UPDATE: Not slow any more! Fixed! I’d like to see an option in the Character Builder to select whether it uses the hardware renderer or not (looking at other .NET apps, that can easily be implemented) but turning off hardware acceleration from XP’s Display Properties dialog box does the trick.
Last time I took a look at the D&D Insider Character Builder, I found it to be far too slow to be usable on my computer. As it came out of Beta yesterday, I took it for another spin, and while it’s better, it’s still not a pleasant experience.
I’ll stress first of all that I’m pretty sure that the problems I’m having don’t seem to be usual; if they were, this would be all over other folks’ reviews of the Character Generator, but there’s ne’er a word. I think the problems are primary down to the setup of my laptop. It’s nothing special – Windows XP (dual boot Linux, but that’s by-the-by), 1Gb RAM, 40Gb hard drive, 1.5Ghz processor. In other words, a typical off-the-shelf cheap no-name no frills knockabout lappy. I suspect the problem lays with the on-board graphics card which is a gawd awful S3 Openchrome pile of crud (had I known at the time…….. ick). I think it doesn’t like working with .NET Framework. I can’t blame it – neither do I.
But anyhow. That’s just to make it clear that this isn’t a dig at Wizards’ or the Character Builder, which does look rather spiffy. I’m just pissed that it’s so darn painful to use.
With the Beta version, I could select an option (clicking Cleric, say), then have to wait 8 seconds before the “Select this” button activated, then have to wait another 8 seconds before I could click “Next”. On. Every. Frickin’. Screen. Whatever I did the program took 8 seconds to update, whether it was looking through the available Powers (8 seconds per click) to choosing a race (8 seconds per click) to selecting equipment (8 seconds per click). By now, you’re probably annoyed that I’m saying “8 seconds per click” all the time – imagine counting those seconds in your head each and every time. Suffice to say, I deleted the fecker.
Wizards’ interface design doesn’t help matters, of course. They threw away three decades of Good Interface Design Theory and decided require folks to make a selection, and confirm the selection before being able to move on. In every other wizard-style interface, you make your choice, then click next. If you change your mind, you just press the Back button. Oh wait – Wizards’ forgot one of those too. Because the Character Builder Beta was so slow on my computer, I grew to hate that “Select this” button and Wizards’ “we know better when it comes to good interface design” attitude. Grrrrr.
With the new release, I was hopeful that things would be better, and in a way, it is. We’re down to 4 seconds between screen updates. That’s better, but it’s a bit like saying Mars is closer than Saturn. To far is still too far. Now it doesn’t feel ike a bad slideshow, but like a poorly written DOS app from the 1980s. That’s progress, I guess.
So yeh, I deleted it again, along with the 3500Mb+ heap of crapola that is the .NET Framework. I could spend time trying to tweak my graphics card settings, disabling Direct Draw in DXDIAG or whatever, but I shouldn’t have to do any of that. Not for a primarily text-based application that would have been better implemented as a web app.