Good Builder, but slow

A few weeks ago I had chance to play with the D&D Character Builder, and was astounded by how slow it was on my computer. Knowing it would be out on Open Beta soon we deleted it (like the good people we are), and I re-installed it yesterday now it’s open for all.

And boy, is it still slow. By slow, I mean 5-10 seconds between clicking on a button or entry and the screen updating. Add that to the poor GUI design where you have to choose, click a button to say that you’ve chosen then press another button to move to the next screen and it’s not a pleasant experience at all. That’s 30 seconds wasted just trying to select “Half-Elf”. Ick. Pretty interface, but bad design. Add that to the lack of speed and I’ll stick with the Javascript Character Generator, thank you.

I’m pretty sure this is a problem specific to me as no one else is griping about this, but it’s frustrating to the point of unusability. For the record, this is on my no-name no-brand generic laptop with a 1.5Ghz Celeron and 1Gb ram. When I’m in Windows (I prefer Linux, personally, and so should you) it’s XP, Service Pack 2, .NET Framework 3 sp1. Yesterday I updated to the dreaded Service Pack 3 in the hope that would speed things up. Boy did that break things and keep me up till 3am fixing it all again. I hate you, Microsoft and your shite operating systems. To add insult to injury it didn’t change a darned thing – the Character Builder was still like swimming through treacle.

This is the box I do pretty much everything on from hardcore coding to creating 3d renders and should be more than up to the task. I can throw around thousands of lines of code, have multiple windows to the world open and be rendering a scene containing millions of polygons all at the same time. But the D&D Character Builder on it’s own brings the laptop to it’s knees and it feels like it’s a frickin’ 386. Anyone who thinks that using .NET Framework is a Good Thing needs punching in the face, hard.

I’ll stress again: it’s probably just me, and I’m sure that the D&D Character Builder will work fine for everyone else. The app certainly looks good, does what it sets out to do and (if it was speedy) I’d be shouting out how great it is. I’ll try it out on another machine is due course when I’ve regained the will to live.

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10 Comments on “Good Builder, but slow”

  1. Like I already said, I don’t know what it is that’s slowing the builder down, but it has to be something on your system.

    The Character Builder is faster than PCGen or eTools ever were.

    A quick search on the WotC forums told these as possible sources on why the generator may be slow:
    – Running the system in power-saver/low performace mode
    – having the character sheet open (as it tries to sync everything as soon as it’s changed
    – not enough virtual memory (but this shouldn’t be the case when you’re rendering with this setting, too)

  2. Yeh,I’m pretty certain that it’s something specific to my setup. I spent a fair amount of time yesterday in the forums, and no one else had a similar problem. I’m running full-speed/full-power, no open characer sheet and should have more than enough memory (virtual or otherwise) for the task.

    Ah well. I’ll keep a close eye on the forums to see if anything else might help.

  3. It’s built using the .NET Framework, which (when it works) is very good, like a meaner, leaner Java. Unfortunately when it doesn’t (which is all too often, usually due to poor coding quality) it’s Very Bad Indeed and a total memory and resource hog. In typical Microsoft fashion there’s precious few under the hood tuning or tweaking options available.

    Shame, that.

  4. I program in .NET quite a bit and yes, if it’s poorly coded, it will suck. The memory/resources are usually because of a lot of debugging code left in, if they didn’t optimize it.

    The tweaking/tuning is possible provided the developers use it. I could go on about .NET optimization, but I’ll just shut up because it’s an uphill battle. :D

    Some thoughts – do you have more than one .NET installation on your machine? Is your GAC (Global Assembly Cache) cluttered with a ton of extraneous stuff? Do you have other .NET applications running at the same time?

    Chgowizs last blog post..It’s Friday! Game night!

  5. @Dave Reported :D

    @Chgowiz As this is firmly beta, I’m pretty sure that there’s a whole chunk of debugging code in there – that’s why it surprises me that no one else is remarking on the slow speed.

    I’ve just got the one .NET installation (3.5sp1), and GAC is clear, and there’s no other .NET applications in use at all. Strange, huh.

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