WotC has posted some updates to how D&D Insider is developing. Some of it is encouraging, some of it… not so much. There’s a rundown of the different services that are included, which also drops this in there (that I hadn’t heard about before):
A suite of small “bonus tools” that live on the web and help automate some basic tasks of being a player or DM.
The Ability Generator is useful for playing around with new characters. Meanwhile if you’re a DM, the Encounter Generator might be quite useful to you depending on your style. In addition, we’ve got a monster building tool in development right now that we hope will be ready before the Insider free trial ends.
I like that more tools are going to be included in the package, but at the same time, it’s the kind of thing that the fan community tends to do really well, and it’s difficult to imagine that WotC’s tool is going to be better.
Among the other announcements that stood out to me:
The Character Builder and the Character Visualizer are our current priority when it comes to the suite of client applications. Each will be available for the public to try out at Gen Con as we’ll have them installed on computer kiosks both in our booth and possibly also in the Sagamore Ballroom…
The Game Table is the biggest, most complicated piece of the whole package and it’s going to take the longest to get right. The good news is that it’s far enough along that it’s being used by a Tuesday night campaign being run at the office. The bad news is that the players take bets on how many times it will crash each week.
But possibly the biggest news in the whole thing? Or at least the part that will get people complaining? The money, of course!
Our current plan is to start charging for subscriptions before we have the client applications ready. That means the initial Insider subscription package will include exactly those parts that are currently in free trial mode: the magazines, the Compendium, and the bonus tools.
I’m not surprised that they want to start charging for Dragon and Dungeon ASAP. All that writing and layout doesn’t come cheap. However, the Compendium’s trial hasn’t really wowed anyone… seems like you’d want it to be really, really complete before charging for it, instead of charging for something that’s still in development. And they announced the pricing… but for those tools that they’re launching first only. Which means, this is specifically not the pricing that includes being able to play online. It’s the subscription if you want the magazines, and/or own a Mac.
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)
It seems odd to buy a 12 month subscription to something that will radically change in service later, and possibly encourage people to stick with fewer tools. Anyway, good to have some solid info, even if it still all is a bit of a mess.
(Thanks to Greywulf for inadvertently providing the scoop, and proving that Twitter is a useful journalistic tool.)
EDIT: Bonus tools are up.