The Light Fades From D&D 4 Online Tools

WotC’s strat­egy con­cern­ing D&D 4 was sub­ject to many dis­cus­sions, few of them with a pos­i­tive regard. The relaunch of the Char­ac­ter Builder and the Mon­ster Builder using Microsoft Sil­verlight have also been sub­ject to much crit­i­cism. Now it may be time for those peo­ple to say “I told you so.” I also joined that cho­rus. And now Mary-Jo Foley reports on ZDNet Microsoft may only be releas­ing one fur­ther ver­sion of Sil­verlight and that maybe only for the Inter­net Explorer.

Surely the cur­rent ver­sion will still be avail­able using cur­rent Sil­verlight play­ers, but there will be a point in the future, when the last bug­fix to patch a secu­rity issue and the last new fea­ture has been released. And WotC sooner or later has to move away from Sil­verlight. Up to today the online CB has matured to a quite usable but not per­fect tool (armor bonuses were recently bro­ken, but else it’s work­ing good), but even­tu­ally they have to start all over again.

Even though I regarded using Sil­verlight, a Microsoft-supported but never wide­spread tech­nol­ogy, as a mis­take, I never imaged it to be this dras­ti­cally. WotC has proved that their are barely able to man­age a sub­sti­tu­tion of the old offline CB and MB with their online suc­ces­sors, which lets me doubt very much that they will do it much bet­ter the next time. Dig­i­tal tools for rpgs are a fine thing to have, but being depen­dent on a com­pany that has not much man­power for such things and not much expe­ri­ence with soft­ware devel­op­ment seems to prove fatal.

God­dammit!

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About Jan

Jan is a passionate gm. His current favorites are D&D 4 and D&D3/Pathfinder. He muses about gamestyles, adventure design and rpg theory. He is always on the hunt for ideas and advice to get better at gaming. His German blog is "De Malspoeler" ("the insane gamer" or "the insanity pretender"), where he is haunted by a gull that is interfering with his writings. In real life he is a computer scientist from south-western Germany and likes playing volleyball.
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2 Responses to The Light Fades From D&D 4 Online Tools

  1. Shrike says:

    The sad thing?

    They were told that this would happen.

    Over and over and over again.

    The online tools are a laugh­able joke, and an insult to any­one who had been using the offline tools (such as they were) for a cus­tomized, per­sonal D&D game (e.g. you can­not house rule ANYTHING mean­ing­ful in the online tools, mean­ing they have sig­nif­i­cantly fewer fea­tures than the offline versions).

    Peo­ple who said “this is a bad move” on the WotC forums, or who crit­i­cized the unques­tion­able lim­i­ta­tions of the online tools, were insulted repeat­edly and called thieves and worse by WotC sup­port­ers. WotC refused to respond to rea­son­able con­cerns, stay­ing adamant that they were mov­ing for­ward, despite their many lies and decep­tive actions related to the EOL of the offline tools.

    I wish I could say I was sad about this, but WotC already drove me away last year, with the Essen­tials tripe and the online tools launch.

  2. Jan says:

    I guess bad lan­guage has been used on both sides, so I’ll stay away from that accu­sa­tion. Also the cus­tomiz­ing for house rules has been added dur­ing the last days. I had that as miss­ing in my arti­cle first, but removed it right after launch. They have added the sup­port of cus­tom feats and pow­ers I think. So you can add more of them. But adding your own feats and stuff is still miss­ing, I think. Nonethe­less you are right, the launch of the online tools was major break in the tool sup­port for D&D 4. The offline tools have only just been almost reached con­cern­ing fea­tures. And that’s why I’m really afraid of another relaunch using a dif­fer­ent tech­nol­ogy. That’ll be the whole story all over again.

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