Vtt Vs Rptools

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I'd ask a question to the people is currently betatesting the VTT.

In your opinion, why VTT would be (or not, of course) better than the rptools, that's a shareware?

Could you import images from pictures to create maps? Could you customize macros? Is it as flexible as rptools (from DM point of view)?

I'd really know something more, cause i'm using succesfully rptools and before migrating to vtt i'd understand if it's worth of it.

Thak u very much for your feedback.

Bye

Nemblin
---
Happy (for now) DDI subscriber
well i just checked out RPtools because of this post and i am not really able to make heads or tails of it since especially the maptool (im compleatly in the dark on that one)

im not a beta tester myself but i can say with about 75% confidance that the VTT is more user friendly (based on the information from these boards and people i know who are beta testing)  
Based on beta test reports over in the RPTools forum, your questions in order:

1) No importing of pictures - only tile-based maps using the provided library
2) No - basic dice rolling is available, but no scripting language
3) Not as far as I can tell, although that depends on what you mean by the question.

However, I'm not a beta tester, so I don't know firsthand. I have heard that it is vastly easier to get a game hosted using the Wizards VT because you don't have to mess with your network, port forwarding, or anything like that.

As for user-friendliness, that also seems to be a point in the Wizards VT's favor - it does one thing only, so it can focus on that and not offer the options other VTTs offer. MapTool does have some distance to travel in getting new users going, though. Once you watch the video tutorials, it's pretty trivial, but there's a learning curve. You're already using MapTool successfully, so for you that seems to be irrelevant. For a new user, it would not be.
From what I've seen, (I'm not in beta, but I've talked to people who are, and kept up on forums) the VTT is as undeadpool said is more user friendly.  I love MapTools, but I'm a programmer, and enjoy having the access to customize a lot for myself.

At this time they don't allow you to import your own artwork (much like the character builder), but we can hope that it will come, or they will get a much larger library of artwork to such an extent that you can live without it.

If you're using MapTools, bare bone, with little or any additions (campaign settings, macros, etc), than you'll find the VTT to be a great step up.  If you've put the effort in, or found people's Mods that have, than its going to take a while for the VTT to catch up. 
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From what I've seen, (I'm not in beta, but I've talked to people who are, and kept up on forums) the VTT is as undeadpool said is more user friendly.  I love MapTools, but I'm a programmer, and enjoy having the access to customize a lot for myself.

At this time they don't allow you to import your own artwork (much like the character builder), but we can hope that it will come, or they will get a much larger library of artwork to such an extent that you can live without it.

If you're using MapTools, bare bone, with little or any additions (campaign settings, macros, etc), than you'll find the VTT to be a great step up.  If you've put the effort in, or found people's Mods that have, than its going to take a while for the VTT to catch up. 

I have been using Maptool for years and my particular setup has everything automated. 

All player tokens have each power built into them and when clicked they are "used" (in the case of encounter and dailys) and the to hit and damage totals are auto calculated.  Hit point/temp hit point addition/subtraction is completed via macro button.  Basically, everything that can be automated is automated.

It took a while to learn how to script macros to this point, but once you get the hang of it, it makes playing over the internet extremely easy.

Check out my blog for a quick blurb about maptool.

ncdnd.blogspot.com/
DDI Subscriber from Nov. 2008 to Nov. 2010 Yes, I was an annual subscriber before the original CB ever even came out. That's how excited I was. Note past tense. Check out my little DnD blog - http://ncdnd.blogspot.com/
If you're using MapTools, bare bone, with little or any additions (campaign settings, macros, etc), than you'll find the VTT to be a great step up.  If you've put the effort in, or found people's Mods that have, than its going to take a while for the VTT to catch up. 



This is the case.

I'm in the VT beta and an experienced MT user (wrote my own Framework) and because of the fact that I've spent hours and hours making a complex framework for MT that works exactly as the people in our game like, it's streets ahead of the VT.

However if you were starting totally from scratch I'd say the VT is easier to use.  It also knows a bit about 4E (although not much) which is more than a vanila MT install knows.

VT is way behind where MT is (for my group) because we've spent so much time working on MT.   However I think the potential for VT is massive.   The key thing here is the moment you can import your PCs and Monsters directly from the Character Builder and Compendium, VT takes a step to a place the other VTTs can't go.   The VT has the potential to be able to update your online characters on the fly whilst you are playing - with new equipment and the like.   This is where I hope the VT goes and what will take it away from the other software out there.   

Wizards can do this and they really need to.  I also believe they will do this.  When is another matter.

For now, I'll be keeping using MT - probably for a long time I suspect too but I fully expect to switch to the VT sometime in the future when it gets better.

Blakey
I just discovered Maptool a couple of months ago (and just got into the beta a couple of days ago), so I can try for the newcomer perspective:

Maptool is much more powerful than the DDI VT (at least as it stands at this point).  Maptool can do more and gives you much more power to customize your experience.  However, Maptool also has a very steep learning curve.  Having no idea how either program worked, the VT would be easier to use.  If WotC gets the character/monster import added sometime and includes integrated rules support it will truly be a great tool.  Until then, it will be a nice tool but might not be the best tool for you.
I've said this in another thread just now but the community here is what's going to make this thing. Maptool has the ability to host public games but the tools are kind of confusing, there's no real D&D community "pool" there to draw games from and it's not the official tool. It's also a pain to set up since the DM has to host the game on his personal pc.

I'm not in the beta but it appears to me that the game is hosted on WotC's server which is a huge advantage IMO.
Without a doubt, MapTools is currently a superior tool for the advanced internet gamer.  It has more to offer in almost every area you asked about.

The one place the WotC Table shines is in simplicity and ease of use. For people new to table-tops, its easy to just jump in and play.

Compare MS Paint to Photoshop.  Photoshop is far superior.  But if all you want to do is draw a scribble, MS Paint is the way to go. 

If all you want to do is Play D&D, the WotC table will probably be the tool of choice within a year.
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Without a doubt, MapTools is currently a superior tool for the advanced internet gamer.  It has more to offer in almost every area you asked about.

The one place the WotC Table shines is in simplicity and ease of use. For people new to table-tops, its easy to just jump in and play.

Compare MS Paint to Photoshop.  Photoshop is far superior.  But if all you want to do is draw a scribble, MS Paint is the way to go. 

If all you want to do is Play D&D, the WotC table will probably be the tool of choice within a year.



So, the WoTC VT is for scribblers? Not a good analogy, really.

Seriously, why can't it be both? In fact, it should be both. As a seasoned gamer, what I need are tools that make my game run faster and smoother and easier. Tools they have been saying were coming, but looks like won't really come, outside of those needed to run this simpler VT.


Without a doubt, MapTools is currently a superior tool for the advanced internet gamer.  It has more to offer in almost every area you asked about.

The one place the WotC Table shines is in simplicity and ease of use. For people new to table-tops, its easy to just jump in and play.

Compare MS Paint to Photoshop.  Photoshop is far superior.  But if all you want to do is draw a scribble, MS Paint is the way to go. 

If all you want to do is Play D&D, the WotC table will probably be the tool of choice within a year.



So, the WoTC VT is for scribblers? Not a good analogy, really.

Seriously, why can't it be both? In fact, it should be both. As a seasoned gamer, what I need are tools that make my game run faster and smoother and easier. Tools they have been saying were coming, but looks like won't really come, outside of those needed to run this simpler VT.



Don't forget it's still in beta, and there is a list of feature requests, and open dialogue on how people intend to use the table if all those features were there.  I think that with time, like all the other tables out there that it will shine.

Joe
Without a doubt, MapTools is currently a superior tool for the advanced internet gamer.  It has more to offer in almost every area you asked about.

The one place the WotC Table shines is in simplicity and ease of use. For people new to table-tops, its easy to just jump in and play.

Compare MS Paint to Photoshop.  Photoshop is far superior.  But if all you want to do is draw a scribble, MS Paint is the way to go. 

If all you want to do is Play D&D, the WotC table will probably be the tool of choice within a year.



So, the WoTC VT is for scribblers? Not a good analogy, really.

Seriously, why can't it be both? In fact, it should be both. As a seasoned gamer, what I need are tools that make my game run faster and smoother and easier. Tools they have been saying were coming, but looks like won't really come, outside of those needed to run this simpler VT.



Don't forget it's still in beta, and there is a list of feature requests, and open dialogue on how people intend to use the table if all those features were there.  I think that with time, like all the other tables out there that it will shine.

Joe



I know, but some very good questions have been asked about what they plan, but they haven't said.

It's old. Say one thing, can't do it, switch tracks, then switch tracks again. I mean really.
True and sadly only time will tell.

Joe
Without a doubt, MapTools is currently a superior tool for the advanced internet gamer.  It has more to offer in almost every area you asked about.

The one place the WotC Table shines is in simplicity and ease of use. For people new to table-tops, its easy to just jump in and play.

Compare MS Paint to Photoshop.  Photoshop is far superior.  But if all you want to do is draw a scribble, MS Paint is the way to go. 

If all you want to do is Play D&D, the WotC table will probably be the tool of choice within a year.



So, the WoTC VT is for scribblers? Not a good analogy, really.

Seriously, why can't it be both? In fact, it should be both. As a seasoned gamer, what I need are tools that make my game run faster and smoother and easier. Tools they have been saying were coming, but looks like won't really come, outside of those needed to run this simpler VT.




Honestly, (and here, I really only have my impressions of WOTC_Josh to go on) I think they aim to eventually make it superior to map tools. However, Maptools has had a lot longer to get to where it is, and a lot more work done on the consumer end to make it work well. I expect that at full launch, it will still be a bit feature poor compared to maptools, however I really think that a lot of the things it is missing now will be added in.

I know they are looking for feedback on the tools and how they can improve them, much of which will be implemented. However, it is still fairly early in the developement cycle(I get the impression some of the beta code is still being written, let alone implementing feedback).

My prediction right now is that at launch the VT will be something like Photoshop Elements, while thMaptools, etc., are more like the professional Photoshop. i.e. that it will have simplified and user freindly versions of most of what maptools et al have, but that maptools will still be capable of more high end and crunch heavy customisation.

Seriously, why can't it be both? In fact, it should be both. As a seasoned gamer, what I need are tools that make my game run faster and smoother and easier. Tools they have been saying were coming, but looks like won't really come, outside of those needed to run this simpler VT.



I don't know how viable it really would be to try and have 'both'. From what I've seen, Maptools remains better for my purposes, because I've gotten to the point where I enjoy having long elaborate macros that check for crits, add in bonus damage if I've got Bless Weapon up, etc. I doubt I'd have that functionality with the WotC VT - at least, certainly not early on, and certainly not the ability to program it in myself.

But at the same time, I remember when our group started with Maptools, and how long it took for us to really start to master it. A VT that people can pop right into and quickly have the tools they need? That is valuable. And I think has more potential in the long run to add the extra options - if not the ability to code things in ourselves, then the possibility of having those extra dynamics built into the game, especially if integration with other tools are added.

Even if I prefer Maptools for my own group, I don't think WotC is making a mistake in starting off with a simpler, cleaner platform. And I think has the potential, in the long run, to have a better tool for all purposes... at least, for those playing 4E.
Without a doubt, MapTools is currently a superior tool for the advanced internet gamer.  It has more to offer in almost every area you asked about.

The one place the WotC Table shines is in simplicity and ease of use. For people new to table-tops, its easy to just jump in and play.

Compare MS Paint to Photoshop.  Photoshop is far superior.  But if all you want to do is draw a scribble, MS Paint is the way to go. 

If all you want to do is Play D&D, the WotC table will probably be the tool of choice within a year.



So, the WoTC VT is for scribblers? Not a good analogy, really.

Seriously, why can't it be both? In fact, it should be both. As a seasoned gamer, what I need are tools that make my game run faster and smoother and easier. Tools they have been saying were coming, but looks like won't really come, outside of those needed to run this simpler VT.



*shrugs*  I don't really care whether the analogy is 'good', as long as my point is clear.

The VT Developers are limited by the resources available to them.  They are going to apply those resources towards getting a functional product that serves the minimum needs at first, and will add more features as the product matures.
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But at the same time, I remember when our group started with Maptools, and how long it took for us to really start to master it. A VT that people can pop right into and quickly have the tools they need? That is valuable. And I think has more potential in the long run to add the extra options - if not the ability to code things in ourselves, then the possibility of having those extra dynamics built into the game, especially if integration with other tools are added.

Even if I prefer Maptools for my own group, I don't think WotC is making a mistake in starting off with a simpler, cleaner platform. And I think has the potential, in the long run, to have a better tool for all purposes... at least, for those playing 4E.


I distinctly remember the thought process that went through my head when I considered running a 4e game online using Maptool.  That thought process was 'Ummm how the hell am I going to learn this well enough to run a decent game at the same time as learning the new 4e rules?'  (not to mention the map making learning curve as well)

I wasn't expecting anything more from a free product (with a dedicated but small community) and I know that if you have the skill and time to put into it Maptool is a great system, but for a non programmer like me the idea of scripting this and that was intimidating.  This all happened about 2 years ago before the frameworks for 4e were around.

I think the VT will be great for people just wanting to play 4e (or other systems that are similar and/or use a grid for combat like 3.5).  I think that they need to get some more things in there for launch (all the status conditions for one!) and keep building on it and it will be a great product for the community.
To be fair to MapTool, it's possible to play quite simply without any scripting, and the learning curve is really pretty short if you do that - it doesn't take that long to learn how to create a map, put tokens on it, and share it. Dice rolling is done in chat, and it comes with a set of conditions built in, and so forth - you never need to script anything.

However, what it lacks is an intuitive setup for simple scripts, like the VT's setting up of powers. Creating a macro in MapTool and creating a power in the VT are the same thing. If you're writing a power, MapTool wants you to create a macro button called "Blazing Sword of Fire"


Blazing Sword of Fire: [1d20] vs. AC.
Damage [1d10+9] fire damage.



where the VT presents a nice interface to do the same. 

I'm not disputing the ease of the VT or the fact that MapTool isn't dead simple to operate, but MapTool isn't "script it or you can't do anything"; you can run with it pretty quickly. It's only if you want to go deep that the curve gets steep. 
 
I'd ask a question to the people is currently betatesting the VTT.

In your opinion, why VTT would be (or not, of course) better than the rptools, that's a shareware?

Could you import images from pictures to create maps? Could you customize macros? Is it as flexible as rptools (from DM point of view)?

I'd really know something more, cause i'm using succesfully rptools and before migrating to vtt i'd understand if it's worth of it.

Thak u very much for your feedback.

Bye

Nemblin
---
Happy (for now) DDI subscriber



As a user of Maptools, and a beta subscriber, I would say the VT has the potential to be a good replacement for Maptools if you are playing 4e.

Let me list some of the advantages and potential advantages of the VT

1. Ease of use.  Even in its current beta format, the VT is real easy to pickup and start using right from the get go.

2. VoIP as part of the program.  While I don't have any direct experience in this situation, I have read that there have been issues of trying to run a campaign server and VoIP programs from the same machine.  I am not sure if this has gotten any better recently or not.

3. Speaking of servers, the availability to do a pick up or one off session is very good.  Since D&D has it's own audience, this would allow myself and others to do a quick game at a time convenient for us, but not always convenient for our respective groups.

4. Potential for interaction of other D&Di Tools, and published adventure support.  WotC would be seriously missing out by not incorporating this ability.  The ability for me, as a DM, to pick an adventure out of Dungeon, for example, load it up on the VT and run it for my friends in the same amount of time (or less) than it takes for them to make up their characters would be AWESOME.

5. Full campaign & combat Tracking capability.  If the VT can fully track a combat/skill challenge session for me, I'm sold.  This includes PC's and monster actions, status effects, Line of sight/effect, etc.


On the flip side, here are some advantages that Maptools has, and will probably keep based on the speculation that the VT will only support 4e.

1. Maptools is free.

2. Maptools is not setting specific, so it doesn't matter if you play 1e, Pathfinder, Star Wars RPG, you can use this program in almost, if not all, of your gaming endeavors.

3. Maptools does not require an internet connection in order to run a game.  If you play face to face, one PC with 2 monitors is all you really need with this program.

4. Customization.  Maptools allows one to make their games as interactive as they want, from the absolute basic (a map and tokens) to the fully interactive.  Granted you may have to program some of your own or make a request for a feature, but that is up to you.

5. The community is awesome.  The support that a person receives if they have problems, and the resources that people create on their own time to support this project is second to none.

In the end, I think that if WotC focussed the capabilities of the VT to support 4e, while supplementing it with the other tools, it could become a very powerful and useful tool. 

Until then, I will keep using Maptools and enjoying what I have in front of me.

Ramius
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Without a doubt, MapTools is currently a superior tool for the advanced internet gamer.  It has more to offer in almost every area you asked about.

The one place the WotC Table shines is in simplicity and ease of use. For people new to table-tops, its easy to just jump in and play.

Compare MS Paint to Photoshop.  Photoshop is far superior.  But if all you want to do is draw a scribble, MS Paint is the way to go. 

If all you want to do is Play D&D, the WotC table will probably be the tool of choice within a year.



So, the WoTC VT is for scribblers? Not a good analogy, really.

Seriously, why can't it be both? In fact, it should be both. As a seasoned gamer, what I need are tools that make my game run faster and smoother and easier. Tools they have been saying were coming, but looks like won't really come, outside of those needed to run this simpler VT.



*shrugs*  I don't really care whether the analogy is 'good', as long as my point is clear.

The VT Developers are limited by the resources available to them.  They are going to apply those resources towards getting a functional product that serves the minimum needs at first, and will add more features as the product matures.



Well, if you want to say that WoTC's VT is on the level of an free with OS software meant for playing around with, compared to a professional piece of software that is a helpful tool, that can be used by novices and gurus alike, and has a learning curve that's easy, then maybe your analogy is good.

As for limited resources. I accept that for how many products they can work on, and how fast they can get products out.

It's not an excuse for the quality of the tool, and it's lack of usefulness to the user.


Without a doubt, MapTools is currently a superior tool for the advanced internet gamer.  It has more to offer in almost every area you asked about.

The one place the WotC Table shines is in simplicity and ease of use. For people new to table-tops, its easy to just jump in and play.

Compare MS Paint to Photoshop.  Photoshop is far superior.  But if all you want to do is draw a scribble, MS Paint is the way to go. 

If all you want to do is Play D&D, the WotC table will probably be the tool of choice within a year.



'Advanced' is misleading. If you can click twice and know how to use a keyboard (I should hope you do if you're playing D&D online), then you can make power buttons within seconds. To say that it will be the 'tool of choice' is also misleading. Is this because other options have been made known? Or because it's the only one that appears when you head to the D&D website?

New players won't know about things like Maptools, and will think that paying for mediocrity is a-okay, because they weren't made aware of other, similiar tools.

Maptools doesn't hold your hand, but it doesn't make it less 'user friendly'. Will WotC's VTT pull ahead of, say, Fantasy Grounds? Probably. But the MS Paint vs. Photoshop argument is wrong. I don't have to pay for MS Paint, and I do for WotCs VTT. If I'm going to 'scribble', I shouldn't have to pay to go to a less powerful program.
We use Maptools at the moment and use a home grown framework for D& D 4th ed. Like other posters we have spent a lot of time getting it to do whaat we want. We've tested   VTT to death over the last week or so and come to the conclusion that it is still at least a year behind. However we are sure that it will be the system of choice before too long due to it's friendlier interface. If Wizards do this properly it will be the best VTT around. Let's hope they get it right!!
The bottom line, there is no reason that WoTC's VT can't have all the features of Rptools, AND be easy to use an intutive. Programs are done like that all the time. Limited resources just means they are going to take longer to do, and less used features brought online later.

Easy of use would certainly be covered by being able to import characters. It's easy to say, I'm sure they intend too, eventually. And I feel like all those people that have been complaining about DDi's lack of features for two years, but When is eventually?

I know it's in beta. But I would think having the ability to import as a feature now so you have a long time testing how well it works, across a wide range of powers.

Is this going to replace all the other tools we've been waiting for? Still don't know that. So it seems like it's going to be almost 2 years since the Monster builder before we even get to know that.

So, three years. I know time is different between customer and company, but three years is to long by either.
Yeah, I've watched a couple videos and I'm pretty underwhelmed. A new user of MapTool could probably get that level of functionality within minutes. MapTool is well supported by community, tutorial and wiki so it's very quick and easy to get information. As to the WotC table being the best choice within a year for playing 4E... maybe if nobody worked on MapTool anymore, but that free software has a of lot interest.

Some of the points made here are right, the WotC table with its online potential for easy pick-up games could be a boon to the community, especially if WotC stores all your game data and graphics on their servers so it is faster.

Oh well, I like the new Character Builder well enough so I can still play with that.

cheers,
Meshon
For me, what I'm seeing now in the new cloud based DDi is potential.  Lots and lots of potential.   The downside is that currently it's unfullfilled potential.       The offline CB is better than the online CB.   MapTools is better than the VT.

Given enough time, I really do think the new DDi stuff will surpass what is currently available.   But until it does, I'm not going to be using it.    Why would I?

At this point in time, it is really hard to tell which tool will be the better one for players, once the VT is released. I think it very much depends on the prioritys a user has. The D&D VT, if delivered propperly, will most likely be cutomized and therefor very easy to use with the D&D ruleset, especially spontanous games will have the advantage of beeing found quicker.
Maptools on the other hand, will most likely offer more complexity, especially when it comes to customisation, it also has the great benfits of not being restircted to D&D. People out there playing other games than D&D will most likely prefer to need only one tool to game online.
You also have to make one fundamental decission: Do you want to pay money to use the VT? Unless it is released as a free online tool, which most people out there will doubt, it might require a monthly fee.
So I guess if the D&D VT is released as a solid product, with comfortable functions and little limitations, it has the potential to be very successfull, otherwise, it might end up as just a nice addon to an exsisting product. So in one sentence: The number of users is the key, maptools has those numbers, the new D&D VT will prove its quality once released.
D&D Outsider since Nov 18th 2010, if you wonder about the little red dragon, this one is dedicated to the great VT community.
I have tried to use maptools to play games with old friends in other states, but most of us are in our 40's, and some of them are not very tech savvy. We ended up just giving up on it as the learning curve was to steep for them. I have tried the VT, and I think it is something even my Luddite friends could handle (if I import their characters for them).  If they ever get around to directly importing characters and monsters from their respective builders, with power hit and damage bonus'es pre-calculated, I think VT will blow maptools out of the water. They better hurry though, because it seems a lot of people are losing patience with them.
I've used MapTool a lot over the past few years. It has come a long way, largely due to users on their forums that post custom frameworks. Their work is really responsible for the growth in MapTool for LFR online games (and probably for the decrease in LFR online play on OpenRPG).

MapTool is pretty slick and I like it. I do find that the average player struggles to keep up with the technology and savvy required to run it well. It also requires a lot of upkeep by the player. I have all the knowledge I need, but I still dread the time investment to load up or even level a PC using one of the frameworks (especially since I'm detail oriented and want the powers to read certain ways).

VTT is clearly in an initial stage. However, it is well written in a way that allows for a lot of growth and expansion. It has tremendous potential in addition to being more user friendly and still fairly functional. Day one VTT to just year two MT has VTT way in the lead.

The major difference is really the frameworks. But, we all know the day will come when the CB and MB connect to the VTT. When that happens, the VTT will have an incredible boost in functionality and user friendliness. A DM that can drag and drop monsters and players that can insert their PC... that is a vision that WotC is uniquely capable of delivering, should they take those steps. I can't see them not doing that, even if there have been some really rough times with the release of the online CB.

Oh, and a nice blog comparing the two programs here: www.rpgmusings.com/2010/12/vt-vs-maptool...

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I can add in a house-ruled extra feat and a DM-made magic item in RPTool.
And it tells me when a PC/NPC is bloodied.
And it can import custom art.

If anyone is interested in watching a Campaign game run using MapTool, my group will be playing this Friday night, 7pm PDT. Drop me a line, and I'll get you set up.


Viva La "what ever version of D&D you are playing right now!"
 But the MS Paint vs. Photoshop argument is wrong. I don't have to pay for MS Paint, and I do for WotCs VTT. If I'm going to 'scribble', I shouldn't have to pay to go to a less powerful program.



You make a very good point. I'm just wondering as a pricing policy should the WotC VT be free.

But if you have D&D Insider status, you can import your character from the CB and monsters from the MB, etc.

That way it makes it possible for more people to play D&D, but doesn't give them the rules by automating too many things (so they need to buy books), and doesn't make it quick to use unless they pay for additional features like importing stuff, and Insider tie ins.

 
One of the real features that I have come to appreciate about WotC's VT has is that there is no need to monkey with opening up ports in your firewall.  Everytime I try to bring a new player into a MapTool game, we always have to have a pre-game session where we have to get them to open up ports on their router and forward them to their wireless laptop or something similar.  I haven't had to do that on WotC's VT.  Thats a big bonus for me.

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Maptools doesn't hold your hand, but it doesn't make it less 'user friendly'. Will WotC's VTT pull ahead of, say, Fantasy Grounds? Probably. But the MS Paint vs. Photoshop argument is wrong. I don't have to pay for MS Paint, and I do for WotCs VTT. If I'm going to 'scribble', I shouldn't have to pay to go to a less powerful program.



Comparisons between Paint and Photoshop are a little unfair.  I think a better comparison would be the current version of GIMP compared to Photoshop.  Certainly, GIMP is less powerful than Photoshop.  However, for many, it contains the features that they need from Photoshop and is easier to use. 

That's a plus.  However, we're back to the "I don't have to pay for GIMP either" arguement.  So let's compare GIMP with Photoshop Essentials.  It's far cheaper than Photoshop and less advanced than GIMP but more accessible.  The question is whether the price is worthwhile. 

For some users, it will be.  Ease of use is an important factor for many users and the easier it is, the better.  Of course, a big part of it is the price.  If it is included as part of the current subscription price for DDI, I certainly won't complain (especially if work is done to incorporate integration with the character builder and moster builder).  I'd be getting more than what I'm currently getting out of my subscription.  (I'd have to do some consideration if they raised the price because of this.  It would depend on how much and whether I made good use of it.) 

The question is one of value versus cost (as it so often is). 

Here would be a couple of possibilities:

How about the ability to do "pick up" games over the VT?  Online D&D Encounters anyone?  RPGA events?  Online game days?  (Great if you don't have a game store near you.) 

Gamer tutorials for players on certain strategies and tactics which would be useful in your game.

Forget online gaming!  I've tied my computer to the big screen TV at my house.  I could use that for the regular game session.  On those occasions when I'm out of town, I could still play or DM with the whole group.  (You can bet I'll be experimenting with this one!) 

This could be a great tool to promote DDI and the game as a whole.  For example, they could do a "Player's only" version of the tool available for free (publicizing Encounters games or DCI/RPGA games online).  Then, in DDI, give a more fully featured version of the tool that would allow integration with character builder, monster builder, compendium, etc. and even allow Dungeon adventures to be run from it (and, of course, custom adventures). 

I think the potential is there for this to be a big benefit for WotC and the gaming community as a whole.  Whether WotC will take advantage of that potential is another thing. 

In reading this thread as it grows, there is one question that I am asking myself:

Should WotC try to compete directly with MapTool, or should it attempt to carve out its own space in the online VT market?? Personally, I think that a small set of developers will never be able to compete with an open-source community. They just can't put in the man hours to match. What WotC can do is to take advantage of the (as I see them doing eventually) integration of the CB, the MB, the Compendium and any other tools that they come up with with the VT.

For example (and this is a guess, and not based on anything that I have heard of recently), imagine if WotC comes out with an encounter builder where you can drag and drop monsters (from the MB) to make an encounter. Then, once that is done, you go to the VT and open/import/load/whatever that encounter. Tokens are automatically chosen and labelled with all the correct powers, etc. Then, take that and export it as a map, or integrtae it into your campaign.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
In reading this thread as it grows, there is one question that I am asking myself:

Should WotC try to compete directly with MapTool, or should it attempt to carve out its own space in the online VT market?? Personally, I think that a small set of developers will never be able to compete with an open-source community. They just can't put in the man hours to match. What WotC can do is to take advantage of the (as I see them doing eventually) integration of the CB, the MB, the Compendium and any other tools that they come up with with the VT.

For example (and this is a guess, and not based on anything that I have heard of recently), imagine if WotC comes out with an encounter builder where you can drag and drop monsters (from the MB) to make an encounter. Then, once that is done, you go to the VT and open/import/load/whatever that encounter. Tokens are automatically chosen and labelled with all the correct powers, etc. Then, take that and export it as a map, or integrtae it into your campaign.



I will have to agree with you MB.  I have been a Maptool user for several years and my campaigns are quite complicated in terms of macro programming.  If WotC can create a virtual table that allows for integration with the character builder, encouter builder, and some sort of map builder (possibly even if WotC makes maps from their official adventures available as drag and drop into the VT) that would probably trump Maptool as my primary virtual table for DnD.

Maptool will remain king until that happens, if it happens.
DDI Subscriber from Nov. 2008 to Nov. 2010 Yes, I was an annual subscriber before the original CB ever even came out. That's how excited I was. Note past tense. Check out my little DnD blog - http://ncdnd.blogspot.com/
In reading this thread as it grows, there is one question that I am asking myself:

Should WotC try to compete directly with MapTool, or should it attempt to carve out its own space in the online VT market?? Personally, I think that a small set of developers will never be able to compete with an open-source community. They just can't put in the man hours to match. What WotC can do is to take advantage of the (as I see them doing eventually) integration of the CB, the MB, the Compendium and any other tools that they come up with with the VT.

For example (and this is a guess, and not based on anything that I have heard of recently), imagine if WotC comes out with an encounter builder where you can drag and drop monsters (from the MB) to make an encounter. Then, once that is done, you go to the VT and open/import/load/whatever that encounter. Tokens are automatically chosen and labelled with all the correct powers, etc. Then, take that and export it as a map, or integrtae it into your campaign.



I have to disagree with some of your commentary. 

First, I believe that the WotC VT could, conceivably, compete with MapTool.  While I have heard a lot of people talking about MapTool, I haven't heard anyone here saying that they have coded MapTool.  Generally, it is a small group working on the code for open-source projects also.  These people tend to be doing it in their spare time and not as a full-time job. 

However, I don't think that WotC VT should try to be MapTool.  Instead, they should integrate with their other tools and push for a more user-friendly experience that is different than MapTool.  MapTool is an established product.  They'll win in a head to head battle of features.  However, an integrated system means that WotC's VT could be much more as well as a promotional tool for them.

In reading this thread as it grows, there is one question that I am asking myself:

Should WotC try to compete directly with MapTool, or should it attempt to carve out its own space in the online VT market?? Personally, I think that a small set of developers will never be able to compete with an open-source community. They just can't put in the man hours to match. What WotC can do is to take advantage of the (as I see them doing eventually) integration of the CB, the MB, the Compendium and any other tools that they come up with with the VT.

For example (and this is a guess, and not based on anything that I have heard of recently), imagine if WotC comes out with an encounter builder where you can drag and drop monsters (from the MB) to make an encounter. Then, once that is done, you go to the VT and open/import/load/whatever that encounter. Tokens are automatically chosen and labelled with all the correct powers, etc. Then, take that and export it as a map, or integrtae it into your campaign.



I have to disagree with some of your commentary. 

First, I believe that the WotC VT could, conceivably, compete with MapTool.  While I have heard a lot of people talking about MapTool, I haven't heard anyone here saying that they have coded MapTool.  Generally, it is a small group working on the code for open-source projects also.  These people tend to be doing it in their spare time and not as a full-time job. 

However, I don't think that WotC VT should try to be MapTool.  Instead, they should integrate with their other tools and push for a more user-friendly experience that is different than MapTool.  MapTool is an established product.  They'll win in a head to head battle of features.  However, an integrated system means that WotC's VT could be much more as well as a promotional tool for them.




I think that we are agreeing with each other. Perhaps I used compete directly wrongly. I used it as in "compete for the same group of people" and "have the same feature set, only better".


Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere

I think that we are agreeing with each other. Perhaps I used compete directly wrongly. I used it as in "compete for the same group of people" and "have the same feature set, only better".



While I certainly accept the overall concept, I think that WotC could have "the same feature set, only better" by working on the same basic premise (i.e. create a virtual table) and integrating it with their other products with a simpler interface.  I think that, if they do this, they will compete for at least some of the same group of people.
In reading this thread as it grows, there is one question that I am asking myself:

Should WotC try to compete directly with MapTool, or should it attempt to carve out its own space in the online VT market?? Personally, I think that a small set of developers will never be able to compete with an open-source community. They just can't put in the man hours to match. What WotC can do is to take advantage of the (as I see them doing eventually) integration of the CB, the MB, the Compendium and any other tools that they come up with with the VT.

For example (and this is a guess, and not based on anything that I have heard of recently), imagine if WotC comes out with an encounter builder where you can drag and drop monsters (from the MB) to make an encounter. Then, once that is done, you go to the VT and open/import/load/whatever that encounter. Tokens are automatically chosen and labelled with all the correct powers, etc. Then, take that and export it as a map, or integrtae it into your campaign.


To be honest, this questions is a bit missleading from my point of view.
Maptools is a free software, available to everyone willing to download it. WotC's VT on the other hand will most likely require some sort of payment from the user in order to be fully available.
So there is not even a market on which they could compete with each other.
Therefor the question which interests me the most is:
"Will WotC's VT be worth it's fee and therefor have enough customers to provide a solid number of available games, to be attractive?"
My guess is, it will be, as long as those features desired (import of PC's/NPC's/Maps...) make it into the VT, otherwise it might end up as yet another DDI tool, but not something people talk about when discussing online TT platforms.
So far it seems like a solid tool, which is easy to use. This is a great advantage above other tools, not customised to D&D exclusively, but it will also be it's major problem, for i don't see as much room for customisation as other tools offer. So I guess it will be quite popular among those allready subscribing to DDI and all those that like easy access and mainstream rulesets.
D&D Outsider since Nov 18th 2010, if you wonder about the little red dragon, this one is dedicated to the great VT community.
@Kartesh - I'm confused by your comment about not having a market to compete.  What makes you say that? Companies who offer a product at a fee compete with free products all the time.  If a company can't compete with free, then they can't compete, period.
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@Kartesh - I'm confused by your comment about not having a market to compete.  What makes you say that?


Well my point is, Maptools isn't a profit oriented tool, as the VT will be. WotC has to convince customers to buy their product in order to compensate for the effort it took to develop it and the money needed to keep the platform running and up to date.
The VT very much stands and falls depending on the numer of customers willing to use and pay for it, many users mean lots of available games, therefor the tool gets more attractive.
It is like comparing Cinema with a selfmade home video, they don't compete directly with each other.

Edit: Maybe the meaning of "competition" isn't the same as in my native language, but for me it implies a struggel for dominace at some sector, between two competitors. For me, this is a on sided battle. WotC has to deliver the best possible tool and make sure people want to pay for it. None of this criteria works for maptools, therefor in my ounderstanding, they arent competing.
They are adressing the same sort of users to some degree, but only one side has to make sure there is a "market" worth exploring in the first place.
To make it a picture:
Competition is like Thunderdome, two go in, only one comes out.
This is more like a carshop trying to convince me not to get my minor repair done by a good friend for free, since they are professionals. There is no way my friend will compete with the shop to convince me.
D&D Outsider since Nov 18th 2010, if you wonder about the little red dragon, this one is dedicated to the great VT community.
I guess I don't see how the difference in price changes whether or not they are competing.

Doesn't mapTool stand/fall depending on the number of customers willing to use it?  Doesn't the MapTool community also benefit from a larger pool of users/potential players?  Aren't they both competing for the same demographic?  Role Playing Gamers who want to play online?
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