, being a computer programmer myself, I write programs that suit my needs.
I'm very stoked about 4E and will get it the moment it's out.

I'm reasonably stoked about D&D Insider and will probably pay for the service at first to evaluate it and see how I feel about it. I do have some overseas and other far off friends whom I'd like to play with and this is worth trying. There's a real chance of winning me over, having me pay the $10/month fee and influence my friends to do the same.

Paying extra for v-minis? Pretty much an immediate "ok, I'm not gonna bother" on the D&D Insider thing. I don't care about the articles and I'm not sure the prep stuff is going to be worth it alone. But I am stoked about online play. But feeling like I'm being nickled and dimed to get the full experience? No way. That makes me a lost potential customer right there.

Subscription fee? OK.
Pay for content on a per-content basis? OK.
Subscription fee AND pay for content on a per-content basis? Feels like I'm being milked and scammed, so no thank you.
I second the idea of letting the community create their own 3D models for minis.

I understand that creating virtual minis would require WOTC to hire several artists to render them all, and that represents a real investment by the company. Perhaps when you buy the MM, those monsters will be available as a single set (and I personally wouldn't be too hesitant to pay maybe $10 for that set considering the man hours that went into creating it). These minis would NEED to be created by WOTC so they would be available upon release, otherwise you would end up with the virtual tabletop and no way to play it. But after release, monsters put out in further MM editions or elsewhere could easily be modeled by those in the community without any capital investment by WOTC.

I think that the random mini pack may seem to represent a more profitable option for WOTC, but ultimately what the players want is to have the resources available to play their campaigns, and the most straightforward method to do that would be to sell the minis as a single set. Selling booster packs of random minis only complicates the issue (particularly if you can't trade your 52 extra "Goblin" minis for that dragon you really need for the end of your campaign).

I personally think that the virtual tabletop has a lot of potential (assuming it can be significantly better than the tabletops already available) for those people who are physically seperated from the people they'd like to play with. Being a grad student who has moved ~12 hrs from home, I think it would be lots of fun to be able to pick up the campaign I left behind, and look forward to seeing what WOTC has to offer in the coming year.

Matt
I second the idea of letting the community create their own 3D models for minis.

I agree with this as well. I've been attempting to write a rough draft for my first 4E campaign, based on what we know now but leaving room for unavoidable changes, and I can guarantee that I'll have to create some creatures myself. I would love to be able to model and import V-minis of these creatures for use on the Game Table.
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