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Online Digital Tools Disappearance Risk Discussion

Retreater

Legend
Not sure of the context here. If you want a focused discussion it would probably be helpful to restate the main point or link to the post.
The short version was that I had gotten on the Free League/Demiplane partnership thread and began to bemoan subscription services for gaming content, arguing that renting your gaming content endangers your ability to continue playing the game in the face of external factors such as corporate updates to your game, folding services, technological compatibility, the need to continue subscribing to services, and the decisions of publishers who may lose rights to publish certain books, etc.
There are certainly those who disagree with valid points, but I felt it was a good idea to stop posting in that thread to celebrate this business deal. So I started this tangent thread.
 

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Retreater

Legend
If you feel that as a system it's so clunky it needs digital tools, is it really that good in your estimation?
Certainly, that is a fault of that system. It was a way around what I thought was the biggest failing of the system. Without the way around, yes, it's a flawed system. And for many of us who liked the system, we would like to have those tools available. It is was as much a part of the game experience as a one-inch grid is for Pathfinder or 5e. Yes, you can absolutely play theater of the mind, but imagine if Paizo or WotC stopping producing battle grids and forbade others from doing so. I hope that conveys how much of an inconvenience and loss this is to me and my preferred way of playing.
So I guess the point of my argument is that I don't like only renting content, character generation tools, and playing tools. If I don't also get something that can survive the ending of the platform/provider (so if it's not a PDF or physical book), that's a red flag that what I'm buying is a temporary game experience.
Put another way. I stream music on Spotify. If I really love an album, I'll buy it on vinyl also in the event something happens on Spotify or the artist is not available.
 

dirtypool

Explorer
There are certainly those who disagree with valid points,
Just as you continually disagree with the valid point that such subscription services are entirely voluntarily and have not in any way replaced access to physical tools in a way that makes games unplayable.
Certainly, that is a fault of that system.
Other 4e players have told you in both threads that they disagree with this assessment. You continue to present your perspective as objective fact, and then restate it again as such when others express a counter opinion.

If I don't also get something that can survive the ending of the platform/provider (so if it's not a PDF or physical book), that's a red flag that what I'm buying is a temporary game experience.
This somewhat conflates primary content and 3PP
Put another way. I stream music on Spotify. If I really love an album, I'll buy it on vinyl also in the event something happens on Spotify or the artist is not available.
Then why have you pushed back so hard on my statement that you can do the exact same thing with TTRPG’s? Scroll back through my posts, you’ll find this is what I’ve advocated this entire time.
 



Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
No grudge implied, I was just stating that multiple people had disagreed with the assessment being presented as objective fact.
Mod Note:
When a moderator speaks in their moderation role, that is NOT an invitation to respond. In fact, we ask that you not comment on moderation in-thread. If there's something you need to note, please take it to private messages.
 

How much a given game system needs a digital tool to run it is going to be in the eye of the beholder. Some people have claimed this about the Hero System, which I ran for 30 years without any in-play tools, and probably for 15 without anything more digital than a word processor.

My own feeling is that I'm resistant to any software that I'm dependent on anyone else but myself to use, beyond having an internet connection in the first place, and feel the same about materials (I own Kindle books, but the only reason I haven't long since jailbreaked them and stored them offline is its too much a pain in the behind).

(I should note that the title of this thread is deceptive; PDFs and other ebooks and software are digital content, but they aren't universally dependent on the supplier's sufferance).
 

I prefer pdfs over tree-killing, eco-destroying print books, mainly because I'm sick of dusting bookshelves.

But if Roll20, to use your example, went belly-up, the lost book content would be the least of my concerns. Moreover, the information on the single 5e book I have there is available for free on various legal databases across the Net, so I've lost nothing.

As to pdfs in general, I vastly prefer them over physical books: they are easier to use (if bookmarked, which most are these days), and I have copies of all mine stored on physical data drives, so even should something happen to both my home and the Net at the same time, I would still have them.

Whereas I have lost and damaged countless physical books in my lifetime.
 

Retreater

Legend
(I should note that the title of this thread is deceptive; PDFs and other ebooks and software are digital content, but they aren't universally dependent on the supplier's sufferance).
Sorry. I wasn't trying to be alarmist or deceptive. Is there a better title you'd suggest? Perhaps I can edit it.
 



I've lost access to several dozen PDFs over the years, due to drive crashes and the point of sale having gone out of business.
Several more were taken down from still extant services; many of those were later restored. (Glares in WotC's general direction.)
 

Its reached the point where I have to think if taking proper precautions, losing a PDF is probably no more common than losing a physical book (though you do have the issue with licensed products that its still sometimes possible to get a physical book, but the PDFs vanish; of course the other side is often the PDF of an older book is often more accessible than physical copies).
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I'm more concerned about content I create, which is where I depend much more on tools. I put a LOT of time building my world RealmWorks, which was at least installed software, so I still have access to it, even though it is no longer developed and barely supported by Lone Wolf Development. With database tools like that migrating content is a pain, so I am shy about putting too much of my stuff in systems like that. I like World Anvil, for example, but I worry even more about content lock in.

When it comes to purchasing content, it depends. I'm more worried about my Kindle books than D&D Beyond. I really don't like the idea that I can buy a book and have access to it removed or have content changed via legal actions, etc. For literature and reference materials, my Kindle library has replaced my physical library. I only keep physical books if they are display worthy, have nolstalgic value, or are the kind of reference book that is more convenient to have in a physical format.

For D&D I buy many of the books in physical format because I enjoy paging through them and just like having a bookshelf of the books. But I don't buy every 5e book. I also have a D&D Beyond subscription. I don't mind if that content changes because I see it as just the current, constantly updated system rules and adventure content. While it is double paying in a sense, I still find it worth it because I can link D&D Beyond to my VTT without paying an additional cost. The D&D website and offline app are all well designed and is what I rely on in game and most of the time when prepping games. I would be nice to have PDFs of the D&D books just for archiving, but I would still prefer to use D&D Beyond over PDFs.

If D&D Beyond were to disappear that would be annoying, but I have physical copies of the most important books to me and finding used copies of books I don't have should be easy to acquire for a long time to come.
 

Scars Unseen

Adventurer
I prefer installed tools that can be used offline to online tools, especially in cases like D&D, where support not only can, but is likely to evaporate once WotC moves on to a new edition, regardless of whether I'm done with the previous one of not. Price aside, the way WotC treated 4E's online tools when 5E came out steered me away from even considering D&D Beyond. I can still pull up my AD&D Core Rules 2.0 software and Forgotten Realms Atlas if I wanted to use them for any reason. Once WotC pulls licensing or Curse drops support for D&D Beyond, that's it, and I want to keep using it, too bad.

I know some people still feel the advantages of online only tools are worth the downsides, but for my part, I'd rather go to the effort to build something for my own personal use than spend money on a rug waiting to be pulled out from under me.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I know some people still feel the advantages of online only tools are worth the downsides, but for my part, I'd rather go to the effort to build something for my own personal use than spend money on a rug waiting to be pulled out from under me.

I think I used D&D beyond for gaming for a year or more before paying any money. Not that your choice is a wrong one, but it seems to focus on the "spend", when you may not need to do so.
 

Scars Unseen

Adventurer
I think I used D&D beyond for gaming for a year or more before paying any money. Not that your choice is a wrong one, but it seems to focus on the "spend", when you may not need to do so.
That's true. I suppose I should amend that stance by saying there's a certain dependency investment that needs to be considered as well. Whether it's an online tool, a customized offline app or an Excel file, getting accustomed to using digital assistance is going to affect how you interact with the game itself. Having that tool removed by someone else's will has the risk of negatively affecting how you perceive the game itself (there's some evidence of that in a few of the posts in this thread). Even if it doesn't, that interruption makes for a massive inconvenience as, at a minimum, you now have to either find a substitute or simply do without.

Not as big an issue if you already know you're going to jump to whatever comes next anyway, but then if you ever want to go back...
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I think I used D&D beyond for gaming for a year or more before paying any money. Not that your choice is a wrong one, but it seems to focus on the "spend", when you may not need to do so.
You personally may not need to do so if you're playing someone else's game, but in order to get the resources for your game beyond the basic rules, chances are your DM did need to do so and subscribe.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
That's true. I suppose I should amend that stance by saying there's a certain dependency investment that needs to be considered as well. Whether it's an online tool, a customized offline app or an Excel file, getting accustomed to using digital assistance is going to affect how you interact with the game itself.

So, you seem to be sliding past the fact that a written character sheet is also a tool you can become dependent on.

Unless you keep all the game information in your head, ANY and EVERY tool you choose will tend to impact how you interact with the game.
Having that tool removed by someone else's will has the risk of negatively affecting how you perceive the game itself (there's some evidence of that in a few of the posts in this thread). Even if it doesn't, that interruption makes for a massive inconvenience as, at a minimum, you now have to either find a substitute or simply do without.

Ever have someone steal your physical game bag with your books and character sheets in it? Or even have players who forget them? Those physical artifacts can be lost or misplaced, and that creates interruption and inconvenience as well.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
You personally may not need to do so if you're playing someone else's game, but in order to get the resources for your game beyond the basic rules, chances are your DM did need to do so and subscribe.

Maybe next time maybe ask what was happening, rather than telling me what my own group was doing? Because you are incorrect, and the assumption of ignorance you're making doesn't come off well.

We started without paying any money or sharing content. Individuals just made their characters in D&DB. We added content individual players didn't have in the free offering level as homebrew creations. After we had established the general utility, the GM decided to spend money on a subscription.
 

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