Lokiare's thread got me thinking. I don't think it is possible for anyone to say whether DDI is "worth the money" for anyone except themselves, because we all place different values on different things. I.e. The CB being online is neither here nor there for me, for for others its a dealbreaker. But I think we can give our own opions of how well they are doing in various ways for people to read and they can see what people like/don't like and why and a "report card" format seems like a nice, non hyperbolic way to do it. Heck, maybe WOTC will be interested in improving their grades. So here are my grades for various aspects, and why. YMMV, of course. The criteria that seemed logical to grade were the various components (magazines, CB, etc) and an overall customer service grade.
Magazines: D+ This may sound harsh but its actually up from the F I would have given them just two months ago. There is still only a minimal amount of content that interests me, but at least now there is some. Plus they have gotten better about turning their work in on time. If they keep it up, their grade can improve.
Character Builder: C Adequate for the task but definately not wow inducing. I can make a character on it alright, but there is sooooo much room for improvement. Customization of th character sheet for instance.
Adventure Tools: D- Not really all that useful in their present form. The only thing that keeps this from being an F is that there have beeen a couple of ocasions that I found the limited functions that it has useful. But those have been few and far between. Needs improvement badly.
Compendium: C Useful at times. But has some omissions and quirks that irritate me.
Virtual Table: B Good but with some annoying quirks. ALso not out of beta yet, so not everyone has acccess. Still, with a bit of polish and some added functionality has a shot an A.
Customer Service: C Their communication has improved, but it wasn't great before. Contacting them with a problem usually gets it resolved quickly, but I have to do it far to often for my taste.
Total GPA: 1.8 Passing, but if my kid brought home a report card like that, there'd be a grounding in their future.
Magazines: C-. This would be a C if they actually still were real magazines. This would be a B if I weren't skimming the table of contents these days and not reading anything ...
Character Builder: B. Call me crazy but I like it, it works for me, and I don't have any issues at all except for some printing problems. This would be an A grade if I could have more than 20 characters at once.
Adventure Tools: F. Oh boy. The Monster Builder I gave up on - pen and paper and an excel spreadsheet for level up scripts works for me.
Compendium: A-. Fix the typos and the minor errors here and there, and you've got a solid A. I tell people I pay for DDI just for this.
Virtual Table: I. This gets an incomplete because I've never tried it.
CustServ: C. Average, straight up. No complaints, no kudos.
magazines: B- i have no problem with them not putting out compiled issues but its a big problem for some people. content-wise i've been very satisfied for the last several months.
character builder B- it's being updated regularly and i like it better than the old one honestly. still a little slow but it looks nice and does a fine job of doing what it's supposed to.
adventure tools F im not a dm but with a monster builder this bad im glad i dont have to use it.
compendium A- by far the most used part of my ddi subscription, i wish the search feature worked a little better but it's by no means bad.
virtual table D- it gets blown out of the water by maptools and has no option to import a dnd4e file from the builder, which could have really set it above other VT programs.
customer service B- whenever i've used it they'e been quick and accurate, other's results might have been different though
overall im very happy with DDI currently and DnD in general, im having a ton of fun playing the game and the tools only get better with each month.
Character Builder: B
Adventure Tools: D
Virtual Table: A, but could become a lot lower if they dont eventually add features and allow adventure sharing/pc export
magazines: B+ I like new content. This is the most steady stream of new content. It's typically well done, maybe lacking a bit in quantity, but that seems to be on the rise again.
character builder C- I have little to no use for the character builder since I am predominantly a DM. But I'm still not a fan of the latest incarnation. The old CB was average, this is not as good as the old CB.
adventure tools F The offline monster builder is functional. The online one is utterly useless. I'm rating the new since that is the new direction and the old is no longer getting support. There needs to be more adventure tools.
compendium B- Functional and useful but needs an overhaul to make it more efficient. Seems to frequently have holes in the data.
virtual table Incomplete It's in beta. As such, it doesn't even count as part of the DDI package. Fantasy Grounds does a much better job, anyhow.
customer service C- Customer service is good. However, I include forum moderation in this, and that has been anything but consistent.
Overall: If I didn't have the compendium converted for use with Fantasy Grounds, I would unsubscribe in a heartbeat. This is Wizards. They should be the source of all things D&D, including digital. Those should all be B's at worst and always striving for at least A's.
magazines: B. More content and the ability to download whole issues and fully scaled maps without the spoilers that I can use at my table would get it an A. Still, I get a lot of mileage out of them.
character builder B . We need more ability to add custom content and we need to continue to have bug fixes implemented.
adventure tools F What Adventure Tools? The MB isn't really up to snuff. Yet.
compendium B+ Pretty damn good. Some mistakes in it, but I expect those in such a big database. Just don't create another issue like we had a few weeks ago where searching threw errors most of the time, rendering it almost useless.
virtual table A- Also pretty damn good. Next to Compendium, I think it's the best product they've made, and certainly more complicated than the Compendium so I give them credit for that.
customer service A: I've never had a single problem with customer service yet. They've been excellent answering my questions and acknowledging my bug reports.
Magazines: B+ Constant support to the games merits a B+, from character options to adventure, tips etc...Not all content is of use to me in the immediate, but i enjoy my daily offerings.
Character Builder: C+ Adequate for the job but lot of place for improvement, especially on Customizability.
Adventure Tools: F+ Unrated. Tool still in BETA. It's very limited right now but i still used it a lot to level up or delevel monsters for adventures, as well as refluffing monsters, Powers etc...But yeah, ineffective to build new monsters thats for sure. In dire need of Improvement.
Compendium: B+ - Very useful tool despite it's error, wrong data and unupdated content. The majority is up-to-date and it is a remarkable tool to quickly consult any Rules or game elements.
Virtual Table: F+ Unrated. Tool still in BETA. It's very limited right now as it cannot allow custom support and Tiles & Tokens are very limited, but the functionality of Vittie itself is more than adequate and i have run and played dozens and dozens of games with over a hundread different people and the experiences have been all more than enjoyable. A Virtual Table doesn't make the fun, it's the adventure and people you're playing with. Vittie is merely a tool to make D&D a fun experience online, and it achieve it's purpose even if it lack Automations, Customs support etc... It is in need of Improvement still.
Customer Service: B+ Customer Service is good.They answer to all my questions in a short notice, provided Pass for VT quickly in the past, and have just shipped me broken figurines in my Castle Ravenloft Board Game in a rather quick and professional way.
EDIT To add Bonus Tools offered with DDi
Character Name Generator: B+ Very useful tool as a DM to help come up with different names for NPC in the blink of an eye.
Character Sheet: C+ It can be useful to have Pre-generated characters from D&D Encounter Season or D&D Red Box Game Day available for download, as well as the different D&D Character Sheets.
Encounter Builder: C+ This program is a useful tools to build Encounter using XP budget. It's somewhat outdated having only MM 1 Monsters in it though. But if they could link it to the existing Creature Catalog it could be much more useful than it is now.
Ability Generator: C- Though i don't use Random Ability Generator, i think the program itself is okay. It's somewhat outdated having only PHB 1 Races in it though.
I look forward to about an article a week and that's good enough for me. I usually get a good half hour to an hour or so a week of entertainment reading them.
Character Builder: C+
Adequate. I gave it a + because I like where it's going.
Adventure Tools: F+
I really like the potential (hence the +) but it clearly needs work. I don't use it in the state it's in.
This would be an A if it wasn't for the typos and bugs. Still, it makes running games a breeze and has saved me more than a few hours of tedious bookkeeping for my DM duties.
Virtual Table: Unrated
Despite wanting to try it out, I haven't had time since it was released.
Customer Service B-
I've had extactly two interractions with them. One was fantastic and one was adequate.
All in all it's adequate and worth the money for me. There's lots of room for improvement and I can see the DDI team attempting to position themselves in a way to take advantage of that but it's not there yet and I can only judge the tools on what's available for now.
I can't help but notice that we are all over the place in other areas (as I expected) but it seems to be pretty much universal that the Adventure Tools (or Tool, at this point) is dragging them down hard.
Nyarlathotep, you should average out the ratings after posts die down. It would be cool to see the end result.
Magazines: B+. The value of the content is very high for me (A+). I have use for something every issue. The lateness (C-) has hurt the magazine, though it seems to be improving. My continued pet peeves are searching (F) and lack of a way to store the content easily - bundling or compiled issues are a must for the collector (F).
Character Builder: B. The current offering still has detriments compared to the offline CB, but it is a sound tool. It compares very favorably to anything else on the market.
Adventure Tools: F-. This is the biggest travesty in DDI. Complete and utter failure, from communication to vision to functionality. Really needs to be a priority. Saddens me at least five times a week.
Compendium A-. This is a continually useful part of DDI for me. It surprises me how often I use this and it has transformed how quickly I can find things for adventure writing, character building, rules lookup, etc. I still don't understand why the content stream for Compendium/CB/MB are different. It is very confusing to users to see different tools with inconsistent text. There should also be no stealth updates via the compendium!
Virtual Table: B. C. Given what it needs to do, it is doing a fine job. Playing online isn't a priority for me, but the games I played were great. You don't need much here for it to be a decent offering. However, the grade could drop if they focus too much on micro-transactions vs enabling DMs and players to play the game. Content (adventures) can carry a price, but the value of that content should be assigned via a fair market system and not by limiting what DMs can write and share. Edit: I'm downgrading to a C after agreeing with Logopolis... the token export is a must for me. It was very painful to customize my PC for a game and then lose all that work. One of the great strengths of other tools is being able to set up your token so the powers are organized, edited, and displayed the way you want them. If I played online a lot this one issue would be a huge one.
Customer Service A-. Maybe it is because I've worked customer service and understand how hard a job this is to get right organizationally, but I think CS does a fine job given realistic goals. They won't have every answer, and often they have to just pass things on to developers. That's to be expected. They should have a better database so they can improve consistency. Otherwise, works really well for me and seems to be used internally to address errata and clarifications.
Magazines: C-. Content is ok but website is terrible. Lacking any easy way to store/organize/search the articles. Lacking any form of personalization (what is important to me, how do I like organize the info, how about a digital locker or way for me to create collections, how about RSS feeds for me to subscribe to?) Needs better website to make it work, less product placement. Compiled issues were nice, I'm ok with seeing them go--if there are enough digital tools to help me organize the individual articles--otherwise I want them back.
Character Builder: C. I still hear grumblings from my players about it and about people trying to data mine the data to use in the offline CB. My players still tell me the online CB is a downgrade from the offline one. They don't like they layout/interface. I don't either. It is not streamlined, simple, and minimalistic.
Adventure Tools: F. Monster builder lacking the one thing it should have had from the start: an easy way to build classed NPCs (NPCs using class powers...such as an evil Cleric..instead I have to fall back to the rules in the DMG to do this, by hand, rather than a handy digital tool to help). I can reflavor any other published monster in seconds, I don't need a tool for that. What I need is something to help me put together NPCs quickly--they are the thing that is time consuming.
There could be a whole after-market for canned encounter packs, custom/themed monsters, best of's, contests with Dungeon/Dragon, etc, but the tools to do something like this are completely missing from the website. Huge oversight WotC. Huge. Target horribly missed on this one.
Compendium A-. I use this every game. Every single game. Update issues or inaccuracies aside, this is the reason I still pay for DDI. I can find monsters I want to use quickly and print them off for use at the game. No more having to cart multiple monster manuals around. What would make it better? Little more flexibility in search text. Sometimes I do not get the result I'm looking for if I refer to something by a synonym (probably not enough meta-tagging in the data).
Virtual Table: N/A. Haven't used, haven't even seen it. This should have been a 'content licensing' thing--instead of something built in house or with a single 3rd party. Let as many gaming table companies license the content as want to, and may the best solution win. We've seen that WotC is lacking a little in the vision department for digital tools....so why not let people who do digital games/tools for a living help sort it out. Save the time and money developing this and put it into the website/community.
Customer Service N/A. Never called customer service. Hope to never have to.
I'd like to add one more:
Website/General: D-. Things could be much better: more personalization tools and sharing tools could really help bind the community together. The website gives me a migraine every time I come here. It shouldn't feel like a scavenger hunt to find what I want but it does. I'm spammed with far too much product placement for things I do not use: Novels, Gaming nights at hobby stores, product categories that do not interest me, etc.
Personally, I am not interested in certain things...so I should not have to see them. I'd rather find adventures and encounters more quickly--instead of fishing around for them, or spending over an hour trying to figure out why there are no longer compiled issues of dungeon and dragon. A lack of personalization, sharing, and a lack of good web organization is hurting WotC's digital effort...pretty much castrating it.
Magazines: B. I'm pretty happy with the content of the magazines, and I think they're a worthwhile addition to DDI. I did, however, much prefer the compiled format, and I still don't understand why it was stopped. Article searches need to be vastly improved.
Character Builder: C. It does its job, and I actually prefer the new interface over the downloadable version. Unfortunately, Silverlight is a terrible choice of platform. The Character Builder loads very slowly and the range of devices that can it can be used on is very limited.
Adventure Tools: F. Simply awful. The only tool available is a monster builder that only lets you rename and scale monster powers? And even the scaling doesn't work correctly. This should never even have been released.
Compendium: A. Pretty much the only reason I keep my DDI account active. I frequently play online D&D, and the database is extremely useful. I recently found out that the Compendium even has a mobile interface tailored for smartphones, making it useful even for face-to-face games.
Virtual Table: D. The basics work, but the Virtual Table lags well behind in features compared to other competing (and free) products. Import of custom art and export of maps and tokens are a must, as well as numerous usability improvements.
Customer Support: C. They're responsive when it comes to administrative issues, but their responses to rules questions are unreliable and contradictory. I would never rely on or trust a Customer Support response to resolve a rules dispute.
Based on my last interactions with the tools and following discussions, tables of contents, etc. Some uses were longer ago than others (e.g., I haven't used the VT since the first round of testing).
Magazines: D. Light, uninteresting content. Nothing worth resubscribing for.
CB: C. Adequate but no more than that. However, since it doesn't offer anything that I can't do myself in the old CB, it's not compelling.
MB/Adventure Tools: F. No need to really explain this one.
Compendium: C-. Clunky and irritating, although it does do what it claims to - acts as a database of rules stuff. I actually like the new interface less than the old hideous one, which is frightening.
Virtual Table: C-. Basically adequate to the task, but offers little that can't be done elsewhere.
Customer Service: C. They're there, and they answer questions. Average marks.
Magazines: B-. I haven't seen 100% of the content, but I've seen enough in the last two months to know that there have been a number of very solid articles with interesting content, and it's generally been on time. More quantity would improve things, as would compilations of some sort, searchability of PDFs, etc. But it's up to a B- from a D as recently as April, so not bad.
Character Builder: B-. Haven't used it in a couple of months, but it's still missing key features: custom elements, houseruled extra feat/whatever slots, etc. More than 20 characters. Offline functionality (don't need building features; reviewing would be enough). It's possible I'd revise this up or down a fraction of a letter grade if I used it some more, but it wouldn't be much.
Adventure Tools: F. Duh. See that "s" on the end of "Tools"? Yeah. Also, if you look really close at "Monster Builder" you'll see "BUILD" as an operating word.
Compendium: B+. If it was updated more frequently, it'd easily move into the A range. Some bugs and typos are inevitable and don't really bother me. I used it a lot when I subscribed, and I'd still use it a lot of I were still subscribed.
Virtual Table: N/A (no higher than C). As long as it doesn't allow custom map artwork and the import/export of maps and tokens, it can never rise above a C. I don't know what it is right now, but that's an absolute cap when they limit functionality so severely.
Customer Service: B. It looks like people are lumping PR into this, so the rating is based on that combination. Pure customer service, handling problems, I'd give an A. I got a full refund of my year subscription when I was unhappy with the dramatic reduction of services... at the very end of that subscription. Can't complain about that. The public relations side of things, specifically communication, is somewhere around a C+ these days. There have been substantial improvements. It's still not great, but that's probably due to lack of planning ahead on the design side of things. We get a lof of "we're still figuring that out" responses, and I don't really blame the PR people. The C+ is up from a flat F six months ago.
It really is at the point now where a few added features to the CB and the VT would have me resubscribing.
Magazines: C+: Improving. Way too much fluff for my tastes, but I know there are those that love that. Missing all the old favourites like Bazaar of the Bizarre, Pages from the Mages and the king of them all, Dragon's Bestiary. All in all, I tend to find maybe one or two things a month I can use. The rest, I ignore. Personally would love to see less campaign specific fluff - it is really, really useless to me.
Character Builder: C -: Still not that great for me and mine, mainly because it does not allow for any kind of custom items or powers. I run a home brew setting, and there are a lot of things in my games that are not from any D&D releases. As such, it's good for getting the bare bones of a character done, but the sheets end up with a lot of scribbles all over them. It's good to see that a lot of the bugs that drove me and my players insane when it first went online (I still prefer the OCB, despite its bugs and lack of customisation) have been fixed, but still find that it crashes 25% of the time.
Adventure "tools" (UNRATED): Utter failure. Absolutely the worst kind of trash I have yet seen from DDI. Horrible. Seriously, without swearing, I find it hard to express my total hatred for this horrible, horrible, horrible thing. I personally liked the OAT, pre October's "breaker" update, and so was hankering for this. Alas, we got a buggy, incorrect mess of a thing that simply does not cut it. Hate it with an absolute passion. I do my monsters by hand now - easier than trying to work through the tears with the buggy old and pointless new AT. (Did I mention I think it is horrible?)
Compendium A-: I like it. I really do. It gets consulted during my games at least once per session, and despite being a little clunky, does the job nicely. The search could use a bit of a tweak so it doesn't auto- select categories with each search, but yeah, I like it.
Virtual Table (UNRATED): I have not had chance to check it out. It's really not something I need, and to be honest, I am still quite angry that a lot of projects got put on hold to get this pushed out. I pay a subscription too, and feel cheated a little that the stuff I was using got mangled so that this - still beta - thing could get the attention. I will get round to checking it out sooner or later, but it is a massively low priority for me right now - at least until I can play with my non subscriber friends on it.
Customer Service: A: I have always been quite impressed with the customer service, even when the answer has not been what I wanted to hear. As for communication - Hmmm...I still don't think the customers are listened to by the developers, and am vexed by many of the decisions being made about the game. More input would be welcome in both directions.
Magazines: D I used to be an avid reader of the Magazines, both the in-prints before the change and the PDFs. But now I just don't find them interesting enough, there's often so little I can actually use in my games or anything really inspirational, also the hassle of going to the website, downloading the PDF and then reading it on my laptop/iPhone is very frustrating. If it was something I could access quicker I might be more inclined.
Character Builder: B - For me, this is the only thing that keeps my subscription going and the same goes for two of my players. Do I want to see improvement? Of course I do, I want the ability to add custom Powers, Paragon Paths, Themes, Backgrounds. But as it is, this is an invaluable tool for me and my group.
Adventure Tools: C - I use the old downloaded copy of the Adventure Tools simply because I find the new online one far less useful due to a lack of customisation and copy/paste ability. Still I use the old one a fair amount and it does what it needs to.
Compendium: D - I haven't had much experience or need to use the compedium, I use books and my players use me. Again, accessibility is a big problem for me. If there was an iPad/iPhone App that we could use it would likely be far more useful.
Virtual Table: - Sadly I can't comment as I haven't had a chance to try it out yet. I have high hopes for when it does however.
Customer Service: C - I've never had to contact Customer Support with an issue, but I have found the Account Management parts of the website cumbersome and awkward when I've had to cancel/re-sub.
Overall - I keep my subscription ticking over, but I do cancel when my games slow down and we won't play for a month. I use the Character Builder and my downloaded Adventure tools but nothing else is accessible enough to make use of frequently.
Disclaimer up front. My DDI sub expired this past March after about a year and a half.
Magazines: C. I don't have any problem with the content and I never really have. But it's hard to call them magazines anymore. They're not collected as a PDF at the end of the month, they're not in print, they're no different than any other website now. Although I still like a lot of things being put out, it doesn't really impress me like it used to.
Character Builder: C. Still not impressed with the online builder. Character limits, the inability to add in custom content, lack of character sheet choices, and a still messy item section are not good.
Adventure Tools: F. The online Monster Builder is a joke. There's no other way to put it. The offline builder, buggy as it may have been, was such a better tool that it puts the current offering completely to shame. Also, where are the other useful Adventure Tools? Not even an encounter builder is available. Lucky that there are so many third party tools filling that blatant lack.
Compendium: A. Never had a problem with the Compendium, aside from the occasional typo or other error.
Virtual Table: B. I admittedly haven't used it since the early friends and family beta, but even then it was very solid in foundation. Just lacking in options (like full sets of dungeon tiles or images for tokens). I'm told a lot of my concerns have been fixed.
Customer Service: C. I hate to rag on this because I know there are nice guys, good guys, working CS. But the communication (in all facets, not just customer service) from WotC has been pretty poor overall. The debacle with Dark Sun and the character builder last year was the beginning of the end of my DDI sub.
Magazines: C+ I like the idea of quality over quantity. But much of Dragon material right now is errata rather than new stuff.
Character Builder: B+ I understand a lot of the complaints. The things that do work well really work well, though.
Adventure Tools: F I tried using this once. What I really want is something that you can say to Adventure Tools: Here's how many characters there are, here's what level they are, tell me how much XP an at-level encounter should therefore be, and let me add/subtract monsters to make it fit. Then let me print out that encounter. If it could then make some map suggestions, let me place the monsters, then port to Virtual Table that would be crazy useful, but I think the 1st thing is the minimum.
Compendium: A Insanely useful.
Virtual Table: N/A Sigh...hard to rate something that you haven't yet got an invite to...
Customer Service: B I generally think they do a good job. I'd like to see more consistency and more push back questions. Some people are asking home group questions, some people are looking for universal rulings that they then post on the internet. I like that errata is making its way through the system.
Magazines: B- Much improved from 6 months ago, but still not filling in design space as I had hoped. I still feel that I get value from the magazines
Character Builder: B+ In my opinion, it still takes far too long for updates, but at least they're back to a consistent level.
Adventure Tools: D- I rate this higher than most here because I use it almost every adventure-- I print out my monsters from here instead of the compendium, and I like the ability to quickly change monster levels. But it needs A LOT of work and functionality. A LOT.
Compendium: A. Works well; end of story.
Virtual Table: Incomplete. I don't use it, and don't plan to.
Customer Service: C Adequate.
Magazines: Pass. I don't use these often, and when I do, it's bits and pieces. It would be nice to have an index of maps and other assets for re-use in personal adventures and campaigns. Magazine content, which is often poorly balanced compared to rulebooks, tend to spam up the other tools (our group allows only rulebook content for PCs).
Character Builder: D. The old downloadable CB would have earned a B if it were still kept current. If you had to rewrite it, why not HTML(5)/JS so I can use it on mobile devices? Also, all the changes from "rulebook" 4E to "Essentials" are confusing.
Adventure Tools: F. Once again, the old version would earn you a B if you'd kept it going. Customizing powers and being able to copy text into my own adventure prep docs are not optional features.
Compendium: B. It worked, and you didn't *$^% with it. It has a number of annoyances and UI issues, but it can be dealt with. I would like to see better filtering options by setting and source - i.e. only rule books and ideally only a given setting (base, eberron, dark sun, etc), and I would like to see the layout work better on mobile devices.
Virtual Table: F. This should not be taking resources from CB and AT. That's not "I don't want VT therefore its a waste", but it should be a lower priority compared to in-person tabletop play, and the other tools are in far too much need of work.
Customer Service. N/A
Overall: D. The compendium is still a useful tool, but everything else is really disappointing, which is really frustrating, because it started out better and has so much potential.
Magazines: they went from an A to a C-. Recycled articles from past, and less content is the reason.
Character Builder: Went from an A to a D. The reason. Reduced functionality. Updates that keep getting delayed. False expectations based on what WoTC tells us, not what we think they mean. Being told that the online can be updated anytime, only to find out while that is technically true, it's not really possible because they same system they have been using that only allows them to update on one day a week. Features they keep telling us are coming, never appear.
Adventure Tools: F because there is only one tool.
Monster Builder: From a B to a big fat F. It's been over a year since there has been a functioning MB like the offline one. And again, its been 2 months since they hinted that some were going to be turned on. Hasn't happened.
Compendium: B. I don't use it much, but when I do it works fine enough. There are issues with it that prevent it from getting an A.
Virtual Table: C and seems like it's going to stay a C.
Customer Service: They have always had bad customer service, D.
So, over all, They started off around a B+, and now are around a D-.
Magazines: D - They are not magazines. They're blog posts, or regular articles or something like that. But instead of being published in HTML on the web like everything else, they're three page PDFs that are not a good aspect ratio for reading on a Kindle DX, an iPad, or a laptop screen. They should be delivered in a format that's easy and convenient to read, not stuck behind a twitchy paywall in a format that requires hoops just to read unpleasantly.
Adventure Tools: D - The best ones are the ones that do nearly nothing. The monster builder is just too hard to use. It's confusing. The new version and the old version were equally confusing.
The quality has seemed to be increasing over the past few months, but the lack of compiled issues is still annoying.
Character Builder: D-
Adequate, but the total lack of customization is frustrating. The only thing it has going for it over the old offline builder, even now, is an up-to-date data set, which does little-to-nothing to offset the functionality it's still lacking now, roughly 10 months later. Plus the reliance on Silverlight means that the number of supported systems went from 1 to 2.
Adventure Tool(s): F
I still use the offline Monster Builder (running it in vmware on my Mac) and will create monsters using the data from the Compendium in that rather than use the online tool. It occurs to me that because of that, I haven't even bothered to launch the online Adventure Tools in, perhaps, months.
Could use some improvements (things that immediately come to mind are Item Set data & searchability, and a better way to do a "show all" when applying a filter to an empty search - I've gotten inconsistent behavior). This is the one piece of DDI that I use the most.
Virtual Table: I
No access, so I can't grade it.
Customer Service: B+
It's a difficult and thankless job, and they're probably doing the best they can.
Magazines: B Never a fan of tons of mechanical content (for dragon). The increase in "fluff" and other non super powerz content has improved the magazines in my eyes. Plus the change in adventure formating could be for the better. No compiled issue drops this from a possible A.
Character Builder: C OK. Needs an offline version (yeah, I know) and better support for homebrew materials.
Adventure Tools: F Failure so far. Down from the original release of the offline monster builder which I loved - I'd give that an A!.
Compendium: C Useful, but use has been curtailed by WOTC blocking Masterplan.
Virtual Table: B Ok. But of no use to me until available to non DDI users.
Customer Service: C The few times I've contacted them they've been ok...
Total GPA: 2.0 Not great. And the sad thing is I LOVE 4e. This makes me sad.
Improved in the last couple months after a dip. Hard to find specific items in back issues, though.
Character Builder: B+
It's come a long, long way from launch, and its deserved mixed reception. Any capability for customization would be nice. It's got houserule flags, but no way to add them unless you remove a prereq or something. Houseruled (if only "free bonus") feat, houseruled power (where you type in things like ability modifier for an attack, and dice roll formats like exist in the VT) that are incoporated into power cards would be ideal and get you to a solid A. Note that at this point, it is factually inaccurate to say that the online version is worse than the offline version on a functional level. It may have been at the start, but it has seen quite a lot of improvement.
Adventure Tools: I
I for Incomplete. Things I hope would be there aren't, and those that are appear to be not even finished.
Good enough so that it gets my subscription fee all by itself, though the CB is nipping at its heels. Would be really nice if it had a little more QA time devoted toward making sure it agrees with the latest rule updates. If it were the authoritative, go-to source for game element rules, it'd be A+ material.
Virtual Table: B+
Good product, does exactly what I want it to do. A few minor tweaks needed as it grows out of beta, but a solid offering even as is. Dramatic contrast to Adventure Tools, also allegedly in beta.
Does what it needs to do regarding actual customer service. Universally regarded as worse than useless, however, in rules questions by the Rules Q&A board. Getting contardictory answers is trivially easy, and almost nothing they say is taken seriously without another source backing it up. Could use work, but I'm not really sure that's what CustServ is for. Might be worth splitting it off from the people who handle actual CustServ, and have a dedicated rules question staff, but that's a question of your resources.
Magazines: C - Ditto with everyone else about having a more convenient way to get all of the content, searchable downloads etc would be amazingly useful and could bump the grade up significantly.
Character Builder: C - Needs the ability to disable Essentials content for those of us who aren't allowed the new content in our campaigns, and of course the houseruling stuff that everyone has already mentioned. Also, HATE the character sheet designs, want the old one from oCB back!
Adventure Tools: F As has already been mentioned, Masterplan (at least, the older version I have) is definitely a better overall campaign-planning tool, but its usefulness was severely curtailed by WoTC's C&D. If you're going to lawyer up and keep us from using a 3rd party tool that worked (AND required a DDI subscription to be useful), then you need to come up with a similar featureset. OMB was/is great, if a little buggy: I still use it when I need to tweak old monsters, and if I have a monster I need I create it in there and then tweak it.
Compendium: B+ - still useful, and I can get to it (when the stars are right) on my iPhone... not perfect but could be so much worse.
Virtual Table: N/A
Customer Service: B+ - haven't needed them much but they have always been efficient and helpful.
Magazines: C- Better than the D they got last semester. Content has improved. The failure to turn in compiled issues was an easy assignment that WotC didn't bother to do
Character Builder: B- Much improved from a few months ago. Still not cusomizable enough. Needs to learn that most of its customers are smart geeks that don't need their hand held when dealing with a computer program and when it tries to hand hold like with the "choose for me" options it usually fails anyways. Things like the 20 character limit, lack of ability to change settings post character creation, and printing issues are also holding it back.
Adventure Tools: D- These are just not very good. Monster builder does not do what it could do.
Compendium: A- Excellent. Would be an A+ if it had more complete entries (paladin entry still lacks what Channel Dinivity powers Paladins get for instance) and more customization in searches to reduce false positives.
Virtual Table: B+ Only way I get to play 4E most of the time at this point and I have enjoyed it every time I have used it with few frustations. Mainly needs a few tweaks for DMs to set up better maps and to be better at things like autocalculating brutal damage. If a power is usuable in a common circumstance with bonuses that should calculated whenever possible. A character having a power that is usuable on charge should have a seperate roll for a power already available that adds the +2 to hit with charges, bonus damage from spear expertise etc.
Customer Service: B Good at dealing with complaints from what I have heard, but the actual buying and renewel process has been a headache for a long time.
Total GPA: 2.5
Over next semester they need to be working to integrate these products into more non-PC/laptop devices: smartphones, Ipads, kindles etc.
If not for the adventure tools and magazine problems it would be a solid B average.
Magazines: C Archives are nice but the material needs improvement, Especially Dungeon, I should be able to grab an adventure for any level and any setting.
Character Builder: B The quick Essentials build is fantastic but the custom still needs some usablity improvements and when a print book launches the content should be there.
Adventure Tools: D If I want to do anything but level a monster up or down its pretty worthless.
Compendium: B Good resource, easy to search but... hard to browse if I'm not entirely sure what I am looking for.
Virtual Table: NA Not part of the beta, never plan to use it.
Customer Service: NA Never used it
Total Grade: C+
Ha ha, oh dear. Now I shall say bad things. Sorry.
Magazines shall be held to the end.
Character Builder: -A So, the character builder is, probably, the best thing they've managed to do. It's ALMOST as useful as a paper character sheet. But not quite.
Adventure Tools: D Unsatisfactory work. A> Tools implies multiple things, not one, and B> as others have said, the one tool is crap. I mean really crap. It's worse than nothing, it's actively harmful to the process of creating monsters. Sorry.
Compendium: D Now, it's been a while since I've used it, BUT, my experience has been that it's poorly organized, the search function is crap, and it's full of typos and error. Like the last three books I've bought from you guys!
Virtual Tabletop: Duke Nuckem Forever, by which I mean F, since it took forever to come out, and doesn't live up to the promises made.
Customer Service: -B I've never had any problems with Customer service, nor have they ever been rude. But they've never been really exceptional in any way either.
Magazines: 0 The "magazines" get a Zero. This is not just a failing score. This is a failing score that indicates that they did not actually attempt the coarse work. This is not the grade you get for doing bad work, this is the grade you get for refusing to turn in anything.
When you, as a company, decided to go to online publication in PDF format for the Magazine, THAT WAS FINE.
When you, as a company, decided that Proof-reading, Playtesting, Deadlines, and Quality were optional since it was just Blagging on the Inter-Webz, When you decided that the "Magazines" should just be a test bed for your half formed abortions of mechanics beta testing, When you decided that things like Flavor Articles, Original Fiction, and "Fluff" was stupid and uneccesary, you not only killed the magazines, your desecrated their corpses.
Final Grade: D (1.5)
Next time, I'll grade you on the quality of your PRINT releases since the inception of 4E. But I warn you, I won't be quite this nice.
Magazines: C+: Improving. Monsters are toughening up, adventures are leaving the tactical format. The slow down in crunch is a good thing but it also requires a reduction in value. Fluff is the only keeping this grade from depleting further. Still waiting on some decent epic support with the monster vault style monsters. Running my 3rd epic level campaign and 3rd party companies (critical hits for example) is the only people paving this road. Also I know cartography is not cheap, I understand a budget, I understand marketing dungeon tiles. However, I can figure out how to use my tiles. I know the number of combinations that can be made with every tile I own. I don't need to pay for you to show me how to do this. What I do need is cartography that inspires me with new setting and terrain areas. I can print a map. I pay for ddi to save me time with new ideas that challenge my assumptions. If that isn't what your going to sell, I don't need to buy.
Character Builder: C -: Still not that great for me and mine, mainly because it does not allow for any kind of custom items or powers. I run a home brew setting, and there are a lot of things in my games that are not from any D&D releases. As such, it's good for getting the bare bones of a character done, but the sheets end up with a lot of scribbles all over them. It's good to see that a lot of the bugs that drove me and my players insane when it first went online are gone. In addition the old cb was more of a rent to own and this is to much of a pay by the day service. I realize this is the business model the world is going to but it still chaps my fire drake riding hide. I appreciate Mac support and the need for ip protection, but I want value for money. A PDF has value. Access to a tool that is gone when wotc moves on or when I part ways with the design philosophy has no value for my expenses.
Adventure "tools - F worst tool yet and getting worse on-line. So many good 3rd party tools to see how to do it right. Tsk tsk
Compendium B-: I like it. I really do, but it is getting more unreliable. Try doing a search for vampires. Kas doesn't show up and tam does. I want vamps not liches. The number of errors and missing items, creatures etc continues to grow. You have to search check it against your books and all the update PDF to ensure accurate info. Bleh
Virtual Table (UNRATED): I have not had a chance to check it out. It's really not something I need. I have no desire to join an mmo nor participate in microtransactions to purchase tokens etc. For use with d&d.
Customer Service: A: Yep I like these guys. despite all your bs over communication these guys hold it together. If your vision and service were as reliable as these lads I would be using the tools to do my campaign work instead of writing this.
As final note Chris Perkins is single handily keeping me about. Between his pax awesomeness dm'ing and his weekly article... I canceled my auto renew and just waiting for the expiration. Mean time waiting to see where 4e goes and what you gents do to dazzle me. Cheers!
Magazines: F+ These have been in the toilet for a long time. It has been getting slightly better, but that is only after it has managed to hit rock bottom in terms of quality so it might just be leveling off because that level of bad can't be maintained. There is not enough material in them, and what material is there is generally pretty useless except for the random one or two articles per month that might have a single item or feat I'm interested in.
Character Builder: C- Still not as good as the offline one, and really I have no expectations of it ever catching up.
Adventure Tools: I Haven't really used it.
Compendium: A Useful.
Virtual Table: C- In my experience it isn't bad, but it isn't any better than free alternatives. Really not worth it all when I can get the same stuff free.
Customer Service: I Eh, I haven't really dealt with them too much.
Magazines: B, improved from C last month. The quality is certainly improving, but it's still held back by material that is only tangentially relevant to the game (confessions) and submission guidelines that still are vague as to what kinds of material the editors want to publish.
Character Buikder: D. It's mostly functional, but I find it troubling that due to Silverlight and other issues, this online CB that was supposedly replacing the offline one because it works with mobile devices is slow as dirt on my netbook compared to OCB and doesn't work at all on my iPad. Getting something that works on a tablet device would instantly improve this grade to a B.
Adventure Tools: F. An utter, utter failure. As an LFR author and editor, this tool, which is designed to make modifying and leveling monsters easier, has actually caused more work for me. It doesn't have the functions it needs, and the functions it does have work in a manner that is not consistent with the rules (where does it say that monsters get stat bumps at 11th and 21st? Where is it getting the guidelines for increasing resistances, vulnerabilities, and static damage?). This tool would be more helpful if it vanished tomorrow,
Compendium: B+. This is a really, really useful tool. However, it needs support for set item text and artifact Concordance (or at least clearly labeling artifacts as such when the item is found under its other categories).
Virtual Table: I. I haven't been able to get a game going on it yet, but I find its interface confusing as I try to use it to organize an adventure.
Customer Service: B. They need to split Customer Service into a general CS department and a rules department, with the rules department having better communication and research for their answers. I've seen inconsistent or illogical CS responses grind LFR tables to a halt because the DM wasn't a strong enough personality to just make a ruling and go,
Magazines: B - I really enjoy the content. The grade lower than an A indicates the gap of about four months there where the content wasn't showing up on time, was of poor quality and lacked value. I am disappointed with DDI in general's gradual decline of accountability in that initially we received a content calendar for the month that gave us all a sense of where each magazine was going and when we could expect each article. Now we receive fewer articles than the print versions from years back and the content calendar is essentially updated only weekly
Compendium: C its not that this isn't functional, but rather I just don't use it consistently. This thread has actually convinced me to try it again based on the positive grades. I am giving it an average score since I haven't used it consistently for months but when I did it worked fine. I am looking forward to trying this out again.
Character Builder: B- I don't mind the online CB. I like its layout, deal with its mostly functional features and it does most of what I want it to do. I have a real problem with the inability to filter the books that I don't want available in my campaign and the simply dreadful character sheet. Ten players in my group plus me DMing and not a single person needs or wants that sheet. Since day one of its launch, complaints have been logged about the layout of that sheet and since the offline sheet was infinitely better and already developed, how hard is it really to give us that option when printing? In terms of all the bugs, I have rarely had a problem and many of the quirky things they fix every month haven't effected my group.
Customer Service: N/A never called or emailed
Virtual Table: N/A never participated but would like to. Not sure I love the sound of it from this thread that your subscription to DDI doesn't allow full use of the system?? Do you also have to spend money when using the VT to get add ons?
Adventure Tools: F How can it be anything else. I almost graded it a D, because I have used it in the past to quickly reference a monster from a source I couldn't locate quickly and printed. Then I realized that isn't its purpose so I downgraded to the grade it deserves. First of all, it was supposed to include more than simply a MB. In and of itself, that gives it a failing mark. There are so many more tools a DM needs to build an adventure. The MB itself is disgusting, unsupported and doesn't do what it was promised! The scaling of monsters is crap and you can't customize and BUILD a monster. Interesting the tool is called Monster BUILDER.
"your subscription to DDI doesn't allow full use of the system" is actually correct, in that it's still in beta and you have to get invited to use it (which not all DDI subscribers have done). Correct result, incorrect conclusion as to the reason for it.
Magazines C : This grade reflects some recent improvement in the amount of content, the timeliness of delivery and the quality of the content. Both publications are a long way from where they should be and without monthly compilations this will never be more than a B for me.
Compendium B+ : This largely does what it should and as such is an extremely useful tool. The search engine still needs a few minor issues ironed out but overall this is a good tool.
Character Builder B : Whilst I wasn't keen on the switch to the online tool, I like it and it largely does what I need it to do. I know there are still bugs but I have never come across any catastrophic ones although occasionally, it kicks me out while loading which can be frustrating. The character limit also needs raising from my point of view. I know there was a commitment to review the need for this but not sure how this was going to work. Given we all know the limit and will only save that many characters as a maximum, market research using the builder itself will be difficult.
Customer Service B- : My experience of CS has been limited to e-mails and has varied somewhat. Refunds for the delays at the end of last year were dealt with promptly but clearly the remit of CS is limited as no refunds can be given for the decline in content since the current sub price was set. I assume this is due more to directives from WotC/Habro than the individuals themselves. Response generally is prompt and polite although there should be a system that detects I posted a message while logged into my account to save a follow up e-mail where I have to confirm my details.
Adventure Tools E : The new monster builder is utterly appalling with little or no functionality. I never use it and consider this one of the big declines in service that has left me paying the same money for less functionality. Given that prices were hiked to pay for the old Adventure Tools package, they should be reduced while the new one is brought up to the same level of functionality. Very, very poor.
Virtual Table C+ : I am in two minds about the VT. On the plus side, it integrates with other DDI content (PC and monster import) but on the flip side its features are somewhat limited if compared to most third party tools available. At launch, these limitations were acceptable as I expected to see relatively rapid development (and indeed re-subscribed for this) but the pace of improvement has been glacial. This has been my major disappointment this year but the VT remains a somewhat useful tool. I also understand the difficulty that WotC finds itself in with regard to tiles, maps and tokens. On the one hand, if they allow import of images, maps and tokens then their books will be scanned and used for free alongside the homemade maps and tokens that everyone wants to import. On the other hand, restricting the VT to tiles, maps and tokens that can only be bought on the WotC site will somewhat limit its flexibility. It's a tough one so no wonder they are taking a while to talk it over. Overall, though, the VT is a useful tool with a great deal of potential.
Here is my take...
Magazines: C- This is a hefty imporvment from just a few months ago. Honestly, the return of Eberron contnet alone brough this one up from the D level.
Compendium: B+ I use the compendium quite a bit, and usually find it very useful, espcially since they added fantastic terrain. Searching can be a bit of a chore at times, but foregivable.
Character Builder: C- This is a hard won C-, and a steady improvement from the F it had a release. It is functional (mostly), but not terribly sexy. The builder would get better marks from me if there were better search options.
Customer Service: C The communcitions eems to have improved, but it's nothing to write home about. I can say the the level of service we see would be considered unnacceptable at my company, but we strive to wow our customers with every interaction to keep an edge on the competition. In the gaming world the options are fewer, and the product is usually pretty distict, so the service aspect may be considered of lesser import (IMHO it is just as important though).
Adventure Tools: F- Part of the reason that the Compenduium has gotten such high marks is that it has become my go-to tool for building adventures... that and the classic mosnter builder, which I have now added most of the monster vault creatures to. At relase, the online CB got an F+ (at least it was kinda pretty), this abomination is a hate crime against D&D fans. It is autterly useless to me with its inability to a) create new monsters, b) edit existing monsters- aside from levels and class name - which is particualy unforgivable given that the damage expressions are so different now, and c) copy as text to add to my notes, or even print multiples on a page. Again, to use my own company as a comparrison point--if our free online product was even half this bad, everyone asscoiated with it would have lost their jobs immediately.
Game Table: D I do not personally have an investment in this as I play face to face and have no real desire to do otherwise. If this were the 3D tool presented at Gen Con so long ago, I would have gladdly pacted away all my minis and dwarven forge and moved to a digital at game at the table, but ala that ship has sailed. I have looked at it and find it to be pretty lackluster, frankly no better than other offerings that are either free or have a one-time cost.
Overall GPA: 1.6 (C-)... academic probation where I weent to school.
the themes release has been spectacular, however i would like to go back to dragon 386 with the huge amounts of PC content
Character Builder: D
i hardly use it i write up myself most of the time i use it to track things sometimes
Adventure Tools: D
i cant use it to paste to a word document, so i still use the old one
has had everything ive looked for thus far and has yet to fail me
Virtual Table: B
Pretty good, i dont see myself putting it to regular use though although the times i used it was fun.
Customer Service A
each time i sent in a question i got an answer within a few hours, they have posted news and updates and have told us why something has not come out, so i like how they have treated me.
overall 2.33, they need to make the tools better simple.
Can I just say, I have no idea how to work out a Grade Point Average. It's not done in UK schools, at least not when I was there and my daughter is not there yet, but I see it a lot in US movies.
Anyone care to explain or work it out for the grades I gave above?
I think that should work pretty well. It may be also of interest, especially since WotC will see the results, to note the number of each. There is a difference between a lot of As and a lot of Fs (showing a difference of opinions) and everyone giving it a C (showing consistency). I see a fair amount of consistency for adventure tools, some swing in the magazines, and variance with CB and compendium.
Character Builder: D
Adventure Tools: D
Virtual Table: C
If the character builder and monster builder (aka Adventure Tools) were still offline versions and still being updated I'd give them both A's.
Many of the DDI improvements of the last year have consisted of removing useful features and calling it an upgrade. Bad.
There is usually one article at the minimum that catches the interested of one or more players at my table. However the format still needs work. Especially how difficult it is to read from a smart phone. You should be embracing new technology. Switching from compling the articles and instead releasing individual articles was an strange decision. Why not offer both options?
Dragon C+ I have noticed a distinct improvement in the quality of the articles in recent months. At least the articles that my DM has shared with me (themes), as I let my subscription lapse at the beginning of the year. I wish for more Unearthed Arcana articles.
Dungeon D. Mediocre adventures outstrip the great ones. Badly written skill challenges after you went to the trouble to improve them. Why is it you can publish great modules like the Slaying Stone but your online offerings are so poor? I must say that the Chaos Scar was a noted improvement over the Scales of War. I've heard nothing but great things about Going Ape. I liked the Design & Development articles, it was a good way to understand WTF is going on.
Character Builder: C. This is one of the reasons I let my subscription lapse. On the one hand its more accessible across platforms which is good. On the other hand its slow to load, awkward to use, and difficult to learn when compared with the offline version. Further the online version removed features that the offline version had. And rather than support both, at least until the online version reached a level of functionality equal to the offline version, you simply discontinued access to the offline CB.
Lastly, you used to have a CB demo that allowed the creation of 1st level characters (possibly 1-3rd, I forget) was what originally sold me on paying for the DDI in the first place. No longer. Removing features is not an upgrade, its a downgrade and I don't like to pay for downgrades to my service.
Note: It doesn't help that if I wanted to, I could download new fan created updates for the old offline CB that far outstrip the quality of what I get when I play for the DDI.
Adventure Tools: F. Your upgrade to the Monster Builder made it impossible to build or customize monsters. This is why I let my subscription lapse. I mostly used the DDI to eliminate prep time, and removing features is a terrible direction to go. The fact that you only have one tool, and it doesn't work = Failure. You used to have a free to use Encounter Builder. No longer.
Compendium: B. This is the only thing I regularly miss from my subscription because it was very useful. I would resub if you offered just the compendium at a discount. In fact, I often wished you had tiered subscription packages. If it worked on a smartphone, I'd give you an A.
Virtual Table: ??. Wasn't invited, but I've heard a mixture of reports and don't know what to believe.
Customer Service: B. All the dealings I've had with your customer service, have been better than average to great. Your PR however is all over the board. The DM hotline from a few years back was a great boost to your PR image (I got some great advice from Rodney Thompson, and it convinced me to resub for a year), the Essentials confusion continues to be a black eye when even now retailers don't know what Essentials is.
I want to subscribe to the DDI, its just not worth it in its current form. Two years ago it was a must have. Now it hardly has anything of use or interest to me. What I wish for are usable adventure tools and added features to the CB. I also enjoyed Chris Perkins DM articles, I enjoyed Mike Mearls Skill Challenge collumn, and Shelly Mazzanoble's humor collumn was a joy to read but its not enough to keep me coming back in the face of all the other flaws. They are value added. I would resub for some more Iomandra content, like maybe some a Dragon players guide to Iomandra, and some Dungeon intro adventures.
Keeping in mind that I let my subscription lapse a while back, but have been actively following the changes:
Magazines: C. I would have given them a B before compiled issues were shut down. It's the compilation into one volume that makes something a magazine. Still, I always enjoyed reading the background articles and have used many of the adventures from Dungeon. The new rules material, on the other hand, tends to bog down my game; I could do without.
Character Builder: F, down from B a year ago. The shift to an online format was a total deal breaker for me. I know I am the customer they were aiming for with this switch; I updated DDI two or three times a year; on the other hand, I bought all the books and didn't share my installs. Now I don't update DDI at all and I honestly haven't bought any new books since last December, and a lot of that has to do with feeling cheated by the online CB.
Adventure Tools: D. Not awful, but definitely not intuitive either. I've used it to build and level NPCs but it never quite seems like it's worth the time and frustration.
Compendium: B. It's really useful...but I never really used it. Strange.
Virtual Tabletop: F. Now, I've never actually seen it, mind, but considering it was supposed to launch with 4e way back in 08, and was one of the reasons I first subscribed to DDI (the vain, forgotten hope that it might launch next month), I've got to give it a failing grade.
Customer Service:A Never had anything to complain about, and when I've needed something addressed, it was done.
I would resubscribe if the CB went back offline, the mags were released in compiled form every month, and I could be guaranteed a usable VT. I'd also like to see some improvements in the adventure tools. It doesn't look like these things will be happening anytime soon, so I'll be writing up my characters by hand and making do with my back issues for the foreseeable future.
Magazines: D There is very little content in the magazines. On top of that splitting the articles into separate downloads isn't necessary and is annoying. It doesn't make any sense to chop up the content of what is supposed to be a magazine like that, and it ends up feeling more like reading a blog with a really bad layout/content delivery system than it does a magazine.
Character Builder: A It does what it claims and it does it pretty well. I haven't had any problems or difficulties with it beyond it occasionally being a little slow or laggy. The interface is nice too. The power card sheets are my favorite feature, they're really handy for keeping track of things. My biggest complaint is that it's online only, making it of little use to my group. Since I realize most groups probably aren't in rural areas with limited or no internet access like mine is I didn't factor that complain into the score, but even a semi-offline builder that required a login once a month to reactivate would be nice for those of us that have internet access at home but don't have net access where we play.
Adventure Tools/Monster Builder: F There is only one tool in the Adventure Tools and that tool, the Monster Builder, doesn't build monsters. Releveling monsters is of little use compared to a working, full-fledged monster builder. This isn't even close to complete and it shouldn't have been released in this state, even with the label of Beta. Again, this would be far more useful in an offline or semi-offline program like the old builder. The primary use I'd have for it is quickly building monsters for unanticipated encounters as a result of my group going a different way than I'd planned and since the tool is restricted online only, I can't use it for that. Like before I didn't factor this into the score, not that it would have changed it any.
Compendium: B The Compendium is pretty handy. I've got a lot of use out of it so far and my only complaint keeping it from being an A is that the UI is clunky. Also, visually it looks like a beta compared to the more colorful approach of the other tools, but that doesn't have any bearing on the functionality of the tool. It's the next best thing to making digital copies of the books available.
Virtual Table: N/A I'm not in the beta. From what I know about it there are better alternatives out there for a virtual gametable experience.
Customer Service: N/A I haven't needed customer service yet, so I have no comment.
Overall: C It does some things well, some things poorly, and some things it claims to do it just doesn't do at all. Overall I've got some use out of it, but I'm not excited for the future of the service. Right now, unless something drastically changes, I don't think I'll be resubscribing again once my current subscription runs out.
I would absolutely be motivated to continue subscribing as long as the service is offered if the tools had offline or semi-offline versions released. Currently I'm glad I subscribed to see what the service is like but I feel that in the future my money will be better spent on books since I can actually use them at the table unlike the current set of tools.
Just renewed my subscription, and I'd like to know why the online version of monster builder is less useful than the old, downloadable version! Good thing I still have the old, installable version, because I have absolutely zero use for the online version.
You're letting me down, Wizards of the Coast. WAY down. As in, "I have almost zero respect for you" down. I like the things you print, but why is your D&D Insider content years late, and $70 dollars short?
I probably shouldn't even bother posting this, but I'm a hopeless romantic when it comes to D&D: I just want the game I love to work in the modern world.
But, alas, I let my DDI subscription expire and swore off purchases from Wizards due to some of the items below:
Magazines: C before the change to uncompiled at the beginning of this year. After that, completely useless, an F. I wanted and paid for a magazine, not a randomized collection of articles.
Character Builder: F The online-only version is completely unacceptable. As is a 20-character limit. Since it was the big reason I subscribed in the first place, once they destroyed the old version and replaced it with something useless to my gaming group, well ....
Adventure Tools: F I have not used them since they first came out, but they were useless then (worse than useless, actually -- they were actually a hindrance to gaming) and do not seem to have improved since (judging from other people's comments).
Compendium: C It seems like it should be useful, but I can't figure out what it offers. If it's just an encyclopedia, it's terrible. But, some people seem to think it is useful. I never found any use for either version.
Virtual Table: n/a Have never used. Wizards lied to me far too many times for me to waste more money on their vaporware. It seems to be useful to some now, but they never gave me a chance to try it; their treatment of their customers sealed their fate in my book long before the VT ever made it to the field.
Customer Service: B The "help desk" is quite good. However, you have to be using something that's "approved" to get service. Once they dropped service for the working Character Builder, they naturally dropped to an D (but that wasn't the help desk's problem; it's a management decision, apparently). Further, they're official company communication simply cannot be believed at all, which rates an F. So, overall I'm giving this a D.
Total GPA: 0.7 Failing, plus an incomplete due to the "teacher" being AWoL. Sad, but after more than 30 years playing the game, I guess it had to end somewhere.
Might as well get in on the action
Magazines: B I've seen a lot of improvement over the last three months, I hope the trend continues. It drops to a C if WOTC is paying for those comics to be produced.
Character Builder: D If I spent 10 months producing a program that had severely reduced functionality over an older version, I'd be fired. Aesthetically it's far better, which is why it's not an 'F' - but the older version is more flexible, updated by volunteers more frequently than WOTC's paid staff, and actually does what I need it to do.
Adventure Tools: F Need to use third party tools to scale monsters, or do it by hand. Thank god you guys linked power2ool or I'd be screwed.
Compendium: B The only reason WOTC still has my subscription.
Virtual Table: N/A Don't need it, haven't signed up.
Customer Service: C Never needed to contact you guys directly, but every post from the officials on the forum sounds like PR people desperately trying to wrangle information from important people. Everything from the D&Di announcements (which are frequently broken, and apparently there's nothing MaximumHavoc can do about it) to the posts in this forum (frequently posting things that are never delivered or spoken about again) suggests that there is either no communication or the public's opinion is irrelevant. Also, "playtests" = hours and thousands of great ideas and suggestions on behalf of playtesters who know far more about the game than any of the playtesting staff (or me) which are dumbed down to simple and superficial fixes.
Magazine: B - Has been improving with the last few months, I just want more.
Character Builder: B - It does what it needs to do, and does it well. If more homebrew options were available then it would be fully an A, custom photos/character sheets would be nice but can wait till after the functionality is complete.
Adventure Tools: D - Currently I get no use from this, usually I just look stuff up in the compendium, then modify it as I need to.
Compendium: A - Overall the driving force of my subscription, just to be able to find information without having to sift through all of the books. A central location for all the data.
Virtual Table: C - Personally my group uses MapTools, and its been a long time since i played with this, but as a community for online games this is the best I've seen. The actual table itself still needs improvement in customization or more images for use.
Customer Service: ? - I don't know I haven't used it in a while, and the forums do nothing but flame it constantly. So seems like this needs some form of a restart before it can actually get a grade. Which brings me to new one
Community: F - These forums are the most hostile, and vile community I visit. I wish I could stop, but I find these forums have the best interface to actually find what I'm looking for. The real difficulty is not getting irritated with the community before I find what I want.
Heh agreed on the community, nightwalker. There are plenty of individuals who are pleasant enough, but there's definitely a critical mass of hostility and arrogance on here that makes it awfully unpleasant a lot of the time.
I'll have to respectfully disagree with that, Jharii. Like Nightwalker and LlamasNotsheep, I see lots of arrogance and unpleasantness on these forums as well. I don't think they were taking potshots, though, but would actually like to see the tone improve. If we don't point out the unpleasantness, it won't change and things won't improve. The other options are to ignore it and continue to put up with it, or walk away and allow it to degenerate further, as when pleasant people leave, only the trolls will remain.
I do agree that it's off-topic and beyond the scope of what the DDI team can address. My apologies for the diversion.
To the OP, a really great idea for a thread which might actually attract some attention.
Magazines: C- I'm one who really, really dislikes using the term "magazine" any longer, and also one who reads all content on my iPad. Odd, poor decision on compilation. Still, some of the bits of I've read over the last year or so have been cool.
Character Builder: C To many it's unfair, but I don't see how you can rate the current without considering the former. The new builder should be at least on par with the original by now, but at least they've made it a usable tool.
Adventure Tools: F Useless at this point, in my opinion.
Compendium: A The one shining star for me, and works at the game table when I DM on my iPad, which I love as it allows me electronics without getting in the way.
Virtual Table: I Giving it an incomplete partly because it was a purchased product and I'm surprised it's still in beta, and also because I only messed with it briefly before any of the integration. The potential is certainly there, but they do seem behind the curve.
Customer Service: C- Knocking them down slightly here due to lack of meaningful communication over the years - and I've been with this since the beginning. From the exhuberant overpromising, to the overly tight lipped "now we aren't going to say anything", to the occasional condescension of late, it's very disappointing.
Thanks again OP for the chance to grade the product. To sum up my overall feelings about the product - this averages an C, whereas I would have given them a B average two years ago. Come on guys, you can do better. Please stop worrying so much about DRM/piracy risks, and instead give your customer base the tools they are asking and paying for.
Magazines: B+ I think they are doing a great job with the magazines. Probably still too much crunch for my taste and thus a slightly lower grade as a result. IMHO the only crunch at this late stage in the edition should be updates to Essentials style for existing classes and "filling the gaps" of some of the less developed classes (Runepriest, et al.).
Character Builder: B I am one of those people who was glad for the move to online tools. The CB as the flagship for this direction change is a solid program. I would give a higher grade when more customization is available. Tops on my list of improvements is custom editors for items, feats and powers as well as a way for DMs to "keep an eye" on their player's characters across DDi accounts.
Adventure Tools: C- This grade will greatly improve I am sure when additonal features are "turned on." This grade would be much lower if the classic MB were not still available.
Compendium: A- Probably the most solid part of DDi, but not something I personally use much. Occasionally used at the table from time to time to clear up monster entry changes from printed material in the HPE adventure path of published modules and the current versions of those monsters.
Virtual Table: B+ Mainly for effort. This is not something I will probably ever use, unless it can be used for making and exporting maps for table top play. Still I am glad that WotC has decided to deliver on one of the promised applications from 4e launch.
Customer Service: A Communication has greatly improved. While they can improve it more for a perfact score, I understand their desire to keep some things close to their vest.
Total GPA: 3.1 Solid B. Not bad and certainly better than what other companies are offering for their game systems (are they even offering anything?), but there is certainly room for improvement to make DDi into something that will wow existing customers and drawn new ones.
I know I'm kinda late, but ...
Magazines: B for Dungeon, D for Dragon. Dragon has a good two month run until last month's return to dismal form.
Character Builder: C-. 20 character limit, still? Same old "superior Ki Focus doesn't work" bugs? Now my warlord isn't proficient in shields? Seriously?
Adventure Tools: F. Please.
Virtual Table: D. Shows promise, but last I checked I still only had one tile set.
Compendium: A. It's a web page in front of a database, but at least it knows that's what it is, and has no stupid restrictions on top of it.
Customer Service: C. Still no feeling anyone there sees the problems.
Overall: D. Good thing for them the value proposition means that each customer only has to really like one or two elements.
Post Your Reply
Please login to post a reply.