Bill Slavicesk’s Ampersand column from a few weeks ago announcing the release of the digital character builder has been revealed to be a tone-deaf piece of self-celebration that either lies or is incredibly ignorant.

We are moving to a web-based solution to make the tools accessible to multiple platforms. The web-based solution makes it easier for us to react to new technology opportunities, such as tablets and mobile devices. We also wanted to move to a solution that promotes individual account ownership and hinders piracy. Finally, we wanted a solution that would more easily interact with our community site and Facebook, for example.

“Individual account ownership”? What does that mean? How is that different from the previous version? It sounds like they are going to try and stop people from sharing accounts. Okay, great. But don’t sell that as a feature that will improve the user experience. “Hindering piracy”? “Interact[ing] with our community site and Facebook”? Sweet. Those people who can use the app can post it in their status. What about the rest of you?

There are five things I really, really like about the new Character Builder.

  1. It’s ultimately portable. I can use it on any computer or computer-like device, wherever I am.
  2. It’s both PC and Mac friendly. I can access it from either kind of machine.

The first item is patently untrue. What it means is “I can use it on any computer that I happen to use“. Are Linux machines not computers? Are Android phones or iPhones not computer-like devices? I’m baffled to think of anything that counts as a “computer-like device” that the new Silverlight-based Character Builder runs on that isn’t a Windows or Mac desktop.

So, if you’re a D&D Insider, check out the new Character Builder starting on Nov. 16. If you’re not a D&D Insider yet, there will be demonstration videos available to show you what the new Character Builder can do.

Videos? Really? It’s the Character Builder. The name tells me what it does. I want to be able to use it without paying $10 for the privilege of trying it for a month. I want to be able to use it on my Linux laptop that I take to D&D games.

And, heck, since you mentioned it, I’d like to be able to use it on my computer-like Android phone.

But if it’s anything like previous software products for Wizards, I’ll still have to grit my teeth and use it because it’s the only game in town.

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