For Your Consideration – Power VTT

Posted by on Oct 16, 2017 in Software, Tabletop and Board

I’ve been following the progress of another virtual tabletop app, this one called Power VTT, and wanted to bring it to the attention of those for whom these things have merit.

I haven’t actually tried the app in earnest, so I can’t provide a review; even if I owned it I couldn’t review it in full because I’m not playing nor am I running anything at this time. But from the looks of things, it’s shaping up to be a decent entry in the increasing pool of VTTs solutions for your remote RPG needs. It can be downloaded as a desktop app, or used through a compatible web browser for on-the-go access.

First and foremost, PVTT’s strongest suit seems to be its map builder functionality. Using a provided set of 200 assets, with more available in packs through their marketplace, a GM can construct a custom map to suit the needs of the adventure at hand. Map making is something that a lot of VTT’s aim for because it’s probably one of the most crucial tools for a GM when not dealing with pre-published materials, or when the GM doesn’t have or doesn’t want to deal with other tools such as Campaign Cartographer or Fractal Mapper. However, not all VTTs excel in this arena, as they tend to focus more on the sharing of assets, real-time gameplay, and sometimes ruleset integrations. Focusing on the map making aspect first seems to give PVTT a leg-up on other tools, but is a far more “sellable” tool than “yet another online tabletop”. Even if you have another preferred VTT, PVTT allows you to export your maps for use in those other applications, which is a nice community-centric option.

Should you be looking for a way to play with your group, PVTT can apparently handle that as well as a work in progress. It comes with an implementation of the D&D 5E character sheet, although the application does not yet have 5E rules automation. However, it looks like 5E is the only supported character sheet at the moment. Still, well-oiled teams can find ways to play with a combo of online and offline, and PVTT allows for live sharing of maps, token movement, and even real-time weather effects and FoW/LoS dynamic lighting, something you don’t yet find in many other VTTs.

As far as cost is concerned, it looks like everyone can register and use the map editor for free, as well as create and manage characters. It has a 25MB storage limit, however, which probably applies more to the maps you create than anything else. At this tier, you cannot host games online (though not sure if you can participate in other hosted games). After that, the PVTT is offered as a service, starting at $2.99 a month, or pre-paid for a year starting at $29.99. It looks like the major difference between the paid tiers is the number of concurrent online games you can host (up from zero), and the amount of online space you are granted to store your materials.

Right now, I think the price of free for the map editor and 200 basic assets is a great reason to take a look at PVTT. While the dynamic weather and LoS tools are cool and unique, the bare-bones character sheet (for a single system) and lack of rules automation currently puts online features one step above a whiteboard. While that may sound like a slight, I believe this project is a one- or two-man development effort, which should make the whole project seem that much more impressive for everything it does offer. However, I’m personally put off by the subtle marketing digs at other VTTs; I find the map editor and asset market, as well as the LoS and weather tools, to be powerful enough to differentiate this project from others, and punching up as a sales tactic cheapens the impact of the feature set.

Power VTT is going to be launching a Kickstarter soon no doubt so the developer(s) can focus on pushing ahead with the features that are on their to-do list. Already, though, it seems that the tool might be great for creating maps for whatever online tool you use, and I’ll be looking at generating some for testing purposes in the near future. I’m not quite sold on the subscription model for what’s beyond the map editor currently, but the team seems dedicated to making a tool that can fill in a niche between online only and high-end power-VTTs that I think a lot of people might be interested in.

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Player.me Create; Sammy HMD; LAN Party

Posted by on Oct 12, 2017 in Hardware, Software

Player.me Create

So, Player.me is a thing that exists. It’s another social posting place for gamers, like Anook and…eh…probably others. Whenever we (the Combat Wombat We) hear about these things we tend to sign up if for nothing else than to reserve our names, although we do tend to give the services a once-over to evaluate if the service has any benefit for us. We’re a flighty group, always looking for a Service of Best Fit, and at one point Player.me was a contender. We opted not to park there mainly because of…let’s call them “differences of attitude” with the kinds of clients the service was attracting.

Recently, though, there were rumblings from streaming powerhouse SplitMedia Labs, makers of XSplit streaming software, about Player.me. Turns out SML acquired the service and had an ace up its sleeve: the service was creating an online stream overlay creator, creatively called Create. Using entirely web-based tools, streamers can upload images, videos, and audio to create the sexy overlays that all the serious streamers use. Because Player.me is service agnostic, it can pull data from Twitch, Mixer, and possibly others now and over time. And because Player.me is now owned by SML, there’s a hint of XSplit integration in the way PME Create can help manage your video feeds from XSplit. Once the overlay has been created, you add it as a source in your streaming app (XSplit or OBS) as a web source, and away you go!

The Wombats have been working with Create since yesterday, and we’ve discovered a lot of features beyond what’s available in the tutorial, so I might do a stream this afternoon to talk about the service. I’ll probably re-create my XSplit-based overlay in Create, just so we can test how the service works and what it can do for us.

Sammy HMD

The event that no one has been waiting for: I pulled the trigger on the Samsung Odyssey head mounted display this morning. So far it’s the best spec’d HMD on the market, despite not being on the market until November 6th (planned, at least, barring unforeseen Samsung-specific debacles), so I pumped up the shipping to Superman Delivery, because…

LAN Party

Yes, we’re hosting another LAN Party, LANronomicon 2017, on November 11th. After the last event I swore I wouldn’t host another. I don’t mind doing the work of cleaning the house, washing the floors, and so on; that stuff doesn’t get done enough in my house, to be honest, and this is a great excuse. I’m not sure why I didn’t want to host another event because I enjoy them and the company. Maybe it’s because we also drink a lot and at my age, that’s not as satisfying as it used to be, but it doesn’t stop me from doing it.

I hope to have the HMD in time for the party, but knowing how these things work I wouldn’t be surprised if the delivery was delayed, or if the “shipping date” is when they optimistically start but isn’t when they get around to boxing and shipping mine.

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