Virtual Tabletops, The Future, and Me
The first time I every played with a virtual table top was years ago, before there was a Google+ or Hangouts. Back in those days, VTTs, connected with real time texting, and a lot of emphasis was on making the interface pretty.
Not only did I feel disconnected, in a way that was just one step removed from a play by post on a forum, but there were too many bells and whistles for me. I also want to emphasize that is–for me. If I know something can do something, I want to be able to do that thing.
Not too far into the future, I started using Google+ as my primary means of communicating about roleplaying games. Not only was it a great place to find people to discuss games in a way that was far less contentious than RPG forums, all of those RPGs that I wanted to play that didn’t have local interest, had interested people online.
Eventually I got to run several really great sessions of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying online, which also allowed me to play with some friends that I had a harder time gaming with face to face. Eventually some tools were developed for Hangouts that allowed dice, dice results, numbers, and phrases to be displayed on the screen, which was all perfect for running Marvel Heroic. There were some tools tailored for RPGs, but only needed to add in what you were using, and what was used was very simple to implement.
Then, time moved on. Roll 20 became a huge thing with online gaming. This is a great thing for the gaming community. I’m not saying anything negative about the actual platform. There is a lot going on, but it also facilitates a lot of different RPG experiences.
But I’m right back where I started. I knew in the past that I had problems with VTTs and obsessing over options. I decided that I wanted to sit down and get comfortable with the platform. I did this for multiple reasons:
- Increasingly it seems harder to find gamers that are interested in just a “plain” teleconference RPG experience
- I don’t like to get too stagnant with anything, weather its learning new game systems or new ways to game
- I want a wide range of venues available, in case I can’t find interest in the games that I want to try in a given venue
- I like to game with a wide variety of new gamers–I have a stable Thursday night game, that I love, but I also want to push myself outside of my comfort zone
- I kept having options selected that I couldn’t deselect, which locked out other options
- I kept getting lost in what layer I was in, moving from GM, to map, to token level, and not being sure about how I got to that place
- I had problems being able to select my maps once I uploaded them if I wanted to resize them
- Apparently you can make your freehand drawings into tokens, but I couldn’t make it work