The Virtual Tabletop demo went live on the website last week. I showed it to my role playing buddies before I put it up and they thought the tabletop was a good start. The table top is not ready for playing any rpgs on yet, but I’m going to get there as soon as I can. So far I’ve had quite a bit of interest, with some signups to the Virtual Tabletop Early Access mailing list just days after it went online. It’s an encouraging start and I can’t wait to make the virtual tabletop useful for real role playing.
My role playing friends definitely liked the look of the tabletop. Since the lighting effects on the virtual tabletop really represent what the characters are seeing in the game, it can really change what people do. One of my friends playing in a Pathfinder game has had situations where the room they were in was only partially lit, but was fully drawn on the map they were using. As the characters moved around the room, people lost track of which parts of the room they could see, and which were in darkness. It’s also simply easy to forget that the room is not fully lit when you can see it all on the table in front of you. In one particular encounter, a wizard cast a wall of fire, sealing off a portion of a room, but he cast it on a part of the room that he had never seen. Those sorts of events are the reason I created Virtual Tabletop.
Other advantages of virtual tabletops are the ability to measure distance, determine line of sight and mark areas. There are more fundamental features that must be included first, but Virtual Tabletop will have those more advanced functions in the future. Physical tables do not have those capabilities either, and are still perfectly good for role playing, so the initial emphasis is going to be put on mimicking what you can do on a real table top. The aim is to get Virtual Tabletop to the stage where you can play D&D on it, even unassisted (except for lighting effects), as soon as possible.
Signups for the Virtual Tabletop Early Access mailing list started almost as soon as I put the demo up, I’m glad that it inspired people to get more involved. As Virtual Tabletop becomes more capable I will update the demo and send out an email so that people can keep up with the progress. If there is something in particular that you need the virtual table top to do to be useful for your own role playing, let me know so that I can put that in sooner rather than later.
This is just the start of a journey which will no doubt be continual improvement over many years. Virtual Tabletop will be released when it can be substituted for a real table top, which will be in a few months. Moving miniatures around with light sources that get dimmer over distance, and are blocked by walls, should make an exciting enough experience for the first version. From then on it is really up to you to give me feedback on what you need from Virtual Tabletop in your rpg sessions, be it areas of effect, line of sight indicators, initiative tracking, or something else.