As I go through the development process and interact with the community on G+ it’s very interesting to see the wide breadth of opinions on what a virtual tabletop (VTT) should include. Comparisons to Maptools, Fantasy Grounds, and other VTTs in development like Roll20 are to be expected and I welcome them. However, I wanted to try and describe the direction and vision that I have with Tabletop Forge (TTF) so people know what to expect.
- First and foremost, I want TTF to be a tool that enables people to game together online. I want to utilize the social community of Google+ to let groups split apart by distance as well people totally new to the hobby to experience a roleplaying session online. The reason I built it upon the Google+ Hangout platform is because of no need for any kind of port configuration/local installs (beside the Hangout plugin itself) and because of the awesome RPG community that I see playing pick-up games all the time.
- I want to the application to thread a careful line between simplicity and advanced configuration of features. This is a very hard line to walk and one that is important to me. Other VTTs out there have all kinds of nifty features but are cumbersome to use and setup. However, I do want to support advanced map features that I feel are helpful (like revealing a map a piece at a time) but want to avoid things that I think automate too much of the online VTT experience (like vision layer blocking and light sources that auto-reveal maps).
- I want to support as many constructs of the indie RPGs as possible. While this may be through optional die roller syntax I want things like card decks, widgets for tokens (bennies, blood tokens, whatever), and things like customizable “index” cards.
- I want to be system agnostic but support as many systems as possible. While this seems contradictory I want the core of the app to be simply a place people can have the video/audio/text chat as well as roll some dice and some relatively basic map functionality. However, I am more than happy to add in support for off-the-wall die systems and other things that are “optional” for people to use. I am not going to integrate 5 foot squares for instance right into the app. I will put a generic grid in (if you want to turn it on) and just let you define how big a square is.
- Tabletop Forge will always be free. I want the experience for the app to be open to everyone. I may consider crowdsourced funding to raise some initial funds to cover server costs and also allow me to bring in some graphics professionals but I will never charge for the app itself nor am I planning any sort of subscriptions or premium tiers. I may in the future have a market built-in to the app that would allow people to list map packs, token packs, and even adventures that they own the rights too but these would be optional things and nothing would restrict you from adding your own resources.
I welcome any feedback and as always value the opinions of the community and have made adjustments before but these broad concepts are how I generally try and figure out what I should work on and how I should do it.