A Very Brief Review of the New Monster Builder

Cubicle monkey that I am, I only had about ten minutes to pounce on the new Monster Builder released today.  I have been looking forward to this because while the Character Builder had a rocky start – it clearly had a lot of potential even from Day One. I had hoped to see at least as much potential in the new Monster Builder. I didn’t expect anything as versatile as the classic Monster Builder – but I expected a reasonable amount of functionality. I thought I was being fair minded in my hopes for it by being neither overly optimistic or purely pessimistic.

Boy, was I ever overly optimistic.

I don’t have time to write much, but here’s the list I jotted down while perusing the new Monster Builder.

CONS

  • No export
  • No copy/paste
  • No filter by level
  • No ability to print multiple monsters all at once
  • No ability to create new monsters
  • No real customization of existing monsters
    • Change level, automatically recalculates numbers
    • Rename monster
    • Rename attack powers
  • Glitchy
    • Monster block randomly jumps back and forth in the center column, clipping off the right side of the block.

Pros

  • New monster stats (that the Compendium already has)
  • Import custom monsters from classic MB (not tested)
  • Monsters are saved online (yay?)
  • Some monsters have monster art! (actually great!)

That’s it. As I commented on Twitter, the new Monster Builder does not qualify for the term “builder”. It is a Monster Namer. It barely functions as a database of monsters, and the Compendium does a better job for searching and filtering the monster database and it doesn’t require Silverlight. I can rename attack powers with Wordpad, or with a pencil, any day.

From WotC_Trevor:

Over the next few months we will be adding features and content until we meet, and in some ways surpass, what the classic Monster Builder offered.

I hope so! Until sometime happens, there really is no reason right now to use the Monster Namer over the classic Monster Builder.

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Dropbox Review

After reading DreadGazebo’s mention of Dropbox over at This Is My Game, I decided to try it out myself.

Dropbox is a online folder syncing service that has both free and paid subscriptions. There are no ads on the site, even for a free subscription, which is pretty nice and makes the site look clean and simple. The reviews I found online indicates the service is safe and secure. You sign up with an email and a password and you’re good to go.

Once you’re in, you’ve got 2GB free storage space, and if you followed someone’s referral link, you get 250MB more space (and so does the referring person). You can earn an additional 250MB by completing a simple checklist of tasks that consisted of watching the orientation video, installing the Dropbox software, uploading a file, referring another friend, and sharing a folder with a friend, etc.

The software installs pretty fast and I’ve never seen a syncing program work so simply. I’ve had some frustration with syncing programs in the past with my multi-computer home running four different operating systems. Dropbox installed on most of them, and the rest I could access via browser. Once installed, Dropbox behaves just like a regular folder on your computer. You can copy folders/files in and out of it, edit/save files, etc. It was fast, it took me less than a minute to sync the folders I wanted, and less than 5 minutes later they were available online. Online you have the option to share folders with other people, so I set one folder to share with a friend. He was able to see it almost instantly. I have some 1,000+ html files that I needed to share with my friend and this did it in mere moments. All my campaign notes and pictures also took only moments to sync. Files from my desktop, my laptop, and my netbook were all available to me when I logged onto the main site from my work computer. It feels nice and centralized having equal access to all these files from anywhere, any computer. I was also able to access my files on my droid phone. Extra win there.

As far as a free service goes, it’s pretty good. Price-wise I don’t think I’d pay up for the 50gb storage, but for up to 8GB of free storage it is was more convenient than google documents. I definitely recommend this for any DM that works from multiple computers with lots of files to manage for their campaign or anything else.