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Online Digital Tools Disappearance Risk Discussion

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.

My attitude is that while ongoing costs annoy me more than single-pay costs, I also don't like being at the mercy of someone else's server.
 

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billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
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.
They do, but there's a very different feeling between that and a publisher, for example, removing your access to it. It strikes me that you're being deliberately obtuse about the topic.
 

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.

I think there's a big difference between tools and support you have control over and ones you don't, though.
 

Voadam

Legend
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.
Right, so the game company yanking access to your tools creates inconvenience and ill will like the thief stealing your game bag.

A person forgetting to bring stuff is more like a server problem on the company disrupting short term immediate stuff. Annoying but not as bad as deliberately choosing to end someone else's access to useful stuff.
 

Scars Unseen

Adventurer
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.
Not really sliding past; it's part and parcel to why I prefer products over services. If I'm going to be dependent on something, I prefer to have a say over when that dependency ends.

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.
I've had my entire collection stolen from me before due to a storage unit break in when I was between apartments Yes, it was massively inconvenient. I don't really feel that burglary or theft is a great analog to having an really great online tool shut down, but in a way, it's kind of worse. On the one hand, it's worse because the company is offering this tool, already knowing that they'll take it away one day. On the other hand, it would make it worse for me to use such a service, because at least with that storage unit, I wasn't going into the deal expecting to have everything taken away from me.

Fact is, pretty much anything being offered as an online service could function as a product instead. They used to. Even online games that use central servers used to offer the software to run those servers privately. Other than the convenience of not having to do any initial setup (the existence of which would not preclude having an offline or privately hosted option anyway), everything integral to online tools' design is to serve the control and profit of the company that owns it, not the benefit of the user. And I don't see why I should buy into that, knowing it's going to bite me later on when they don't see the profit in it anymore.
 
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MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I absolutely rely on digital tools as I have to spend a lot of time working abroad and most of my gaming is via VTT and Google Meet/Zoom/Discord. But I have also have physical copies of the books on my bookshelf at home. Beyond that I don't worry too much. These are games, not cryptocurrency wallets.
 



Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
While I understand that I could easily lose physical books, etc. in a variety of ways- fire, rot, puppies, left on a bus, spilled a drink, etc.- I’ve actually lost more electronically stored data than physical.

Some of that was due to someone else’s child downloading a virus onto my Mac. Some was lost becau of lost passwords. But the bulk of it was due to obsolescence of hardware or software, sometimes due to a lack of portability to another platform or program.

So I don’t really buy electronic gaming material. I do get some for free, on occasion. And I’ve been creating my own content digitally since 1991 or so.*


* which comprises most of the stuff lost to obsolescence.
 

Voadam

Legend
While I understand that I could easily lose physical books, etc. in a variety of ways- fire, rot, puppies, left on a bus, spilled a drink, etc.- I’ve actually lost more electronically stored data than physical.

Some of that was due to someone else’s child downloading a virus onto my Mac. Some was lost becau of lost passwords. But the bulk of it was due to obsolescence of hardware or software, sometimes due to a lack of portability to another platform or program.

So I don’t really buy electronic gaming material. I do get some for free, on occasion. And I’ve been creating my own content digitally since 1991 or so.*


* which comprises most of the stuff lost to obsolescence.

All of my Apple 2e character sheets and character stories are long gone too.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
While I understand that I could easily lose physical books, etc. in a variety of ways- fire, rot, puppies, left on a bus, spilled a drink, etc.- I’ve actually lost more electronically stored data than physical.

Some of that was due to someone else’s child downloading a virus onto my Mac. Some was lost becau of lost passwords. But the bulk of it was due to obsolescence of hardware or software, sometimes due to a lack of portability to another platform or program.

So I don’t really buy electronic gaming material. I do get some for free, on occasion. And I’ve been creating my own content digitally since 1991 or so.*


* which comprises most of the stuff lost to obsolescence.
Each to their own. But my experience has been the opposite. Also, I've become a pretty fanatical declutterer. Further, I have to work away from home so often that digital is the only way I can participate in the hobby on a regular basis at this point in my life.

That said, as much as I like web tools and software for actually running the game, I do like to have PDFs for long-term storage to mitigate against the software or website losing support.

I still buy physical books, but I have cut back on my physical purchases drastically, especially adventures. Generally the only books I keep are those that are high quality, look nice, or have strong sentimental value. And at my age few new materials are going to earn and pay dividends on sentimental value.
 

Whereas, for me, if those tools still existed, I'd likely be running 4e right now. As it is currently, the system is too unwieldy to run without the tools. The tools were so integrated with that particular edition that I think it affects its stance in the hobby.
You'd probably have triple the number of players (or more) if those tools were still available.
Most of the tools do still exist. Some 4e die hards have managed to hack together a way to get the offline builder to have all the content, and they've gotten every single power, enemy, item, etc. in a version of the Portable Compendium. I've been using it to successfully run and play 4e at least a year and a half. It's sadly not a legal way of doing this, as it's copy/pasting text directly from WotC sources without getting their permission, but much like when it comes to video games, staying strictly with what's legal is terrible for preservation.

And I will note that while 4e is playable without tools like this, it's far from an ideal way of doing it. For instance, the final errata document for 4e is 140 pages long, and with the proper electronic tools, whether in the current hacked together form or D&D Insider back in the day, you don't even have to think about that. It's just all already correct.
 

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