08/06 Welcome to Digital Insider feedback

308 posts / 0 new
Last post
Hi folks,

This thread is for any feedback you might have regarding Randy Buehler's forthcoming Welcome to Digital Insider article.
Your link goes no where.
LOL Your doing a fine job WotC

SEARCH RESULTS for


Advanced Search
Sorry, no matches were found containing
Bart posted this so that he has a thread to link to when he puts Randy's Article up on the D&D webpage. We should be seeing it soon. =)

edit: added text below.

Show
Welcome to Digital Insider!

by Randy Buehler


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Hi folks,

Every week I’ll be posting an update here about the ongoing progress of D&DI. I’ll also be doing my best to give you guys sneak peeks about what’s coming down the line, glimpses at how things are getting done, and visibility into the flavor of what it’s like to work on such an awesome game. This week I’m just going to focus on facts since I know you guys are starved for information right now. In the future, I look forward to sharing some of my own D&D resume because I’m sure those of you who know me at all know me mostly as a “Magic guy.” (I was really tempted to begin this column with “Let me tell you about my character …” but I think I’ll save that for a week or two.)

First, some clarifications of the big picture: D&D Insider is a collection of distinct components, all of which are designed to help you enjoy D&D even more than you already do. Our current vision for the product includes:

The new online versions of Dragon and Dungeon Magazines.


A D&D Compendium that provides searchable access to rules elements from all of our published material.


A suite of small “bonus tools” that live on the web and help automate some basic tasks of being a player or DM.


A Character Builder with all the rules built in.


A Character Visualizer that lets you build a 3D model of your character, either so you can take a screen shot for your character sheet or turn it into a miniature that you will then use on the D&D Game Table.


A Dungeon Builder that allows you to construct maps to play with either on the kitchen table or on the D&D Game Table described below.


The D&D Game Table, which allows you to play D&D over the Internet. It’s a fully 3D environment that allows you to move mini’s around a map, communicate with others via voice chat, and all in all simulate the kitchen table D&D experience.
We will be charging a monthly subscription for access to all of the above after the Free Trial mode has completed (the free trial will last for at least one more month).

Here’s where we are right now:

Dragon and Dungeon Magazines are up and running and are now 100 percent driven by the D&D R&D team. We’re using in-house design and development resources to make sure every article is worthy of being an official part of D&D and we feel really good about the quality of the product that we’re publishing. The way it works is that multiple times per week new articles are published (as PDFs so that they can look every bit as good as our physical book product). By the end of the month a complete issue has now been unveiled, one article at a time, and that content gets collected together into an official issue of Dragon or Dungeon Magazine. These magazines are currently in free trial mode, but we intend to start charging for them in the near future. (See below for discussion of pricing.)


The D&D Compendium is up and running in free trial mode. Right now the Compendium has data from the Player’s Handbook. Before we move to subscription mode, the Compendium will also include Dragon and Dungeon Magazine content. In addition, all of this data will be updated whenever Wizards issues official errata. (In fact, PH errata is already reflected in the current free trial.)


A couple of small bonus tools are ready to go live so you guys can mess around with them. The Ability Generator is useful for playing around with new characters. Meanwhile if you’re a DM, the Encounter Generator might be quite useful to you depending on your style. In addition, we’ve got a monster building tool in development right now that we hope will be ready before the Insider free trial ends.


The Character Builder and the Character Visualizer are our current priority when it comes to the suite of client applications. Each will be available for the public to try out at Gen Con as we’ll have them installed on computer kiosks both in our booth and possibly also in the Sagamore Ballroom (the main hall for actual RPG gaming). Each is functional if a little bit buggy at this stage – plenty good enough for me to use for building my character for my current campaign and almost good enough for me to authorize external playtesting. The Builder UI is probably not quite as polished as the Visualizer right now, but that’s what the current round of iteration and polish is focused on. The good news is that once we finish polishing it, the Builder will be exactly what you’re hoping it will be: a way to generate a character sheet that both makes you aware of all your choices and also does all the math for you so the resulting sheet is accurate. Like I said, they’ll be available to anyone in Indianapolis next week who wants to try them out and I’m looking forward to hearing what you guys think about them.


The current version of the Dungeon Builder is mostly done, but it’s only truly useful if you have the Game Table so you can load up your dungeon and see it, 3D terrain tiles and all.


The Game Table is the biggest, most complicated piece of the whole package and it’s going to take the longest to get right. The good news is that it’s far enough along that it’s being used by a Tuesday night campaign being run at the office. The bad news is that the players take bets on how many times it will crash each week. That’s just the way digital game development works … we’ll get there, but like I said before the Builder is currently our #1 priority. If you time things right, you might be able to get a peek at the Game Table in Indianapolis as we’ll be doing some demonstrations of it, but it’s not yet ready for general use.
I know there has been a lot of discussion of our business model and our pricing plan. We’ve been paying attention to those conversations and have decided to tweak a few things. Our current plan is to start charging for subscriptions before we have the client applications ready. That means the initial Insider subscription package will include exactly those parts that are currently in free trial mode: the magazines, the Compendium, and the bonus tools. The price tag for this subscription is as low as $4.95 per month, depending on how many months you are willing to sign up for. Specifically:

Web-Content Only Subscription Package:
12 Months = $59.40 ($4.95 per month)
3 Months = $19.95 ($6.65 per month)
1 Month = $7.95 ($7.95 per month)

We aren’t ready to discuss our medium or long-term pricing plans, but this is what the short-term looks like.

Hopefully this answers a lot of your questions about D&DI. I’m sure it also raised some more and feel free to ask those in the forums. I’m particularly interested to understand what topics I should cover in future weeks of this column. Alternately, I’ll be at Gen Con next week so feel free to come up to me there and tell me what you think of D&DI directly.

--Randy Buehler
One bit of feedback I have is not to post threads like this until the material you're directing to is available. Seriously: it's another bit of community management 101.
Welcome to what, now?

Just as I suspected since the release of 4E. Digital Insider doesn't exist (or at least, your link would indicate such).
Its up now. Thanks for the info. Also, looks like they reduced the prices accross the board. Thanks.
The reduced pricing is a good move. I'm willing to pay $8 a month for Dragon and Dungeon I think...

$4.95 a month for them sounds even better however the new pricing structure raises the question: If you pay for a year up front what will happen if the price goes up at some point during the year?
The reduced pricing is a good move. I'm willing to pay $8 a month for Dragon and Dungeon I think...

$4.95 a month for them sounds even better [...]

Five bucks a month is about what I can justify (assuming that I also plan to buy a book every three or four months), so I'm pretty happy with this.

Of all the things offered, though, I pretty much only want Dragon, so everything else I'm just subsidizing with my subscription. At this price, I don't mind, but I'd be annoyed if it went up to $10/month with the justification being something about the virtual gaming table tools.

The compendium is also basically useless to me, as it doesn't work when I don't have net access, and more importantly, because it's impossible to browse. (It might be handy during games, but since I game with a bunch of computer geeks, we game to get away from technology for a bit. What I want digital access for is DM prep time, and the compendium as it exists is very weak for that.) I am happy to pay for the books, but the idea of offering PDF versions to those who own the books for the cost of a cup of coffee needs to be revisited.

Is anyone from WotC listening to this thread?
The reduced pricing is a good move. I'm willing to pay $8 a month for Dragon and Dungeon I think...

$4.95 a month for them sounds even better however the new pricing structure raises the question: If you pay for a year up front what will happen if the price goes up at some point during the year?

Good question, as I am wondering as well.

My guess is if you pre-pay for a 1-yr subscription, your subscription is good for the full year. When the price of the subscription goes up, you would still have a valid account, but when you renew your subscription it will be at the higher rate.

In this way early adopters will get a bit of a perk, assuming the other components are actually released and they raise the price within a year of the date you subscribe.
I hope that the Compendium stays a free resource -- at least the parts related to the core books. It's nice having an always up-to-date reference.
dupe
$4.95 a month for them sounds even better however the new pricing structure raises the question: If you pay for a year up front what will happen if the price goes up at some point during the year?

If you pay ahead for a year, your price is locked in for the extent of that time period, for that level of subscription. (in this case, the web-content option)
Wait, so is that price structure with the current array of products or is that the price structure for the current array + the other tools (such as the dungeon creator and virtual DnD table)?
So far, so good. Its good to see that the tools are in (what seems to be) the later part of playtesting and bug-fixing. 5ish dollars a month sounds good to me, unless I have to pay it in a lump sum...

My only problem is this:
Our current plan is to start charging for subscriptions before we have the client applications ready.

I thought that we were going to be able to see and use these features before they were charged for! You know, sort of like testing the waters to see if they are even worth using? A 4 session/two week trial sounds good to me, but paying for it before even knowing how it works sounds kind of lame to me.
Let your voice be heard! Tell WotC to Publish D&D 4e under the OGL!
So far, so good. Its good to see that the tools are in (what seems to be) the later part of playtesting and bug-fixing. 5ish dollars a month sounds good to me, unless I have to pay it in a lump sum...

As I understand it, you pay for the entire year upfront for the $4.95 per month option. (Just under $60 for the year, I believe)
Wait, so is that price structure with the current array of products or is that the price structure for the current array + the other tools (such as the dungeon creator and virtual DnD table)?

This is the pricing for the "web-content only" subscription, which we saw a fair number of people request. Future pricing hasn't yet been announced.
I very much appreciate the very informative article. My plea would be that Wizards would put the Character Builder up now, as a beta test, acknowledging that the user interface isn't pretty. As long as the math is accurate and it outputs to a RPGA legal character sheet, I don't really care what the interface looks like. Having only a couple of kiosks at GenCon is a recipe for extreme frustration. Better to not have it at all, than so few that nobody has the time to wait in line to use them.

I don't really care about the Character Visualizer, and that can and should wait until the Game Table is ready. If the Digital Initiative folks are looking for input as to priorities, get the Character Builder up first, Dungeon Builder next (as long as it can output 1" scale prints), and then the Visualizer and Game Table.

The pricing model looks better than what was discussed earlier, but don't turn on the charging too soon. Wizards shouldn't interpret what has been out so far as much of a beta test.
Well i for one think its great to finally have some information that lets us know with reasonable accuracy where things are now.

the pricing is the big thing that concerns me though, for myself id happily pay 5 dollars a month for everything, thats a decent deal, but im the type of player who would only use the game table and all that maybe once a week for a few hours. its not like an MMORPG where i would play for several hours a day.....

to me this is just a way to connect with my friends and maybe a few new ones for a weekly gaming session. really i cant see the core audience being one that expects to get the same use from this as they would something like WoW. the whole game table is useless to me if i cant get my whole group to pay for it, and all of them ot feel its not so much that they HAVE to regiment their playing to get their moneys worth.

thats just my 2 cents though.
My heart rose and sank on seeing the pricing. Its a valid pricepoint for the full insider product along with the books, and for a second I thought we weren't going to get gouged. But then I realized that it was for the web only content, and not the product that has been pitched to us for so long. If the price doubles, that's far from comforting. And then there is the question of quality.

I don't want to pay for a service that needs obvious and constant patching and editing, I don't want to "pay for beta" as they often say in MMO's. I'm honestly regretting having bought the core books because of all of the errata (I'm sorry...updates) that have already come out for the books. I really want this to be a good product. But its really hard to build a worthy for-pay online gaming service and I just haven't seen the skill in this team regarding editing or quality control to give me faith that it will be so.

Its good to hear that insider is free for at least another month. here is to hoping that Wizards keeps it that way until they can release quality out of the gate. Because they do get there.
Guess I'll have to buck the trend a bit here and say nothing but good things. Frankly, short of "give it to us now" or "I CAN HAZ TEH PUBLIC BETA?!?", it seems to me that Randy's article reflects that they have been listening, and they are responding to what we asked. Thank you!

BTW, I never had a big problem with the previous pricing plan, but I'm thrilled to see the revised one. IMO, it's completely worth it for the magazines and a few tools alone.

That does not mean you're off the hook, WOTC. "Our current vision for the product includes..." sounds frighteningly non-committal. I still expect my Game Table. ;)
So the current pricing plan as per the article is for the current Web-content only.

That is to say:
  • Dragon Magazine;
  • Dungeon Magazine;
  • Compendium; and
  • Bonus tools


A years access to the above will thus cost about $60.

I am glad to see that the Pricing Model Directed Discussion had a good effect. It will, however, be intersting to see how further content will add to the pricing. Hopefully the price for the upper-end stays the same as originally discussed.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
One question I have about the subscription pricing options:
If someone really wasn't interested in the other DDI products, just the Dungeon and Dragon content, would they be able to subscribe to just that portion of DDI?

Thanks,

~~JM
nice to finally see some information thanks.
One question I have about the subscription pricing options:
If someone really wasn't interested in the other DDI products, just the Dungeon and Dragon content, would they be able to subscribe to just that portion of DDI?

That's the intent of the Web-Content pricing plan that Randy announced at the $4.95 per month price point (for a year membership).
I just want to know when the beta ends, and the pricing begins?
If you pay ahead for a year, your price is locked in for the extent of that time period, for that level of subscription. (in this case, the web-content option)

In other words, you seem to be setting up different levels where you can buy access to one thing but not get the other stuff? (I could get access to Compendium and the online magazines, for example, but not have access to the other content like the Visualizer and Game Table.)
Well this is a step in the right direction, the communication.

$5 dollars a month for both magazines would be fine for me... Except that the magazines are, in my opinion, of very poor quality overall.

To date there is little to no editing apparently performed on an article before it is uploaded (at least not by anybody who is familiar with the rules or even has access to a PHB), and even after the community dissects the articles -- finding all sorts of mathematical errors and mechanical issues and rules conflicts -- the articles are compiled basically as they were when first uploaded; errors and all.

I have not gone and made up my own lists about what has been changed in this or that article, but apparently tons of it is going through "broken." If the community will have to constantly comb through every line of each article that contains any kind of rules information, then I am sorry to say I don't think the magazines are going to be right for me.

Additionally, old problems still remain, such as the inability for older issues of the e-zines to finally be compiled into single PDFs, and the latest glitch with the compiled file sizes being exponentially larger than they should be, but that will (correct me if I'm wrong) apparently not be changed back to smaller sizes except "for future issues." Updates are also no longer performed on Monday/Wednesday/Friday as was once stipulated, but are now kind of random days and times.

It's great and all that the magazines are "rules legal" and made by the R&D department, but that doesn't mean you guys are able to put together a good magazine. If the past issues are addressed, and there is a significant increase in quality before the charging period starts, I may reconsider -- I want to like the products -- but it is very hard to at this point in time.

The Compendium is basically useless to me because of the way it is set up -- I greatly preferred the online SRDs of old because they could actually be navigated and the search tools could find what you typed in. The most important use for an online search tool would be for rules which you want to find fast, but currently you get nothing explaining the mechanics of things like Opportunity Attacks or Coup de Grace's if you type those in, simply tangential mentions in feats and classes.
http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19670890/Keep_on_the_Shadowfell_Character_Errata
This is great news. I will be glad to pay that much for the magazines and conpendium...
Thank you for the announcement. I think that pricing plan for the web content is completely reasonable and I look forward to attempting to try out the products at Gen Con.
In other words, you seem to be setting up different levels where you can buy access to one thing but not get the other stuff? (I could get access to Compendium and the online magazines, for example, but not have access to the other content like the Visualizer and Game Table.)

My interpretation of this announcement is that there will be two levels of subscription.

The web content only likely replaces the non Insiders able to purchase individual ezines, it is a little more then just the ezines but not that much more.

The second tier would be Game Table, etc that would include web content.

Perhaps they might consider a 3rd tier in between web content and DM tools, that being player tools.

A little more waiting until we know more.
Plans are always subject to change.
Awesome news! Thanks so much for creating the Web Content price structure. As a Mac user, the Game Table is going to be useless to me, however I still wanted to have access to Dungeon and Dragon. You just made my day.
Yay! Response! /dance /cheer /dance /cheer

Ok well I'm very happy about it.

But did I miss something? Did you say you're going to charge us before you release anything else for us to work with?
Not to be a spoil sport but what exactly would we get if we don't subscribe? After all most of the Dragon content was free up until 4th ed was announced, things like excerpts, web enhancements and other such things were really just adverts for the products and stuff that didn't fit into the book for space reasons. Long ago there where some statements that there would be content on the web sight that would not require a fee, is that still the plan or not?
Theory; they could remains free, but offered later.
Yay! Response! /dance /cheer /dance /cheer

Ok well I'm very happy about it.

But did I miss something? Did you say you're going to charge us before you release anything else for us to work with?

They are going to charge you for what works now. Setting aside discussion about how well web content works right now, that belongs in other threads.

When the tools are completed and if you want them the price will go up.

At least this is my best guess.
Plans are always subject to change.
Not to be a spoil sport but what exactly would we get if we don't subscribe? After all most of the Dragon content was free up until 4th ed was announced, things like excerpts, web enhancements and other such things were really just adverts for the products and stuff that didn't fit into the book for space reasons. Long ago there where some statements that there would be content on the web sight that would not require a fee, is that still the plan or not?

Well there is some content you can get now without being logged in as an Insider. I would expect that would continue to be accessible, the odds are the same level of access would remain. Off hand I would guess the announcements of products, the editorials, perhaps Sage advice and ask Wizards. I have not tested every link to see which are available to everyone and only available to Insiders.
Plans are always subject to change.
A couple of small bonus tools are ready to go live so you guys can mess around with them. The Ability Generator is useful for playing around with new characters. Meanwhile if you’re a DM, the Encounter Generator might be quite useful to you depending on your style. In addition, we’ve got a monster building tool in development right now that we hope will be ready before the Insider free trial ends.

So, where can we find these "small bonus tools?" Will they be released after GenCon?
A couple of small bonus tools are ready to go live so you guys can mess around with them. The Ability Generator is useful for playing around with new characters. Meanwhile if you’re a DM, the Encounter Generator might be quite useful to you depending on your style. In addition, we’ve got a monster building tool in development right now that we hope will be ready before the Insider free trial ends.

Where?
I want to say, "Thank you, Randy, and thank you, WotC." This kind of public disclosure is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for, and it warms my heart to see it. :D

I believe that this article will make a huge improvement in the public's impression of the state of DDI.
I'd be willing to spend $8 for the current tools.
This seems tailored a bit more for those of us that play at a table and dont need all the virtual table and mini business.