DungeonScape, I Hardly Knew Ya

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When I first heard of Project Morningstar, the conceptual title for DungeonScape, months ago my interest was peaked enough to engage.  What I discovered then was a team of people who had an earnest love of gaming, excited about their future with the largest Tabletop Gaming Company out there.  I loved the excitement and I’ve yet to come across a company as engaging as the folks over at Trapdoor Technologies.  Initially, despite my enjoyment of their community involvement, I was skeptical that I would ever use their product.  I’ve never been enamored with Character Builders much, I like paging through the books, and frankly I’ve never seen any digital tools put out by Wizards of the Coast that have earned much more than a “meh” from me.  This was a third party developer though, a chance to do things right, so I stuck around for more information.

I’m glad I did.  I can’t lie and claim that being invited to the DungeonScape Press Invitational at Gen Con wasn’t a huge boost to my presence here on the net as a blogger about the games I love.  It’s easily been the biggest thing that’s ever happened to my blog and I’ve since used the boost it gave me to garner more attention from the gaming companies whose products I wish to review, and to meet so many more great gamers out there.  I think this all needs to be said because while I shall attempt to come across as unbiased as possible here, I want you all to know that I consider the people at Trapdoor Technologies friends, and really owe them one for picking a small fry blogger out of St. Louis to be one of their Gen Con reveal agents.

I’ve spoken about what I saw at Gencon here on the blog of course, and from the tone of that article it is easy to see that I was excited.  Given what I saw at Gen Con hearing that Wizards of the Coast has ended their relationship with Trapdoor Technologies is frankly baffling.  In regards to the iOS they basically had a finished product, without the yet to be released books of course but still mostly complete.  I felt the beta process was moving along well enough and we’d of likely seen a launch a little after the initial suggested launch dates but I’m not certain WotC is currently in the place to throw stones regarding delays.

I really don’t get this move.  5e isn’t even done launching and Wizards is scrapping some promising Digital Tools that haven’t even made it out of Beta, hence the title of the post.  Does WotC even know what it wants to do with a digital toolset?  If it’s more of the same I’m out.  If I get a sniff that they are going to try and hand us another lame subscription based Digital Toolset my eye-roll will make the locals think the New Madrid Faultline has finally quaked.  I don’t want to be too harsh but the 4e digital stuff was largely crap and certainly not worth a monthly subscription.  The stuff I saw Trapdoor Technologies presenting was great and I really hope I get to see some more come from them, but even they would never get a monthly subscription out of me.  I stand by my earlier words that choosing a third party to handle the Digital Tools for 5e remains the best course WotC can take.  Who knows, maybe they’ll surprise me, though I’m not holding my breath.

I’m truly saddened by this and certainly wish everyone at Trapdoor Technologies the best, hoping madly that they end up creating some really cool stuff for me to use to enhance my games (damn I really wanted to see the Forge in all its glory!).  If I were to conjecture my opinion would be that this split was over either the amount of 5e content that would be available within the tool and WotC may have been uneasy thinking folks would stop buying the books, or maybe they just really love that subscription based price model.  I’m still going to support WotC because I honestly love 5th Edition and up until this point they have really seemed to have an ear to the community with the intention of making the game we want to see.  This isn’t a death blow to the game at all, just a huge missed opportunity in my opinion.

My message to Wizards of the Coast can be summed up by Mr. Tim Heidecker himself-

-Melvs

 

 

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3 thoughts on “DungeonScape, I Hardly Knew Ya

  1. Yep – you’ve pretty much nailed my thoughts on the whole debacle. My guess is the corporate “experts” couldn’t work a way to monetize the digital tools in a way that they considered profitable enough, so scrapped it. 😦

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  2. As much as I wanted this product to be a success, I do understand WotC decision to end their partnership with Trapdoor. I was a beta tester for the web version and it was far from a finished product. Numerous bugs, incomplete features and a difficult to navigate interface was made it impossible to even create a working 1st level character.

    Don’t get me wrong, I believe that Dungeonscape had a lot of potential and I do wanted it to succeed. But I was a bit disappointed by the very early state in the development of the web version. At best the product felt like an early alpha preview. Given a year or two, I do believe that it could have been awesome, but for now it simply doesn’t cut it.

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  3. I was underwhelmed with the Web Beta myself, but I had also seen the far more complete iOS version so I had a better idea of what was coming. Thing is, beyond the Character Builder everything they were doing was brand new. I don’t know much about building something like this but I’d imagine something like what they had planned may take a while. Perhaps the estimate of a release prior to the new year was a bit overreaching.

    Personally, I feel WotC didn’t care about where they were in the process. I said it in the blog and I still feel this way, WotC was likely more concerned that DungeonScape would be such a good electronic version of D&D that people would start gravitating more toward it (and the Ebook versions of the Supplements) than using the physical books WotC sells.

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