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 Post subject: Re: Tokens on a TV for in person gaming
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:13 pm 
Phergus wrote:
So in the end you've still reached the same conclusion which is:

When you are targeting a TV for a display device, create your tokens (and other content) at or near the resolution of the display device.

Sorry, this isn't good advice.

It may be specific to an extreme outlier TV like this that is having some kind of non-native/dithering display issue. But not most HDTVs designed to take native computer input.

You're telling people to do something super annoying (re-sizing all of their graphics) that the vast majority will not need (and should not bother) to do in order to have a perfectly good picture. Most HDTV's are just as good as most low end monitors... which most people actually are using anyway.

I'm not even sure it's the TV at this point. I'm leaning toward his graphics card or computer display settings if he's exhausted all the quirky settings/modes that the TV can do.


OP, what graphics card does your laptop have... and what drivers are you using? It looks almost like there is no anti-aliasing going on.

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 Post subject: Re: Tokens on a TV for in person gaming
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:37 pm 
Full Bleed wrote:
Phergus wrote:
So in the end you've still reached the same conclusion which is:

When you are targeting a TV for a display device, create your tokens (and other content) at or near the resolution of the display device.

Sorry, this isn't good advice.

It may be specific to an extreme outlier TV like this that is having some kind of non-native/dithering display issue. But not most HDTVs designed to take native computer input.

You're telling people to do something super annoying (re-sizing all of their graphics) that the vast majority will not need (and should not bother) to do in order to have a perfectly good picture. Most HDTV's are just as good as most low end monitors... which most people actually are using anyway.

I'm not even sure it's the TV at this point. I'm leaning toward his graphics card or computer display settings if he's exhausted all the quirky settings/modes that the TV can do.

OP, what graphics card does your laptop have... and what drivers are you using? It looks almost like there is no anti-aliasing going on.


Graphics card is Nvidia Geforce 940 MX. Seems to also have an intel gpu with Intel HD 620 drivers as well. All drivers are the latest, like dated today. Hard to tell which GPU does the work.

For the record, when hooked up to a 24" samsung monitor, the 420x tokens on maptool look fantastic. The 50x tokens, look like pixelated messes.

All display outputs to all monitors and the TV are always 1080p 60 Hz. I verify this over and over and over. I specifically have all my computing devices working with the same native resolutions on purpose.

I played with anti-aliasing settings in the Nvidia control panel (which only says 3D), but they didn't do anything.

My next steps:

1. Try to display the tokens side by side in maptool and another program (like gimp or somthing) on the TV to see if the issue is maptool or the monitor. Right now I don't have the right software installed on the laptop. Frankly, the icons on the screen desktop look much much sharper than anything within maptool.

2. Hook the TV up to my desktop computer and see if it still has the issues.

Those 2 activities should verify if it is an issue with software or the TV.

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 Post subject: Re: Tokens on a TV for in person gaming
PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:32 pm 
Full Bleed wrote:
Sorry, this isn't good advice.

I'm sorry you're mistaken. :P

Full Bleed wrote:
It may be specific to an extreme outlier TV like this that is having some kind of non-native/dithering display issue.

He's getting exactly what you should expect on a low-end TV if you take a high resolution image, scale it down to ~1/64 the amount of pixels and then display it on 1" of a 40" display.

The Edge Enhancement (aka Sharpness) of that TV is pretty harsh and a better TV make look better but the root cause is an image that was too high of resolution to start with for the intended purpose.

Full Bleed wrote:
You're telling people to do something super annoying (re-sizing all of their graphics)...

No. I'm telling HIM to create his graphics at a size appropriate to his usage. For those graphics that are already created, a batch processing operation in Photoshop (or Gimp or ImageMagik) will make short work of the issue.

Full Bleed wrote:
...that the vast majority will not need (and should not bother) to do in order to have a perfectly good picture.

By vast majority you mean the tens of people using TVs on the tabletop with the MT zoom set such that their grid size measures 1" on the TV display? They have 50 pixels give or take to display the image. A 400x400 image will never look "good" if it is scaled down to that. Adequate is about the best you can hope for.

Then there is the perception problem. Looking at an image displayed across 1" on your computer monitor has 4 to 9 times the number of pixels. If you have zoomed out in MT enough such that only 50 pixels of the computer display is being used it still isn't the equivalent as looking at the TV as the image on your monitor is now between 1/3" to 1/2" and occupies a smaller fraction of your field of view. It isn't apples to apples.

In addition, there is the image itself. In particular, the martial artist or whatever that token represents. Great image and cool token ring. However there are lots of tiny detail in the original. Detail that makes it harder when scaled down so far. Plus it looks to have been cut out of another image and made partially transparent but the edges are not very clean which exacerbates the issue when the TV has Sharpness enabled.

Doing the scaling in Photoshop or GIMP up front instead of having MT do it through the Java image libraries will certainly produce a better, cleaner image.

Keeping the limitations of the display in mind and using smaller, simpler images for the tokens will help immensely. As I said before, put the pretty, higher-res images in the token portrait where it can be appreciated better.

There is nothing magical or mysterious about this. Stuffing 400x400 pixels into 50x50 pixels does not produce attractive images.


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 Post subject: Re: Tokens on a TV for in person gaming
PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:38 pm 
And for the curious, here is what a 400x400 pixel image looks like when scaled down in GIMP and in MapTool. Original image was on a white background which was removed to make it partially transparent. It was placed over a white background in GIMP and MapTool. The smaller sizes were all produced from the full size image.

Attachment:
TokenScaleCompare.png
TokenScaleCompare.png [ 389.87 KiB | Viewed 166 times ]


And here is the original:

Attachment:
martial-artist-dungeons-and-dragons.png
martial-artist-dungeons-and-dragons.png [ 193.45 KiB | Viewed 166 times ]


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 Post subject: Re: Tokens on a TV for in person gaming
PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:20 pm 
Phergus wrote:
I'm sorry you're mistaken. :P

Well, I'm not going to have a knock down drag out with you... but in my experience, it's atypical of TV output using MT to look that bad (especially when he showed the 200dpi version). Which is probably why we don't have dozens of threads like this.

I've agreed that the "fix" you've given him will provide a better picture. But it is a pita (batch processing images in Photoshop might be second hand to you but not to most) and, as he's noted, not a great solution because he's trading usable output on the tv for significantly degraded output on his laptop that he runs the game on.

Further, if I'm coming to the MT forums to see about using a TV in my games and I see this thread, I'm thinking, "MT sucks on TV's, and I'd have to rescale all my images to get it to look good, and then it will look like crap on my laptop/computer that I'm using to run the game. I'll go use something else."

So, I simply disagree that people should have to "create their tokens (and other content) at or near the resolution of the display device" to get a good picture on the vast majority of TV's when using MT.

In fact, I went back and looked at his original images, and I'm wondering if a lot of the problem is simply with them (and a dose of aggressive television processing on top). But *not* because it has a lot of detail or is too high rez (especially the 200dpi version)... but because it looks like the original image is highly aliased. With on-the-fly down-sampling like MT, a high-rez aliased edge will produce particularly bad output.... whereas an anti-aliased edge will produce a much more palatable image. I avoid aliased images like the plague in MT for just that reason.

OP, can you share the original 420X420 image? I should have asked for that in the beginning.

And try the attached 420 and 200 images I'm providing to see if they look as bad.


Tarrasque-200.png
Tarrasque-200.png [ 44.53 KiB | Viewed 160 times ]
Tarrasque-420.png
Tarrasque-420.png [ 163.08 KiB | Viewed 160 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Tokens on a TV for in person gaming
PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:05 pm 
I can almost guarantee that the problem is with a tv or computer setting. Some tv settings are more fickle and not obvious about what does what. I've used various tv's for MT over the years and only had resolution problems with non-HD tvs. One tv didn't have the screen properly letter boxed(?) so I had to adjust the edges to fit properly on the screen using nvidia panel. This actually gave me poor resolution and color doing that. I actually switched out HD tvs because of that. Luckily the we had 2 different models of the same size. On my current TV/monitor, we have "Normal" for a setting and "Full 100%" and have to use Full 100% for it to look good.

So, the solution may not be there is no solution with that tv or you can keep fiddling with the tv and nvidia settings until you get something reasonably good.

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 Post subject: Re: Tokens on a TV for in person gaming
PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:07 pm 
Full Bleed wrote:
In addition, there is the image itself. In particular, the martial artist or whatever that token represents. Great image and cool token ring. However there are lots of tiny detail in the original. Detail that makes it harder when scaled down so far. Plus it looks to have been cut out of another image and made partially transparent but the edges are not very clean which exacerbates the issue when the TV has Sharpness enabled.

I realize my martial artist image is pretty poorly set up. I am new to making tokens (I use Photoshop Elements). That particular image has a lot of leftover bits of background here and there that I now know are causing it to be difficult. Plus all the detail. So it is a good example of an extreme, for sure.

My process is one I found on youtube from a guy who does this using the token frames you can buy over on the Roll20 site. The frames (decorative rings) are all pre-made at 420x420 pixesl, thus my starting place.

Edit: this is the video I learned from. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5vw7NHdwlo&t=524s

I just grab images off of google searches and try to clean them up, crop them, scale them, and combine with the frame rings.

I'll attach a couple of the original 420 pixel PNGs.

Although this might really need to be another discussion (or maybe not), any advice on creating and/or cleaning up the tokens to begin with is welcome.


Brutus.png
Brutus.png [ 276.31 KiB | Viewed 157 times ]
Phyl.png
Phyl.png [ 302.88 KiB | Viewed 157 times ]
Serena.png
Serena.png [ 308.2 KiB | Viewed 157 times ]

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Last edited by Conandy on Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Tokens on a TV for in person gaming
PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:19 pm 
Full Bleed wrote:

In fact, I went back and looked at his original images, and I'm wondering if a lot of the problem is simply with them (and a dose of aggressive television processing on top). But *not* because it has a lot of detail or is too high rez (especially the 200dpi version)... but because it looks like the original image is highly aliased. With on-the-fly down-sampling like MT, a high-rez aliased edge will produce particularly bad output.... whereas an anti-aliased edge will produce a much more palatable image. I avoid aliased images like the plague in MT for just that reason.

OP, can you share the original 420X420 image? I should have asked for that in the beginning.

I attached some of the images in previous post response.

When you talk about a "high-rez aliased edge" vs "anti-aliased edge", can you tell me exactly what you mean, in terms of preparing the image initially?

Still early stages of learning, and I am extremely grateful for the time you all are giving me here.

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 Post subject: Re: Tokens on a TV for in person gaming
PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 4:50 am 
Conandy wrote:
When you talk about a "high-rez aliased edge" vs "anti-aliased edge", can you tell me exactly what you mean, in terms of preparing the image initially?

Still early stages of learning, and I am extremely grateful for the time you all are giving me here.

Well, an aliased image is a hard-edged image within no transitional pixels to smooth it out. Take a look at the "A" letters on the wiki here for an example.

A simplified explanation... when you downsample an image in Photoshop, it's very good at anti-aliasing images with complex mathematical formulas. MT is, comparatively, not very good. MT is probably aggressively discarding pixels for display, and the "hard" edges get more and more dominant/visible. So, you really want a softer edge so that even though it's discarding pixels, it's got more transitional pixels to use.

In *addition*, the images you're showing are particularly difficult to use because in addition to the edges of the token being high contrast single pixel edges, there isn't just an OUTSIDE edge... you've got an INSIDE edge all around the figure that MT can't anti-alias with anything because you have transparency inside the token. It's like a worst case scenario. Especially look at the edges of Serena... her weapon, her arms, and the thin gold rim around the token base. Imagine what happens when you're showing 1/16th of the image and you've had to make a decision 16 times to toss out information to display (pretty much what Phergus was explaining above.) It will get ugly fast. Much faster if there are high contrast, irregular edges to work with. Made worse, of course, on a high contrast display (i.e. the sharpness setting which creates contrast on edges.)

My issue wasn't with Phergus's analysis, on the face of it he's right, but I do think that the solution he offered was a bit draconian and might be discouraging to people trying to use MT on a TV. There are extenuating factors and some middle-ground options (past exploring all software/hardware optimizations along the way.)

So, some tips since you asked:

--Take a look at Token Tool here for example of more simplified token frames.

--I'd say to try not to use more than 4x the native resolution of the display size. So HD is 1920 pixels wide and you want a 40 inch width (approx 48 pixels an inch). So, rounding, I'd make them no more than 200dpi. I like to use 50-100 DPI for maps and 200 dpi for tokens.

--Think about the detail you're trying to display in 1". The 420 images you had shouldn't just be downsized to 200. You should consider the content of the 1". At the very least I'd probably cut out the middle 200 pixels and use that as the base. You won't see tiny rice bowls and gilded filigree detailing on the token frame inside a 1" window. Again, Phergus is totally right about that.

--Also, don't use transparency inside the token.

--Try to find lower contrast, softer edge images.

--Use your nifty high detail images as portraits if you want... not so good for tokens.


I did this to quickly to illustrate. Check out this token to see how it ends up looking. A happier medium between the TV and computer?

Keep in mind that this is still a 200dpi token. The outer edge of what I suggested above. I didn't down-sample your token, so the edge of the figure still isn't ideal for dithering. But I went ahead and used the 200x200 pixels in the middle of your original. Added a basic background (so MT had something to anti-alias that ugly edge with.) The resolution is still going to be dithered down into the 1" you want (i.e not displaying about 38000 pixels or 95% of the full image data!) I know that sounds crazy, but it should look a lot better/usable and still look decent on your laptop where you're zooming in closer.

Everyone has a different threshold for what's acceptable. You can try the token out at 50, 100, and 150 to see what that is for you.


Serena-200.png
Serena-200.png [ 82.88 KiB | Viewed 151 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Tokens on a TV for in person gaming
PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 5:08 am 
Conandy wrote:
I realize my martial artist image is pretty poorly set up. I am new to making tokens (I use Photoshop Elements). That particular image has a lot of leftover bits of background here and there that I now know are causing it to be difficult. Plus all the detail. So it is a good example of an extreme, for sure.

My process is one I found on youtube from a guy who does this using the token frames you can buy over on the Roll20 site. The frames (decorative rings) are all pre-made at 420x420 pixesl, thus my starting place.

Edit: this is the video I learned from. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5vw7NHdwlo&t=524s

I just grab images off of google searches and try to clean them up, crop them, scale them, and combine with the frame rings.

I'll attach a couple of the original 420 pixel PNGs.

Although this might really need to be another discussion (or maybe not), any advice on creating and/or cleaning up the tokens to begin with is welcome.

I wanted to respond to this... because it bears highlighting.

These images are really nice and totally fine for use in MT. But I wouldn't use them on an HDTV *if* you're using the TV as a battle map at a fixed 1" = 1" display. That, in and of itself, is (as noted by Phergus) a particular, self-limiting, way of using a TV.

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 Post subject: Re: Tokens on a TV for in person gaming
PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:42 am 
Full Bleed wrote:
So, some tips since you asked:

--Take a look at Token Tool here for example of more simplified token frames.

--I'd say to try not to use more than 4x the native resolution of the display size. So HD is 1920 pixels wide and you want a 40 inch width (approx 48 pixels an inch). So, rounding, I'd make them no more than 200dpi. I like to use 50-100 DPI for maps and 200 dpi for tokens.

--Think about the detail you're trying to display in 1". The 420 images you had shouldn't just be downsized to 200. You should consider the content of the 1". At the very least I'd probably cut out the middle 200 pixels and use that as the base. You won't see tiny rice bowls and gilded filigree detailing on the token frame inside a 1" window. Again, Phergus is totally right about that.

--Also, don't use transparency inside the token.

--Try to find lower contrast, softer edge images.

--Use your nifty high detail images as portraits if you want... not so good for tokens.


All great, practical suggestions for creating tokens to use with MT on a TV or in general really. And not just because Full Bleed said I was right. :wink:

HDTVs can be used just fine as a tabletop battle mat display with MT as long as its limitations are kept in mind.

When a TV is used as a shared map display, such that it is positioned normally (i.e. vertically), you can get away with higher resolution imagery since you won't be constrained to a fixed zoom level but will probably zoom in/out as needed.

Those are some lovely tokens however.


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 Post subject: Re: Tokens on a TV for in person gaming
PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:45 pm 
Full Bleed wrote:
Conandy wrote:
When you talk about a "high-rez aliased edge" vs "anti-aliased edge", can you tell me exactly what you mean, in terms of preparing the image initially?

Still early stages of learning, and I am extremely grateful for the time you all are giving me here.

Well, an aliased image is a hard-edged image within no transitional pixels to smooth it out. Take a look at the "A" letters on the wiki here for an example.

A simplified explanation... when you downsample an image in Photoshop, it's very good at anti-aliasing images with complex mathematical formulas. MT is, comparatively, not very good. MT is probably aggressively discarding pixels for display, and the "hard" edges get more and more dominant/visible. So, you really want a softer edge so that even though it's discarding pixels, it's got more transitional pixels to use.

In *addition*, the images you're showing are particularly difficult to use because in addition to the edges of the token being high contrast single pixel edges, there isn't just an OUTSIDE edge... you've got an INSIDE edge all around the figure that MT can't anti-alias with anything because you have transparency inside the token. It's like a worst case scenario. Especially look at the edges of Serena... her weapon, her arms, and the thin gold rim around the token base. Imagine what happens when you're showing 1/16th of the image and you've had to make a decision 16 times to toss out information to display (pretty much what Phergus was explaining above.) It will get ugly fast. Much faster if there are high contrast, irregular edges to work with. Made worse, of course, on a high contrast display (i.e. the sharpness setting which creates contrast on edges.)

My issue wasn't with Phergus's analysis, on the face of it he's right, but I do think that the solution he offered was a bit draconian and might be discouraging to people trying to use MT on a TV. There are extenuating factors and some middle-ground options (past exploring all software/hardware optimizations along the way.)

So, some tips since you asked:

--Take a look at Token Tool here for example of more simplified token frames.

--I'd say to try not to use more than 4x the native resolution of the display size. So HD is 1920 pixels wide and you want a 40 inch width (approx 48 pixels an inch). So, rounding, I'd make them no more than 200dpi. I like to use 50-100 DPI for maps and 200 dpi for tokens.

--Think about the detail you're trying to display in 1". The 420 images you had shouldn't just be downsized to 200. You should consider the content of the 1". At the very least I'd probably cut out the middle 200 pixels and use that as the base. You won't see tiny rice bowls and gilded filigree detailing on the token frame inside a 1" window. Again, Phergus is totally right about that.

--Also, don't use transparency inside the token.

--Try to find lower contrast, softer edge images.

--Use your nifty high detail images as portraits if you want... not so good for tokens.


I did this to quickly to illustrate. Check out this token to see how it ends up looking. A happier medium between the TV and computer?

Keep in mind that this is still a 200dpi token. The outer edge of what I suggested above. I didn't down-sample your token, so the edge of the figure still isn't ideal for dithering. But I went ahead and used the 200x200 pixels in the middle of your original. Added a basic background (so MT had something to anti-alias that ugly edge with.) The resolution is still going to be dithered down into the 1" you want (i.e not displaying about 38000 pixels or 95% of the full image data!) I know that sounds crazy, but it should look a lot better/usable and still look decent on your laptop where you're zooming in closer.

Everyone has a different threshold for what's acceptable. You can try the token out at 50, 100, and 150 to see what that is for you.

Thanks. Some good lessons for me here.

I tried out your 200dpi token and it works OK, but I found that the best compromise for me (with your token and a remade version of my own) seems to be 100 dpi (or 128 with token tool). That particular image is rife with issues due to the light gray pixels all along the boundary edges, regardless. At 100 dip the token looks "pretty good" on both my laptop and TV. 50 dpi tokens just look like crap on the computer, and 200 dpi tokens really start suffering on the TV.

Thanks.

Side Question: any links to any tutorials on how to take an image and anti-alias the edges?

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 Post subject: Re: Tokens on a TV for in person gaming
PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 6:20 pm 
Conandy wrote:
Side Question: any links to any tutorials on how to take an image and anti-alias the edges?

This can get techy depending on the software you're using... and there is more than one way to skin a cat.

I think you said that you were using Elements... you could try this tutorial and pull selections using the feather tool. I'm not as big a fan of using feathering though... but it might work fine depending on what kind of token you're building, source material, background you're applying the selection to, etc.

Most image editing software has anti-aliasing/smoothing settings somewhere when using selection, lasso, and wand tools. That's where people tend to create those aliased edges most because those tools are such time-savers. Look for the edge settings for those tools and play around with what kind of results they produce.

You can "clean-up" an aliased edge with a drawing or eraser tool that's using a soft edge. Or use a fine tipped smudge tool on the edge to smooth a particularly bad section out. But that can be pretty time consuming and isn't for everyone.

It's a good idea to look at your image on a pure white and black background in your image software before calling it the day. You will see problem edge areas very quickly that way.

Oh, and one more important tip... if you have a really high rez image to start with this is ideal. Do all of your editing on the largest version you can find, then when you downsize to where you want the image to end up, the software will soften things up for you. The larger image you can be doing your editing work on the better. Resizing tends to hide imperfections.

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 Post subject: Re: Tokens on a TV for in person gaming
PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:45 am 
Well, learning has happened.

I went back and re-created my tokens using token tool and its standard borders at 256x256 pixels. I took the character portraits in Photoshop Elements and made sure to remove as much of the sharp contrasting pixels (a lot of of blending to get rid of the stark whites), and I put them on background colors that weren't huge contrasts to the portraits. And no more see through transparent backgrounds.

These made some nicely working 256x256 tokens. I then shrunk them all to 128x128 versions and did a side by side comparison. See attached photo. 256x tokens on the left, 128x tokens on the right, viewing at 1" size on the TV screen.

I think they look pretty good in both cases. Some of the 128x tokens are slightly crisper in a couple of cases, but overall I think the 256x ones look really good. I am satisfied that I can't get much better on this TV. These are a crap ton better than when I started this thread.

My takeaway from this is that the combination of maptools scaling of the tokens combined with the TV's shitty ability to display means I have to be careful with sharp edges, aliasing, and sharply contrasting pixel colors in the images.

I learned a lot through this exercise, so thanks again for all the help!


File comment: 256x256 tokens on the left. 128x128 on the right.
256 L 128 R reduced.jpg
256 L 128 R reduced.jpg [ 458.39 KiB | Viewed 114 times ]

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Andrew Grover

“Evil isn’t the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it’s a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference.” - Harry Dresden
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Deity
 
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 7:56 pm
Posts: 6381
Location: Middle of Nowhere, NM
 Post subject: Re: Tokens on a TV for in person gaming
PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 9:22 am 
Glad you found a workable solution!


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