Why 3rd party VTTs are not a replacement for the D&DI VTT

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I'm looking for the reasons that the 3rd party VTTs are not a good replacement for what the D&DI VTT is designed to be according to the actual specs that are known about both. I plan on editing this original post and putting the reasons into the list as people post them.

The list includes:
1. No pick up games. (you must post on a message board and wait to see if anyone is there, then you have to schedule game sessions and whatnot)
2. Re-entering the rules and stats. (If you follow the GSL and WotC IP you must re-enter every statistic into your own copy of the various 3rd party VTTs)
3. They are not 3D and they don't readily integrate with the current set of D&DI tools (3rd party VTTs can't read in the CB character sheets yet)
4. There are many annoying features/bugs that you must work around because 3rd party VTTs were not made specifically with D&D4E in mind. (I can think of a few like the maps, lighting, area effects, etc..etc..)
5. No built in VoIP. (Yes there are other apps that you can use in tandem with them, but it is a pain and none of them work very well together)
6. The die systems don't lend themselves very well to 4E (There are some options, but several don't allow rolls specific to 4E)
7. We want something tied directly to WotC that will have nice support, and not have to use 2 or more different programs to do one thing.
8. It takes a lot of time and effort to get 3rd party VTTs up and running. There are all kinds of issues that come up (ex. installing OpenRPG on vista)
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Have you tried all the VTT out there? Because I'm pretty sure that when other VTTs have been suggested, your response often was that you couldn't get them to install, in particular case, it was one that actually had a lobby feature.

From everything you've actually said, it doesn't sound like you have actually used any of these different VTT.

So if you haven't actually used them, how can I take your list of issues as factual?

If all you really want is to come home, log on, get a group, play some games with people, perhaps you might want to check out DDO, more so now that it will be mostly free.

You will find a wide range of opinions on the game. Mine is that it's a fun game for just what you want. It's DnD. You sign on and can get into a pick up group, complete a few quests, and then log for the night. You don't have to deal with the spending hours of grinding and camping other games often use. Course if you want to grind, there are areas for that, and quests you can complete solo.

I know that pick up groups can be bad in MMO's but who's to say a pick up VTT group wouldn't be just as bad as a MMO?
I'm looking for the reasons that the 3rd party VTTs are not a good replacement for the D&DI VTT according to the actual specs that are known about both. I plan on editing this original post and putting the reasons into the list as people post them.

The list includes:
1. No pick up games. (you must post on a message board and wait to see if anyone is there, then you have to schedule game sessions and whatnot)
2. Re-entering the rules and stats. (If you follow the GSL and WotC IP you must re-enter every statistic into your own copy of the various 3rd party VTTs)
3. They are not 3D and they don't readily integrate with the current set of D&DI tools (3rd party VTTs can't read in the CB character sheets yet)
4. There are many annoying features/bugs that you must work around because 3rd party VTTs were not made specifically with D&D4E in mind. (I can think of a few like the maps, lighting, area effects, etc..etc..)
5. No built in VoIP. (Yes there are other apps that you can use in tandem with them, but it is a pain and none of them work very well together)
6. The die systems don't lend themselves very well to 4E (There are some options, but several don't allow rolls specific to 4E)

1. OpenRPG has functions that do make this possible
2. Make a char sheet and send it to your DM, keep a text file of your common die rolls open and copy and paste them as neccesary
3. 3D I'll give you, but you don't need to be able to read in character sheets to play on these systems
4. There is nothing special about 4th edition that makes it any more or less suited for using third party table tops
5. I personally don't need VOIP, but that is just a personal thing
6. I must have missed the rules in 4th edition where you needed to get decimal points on your rolls, because otherwise there is nothing special about rolling die in 4th edition compared to any other table top game
Well, unless there's been an announcement that I missed, one very good reason why 3rd party VTTs are no replacement for the D&Di VTT is that the D&Di VTT doesn't exist. You can't replace that which isn't there in the first place.
1. No pick up games. (you must post on a message board and wait to see if anyone is there, then you have to schedule game sessions and whatnot)

No information has been given out, as far as I know, on how games will be organized for the VTT. Will there be a lobby system? There will be a lobby system, but the intricacies of RPGs being what they are, a forum will probably remain the easiest way to get a group together and the least likely to introduce confusion.

2. Re-entering the rules and stats. (If you follow the GSL and WotC IP you must re-enter every statistic into your own copy of the various 3rd party VTTs)

The last information that was provided from WotC was that the VTT would do no rules interpretation. That would fall on the Dm and players.

3. They are not 3D and they don't readily integrate with the current set of D&DI tools (3rd party VTTs can't read in the CB character sheets yet)

This one I will agree with. Of course, with the VTT being released by WotC, they are going to design it so that it works really nice with the CB and compendium. That being said, the release of the API commands for the compendium, and XML data for the character builder output means that it won't be long (for some definition of won't be) when a 3rd party program (or enterprising user) will put together the appropriate interface/script to pull the info from the character sheet and parse the data from the compendium.

4. There are many annoying features/bugs that you must work around because 3rd party VTTs were not made specifically with D&D4E in mind. (I can think of a few like the maps, lighting, area effects, etc..etc..)

I am not sure why this is a problem only for 4E. Every RPG system has lighting, area effects, etc. In any case, I know that maptools, based on me using it for about 10 hours and not coming anywhere near the depths of what it can do, can do line of sight, multiple maps with very little difficulty, area effects, etc.

5. No built in VoIP. (Yes there are other apps that you can use in tandem with them, but it is a pain and none of them work very well together)

A lot of groups use Teamspeak or Skype, both of which are pretty much effortless to set up if you have a bit of knowledge. As of yet, we don't know how integrated with the VTT the voice chat will be.

6. The die systems don't lend themselves very well to 4E (There are some options, but several don't allow rolls specific to 4E)

Huh?? How can you roll dies for 4E that a computer can't do. All of the rolls for 4E are of the genre "roll dice, add modifiers".
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
The latest build of the Character Tool (ie maptools/rpgtools) can apparently parse CB files more or less correctly.

I also don't believe that your point 2 is correct at all. First, you aren't (necessarily) a signatory to the GSL. Second, the GSL only prevents character builder programs, but doesn't really apply to VTT (and only matters for placement of the compatibility logo anyway). Moreover, the VTT from wizards was always said to have no rules adjudication anyway. The only thing really lacking in 3rd party TT programs is lack of 3d. And possibly a lobby, though if you are really just wanting pickup games instead of an ongoing game, with good 3d support, I'd argue that MMOs are a better place to try.
3. They are not 3D and they don't readily integrate with the current set of D&DI tools (3rd party VTTs can't read in the CB character sheets yet)

I just found a program out there (http://www.gelworksonline.com/) that, from the character sheet, pulls the data from the compendium and rolls your attack powers, etc.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Important ways that other VTTs are supperior to the D&Di VTT.

1>They exist.
2>They aren't Vapor Ware.
3>You can actually use them.
4>They are an existing Product.
5>Do you see where I'm going with this?
6>There's no #6.
7>There's also no D&Di VTT.
Brew'N Games: A Homebrewing Blog, Both Games and Beer. "The Sky is Falling Like a Sock of Cocaine in the Ministry of Information..." - Man Man, Black Mission Goggles
I also have to say this, without in any way intending to imply that Wizards shouldn't have followed through on delivering an advertised product:

* The day that a print publishing company with little to no in-house software design experience is able to produce a product superior to that created by dedicated enthusiasts with a two-year head start is the day the world has gone mad.

Once again, Wizards: licence Maptool already, reskin it with D&D art and focus your work on making the front-end accessible to a wider audience. Cheaper, faster, and you're not reinventing the wheel.
I'm looking for the reasons that the 3rd party VTTs are not a good replacement for the D&DI VTT according to the actual specs that are known about both. I plan on editing this original post and putting the reasons into the list as people post them.

The list includes:
1. No pick up games. (you must post on a message board and wait to see if anyone is there, then you have to schedule game sessions and whatnot)
2. Re-entering the rules and stats. (If you follow the GSL and WotC IP you must re-enter every statistic into your own copy of the various 3rd party VTTs)
3. They are not 3D and they don't readily integrate with the current set of D&DI tools (3rd party VTTs can't read in the CB character sheets yet)
4. There are many annoying features/bugs that you must work around because 3rd party VTTs were not made specifically with D&D4E in mind. (I can think of a few like the maps, lighting, area effects, etc..etc..)
5. No built in VoIP. (Yes there are other apps that you can use in tandem with them, but it is a pain and none of them work very well together)
6. The die systems don't lend themselves very well to 4E (There are some options, but several don't allow rolls specific to 4E)

These have been covered to some extent, but:

1. True, but doesn't bug me. I would never play a pickup game; I don't play RPGs with strangers.
2. The GameTable was not going to have any rules in it at all. Existing VTT's can almost completely automate combat (I've done it; it's certainly possible).
3. True. You take what you can get.
4. Depends on the VTT. "Not made with DD4 in mind" is a feature, IMO.
5. True.
6. Not true. Most VTT's provide all the dice rolls you can possibly think of, and some you can't.
Have you tried all the VTT out there? Because I'm pretty sure that when other VTTs have been suggested, your response often was that you couldn't get them to install, in particular case, it was one that actually had a lobby feature.

From everything you've actually said, it doesn't sound like you have actually used any of these different VTT.

So if you haven't actually used them, how can I take your list of issues as factual?

If all you really want is to come home, log on, get a group, play some games with people, perhaps you might want to check out DDO, more so now that it will be mostly free.

You will find a wide range of opinions on the game. Mine is that it's a fun game for just what you want. It's DnD. You sign on and can get into a pick up group, complete a few quests, and then log for the night. You don't have to deal with the spending hours of grinding and camping other games often use. Course if you want to grind, there are areas for that, and quests you can complete solo.

I know that pick up groups can be bad in MMO's but who's to say a pick up VTT group wouldn't be just as bad as a MMO?

Yes, I have used many of the different VTTs out there. Some of them I only used a few times, others I used for many sessions over months. None of them even compare to the expected features of the D&DI VTT.

DDO, and any other MMO is a sad shadow of what a pen and paper tabletop RPG can be. I'm sorry, but they just don't even compare in any way shape or form. Oh, its also nothing like D&D its like all of the other million MMO's out there.

1. OpenRPG has functions that do make this possible
2. Make a char sheet and send it to your DM, keep a text file of your common die rolls open and copy and paste them as neccesary
3. 3D I'll give you, but you don't need to be able to read in character sheets to play on these systems
4. There is nothing special about 4th edition that makes it any more or less suited for using third party table tops
5. I personally don't need VOIP, but that is just a personal thing
6. I must have missed the rules in 4th edition where you needed to get decimal points on your rolls, because otherwise there is nothing special about rolling die in 4th edition compared to any other table top game

1. I've done everything in my power to get OpenRPG to install as I would like to see if it solves my pick-up game problems. Since I am a programmer and have a good idea of how to get even a buggy program to install correctly I can't really recommend this program to anyone because it is so difficult to get installed and it looks like there is no real support for it (I could be wrong about support).
2. Sure that would work, but any changes would have to be done on both ends and the DM and player would have to track everything simultaneously throw in 4 or 5 players and you got a DM's nightmare. Another time eater.
3. So you agree about 3 then?
4. Third party VTT's are not designed to work with the specific mechanics of 4th edition. Many of them work with the mechanics of 3.5E though. This presents a problem that makes most of their features either really annoying or not usable.
5. Well I used to feel how you do, but once I tried VoIP it made it that much closer to being across the table from people. Once you try VoIP you won't go back (unless you just have a really nasty experience).
6. Most of them add modifiers to the end of all dice that you select, so when you make an area attack against 7 creatures you have to individually roll each one (this is just one example).

Well, unless there's been an announcement that I missed, one very good reason why 3rd party VTTs are no replacement for the D&Di VTT is that the D&Di VTT doesn't exist. You can't replace that which isn't there in the first place.

Thank you for pointing that out, now I see the light OMG I can't believe I've been going about this whole thing this way. I apologize to everyone that read my post I'm talking about the expected features as announced in their news articles and appearances at conventions "as if" the VTT were actually released (I did correct my original post though so there will be less confusion).

No information has been given out, as far as I know, on how games will be organized for the VTT. Will there be a lobby system? There will be a lobby system, but the intricacies of RPGs being what they are, a forum will probably remain the easiest way to get a group together and the least likely to introduce confusion.



The last information that was provided from WotC was that the VTT would do no rules interpretation. That would fall on the Dm and players.



This one I will agree with. Of course, with the VTT being released by WotC, they are going to design it so that it works really nice with the CB and compendium. That being said, the release of the API commands for the compendium, and XML data for the character builder output means that it won't be long (for some definition of won't be) when a 3rd party program (or enterprising user) will put together the appropriate interface/script to pull the info from the character sheet and parse the data from the compendium.



I am not sure why this is a problem only for 4E. Every RPG system has lighting, area effects, etc. In any case, I know that maptools, based on me using it for about 10 hours and not coming anywhere near the depths of what it can do, can do line of sight, multiple maps with very little difficulty, area effects, etc.



A lot of groups use Teamspeak or Skype, both of which are pretty much effortless to set up if you have a bit of knowledge. As of yet, we don't know how integrated with the VTT the voice chat will be.



Huh?? How can you roll dies for 4E that a computer can't do. All of the rolls for 4E are of the genre "roll dice, add modifiers".

Actually they state several times that you will be able to just drop in and play using the lobby feature.

Sure there may be no direct rules interpretation, but it would have access to the rules and import characters and all of that from the other apps. It would probably have access to the compendium too.

Wow, I didn't even see a news release for the API commands and XML data for the CB where is that stated, and where can I get my hands on that stuff?

Yes, but without breaking the GSL or WotC IP and copyright laws how does it calculate lighting and line of sight according to the rules? It doesn't either it does it in a different way which leads to confusion or its breaking the laws.

The problems with using a non-integrated VoIP is that it can frequently crash or disconnect requiring you to leave the VTT and reestablish contact or restart both the VTT and the VoIP app in a worse case scenario. If it were integrated you could do this inside the VTT and not have to worry about switching apps or dropping out of a session.

I explained the dice problem above. In a face to face game you can grab a handful of the right dice roll them all at once and then add your bonuses to each individual dice. In most (maybe not all) VTTs the bonus is added to the end total of all of the dice you rolled. This means that you have to roll each individual dice for each individual monster you are targeting with an area attack.

The latest build of the Character Tool (ie maptools/rpgtools) can apparently parse CB files more or less correctly.

I also don't believe that your point 2 is correct at all. First, you aren't (necessarily) a signatory to the GSL. Second, the GSL only prevents character builder programs, but doesn't really apply to VTT (and only matters for placement of the compatibility logo anyway). Moreover, the VTT from wizards was always said to have no rules adjudication anyway. The only thing really lacking in 3rd party TT programs is lack of 3d. And possibly a lobby, though if you are really just wanting pickup games instead of an ongoing game, with good 3d support, I'd argue that MMOs are a better place to try.

I didn't know this about the CB output, however it still doesn't change the fact that the DM is left typing in many entries for traps, hazards, terrain types, monsters, skill challenges, and anything else that is in the books, that according to the GSL IP and various copyright laws must be hand entered by someone that actually owns the books.

MMO's are not pen and paper table top role-playing games. I made that clear above.

I just found a program out there (http://www.gelworksonline.com/) that, from the character sheet, pulls the data from the compendium and rolls your attack powers, etc.

Ok, but how does it do this while still remaining legal. If it can and does while still remaining legal and something similar gets integrated into various 3rd party VTTs I will remove that one from the list.

Important ways that other VTTs are supperior to the D&Di VTT.

1>They exist.
2>They aren't Vapor Ware.
3>You can actually use them.
4>They are an existing Product.
5>Do you see where I'm going with this?
6>There's no #6.
7>There's also no D&Di VTT.

I handled this one above.

I also have to say this, without in any way intending to imply that Wizards shouldn't have followed through on delivering an advertised product:

* The day that a print publishing company with little to no in-house software design experience is able to produce a product superior to that created by dedicated enthusiasts with a two-year head start is the day the world has gone mad.

Once again, Wizards: licence Maptool already, reskin it with D&D art and focus your work on making the front-end accessible to a wider audience. Cheaper, faster, and you're not reinventing the wheel.

I agree completely. License it out to the people that did NWN and NWN II. Hey it may be buggy to the point of not being usable, but it will eventually get released and not "put on the back burner" which in the software development community and in corporate speak means "abandoned".
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Yes, but without breaking the GSL or WotC IP and copyright laws how does it calculate lighting and line of sight according to the rules? It doesn't either it does it in a different way which leads to confusion or its breaking the laws.

You can not copyrite ideas, systems or methods of doing stuff. If you could there would only be 1 game that had hit points and mana, every other game would have to use something else.....

Now you can copyrite the drawings and text you use to explain the rules, sure, but not the idea behind the rules.
You can not copyrite ideas, systems or methods of doing stuff. If you could there would only be 1 game that had hit points and mana, every other game would have to use something else.....

Now you can copyrite the drawings and text you use to explain the rules, sure, but not the idea behind the rules.

Actually that's why its called IP (intellectual property) because you are in fact copyrighting an idea.
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
You can not copyrite ideas, systems or methods of doing stuff. If you could there would only be 1 game that had hit points and mana, every other game would have to use something else.....

Now you can copyrite the drawings and text you use to explain the rules, sure, but not the idea behind the rules.

Oh yes you can.....as long as they are original.

You can patent them too, depending on the application. I think I could walk around the room and find a few such examples if I were so inclined.
Actually that's why its called IP (intellectual property) because you are in fact copyrighting an idea.

http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html#idea

Show
How do I protect my idea?
Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. You may express your ideas in writing or drawings and claim copyright in your description, but be aware that copyright will not protect the idea itself as revealed in your written or artistic work.


Pretty definitive you can't copyright an idea or method of doing something.


Take a look at this page for IP, it pretty much sums it up.
http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/not-ipr.html
IP is being thrown around by MMO companies so people can't make money by playing their game. Which I can see both sides on this. Yes they don't want people with real money to be able to buy a better character / item / game money, and I agree, BUT that isn't what is being sold. What is being sold is the time invested by someone to get that item, character, game money, etc. Which people sell their time all the time I work 40 hours a week and expect to be paid for it.. Do companies own your characters and all items collected by them? If you answer yes, then anything you create with DDI would be owned, not by you, but by Wizards.

You would be unable to make any new games based on your definition. If a game before you has used the term hit points, mana, spells, has the spell fireball in it, well then those are copyrighted and can't be used by any other games! Sure would make for a boring world.
Oh yes you can.....as long as they are original.

You can patent them too, depending on the application. I think I could walk around the room and find a few such examples if I were so inclined.

Show me one Idea that has been copyrighted
1. I've done everything in my power to get OpenRPG to install as I would like to see if it solves my pick-up game problems. Since I am a programmer and have a good idea of how to get even a buggy program to install correctly I can't really recommend this program to anyone because it is so difficult to get installed and it looks like there is no real support for it (I could be wrong about support).
2. Sure that would work, but any changes would have to be done on both ends and the DM and player would have to track everything simultaneously throw in 4 or 5 players and you got a DM's nightmare. Another time eater.
3. So you agree about 3 then?
4. Third party VTT's are not designed to work with the specific mechanics of 4th edition. Many of them work with the mechanics of 3.5E though. This presents a problem that makes most of their features either really annoying or not usable.
5. Well I used to feel how you do, but once I tried VoIP it made it that much closer to being across the table from people. Once you try VoIP you won't go back (unless you just have a really nasty experience).
6. Most of them add modifiers to the end of all dice that you select, so when you make an area attack against 7 creatures you have to individually roll each one (this is just one example).

1. Can't help you there, you could try the OpenRPG forums. *shrugs*
2. And one that you'd have to deal with using the VTT also, besides you resend whenever anything signifigant changes.
3. I'm not agreeing that it is enough to warrant the desire for a program that crashes every five min to be released or that it is enough to make the other VTT unusable. I am just admitting I have no counter for it.
4. Such as? Rolling die? Keeping track of HP? There is nothing unique about 4th edition that you can't do in 3rd party table tops.
5. Skip
6. [1d20+15] ctrl+c, ctrl+v, ctrl+v, ctrl+v, ctrl+v, ctrl+v, ctrl+v, enter.....and how the heck is this new, unique, or specific to 4th edition?
None of them even compare to the expected features of the D&DI VTT.

Okay, so, maybe I missed something: what were these expected features? From the information I've heard, they were:

1. 3D "virtual minis" on a pseudo-3D map; you could create these minis, which is nice
2. Nice lighting effects.
3. Dice rolling (but not resolving those dice rolls; you still do that the "old fashioned way")
4. Ability to load a character from the CB, but then, if it's not resolving the dice rolls and actions, I'm not sure how useful that is.

Now, 3 out of 4 are not found in other VTTs, but two of them are purely visual effects. I love eye candy, and I wish the other VTTs would venture into the 3D arena, but they're just eye candy. So, what else was there?
Broadly speaking, you copyright texts and drawings; you patent ideas. Game rules are not copyrightable (though the specific text to describe them could be).
I didn't know this about the CB output, however it still doesn't change the fact that the DM is left typing in many entries for traps, hazards, terrain types, monsters, skill challenges, and anything else that is in the books, that according to the GSL IP and various copyright laws must be hand entered by someone that actually owns the books.

The GSL only applies to signatories, so only copyright applies. As long as a VTT didn't use the specific text of a rule, copyright wouldn't apply. If wotc had patented the idea of a torch the covers 6 squares, then 3rd party VTTs couldn't use that idea. Of course, all of this complaining about 4e rules interpretation is mute as the VTT was always said to be rules agnostic. It wouldn't know about traps, hazards, etc. Or the player character sheets. etc. It was never said to know rules, in fact the opposite was said several times.

Assuming the DM wanted to have all the characters info in front of him, he'd probably just use iplay4e to have all the stats right there.

xml and apis: Look around, you can find it. I'd link to it, but you've been dismissive of my past links offered in good faith, so you'll have to find the info on your own.
Wow, I didn't even see a news release for the API commands and XML data for the CB where is that stated, and where can I get my hands on that stuff?

Look for the Gaming in Code blog. For whatever reason, I can't bring it up in my browser (I think it is at http://gamingincode.com/). His last two posts have been on the API for the compendium.

Yes, but without breaking the GSL or WotC IP and copyright laws how does it calculate lighting and line of sight according to the rules? It doesn't either it does it in a different way which leads to confusion or its breaking the laws.

Ermmm. Line of sight determination, lighting and other things like that are not at all protected by any sort of IP.

I explained the dice problem above. In a face to face game you can grab a handful of the right dice roll them all at once and then add your bonuses to each individual dice. In most (maybe not all) VTTs the bonus is added to the end total of all of the dice you rolled. This means that you have to roll each individual dice for each individual monster you are targeting with an area attack.

This is absurdly trivial to do in any sort of VTT. Let's say the damage is determined by 3D6+6, and you have 7 creatures in the area of effect. You just tell the VTT to calculate 3D6+6 7 times. Depending on how complicated you have it set up, it may be as simple as telling the macro to run 7 times or as complicated as typing "roll 3d6+6" (or something similar) 7 times. In other words, absurdly trivial and the sort of thing that computers excel at.

Ok, but how does it do this while still remaining legal. If it can and does while still remaining legal and something similar gets integrated into various 3rd party VTTs I will remove that one from the list.

Again, absurdly trivial. The PHB1 and 2 entries for levels 1-3 are free, anyone an access them. For higher levels, all that is required is ask for a sign-in and require the user to log into the compendium when the program tries to access it. That is why the released the API data, so that people could write their own stuff to access compendium.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
I'm looking for the reasons that the 3rd party VTTs are not a good replacement for what the D&DI VTT is designed to be according to the actual specs that are known about both. I plan on editing this original post and putting the reasons into the list as people post them.

The list includes:
1. No pick up games. (you must post on a message board and wait to see if anyone is there, then you have to schedule game sessions and whatnot)
2. Re-entering the rules and stats. (If you follow the GSL and WotC IP you must re-enter every statistic into your own copy of the various 3rd party VTTs)
3. They are not 3D and they don't readily integrate with the current set of D&DI tools (3rd party VTTs can't read in the CB character sheets yet)
4. There are many annoying features/bugs that you must work around because 3rd party VTTs were not made specifically with D&D4E in mind. (I can think of a few like the maps, lighting, area effects, etc..etc..)
5. No built in VoIP. (Yes there are other apps that you can use in tandem with them, but it is a pain and none of them work very well together)
6. The die systems don't lend themselves very well to 4E (There are some options, but several don't allow rolls specific to 4E)

1. This is true. I would love to post a message offering to run a one shot, and start playing in 20-30 minutes. As it is now with maptool, you need to recruit players, and give them time to make characters and tokens, or make the tokens myself.

2. You should look into the 4e frameworks for maptool, I recommend devientnull's, there are many good ones. The 4e "structure" is built in, you just need to enter the numbers and details. It's still a bit of work, but not so bad once you've done it a few times.

3. 3d would be nice, but not essential. Second question, see 1.

4. The only "bug" with maptool and 4e involves lighting. Maptool maps it from the center of the token, while 4e maps it from each point in the square. My solution is allow players to move their tokens around so they can see what they should be able to see. Other then that, maptool is pretty solid in my experience.

5. I run a ventrillo server on my computer and my players log on. I find that to be a trivial task. I would be glad to help anybody that had trouble with it. That said, I suppose built in VOIP would be cool.

6. I don't agree with this. You can roll any die in maptool, you can use one of the 4e frameworks, or write your own macros, to make the chat output look just like the powers in the PHB.

Maptool, like a lot of OSS, is clunky at first but very good once you get used to it. Not to mention, it costs me $0 per month! :D
1. This is true. I would love to post a message offering to run a one shot, and start playing in 20-30 minutes. As it is now with maptool, you need to recruit players, and give them time to make characters and tokens, or make the tokens myself.

Are tokens portable from game to game? If so, then if you are interested in only pickup games then you'd presumably have a token pre-made (along with a character at multiple levels). I don't see how WotC's VTT would have made this much easier, as you'd still have to create all that for whatever pickup game was being run.
Are tokens portable from game to game? If so, then if you are interested in only pickup games then you'd presumably have a token pre-made (along with a character at multiple levels). I don't see how WotC's VTT would have made this much easier, as you'd still have to create all that for whatever pickup game was being run.

I'm assuming one would create a character in the builder, and be able import it into the Gametable with one click.

With maptool, you have to enter all that info by hand. Then it's dependent on what framework the DM is using, if he/she is using one at all. A token made with one framework won't function at all with a different one.

I'm not only interested in one-shots, but when I've run them I've found that players want to play a new character, so premade tokens won't work.
I'm assuming one would create a character in the builder, and be able import it into the Gametable with one click.

With maptool, you have to enter all that info by hand. Then it's dependent on what framework the DM is using, if he/she is using one at all. A token made with one framework won't function at all with a different one.

I'm not only interested in one-shots, but when I've run them I've found that players want to play a new character, so premade tokens won't work.

The gametable WotC proposed
does not adjudicate game rules, enabling Dungeon Masters to run their games as they see fit. This lack of automated rules adjudication more closely simulates the tabletop game experience.

so I don't see it importing anything, as it wasn't going to be able to do anything with that data. The DM would still have to tell you how much damage you took and you'd have to mark that down, just as at a physical game table.

And I had though someone wrote an app for maptools that would parse the character builder file to directly import the character, but I could be mistaken. If they haven't I imagine it'll be coming soon.
The gametable WotC proposed so I don't see it importing anything, as it wasn't going to be able to do anything with that data. The DM would still have to tell you how much damage you took and you'd have to mark that down, just as at a physical game table.

And I had though someone wrote an app for maptools that would parse the character builder file to directly import the character, but I could be mistaken. If they haven't I imagine it'll be coming soon.

Apparently the XML output from the builder is lacking, little to no info for the powers. An importer could be written to get the basic info in, but you would still have to enter all the data for the powers.

I have to say, if the Gametable wouldn't import anything then Wotc should just forget it; it would be awful. It's really cumbersome trying to do everything manually in maptool, I can't imagine 3d graphics making that any easier.
Apparently the XML output from the builder is lacking, little to no info for the powers. An importer could be written to get the basic info in, but you would still have to enter all the data for the powers.

Well, the xml does the basics.
Show

Encounter
Standard Action


11
2d8+7
cold
Intelligence
Fortitude
+5 Intelligence modifier.
+3 half your level.
+2 enhancement bonus.
+1 bonus - Implement Expertise (staff)


+5 Intelligence modifier.
+2 enhancement bonus.





It tells you the attack bonus and damage dice. It doesn't tell you range, area, or other conditionals from the power but I'm assuming thats more the job of the dm. And certainly that's all the Gametable was advertised as doing.
Well, the xml does the basics.
Show

Encounter
Standard Action


11
2d8+7
cold
Intelligence
Fortitude
+5 Intelligence modifier.
+3 half your level.
+2 enhancement bonus.
+1 bonus - Implement Expertise (staff)


+5 Intelligence modifier.
+2 enhancement bonus.





It tells you the attack bonus and damage dice. It doesn't tell you range, area, or other conditionals from the power but I'm assuming thats more the job of the dm. And certainly that's all the Gametable was advertised as doing.

I'm guessing you've never played D&D online with maptool? It's hard enough to DM in that format, if I had to constantly look up and reiterate monster/player powers and effects, forget it.
I'm guessing you've never played D&D online with maptool? It's hard enough to DM in that format, if I had to constantly look up and reiterate monster/player powers and effects, forget it.

That's one of the reasons why I never got interested in any of the online tools. I couldn't see the tools doing the work well enough without a huge amount of extra work to get the data set up.

That said, I could see a future app capable of getting the needed data from the included URL. Parsing the info about the power isn't as easy, but for the most part it isn't implausible.

Of course, given that the game table wouldn't have done anything more (its rules agnostic), this isn't a flaw unique to 3rd party VTT. I think its more a tech limit, and a limit on what you can do with a table based game electronically.
The gametable WotC proposed so I don't see it importing anything, as it wasn't going to be able to do anything with that data. The DM would still have to tell you how much damage you took and you'd have to mark that down, just as at a physical game table.

And I had though someone wrote an app for maptools that would parse the character builder file to directly import the character, but I could be mistaken. If they haven't I imagine it'll be coming soon.

The tech demos showed that the players could view their sheets and even make alterations to them (like manually lowering hp among other things). Just because there was not going to be any rules adjudicating didn't mean it wouldn't allow the DM or players to adjudicate the rules.

Apparently the XML output from the builder is lacking, little to no info for the powers. An importer could be written to get the basic info in, but you would still have to enter all the data for the powers.

I have to say, if the Gametable wouldn't import anything then Wotc should just forget it; it would be awful. It's really cumbersome trying to do everything manually in maptool, I can't imagine 3d graphics making that any easier.

The Gametable was shown to clearly import data (even though that feature was broke at the demos) from the character builder.

Well, the xml does the basics.
Show

Encounter
Standard Action


11
2d8+7
cold
Intelligence
Fortitude
+5 Intelligence modifier.
+3 half your level.
+2 enhancement bonus.
+1 bonus - Implement Expertise (staff)


+5 Intelligence modifier.
+2 enhancement bonus.





It tells you the attack bonus and damage dice. It doesn't tell you range, area, or other conditionals from the power but I'm assuming thats more the job of the dm. And certainly that's all the Gametable was advertised as doing.

yeah, that's true, so you would have to log into D&DI to pull the info up from it to even fill in your character sheet.

I'm guessing you've never played D&D online with maptool? It's hard enough to DM in that format, if I had to constantly look up and reiterate monster/player powers and effects, forget it.

I agree, it takes way too much time and effort to set up and use. I simply don't have the time.

That's one of the reasons why I never got interested in any of the online tools. I couldn't see the tools doing the work well enough without a huge amount of extra work to get the data set up.

That said, I could see a future app capable of getting the needed data from the included URL. Parsing the info about the power isn't as easy, but for the most part it isn't implausible.

Of course, given that the game table wouldn't have done anything more (its rules agnostic), this isn't a flaw unique to 3rd party VTT. I think its more a tech limit, and a limit on what you can do with a table based game electronically.

Not really. The limit I see is that no one has done it yet. I'd like it to look everything up when asked, and be able to parse it into a format readable by the program. Of course to keep it legal anytime you weren't actually displaying the data it would have to not exist in the program. Each time you opened your sheet or flipped to the power page it would have to call the data up from the compendium.
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
The CB currently allows you to edit your hp, give temp bonuses, etc. Why could it not do that with a 3rd party program like a game table running? This is functionality that any game table currently give because that's part of the CB, not the game table. The WotC page for the game table specifically says that it doesn't handle any rules.
...
I agree, it takes way too much time and effort to set up and use. I simply don't have the time.


...

OK, for the record I want to say I think Maptool is a fantastic program and I use it all the time; as a DM and a player. It took a bit of learning, but I'm at the point now where the setup is pretty smooth. Believe me, it's worth the effort.

I was only referring to the need for all the "crunch" to be accessible within the program, and not in the DMs head

Frankly, the existence of Maptool makes the gametable not too much of an issue for me. Maptool is free, and Wizard's would have to blow me away to get $15 or so a month out of me.
The CB currently allows you to edit your hp, give temp bonuses, etc. Why could it not do that with a 3rd party program like a game table running? This is functionality that any game table currently give because that's part of the CB, not the game table. The WotC page for the game table specifically says that it doesn't handle any rules.

That could just mean it won't be automated fully, like a video game.

I'm sure they would have features such as tracking hit points, status effects, powers. You should be able to just click a power, and the die rolls will be automated.

Currently the gametable is nothing, so this is all speculation
That could just mean it won't be automated fully, like a video game.

I'm sure they would have features such as tracking hit points, status effects, powers. You should be able to just click a power, and the die rolls will be automated.

Currently the gametable is nothing, so this is all speculation

But if that's all you want, pretty much any program that can read the CB files will work. The hard stuff is figuring out what enemies would be hit, how power x affects the battlefield etc. Is there something I'm missing here?
But if that's all you want, pretty much any program that can read the CB files will work. The hard stuff is figuring out what enemies would be hit, how power x affects the battlefield etc. Is there something I'm missing here?

Well, maptool pretty much does all I want! :D It just can't import the CB files to the token. The developer of the framework I use said it wasn't worth it, based on what the builder's XML output was. I just took his word for it. Perhaps in the future there will be an importer, but for now it's not a big deal to import by hand.

As far as the gametable, I get the impression you think it will be just virtual minis and dice, with no built in functionality? That, in my opinion, would be difficult to game with. D&D over the internet is very different then D&D face to face.

Again, the gametable is currently vaporware, not really worth speculating what it might or might nor do!
I'm looking for the reasons that the 3rd party VTTs are not a good replacement for what the D&DI VTT is designed to be according to the actual specs that are known about both. I plan on editing this original post and putting the reasons into the list as people post them.

The list includes:
1. No pick up games. (you must post on a message board and wait to see if anyone is there, then you have to schedule game sessions and whatnot)

OpenRPG has a metaserver (A bit fickle evil one, but none the less) most IRC text only chats do the same.
2. Re-entering the rules and stats. (If you follow the GSL and WotC IP you must re-enter every statistic into your own copy of the various 3rd party VTTs)

What? No. you don't. You have to reenter all protected text, but believe it or not 18 str or +8 to hit with power X isn't protected. Also, WotC has yet to crack down on the myriad of Maptool and OpenRPG and Fantasy Battleground Nodes/Tools for 4E. mostly as they require you to input the information.
3. They are not 3D and they don't readily integrate with the current set of D&DI tools (3rd party VTTs can't read in the CB character sheets yet)

Eh the second one is possible now that you can export CB sheets, its just a hassle and no one has gone around to making a conversion thing.
4. There are many annoying features/bugs that you must work around because 3rd party VTTs were not made specifically with D&D4E in mind. (I can think of a few like the maps, lighting, area effects, etc..etc..)

Have you tried Maptools?
5. No built in VoIP. (Yes there are other apps that you can use in tandem with them, but it is a pain and none of them work very well together)

This is a feature. If VTT from DDI requires VoIP I will be upset.
6. The die systems don't lend themselves very well to 4E (There are some options, but several don't allow rolls specific to 4E)

What rolls specific to 4E? The only thing on Maptools that can't be done is brutal weapons.
OpenRPG (which has a more robust roller) can do them all.

You do realize that the majority of rolls is 1d20+X v Y right? If you have a die roller that can't do 1d20+X its not a die roller.
I'm guessing you've never played D&D online with maptool? It's hard enough to DM in that format, if I had to constantly look up and reiterate monster/player powers and effects, forget it.

I'm not quite sure I get whether you're saying Maptool does or doesn't do this stuff, but in case anyone else is unclear, it does (provided you do the set-up work).

I have a set of pre-made tokens for, say "Cleric" that have all the cleric powers for levels 1 to 3 built in; you just drop the token on the table, fill your trait modifiers, weapon bonuses etc into its properties, and it's one button to use a power from that point on. A single click gives you dice roll+mods, shows whether you crit, and tells you what the damage is on a hit and on a crit. All nicely formatted and readable. (Although you do have to manually add conditional bonuses like combat advantage or buffs from other players.) When you take damage you press a button and type the damage you took, and it adjusts your HP total, notifies you if you've hit bloodied or unconscious, and updates a visual health bar so that other players can see at a glance if you need healing.

I could probably automate it even further if I learned more of the macro tools but I'm right now at exactly my comfort level for balancing scripting versus improv; if your comfort level is different, you can pre-configure the system to larger or smaller extents.

What rolls specific to 4E? The only thing on Maptools that can't be done is brutal weapons.

You can do brutals in Maptool, you just need to understand how tables work.
Can I just add that everyone's missed the REAL reason 3rd party VTT's aren't a replacement for the Wizards one?

It's that Wizards can't sell us pre-made tokens and campaign files for its adventures if we're using 3rd party stuff. They're missing out on a potentially lucrative market. I speak from experience when I say that converting a Dungeon adventure to a campaign file is about two hours' work if you already have the monster tokens ready to go; that's two hours work for maybe $5 a sale of the file to each customer. It pays for itself after the first six customers, not counting server/store overheads.
1. I've done everything in my power to get OpenRPG to install as I would like to see if it solves my pick-up game problems. Since I am a programmer and have a good idea of how to get even a buggy program to install correctly I can't really recommend this program to anyone because it is so difficult to get installed and it looks like there is no real support for it (I could be wrong about support).

Support for OpenRPG is pretty dodgy, you find some at mayhem gaming, but thats neither here nor there.

Steps in installing OpenRPG
1. Make sure python and other python thing is installed
2. Download OpenRPG
3. Run install
4. Enjoy.

Veav I has the biggest number of people in it (as its at the top).
You can do brutals in Maptool, you just need to understand how tables work.

Eh, so I am corrected. Open's Dieroller is more intuitive for me as I have used it longer. I will have to look into this tables thing.
As far as the gametable, I get the impression you think it will be just virtual minis and dice, with no built in functionality?

That was my impression of all the descriptions of the game table I heard.
You roll digital dice on the D&D Game Table. You can set up "hotkeys" with specific die rolls to save time, so that you don't need to select which dice to roll every time you swing your greatsword!

The D&D Game Table does not adjudicate game rules, enabling Dungeon Masters to run their games as they see fit. This lack of automated rules adjudication more closely simulates the tabletop game experience.

The goal was for the game table to be just like minis and a battle mat. Minis on a real table cannot drop area templates, so neither would the virtual one. All the GT would do is roll dice (only way to do it fairly), but nothing fancier than that. I haven't seen any indication that it was to do more.
You can do brutals in Maptool, you just need to understand how tables work.

Rerolls are actually built in to the dice expressions. If you have [1d6R2], that will do a a 1d6 brutal 1. [2d10R3] likewise would be 2d10 brutal 2. Unless there's some complication I've missed.
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