Another d20/OGL character generator has hit the Windows platform. It’s called RPG Xplorer, and it’s got a full-page ad in Dragon 331. I’m always happy to see more RPG utilities — heaven knows Game Master’s need all the help they can get — but looking over the site, I couldn’t help but think did we really need this utility?
A Crowded Market
It’s a character and NPC generator, which admittedly does appeal to the largest gaming audience possible (both players and game masters). But it’s a crowded field — I can think of three RPG character generators off the top of my head: PCGen, D&D eTools and Campaign Suite. And those are just the big ones; there are plenty of other OGL character generators, as well as numerous homegrown, bastardized (and totally non-OGL compliant) character generators.
RPG Xplorer’s claim to fame is that its easier to use than the others, or at least, that’s what the site says, but to my mind, it’s not enough. As a GM — and even as a player — I want the sort of tools that the other generators aren’t doing (or at least, aren’t doing that well): i.e. lots of random generators, note taking utilities, etc.
I’ll also give it a small black mark for being Windows-only, but hey, I can understand why they’d want to go running for where all the dollars are. Or at least where the users are.
If they have a demo, I’ll try it out. And I’ll be keeping an eye on them; their ad says that they are planning additional player and GM tools, so this could just be the platform for building out a larger product line.
There’s no “There” There
RPG Xplorer continues what’s becoming something of a trend in Dragon magazine, namely spending lots of money on a full-page advertisement, and then creating a non-existent or malnourished Web site. I just don’t get the logic here — the ad is supposed to drive traffic to the site, and in my case, it did. But when I got there I found only barebones information, a handful of screen shots, and more than one page that says that additional information is “coming soon”.
I know there are some uncertainties when you’re trying to run a magazine ad, and you may not be able to nail down exactly when it’ll hit newsstands and subscribers. But man, if I were buying an ad in a magazine, I’d make damn sure the site was fully fleshed out, with lots of screen shots, detailed information about what the product can do, and a working demo. Anything less is just incomprehensible to me. Sure, you get a buzz from the ad, and from posts like this talking up the new product, but how can you sustain that buzz without any substance on your Web site?