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robert4818

Brainstorming: Virtual 3d Tabletop

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Miniature games have been popular for a long time, as have tabletop roleplaying games. Many people also want to play these games online. To that end, many people have have made virtual tabletops for these games. 95% of them have been 2d systems.

Eventually I would like to create one that is 3d. Before I do that I figured I would do some brainstorming of the features I would need in order to make the 3d tabletop usable.

First, my thought process is that the 3d VT should mimic home table top games, not try to out do them. With that line of thinking, I want to throw out the concept of a height map-able "ground." My ground will be flat. Any changes in height will be done via placeable terrain pieces. This includes buildings, roads, hills, trees, etc.

This brings me to my next thought. Usability. Creating 3d terrain is not easy. While some members of the community might be able to quickly and easily use 3d software to create models, buildings, rough carved hills, etc. I must anticipate that the vast majority of them will not be able to. That means my Virtual Table Top must contain tools that allow them to create 3d with some fair amount of ease.

[indent]
My thought here is to create a lego-style system for 3d terrain, and also to allow for 3d models to be imported. The lego style terrain would work along the concept of pre-made scalable shapes that can be placed and stacked together to create terrain. If you've ever used Microsoft Powerpoint, the way they have the pre-made auto-shapes would be the sort of inspiration I am looking for. [/indent]

I would need to be able to allow players to tag items as terrain, and as models. Terrain pieces would not be movable once the game starts, models would.

I would need to implement some form of real-world measurement into the game. Ideally it should be switchable between a variety of measurements (cm, inches, yards, meters, miles, KM). On top of that, the game should be easily able to overlay a "1 inch" square or hex grid over the table in order to facilitate a variety of games played on the table top (such as DnD 4th)

Character models. I must accept that character Models for a variety of games would need to be created. Until that time, I would need to be able to use proxies. My concept would be to use cylinders or Boxes to represent characters. I've done some of this with actual paper models for real table top games. My solution would be to simply allow a .gif or .jpg to be wrapped or pasted onto a shape. This would work until the community creates actual 3d models. I would need a way to tag an "eye level" onto a model in order to set the camera there for games that require true line of site.

Other features would be a dice roller. And a suitable Chat interface. Ideally I would like to integrate a voice chat similar to Ventrilo into the tabletop, but a chat system could work.

The level of graphical quality would not need to be exceptionally high. I would expect to be able to survive fairly well with a "EQ1" style of graphics. Especially since the need for animation would be nil.

The community should be able to share a variety of things for the tabletop, terrain, models, skins, etc.

If anyone has any suggstions or ideas, please feel free to share.

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Flagging pieces as belonging to different players so only they or the GM can change states on it.

An easy to use Initiate list, with options for soft and hard locks.

Ideally an optional ingame character data and interaction sheet. Allowing a player to right click on a mob and select pre-defined roll options and automatically calculate out all the numbers and do the roll, then update the mob's state (Health, status, etc.) would be very nice and allow easier large scale RPG battles.



Penning notes for a system to make a system like this to make a starwars game easier to play with friends has been my 'boring lecture' activity for awhile now.

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Althgouh not exactly what you are loking at, have a look at OpenSim, this is a virtual world server system (based on second life but is open source). This has various in-world tools for editing terrain as well as objects (eg: you can make buildings like dungeons or towers, etc).

You could use it to prototype some of the ideas to see how they will enhance your idea.

As an avid role player and boardgamer I have looked at various virtual table top systems and I have found that some of the more essential featuers are:

1) Ease of connection: Some are clunky in how they handle connections, with some only allowing the server to act as game master and such. Allowing any client to connect as a particular role (PC, GM, Assistent GM, etc) is an important feature this way you can have more flexability.

2) Communication: You need several different chanels of cumminucation such as speach, text and avatar gestures (the avatar can be a character model or in addition to a seperate avatar of the player). Also allowing groups to be assigened and easily selected while allowing communication directly to those groups is important.

3) Scripting: A basic system that allows advanced scripting of game componnetns makes for a more flexiable and useful system. The system RPTools started off with only a basic scripting system that was only intended to enhance text chat, however, over time as users requested more functionality from this feature it has developed into a sophisticated scripting system. The problem with this approach is that it is very arcane in how you do things. A good scripting system built up from the start would have been a much better approach.

One idea I have had for such a scripting system is like the Lego Mindstorms system. The idea is that you connect "Blocks" together and each block is a script command (I don't mind if someone wants to impliment this idea and if you want me to describe it in more detail I can).

4) Switching view types: This is related to (1) in that any client can see the Virtual table top from any connection type. This will allow GMs to see the game from the perspective of the players. This is important when a GM is designing the levels and knowing how it will look to others. Being able to quickly switch between these view modes makes development of the levels much easier and quicker.

5) Imposters: This is an essential tool for the GM. With this the GM (or if you want any player) can take over allowed characters and play from that character's perspective (again related to (1) and (4) ). This will allow GMs to act as NPCs and ahve the NPC respond to the actions of the players. It also allows a player to play multiple characters (eg: Wizards and their Familiars), or allow a player to take over a character of a player that is not able to make the game.

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Quote:
Original post by Edtharan
Althgouh not exactly what you are loking at, have a look at OpenSim, this is a virtual world server system (based on second life but is open source). This has various in-world tools for editing terrain as well as objects (eg: you can make buildings like dungeons or towers, etc).

You could use it to prototype some of the ideas to see how they will enhance your idea.

As an avid role player and boardgamer I have looked at various virtual table top systems and I have found that some of the more essential featuers are:

1) Ease of connection: Some are clunky in how they handle connections, with some only allowing the server to act as game master and such. Allowing any client to connect as a particular role (PC, GM, Assistent GM, etc) is an important feature this way you can have more flexability.

2) Communication: You need several different chanels of cumminucation such as speach, text and avatar gestures (the avatar can be a character model or in addition to a seperate avatar of the player). Also allowing groups to be assigened and easily selected while allowing communication directly to those groups is important.

3) Scripting: A basic system that allows advanced scripting of game componnetns makes for a more flexiable and useful system. The system RPTools started off with only a basic scripting system that was only intended to enhance text chat, however, over time as users requested more functionality from this feature it has developed into a sophisticated scripting system. The problem with this approach is that it is very arcane in how you do things. A good scripting system built up from the start would have been a much better approach.

One idea I have had for such a scripting system is like the Lego Mindstorms system. The idea is that you connect "Blocks" together and each block is a script command (I don't mind if someone wants to impliment this idea and if you want me to describe it in more detail I can).

4) Switching view types: This is related to (1) in that any client can see the Virtual table top from any connection type. This will allow GMs to see the game from the perspective of the players. This is important when a GM is designing the levels and knowing how it will look to others. Being able to quickly switch between these view modes makes development of the levels much easier and quicker.

5) Imposters: This is an essential tool for the GM. With this the GM (or if you want any player) can take over allowed characters and play from that character's perspective (again related to (1) and (4) ). This will allow GMs to act as NPCs and ahve the NPC respond to the actions of the players. It also allows a player to play multiple characters (eg: Wizards and their Familiars), or allow a player to take over a character of a player that is not able to make the game.


Some good ideas.

I want to avoid feature creep. To that extent, I want to remain focused on my key concept. That key concept is creating a system that functions primarily like a table-top does in a real face-to-face PnP game.

While I want some shortcuts in there, I don't really want to go too far above and beyond mimmicing the table top.

That means to me:
-No animations. I'm looking at virtual minis, not articulated toons.
-No Height mapping.
-No particle effects
-A basement background...(Ok that one's kidding)

I don't really want to create a never-winter nights sort of modular RPG. I definitely agree with needing the various types of communication, but the idea is to use the table top as a tabletop and not much more. I would still need to be able to share documents through the interface, but I don't want to get too fancy.

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Oh, another thing to keep in mind:

Make sure your game works well with Ventrilo, teamspeak, and Skype. Unless you are aiming for a lobby and pickup game system, then why bother recreating a feature that most people likely already have for other reasons?


(I just wish I could get Skype to work in "Push to Talk" mode, rather than just hot key toggle.)

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