Followup Responses from Ken Troop

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Some quick context here --

First, I'll be going through the responses I got page by page -- I'll summarize the issues/questions I saw on page 1, reply, and then go on to page 2, etc. I'm doing it this way because if I tried to summarize/answer each and every page in one post, it would be unwieldy.

I'm not going to necessarily respond to every single point, but I will be fairly comprehensive.

Second, while I will commit to reading every post made in my original thread, this thread, and Mike Lescault's comment thread here -- http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1043644 , I will not be able to reply to any more threads this week. I hope that the information I get out there over the next two hours will be sufficient for now. I'm also happy to do this again soon...I'd like to promise next week, but that would be overly bold on my part considering the demands of my day job...let's say sometime in the next two weeks, either next Monday or the Monday thereafter, I'll make myself available to everyone for this kind of impromptu exchange.

My page 1 responses should be up within the hour...I expect the next several pages to be a shorter turn around time as I cover more and more issues.

Posting this now just to give people an idea of what to expect. You can feel free to respond to this thread, but I'd ask that you wait until I've gotten in at least one page of my responses...your responses in my original thread will still be read.

Ken
get back to work
Some quick context here --

First, I'll be going through the responses I got page by page -- I'll summarize the issues/questions I saw on page 1, reply, and then go on to page 2, etc.
{snip)

Frustration building,fighting a fire requires a quick reply, however you it appears choose to not response quickly. Perhaps you can save the chimney now.
Good luck.
Plans are always subject to change.
get back to work

I wasn't going to say anything, but I had to...

Honestly, I haven't laughed so hard at something written on a forum in my life. I had to leave my desk... oh man.
While you are frustrated waiting for Ken's response why not come over to this thread:

http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1043721

And start taking some action to get the word out to the rest of the world about how WotC has at best been guilty of terribly poor communication and worst deliberately misled its customers.

People on forums often want the company whose forums they are on to LISTEN to them. Well here is your chance to make them pay attention.

So come on over and help Get The Word Out!

Cheers!
I wasn't going to say anything, but I had to...

Honestly, I haven't laughed so hard at something written on a forum in my life. I had to leave my desk... oh man.

You think that's funny? This guy just set a 2 week deadline.... TO MAKE ANOTHER FORUM POST!!!

At least it's progress!
You think that's funny? This guy just set a 2 week deadline.... TO MAKE ANOTHER FORUM POST!!!

At least it's progress!

OH MAN!! LMAO

That is funny. I don't care who you are.

Ken - is it true that the 2 week update might be delayed?

btw - STILL NOTHING ON THE FRONT PAGE!
Page 1 Replies

General Issues --

1) Pricing Policy --

Let's start with what the pricing policy is as of today. I say "as of today" because the pricing model is subject to change. Why? Because we think we know what the value propositions in our applications are. We think we know what's going to excite the audience. We think we know what the last remaining technical obstacles are and how to overcome them. Why do we only think? Why don't we know? Because we've never had this type of model before. Wizards historically hasn't done subscriptions, and D&D has never had a digital package before meant to enhance the experience.

So right now, I'm pretty sure the model I'm describing is the model we will launch with, or at least very very close. But that's not a promise it won't change, because it might.

Tentative D&D Insider pricing model --

1 Month upfront -- $14.95 per month
3 Months upfront -- $12.95 per month
12 Months upfront -- $9.95 per month

What does the subscription cost include? The plan is for the subscription to include --

- All Dragon and Dungeon content we produce during your subscription.
- The Online Compendium. The database that fuels the Compendium would include data from all official books and e-magazines.
- The Character Visualizer that allows you to create 2d and 3d images of your character.
- The Character Builder that allows you to create a digital character sheet. This application will draw from the same database as the Compendium, which means that you eventually need just the one stop-shop to refer to material from all the official books and e-magazines.
- The Digital Game Table and Dungeon Builder which allows you to create dungeons and play in them with other people online. The Game Table will very likely include a starter's set of Virtual Minis and Dungeon Tiles to start you off.

What doesn't the subscription include?

- Additional virtual minis and dungeon tiles that we produce. These likely would be sold separately.
- E-adventures that we produce for the Game Table (these would likely come with their own set of v-minis and d-tiles necessary to play the adventure). Sold separately.
- E-book .pdfs. Sold separately.
- Back-issues of Dragon and Dungeon that were produced before your subscriptions. Sold separately.

1a) Why won't you guys sell the components of D&D Insider separately (a la carte)?

It's because we're trying to offer the most value to the player for D&D Insider, truly. If we were to price each application separately, we'd come up with a price much higher than $14.95 a month for everything, and more than double the $9.95 a month a year-long subscriber pays.

We want this decision to be an easy one for players -- we want D&D Insider to be a great value pickup for most players. We also want players to have generall the same gaming experience...every D&D Insider knows that every other D&D Insider has access to the Visualizer, and to the magazines, and to the Game Table, etc., so it builds more of a shared community and shared experience. For all these reasons we originally decided against the a la carte approach.

That said, we have and do occasionally revisit the issue. Obviously, we want to maximize players' happiness with D&D Insider (and while some of that is good feeling, a lot of it is just common sense -- we also want to maximize revenue). This is one of those areas where we'll see, depending on our sense of the market and what players are actually doing and saying.

1b) "Question -- "Do you guys plan on starting to charge with the launch of the first app, or when they are all out?"

This question fits in well with the pricing issue, so I'm including it here. The answer is, "It depends." If we feel that the time window between launching any two given applications is long enough, we may decide the right answer for us is to offer a different version of D&D Insider...one that costs less money, but also offers fewer features. But we're not going to have any definitive plan in that direction until we get further along in this year.

In some ways, the answer to this question overrides the answer to 1a. If we launched the applications all at the same time, it's very unlikely we'd be offering ala carte. However, given that we're not launching them all at the same time, it is certainly possible we may have different versions of subscriptions.

Only one topic down, and I've already written too many words for one post...more on Page 1 topics coming soon tonight.

Thanks,

Ken
Reading through these forums, now that I've got some engagement myself through purchase of the 4E rules, it's clear that the pricing debate has been simmering for a while. So I find it striking that you calculatedly answer first a question which WOTC has already been asked, and for which I'm sure you've all come up with a ready answer.

A more urgent matter: why aren't you putting information about the status of the D&D Insider tools in a very visible, clear way at http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/insider and other major informational venues operated by your company? Why aren't you making it a major part of your promotional strategy to be clear and truthful about the status of this project?
- The Digital Game Table and Dungeon Builder which allows you to create dungeons and play in them with other people online. The Game Table will very likely include a starter's set of Virtual Minis and Dungeon Tiles to start you off.

What doesn't the subscription include?

- Additional virtual minis and dungeon tiles that we produce. These likely would be sold separately.

Ok now I am concerned all over again. If we don't have v-minis then it is kind of hard to have a workable virtual table experience. I do not like language like "Will very likely include" and what is a starter's set of minis? is that something like a real world starter's set? if so then it will be woefully inadequate for running an actuall game. Will DMs and Players be able to "share" their V-minis during a session? If not then you have a pretty stupid sales pitch since people who don't want to DM will never buy minis and you are looking at what amounts to a DDI DM tax.

Again we get more questions than we get answers...~Sigh~

Cheers!
That pricing model will fail, and not offering ala carte apps is going to cause the entire program to bomb and fail. Congrats, let me know how you feel a year after the release when no one buys your product.
I wouldn't be so sure Bandaman. I know that my players and I intended to pay for the whole suite of things and we were relieved to hear that it would all be in one comprehensive package. It makes it cheaper all around.

Still not addressing the lack of timelines and why they haven't put something on their main page as to the DDi delay and its status.
Mr. Troop,
I am posting this here because if i post it on the origional thred it could be days before you read through all those posts. There are just so many, i truly pity you having to respond to all that.


This is a quote from ampersand:
"D&D Insider’s free beta period coincides with the launch of 4th Edition. You get to try out the first digital components without paying the subscription fees, and you can provide feedback to help us improve your experience. The initial rollout includes Dragon and Dungeon online magazines, and the D&D Rules Compendium."


In the announcement you made you said that the features of d&d insider would be released on a more strategically timed basis. I am a business man myself so i understand the necessity for such measures. However in light of the above quote, this is a sizable divergence from the publicly announced rollout. I should not have to spend over an hour looking for information about the delay on the gleemax forums. A change of this size should be posted on the d&d insider news page.

I don't mind the delay, keep the public posted, not just the forum users.

Thank you for your time

And just for the record, i personally already intend to sign up for as long a subscription as you provide.
Page 1

General Issues

2) Beta Testing

I agree with the comments. We will be looking for ways to get the applications in the hands of players as soon as we possibly can. A large number of people at the D&D Game Day here in Seattle got a chance to play with both the Character Visualizer and Character Builder. We were very happy to let people see and get their hands on the applications.

I'll just repeat -- we are very eager to get these applications in the hands of players as soon as we possibly can. For all of our applications there will be continued data and content that we'll be building and sending out, as well as continued feature tweaks and upgrades. We're not tied to bits on a CD, so we're not afraid of launching too soon. That said, we also need the applications to be in a state where it's productive to have players using them and giving feedback.

3) No mention of "Applications coming soon" on the front page or the D&D Insider application list page.

I absolutely agree with this. It should have been done today but we were busy all day fighting fires with our back-end forums (signing on was down for most of the day). I can't guarantee it will be there tomorrow, but it should be there either tomorrow or Wed.

This dovetails with issue 3a --

3a) Players' anger over the lack of D&D Insider at launch.

Some players are very upset. They feel that, at best, Wizards was negligent or incompetent. At worst, they feel that Wizards deliberately lied.

I'm not sure there's anything I can say here that's going to appease people when they're this angry. But I'll try. At the very least, at some point later down the road when emotions are not so high, this information might be useful. Or not.

First, it wasn't intentional in any way, shape, or form. There's not much else I can say. Either you take that statement at face value, and we move on, or you don't take that statement at face value, in which case I'm surprised you want to read anything else I have to say.

As a general rule, 99.9% of conspiracy theories aren't true...we as humans evolved to see patterns and connections even when there are none...witness the poster above who insinuates that I chose the pricing question first to avoid talking about this issue -- actually, when I read through the first page of posts, the pricing issue came up first, so I addressed it first. I'm not defending myself here, I'm merely pointing out that if you want to see some type of malign intent in all this, you can, but it isn't true.

Second, I will admit that I have a very different perspective on this issue than many of you. Hearing all this emotion and vitriol makes me wish I had come to a different answer before...I hate that people are this upset and I understand why they're upset. What I'm about to say probably won't make those of you are angry any less angry, but they're honestly how I felt about the issue --

a) Our sole goal over these last few months has been to get D&D Insider out the door as soon as possible. When it became apparent that the majority of applications would not be ready at launch of 4th edition, we put up Bill Slavicsek's Ampersand article. But my mind was not feverishly worrying over the problem of how players would perceive this on launch day, it was obsessed with how to get out our applications as soon as possible.

b) Because D&D Insider has always been an extra subscription, it never occurred to me that some players might feel misled about not having tools available at launch. Instead I've always thought it was great that we were willing to give away Dragon/Dungeon content, and soon hopefully some of our Compendium content, away for free. I'm not saying I'm right and those who are so angry are wrong. I thought 4th edition D&D was a great enough product on its own http://blog.wired.com/underwire/2008/06/dungeons-dragon.html , and that most people were buying the books for the books, and only then may be willing to check out this D&D Insider, not the other way around.

Believe me, we want to get the full Insider into your hands, both so that you can enjoy it, and that you can start paying us for it, as soon as possible.

To be clear, we'll be putting "Coming Soon" more prominently on the product pages and the D&D Insider page. Whatever confusion there's been has been the result of us paying attention to different things. I wish I would have addressed this before launch. Mea culpa. We'll address it as soon as we can this week.

Ken
Ok now I am concerned all over again. If we don't have v-minis then it is kind of hard to have a workable virtual table experience. I do not like language like "Will very likely include" and what is a starter's set of minis? is that something like a real world starter's set? if so then it will be woefully inadequate for running an actuall game. Will DMs and Players be able to "share" their V-minis during a session? If not then you have a pretty stupid sales pitch since people who don't want to DM will never buy minis and you are looking at what amounts to a DDI DM tax.

Again we get more questions than we get answers...~Sigh~

Cheers!

Hey guys, Long time reading first time writer.

My concern is, as a DM, what V-minis will be allocated to the game. I dont want to use a Kobold to represent a Dragon or a Elf to represent a Giant. Will D&D Insider contain the same information/V-Minis as the Monster Manual, Players Handbook and DM's Guide?

I can't seem to find any files or information online, that even suggests that the program will be released (A lot of Hype though), I bought the D&D 4TH ED set for its online capabilites. If the online system doesnt eventuate then I would have stayed with 3.0 & 3.5.

If you guys can correct me in anything I have written please do so ASAP, I would like some re-assurance that I havent wasted my time and money on a dud.
If you guys can correct me in anything I have written please do so ASAP, I would like some re-assurance that I havent wasted my time and money on a dud.

You know as much about the v-minis as we do. Welcome to the land of the uninformed. Take a seat, it'll be a while.
To be clear, we'll be putting "Coming Soon" more prominently on the product pages and the D&D Insider page. Whatever confusion there's been has been the result of us paying attention to different things. I wish I would have addressed this before launch.

Thank you. New purchasers of the core books typing dndinsider.com into their browser expecting to download a demo of the tools are currently treated to a short slide show set to corny rock music followed by the mystifying message "I'm a monster. Rarrrr." With the site as it stands now, most of them are going to think the whole thing is some kind of elaborate rickroll...
Spider Pig I don't think you've wasted your money because I truly do believe 4E will be a great product.

But you sure as hell have wasted your time. For you and me and the literally tens of thousands of people who have invested in 4E MAINLY because of the online component we've all wasted our time.

As Ken said, those online tools they promised us, those online tools they kept saying would be ready for launch, yes those very online tools they touted to increase book sales will ultimately be many months away.

So if you're anything like me you'll be thumbing through (and smearing) your new 4E books for months on end while you wait for the promised tools to be released. Why? Because the majority of D&D-loving players NEED these tools to get back in the game because the demands of life are just so... demanding.

Blackflagon
Page 1

Component Feedback

Dragon/Dungeon Feedback --

1) "Constructive criticism: The dungeon article for Ebberon mentions the Shifter and Warforged characters, but they are actually in the Dragon article. The should have a link to tie them together. Similarly the Dungeon table of contents page should link into each article."

I'll pass along to the team. Part of the point of doing the e-magazines is to do more hyperlinking....I agree with the comment.

Compendium Feedback (an early version of the Compendium was actually up for a brief while when we were doing some testing of the overall system...that version will be up again hopefully soon)


1) "I do have a question/reques about the compendium. Even though it will not have full rules, but "rules elements" why were page numbers taken out?"

We decided not to have page numbers because we occasionally print different editions of our books, and the page numbers between editions might not match up. For example, a Player's Handbook published this year might have different page numbers than that same Player's Handbook that's reprinted years later.

2) "On the front of the display of the elements itself, it may be needed to have some sort of advanced search where you can find all items matching both Elf and Wizard, or matching either Elf or Wizard for example so you can make a more defined search with multiple terms."

We absolutely agree. Eventually the Compendium will have many different "search filters" The first version will not. There will be an article going up about the Compendium and our plans for it along with the Compendium release.

3) "Also the number of results displayed per "page" should be a setting individual users can coose like the forums with all being a possibility."

Agreed, although not a current high priority for us.

4) "When sorting the sneak peak did not do a reverse alphanumeric sort, but only forward. I would think the reverse is already something in the works."

Agreed, although lesser priority than the filters and a couple of other major tweaks.

Specific Questions

1) Customizability --

To start, not very well. Our main focus right now is to make sure our applications support official Wizards content. That said, we absolutely want to include support for players' content in most of our applications...that's just taking a back seat right now.

2) Status of purchasing .pdfs of print books

I believe Scott Rouse addresses this in the middle of my original thread...the answer being we hope soon.

--

Page 2 (and hopefully the others) will be following tonight.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read through all of this. I appreciate the time and the comments.

Ken
With the site as it stands now, most of them are going to think the whole thing is some kind of elaborate rickroll...

It isn't?!?
3a) Players' anger over the lack of D&D Insider at launch.

Some players are very upset. They feel that, at best, Wizards was negligent or incompetent. At worst, they feel that Wizards deliberately lied.

I'm not sure there's anything I can say here that's going to appease people when they're this angry. But I'll try. At the very least, at some point later down the road when emotions are not so high, this information might be useful. Or not.

First, it wasn't intentional in any way, shape, or form. There's not much else I can say. Either you take that statement at face value, and we move on, or you don't take that statement at face value, in which case I'm surprised you want to read anything else I have to say.

As a general rule, 99.9% of conspiracy theories aren't true...we as humans evolved to see patterns and connections even when there are none...witness the poster above who insinuates that I chose the pricing question first to avoid talking about this issue -- actually, when I read through the first page of posts, the pricing issue came up first, so I addressed it first. I'm not defending myself here, I'm merely pointing out that if you want to see some type of malign intent in all this, you can, but it isn't true.

Second, I will admit that I have a very different perspective on this issue than many of you. Hearing all this emotion and vitriol makes me wish I had come to a different answer before...I hate that people are this upset and I understand why they're upset. What I'm about to say probably won't make those of you are angry any less angry, but they're honestly how I felt about the issue --

You know Ken I actually happen to believe that this was not some evil conspiracy. If you say that WotC did not deliberately mislead its customers about the DDI launch then I want to believe that as well. The question is whether or not WotC exercised due diligence in making the public aware of a change in the status of DDI since DDI was being marketed as a Selling point of 4th edition.

You might argue that 4th edition can stand alone and I happen to agree. There are several people on these boards who have specific complaints that they bought your product primarily because of the marketing of the DDI component of 4th edition. DDI is featured prominently in all of the published 4th edition materials as well.

Your first post on this matter further proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that WotC was aware of a significant change in the availability of the DDI products than was initially planned in earlier marketing campaings. If this was not the case then there would never have been any material "in the wild" that stated that customers would be able to go to the DDI website on Launch date and sign up fo a 10 day free trial.

The fact that you at one point anticipated having the DDI suite complete enough to offer a 10 day free trail indicates that you anticipated having it complete enough to charge for it on Gameday. At some point at least a month before Gameday that changed as evidenced by the Ampersand article. The fact that you did not see fit to make this change plans widely available does not only affect the impression of YOUR company but of those FLGSs that participated in your Gameday programs as well.

So the question is not whether WotC conspired to fleece their customers. I don't for a minute believe that. The question is whether or not WotC cares enough about their customer to get the information out there. Yes you were busy. Yes you were focused on getting the analog products out there. Of course you are the Executive Producer of DDI so i am not sure why your focus would not be on DDI and making sure it was ready for Gameday launch but I was not there and cannot comment on that.

I am passing all of these concerns along to the people I have already emailed regarding this failure on the Part of WotC. I hope that some of these outlets will pick up the story and that the attention will help keep other customers from being blindsided since WotC could obviously not be bothered to get this information on their website by end of business today.

Cheers!
I am supprised by the number of people who bought the books in order to get at the online content. It was pretty clear that the online features did not require the books. I don't ever intend to buy the books, i'm just going to buy a subscription and design, my campaigns using soly the online content. The compendium will have all the rules, and the other software will allow me to ad a visual element to the game that i cant make with the books.
DarqueKnight has hit the nail on the head.

By the way, Ken...

I find your responses very condescending. All of this "like it or leave it" rhetoric is getting boring. Very.
Page 1 Replies
- The Character Builder that allows you to create a digital character sheet. This application will draw from the same database as the Compendium, which means that you eventually need just the one stop-shop to refer to material from all the official books and e-magazines.
Ken

Question:

Does the highlighted quote section indicate that a) Via D&Di I will be able to refer to my physical books or PDF, or b) that the complete reference (as it apppears in the manual) will be available in the D&Di applications?

I will be very upset if, after having spent $100 on the 4e manuals, (yes I did and I love the game btw, its loads of fun) I am asked to buy them again to have them available in the v-table.

Concern:
I am also one of those who are very concerned that we will be asked pay extra for v-minis. I am VERY loathe to buy this sort of game product (D&Di as a whole) if it will not have all the components necessary for me to run a game available to me as soon as I buy it, and this includes the v-minis.

Unlike a tabletop game, I cannot substitute any object (eraser, ball of fuzz...) for the monster I need on the v-table, and as someone above indicated, it would be rather silly for a digital product to force me to use orcs to represent fire elementals.

The reasons for this reticence are many. For one thing, I have already purchased a few hundred dollars worth of physical minis. I don't want to be forced re-invest. For another it just makes me feel like I am being bilked, exploited, if I bought this game service and then had to pay extra for the content required to play even my first game.

Suggestions:
1) Make the starter set of v-minis substantial 30+ of the most common monsters we are likely to use at least.
2) DO NOT Make us buy additional copies of the same v-minis, I.E. once we have one, allow us to place as many of it on the table as we need. If I buy one orc, let that be all the orcs I ever need until you make a new type of orc. In other words, I would buy an Orc Raider, and and Orc Berserker, and and Orc Drudge separately as they are going to have separate stats and graphics, but I won't buy an orc raider 20 times to have an orc raid in my game. Please don't ask me to.
3) Have one good decent length premade v-table adventure available to download and use for free (using the starter pack v-minis) at launch time.
4) Have at least one Dungeon feature available for the v-table each month or two that adds a few v-mini's to those that we get for free.

Do you see where I am going with this? Your stated intent to have us purchase content for the v-table separately from the v-table, but still charge us monthly makes me feel like you are just trying to get something for nothing. I want to be able to make decent adventures on day one when (if?) I purchase a D&Di subscription, and I also want to be able to dive right in and run something, just like I was able to with H1, without having to spend too much time home brewing. I am a professional, an adult, I don't have endless hours to pore over rulebooks and write scenarios.

Lastly (this has just occurred to me) there is in 4e the ability to adapt any MM humanoid or other creature to be a PC race. How will that work in the Character modeler. Will I be able to make a gnoll pc and represent him on the v-table if I don't have a gnoll v-mini? How is that going to work?

Edit:
Oh, and I also agree with Darque that the whole micro transaction thing feels like a DM tax. Although if you think about it, it supports the current model. Its the same now with the physical products.
Page 2 Issues

1) Order of Release for Applications

Someone asked about what the likely order of release would be for the applications. This list assumes the Compendium is already out there.

a) Character Visualizer -- this application is currently the closest to being done.
b) Character Builder -- this application is also close to being done, but slightly farther away than the Character Visualizer. I understand that for many people, the Character Builder would be great to have as soon as possible...if we can get it out first, we will, but the way that things look right now, it's likely to be second.
c) Game Table and Dungeon Builder -- many people are very excited about the Game Table...but it is also the most complex of all of our applications, as well as the one that needs the most "game" and user polish of all of our applications. This is the application that will take the most time to complete and for which the schedule is least reliable..."is it done" is not the only question that needs to be answered, but also "is it fun?"

2) More v-minis information

a) Why are we charging extra for v-minis?

We're charging extra for v-minis because we have a cost associated with producing the v-mini that isn't accounted in our subscription price.

I'm happy to get more into this conversation and release more information as we get a little closer to the Game Table being released. Specific info about how many v-minis we'll give away for free and what v-minis are included in the initial giveaway.

b) The Game Table does not care who owns the v-mini, so if the DM owns some v-minis, and the players own others, all those v-minis can be used in the game table experience between that DM and those players.

c) If you don't own a specific v-mini, there will always be a 2d token you can use which has the image of the monster.

3) "I want to know exactly what will happen when I stop paying my monthly fee. Will I lose everything? Will I get to export jpgs of dungeons that I've created? Will I be able to use the client apps (unlikely)? Will I retain access to the magazine articles released while I was subscribed?"

No, you will not lose everything. Assuming you've downloaded/saved a copy of the magazines, you will still be able to view those magazine articles. You will get to export .jpgs of the dungeon. In general, you will be able to use the client applications, although you will not be able to connect to the server (D&D Game Table) nor will you be able to get new data/content (Char Builder, Char Visualizer)

Specific Issues

- "Skill Cards / Monster Cards / Trap Cards not available in a prepared printable version. I heard that the character generator will offer me to print the skills my character has. I want to print a cardset for each class though. I want to do that for the monsters, want to do that for the items, want to do that for the traps. Currently I heard no plans of releasing electronic cards for printout."

Good idea....not currently on our to-do list but I'll add it to the list to discuss with the team.

- "No support for fan-programmers"

This is something we'd eventually like to do, but it is not currently high on our priority list. We recognize that this would be beneficial to D&D Insider over the long run.

- "No user content integration"

Also something we'd eventually like to do...we recognize there's a wealth of imagination and talent amongst our audience...but first we have to get our stuff up and running.

- "Please consider some iPhone interface to the builder / char sheets. I'd like to remove the pen and paper from my pen and paper RPG."

We have considered it and will continue to consider it. Not currently on our list, though.

- "Please add quality RSS feeds to the site... particular Dungeon/Dragon."

I know we've talked about it and that we want to do it...I don't have any timetable on it though.

Ken
I don't agree, I think he is the only place on the entire internet that is actually giving any answers. Unfortunately, "like it or leave it" is the way of the world. I'm sure WoTc would love to make dndinsider everything you have always hoped for. The simple reality is that, even the smallest change takes a lot of time to put into action. No matter what anyone is doing we will have to wait.

I think the large outcry against WoTC over this is a bit drastic. Yes, it is a bit anoying. But think how annoyed the staff feel. They worked very hard, and i bet they wanted to see it come out on time just as much as you did.
I'm just amazed that the software couldn't be completed on time. I don't care what you think you know or actually do know about software development...but ok let us look at it one at a time.

Compendium=glorified database. All you had to do was have a searchable database...with all the D&D stuff in it. That is possibly the easiest thing you could possibly achieve. It is probably even easier than the garbage scripting used for this forum. This should have been done months ago.

Character Generator=fancy GUI with some minor mathematical calculations and the ability to print it onto a character sheet. It just involves a bunch of drop downs and check boxes and it automatically calculates everything.
Choose race, Choose class, Generate Ability Scores with the option for doing it by all the methods that are out now, Choose powers from the list of powers that you currently meet the prerequisites for, etc. It isn't very hard and I bet if 3 or 4 programmers on this board got together they could put together at least a rudimentary one in about a week if they set their minds to it.

Character Visualizer=Ok seriously...it is pathetic that at least this wasn't available. All you needed to do was have a few 3d models of the characters, some color palets and some armor and weapon models. Thats it... There isn't anything else I can say about this.

Game Table=Ok i'll admit that had you taken into consideration automating the rules, this MAY have been a difficult task, but from what I have read the rules will not be automated meaning the DM STILL has to use pen and paper to keep track of things that the game table SHOULD be taking care of. Essentially you made a 3D chess game...well I wish I could say that...but you havn't made it yet.

Dungeon Builder=...a grid...with textures...the ability to turn it into 3d would take a bit but...a grid with textures. Essentially all you needed to do was modify a CAD program to deal with D&D aspects.

I'm a Computer Science major and have plenty of experience programming so I'm not speaking as someone ignorant of software design and processes.

This leads me to believe that either A.) Your programmers are incompetant, which I highly doubt because I havn't met programmers that are THAT incompetant. B.) You aren't telling us something, most likey that everything was scrapped at some point fairly recently and you had to start all over again or something really drastic happened that you are afraid to tell us. I'm gonna go with B because it makes WoTC not seem QUITE so bad.
Page 2 Issues
3) "I want to know exactly what will happen when I stop paying my monthly fee. Will I lose everything? Will I get to export jpgs of dungeons that I've created? Will I be able to use the client apps (unlikely)? Will I retain access to the magazine articles released while I was subscribed?"

No, you will not lose everything. Assuming you've downloaded/saved a copy of the magazines, you will still be able to view those magazine articles. You will get to export .jpgs of the dungeon. In general, you will be able to use the client applications, although you will not be able to connect to the server (D&D Game Table) nor will you be able to get new data/content (Char Builder, Char Visualizer)
Ken

If I stop my subscription (say I can't afford it one month) and start back up at a later date, will I lose v-content I have purchased (adventures, minis, tiles, objects to place on the v-table)?
Oh, and if the soundtrack for the new slideshow splash on the D&D homepage is any indication of the quality of the applications you are building, well...

Oh the horror... (I don't mean the chioce of music I mean the crappy quality)
Page 2 Issues
2) More v-minis information

a) Why are we charging extra for v-minis?

We're charging extra for v-minis because we have a cost associated with producing the v-mini that isn't accounted in our subscription price.
Ken

I am sorry Ken, but I have a very hard time swallowing that. Why is it so hard for you to defray that cost in the subscription model when every other online game manages just fine? Or is this cost you refer to an expected drop in the purchase of physical minis? If so, shame on you all.
Ken you need to go right now and read the first post on this thread:

http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1043559

How very heartbreaking. You folks are killing your customers' love for your product, one person at a time. Most of us wish we had the stones (and cash) to do just what this guy is doing.
As I bring this round of posting to an end, I wanted to answer some specific questions I saw in this thread.

I reviewed pages 3, 4, and 5 of the original thread and saw no new issues or questions that I felt like I didn't address in my earlier posts in this thread.

I'll be on either Monday of next week or the week following to answer questions again...

Thanks,
Ken

Onto the questions specifically in this thread...

1) My concern is, as a DM, what V-minis will be allocated to the game. I dont want to use a Kobold to represent a Dragon or a Elf to represent a Giant. Will D&D Insider contain the same information/V-Minis as the Monster Manual, Players Handbook and DM's Guide?

D&D Insider will not have v-minis for every single monster present in the Monster Manual or future monster material. We will have a lot of them, but not all of them.

2) Via D&Di I will be able to refer to my physical books or PDF, or b) that the complete reference (as it apppears in the manual) will be available in the D&Di applications?

The Compendium and the Character Builder both ultimately derive their info from the same database. This database will contain the exact info the book contains in regards to feats, powers, skills, race info, etc. (sometimes the database will even be more current, due to errata). Neither the Compendium nor the Character Builder are electronic versions of the printed books...we will be selling .pdfs of our printed books separately.

3) If I stop my subscription (say I can't afford it one month) and start back up at a later date, will I lose v-content I have purchased (adventures, minis, tiles, objects to place on the v-table)?

No, you will not lose v-content you have already purchased if your subscription lapses.
I am sorry Ken, but I have a very hard time swallowing that. Why is it so hard for you to defray that cost in the subscription model when every other online game manages just fine? Or is this cost you refer to an expected drop in the purchase of physical minis? If so, shame on you all.

The cost he is verry real, even if there is only a modest design team working on producing the new digital representations of the minis, it will be very expensive.

1) salaries. the design team needs to be paid, and graphic designers and programmers don't come cheap.

2) Resources. the design team will need utilities internet, good well maintained computers, and many other consumed monthly resources.

3) perminant assets. the team will need office space. They will need test servers. They will need tens of thousands of dollars worth of software licences for the tools required to make the kinds of 3d modeling they are expecting to produce.

this will not be cheap. So yes if you want this extra (as in not required in any way) feature, yes you will have to pay for it.
The cost he is verry real, even if there is only a modest design team working on producing the new digital representations of the minis, it will be very expensive.

1) salaries. the design team needs to be paid, and graphic designers and programmers don't come cheap.

2) Resources. the design team will need utilities internet, good well maintained computers, and many other consumed monthly resources.

3) perminant assets. the team will need office space. They will need test servers. They will need tens of thousands of dollars worth of software licences for the tools required to make the kinds of 3d modeling they are expecting to produce.

this will not be cheap. So yes if you want this extra (as in not required in any way) feature, yes you will have to pay for it.

But I am paying for it (assuming I buy a subscription)! $14.95/month.

And don't tell me that is paying for Dungeon and Dragon magazine content, because I could live without that. All I really want out of D&Di (all most of us want) is the Character builder/visualizer/ and the v-table (with minis I can use on it). I don't belive that it is unreasonable for me to get that for $180 a year.

Tell you what Ken. Give me the option to pay $50 up front (just like I do for any Computer MMO) to buy all the v-table content and minis available at release, give me a month free with that purchase (just like the other guys do) and then i'll pay the monthly fee happily and feel I got my money's worth. How does that sound? Just match the market.
the subscription is for content updates. v-minis are just like real minis. an optional extra that is not an integral part of the game. You still get the 2d images for free
2D images are le suck. That's like telling me I have put paper cut outs on my game table instead of minis. Oh, and In 4e minis really aren't optional. You have to have some form of grid and a physical representation of the action for the game to be played properly. Otherwise many of the powers and rules will make no sense.
yes, you do need a physical representation. but a dice or a token will do the minis are a premium product. yes the free stuff is lame, but it's still free
Now... if the game table minis will actually include animations that fire when powers are used, I might reconsider my opinions, but as far as I have heard, it will only be a glorified virtual chessboard.
... This leads me to believe that either A.) Your programmers are incompetant, which I highly doubt because I havn't met programmers that are THAT incompetant. B.) You aren't telling us something, most likey that everything was scrapped at some point fairly recently and you had to start all over again or something really drastic happened that you are afraid to tell us. I'm gonna go with B because it makes WoTC not seem QUITE so bad.

You forgot C. The dev process was mis-managed. No programmer in the world can compensate for idiots that don't know what they want. (in case you haven't seen yet, the char gen is supposed to be a windows app. not browser based.

I personally am leaning toward D. All of the above. (Bad management, hiring bad programmers (or not enough good ones) and having no proper design).
ooh that would be cool
1a) Why won't you guys sell the components of D&D Insider separately (a la carte)?

It's because we're trying to offer the most value to the player for D&D Insider, truly. If we were to price each application separately, we'd come up with a price much higher than $14.95 a month for everything, and more than double the $9.95 a month a year-long subscriber pays.

Congratulations. One more subscriber lost. At least, if this is correct. In the other topic regarding answers we were told Dragon & Dungeon could be bought separately, now you come around and say they're -not- available? Or not important enough to mention? Really, this confirms nothing other than at this point, I'm not dropping a cent on squat, and I'm pretty darn sure none of the players I know will, either.

I'm trying to be polite as possible, but I can't honestly grasp why you people think every single D&D player is clamoring for these useless tools. Or, is it because you -do- know that not every player wants them, so you force us to pay for them because you know you won't get any money from them otherwise?

I mean, really. Character visualizer. In our current 4e game, my character is a Drow warlock following the FR goddess Eilistraee, who has a warforged-like arm due to an accident in her past. Am I really going to be able to make such a unique character in the visualizer? Somehow I really doubt that. Besides, as has been said countless times, the visualizer "style" is so absolutely hideous as to make itself unusable no matter how varied the options are.

And why would pricing things a la carte make the total cost more expensive? Here's an idea...offer things in a full package, and then offer things a la carte. Keep your $15/month package for people that buy the whole set, and who cares if priced separately, they end up being more?

Honestly, the absolute, total, utter lack of logic behind the D&Di pricing scheme completely blows my mind. In this time, in this state of affairs, in this economy, do you really expect that the majority of players have $15/month to spend on a huge package like this? Especially when I'd wager the vast majority of players do not want the entire suite?

Because, Mr. Troop, I can assure you that people will not be lining up to drop $15 for a couple magazines, or $15 for a character visualizer, or $15 for a map program, and so on and so forth. They will not. I would be willing to wager without a shadow of a doubt that if this pricing scheme is not changed either by the time D&Di releases or soon after, that this entire system will fail. Mark my words.