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Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 6:48 pm
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 Post subject: Re: MapTool: Refined
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:06 pm 
Jagged wrote:
Agreed. I would consider "Ease of Use" to be one of the killer features. Maptool has a significant hurdle for the first time user that makes quickly jumping in, difficult and daunting. As long as that is true, Maptool will lose potential users to the competition.

Its funny you mentioned an obvious place to roll dice. I never considered that an issue, but I can see how a new could think differently.


Roll20 didn't have macro buttons or its "dice rolling dialog" to start with; the devs just built in a system very similar to MapTool's roll commands (in fact, the command was /roll). After my first use of it I (and others) suggested clickable buttons to roll dice, and I advocated for a dialog to do some dice rolling (and save what you set up as a macro, if you like). They did eventually implement it and it's very robust.

Interestingly, a lot of recommendations for features early on seemed to be for things that MapTool did (it was common to see "I suggest Feature X, similar to how MapTool handles it"). So people wanted quite a few of the things that MT does, but I guess they also wanted better ease of use, easier connectivity, what have you. It also suggests that a lot of MT users went over to check out Roll20. There was, however, a fairly strong contingent against high-complexity scripting. At this point, it's at the level of basic variables connected to token stats, but beyond that I think nobody really wants it to go. Perhaps their API will be the tool for people who really want to do funky stuff.

The other thing that surprised me in its effectiveness was visual dice, which both Roll20 and FGII have (FGII is like the grandaddy of virtual dice you can throw around). I mean, you'd think they're no big deal, because what matters is the result in chat, right? But having visual "virtual dice" roll across the screen actually lends something to the experience. It's...I don't know, nice. Cool. Kind of exciting.

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 Post subject: Re: MapTool: Refined
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:12 pm 
Does anyone know a source for the rolling dice algorithms? I assume they're vector graphics. I've been looking around with no luck. Surely someone open-sourced those.

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 Post subject: Re: MapTool: Refined
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:30 pm 
Just to mention another paid one, anyone gave a try to Battleground ?


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 Post subject: Re: MapTool: Refined
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:32 pm 
I'm certain I'm in the minority, but rolling dice has always pulled me out of role-playing. Seeing them dance around and settle on a number just stands to remind me that I'm playing a game. It returns me to a time where I spent altogether too much time adding up dice instead of telling/listening to a story. One of the reasons we moved to MapTools was so that we could automate all the math and eliminate it as a diversion or timesink. Our combat is now fast and accurate with a level of detail we couldn't have anywhere else (that I know of), and the focus is back on the story rather than the system. So much of Roll20 seems to be manual. I'm sure there's nostalgia in that, and many people long for it. What has always drawn me to -- and kept me in -- MapTools is the ability to make it do all the stuff that takes the fun out of running a game (dice rolls, view distance, armor mitigation, movement limits, etc).

This is probably both a Pro and a Con, but I also love the feeling of getting an especially complex macro working and impressing my players with a casual "Oh yeah. That's all automated now." But at the same time, it was several years of utter frustration before I reached that point.


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 Post subject: Re: MapTool: Refined
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:37 pm 
RPTroll wrote:
Does anyone know a source for the rolling dice algorithms? I assume they're vector graphics. I've been looking around with no luck. Surely someone open-sourced those.


For Roll20, they use the Physijs library for dice physics and ThreeJS for 3D graphics (one is a plugin to the other); the dice graphics themselves were custom-made for Roll20.

@jckrbbt: As for visual dice, my reaction was very different -- not only did I just find them nifty, I was glad to be reminded that I was gaming, because in general (I play in a regular weekly game using MapTool), it's just "click, wait, results." Didn't feel like a game (sometimes feels kinda like using TurboTax, actually ;)), which is the feeling I'm looking for. But, as with everything, everyone's mileage varies!

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 Post subject: Re: MapTool: Refined
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:54 pm 
Found the geometry. Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: MapTool: Refined
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:47 pm 
So RPTroll, are we going to see some virtual dice in MT soon? :)

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 Post subject: Re: MapTool: Refined
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:55 pm 
Well, it's under discussion for future state stuff. It might be an option. My group is split on the dice animation, almost at 50/50. I think allowing it as a display option is worth doing. I'm doing some investigation now for a side project to code a FX dice roller. Whether it's included in MapTool will be for others to decide.

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 Post subject: Re: MapTool: Refined
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:12 pm 
I would not use virtual rolling dice, I think I would find it very annoying. Which is strange, because I do love rolling massive handfuls of dice (Hero System Player, obviously :roll: ). But I recognise that it would be a big draw for some.

I would also add that even after playing with maptool for as long as we have, some of my players still need to be reminded how to do a roll macro, if I ask them to do an unscheduled 1d20 or something. I mean, how hard can it be? So I think a UI function to roll dice would be a significant plus.


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 Post subject: Re: MapTool: Refined
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:20 pm 
To me virtual dice or no virtual dice isn't a big deal either way. I'd just want Maptools setup to where if someone created a virtual dice resource for Maptools I'd want it to be easy to drop into my game if one of my players requested it. A virtual dice drop in should be compatible with Pathfinder MT, a Savage Worlds framework or even something you can drop into a basic no frills campaign. Give us good plug ins so we can dev up our own dice(or decks) and then you'll see normal dice, fudge dice, Zocchi dice, Warhammer dice, etc etc and people can drop in whatever they need.


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 Post subject: Re: MapTool: Refined
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:22 pm 
Rumble wrote:
As for visual dice, my reaction was very different -- not only did I just find them nifty, I was glad to be reminded that I was gaming, because in general (I play in a regular weekly game using MapTool), it's just "click, wait, results." Didn't feel like a game (sometimes feels kinda like using TurboTax, actually ;)), which is the feeling I'm looking for. But, as with everything, everyone's mileage varies!


I love FGs dice roller. But, that said, for some of my players that like to roll their own dice, it would still just be a substitute for the real thing.

My solution was to put in an optional drop down die selection input in my relevant macros that defaults to 0. If a player wants to roll their own dice at home they can, then they can select the result. An extra step, but worth it to those that want to roll their own dice. Leave it a 0 and MT rolls the dice for them and they're just getting an overview of the action before executing. This has created a nice crossover option where some players are letting MT do the work for most rolls, but picking up their dice at home for the "important" rolls.

That I was able to do something that simple, that works perfectly for my groups, illustrates the power of MT. The weakness, of course, is that getting a framework to that point isn't quite as simple. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: MapTool: Refined
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:26 am 
There is a video somewhere of a Surface-like table (was it from M$?), where they demo it playing D&D and very proudly show off their virtual dice. I remember thinking at the time, "How pointless, you are at a table, roll some real dice!"

However it was clearly picked up as a "cool factor" worth reporting. That, plus the benefit of providing a UI interface for dice, would be a big plus for new users. Just as long as you can turn off the animations! Even if other people want to roll them.


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 Post subject: Re: MapTool: Refined
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:20 am 
I turned on 3D dice in Roll20 and we started getting a crash every 5-10 mins of someones browser/hangout. Turned it off and stopped happening. SO Roll20 implementation must still have some problems. I would add however that Google Hangout/Roll20 recover from the crash really really well, takes about 8 secs to get back up and back into the game as if nothing had happened, even as the GM.

I do think we may be getting off track from the original topic however. I still think a KSer for a 1.4 version is a good idea.

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 Post subject: Re: MapTool: Refined
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:09 am 
I think the most apparent and overwhelming selling point for MapTool is the dynamic lighting. Sure it could be improved and made a lot more intuitive, but it is an excellent feature which many competing applications lack, or do not do so in such a complete way.

The whole reason about putting new users off the rpg, I disagree, I think we have two types of people who use MapTool and would use in the future: Players/GMs and Framework coders.

Now that's not to say that you can't be both, but I would avoid thinking along the lines of:

"The developers write MapTool, and MapTool attracts players."

Instead:

"The developers write MapTool, the coders write the frameworks, and the frameworks attract the players."

If some of those players, upon being attracted through one game type, want to implement a new framework, then the community grows and so does the framework library. The danger with the earlier flow of attraction is that the attracted players would quickly hit a wall of learning. This is why MapTool needs an official and polished framework which is a "pick up and go" framework which many people can/will host/run/play. After all, why would you download a software which enables you to play games if you can't give it a test run immediately? That'd be like reading the EULA before you play an MMORPG you just downloaded.

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 Post subject: Re: MapTool: Refined
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:59 am 
I would have to say, the #1 reason we use it every week is because of the dynamic lighting, FoW/VBL. You just can't emulate that with a marker and mini's.

At first we thought we'd use mini's because we had a bunch but it was to difficult to move the map around as the mini's got out of sync (using MT as just a fancy paper map).

But once my players got a torch, some FoW, man, it was awesome. It went from telling the players what they could and couldn't see (and having to count out squares for torch light or what not) to, 'click this mini', "there, that's what you can see!". Once, another GM ran a game with a map and laid paper over the rooms, but they were to large, mini's got knocked over, there wasn't torch light, there was boo'ing lol. Never looked back.

So ya, I have to agree, Vision is where it's at and how it exposes FoW. And why I wrote the VBL macros so door's just "worked" to keep that "edge". I don't think you'll see a VTT anywhere else for a while doing what we have going on here with vision.

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