D&D Insider: Losing your toys

Irda Ranger

First Post
Shockingly, paying for services rather than products is quite common and accepted in our society. See waitresses, maids, gardeners, repairmen, utilities, etc.
Shockingly another common practice, when dealing with finished products (as opposed to services) is to buy them and expect them to own them indefinitely. See cars, Swiss army knives, D&D books, etc.

A lot of you seem to be assuming that you will be the one canceling the DDI service, not Wizards. Considering the experiences of many people who bought DRM-ed music from various online stores that have gone bust, or Wizards' track record for supporting electronic services, I don't think that's a safe assumption to make. Not at all.

Maybe I'm weird, but as someone who still owns, reads and plays RC D&D and AD&D 2e, I'm sort of assuming I'll want to use the character builder long after Wizards has moved on. Or when my Windows install inevitably fails and I have to install the software on a new computer.
 

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maddman75

First Post
2. With respect to the compendium, there's not much to be done about that. It's a members-only website. Theoretically, you're welcome to query it and save every single bit of info in it to your local system, of course.

I would read the user agreement very carefully before I tried that. Most people tend to be touchy about running spiders on their databases, even if they aren't a pay service. I doubt that's the kind of thing they want the users doing.

I would be very surprised if you would be allowed to query their database at all apart from through their web site.
 

Asmor

First Post
Shockingly another common practice, when dealing with finished products (as opposed to services) is to buy them and expect them to own them indefinitely. See cars, Swiss army knives, D&D books, etc.

You're right. But a subscription to DDI is not a finished product. Dragon and Dungeon certainly are, and you get to keep those. You also get to keep the character builder. So I fail to see the problem.

A lot of you seem to be assuming that you will be the one canceling the DDI service, not Wizards. Considering the experiences of many people who bought DRM-ed music from various online stores that have gone bust, or Wizards' track record for supporting electronic services, I don't think that's a safe assumption to make. Not at all.

On the contrary, I assume no such thing. I'm fully aware that it's possible for the DDI to literally disappear over night. In fact, I'd even say it's at least slightly likely. It wouldn't surprise me if Hasbro's watching the DDI like a hawk and prepared to turn it off the moment they decide it's not meeting expectations.

That said, I use the monthly option. I pay $8 for a month's access to the compendium, two magazines, and an update to my character builder. I'm quite happy with that.

Maybe I'm weird, but as someone who still owns, reads and plays RC D&D and AD&D 2e, I'm sort of assuming I'll want to use the character builder long after Wizards has moved on. Or when my Windows install inevitably fails and I have to install the software on a new computer.

That's a totally valid concern. Hopefully, whenever they do discontinue they'll give out a permanently-unlocked, install anywhere version of the character builder. Of course, there's no guarantee they'll do anything like that.

Ultimately, though, it comes down to this: they are offering a service, they're being up front about the terms, and it's up to you to decide if you're happy with them or not. If you are, subscribe, if you aren't, don't.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Shockingly another common practice, when dealing with finished products (as opposed to services) is to buy them and expect them to own them indefinitely. See cars, Swiss army knives, D&D books, etc.

A lot of you seem to be assuming that you will be the one canceling the DDI service, not Wizards. Considering the experiences of many people who bought DRM-ed music from various online stores that have gone bust, or Wizards' track record for supporting electronic services, I don't think that's a safe assumption to make. Not at all.

Maybe I'm weird, but as someone who still owns, reads and plays RC D&D and AD&D 2e, I'm sort of assuming I'll want to use the character builder long after Wizards has moved on. Or when my Windows install inevitably fails and I have to install the software on a new computer.

All of the Dragon and Dungeon stuff is yours for as long as you save it or print it. That alone is worth $5.00 a month.

And I do believe you are misreading the character builder faq - you cannot update if you cancel but you keep what you have. Your quote of the faq was in upgrading to the full version - not once you have it. what the character builder already contains is worth more than $5 already.
 

Miar

First Post
To me if I was subscribing and was really into 4E this would be a problem.

1. If I was just broke or I like the first couple of years of product but then reached the "enough" point as many did with 3.5 I might stop subscribing. If I ever got a new computer or had to reinstall for any reason I would need to buy the software again.

2. If 4E is still my game of choice whenever 5E came out and I needed to reinstall or whatever would that be possible? Would 5E subscribers to whatever service they have then get all the old 4E stuff? If not how would I get the character builder back with all its updates.

All and all I really can't agree with this model :(
 


Aegeri

First Post
But doesn't it bother anyone else that if you stop subscribing to DDI that your Character Builder and Compendium stop working? It's not that they stop receiving updates, I mean they no longer function. The CB and Compendium revert to the "Demo" versions and any characters you made above 3rd level can no longer be edited (I just got off the phone with Wizards and have confirmed this).

You are talking absolute bollocks. I had my DDI account accidentally "canceled" the other day, which was annoying in itself due to a computer error (which was in fact fixed within 24 hours of me informing them). I happily built 3-4 8th level characters during the day without any problem, despite the fact I no longer counted as being subscribed to DDI at all.

Please stop spreading misinformation.
 

Miar

First Post
You are talking absolute bollocks. I had my DDI account accidentally "canceled" the other day, which was annoying in itself due to a computer error (which was in fact fixed within 24 hours of me informing them). I happily built 3-4 8th level characters during the day without any problem, despite the fact I no longer counted as being subscribed to DDI at all.

Please stop spreading misinformation.

Please reread the information. The problem comes when needing to reinstall the software. In your case of course you had no problem because you had no need to reinstall. If however you no longer had an account and did then you would have a problem.
 

Solodan

First Post
I'm paying for D&D Insider purely for Dragon. The character buildier is delicious frosting on an already substantial cake.

Right now I'm drooling over the fascinating Shadar-kai article - haven't finished it but I'm already looking forward to some of the options available and to further reading...

The fact that later this month I'll be able to use CB software instead of pen and paper is bonus.

Though, if it mattered, I'd rather pay the temporary fee than the one-time model. I know that for a product that is constantly updating, this business model is far more likely to keep the company producing motivated to keep providing the service.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
I'm fairly confident that D&D 4e and the D&D Insider tools are here to stay for a long time.

But, if WotC decides to stop part or all of the D&D Insider service, I don't think they will "screw" their subscribers. The compendium will be gone, of course (unless they decide to make it a free web app). The other web tools will probably remain on the site for free (unless there is a new edition switch or D&D goes belly up altogether).

You'll get plenty of warning from WotC before the plug is pulled, so you can make sure to download any magazine PDFs that you want and create PDF character sheets of all your favorite characters in the Builder. Heck, it's even possible they'd make the Builder a free app (with no further updates).

It's not like you'll wake up one morning, only to discover D&DI has just disappeared!

The "rental" software model doesn't bother me at all. It makes sense for a software package that is continuously updated with tons of new content each month. And, as others have pointed out, your "rental" fee gets you more than software, it gets you the magazine content monthly as well. I pay "rent" on my antivirus software for regular updates, I also pay "rent" to Microsoft and LiveJournal to keep ads off my personal pages and to get some other perks. As long as the price asked seems reasonable to me versus the services rendered, I'm cool with renting! Oh, yeah, I alternate paying "rent" for World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online too . . .
 

Keefe the Thief

Adventurer
I really, really doubt that we would have seen either the Compendium or the CB without a subscription model in their current form. And i am happy about that - i remember Etools too well, a product which had promise but which suffered from the fact that it was simply not financially viable for anyone to create constant program and database updates.
Just ask the Code Monkeys how time-consuming that kind of work is - without a subscription model? Forget it.
 

Cadfan

First Post
It doesn't bother me.

So its a subscription service. So what? You knew that going in, or you should have known it going in.

I make it a general practice not to get angry at retailers because they offer goods and services on terms I don't find optimal. I just decide whether I want to buy the item at the terms they offer, and that's that.

Getting upset is like leasing a car without the option to buy, and then getting angry that you have to give the car back. You knew what papers you signed.
 

Ktulu

First Post
I work for an EHR (electronic health record) that only functions while the subscription is active. I don't have an issue with that model.
 

Aegeri

First Post
Please reread the information. The problem comes when needing to reinstall the software. In your case of course you had no problem because you had no need to reinstall. If however you no longer had an account and did then you would have a problem.

This was not what was claimed.

Reinstalling the program naturally does not let you upgrade it back to full once you are not an insider, this is in fact perfectly understandable because it authenticates and reinstalls the program online. Naturally, not being able to reinstall the program fully means you can't use it anymore. The solution is to be pretty careful with how you use it or just resubscribe for a month, redownload everything and then reinstall. This is actually perfectly fine and they are within their rights to do this.

What I took exception towards as claimed in the OP that is clearly incorrect is:

But doesn't it bother anyone else that if you stop subscribing to DDI that your Character Builder and Compendium stop working? It's not that they stop receiving updates, I mean they no longer function. The CB and Compendium revert to the "Demo" versions and any characters you made above 3rd level can no longer be edited (I just got off the phone with Wizards and have confirmed this).
This is absolutely, 100% not true and is incorrect. It does not revert to a demo version. This claim is false (Noting that the compendium does, but that's because it's purely an online insiders perk, but the character builder is NOT affected).

Perhaps you should have read what the OP claimed more carefully?
 
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Neil Bishop

First Post
I don't understand complaining about something that costs only USD5 or so dollars a month. If I worked at Hasbro/WotC and read these sorts of comments I would completely ignore them because if someone is too poor to afford USD5 or so a month they cease being a customer.

Sad but true.
 

Jan van Leyden

Adventurer
Think about it: You don't own that software. You're committed to paying that recurring cost for as long as you want to use the software, and that's assuming that WotC wants to sell it to you
So you are renting the software?

No, you're not renting the software, you pay for your access to a data pool, which is expanded monthly.

One way of accessing this data pool is the free software named Character Builder. You can install this software and use it with the supplied data. The data are transferred to your computer, enabling you to use it even after your subscription has ended.

In case of problems with this application, when you might have to reinstall it or transfer it to a new computer, you'll only be able to restore your old setup, if you have made, e.g. a disk image.

Part of my money for DDI is payment for the entering of data. It by far beats having to enter all the stuff myself, giving another character generator software which one can expand. It beats paying for data sets for sources becoming available months after the respective book. It beats having to wait for the next incarantion of the software, which may or may not be able to handle some new rules element.

If the idea of ownership of the software is so important to you, the DDI-CB is not for you. There exist other offers you might be interested in.
 

Well, as others have pointed out, the software doesn't require an internet connection once installed and updated. Even if it did - where would it get your account information? You don't enter them on start-up. It might be possible that it is stored during the update, but I doubt it.

The bigger problem is that if you ever get a new computer, or have to re-install your system, you'll need to get the app again, since the data is gone.

But it doesn't really bother me that the software might cease to function if I no longer subscribed. As Kamikaze Midget notes - if I don't have the subscription, I am not playing anyway. ;)
 

Mark

CreativeMountainGames.com
(. . .) free software named Character Builder. You can install this software and use it with the supplied data. The data are transferred to your computer, enabling you to use it even after your subscription has ended.

In case of problems with this application, when you might have to reinstall it or transfer it to a new computer, you'll only be able to restore your old setup, if you have made, e.g. a disk image.


So you receive the software in its current form and should be able to use that software at that level forever, but the only way to put the software on a new computer if you allow your subscription to lapse is by using a disc image? So the software itself is designed to thwart this unless the disc image precaution is taken?


If the idea of ownership of the software is so important to you, the DDI-CB is not for you. There exist other offers you might be interested in.


Oh, let's not make this personal, as I am not actually discussing my own situation but rather trying to understand the situation objectively. I can envision, for instance, someone deciding they only want to play the game with the level of rules that are out to this point, or perhaps to the point achieved just after the PH2 is out, thus effectively wishing to drop off of the subscription grid(both for the DDI and the print rules) but being guaranteed all of the toys they are accustomed to using still function as purchased. Hence the above questions.
 
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So you receive the software in its current form and should be able to use that software at that level forever, but the only way to put the software on a new computer if you allow your subscription to lapse is by using a disc image? So the software itself is designed to thwart this unless the disc image precaution is taken?
There might be a way to make this simpler, but I don't know how.

Basically, the problem is getting the full 30 level data set. The downloaded versions does not contain it, you have to download it separately. If you figure out where this is downloaded to on your PC, you might be able to just copy that part, or just copy the entire application directory.
But it's possible that there are multiple places where to find the data, including registry keys. Disk Image is basically the "Nuke if from Orbit" solution - it _has_ to work, but might be a little too much.
 

Halivar

First Post
As a software developer, I work on products that have a monthly subscription cost. Therefore, I heartily approve WotC's subscription model, and am happy to patronize it. It's a good model, and it works.

WotC is better to you than you know. Outside of anti-virus software, most subscription-model software works like this: when your subscription ends, you don't get to use that software anymore. WotC could have taken this tack, and I still would have been fine with it.

Mark, what you describe is exactly how anti-virus software works. You only get updates while you subscribe, and that's the window in which you are entitled to download install executables. Why are you angry at WotC, and not Kaspersky, or Norton, or what-have-you?
 

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