5 years ago ::
Jun 23, 2008 - 10:21PM
Jun 22, 2008
I'll offer a slightly different perspective on these issues. Unlike perhaps many of the other post-ers here, I no longer play D&D (or any other rpgs). In fact, I have not played at all since the mid-1980s, almost 25 years ago now. But I do remember with extreme fondness the years in the late 1970s and early 1980s when, as a pre-teen, I played all the time and was an even more voracious reader of the early modules and enthusiastic (if ungifted) painter of the little lead figures.
I initially heard about the (then pending) release of the 4th edition of D&D purely by coincidence and only as a direct result of the death of Gary Gaygax. My mother, having remembered my boyhood love of the game, told me in passing that he had died, having seen his obituary in the New York Times. I then popped his name into You Tube and, entirely by accident, happened upon some video clips discussing the pending release of the 4th edition and, even more interestingly to me, the new online tools (which I now know are called "D&D Insider").
At the risk of getting a lot of grief from my wife for being "a dork," I asked for the 4th edition gift set as a Fathers Day present. I knew that I'd almost certainly never play the game again. But I also knew that thumbing through the new rulebooks would bring back in a rush some very happy childhood memories. I suspect that there may be thousands of people like me, and that we may be a significant reason why the gift set was pushed to near the top of the Amazon.com sales chart. (And, indeed, apparently sold out on day 1, leaving me among those not to receive a copy until early August.)
I mention all of this background only to emphasize that, while I may come from a very different perspective than many other post-ers here, I agree with many of the comments in the other posts made on this topic (if, perhaps, with dramatically less rancor). I do not think that they should be dismissed merely as the rantings of hard core zealots.
I'll now address a handful of specific comments about D&D Insider:
Firstly, I found it very confusing when, on Fathers Day weekend (having already been disappointed not to receive the gift set from Amazon), I tried to log onto the new D&D Insider website to check out these online tools and found that the site seemed not to exist. I didn't initially understand why I kept being forced back to WoTC main D&D page instead. And there seemed to be no explanation as to why the D&D Insider site was not up. Even today, with the "coming soon" banners having been added, if I had not read this string of posts I am sure that I would not have understood what was wrong.
Secondly, I strongly agree with many of the posts here that this message board is very hard to find on the site and locating information here about the status of D&D Insider was surprisingly difficult.
Thirdly, I have since watched the interview of Ken Troop posted on You Tube, as well as another one with Chris Youngs. As a very distantly removed fan, I found these videos to be very confusing. They each seemed to imply that various parts of D&D Insider were already being rolled out. (This confused me because the D&D Insider site itself seemed not to be active yet.) Yet having read this thread, I now understand the reality of the situation: that the release of the core online tools (the online table top, the dungeon builder and character creator) is many months away and that what has been made "live" so far is merely the posting of PDFs of a couple of magazine articles (and now the compendium). To be honest, from my perspective as a very distantly removed older fan, it's a bit misleading (though I am sure unintentionally so) to imply that the D&D Insider is already in part rolled out, based merely on the fact that a couple of PDFs have been posted on the main D&D site. I'd recommend posting as soon as possible another interview wherein Ken Troop (or perhaps someone else) explain the situation much more directly and frankly, so that the casual fan can better understand the status.
Lastly, I wanted to briefly comment on the proposed pricing of D&D Insider, again from the perspective of a grown man long removed from his playing days. I well recognize that the decision about how to price the D&D Insider must have (and, frankly, should have) been made without old fans like me (who are no longer active players) in mind. Mindful of that caveat, I would note that I would certainly pay a one-time fee of $5 or so to play around with the online tools (once they're up) for a couple of hours and maybe create a character or two for fun, and for old times' sake. But a cost much higher than that (I think that the proposed one month fee is $15) may well be enough of a barrier to cause me to wave it off a just too pricey for my casual, very limited interest. As a result, I would recommend that you add another option to buy a one time block of time, say, three or four hours, for $5 or so, to cater to the thousands of us grown-up, non-players who bought the 4th edition books for "old time's sake" and to peruse, not play. I believe that many like me would happily pay some small amount to check out the D&D Insider for a few hours on our own, without any intention of ever using it to play the game on an ongoing basis. In addition to the additional revenue for WoTC , I am sure that the WoTC marketing department would love to have the contact details (and demographic details) of thousands of additional people who may no longer play the game but who retain a passing interest in D&D largely because of fond childhood memories.
I hope that this feedback is of some help.
Best of luck.