Thursday, August 7, 2008

Inside the Insider

The latest news from D&D Insider is about the content planned for it, how it's coming along, and how much it's going to cost us.

The online version of Dragon and Dungeon magazines have been discussed here before, and organization aside, the content is very good. That alone is why I will pay for D&D Insider.

The D&D Compendium is a nice bonus. With more keywords in the game design, being able to search for all of a type of power will be very handy. And not having to bring my books to work will also be convenient. Having a way to bookmark certain searches would be handy ("find all cleric powers"), and for that matter, having it just behave as a regular webpage instead of a little popup window of Javascript obfuscation. I like the fact that the Dragon and Dungeon content will be added to it as well. I would, however, like it to be working right now, instead of the "SERVER ERROR - Datastore unavailable A request to the datastore failed or was denied. We apologize for the inconvenience." I just got.

The little bonus tools are things that you can find a dime-a-dozen around the net, but I suppose it's handy to have them all in one place. The mention of a monster-building tool, however, got my attention. Let's see how they manage that.

The Character Builder, along with the Character Visualizer, are their current focus, and I'm keen to see how they turn out. I've worked on various systems for doing this, and if theirs can do the job, I can scratch one time-consumer from my list. Oh, and I suppose it'll be handy to use, too. The Visualizer sounds like a novelty unless you're using the Game Table, but I guess it might help some to immerse in the game if they have a picture of their character.

They mention that the Dungeon Builder is almost done. They then mention that it's not very useful without the Game Table, even though Buehler starts the article saying that it "allows you to construct maps to play with either on the kitchen table or ... Game Table". Let me construct them for the kitchen table then! Don't make me wait for the Game Table, which I won't use...

...and that's the last item on their list. Don't get me wrong, I'm curious to see how they do it, because I'm planning on creating something similar with the Metaplace platform. But unless we can convince our one ex-pat in Chicago to play online, we won't have any use for the Game Table in our group.

And then there's the price. This is their current pricing list:

Web-Content Only Subscription Package:
12 Months = $59.40 ($4.95 per month)
3 Months = $19.95 ($6.65 per month)
1 Month = $7.95 ($7.95 per month)

Note that this is the Web-Content Only package - it's for access to Dragon, Dungeon, the Compendium and the bonus tools. Since the magazines are my main reason to pay, I think $5 per month is reasonable for two magazines, even if I don't get a glossy copy. As for how much they might charge once the rest is available, we shall see if it's worth it. I do hope that they maintain two sets of subscriptions, though: one for the content as above, and another to get the whole thing. And if they price it right, they might get the suckers who don't really want the rest of it to buy it anyway, just in case. Suckers like me.

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