(For those of you just joining us, Wizards of the Coast announced D&D 4th Edition and their web server turned into a small pile of crisped meat. Also, the new edition will be accompanied by a big online product, which is sort of a part of this other Gleemax thing.)
Well, it’s more articulate than “Service Unavailable” now, but still, the idea that they didn’t think to invest in a short-term bandwidth solution is just embarrassing. However, I think we can trust this video of the D&D Insider gameplay screen, seeing as how it comes from the same YouTube user that posted all this other stuff including the complete Gen Con presentation.
I’m disappointed in the approach they took to online play, although not for the reasons you’re seeing all over – “Oh, boo hoo, D&D is just a video game now.” And what, Mr. Bitter McNostalgiapants? – but for reasons of practicality. There’s a shift now starting in online gaming, away from downloads and 3D and toward in-browser games that can be developed more quickly and reach more people faster. It worries me that WotC is throwing more software at the problem of an authoritative online-play experience than they really need to, instead of taking this more agile, less-software approach; I fear another Master Tools debacle.
At the same time, it’s incredibly clear that we’re not looking at the final version of the software. So I reserve judgment. I also hope to see more of the social aspects of the D&D Insider product, and how they’ll be integrating their online supplements into this whole thing.