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Simplification Version

Posted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:28 am
by BorisD
So here's the thing. I downloaded a version and it was a bit more complicated than I wanted. I lost interest rather quickly. So I'll mention what I was looking for on a simplicity level.

  • A map building mechanism with some very basic tools. Walls. Doors. Tiles with images.

    A collection of figures that could be used for enemies and classes.

    A very simple and visual dice rolling program.

    A notepad that the DM could use to put down some notes for everyone to see.

This is just something that everyone can interact with simultaneously while using something like skype or ventrillo and voice chat to play.

I want to play online with friends but this program is expensive and more complicated than we need. We can each have our own character sheets at home and our skill list and whatnot. We trust one another. We would just need some dice rolling and a map. That's what we get together for in the first place.

I used to think the same thing

Posted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:34 am
by markuwp
Everyone in my group said almost the exact same thing when we started. I just wanted a shared map and some dice so that the program could get out of the way and we could just interact (via Skype) as we had when playing live. We used a program called ScreenMonkey that did just that.

It worked for us and we played for nearly 2 years with ScreenMonkey. However, the more you play online the more you realize what would make things better/easier/faster. While the learning curve might be slower with a more powerful program, I think it pays off quickly. We can't imagine being back on the "map and some dice" virtual table top and can't believe we didn't switch sooner. My advice would be to select a virtual tabletop (whether BRPG or something else) that gives you some room to grow. You don't have to use all the features to start, but at some point you'll probably want them.

Posted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:42 pm
by BorisD
Well, I don't think I could convince each group member to pay over 20$ for a program we are uncomfortable with and is a bit too complicated. The interface had so many damn options that I didn't know where to begin. It wasn't very intuitive.

Why not create a simplified version for cheaper? Maybe five dollars for any given version, DM or player. Like I said, if it's very simple, clear and intuitive with a GUI that's easy to navigate, you can sell a simplified version.

Why not adopt a tabbed methodology similar to what MS Word uses. So have a top row with the general options of: Map, Dice, Figures, and whatever else.

Maybe this version could be better with just a simplified GUI, without dropping any features? If you could simplify it and make it more intuitive for new players to adapt to without needing a "read-me" to get started, you could sell it for 15-20$ without any problem.

Posted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:36 am
by Omnidon
BorisD wrote:Why not create a simplified version for cheaper?
Because the developer is an honest person and knows that if you don't want the advanced features from BRPG or BGE, then you may as well use one of the free VTs out there. Heruca keeps an extensive list of other VTs, for purpose of comparison:
BorisD wrote:Maybe this version could be better with just a simplified GUI, without dropping any features?
I agree that the existing interface, when opened, could do with quite a bit of improvement, and have long advocated that the developer add the ability to customize the interface. My preferred method of implementing that would be Flash extensions, which would allow third party developers such as myself to create custom interface elements for BRPG.
BorisD wrote:Why not adopt a tabbed methodology similar to what MS Word uses. So have a top row with the general options of: Map, Dice, Figures, and whatever else.
BRPG was designed based on the philosophy of minimal interface, so that most of your valuable screen real estate is devoted to the map at all times. This tends to make the game much more immersive than VTs that clutter 75% of the screen with panels and toolbars.

Additionally, the developer is primarily a Mac user, and it shows. One of the proof of concept Flash components I created for him to test, however, was a Windows-style menu bar. If the Flash extension feature is ever added, that'll certainly be among the first few extensions that I create.
BorisD wrote:without needing a "read-me" to get started
To be fair, I never needed the manual to figure out how to use any of the basic features in BRPG.

Posted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:28 pm
by BorisD
The most I figured out was how to draw shapes, but I didn't know how to interact with them. The die rolling screen had a bunch of info that was just a face-attack of critical death. I couldn't find any simple way to browse figurines and just drag and drop them.

I mean, I just need a grid, the way is there, and to make the shapes "click" together so that they are just one. The way we would play in person is simple. We have our figurines, our dice bags, and a grid where the DM just draws a shape. We don't need detail, just need to know where we can and can't move, and how we can position. Nothing fancy.

So if we had a map, a list of figurines to choose from, and an ability to see this all at once, we'd be fine. Literally all we need, but the programs I see all take figuring out or buying. Is there anything that simple? I loaded up screenmonkey and had no idea what was going on.

Posted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:18 am
by Omnidon
Screen Monkey was probably the simplest dedicated VT that I have ever used, although admittedly that was many years ago and they may have made it more complex since then.

Have you checked out EpicTable (commercial with demo) and MapTool (free)? They are both designed with windows-style interfaces, although not quite as feature-light as you wanted.

You also could consider an online drawing program that supports sharing, such as Google Docs. I used one of those to plan out strategies for a tactical shooter game a long time ago, though I can't recall the name of it.
Google Docs might work though, as it supports live sharing, has a Drawing feature, and supports drag & drop.