Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fail. Fail and Double Fail

Argh!  I fucking hate it when somebody proves me wrong!  I have defended ye olde WotC and their Character Builder tools in the past.  Even going so far as to say that I think it's one of the best deals in gaming today, and a wonderful and innovative way to distribute RPG as a software.

But they have, in their infinite wisdom, decided to take all the things I really liked about Character Builder and turf them.  Bravo, Wizards.  Bravo.

Offline access?  Turfed.

Multiple updates for my gaming group?  TURFED.

Ability to stay current without an ongoing subscription?  TURFED.

Reasons to subscribe to DDi?  TUR-Fucking-ERFED.

Wizards... I don't want to be this guy.  I've stood up for you in bloody (blistered?) flamewars for several years.  I like 4e.  I love the tools.  But, there comes a time when a man cannot be kicked in the nuts and smile about it any longer.

And the worst, the very worst part of this is... YOU HAD OTHER THINGS TO WORK ON.

This is like when I tell a programmer that he needs to fix a bunch of critical reporting tools, and after a week he tells me that he did some design work on the USER INTERFACE.  Oh, and he figured out a way to make clients pay more for the software...

So now my clients can access their buggy reporting tools (which makes them upset), more easily, and for more money.  Bravo, man.  Way to fix the system.

Wizards, you could have been working on the Virtual Gamespace you promised me 3 years ago.  Or the character visualizer.  Or a Treasure Generator, or an Encounter Designer.  Fuck's sake - on anything but the tool that was ALREADY the best selling feature.  The thing that most 4e players agree is "indispensable", and which has basically killed the whole 3rd party 4e market (that last bit is not such a good thing).

But instead you reinvent the wheel - and proudly point out that it's now square, works on less carts, and has tolling stations available on all major roads.

Man... now I know why people seem to enjoy raging and ranting about WotC - it feels kinda good.  I'll be playing TMNT and Rules Cyclopedia if anybody needs me... Maybe I can even find my old 2e stuff....


  1. I don't really know what all that stuff you're talking about it is, but I'm sorry this happened. On the bright side, I assume you don't NEED the online stuff to play 4e, right?

    What you're expressing is kind of how I felt when WotC pulled the "legacy PDFs" of earlier editions. They took my favorite game - a classic for >30 years - off the market.

  2. I'm with you on this. I think WotC is desperately trying to figure out how to make DDI viable. Instead of trying to give tools to the DM in game prep, they've focused on getting cash from the player side of the game.

    Too bad they don't realize if they offered a suite of tools almost half as functional as the 3rd party stuff out there (cough...Masterplan...cough) I think you would have a lot of people keeping up with there DDI subscription. Instead, WotC seems to stick with making the existing tools out there more restrictive. Oh well, more the reason to have a book for the stuff I need.

  3. Well, the problem here is that you really kinda DO need the online tool. They have released so much errata and shit that the Character Builder is pretty much the only way to keep it all straight.

    What's more annoying is that Character Builder is still a good way to release rules. All the things I said about it before are still true - it's a cheap, effective and unprecedented way to publish a game.

    But they're trying sooo hard to fuck it up. Really, they should have thrown money at the guy who did Masterplan, given him the chair that whatever dipshit is running their online initiatives is now occupying, and got on with giving us some value for our money.

    But it was not to be. I feel your pain, cyclopeatron. I feel it right in my nutsack.

  4. I'm baffled. Why would they mess with the one thing that seems to be adding value for many 4E gamers? It's not like these same people aren't also buying WOTC's print products.

  5. @Paladin

    Seriously? :-)

    They mess with it because they are desperately seeking a way to make Dungeons and Dragons profitable like magic.

    This is because Hasbro is totally sure that someday there's a mint to be made from vinyl records - err I mean tabletop gaming.

    They just aren't facing up to the realities of the situation.

  6. Heh, and after you just wrote that great article about the beauty of the current system...

  7. I know, eh? Brutal timing. I'm thinking it must be about making the brand more profitable, but I'm not sure exactly how this will do it.

    I think RPG's are marginally-profitable enterprises at best, and possibly best left to small and mid-sized companies.

    C, I'm not sure the search is desperate for them, though. They're not making Magic money on D&D, but I'm pretty sure they're not starving.

    I sure would like to see a more intelligent set of digital initiatives, though. Most of my gaming friends are scattered across the county, and this is Canada, so we're talking serious snowy wastes.

    Ah well, I'll go post about Rules Cyclopedia, I guess. We still on for tomorrow, Perry?

  8. I think the problem is that Hasbro is still really focused on a toy business model, of selling a product you hold in your hands...they haven't made any kind of a jump as to how you sell information based products. They are looking at DDI as something that needs to make a profit, as opposed to something that drives higher profits for other things.

    My (possibly completely imaginary) feeling from the WOTC level is that they are doing what they are told from on high. They don't talk much right now, so it is hard to say, but they always seem a bit sheepish when they are explaining the new policies that they KNOW are going to drive 155 pages and counting of player rage.

    The worst part is that toy companies USED to understand this just fine. Something like DDI fills the exact same corporate roll as the He-Man Cartoon did, a promotional draw to bring new eyes to their product and keep established customers thinking about the product without having to produce actual new STUFF all the time.

  9. Rick Marshall posted a ton of interesting history of WotC's initial motivations for and handling of D&D, and what happened with the Hasbro acquisition, in some comments on Grognardia recently. Thankfully it sounds like he's going to be republishing on his blog, which would be nice.


  10. Now that is interesting. Quite a read. Hasbro comes off about how I would expect, really. And good ol' Kevin at Palladium, too.