Posted by : David Guyll November 11, 2010

Trawling the RPG.net forums I found a thread questioning about whether or not people upset at Wizards of the Coast logically protecting their intellectual property from piracy--while at the same time making it easier to implement updates--by adopting an online-only model, would cause fans of 4th Edition to cancel their DDI subscriptions and/or say fuck-all and go play Pathfinder (and not one of many other fantasy-based role-playing games). Frankly, I don't want to know anyone who would follow that bizarre logical train wreck.

I don't play 4th Edition because it's new, or it has all of its crunch-content condenses into one software application. On a similar note, I don't dislike 3rd Edition Pathfinder because it doesn't have its own variant of Character Builder, and I certainly wouldn't go back there if the entirety of 4th Edition imploded out of existence. No, I would have to be the kind of irrational person that boycotts a company because they slightly altered the accessibility of an entirely unnecessary--yet agreeably convenient--facet of their entire product line.

Using internet access to determine legitimacy as well as usability is not new, and in fact has proven successful for more than a few companies like Blizzard Entertainment or Valve. Some people like that Character Builder can be used offline, which has some merit in terms of flexibility in case you like to cart a laptop out into the wilderness and build characters by firelight. In all seriousness, I too have used Character Builder offline in order to browse magic items, but only because I didn't want to bug Randy for a few minutes about his router's information. I guess on the 16th I'll have to set aside a blip of time to get it all sorted.

*sarcastic sigh*

My laptop, as well as most laptops, have WiFi capabilities. So do most routers. This means that at home I can flip it open, get online, and do...whatever, wherever. Theoretically, were I for some reason to go elsewhere and desire to tinker with it, then my options would be limited to coffee shops, most major grocery chains (Fred Meyers, Safeway, etc), any community college campus, any of my friend's houses, and book stores. In other words, far more places than I would care to go and create characters, monsters, or do adventure writing. Were I to find myself stranded out in the middle of nowhere and find myself arrested by the urge to write, I can always fall back to the archaic process of putting pencil to paper and writing.

This is why I wouldn't care even if I lacked all the modern commodities of today; I can still jot down notes, go home, and then write it up to look all official-like. While your mileage (or availability) might vary, I think the real reason people are up in arms is the whole piracy angle. Some people only wanted Character Builder and/or Adventure Tools, but couldn't stand for the seven or so bucks a month that Wizards charged you for essentially all the crunch content of all the books they've ever made, and waited for updates to show up on torrent sites. Since Wizards really couldn't track this offline, it was easy to get away with it. Now, it's going to be harder, and people might actually have to pay for something.

{ 7 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. Hrrrm, funny, I've paid for my 2nd annual subscription, and I find myself annoyed with the web-only inclusion because the locations I game at doesn't have any WiFi. I also used Masterplan....so obviously the only reason I'm upset is purely from a pirate stand point.

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  2. Hrm, I was sure I'd put "most people" in there, though since you're merely annoyed instead of rage-quitting the game altogether I don't this post applies to you.

    While it might be annoying, I don't have internet access where I game, either (though I could). I keep all my information in Word since you can cut-and-paste monster stat blocks directly out of Adventure Tools, and magic item properties and powers can be written in and updated later by the player (or kept on a notecard, printed, etc).

    Basically as a DM, I try to keep all of my materials readily accessed, and both CB and AT sometimes lag, freeze, or crash.

    Anyway, I thought that Masterplan no longer allowed you to login via your D&D account in order to download content directly from Compendium.

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  3. You're right about Masterplan, I was just using that as a jab to the situation since I encountered a lot of "piracy" accusations with that fiasco as well.

    I guess I was just hoping they would've kept some form of offline capability (Silverlight is capable of it) even it required a monthly "check in" or something. It doesn't really apply to me too much, since I ended up getting the 4E Tools for Hero Lab when I bought the software for Savage Worlds (both games are supported with the Authoring Kit purchase). It still (legitimately) receives DDI subscription data....so I'm not up the creek personally.

    I just feel for others. I couldn't name a game store in 3-hour drive radius of my location that offers WiFi anymore. And I suppose I just get defensive reading accusations like that, because I've known a few folks online who were like me and bought their subscriptions a year at a time, and it just seems like the tools aren't quite what we were wanting in the end.

    But it's cool; I can drop DDI any time and my books are still playable. I'm the only one in my group who even bothers with software most of the time. Everyone else pencils and papers the stuff.

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  4. Access to the CB in-session seems moot to me. I'm not usually making changes to my character during sessions. I have my printed character sheet, which I write updates on with pencil. And I've turned my power cards into an Excel-like spreadsheet to save paper and trim-out time.

    Perhaps other users who find the CB a vital part of their in-session experience could enlighten me?

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  5. In-game wasn't used by me personally, but it was lugged to meet ups and the house we play at has no WiFi (or internet for that matter, except on cell phones. No kidding.) It helped us double check the math and helped new players quickly slap a character down. My fiancee, on the other hand, uses it on her laptop during play constantly. She mostly just likes to keep up to date, her tiny computer takes less table economy, and when she receives magic items it's nice to have the stats readily available.

    But mine is a very circumstantial thing. Doesn't give me any more say than others on the topic; but it also doesn't mean I have to keep paying for the service. Hopefully I'm blown away by other features.

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  6. I like to prep at work during lunch. It's one of the only consistent time-slots I get. So, restricting the CB (and presumably Adventure Tools, down the road) to online use hoses me. Yes, we have wifi, but it's locked the hell down.

    So, I'm going to find this pretty damn inconvenient, but not to the point where I'd jump ships to another game. I think that's insane.

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  7. I also like to prep at work, usually out in my car during lunch break. No wifi there, so I end up losing the functionality that the software had. I've chosen not to continue my subscription to DDI, maybe I'll come back in the future if they start offering a product that's useful to me.

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