Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Character Builder is Dead... Long live Character Builder!

I've got a DDI subscription which I got for a web based campaign that is stuttering off the runway. One of the tools I appreciated most is the Character Builder application. For those who are unfamiliar, it is a standalone little program WOTC put together which lets you easily and quickly build PCs. It actually works pretty well and is basically the only way short of reviewing the 4E Char Op boards to build a character in 4E. It honestly makes buying splat books irrelevant, which is nice.

Of course, I'm sure I'm not the only one that realized that you could get a short subscription, download Char Builder, and then cancel your DDI subscription. Every few months you could get a new subscription to download new updates. WOTC tried to crush this by limiting updates to a handful per month (so you can't spam it to a bunch of computers) and by scaling their pricing scheme to reward you for longer quarterly or annual subscriptions.

However, WOTC has announced an "upgrade," in that the old standalone character builder will now be dead. Instead, you get an internet based application. There are some actual improvements. However, I have mixed feelings about getting rid of the standalone application. I liked the utility of being able to build a character anywhere: on an airplane, while deployed, or just generally away from the internet. Now, you can only use DDI when there is internet handy. I suppose as wifi becomes more and more prevalent this is less of an issue but still, I don't love it.

From the business side, they now lock you into a continious subscription as you have no standalone option anymore. You can't pay for a one-month subscription to get the jewel in DDI's crown. You need to pay for an annual subscription to keep access to your character sheet.

I'm also concerned that they will freak out on me for sharing an account with Mrs. Nittany. If I'm traveling for work and log on from some random place and she logs on at home, will WOTC get upset at us? Who knows!

Anyways, we'll see. I'm not sure I love this new release. I think that WOTC should consider two tier pricing: a DM price that gives access to all content and a player price that just gives you the Compendium and Character Builder. I don't know if I'm willing to pay $60/year to play 4E D&D.


Greg Christopher said...

Perhaps you should look for a different game to play in the future? I encourage you to have an open mind.

Vedron said...

I think I have a fairly open mind. I cut my teeth on AD&D, have played (and enjoyed) multiple systems, and am certainly following developments in the "OSR" with interest. I'm certainly not a 4E fanboy. I like some of the design decisions they made and dislike others.

My old college group is getting back together again via the wonders of modern technology (Skype + Maptools) to play, and the group decided on 4E. So I've been using DDI to support that. I don't have any opportunities to game locally (for multiple reasons) so I'll take what I can get!

Thanks for commenting -- I zoomed over to your blog and read about Errant. I'll be interested to see what comes of it!