More info on the DDI


4th Edition


ENWorld thread

Repost in the following spoiler, to save space:

Spoiler:
Queen Dopplepopolis/DangerGirl!, Xath and I also got to see a preview of D&D Insider and the new D&D Game Table this weekend at the D&D Experience. We spoke to Chris Youngs (formerly Chris Thomassen), Scott Rouse, and a couple of the software producers working with Wizards, including head producer Didier Monin.

The build we saw was "Pre-Alpha," and represents the current version of the software. Attendees had the opportunity to volunteer for a public beta of the software, and Chris and Didier guessed that the full D&D Insider would launch "close to the launch of 4e." However, they stressed that they wouldn't push the product out "until it's ready," and acknowledged the importance of getting it "right" from moment one.

The character creator was highly reminiscent of a number of MMORPGs, and appeared to be at least as customizable as any I've encountered in that milieau (comparable to City of Heroes, in my opinion). You can adjust characters' height and weight, and "pose" the visiualized character in a number of different ways, and once you've done that, it can act as a 3D digital miniature in the Game Table application. The faces weren't photorealistic, but there were a number of "morphing tools," as well as a skin and hair-color palette that offered a lot of customization choices. They showed off a female face that was at least a little more feminine than some of the pics that have already surfaced on the net. Certainly passable, if not the most beautiful character I've ever seen. Better than some of the really masculine females that have been posted elsewhere online.

We didn't get to see how the character visualizer would interact with the electronic character sheet application that they have planned for the game, but we were assured that they would integrate the two programs in some way. Scott and Chris both intimated that the character sheet program would interact with the rules database that has already been mentioned from the weekend, but details on that front were scarce.

The Dungeon Builder, part of the D&D Game Table, is a tile-based application, apparently using digital version of WotC's Dungeon Tiles. As with the paper versions, the tiles are flippable, and have slightly different pictures on the front than on the back. There were a few 3D elements (some braziers, for example, in the dungeon we saw), but we were told not to expect many 3D map elements at launch. We were told that there would probably be 40 fully 3D digital miniatures available at the product's launch, including some fan favorites like the Beholder. There will be more to come, although the price point for these digital minis is still being discussed. In the mean time, users will be able to create tiles with existing digital art for use at the game table, sized appropriately for small, medium, large, huge, etc. creatures. There are currently no plans to allow people to create their own 3D assets for use as terrain or minis, and Chris Youngs seemed surprised that there seemed to be so much interest in what he dubbed "casual 3D modeling."

You can lay tiles over each other (putting, say, a tower on a set of wilderness tiles), or a overlaying a pit over a stone hallway. You could also draw free-hand, but there was no option to "fill" areas with terrain; there will also be an erase tool that will allow you to do some shaping, but definitely not the ultimate in customization. Scott noted that this was, at least in part, intentional, so that the Dungeon Builder wouldn't be able to compete directly with the Dungeon Tiles line. For that same reason, maps created in the dungeon builder will be able to be printed/exported as .jpg or .png files, but not as fully-useable, gridded tactical maps for use at the actual table.

Nevertheless, everyone from Wizards seemed excited that the tool would allow people to re-connect with groups/players lost to distance or time, and guessed that there would be e-adventures designed specifically for the application available at or shortly after launch. To that end, there's a well-developed chat tool, as well as solid voice software. Scott compared the projected uses of the D&D Game Table with Magic Online, which brought bunches of lapsed M:TG players back into the fold.

On a personal note, I'd say the product we saw would be probably be worth $10/month, especially given access to the Rules Database that others have mentioned. That said, at this stage, it doesn't look to be a revolitionary leap in gaming technology.

I am a bit concerned... I would think they should have more solid details at this point. It could be that they are unwilling to reveal details... But that info is presented more as the details aren't known.


Am I reading this right? Are you going to have to BUY virtual dungeon tiles in order to make the dungeons you want to make?

That's beyond insane.

Nickel. Dime. Nickel. Dime.


I'm not sure you do have it right Dave, no offense.. though I think I see where you might be getting that.

Dangergirl wrote:
You can lay tiles over each other (putting, say, a tower on a set of wilderness tiles), or a overlaying a pit over a stone hallway. You could also draw free-hand, but there was no option to "fill" areas with terrain; there will also be an erase tool that will allow you to do some shaping, but definitely not the ultimate in customization. Scott noted that this was, at least in part, intentional, so that the Dungeon Builder wouldn't be able to compete directly with the Dungeon Tiles line. For that same reason, maps created in the dungeon builder will be able to be printed/exported as .jpg or .png files, but not as fully-useable, gridded tactical maps for use at the actual table.

I think what they're saying is they don't want people to print out a battle-map, attach it to posterboard, and compete with the physical Dungeon Tiles.

But I'm not reading that you have to buy the digital tiles per se.

Though maybe I'm missing it..

I do think there will be a demand to customize the tiles, and they're under-estimating that aspect. The Cartography crowd loves to do that. Sometimes i think they like that as much as playing.


Watcher wrote:
I do think there will be a demand to customize the tiles, and they're under-estimating that aspect. The Cartography crowd loves to do that. Sometimes i think they like that as much as playing.

Not being able to customize your own elements? I can't believe they didn't do a market survey on that. Many DMs like to tweak maps and settings and terrain.


Watcher: This is the line that concerned me:

"The Dungeon Builder, part of the D&D Game Table, is a tile-based application, apparently using digital version of WotC's Dungeon Tiles. As with the paper versions, the tiles are flippable, and have slightly different pictures on the front than on the back."

Why would you need "flippable" tiles if you can just build a dungeon?


DaveMage wrote:

Watcher: This is the line that concerned me:

"The Dungeon Builder, part of the D&D Game Table, is a tile-based application, apparently using digital version of WotC's Dungeon Tiles. As with the paper versions, the tiles are flippable, and have slightly different pictures on the front than on the back."

Why would you need "flippable" tiles if you can just build a dungeon?

Hmmm.. I'm glad spoke kindly. You might be right, Dave.

It certainly isn't clear.

I might go ask over at the site that featured the article.

EDIT: I did so. I'll let you know if anything turns up.

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