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 New tool to check out!

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Dean

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PostSubject: New tool to check out!   Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:32 pm

So RPTools being the fuckin geniuses that they are have a new tool out for players (mostly)
http://rptools.net/doku.php?id=chartool:intro
"Character Tool helps players to manage their characters during game play. It is fully scripted so that the tediousness of tracking large numbers of stats can be automated."
The bad news is it doesn't look like 4E module is done yet Sad but something to keep an eye on, he has a screenshot up for 4e so I imagine it must be almost done.
UPDATE: It looks like they are hard at work on the 4E part but are worried about WoTC getting pissed at them so they aren't sure what they are going to do but I would watch the forums http://forums.rptools.net/viewforum.php?f=15&sid=e9a9334b1d1fd312465fa9d26e06f5da
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Vhale Arkhan
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PostSubject: Re: New tool to check out!   Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:43 pm

THis thing looks very very promising i'm going to defintiely keep an eye on it/ the under development download however is only for 3.5 ed so far.
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Amnon
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PostSubject: Re: New tool to check out!   Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:14 pm

Apart from the fact that the Encounter Tool is an absolutley huge project, I was working on it alone, and that there didn't seem to be a lot of interest in it, another part of the reason I decided to set it all aside for a while is because of Wizards new Gaming System License, which basically disallows any computer-based community contributions to D&D whatsoever. I imagine that is what RPTools is sweating over. Basically, this license means if we are going to have any techno-tools for 4e it will HAVE to he the D&D Insider stuff.
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PostSubject: Re: New tool to check out!   Wed Jul 23, 2008 2:16 am

Amnon wrote:
Wizards new Gaming System License, which basically disallows any computer-based community contributions to D&D whatsoever. I imagine that is what RPTools is sweating over. Basically, this license means if we are going to have any techno-tools for 4e it will HAVE to he the D&D Insider stuff.
How does that work, exactly? I've heard vague rumblings of discontent about dissatisfaction (both consumer and corporate) with the new GSL, though without paying too much attention to the whole thing. Can they really copyright online content that is just a transposition of published rules? I mean, it's not like the RPTools folks (or Troy, for that matter) are stealing lines of code from WotC.

Just curious if you tech-savvy bitches are up on these issues. Because it sounds, based on my extremely limited knowledge, that WotC are being assholes, and stupid ass-backwards assholes with outmoded businessmodels at that. Truth?
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PostSubject: Re: New tool to check out!   Wed Jul 23, 2008 7:46 am

Quote :
...it sounds, based on my extremely limited knowledge, that WotC are being assholes, and stupid ass-backwards assholes with outmoded businessmodels at that. Truth?

Yes, they are, though they are doing it all for the sake of business and the D&D franchise, which is gay but perfectly understandable in a business sort of way.

Quote :
Can they really copyright online content that is just a transposition of published rules? I mean, it's not like the RPTools folks (or Troy, for that matter) are stealing lines of code from WotC.

As you read through the new core rule books, everything you see is copyrighted: the stat boxes, power names, races, classes, rituals, skills, feats, etc. In many cases EXACTLY what you see is protected from copying by law, such as the stat blocks. But, in most cases, it is the package that is copyrighted. For example, they haven't got a copyright on the name "Dwarf", but they HAVE copyrighted the Dwarf as defined in the Player's Handbook. The same goes for all of the monsters in the Monster Manual, etc. So, yes, they have control over all of it.

As for online content and/or published code, it is not the code they have copyright jurisdiction over, it is the end result. Now matter how RPTools or I go about making something, if the end result looks like what they have ownership over, they can sue. For example, if you take a look at the combat card stuff I've been working on, you'll notice that the cards have a strong resemblance to the copyrighted ones in the back of the DMG. So, if I were to let it be known that I had developed something like that and that I had published it, I might be in hot water. As it stands though, I'm not worried about it because only we know about it, I'm not trying to sell it or distribute it publicly, and the whole thing is password protected.
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PostSubject: Re: New tool to check out!   Wed Jul 23, 2008 10:20 am

Quote :
that WotC are being assholes, and stupid ass-backwards assholes with outmoded businessmodels
No they are using current business models and just being heavy handed since online piracy etc is so rampant.
But the short answer is, yes they can copyright stuff like that. Like that is all technically their design so using another system that resembles theirs and taking money out of their pocket is illegal and basically gets down to the root of copyrighting. Not that you don't want anyone else making money but that you don't want to have potential dollars out of your pocket. Which is why there are licenses sold to use copyrights etc.

Anyways I think if they made the sheet look different they might get away with it but then people would bitch that it doesn't look like a Wizards sheet. Though there could still be a legal argument since you would be replicating the functions...
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PostSubject: Re: New tool to check out!   Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:48 am

Projecting my own distaste for the way they are handling things onto Matt, I'd say the fact that they are being heavy-handed is in itself the problem. I for one have a tough time seeing D&D as anything but an organized community-oriented project with lots of open source material as well as some professional material that someone gets paid for. Now, however, open source material is going to a LOT harder to come by, especially since they are cracking down hardest on digital media in a digital world. Also, as if monopolizing the franchise weren't enough, they are also simply asking for too much in exchange for their exclusive content. Taking the $15.00 per month membership fee for use of the D&D Insider stuff as an example, that is just too much to ask. I mean, that's what a WoW account costs per month and there is just no way WotC is offering anything that is even comparable to the amount of product that you get for your money in comparison to what Blizzard is offering.

The real problem here is that they are taking something that has done quite well for about 3 decades as a more-or-less open community model and they are now threatening to squeeze that communal life out of it, which is, at least in my opinion, down right assholish.
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PostSubject: Re: New tool to check out!   Wed Jul 23, 2008 12:47 pm

Amen brother!
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PostSubject: Re: New tool to check out!   Wed Jul 23, 2008 1:04 pm

Dean wrote:
Though there could still be a legal argument since you would be replicating the functions...
Yeah, it's the replicating the function thing that confuses me. To draw an analogy that is probably totally inaccurate in many ways, it sounds like WotC is saying "We have invented the word processor [D&D Insider]. If you want to process words [play online] then you must use our program." And then somebody comes along and invents OpenOffice and distributes it for free, not using the same work or whatever but in the end accomplishing the same functions--and crucially, allowing people to avoid buying the word processor. And if intellectual property law would actually protect such an argument, then that's pretty messed up.
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PostSubject: Re: New tool to check out!   Wed Jul 23, 2008 1:17 pm

Yeah the main problem is that they HAVE been able to copyright a good portion of the terminology centered around D&D. So for your word processor analogy they would say "OK you can have a word processor but if you have a spell check feature you can't call it spell check and if you you have a copy or paste feature you can't say copy or paste" etc. Someone could theoretically create an on line tool with different code than they use but it would be rather confusing because you would have to rename all the powers, some of the races, feats, effects, and no where at all could you even mention that this may be a tool used for playing the D&D game at all. So they haven't really 'prevented' people from creating on line content, they have just made it extremely difficult to create said content and not get sued if you try and profit from it.
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Dean

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PostSubject: Re: New tool to check out!   Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:49 pm

Amnon wrote:

The real problem here is that they are taking something that has done quite well for about 3 decades as a more-or-less open community model and they are now threatening to squeeze that communal life out of it, which is, at least in my opinion, down right assholish.

Yeah I agree to some degree but then I don't because I usually am very opinionated on business/capitalist stuff like this in it's defense.
I agree because like you said for 3 incarnations of the game it wasn't like this...well at least from our perspective; there have always been knock-off games and like 3rd party stuff but it was out of our view and the stuff that did come out using the d20 system (which I will guarantee they have copyrighted) was probably licensed and they paid royalties to Wizards. But again we never saw/thought about that stuff. D&D broaching the online world brings a slew of new problems; think of the movie and music industries, they didn't nip stuff in the bud and it grew to a state they couldn't control. Well along comes Wizards/D&D and they have seen what open-source and P2P can do so they say "Ok we have to take a stand or we won't see a dime from our product". So from that angle I can justify them being heavy handed about it.

Now the problem I DO have is like Troy mentioned, the pricing that they are (so far) asking. Now again my economist side comes out and says well if consumers will pay $15 then they should charge $15 and not a cent less. But my personal side says $15 is bullshit and I wouldn't pay it as it stand now. Also I have never been a big fan of the retail costs of their products, but it could be justified saying well it's a one time fee so they need to ring you up front (of course keep in mind retail ISNT what Wizards makes money on) but now if they are going to go for subscription + book fees they need to take a hit on the price somewhere.

Let's put it in honest perspective though, as a business do you think what they are really doing is harsh? Ask these questions:
- How many of us would pay for D&DI (say $15) if it did everything we wanted versus pay nothing for a program like MapTools. My guess is only a couple out of 6 would pay when faced with a free alternative.
- How many of us would/did buy the books and any additional books that come down the line? Adventures, etc? When faced with the alternative of downloading for free?
- If we were given another tool like the combat cards or char. sheet online for free or ask to pay even a minimal fee (say $1) would we?

The answer is almost always that if you have the same (or close) choice you will take the one that "costs" less (not always just money). With this in mind can you really say "Fuck that Wizards make it cheaper/free/whatever"? I mean if everyone took the free choices D&D would end (as it IS a business). In someways it is a community but not really....we don't help write the books or modules we rely on them to give us the rules and whatnot. We are community of players with other players because there is usually a bond in sharing a common interest and that community can come up with great ideas etc but it isn't their livelihood.

Anyways I think in the end Wizards might do what game software developers started doing, don't fight with the open-source guys; hire them to help you make even better product (and more money).
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