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RobA
10-17-2007, 10:07 AM
In case you haven't seen this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aLXuMb6WWw

IT is a presentation on the new VTT software WOTC will be releasing to go with the new 4th ed. D&D

-Rob A>

Joshua_101
10-17-2007, 10:18 AM
IT is a presentation on the new VTT software WOTC will be releasing to go with the new 4th ed. D&D


I'm wondering if WotC is gonna be creating virtual tile packages and making you buy them... And will we have to pay for virtual minis? D&D Insider is probably going to be a monthly paid subscription...

I'm beginning to think that 4th edition is just a money pit.

NeonKnight
10-17-2007, 11:02 AM
I'm wondering if WotC is gonna be creating virtual tile packages and making you buy them... And will we have to pay for virtual minis? D&D Insider is probably going to be a monthly paid subscription...

I'm beginning to think that 4th edition is just a money pit.

From what I understand (having been at that seminar and subsequent seminars at GenCon)

There will be a 'Base' set of tiles and Minis, but yes, of course, there will be subsequent virtual 'boosters' of Minis and Tile packs available for purchase.

Myself, I have all the plastic D&D Minis already, aswell as the cardstock DungeonTiles they produce. I have no need for the virtual stuff as I prefer my D&D games on the REAL Kichen Table.

GlennZilla
10-17-2007, 11:21 AM
I have been monitoring the announcement of D&D 4.0 for my gaming group.

We have entertained the notion of using a VTT application for gaming but we prefer the face to face time and the option to toss back a few drinks together. So fo us at least D&D is a social excuse for gathering.

While we aren't too interested in the VTT aspects the Character creator and Character Visualizer sounds really interesting. (Links can be found at http://www.dndinsider.com)

Some of our players are artists (professionally even) and the others simply drool over thier character sketches. The Character Creator and Visualizer would allow the group to roll thier characters online (And store them to avoid a lost character sheet) and create thier own art of the character's appearence.

Though I doubt all of us will spring for the monthly membership fee. I probably will and allow them to create and visualize thier characters before the game.

RPMiller
10-17-2007, 01:30 PM
Before you do that you may want to look at some of the other VTTs that are out there. Most if not all allow you to use it FtF as well so that it basically just replaces the crystal map/scratch paper that we have all used for many years.

Many VTTs are free, and offer essentially the same capabilities as WotC's. Perhaps even better than WotC's in many respects. I won't name specific ones as a cursory search through these forums will tell you which one I use, but instead I'll give you the link to a very nicely done page of links to all the various VTTs that are out there:

http://www.battlegroundsgames.com/links.html

Naryt
10-17-2007, 02:09 PM
Pyrandon, myself and our gang of thugs...I mean cohorts...I mean friends use OpenRPG (http://www.openrpg.com) and have been for over two years now. WotC's VTT has one thing (and one thing only IMO) going for it: Dynamic light sources. Of course, other VTTs (Battlegrounds to name one) already have that and others (OpenRPG) are working toward it already. Sure the 3d nature of it is great too but meh...just one more level of complexity that's can only add so much to the game before it becomes more of a pain than it's worth.

As to the Kitchen Table vs VTT debate: Kitchens win but when your players are scattered (literally) over two countries, that's going to have to be one BIG table!

RPMiller
10-17-2007, 03:44 PM
MapTool is currently adding light. As for the WotC VTT, note that the maps are still 2d, only the token is 3D and it doesn't have things like Visibility Blocking which is something MapTool has had for quite some time. It will be interesting to see how GameTable (I think that is what it is called) will improve over the next year. The real thing that it has going for it is the vast amount of money that WotC can throw at it. The biggest thing it has going against it is that it can only be used for D&D.

Torq
10-17-2007, 05:16 PM
I have used Battlegrounds for a while now as my VTT of choice. My group has found it a great tool, and its got a very uncluttered interface that concentrates on what you need the most. Also Heruca, the developer, is one of the hardest working admins I've seen. He even finds time to pop in here every now and then.

I think check out the independents first like BG, Maptool, OpenRpg and Fantasygrounds. They may not have the marketing budgets that Wizards do, but they have been putting together VTts for longer.

Torq

RPMiller
10-17-2007, 05:23 PM
I thoroughly agree Torq! Of the four you mentioned, I only give BG and MT any real praise as their developers are very responsive, hard working, and very competent. You can't go wrong with either choice. ORPG, left me wanting more because of the poor graphic capabilities that I saw and also the clunky scripting that didn't seem to always work. YMMV. I never tried FG, but from what I understand it is D&D specific which for me is an immediate pass, as I play several different systems.

GlennZilla
10-17-2007, 05:40 PM
Well at least our current playstyle is is use a 4ft by 8ft white board with magnetic tokens and iniative markers. ($15 tileboard from Lowe's and a sheet of tin siding flattened out by driving a riding lawn mower over it repeatedly.)

Since we are all deeply rooted into Oklahoma City with families, so I doubt we'll have need to connect online. I don't want to discount the many uses of VTT, they just aren't our style.

Of course now that I am looking into expanding my cartography skills, I might look at a laptop/projecter set up to display onto that same whiteboard. And using the Character Visualizer to make art to demonstrate the appearence of an NPC would be quite handy.

RPMiller
10-17-2007, 06:02 PM
Yup. There are many folks that use VTTs only in face to face gaming just because they want the features that they offer that enhances the gaming experience most notably Fog of War and Vision Blocking. Both of which are extremely difficult to manage on a table top.

I'll be working on a demo of what current VTTs have to offer probably this evening and I'll post it up so that those that may have never seen one in action can get a feel for it.

As for the projector/laptop setup, one serious word of caution. Do not use the white board. For those that aren't real picky, it will work, but for the majority it will irritate the heck out of you. It would be better to project on to a wall than to use that white board. The best idea is to get a screen or a big sheet of matte finish slightly off white paper. The white board will reflect back a bunch of light and your players will have to be moving around just to see what is in the middle of the board.

pyrandon
10-17-2007, 06:20 PM
In my (and Naryt's) experience, VTT play is quite different from tabletop play, boasting many advantages. I nowadays prefer it over face-to-face play because VTT is a literary experience--it's very much like collectively writing a novel. Because I love reading and writing but am not much of an actor, being able to write my world with others is so much more satisfying. Of course, there are downsides (time lag being #1, lack of persoanl contact being #2), but the trade-off is well worth it to me.

This also brings that new WOTC software into the picture: they are trying very hard to create a videogame atmosphere for the rpg world. Bully for them, but I'll still pass. That sort of flash and razzle-dazzle does nothing for me. I'm in it for the story, the words, not the accoutraments. While I applaud WOTC for pushing the innovation envelope, I think they go over the top on everything and are nowadays basically the epitome of a money hungry corporation. TSR did the same thing, but were less savvy. (BTW, no rip on D&D or its fans intended: it's a fine game. I just dislike the constant "Feed me" scream of the corporate monster; I feel it whenever I see or touch their products.)

That being said, I think there is some room for improvement in all VTTs. For example, the ability to create & "fly through" 3D terrains would be a sweet addition to both live and VTT players' games!

Thanks for posting the video. Very interesting.

RPMiller
10-17-2007, 06:47 PM
I have to agree with everything you said pyrandon including the WotC is CR 30 monster. ;) Although I differ slightly on the writing aspect. I like to write as well, but I find the game goes faster with being able to speak. In one game we use the chat feature in the VTT for the "table talk" and dice rolling stuff and use Ventrilo for the actually gaming stuff. In another game, we did the opposite, and in the third game we don't use VoIP at all and everything is done in chat. Although we have recently been discussing going to VoIP, but there is some hesitation by a couple players for various reasons.

We have discussed 3D for MT, but the developers currently do not want to do that for the very reason you mentioned which was turning it into a video game. They are striving to make it a tool for roleplaying, but not a replacement, which is a Good Thing in my book.

pyrandon
10-17-2007, 06:50 PM
Oh, I totally agree on the speed thing, RP: our game ranges from kinda slow to snail-paced, which can be annoying. We talked about using voice software, but have not decided to do so. Any advice/suggestions, anyone? (not to hijack this thread...)

RPMiller
10-17-2007, 06:56 PM
I would STRONGLY caution you against using Skype. Period. End of story. Don't even get me started.

Ventrilo is an excellent VoIP software and is free for up to 10 participants. You can run the server from your own computer even.

Naryt
10-17-2007, 07:59 PM
Oh, I totally agree on the speed thing, RP: our game ranges from kinda slow to snail-paced, which can be annoying. We talked about using voice software, but have not decided to do so. Any advice/suggestions, anyone? (not to hijack this thread...)

Snail paced? Are we even that fast? ;)

As for voice software, Ventrilo or TeamSpeak. Of course, I'd rather stick with text until there is a reliable transcribing software package.

pyrandon
10-17-2007, 10:39 PM
I agree with the stick to type, Naryt. I love our log (which sounds just plain-old wrong, but you know what I mean...)

ravells
10-18-2007, 04:48 AM
Agreed with all that's said here. The best RPGs I've every played has been a one on one with a friend, in a pub with only a D6 and occasionally a pencil to quickly scrawl a map on the back of a beer mat. It doesn't matter how good the maps or materials are, in the end, the canvas upon which RPGs are really played are in our heads - and that is why I far prefer non realistic maps, because they don't impose a complete physical reality on how you imagine a place to look.

Face to face group sessions have been fun too. For me, there is something irreplaceable about having face to face contact, the occasional belly laugh, tactile game aids and sharing beers and pizza. Most of my friends don't RPG any more, but we still play board games when we get together. I think there is really is a connection between getting older and being able to suspend disbelief the way we used to when we were in our twenties. That said, I'm in the process of writing a traveller adventure (3 years 40 pages and counting) and when it's finally complete, they are all keen to come over and have a whirl.

The only recent RPGs I've been playing have been run by Valarian (who occasionally posts here) which have been enjoyable, but I found that the time commitment of 3 hours or so on Sunday evenings was just too much - which was a pity because he was an excellent GM and ran some fine adventures. I did find, though that the process of typing rather than speaking tends to slow the adventure down to a snail's pace. This can be mitigated to an extent by pre-written descriptions which the GM can cut and paste but usually the players find a way to unintentionally avoid all the places that the GM has detailed so beautifully.

This is why I'm really interested in trying out the VoIP hybrid - and when I've refreshed myself with the Call of Cthulu rules and Map Tool, will be sending an invite to RP for a game!

Naryt
10-18-2007, 10:00 AM
I agree with the stick to type, Naryt. I love our log (which sounds just plain-old wrong, but you know what I mean...)

Resist Making Obscure Mathematical Joke {vs 12} [5,5,5] = 15 vs (12) or less Failure! by 3

What kind of logs are used to make cabins?

Highlight

es of course!

The mathematically overactive will know that e is, of course, the symbol for natural logs.

for the answer.

Valarian
10-18-2007, 10:27 AM
Another website that compares VTTs is http://www.rpgvirtualtabletop.com/vts.html

I agree that using a VTT for roleplay is slower than face-to-face. However, when you have two young kids and your old gaming group is scattered across the country it can make the difference between gaming once a week or not at all.

Personally, I use Fantasy Grounds as the tool of choice.

RPMiller
10-18-2007, 12:51 PM
This is why I'm really interested in trying out the VoIP hybrid - and when I've refreshed myself with the Call of Cthulu rules and Map Tool, will be sending an invite to RP for a game!
And I am eagerly awaiting! :D

torstan
10-19-2007, 05:48 AM
Maptool and ventrilo is our weapon of choice - it allows me to game with two old groups that I would never see otherwise. I can also load macros in for complicated rules (yes - I play D&D :) ) So when my monster tears the party to pieces with 7 attacks I don't have to sit there looking up all the rules and adding totals. I find it speeds things up a lot - I even ran a face to face game and just had maptool open on my laptop - the players never saw it - because it helps so much.

Also, it's been said before but bears repeating - maptool is entirely system agnostic. So much so that if someone finds they can't do something for their system the developer (trevor) will make sure it gets implemented - often in time for your game.

That's more valuable to me than WotC shiny 3D.

keithcurtis
10-19-2007, 12:14 PM
My favorite part of the video is where they talk about designing your character. "You don't have to use stick figures, or cut pictures out of your books..."
cut pictures out of your books?? Who does that?

As for VTT programs, I have yet to use one in actual game play, but MapTools seems to be the winner for me. Full-featured, has a responsive design team, runs well, and free.

RPMiller
10-19-2007, 02:10 PM
Keith, if you check out the Gemini Ascendant thread on the Hero Boards you'll be able to read about all the stuff we've been doing Hero System wise with MT as well as the support and stuff we've been getting.

Battlegrounds also recently implemented Hero System capabilities into it, and is very pretty to look at, but currently it would cost our group about $120 US to be able to use it, which still isn't bad when divided by the number of players, but still not better than Free. ;)

pyrandon
10-19-2007, 04:08 PM
Still tooting OpenRPG here. Two years running, never cost me a cent, and we have built-in GURPS rollers (including critical failures, etc.). :)

RPMiller
10-19-2007, 05:13 PM
MT not only has all the dice mechanics that GURPS uses, but also just added tables so now you can have it do all the crits, hit locations, etc in one fell swoop. Even auto rolls multiple tables. :P ;)

Let the flaming begin! :lol:

Naryt
10-19-2007, 09:33 PM
Let the flaming begin! :lol:

Have torch, will scorch...oh for heaven's sake!

The big drawback for me (us, if Pyrandon actually dares join ranks...what IS that stench?...with the fowl...er, foul punster) is the lack of text chat. MT (http://rptools.net/doku.php?id=maptool:intro) is designed for VoIP only and since one of our biggest "loves"* is the chat log generated each session MT just won't work for us. Now if someone knows of a highly reliable and accurate transcribing application that could take a recorded Ventrilo session and spit out a text log, then MT would be a viable consideration.


*OK...I just realized how creepy that word is thanks to Trin (http://www.ormonds.net/rpg/westaven/index.php/Calendar/986/August/12)...someone pass the Brain Bleach

RPMiller
10-19-2007, 10:06 PM
Um... pardon the following shocked response... what the heck are you talking about?

MT has a full chat feature and logs the entire session. It allows font colors and even has smilies. It wasn't designed for VoIP. Where did you get that idea?

Also the chat window can be auto-hidden or docked and moved anywhere and resized.

Naryt
10-20-2007, 12:40 AM
Um... pardon the following shocked response... what the heck are you talking about?

MT has a full chat feature and logs the entire session. It allows font colors and even has smilies. It wasn't designed for VoIP. Where did you get that idea?

Also the chat window can be auto-hidden or docked and moved anywhere and resized.

Well, color me blind. The last time I checked (MT had just been released) there was not a chat function (it WAS in the works though) and in my quick reading of the features list tonight, I clearly missed that bit....um....quick retort......oh yeah, we've got too much time invested in ORPG already. ;)

Actually we do have a couple of technoskidish players that would be somewhat resistant to the switch. Having said that, I just finished downloading the latest stable version.

RPMiller
10-20-2007, 12:55 AM
:D Yes, a great deal has changed since its original release. In fact, that is one of the greatest things about MT. Trevor, the developer, is releasing new features and patches every week and actually listens to those that ask for features.

I can understand the resistance to change. It is a tough thing for many to do. I think once you try it out, you may be pleasantly surprised though. Also, I would download the latest development build as well just so you can see the changes that are taking place with it.