Virtual Table: Great first game! Thoughts and impressions.

I just got done with my first game using the Virtual Table and thought I should share some of my thoughts. First of all I have to throw out a huge thanks to Trevor Kidd and Mike Robles for making it possible for all the players in my game including me to take part in the Beta.
I was so excited to get my beta invite I did what I always do, I jumped in and got a group together to play. I set aside forty minutes to whip up an adventure. At the end of my forty minute cram session I had four encounters built with five different enemy types. The lack of monster import had me spending most of my time entering monster stats and attacks.
This will be a group post allowing many of the people who took part in my game to add their thoughts and recommendations.
Thadeous:
I’ll make this short and sweet so others can give their thoughts and impressions. I’ll add them to this post through out the day. My overall experience was awesome; I spent a lot of time saying “I wish they had added this feature” only to find it a few minutes later. We had a few connection issues but for the most part once it was up and running we really didn’t have any disconnects or running problems.

Things done well:

  • Incorporation of dungeon tiles is great! Being able to build a huge map out of tiles is something I only get to do so often. Most of the time my players only get to see one room or so of tiles since my table is only so big and it take a bit more time that I usually have to put together multiple maps.
  • Creating the rooms with the tiles was quick and easy. The selection was not huge but it’s beta so I wasn’t expecting them to include every published set. With in 15 minutes I had a decent sized map with some interesting terrain whipped up and ready to go.
  • Blasts/Bursts/Zones could all be made by players in their own colors. They can last until the players or the DM delete them. Notes can be added to the game map so players and the DM can tell what the blast or zone is.
  • The initiative tracker is easy to use and self sorting. Adding and removing entries was quick and easy.
  • There is a journal tool included, possibly one of my favorite tools.
  • Voice Fonts! Voice filters each player or DM can add to change the way they sound. For a DM like me who sucks at voices these are gonna be fun and get some mileage in my games.
  • Monster tracking was simple with the ability to add marks, bloodied status and free spaces for any other conditions powers might cause.

What I would change:

  • Everyone is thinking it and some people have said it and so will I: Character & Monster imports.
  • The line of sight tool should be visible to the DM and players. This would allow discussion about LOS issues and rules to take place with everyone on the same page.
  • Character exporting is functional but not very intuitive, placing it on the navigation bar might help solve this issue.
  • Including the ability to create custom tokens or import tokens could really help the over all experience.
  • The blast/burst/zone creator could use visible tags, and the colors could be a bit darker. Mouse over information would be really useful; including the creators name and the effect would be nice.
  • Allowing customization of the lay out would also be nice. It’s a really functional setup but I know people love to set their own design. I like having a chat panel on the left side of my screen and so on. Being able to set up my desktop as I wish would be fun.
  • Being able to set up cover and line of sight restrictions before the battle and letting the map calculate the effect would be nice.
  • A sound or alarm on critical rolls would be nice. I often found my self looking at the sum of the rolls and the modifiers and not the actual dice rolls so I missed it almost every time the players rolled a crit.

All in all this looks like a seriously good map tool. To think it’s all hosted online is freaken awesome! I can’t wait to see how it all links up with the other tools they have built and are building. I’m even considering bringing the virtual table into my home game.

DreadGazebo – Well Thadeous it looks like you’ve really about covered it but I’ll quickly add my two cents by just saying even though entering your PC’s in by hand is a bit arduous it was really rewarding to actually get to play, I had a blast! Once this goes live, the fact that all the monster/PC files are exportable and there is a “template” feature I’m sure the community will have things covered in no time and setup times will probably be reduced considerably, perhaps even WotC would release some for us, or include the files with the adventure articles they publish in DDI.

I also think you’ve covered most of the points brought up in my notes, except for it would be nice if you could change your token icon mid stream, but I think the easy fix for that would be to create a new character and import its crunch from your already existing one and then just swap the icon. Dice roll sounds would be cool too but thats a minimal thing that may annoy some people, but it could always be a toggled option, as would an on/off for the language filter in chat. I was also curious if the random number generator was on the server side or client side after Thadeous rolled 3 1’s in a row and Psychopez managed to score 2 or 3 crits in a row, lol.

Overall I was really pleased with what I’ve seen so far, being able to customize the UI a bit more would be nice (undockable panels, adjusting the size of frames/windows, color schemes) but it was really solid otherwise. I think WotC is definitely on the right track here and I can’t wait to use the VT more and see what develops in the coming weeks/months. And once again I’d like to give huge thanks to Trevor and anyone else from WotC who contributed to making it possible!

I’m currently putting together a tutorial video for release later today that will go over the tables features and capabilities for everyone to take a glimpse of as well, stay tuned 🙂

DeadOrcs – I won’t have a whole lot to say here.  Thadeous & DreadGazebo seem to have covered most of the things that I noted during my experience.  I want to echo Thadeous’ thanks to Trevor Kidd & Mike Robles for allowing us Beta invites on such short notice.  Trevor & Mike?  Make Thadeous bring you an expensive bottle of wine or something.

For a closed Beta, I was pretty impressed with what had been accomplished so far with the tool.  Game play was actually smooth, with very little lag.  I was most impressed with the voice handling.  Audio takes a bunch of bandwidth, and (at least for the beta) the servers on WotC’s side seem to handle it in stride.

Things I’d like to see?  Well, to echo the now LOUD & CLEAR message, the tool should have an import.  I know parsing whatever text comes out the Character Builder (and/or Monster Builder) won’t be a glamorous job, but if you make it work, the tool will be head & shoulders over it’s competitors.  One final request?  Let us customize the tokens.  Even if you can’t keep them on the server, allow us access to the file type, so that we can upload our own.  It’ll go a long way to prevent the appearance of the tool from becoming “generic-looking”.

I look forward to testing out the DM side of the tool in the upcoming weeks.  Thanks again, to everyone that helped us with the VT test!

Psychopez (RPGmusings.com)

The WotC VT surprised me a bit, to be honest.  I was expecting a basic table with software that allowed token movement.  I was rather impressed at how easy it was to create a map using the dungeon tiles, making maps is going to be a lot easier in VT then other virtual tables.  The built in voice chat and voice fonts was real nice.  It was much more stable and clearer than Skype, and having the voice and game table all in one app was a lot more streamlined then the current process of having Skype/Vent in one program and your game table of choice in another.
The downsides is the powers.  Even when character input is in place, the way the powers work in game is lacking.  I expect a little more information to be displayed in the chat window when you click on a power.  It’s still possible, but the templates, and what I would assume the default set up on import, allow only for the actual dice values rolled.  Extra text on a hit, miss, effects, and after effects won’t show up in the chat, which I think is something that would speed up game play.  I have other nitpicks (I don’t like that to roll dice I have to drag the dice in and out of a box, then click on the roll dice, rather than just typing something in) but they’re minor.
All in all, it’s good software, especially for a beta, but from what I see there is a lot lacking in what I personally desire from a virtual table.  I want more power under the hood, more ways to customize and automate a lot of the processes and math that are better for a computer to do then a human, and it looks like WotC will keep much of that under the wraps.  That said, the VT looks like it’s going to be really good for those who either don’t want or need all the bells and whistles or are just getting into using virtual tables for the first time and want something that, when import monster and characters is done, will be ideal for starting up and getting a game going with minimal start up time.

Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.


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About Thadeousc

Thadeous can’t think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.

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5 Responses

  1. Sounds great, where can I get a beta invite? 🙂

  2. Awesome! Do you have any pictures of aura’s or bursts or blasts? I’d love to see what those look like. This is very exciting. I hope I manage to get into the next round of invites!

  3. Thanks for the review guys. Even though my envy is sizzling my interwebz connection it’s appreciated seeing a hands-on.

    I think the two suggestions are spot-on. This thing has to allow import from the other tools, and users should be able to import their own art (especially if WotC allows people to use their images of the official D&D Minis they have archived on the site. It’s not 3D, but it’s better than nothing.)

  4. I’ve loved this so far and with a Personal Ventrilo Server it makes it really easy for my group to get in vent and talk like we are in the same room while still using the Chat feature to stay in character.

    Of course we specified Vent is for OOC chat and the chat tool is IC Chat only.

    This made it extremely fun and easy to talk and get the full experience.

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