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Dragon
 
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:07 am
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 Post subject: Re: Future graphics on VTT???
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:14 am 
Headless server aside, MapTool already has something of the sort in its webstart version, though I'm not sure when was the last supported version for that. But I know what you're trying describe, and it's a question of what technological path MT will take moving forward, which is a tough one since there are many avenues to go by.

To emulate Roll20's scheme, MT would need to be built on a web-friendly platform and a collection of parts (e.g. libraries) that are also web-friendly; which can be both enabling and disabling in what the created tool can possibly do. Personally, I wouldn't go that route. The devs here seem to be leaning toward JavaFX, and I've worked enough with it to know that a serious implementation of it for MT would blow whatever Roll20 has got planned for their "FX" engine. The only problem with it is mobile penetration, since Oracle just released the source for possible iOS and Android implementation this year, so I wouldn't hold my breath until after a year or so to see things shaken up. It'll be worth the wait though, and beyond that, there are other methods out there as well that can do just as well as JavaFX.

Personally (again), unless you have a big-*** tablet or mobile device, a true VTT will be poorly represented on small screen estates, no matter what the presentation scheme is. I'd develop a VTT for interactions over a large surface where the whole scene looks awesome and perhaps support mobile by providing views and at most, a subset of actions relevant to what people can see. Another thing to point out is that most if not all of the new-age VTTs out there provide limited or no ability for users to create interfaces of their own, whereas MT's macro button provides the simplest of interfaces that comes with the most bang for the buck.

Case in point: 3D Virtual Tabletop started out wanting to provide a VTT experience over mobile. Watching their videos, it does look cool, but it also looks cramped. Hence, it's very likely that most people will end up using the desktop clients; clients funded by demand if you check out the KS history. I get the impression people can't get over wanting everything on their mobile device, whether or not the experience fits the context.

I admire that new VTTs desire to push the envelope. Sometimes I raise my eyebrows at what they charge for the simplest of things. It wouldn't surprise me at all that the creators are aware that things won't always be as good as it is, so they're milking it for all it's worth. I also wouldn't be surprised if something comes along to upend the table and rewrite the rules of the game anew.

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Great Wyrm
 
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 Post subject: Re: Future graphics on VTT???
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:30 am 
Lee wrote:
To emulate Roll20's scheme, MT would need to be built on a web-friendly platform and a collection of parts (e.g. libraries) that are also web-friendly; which can be both enabling and disabling in what the created tool can possibly do. Personally, I wouldn't go that route. The devs here seem to be leaning toward JavaFX, and I've worked enough with it to know that a serious implementation of it for MT would blow whatever Roll20 has got planned for their "FX" engine. The only problem with it is mobile penetration, since Oracle just released the source for possible iOS and Android implementation this year, so I wouldn't hold my breath until after a year or so to see things shaken up. It'll be worth the wait though, and beyond that, there are other methods out there as well that can do just as well as JavaFX.


Would you still be able to put MT in a browser? To be honest, I couldn't care less about MT on a mobile, but in a browser would be brilliant since it would immediately remove the biggest hurdles people have to make for take-up i.e. installation and server connection.


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Giant
 
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2010 9:31 am
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 Post subject: Re: Future graphics on VTT???
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:52 pm 
Lee wrote:
Case in point: 3D Virtual Tabletop started out wanting to provide a VTT experience over mobile. Watching their videos, it does look cool, but it also looks cramped.


Yes, but it also started in face to face games. I think that peoples want to have VTT on their tablets because they gather around a table and want to be able to push their token themselves. Tablets are not really good to play "normal" internet games, but there are other uses.

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Dragon
 
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 Post subject: Re: Future graphics on VTT???
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:38 pm 
Jagged wrote:
Would you still be able to put MT in a browser? To be honest, I couldn't care less about MT on a mobile, but in a browser would be brilliant since it would immediately remove the biggest hurdles people have to make for take-up i.e. installation and server connection.


This seems to be a common misconception. Network problems you wouldn't have with a browser are usually server connectivity problems. So, if you provide a server, you will have those problems. MT offers the mechanism to provide a server, roll20 doesn't. Effectively, instead of asking for MT in a browser you are should be asking for someone to host games on a server that is "generally" available.

Now, if we could get the MT server to provide the client code, to avoid version mismatches, where b<n> silently fails on b<n+1> when connecting. :-)


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Great Wyrm
 
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:27 am
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 Post subject: Re: Future graphics on VTT???
PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:50 am 
username wrote:
Jagged wrote:
Would you still be able to put MT in a browser? To be honest, I couldn't care less about MT on a mobile, but in a browser would be brilliant since it would immediately remove the biggest hurdles people have to make for take-up i.e. installation and server connection.


This seems to be a common misconception. Network problems you wouldn't have with a browser are usually server connectivity problems. So, if you provide a server, you will have those problems. MT offers the mechanism to provide a server, roll20 doesn't. Effectively, instead of asking for MT in a browser you are should be asking for someone to host games on a server that is "generally" available.


The early days of my group using Maptool we had plenty of problems connecting that were client only, particularly with friends using older BT equipment. A browser client would remove those issues and client install issues.


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Cave Troll
 
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:05 am
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 Post subject: Re: Future graphics on VTT???
PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 6:05 am 
@Lee I love the macro ability of MT, though it's clearly outgrown its engine. It's really powerful, and the community has done amazing things with it. JavaFX is cool, agreed. If Java is coming to mobile, then that will likely be stable years before MT is on JavaFX.

What's being charged is a bit outrageous, agreed. That the model works shows, I think, just how much of a hurdle the current way Maptool works is, both on a GM and player side.

Some of that has to do with user interface, with presenting tools in an easy-to-consume manner. Maptool has a steep learning curve. I remember it well. Initially, I felt overwhelmed as a player, and if I hadn't found a group that had played MT for years, I would not have dared. Eventually, I got comfortable enough to DM. That leaning curve needs to get a lot, A LOT, shallower for MT to have broader appeal.

Some of that has to do with the fact that Java on the client is hard. Less hard now with b89, but still hard. One of my users has screen elements blank out on him randomly, and we haven't found the culprit yet (we did delete .maptool - let's not troubleshoot this here, that's not the point of the remark).

Some of it may have to do with the fact that input sanitizing is left to the macro writer, and Maptool doesn't help with it: So if a player foolishly enters "Player's Cool Thing" somewhere, or "Drizzle Do Izzle's Toon" as a character name, we get extremely unhelpful Java errors. Because rogue single-quote. Taking this (extremely common) problem and solving it in the MT macro parser itself, rather than in individual macros, would go a huge way.

And some of it has to do with the fact that MT is free, and it's up to users to run their own server. There's nought to be done about that. UPnP helps, and beyond that, running a server is just an inherently geeky enterprise, particularly in the face of ubiquitous NAT. This will get much worse when carrier grade NAT becomes widespread. It may be a good idea to look into IPv6 for the next iteration of Maptool, to make it easier to run a server. Right now, that only applies to certain parts of Asia, but eventually, providers here will move to v6 as well.

> So, if you provide a server, you will have those problems

This is true. I find that to avoid those problems, there are two (relatively) simple steps I can take, which ensure that my server is reachable:
- Set a DHCP reservation, or a static IP, for the machine I will run the server on. That way, it will always have the same internal IP, which allows me to do the next step
- Create a static port forward on my router / firewall for the MT port towards the PC that will run the server
- (Optional, not really needed with MT's browser but useful in a pinch: Register a DDNS name for your public IP, e.g. with dyndns)

This avoids trouble with UPnP. UPnP is great technology, but it's very implementation-dependent, and cheap routers are just that, cheap. Taking 10 minutes to set this all up once and for all is, in the end, easier.

Only that this, too, comes with an incredibly steep learning curve for people who've never done it before.


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Cave Troll
 
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:05 am
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 Post subject: Re: Future graphics on VTT???
PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 6:12 am 
> A browser client would remove those issues and client install issues.

It would, for sure. Now that I'm thinking about it: It may not be a panacea. ISPs don't want people running web servers at home if they're not on a business line. Some, not all, but some therefore block port 80 and port 443. That could be overcome by saying "MapTool's server runs on port 1337" (of course :)), and to have a list of games on rptools.net (similar to the browser built into MT now), where you can click a link that takes you to "http://1.2.3.4:1337/".

But, yes, it'd resolve the Java client headaches. I know those are real and have been a source of trouble in the past, and continue to be tough for some people still today.

Given the (very) limited dev resources MT has, I think I'd actually like to see the learning curve flattened before anything else. Oh, and that sinqle-quote thing fixed. One of those is very hard to do, and the other much less so.


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Dragon
 
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2011 6:01 am
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 Post subject: Re: Future graphics on VTT???
PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 2:12 am 
Jagged wrote:
username wrote:
Jagged wrote:
Would you still be able to put MT in a browser? To be honest, I couldn't care less about MT on a mobile, but in a browser would be brilliant since it would immediately remove the biggest hurdles people have to make for take-up i.e. installation and server connection.


This seems to be a common misconception. Network problems you wouldn't have with a browser are usually server connectivity problems. So, if you provide a server, you will have those problems. MT offers the mechanism to provide a server, roll20 doesn't. Effectively, instead of asking for MT in a browser you are should be asking for someone to host games on a server that is "generally" available.


The early days of my group using Maptool we had plenty of problems connecting that were client only, particularly with friends using older BT equipment. A browser client would remove those issues and client install issues.


I don't know, when your early days were, but web applications have their share of client problems as well. I am claiming that connectivity problems are usually perceived as client problems, when you have other clients that work and clients are *separately installed* - it's intuitive. Since browser applications (seemingly) require no installation, the code is served, any connectivity issues are intuitively located at the server, which is often technically wrong. Technically, connectivity issues may be at the client or the server or anywhere inbetween, of course. It would be an interesting exercise to go through the networking FAQ and see which problems would really disappear (not making any assumption on an ubiquitous server).


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Giant
 
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2012 5:54 pm
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 Post subject: Re: Future graphics on VTT???
PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:24 pm 
To get back to the OP:

(I think I already wrote the following in a similar thread)

The better graphics get, the harder it is to utilize them properly. What seperates VTTs from computer games is that they are easy to use and easy to modify. Everyone can slap together a few ground and wall textures, add some images for tokens and the dungeon is ready to by crawled through.

With 3D graphics, I suspect that over 95% of users are limited to using what others have created, meaning they can't just take any top-downimage they find on the web and use it for they custom adventure. Instead, they have to choose from a variety of dungeon elements that may or may not suit their needs. Characters and furniture are even more of a problem: Who is able to create even a simple object like a chair, in 3D, fully textured? A character model? Even with simulated stand-up tokens you still need a front view image and can't just use a portrait image you scanned from a sourcebook.

If you want cool graphics, you will have to compromise a lot.


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Giant
 
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 Post subject: Re: Future graphics on VTT???
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:16 pm 
Cherno wrote:
Even with simulated stand-up tokens you still need a front view image and can't just use a portrait image you scanned from a sourcebook.

Yes, but no. It only depends upon where you set the level you want to reach. For exemple, those are stand ups made from portrait images in a scenario book (guess which one), with just tokentool and a few seconds:

Image

That doesn't make them very good standups, but usable (as you can have "not very good tokens but usable" in normal play).

And you can mix them with better ones (there are a lot of very good cardboard figures available on the web that can be easily turned into standups). So you could easily have an "acceptable" quality of gaming, not 3D, but....
Here are standups made from Okum Arts Serene Fist Set One: Monks vs Bandits

Image

Cherno wrote:
If you want cool graphics, you will have to compromise a lot.

That only depends on the demand for it. If there is a demand, the peoples producing cardboard figures could easily transform their existing work into inexpensive "fake 3D" standups. You would only have to add tokentooled standups to have all you need for a given scenario (not very different than what you can do to prepare a "normal" map).

If there is enough interest, you could even have "figures" drawn specifically for that. So, they wouldn't even look as standups, but as characters standing on the map, seen from the same perspective (I'll try to make a few to show better what I mean).
That would be really cool graphics and if there is a demand for them, I am sure they would be made available.

I am more hooked than expected to isometric representation. If I can make it, I would like to make an isometric framework that could be easily added to any "normal" framework and that would let peoples go from isometric to normal view (that's the easy part), meaning that they would only play in isometric views the scenes they want.

It is not ready yet (though it works, but I want it to be as completely unobstrusive as possible for the user), and I am not completely sure about all I want to include, but I'll make a post about work in progress on my blog soon.

I also would like to add that this is already working with Maptool as it is now. There are features that won't work because isometric maps have never been a part of Maptool and because of some assumptions in Maptool's graphic features. If the next version of Maptool was including isometric mapping from the start (because real 3D is out of question IIRC), I suppose it could make a difference for its future.

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Giant
 
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 Post subject: Re: Future graphics on VTT???
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2013 1:18 pm 
Isometric seems to become quite popular in VTTs nowadays :D :

playsets — The future of social storytelling.

Image

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Dragon
 
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 Post subject: Re: Future graphics on VTT???
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2013 11:17 pm 
Very nice, Bhoritz. I'm glad to see you chugging away at the concept. When things get settled down, I have a couple of things to share with you that may help.

That really is a cool KS, and it should be doing better than it should. I think it's the limitation to iOS that's hurting it, but it still has 15 days to go, so things should pick up. IMO, if they made their app available at least in OSX, especially their world builder, they'd see a lot more action. Also, if their maps become exportable to a "universal" format for use in other VTTs, it would be awesome; though I doubt they'd do so.

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 Post subject: Re: Future graphics on VTT???
PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2016 12:28 am 
I believe Skirmish VT was tinkering with the concept of animated maps. I recall seeing a demo with tree branches swaying and a waterfall. Looked good, but the problem remains: who's going to craft drag-and-droppable animations like that that would work on any map (not custom made for A map)? It might have been easier if the MNG graphics format (basically animated PNGs) had been more widely adopted.

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 Post subject: Re: Future graphics on VTT???
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2016 7:35 am 
I've been trying to get the art of the maps look dynamic and crisp, and at the same time be easy to build.
Ive tried moving towards 3d with UDK and it all looks nice, but mapmaking is to time consuming.

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