3d spaces and VTTs
Hey all. I have been kicking around the idea of using a VTT to replace a tabletop for Traveller space battles. Having a virtually infinite plane to move about in is a huge benefit when an encounter takes place in outer space.
The addition of a computer to the game space, though, potentially opens other options, such as a z-plane. Are there any existing VTTs that account for movement in three dimensions?
I did once try to place models on telescoping bases, but you can only make them so tall, and they tended to topple too easily when fully extended.
What I do for height in MapTool is simply add the elevation to the label of the token. It is really quick and easy and takes care of the z-plane. You will have to do the math for the angle distances, but you would do that anyway if you were playing at the table.
My VTT is 2D and will only attempt to emulate a real gaming table (sans telescopic risers). Having said that I think it would be easier on a VTT than a real table. For one thing you can get some great 3D models of ships so getting icons is easier than getting icons of people and you can put down many of them all at once. Secondly you have no scale limits. If you want a very big battle or a cruiser coming in from a long way then thats no problem. Third, when you pack up the game table packs up with you so setting up real figures with last weeks Z height must be hard in real life.
Originally Posted by Midgardsormr
Representing height in 3D is difficult without a 3D interface and using a 3D interface in any meaningful way other than top down is also hard. We had some discussion about it over at FUM. My recommendation is to use the old BBC Micro Elite version where you have a circle rotated away from you so as to become an elipse and then show Z by a bar that rises from that circular X-Y plane up to the required Z. It was actually possible to dog fight with that after a bit of getting used to.
It would be useful if you could describe a way that you might like to have the display of the Z on screen that you can still play with. If you can come up with that then it could probably be programed. Not likely by me as I will stay 2D but thats the reason I think that its not done right now.
Edit -- Oh I should have mentioned that my VTT has square and hex grids in many scales including parsecs and lightyears. I dont think they work very well tho and they are not very useful actually.... :) I reckon you would have to make an overall scale adjustment of say 1km = 1 light year or something like that.
Actually, I used a ruler, line-of-sight, and vector addition. It's amazing how much math you don't have to do once you understand how the math actually works. It wouldn't be terribly difficult to set up a spreadsheet to do the trig, though, so that might work.
Originally Posted by RPMiller
As to how I imagine the display... well, I don't know. Perhaps a primary top-down view and a secondary elevation display. To be honest, I hadn't even thought about it until something in another thread prompted me to do so (a comment about 3d models instead of tokens). So I don't have any preconceived ideas yet.
In any case, you've answered my question: No, there isn't one out there at this time, but probably any of them could be used the way RPM describes. At the very least, using a VTT is superior in almost every way to using a table and minis for this purpose, for the reasons previously given.
In another thread Blender (www.Blender.org) was brought up as a 3D animation tool. It's open source and free too.
You could import models of the ships and place them in 3D space. Then use the built in measurement tools to determine the distances and angles involved. The ability to pan and rotate the camera would be invaluable in that situation.
A nice projector or an HDTV with DVI inputs would be helpfull for the player at the back of the room to see what's going on.
All of this is assuming that you are gaming at a table, my idea won't help at all with remote players.
And you could make each turn a keyframe and output a rendering of the fight, should it need to be recorded for later.