PDA

View Full Version : To Map in VTT or not to map in VTT



RPMiller
06-03-2008, 12:05 PM
A few VTTs out there have the ability to be used a mapping tool as well as a virtual game table. I'm curious about:


Which VTT do you use?
Does it have the ability to allow you to map in it?
Do you use that ability?
How quickly can you produce an encounter map with it?
How is the quality of the map?
How usable was the map?
Post an example?
How long did it take?
Do you prefer this method versus creating the map in an external application?
Any additional comments you would like to add?

Here are the answers from me:


MapTool
Yes
Sometimes
I've been able to crank one out in under 2 minutes
Quality was decent
The map was very useful
Sure
Took about 5 minutes
It depends on what I'm creating. If it is an encounter that I didn't plan on or is intended as a quick encounter than this method is the best as the players don't have to wait for the process of creating something in an external app and they get to watch it unfold on screen which keeps their attention.
Not currently

Here's a sample exported directly from MapTool:

dorpond
06-03-2008, 01:49 PM
My answers are identical to RPMillers for the most part.

Couple things I would like to add:

- What is important for me in a VT is the ability to improvise on the spot. You know players as well as I do - you have no idea where they will be going today. It is important for a GM to be able to do the same things he can do with a rubber battlemat and be able to draw stuff on the fly quickly. Maptool is able to do this very well and I use it every game. These on the fly drawingas can be as simple as using a dry erase or as advanced as using textures to draw with.

- This reminds me of a contest we had at RPTools.net to see who could make the fastest map on the spot. It can be found here: http://forums.rptools.net/viewtopic.php?t=2624

- The greatest thing about a VT battlemat versus a rubber battlemat is that there is no limit to the size of the battlemat (at least in Maptool anyway). I have had players who never bought the Longshot feat (D&D3.5) previous to Maptool because they knew that encounters never get that big. Now with Maptool, I have players shooting 1000' away (200 cells) and enjoying every minute of it. No rubber battlemat is going to be THAT big! :)

Valarian
06-04-2008, 09:04 AM
Personally I prefer to map outside the VTT, so my answer to the query in the title would be: "Not to map in VTT". Anyway ...

1. Which VTT do you use?
Fantasy Grounds
2. Does it have the ability to allow you to map in it?
Yes
3. Do you use that ability?
No
4. How quickly can you produce an encounter map with it?
Very, freehand drawing
5. How is the quality of the map?
As good as the person drawing, so in my case v. bad). It's better with a tablet (or so I've heard)
6. How usable was the map?
Same functionality as any other map in Fantasy Grounds (grid, masking, drawing tools, pointers, tokens).

The rest isn't really relevant as I don't use the functionality. My free hand drawing is terrible. I think I've mentioned my lack of talent before.

Sigurd
06-09-2008, 01:33 PM
Fantasy Grounds lets you draw lines with a mouse or tablet. It lets you drop icons (that could be trees, mountains etc...) onto a shared picture.

It doesn't have very good drawing support. The dropped icons can't be frozen in place and its hard to deal with multiple icons without moving the wrong icon. I absolutely import finished maps into FG. It imports any windows graphic format and is pretty good at sharing esp small size pics.


I should say that even for FG maps I'd rather have a full blown decent detail graphic file. I can shrink, cut, or otherwise modify any digital file to make it game ready. I typically make game copies of the maps and keep originals around any changes.


Sigurd

Valarian
06-09-2008, 02:24 PM
Even the VTT tools that allow mapping can't measure up to a tool that is designed for mapping or drawing. I'm a believer in the right tool for the right job. A VTT is a tool for running a game, not mapping. There are tools for mapping, why not use them? Try and do both in a VTT and the VTT will do neither well.

RPMiller
06-09-2008, 04:15 PM
Even the VTT tools that allow mapping can't measure up to a tool that is designed for mapping or drawing. I'm a believer in the right tool for the right job. A VTT is a tool for running a game, not mapping. There are tools for mapping, why not use them? Try and do both in a VTT and the VTT will do neither well.
I think that depends on what your definition of doing it well is. As I've posted above, that map worked perfectly for the session it was used in and was done almost spur of the moment. I would challenge anyone to build a map similar to that one in a full fledged drawing tool and get it uploaded and made playable in the same amount of time.

RobA
06-09-2008, 04:18 PM
There was a brief (but aborted) shared whitespace implementation for Inkscape called Inkboard (google search (http://www.google.ca/search?q=Inkboard)). Too bad. I think it would have made a great VTT package.

-Rob A>

RPMiller
06-09-2008, 04:25 PM
Did it support chat and online rolling as well? ;)

RobA
06-09-2008, 04:37 PM
OK - a great START for a VTT. Chat was supported cause it actually ran over a Jabber back channel. Dice rolling would just have been a python script away... :P

-Rob A>

RPMiller
06-09-2008, 04:41 PM
Cool. It would have to support macros, and token movement as well as light, Fog of War, and Vision blocking. Perhaps if they had continued it... ;)

Did I ever mention how cool MapTool and Battlegrounds are as VTTs? ;)

Now to get things back on track, I've listed 10 questions above for those that are skipping to the last post. ;)

kalmarjan
06-09-2008, 08:28 PM
A few VTTs out there have the ability to be used a mapping tool as well as a virtual game table. I'm curious about:


Which VTT do you use?
Does it have the ability to allow you to map in it?
Do you use that ability?
How quickly can you produce an encounter map with it?
How is the quality of the map?
How usable was the map?
Post an example?
How long did it take?
Do you prefer this method versus creating the map in an external application?
Any additional comments you would like to add?




Fantasy Grounds
Yes, but that *ability* really sucks in my books. Sorry FG.
If I had to, really really fast. Think about as fast as drawing on a Chessex battlemap. Only problem is I ONLY have a fine fine pen.
With a small pen like that, even with a tablet, it sucks.
Very usable, once I explained what the map represents. Like on a chessex battlemap. Oh, why can't FG have layer styles, drop shadows etc. LOL
I would post an example, but what's the point. You get the picture. I don't want something like that linked to me. I am a professional after all. ;)
Map was done in seconds. Like I drew it on a battlemap
Hell no. I prefer making maps in Photoshop. End of story. Maybe even illustrator if I am feeling razzy. In FG? Only when I need something on the fly.
FG is not a mapping tool. I am cool with that. I wish that there was a way to make the "marker" bigger though, and change the color. That way, it would be more versatile. Nothing says scary like having a nicely rendered map of the lake of the four moons, then have something like a random encounter come up... and you need to place some stuff on a blank page. Then you have to scribble to show the bushes and stuff. But you are scribbling with a 0.01 pen. That does not even bleed for heck's sake. Ah forget it. I will just draw an "X" here. That is a tree, K? This wavy line over here is the river. Yes, it is really thin, but I only got this really really fine pen, so back of mister!

I am not knockin FG, I LOVE the program. I just wish I had a bit better drawing tools is all.

Sandeman

Redrobes
06-09-2008, 08:56 PM
Which VTT do you use?
Does it have the ability to allow you to map in it?
Do you use that ability?
How quickly can you produce an encounter map with it?
How is the quality of the map?
How usable was the map?
Post an example?
How long did it take?
Do you prefer this method versus creating the map in an external application?
Any additional comments you would like to add?




ViewingDale
Yes*
Always
Few minutes - depends on the map complexity.
See* or here (http://www.viewing.ltd.uk/cgi-bin/viewingdale.pl?category=movies)
Very
See*
3 mins 49 secs movie (simple dungeon)
Of course. You still need an image editor for creating the tokens/stamps/icons but nothing else comes close for a token compositor. :)
You can change any part of it later. Nothing is fixed like in a bitmap editor. Maps generally much higher res than most image editors. Like the best of vectors and bitmaps in one.


* See this thread for the movies (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=2182)

RPMiller
06-10-2008, 12:19 AM
Very cool stuff!

I hope you don't mind if I add some additional questions since I haven't really looked at ViewingDale?
These are all specific questions for what I use so they are especially of interest to me. :)


So can you do hex maps as well?
Does it support vision blocking in addition to the fog of war?
Does it support light?
How does it handle custom dice mechanics?
Does it support macros?
Can you assign properties to tokens and have those properties picked up by the macros?
Does it have any sort of initiative tracking system?

Redrobes
06-10-2008, 08:03 AM
Very cool stuff!

I hope you don't mind if I add some additional questions since I haven't really looked at ViewingDale?
These are all specific questions for what I use so they are especially of interest to me. :)


So can you do hex maps as well?
Does it support vision blocking in addition to the fog of war?
Does it support light?
How does it handle custom dice mechanics?
Does it support macros?
Can you assign properties to tokens and have those properties picked up by the macros?
Does it have any sort of initiative tracking system?


1. Yes
2. No
3. No but I feel like it should. It supports dark tho - its easy to have shadows but not clear areas that brighten than base. I have had a few maps of late that could have done with that so I think this might get added. I think this is different from MapTools light tho. I don't think MapTool does light the way I would like to have light.
4. Its an expression parser which handles any resonable sized dice. Thats free so give it a try (http://www.viewing.ltd.uk/cgi-bin/viewingdale.pl?category=dice).
5. Yes - try it.
6. No - its definitely staying game agnostic
7. Not a built in calculator type thing but its easy to do init order via tokens.

RPMiller
06-10-2008, 10:49 AM
Thank you for the info. I'll take a look at the expression parser. The dice used in the Hero System give any VTT a run for its money and most fall short of providing everything that we need to have the VTT handle all the dice in an effective manner, so I'm very curious to see what it can do. Perhaps if you ever have time to run a demo that I can connect to and we can chat about it and and I can give you specific questions that would be great.

Regarding #6, a VTT can still do this and be system agnostic if the user is allowed to define the properties that are used to begin with. MapTool recently implemented this and it works great. There are at least 4 different systems that I've seen people using with it.

Anyway, thanks again for the answers and I don't want to derail my own thread, LOL, so I'll ask further questions in PMs or you are welcome to contact me for a demo session. I am interested in learning more as I wasn't even aware of it when I was first looking into VTTs.