Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Codename: Morningstar is Coming

Yesterday Wizards of the Coast announced a new project Codename: Morningstar (see Introducing Codename: Morningstar for more). Initially details were pretty sparse and the article was buried within the news archives instead of being on the D&D front page which led many to theorize that it was posted prematurely. Even today - now that the date has been changed on the article and Codename: Morningstar has taken their webpage from a bland and meaningless screen to one that actually provides you with some information - the damned article is still buried in the archives and not on the front page.

At first we knew next to nothing about Codename: Morningstar or about it's parent company, Trapdoor Technologies. Thankfully +Russ Morrissey and the EN World community has been really digging into this program and they've found out a lot of information about it (see D&D Licensed Tools: Morningstar for some of the most in depth coverage on this story).

Here's what the new page has to say about Morningstar.
You found us!  Now roll for insight.

Hello, my name is Evan Newton, and I am the Producer for Codename: Morningstar.

We are a small group of artists, designers, and engineers who have the honor of building a powerful set of digital tools, in partnership with Wizards of the Coast, for the 5th edition of the Dungeons & Dragons Tabletop Roleplaying Game.

So what exactly is Codename: Morningstar?

Codename: Morningstar is an integrated toolset and rules knowledgebase for Dungeon Masters and players.  It combines rules, character sheets, and adventures together into a clean interface that allows fast and easy management of a face-to-face game.  But, to be honest, that’s not all it will offer.

Here are just a few of a large list of features we’re developing:
  • A powerful and customizable character sheet
  • Fast, guided, character creation
  • Adventure management and tracking as a DM
  • Party communications between players
  • Simple rules search, bookmarking, and annotations
  • Online or offline play
In addition, I’m excited to share that (once the tool launches) all the latest D&D adventures and content will be available to download as they are released, simultaneously with the physical versions.

Our goal with this toolset is to make it simple and powerful.  As huge fans ourselves, we want Codename: Morningstar to be as flexible as possible while preserving the essence of the D&D tabletop roleplaying experience.  We can’t wait to let you play with it.

However, the truth is, we need your help.  In order for us to bring you the best companion to your game, we need your thoughts and suggestions.  How do you play?  If you had the chance to design a digital tool for 5th edition, what would you want?

Let us know what you think through Twitter and Facebook.  I’ve got more updates coming up very soon, including an FAQ and information on how to sign up for our Beta program.  (Codename: Morningstar).
So Codename: Morningstar is clearly going to be an online tool but there's an aspect of it that really has me intrigued. ". . . Once the tool launches all the latest D&D adventures and content will be available to download as they are released . . ." (Codename: Morningstar).

Clearly this is going to be a subscription based tool, but if the price is right then that statement alone has made me interested enough to give it a shot. If I can get everything as the day it launches at a reasonable price then that's pretty awesome.

Your thoughts?

17 comments:

  1. Uh... here we go again. Maybe the third time's the charm.

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    1. I certainly hope so. The digital tools always have so much potential but they always seem to fall flat on their faces when they launch.

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  2. It's business meeting/collaboration/training software tweaked to be D&D software, or at least that's all it has to be.

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    1. You know when you say it like that it seems so easy to just combine all of that into a single location yet we've seen it fail time and time again. I wonder why? A confused purpose of the software? Not enough coherent direction from Wizards?

      I've lots of questions without answers that we can get from the outside looking in.

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    2. *that should be can't get from the outside looking in.

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  3. I used (and still use) the D&DI Compendium for its glossary. If there were simply a wiki (a la d20srd.org) with some advanced filters, with bookmarking and annotations -- come to think of it, hobbyists do that for free all the time.

    Why one earth would you make one proprietary software? Sounds like a bad deal.

    --Dither

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    1. I think that a proprietary software that constantly updates and provides you with copies of the latest books, adventures, and sundry would be a good deal if the price were right.

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    2. Maybe. Mmmaybe. Maaaybe. Maybeee. I dunno.

      --Dither

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  4. The messaging on this has me concerned. If this were going to be included in DDI, I would think WotC would be trumpeting it from the roof tops... The fact that they aren't says to me that we're not going to like the pricing scheme. Pay to WotC for magazine content and then pay something else for campaign tools? That would be a huge mistake.

    I posted some additional thoughts here.
    http://ragingowlbear.blogspot.com/2014/06/d-5e-digital-codename-morningstar.html

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    1. I wonder if they're gun shy? After the failed launch of Fourth Edition's digital tools - and it was a failed launch - where they promised us the moon and delivered far short of that it seems like they're hesitant to do the big announcement/pronouncement thing.

      And now I'm off to read your blog post!

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  5. This is a classic blunder. Wizards is contracting to create an exclusive set of tools instead of leveraging and integrating with the tools that their customers are already using.

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    1. "Never get involved in a land war over the Internet."

      --Dither

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    2. It's hard to call it a classic blunder Robert when we haven't seen the actual product yet or even had a detailed schematize of what it includes and provides to the user. This may be a situation where everything is perfect as the people working on this project have been at it for a long time (seemingly two years since they've left everything else go dark and it appears that they have focused exclusively on designing this project).

      Could be great, could be terrible. We'll have to wait we have a clearer picture of exactly what it provides, costs, and its functionality before we can make a realistic value judgement on it.

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    3. Dither

      I love that turn of the phrase! Made me laugh my ass off! :D

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    4. True, we don’t know the whole story. I am certainly making a big guess here. But I’ve been in the software game long enough to recognize the pattern and feel pretty confident in calling it. The situation itself is looking to be an uphill battle, so even perfect execution can’t be sure to overcome that. But I’ll be happy to be proved wrong.

      Imagine that, instead of selling PDFs of the OOP products, they had contracted a company to build a completely new, Wizards-only e-book format. There’s a slim chance that all the stars would align and that would turn out great, but it would’ve been very slim.

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    5. "Imagine that, instead of selling PDFs of the OOP products, they had contracted a company to build a completely new, Wizards-only e-book format"

      I feel like that would be madness personified. From what I've been able to determine Dungeons and Dragons doesn't sell enough - none of the rpgs do - to justify the cost and labor associated with a project like that.

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