Tuesday, March 21, 2017

First thoughts on DND Beyond Beta

Now i typically try to find the positives in every situation, and i don’t think i’ve ever written an especially harsh or critical review.  Well, that’s probably going to change today because my first experience with Beyond has been pretty bad.  Read on to see where and why my confusion is shifting to irritation.

So here’s how this story goes…

I see the earth shattering news that we’re getting a set of online tools to use to play our favorite RPG.  

I sign up for the Beta like a good consumer, because i’m interested.

I see the notification that it goes live Monday the 20th.  

I am excited to explore this new tool kit and see what it does.

I go to the page, explore one of the first tabs, something about what to do between adventures, and then i see the spells tab and click on that

And now i have to log in with my Twitch Account….Why?  I signed up for a Beta, why do i need a different account?  Why can’t i just use the e-mail i signed up for the Beta with?  What’s the point of doing a Beta if i have to have another account to utilize this program?

So i attempt to login with my Twitch Account, and that goes precisely nowhere.  I’m using internet explorer because i’m using an office workstation and the boss doesn’t trust firefox, let alone chrome.  I get to the point where i am supposed to authorize my account to have access to Beyond and then it goes to a code 400 error, which as far as my non tech brain seems to think is that the machine spirits inside the internet have decided that this isn’t something i need.

I try to figure out ways around this for about an hour, and it goes nowhere.

I send tweets to Beyond, no response.

I send an E-mail to the only e-mail i can find for Beyond...so far no response.

I send a message on Facebook to them, so far no response.

Friends who have better access indicate that their iconic D & D beasties (like Beholders) missing from the core stuff so far.  That makes sense, these are the SRD rules that Wizards decided everybody could have for creating content.  

So two or three hours later, and i still can’t get into the system and at this point i’m irritated.  The platform isn’t letting me in so i can look at the stuff, and i can’t post an error report because i can’t log in to the system (that’s a hell of a Catch 22, isn’t it folks?).

So i leave the thing alone for the rest of the day (Beyond seems to have caught on at this point and are trying to get me to take screen shots of an issue on a desktop computer), and i still can’t access the system from the office workstation i’ve been working on.

I go home, i sit down at my chrome fueled machine and log in with two clicks.  I am under amused at this development.  Way to build a cross platform tool kit that doesn’t seem to want to work with internet explorer.

The Day continues to cycle, and the next morning comes and we’re back at the office again.  I try to log in to the system again, thinking that since the authorization issue i was running into should be solved, i should be able to access the system, right?

Nope, keeps tossing an unexpected error at me, and i can’t log in from the workstation.  

Now i’m pretty much done with the tool kit.  

Story time over.

Now i’m sure that some of you are reading this and wondering why i’m bitching about this if i can access it from my home computer, but not the office one?  Well, if the premise of the DND Beyond kit is that it can be used from anywhere and with potential offline applications as well, then not being able to use it at half the computers i use is kind of a problem.  Not everyone in the universe is going to use Chrome or Firefox or whatever other internet browser you have, and unless this issue is found, there’s no reason to consider using this tool kit over actually carrying your books with you and springing for some colored tabs to lay in bookmarks.  This is a fundamental issue with access and availability.  If this gets resolved/fixed, then sure, i’ll consider giving it an additional look, but i think right now i vastly prefer using the SRD and my actual books.  

Anyway, that’s my thoughts on the DND Beyond “Beta” test.  Hope it gets smoother as time goes on.  

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