This evening I spent two hours showing MT off to 8-10 local gamers I'd never met, and I think they were all pleasantly surprised, and eager to try it out. Here's how it all went down, so maybe you can try it too.
I happened into a local bookstore that, while not quite a gaming shop, carries a good selection of boardgames, RPG books, and comics. Tables in the back are used for booksignings and their weekly boardgame night, but no real roleplaying. Still, gamers come in and the store has a website and is on FB to send out announcements. The owner had heard of MT but like so many found it daunting and never really got his feet wet. It seemed many of the gamers who frequent his shop were the same, so I thought to myself, well here's an opportunity. I offered to host an introduction to MT in the back whenever might be convenient, if he thought there would be interest. He told me to put together a few advertising blurbs he could send around/post, and give it a few weeks. Considering the mid-week evening time slot and the sweltering heat, the turnout was pretty good.
I brought my laptop and a 32" LCD TV and a ready campaign file. My objective going in was to of course show off MT, but also to try to do so in a way that proves how user-friendly it can be. To that end, I started out making sure those assembled were familiar with the classic D&D grid-and-dry-erase-with-minis setup. They were. I explained the gist of what MT is and how it got started, and emphasized that if all you set out to do is reproduce what you can do on the tabletop, it's really very easy. The first map was plain white. I loaded a fresh MT with the default (horrid) jumble of windows you at first know nothing about and made sure they knew they could just shut them all and worry about them later. White map, grid, and simple black line drawings. Ah, familiar. Drop some default pog tokens and move them around. Voila, it's your tabletop on the computer, and you can play remotely. I show them spacebar-pointing and how tokens can save their HP. Wow, that alone is a step above the table. 40 goblins in the cave and they remember their own HP!?! Sweet!
Next I show them how to connect to a server and explain the server may have to deal with a firewall issue, but nobody else will. I show them some mapping with textures, then introduce them to the resource library and furnishings. I show them next the chatlog, impersonation, and basic dice rolling code. Ugh, but you don't want to type that every time you attack, right? Ah good, macros. Save your "I attack the darkness! [e: 1d20+4]" on a button and click away. Wow. Nifty. I spend some time explaining how these bits of code can get very complex, but remember you are already ahead of the table top if you don't do anything else, AND for most games the coding has been done for you. That segues into an introduction to the selection, campaign, and global panels, and an intro to my own framework, with its campaign panel macros. I pull up a finished character sheet for a dwarf barbarian and create it in token form using my token creation macro. I outfit him and equip stuff and click attack and wow the numbers are right! We're on a simple grassland, so I build a quick house with the drawing tools and add some VBL. I demonstrate the interplay of map vision settings, token vision settings, light sources, and VBL and FoW.
Bringing it all together I bounce to the next map, where a party of adventurers are waiting to escort a cart down a woodland road. Though daytime, I show how the treeline has been set to block vision and how the party doesn't see the cavalry coming the other way until they advance around the bend. Neat!
Next map they go down a similar road to encounter a roadside general store. I show them the invisible roof trick and a furnished little shop. Wow. Then out of the bushed pop the angry satyrs, who had been player-invisible in the bushes outside. Holy crap! And with a click of a single macro? Hmmmm, the wheels are turning.
Finally, I take them quickly over a rickety wooden bridge over a river gorge into a cave complex where the bandits they chase are found dead in the recesses, and a hidden passage leads them into the arms of a bevvy of goblins and their wizard leader, complete with a fireball. Hello template. Hello damage macro that accepts die roll inputs and rolls a save for half damage all at once. The cleric casts bless. Hello state images. Oh, this is handy. They are jazzed.
Though it's been 90+ minutes they're eager to stick around to see the 4E demo I also have (using Veggie). I show them a few attack macros, the handling of encounter and daily powers via button color, and the lovely state-related work good ol' Veg has put together. They are duly impressed.
I pass around a paper where they can leave me their name, email, and list of games they might want to play on MT, so I can let them know where to look for frameworks and answer any questions. I make sure they know the rptools site and especially the forums are great resources.
We part with handshakes and hopefully a couple handfuls of new fans. No doubt they will spread the word, and I may do a repeat for those who couldn't make it.
All in all, it was a fun time for me and them, and the good word about MT is spread to folks who really appreciate it. I encourage you good people to float the idea at your local shop/bookstore. MT, when known of, is often seen with some apprehension as an avocation for techies only, or at least requiring far too much work to figure out. This stigma is ill-placed, but can be combated. Just make sure when you bring a demo you have really kicked the tires. Bugs and error messages will sabotage the effort. Use well-tested macros and don't do anything too fancy.