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Kobold
 
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:43 pm
Posts: 4
 Post subject: First gaming session -- fully remote.
PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 12:25 am 
I just finished GMing my first session using MapTool (1.3b63). I'm running a 1st-level D&D4e campaign, and the dungeon I'm currently using is the Kobold's Hall mini-adventure straight out of the back of DMG.

I'm using the campaign macros from somebody's Basic4e framework, as well as their lib:regex token library (I'm sorry I can't remember the name, but I'm sure it's recognizable). I started making the map before I fully found out about the frameworks and token systems.

The evening was marred by technical and organizational problems, few of which were cause by or could have been alleviated by MapTool. All the players (and GM) were remote from the server hosting the game and from each other. One player couldn't get Skype to work well so couldn't participate verbally. I managed to bring all my books except the DMG, so I had to wing more of it than I expected.

MapTool was a big hit. It made the game much easier to play over the 'net than it had been the last session (also over the 'net, without MapTool). The campaign tools made managing combat much simpler, with most of the grunt work simplified. Over all, would use again.

A few things did crop up, though. I used hidden-layer tokens to mark trap locations, and found it difficult to select the PC token when the PC token was on the trap. More than one I ended up assigning damage to a trap rather than the player on the trap. In general, when two tokens are in the same location it is hard to do anything with any token other than the top one. And when token ownership is enforced, a player can't even send a token on his to the back. The work-around was to either ask me as GM to extricate the buried token or to use the map explorer to select the desired token on the stack.

Seeing entire rooms was a problem. When the players entered one room, the reaction was "Ooh, I'm going to go look at that thing" until I went "Uh, doesn't anyone see the 3 kobolds at the other end of the room?" "What kobolds? Oh, those kobolds...". I'm sure the characters would have noticed the kobolds immediately even though they were off the screen for the players. Is there anyway to force the scale the display so the entire currently-visible area is, well, visible?

I also need to turn on auto-expose, although I suppose a preference would be some sort of indicator to the GM that there is unexposed stuff visible so I can be prompted to hit "expose".

It felt to me like the players could do stuff which, as GM, I'd much prefer they couldn't. One of my players shewed that he could put stuff on the map from the resource library.

All in all, there were a few rough-edges with MapTool, but it was overall superb. I plan to continue working with the system so that by the next session things can run more smoothly.


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Demigod
 
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2007 11:53 am
Posts: 3775
Location: MD
 Post subject: Re: First gaming session -- fully remote.
PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 4:37 am 
blaisepascal wrote:
One player couldn't get Skype to work well so couldn't participate verbally.

You might want to try using Ventrillo or Teamspeak.


Quote:
A few things did crop up, though. I used hidden-layer tokens to mark trap locations, and found it difficult to select the PC token when the PC token was on the trap.

Use the background layer. Set them to "not visible to players". You can't select objects on the background layer without selecting the background layer.


Quote:
Seeing entire rooms was a problem. When the players entered one room, the reaction was "Ooh, I'm going to go look at that thing" until I went "Uh, doesn't anyone see the 3 kobolds at the other end of the room?" "What kobolds? Oh, those kobolds...". I'm sure the characters would have noticed the kobolds immediately even though they were off the screen for the players. Is there anyway to force the scale the display so the entire currently-visible area is, well, visible?

You'll have to provide more information than this because a lot depends on the vision settings that you are using. Were the Kolbolds out of range of the PC's vision? Was there no lightsource around the Kobolds that would illuminate them? Was FoW still over them? Were they set to be visible to Players? There are a number of reason why the PC's may not (and should not) have been able to see them.


Quote:
I also need to turn on auto-expose, although I suppose a preference would be some sort of indicator to the GM that there is unexposed stuff visible so I can be prompted to hit "expose".

There is nothing quite like this. You can View>Show as Player to get an idea of what they can and can't see though. Personally, I expose FoW manually because for every time I'd like things to auto-expose, there is a time that players accidentally expose something I didn't want them to expose. Plus, it's easier for me to see, immediately what "new" things the players are seeing because I'm watching the screen when I hit "Ctrl-I"


Quote:
It felt to me like the players could do stuff which, as GM, I'd much prefer they couldn't. One of my players shewed that he could put stuff on the map from the resource library.

Tell them what windows they should have open on their side. If they don't have the Library window open, they won't try to deploy anything.

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Maptool is the Millennium Falcon of VTT's -- "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts."


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Kobold
 
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:43 pm
Posts: 4
 Post subject: Re: First gaming session -- fully remote.
PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 9:51 am 
Full Bleed wrote:
blaisepascal wrote:
One player couldn't get Skype to work well so couldn't participate verbally.

You might want to try using Ventrillo or Teamspeak.


I'll look into it, but this was a hardware not a software issue mainly. Out of a tangles web of USB cables, she plugged in the wrong microphone.

Flash 10 doesn't like Linux webcams, which was a problem with the videoconferencing bit. The player I chatted with most after the game felt he thought the video didn't add much over the map and audio, so we might just drop the video.

Quote:


Quote:
A few things did crop up, though. I used hidden-layer tokens to mark trap locations, and found it difficult to select the PC token when the PC token was on the trap.

Use the background layer. Set them to "not visible to players". You can't select objects on the background layer without selecting the background layer.


Good idea. However, it seems the same issue would crop up with any legitimate use of hidden-layer tokens as well.

Quote:

Quote:
Seeing entire rooms was a problem. When the players entered one room, the reaction was "Ooh, I'm going to go look at that thing" until I went "Uh, doesn't anyone see the 3 kobolds at the other end of the room?" "What kobolds? Oh, those kobolds...". I'm sure the characters would have noticed the kobolds immediately even though they were off the screen for the players. Is there anyway to force the scale the display so the entire currently-visible area is, well, visible?

You'll have to provide more information than this because a lot depends on the vision settings that you are using. Were the Kolbolds out of range of the PC's vision? Was there no lightsource around the Kobolds that would illuminate them? Was FoW still over them? Were they set to be visible to Players? There are a number of reason why the PC's may not (and should not) have been able to see them.



The vision problem in this case was a 1000x1500px room displayed on a 1024x768 window (or similar proportions). MapTool correctly showed the entire room as illuminated, the kobolds were visible, but because of the zoom factor on the map, off-screen.

I can see use for two hot-keys: Adjust the display viewport (zoom and pan) such that the player can see (on the screen) everything the PC's can see (based on vision, light-sources, and VBL), or everything the PC's know about (based on FoW).

Quote:
Quote:
I also need to turn on auto-expose, although I suppose a preference would be some sort of indicator to the GM that there is unexposed stuff visible so I can be prompted to hit "expose".

There is nothing quite like this. You can View>Show as Player to get an idea of what they can and can't see though. Personally, I expose FoW manually because for every time I'd like things to auto-expose, there is a time that players accidentally expose something I didn't want them to expose. Plus, it's easier for me to see, immediately what "new" things the players are seeing because I'm watching the screen when I hit "Ctrl-I"



I understand the arguments for/against auto-expose, and I know there are trade-offs either way. But when the complaint from the player after the game is "I moved all over the room during and after the combat carrying a torch, and my view never changed. Are those just weirdly-shaped notches in the walls?" (no, they weren't just weirdly-shaped notches in the walls, which he would have been able to tell if they had been exposed by the GM properly) one is tempted to just put on auto-expose.


More to learn, more to get used to.


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Site Admin
 
Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 12:20 pm
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 Post subject: Re: First gaming session -- fully remote.
PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:06 pm 
blaisepascal wrote:
Good idea. However, it seems the same issue would crop up with any legitimate use of hidden-layer tokens as well.

Images on layers other than the current one cannot be selected.

However, things on the Hidden and Object layer can be clicked if they have text in the Notes or GM Notes fields; the text then shows up in a little popup window.

Quote:
The vision problem in this case was a 1000x1500px room displayed on a 1024x768 window (or similar proportions). MapTool correctly showed the entire room as illuminated, the kobolds were visible, but because of the zoom factor on the map, off-screen.

The players will learn to zoom out and see the whole area. This is just like you drawing a map on an entire battlemat but the players only looking at one end. What are you going to do?

That said, it is possible to force the players to the same view you have using the Tools menu.

Quote:
I understand the arguments for/against auto-expose, and I know there are trade-offs either way. But when the complaint from the player after the game is "I moved all over the room during and after the combat carrying a torch, and my view never changed. Are those just weirdly-shaped notches in the walls?" (no, they weren't just weirdly-shaped notches in the walls, which he would have been able to tell if they had been exposed by the GM properly) one is tempted to just put on auto-expose.

This is a training issue. When players learn how to use the tool, this issue will go away.

Quote:
More to learn, more to get used to.

And that's what makes life so interesting. ;)


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Demigod
 
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2007 11:53 am
Posts: 3775
Location: MD
 Post subject: Re: First gaming session -- fully remote.
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:10 pm 
blaisepascal wrote:
The vision problem in this case was a 1000x1500px room displayed on a 1024x768 window (or similar proportions). MapTool correctly showed the entire room as illuminated, the kobolds were visible, but because of the zoom factor on the map, off-screen.


As Az mentioned, you need to train your players to use their zoom. Everybody is likely to be using different resolutions, some will have 4:3 screens, some wide screens, and some will have different windows on the screen in different orientations, ... there is no one size fits all and getting used to frequently using the zoom (mouse wheel) is essential. Have them maximize their viewable areas by getting rid of windows they don't need or use. And have them pin windows they do use, but don't need to see all the time, to the sidewalls to increase their viewing areas.

You can force them to your view to get them looking at the right area, but again, they'll have a different setup so it's not going to look exactly the same.

_________________
Maptool is the Millennium Falcon of VTT's -- "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts."


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