Feedback Thread: Digital Insider 13: Character Builder

185 posts / 0 new
Last post
Hi folks,

Setting this feedback thread in advance for Randy's Digital Insider #13, due to go live tomorrow.
Some quick thoughts before I go to bed and hope that the snowstorm doesn't knock out the power:

Beta in 1-2 weeks!! YAY!!

I also really like the idea that it prints out Power Cards for you, as well as allowing you to rearrange your character sheet however you want.

I am slightly disappointed, however, in the plan to take down the previous versions of Dungeon/Dragon a month after they are compiled.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
I just really hope it works under Mono. The DirectX stuff I know won't, sadly, but this might!
It is taking forever it seems. I wish I was more excited but more interested in just testing it. Being an insider is not anything great to me without the character builder except for the Dragon magazine. Will be seeing what happens with the release of the program after beta. I would give up the Bonus Tools just for the Character Builder.

I have a few reasons for subscribing but they are temporary except for Dragon. This program will decide for a lot of people I believe on subscribing or not.

Edit: Just looked closer at the cards and the character card was funny to me. I see Fort, Ref, Will on one side and then AC in middle of HP and Spd. I hate that look as I prefer AC to be with Fort, Ref, Will defenses as all are defenses. There a few other things could be where AC is currently located but otherwise hope I can decide not to print that card.
I just really hope it works under Mono. The DirectX stuff I know won't, sadly, but this might!

I haven't tried it under mono (a subset of .net for *nix & mac) but I would be surprised if it worked today. We've built this taking advantage of .net 3.5 (required for install), the mono project is somewhere between .net 2.0 and .net 3.5 and has scheduled releases throughout 2009. It seems likely that someday it will work. But I don't think that day is today. But I won't know for sure until I try it.
I am slightly disappointed, however, in the plan to take down the previous versions of Dungeon/Dragon a month after they are compiled.

I second this, it doesn't make alot of sense... other than the team doesn't want to code ownership rights...(and I'm an optimistic subscriber)
The magazine back-issue plan seems based in fantasy land — and I don't mean that in a good way. It is based on pretending that digital files have a sort of inherent scarcity, and making up artificial systems to play a game with that pretense.

The competition here isn't what your subscribers might do with the content they're paying for. The competition is that we might not subscribe at all. Since you can't force someone to spend money on a hobby, all you have is the carrot approach. Make it worth our while to subscribe (I have, for the record), and make us feel like we're getting our money's worth.

So far, the content is great and I'm happy paying for it. But I'm highly skeptical of the stated plan. The game I want to play is D&D, not collector/archivist of artificially fragile PDF files.

If I subscribe for a year but don't pay attention for a month (sometimes real life pulls people away from D&D — shocking, I know), I shouldn't be screwed out of content I actually paid you money for, or have to beg through e-mail channels to justify getting a copy.

Given that by tomorrow morning (if not already) the first for-pay-only copy of the magazine will be easily available to anyone who knows how to put text into a web browser's search field, the customer-hostile approach (and making there be any artificial hoops is customer-hostile) just costs you money.

Like I said, I subscribed. But my group is far from whole-heartedly sold on 4E, and "hey guys, look at this awesome business model where your paid-for content vanishes" isn't exactly winning hearts and minds.
So if, in four months, my hard drive fails and I lose all the data stored on it, I'm SOL because you've taken all of the issues I paid for offline?

That is not awesome.
I haven't tried it under mono (a subset of .net for *nix & mac) but I would be surprised if it worked today. We've built this taking advantage of .net 3.5 (required for install), the mono project is somewhere between .net 2.0 and .net 3.5 and has scheduled releases throughout 2009. It seems likely that someday it will work. But I don't think that day is today. But I won't know for sure until I try it.

Looks like I need to install my Windows then (or figure out some way to get .NET 3.5 working under Wine, not that that is likely).
Elf,

Will you be able to output your character to XML? Besides moving boxes around a set character sheet design, I'm looking for a way to create my own character sheet. If it's in XML format, I know I'd have total control. If I'm relying on your base character sheet, I have no idea whether I'd have the control. IOW, I'm fishing for just how much customization I'll have available with this application.

BTW, I was at GenCon and played around with this thing. For those who haven't, the interface at that point was very intuitive. I'm very optimistic about the product.

Thanks.
Rob Bodine @gsllc Convention Coordinator, synDCon @synDCon http://synDCon.net/ 4th Edition Dungeon Crawls: http://me.lt/2y0xi
So if, in four months, my hard drive fails and I lose all the data stored on it, I'm SOL because you've taken all of the issues I paid for offline?

That is not awesome.

You are not S.O.L. However, you will need to put in a call to Customer Service in order to get a replacement copy.
AsmodeusLore D&D Insider News Guide Follow Me


D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium

Just looked closer at the cards and the character card was funny to me. I see Fort, Ref, Will on one side and then AC in middle of HP and Spd. I hate that look as I prefer AC to be with Fort, Ref, Will defenses as all are defenses. There a few other things could be where AC is currently located but otherwise hope I can decide not to print that card.

I actually made the same comment just recently. It's good feedback that I'll bring to the team.

This brings up a good point, now that you've seen some of what the character builder does and looks like, do you have specific questions or requests?
Ability to Export to XML is a big request for me.
AsmodeusLore D&D Insider News Guide Follow Me


D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium

I second the request for an "export to xml" option, a very basic

[INDENT][/INDENT][INDENT][INDENT]18[/INDENT][/INDENT][INDENT][INDENT]14[/INDENT][/INDENT]

and so on.......

xml sheet so that some of us can upload them to different sheets and stuff.

also, any chance for plugins? I am imagining homebrew feat/race packs... if you guys would embrace this sort of stuff, it would impress a great number people.

btw, it all looks great from the screens.
This brings up a good point, now that you've seen some of what the character builder does and looks like, do you have specific questions or requests?

Putting some effort into getting it running on Linux would be valuable. D&D players are by definition geekier than average. At least have a good handle on what's missing, even if you don't have the developer resources to fix it.
Putting some effort into getting it running on Linux would be valuable. D&D players are by definition geekier than average. At least have a good handle on what's missing, even if you don't have the developer resources to fix it.

mono is the best bet, they've already said how that's going though. so the request would be to look at bugfixing with mono in mind.
Ugh, why are they basing the powers output on a print-based form?

How much wasted space is there to include each of the pics for melee, close, ranged, and area? A power might have two of those.

Some powers have a lot of text in the effect area, any wasted space is detrimental to font size and ultimately legibility.

It's much simpler and easier to read if they just presented the powers on the card similar to how they are in the book, with action, range, frequency, and target as necessary. Maybe throw in a large icon of the power type to speed recognition.

IMAGE(http://web.me.com/judsonstowe/Site/Welcome_files/Power_cards.jpg)
I'm glad this is finally coming out, it is mainly what I subscribed for. Sadly, I think that as far as betas go, this is a terrible one. The game has been out for a while now and I doubt many players are still in the level range that is available for testing. Don't get me wrong, I'm going to play with it and will report on anything I find, but it won't get anywhere near the testing it would if I could use it in my actual games (the lowest of which is 3rd level and will likely be 4th by the time this is out). And a month of closed beta, followed by more open beta leaves me wondering if we will ever get anything above 3rd level. Can we get some sort of idea on when higher levels will be available? Even if it were only the heroic tier that would be more useful than just 3 levels.
I'm glad this is finally coming out, it is mainly what I subscribed for. Sadly, I think that as far as betas go, this is a terrible one. The game has been out for a while now and I doubt many players are still in the level range that is available for testing. Don't get me wrong, I'm going to play with it and will report on anything I find, but it won't get anywhere near the testing it would if I could use it in my actual games (the lowest of which is 3rd level and will likely be 4th by the time this is out). And a month of closed beta, followed by more open beta leaves me wondering if we will ever get anything above 3rd level. Can we get some sort of idea on when higher levels will be available? Even if it were only the heroic tier that would be more useful than just 3 levels.

from what I understood, the beta wouldn't be level limitied, except items to level 8.

edit: nevermind, and a second his concerns... level 3? how are we supposed to test this, my players are 2 right now, will be 3 in a few weeks... then months of beta...

I imagine the levels will be slowly unlocked through the course of the betas (at least for subscribers)
Elf,

Will you be able to output your character to XML? Besides moving boxes around a set character sheet design, I'm looking for a way to create my own character sheet. If it's in XML format, I know I'd have total control. If I'm relying on your base character sheet, I have no idea whether I'd have the control. IOW, I'm fishing for just how much customization I'll have available with this application.

The character save file is an xml file, it's not intended to be read, but it certainly could be. There will also be some more options coming that we're not ready to announce yet, but in short there should be plenty of customization available inside the app, as well as the ability to make your own tools that use our save file.

BTW, I was at GenCon and played around with this thing. For those who haven't, the interface at that point was very intuitive. I'm very optimistic about the product.

The interface for PAX was many iterations ahead of the GenCon interface. Today's interface is way ahead of the interface from PAX. I'm glad you liked it. We've put a lot of work into it.
I would just like to make note of why they haven't added the spellscarred powers to the Compendium?

Other then that I like the information they provided, especially the fact about the way back issues will be done.
"What is loved...endures. What is built...endures. And Babylon 5...Babylon 5 endures." -Babylon 5 "As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. It is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we becomes victims of the darkness." -Justice William O. Douglas
Ugh, why are they basing the powers output on a print-based form?

How much wasted space is there to include each of the pics for melee, close, ranged, and area? A power might have two of those.

Some powers have a lot of text in the effect area, any wasted space is detrimental to font size and ultimately legibility.

It's much simpler and easier to read if they just presented the powers on the card similar to how they are in the book, with action, range, frequency, and target as necessary. Maybe throw in a large icon of the power type to speed recognition.

IMAGE(http://web.me.com/judsonstowe/Site/Welcome_files/Power_cards.jpg)

I really like these. I'll bring it to the team. Naturally we're going to support the wotc official power cards, but it would be cool to support alternate formats as well. No promises. But we are guided by a basic motivation of "we use this tool, what would we as players want that would make it cooler".
You know, every time I think WotC can't make another PR blunder, they manage to dig themselves deeper. I think they've gone past scraping the bottom of the barrel, and are digging through the ground underneath it by now. And I don't think there's oil down there.

Naturally, I'm talking about the compilation PDFs. For crying out loud, people are paying for permanent access to the content. Making it temporarily available is... lets be blunt, cheating them out of what they've paid for. If you want the people to continue to have access, keep the issues up, don't make them jump through hoops to get it back in case of an accidental loss. It's what they're supposed to be paying for after all.

Maybe the web team should ask Paizo for some advice on how to handle the download permissions involved. They don't seem to have any trouble with selling downloads and linking them to specific accounts, which is what this boils down to.
First thing for people working on providing new features should remember: People hate change for the sake of change. They usually don't mind genuine improvements, but change just because it's change and therefore cool tends to get hackles raised. Second thing for people working on providing new 'improved' features should remember: It shouldn't be hard for users to figure out how to turn them off if they don't like them. Just because the programmer thinks he's had a great idea doesn't mean everyone else is going to agree with them.
Inclusion of XML is exactly what I needed to hear.
Rob Bodine @gsllc Convention Coordinator, synDCon @synDCon http://synDCon.net/ 4th Edition Dungeon Crawls: http://me.lt/2y0xi
This brings up a good point, now that you've seen some of what the character builder does and looks like, do you have specific questions or requests?

I have to ask about the cards more. I am wondering if basic attacks could be made into cards. I know that I don't use much of the back of a character sheet. There is a lot of ink on the back page that I could pass on since with being able to move sections around could leave off ones that I prefer to write out anyways.

Will there be cards for any bloodied effects for such things as the example Dragonborn gets? Any chance that Crital Hit Damage could also be included in Power cards?

Will we be able to decide which cards to print off? If I make a second (3rd, 5th, 18th) character then I will likely not need another Action Point or Second Wind card.

I do try and think of ways to save printing and hope the program allows me to do that as much as possible. If I could take the color off and just add it as background to the name of the card (whether character, power, weapon or other) and just have black the rest then that would be enough for me.

Guess will be even more thoughts while waiting on the beta.
Making it temporarily available is... lets be blunt, cheating them out of what they've paid for.

I really think you're all overreacting. Have you ever heard of RSS? Do you use MS Outlook or any other program that will automatically receive RSS feeds. If you can't make a single trip to the website in a month's time, obviously the material doesn't mean much to you.

I can't explain why the policy exists, but I find it difficult to care. It doesn't place much of a burden on us at all.
Rob Bodine @gsllc Convention Coordinator, synDCon @synDCon http://synDCon.net/ 4th Edition Dungeon Crawls: http://me.lt/2y0xi
from what I understood, the beta wouldn't be level limitied, except items to level 8.

edit: nevermind, and a second his concerns... level 3? how are we supposed to test this, my players are 2 right now, will be 3 in a few weeks... then months of beta...

I imagine the levels will be slowly unlocked through the course of the betas (at least for subscribers)

Geez People its a beta..It is what everyone has been *****ing about getting to do.....Try out the product..

Instead of sitting around all day watching porn like I do...simply sign on and create a bunch of Low Level NPCs. Try Different races..try different classes...Win a for finding the first glitch

Find out if you can make a Dwarven Fight who can cast Mage Spells..
try to do stuff that you know can't be done...then tell everyone you found a Mistake...

Now everyone is crying because thier Current character is gonna be too high of a level...

Well I am gonna go and and Whine....
How am I suspose to use the Beta......It doesn't create 3.5 or Pathfinder Characters

there now that is outta my system, I will return you to your regularly scheduled Whine seccession
You know, every time I think WotC can't make another PR blunder, they manage to dig themselves deeper. I think they've gone past scraping the bottom of the barrel, and are digging through the ground underneath it by now. And I don't think there's oil down there.

Naturally, I'm talking about the compilation PDFs. For crying out loud, people are paying for permanent access to the content. Making it temporarily available is... lets be blunt, cheating them out of what they've paid for. If you want the people to continue to have access, keep the issues up, don't make them jump through hoops to get it back in case of an accidental loss. It's what they're supposed to be paying for after all.

There's been a number of people talking about this. I'm not part of the magazine team so I don't have all the details (I'm at home right now). I'll ask about this tomorrow, but from what was said in the insider, customer service should have the ability to get you the files at a later date. Without having seen all the details, I imagine the intent is to have the issues available for the users that are subscribers when they are released, everyone else will be able to buy them as they see fit. We're still months away before this is relevant so it's possible details are still being decided on.

For now, give us a chance to find out what's up, and we'll have Solice or Randy follow up.
For now, give us a chance to find out what's up, and we'll have Solice or Randy follow up.

Try not to worry about it, Elf. We live in a me-first, tell-me-what-I-want-to-hear, what-I-want-to-hear-is-political-correctness society.

People, this is exactly why WotC often holds back information. When they give you information before everything's 100% figured out, even when they tell you it's not 100% figured out, you scream, "Is that all?!?!?!"

Patience, grasshoppers. I'm sure more is coming.

Cryonax, WotC Apologist
Rob Bodine @gsllc Convention Coordinator, synDCon @synDCon http://synDCon.net/ 4th Edition Dungeon Crawls: http://me.lt/2y0xi
I have to ask about the cards more. I am wondering if basic attacks could be made into cards.

They already have been. This feature won't be in the closed beta, which we locked down already. But it has been done since then.
Will there be cards for any bloodied effects for such things as the example Dragonborn gets?

Conditional effects do appear on the power cards, and we have a task up for discussion about a conditional card compiling all of the conditions and their effects.
Any chance that Crital Hit Damage could also be included in Power cards?

Critical Hit damage is listed on each weapon. It's not listed on the power cards, one of the devs also made this observation in one of our sessions recently, so it's possible it will change.
Will we be able to decide which cards to print off? If I make a second (3rd, 5th, 18th) character then I will likely not need another Action Point or Second Wind card.

This won't be in beta, but we have been discussing this sort of a feature, the ability to turn off, or copy individual power cards.
I do try and think of ways to save printing and hope the program allows me to do that as much as possible. If I could take the color off and just add it as background to the name of the card (whether character, power, weapon or other) and just have black the rest then that would be enough for me.

Guess will be even more thoughts while waiting on the beta.

For saving paper, print the power cards in portrait mode (9 cards per page instead of 8). =) I actually prefer landscape mode for my character sheets, and then print the power pages as portrait mode.
Okay, I wasn't excited about the Character Builder until I read this update. Bad taste in my mouth from that chargen software that came packaged with the first run of 3.0 books, perhaps. This looks really good, and if it is half as customizable as we've heard, it should be lots of fun to play with.

As a DM, I like having PC character sheets at my fingertips both during and between sessions, and I've been limping along with a 3rd party, fan-made spreadsheet self-calculating character sheet that is pretty good, but it's already falling way behind the supplement curve, and it doesn't print cleanly. It's *slightly* disappointing that this Beta won't come out before my group reaches level 4, but ah well. It's not like this is the only D&D game I'll ever run. Once the full version is available, it looks like it'll be a nice little tool.

I'm a bit baffled at the vitriol over taking down the magazines after a certain period. I'm a data pack rat, so you can be sure I'll have an archive with both the full version and the by-article version of each issue tucked away somewhere on my hard drive, but even if my computer fails and my back-up CD is corrupted at the same time, I'm just not seeing the tyrannical and villainous apocalypse of data loss, here. The pdfs don't disappear. They're available upon customer request. It may not be as convenient as simply going to an archive directory on the site, but I'm not seeing a conspiracy. If these were paper magazines and you left a copy on the bus or dropped it into the tub, it would be a lot less convenient and more costly to replace them than simply sending an email to ORCS.

Seriously.
I would just like to make note of why they haven't added the spellscarred powers to the Compendium?

For the moment, in the compendium, all the powers that are not related to a class are not visible in the list view. There is a glitch where you can see a few non class powers at level 0 (select view all in the power tab, and then sort by level, all the powers marked as level 0 are not class powers and have erroneous class name/ This is a known issue).

So we are working on fixing this, and we want to be able to offer all the powers in the compendium from the power tab, including the ones coming from feats or races or classes. Note that these powers currently *do* show in their respective entry (feats, races, ...) but not under the power tab.

Spellscarred powers are special in that way that they are not attached to anything existing in another tab. For the character builder, they will only be available through multiclassing, and we are going to model spellscarred as a "multiclass only" type of class. For the compendium, fixing the issue of displaying all the non-class related powers will also fix the display of the spellscarred powers.
I haven't tried it under mono (a subset of .net for *nix & mac) but I would be surprised if it worked today. We've built this taking advantage of .net 3.5 (required for install), the mono project is somewhere between .net 2.0 and .net 3.5 and has scheduled releases throughout 2009. It seems likely that someday it will work. But I don't think that day is today. But I won't know for sure until I try it.

If you're using .NET 3 or 3.5 features, that would have to mean WPF (unless you're making extensive use of WCF (updates data direct from the website with mu login rather than a full application update? Or workflows. I suppose I can see the argument for workflows here). I state this because .NET 3.5 is .NET 2 with additional features rather than a rewrite (as was the change from .NET 1.1 - 2.0).

I suppose this is the hopeful side of me, but if you're using it for WPF, surely a port to Silverlight 2 would be relativley simple? And then, of course, you'd have compatability with Mac and linux (admittedley still eventually but I think MS and/or others are still invested in the Moonlight project).
I suppose this is the hopeful side of me, but if you're using it for WPF, surely a port to Silverlight 2 would be relativley simple? And then, of course, you'd have compatability with Mac and linux (admittedley still eventually but I think MS and/or others are still invested in the Moonlight project).

It's not clear what our porting opportunities will be, but there is hope, lets get this version out first though. =)
Speaking of using less ink...

Any chance we can customise what's actually printed on the sheets and cards?


For example: let's say I want to print race/class name and powers on the character sheet but leave the ability score/AC/and HP sections blank so that when I level up I can reuse the sheet for a few levels. That way I can adjust HP and the like without printing out extra sheets.
And concerning the power cards, I can print out cards that say, "3[W]+Cha Mod" instead of longsword "3d8+4" and then when I use a magical bastard sword +2 some levels later "3d10+7" and I have to print out new power cards for something that I can either figure out in my head or just write on the card once it's printed.

Thanks

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/8.jpg)

Why has the swordmage in the screen shots DEX as primary attribute?

It seems all powers are using DEX instead of INT...

Ceterum censeo capsum rubeum esse delendam

I have one gripe about insider #13. It would have been nice if we could click on the pics of the character builder and character sheets to get larger views. I had to strain my eyes to get the details. I'm not getting any younger, LOL.
Why has the swordmage in the screen shots DEX as primary attribute?

It seems all powers are using DEX instead of INT...

If you are looking at his at will powers they are both int based. They are giving a +4 attack bonus, 3 from longsword proficiency, 1 from +1 magic longsword, 1 from level 3 and -1 from 8 int.

If you are looking at his basic attacks, his longsword is using strength because he doesn't have a feat to use his int for basic attacks. His crossbow is using dex for basic attacks.

The problem I see with the character is that he has 8 int and he is a swordmage, whoever made this character clearly didn't use the auto pick button for his stats or he would have had a much higher int.

--
Mike Donais.
Product Owner for DDI Character Builder.
Mike Donais. Cryptozoic R&D
I have one gripe about insider #13. It would have been nice if we could click on the pics of the character builder and character sheets to get larger views. I had to strain my eyes to get the details. I'm not getting any younger, LOL.

A great point, I will ask them about it tomorrow morning when I get to work.

--
Mike.
Mike Donais. Cryptozoic R&D
Why has the swordmage in the screen shots DEX as primary attribute?

It seems all powers are using DEX instead of INT...

Whoever took the screenshots probably dragged the scores around to swap them. I just double checked, the character builder uses int, str and con, or int con and str depending on your build if you auto pick. If you roll, it puts the score where it rolled it, and then you can drag and drop. If you choose an array it starts at the top, and then you can drag and drop, or use the point buy system to adjust them.
"Today, 02:47 AM"
A great point, I will ask them about it tomorrow morning when I get to work.
--
Mike.

Go to bed Mike!