Monday, June 11, 2012

What we really need for online games

I have played a couple games over Google Plus now and I have to say that it's just great.  In fact the last time I played on G+ was in a Trail of Cthulhu game and we got to use the moustache and top-hat effects which was probably counter productive but was great fun.  I have played where we just rolled dice and trusted each other, and also where we used Twillda whiteboard software to sketch out some combats and 'roll' dice in the shared chat window.  Both worked fine.
So there, I've proved my online chops.  Now I want to say something that's probably going to be unpopular.  We don't need any more damn virtual tabletops.  Seriously I think it's great that people are working on all these dice rollers and virtual tabletops with orc counters and foliage and fog of war and all power to them, but really we don't need any more of that.  We have too much of that stuff already and people are splitting the user base and nothing essential to this new twist in the hobby is getting done here.  Seriously I can't support the development of any more dice rollers and combat hex map layout tools.  I can already figure out how to do the dice or draw the layout of the tavern and my way probably won't involve any prep-time with either XML or a bitmap editor.

What we really need are online character sheets.  Ya ya there are some nice 4th ed character sheets on the iPad that will tell you how much a caltop costs or the amount of treasure you should be getting for next weeks adventure.  What if I change the prices or make home rules for HP and don't want to reprogram the damn things?  On the other hand you can use google docs to track your players stats and you can all share these links which is good if you are playing with laptops but not so good out at the campground.  These current solutions are either pretty or flexible - we need something that is both.  We need beautiful character sheets that we can share electronically, that we can use HTML5 or something to share online and display on tablets and phones offline. Character sheets that look nice and that can be customized easily for whatever game or house rules we're using.  We don't need them to calculate system specifics like weapon damage and item costs or even to calculate hp bonuses by level.  We just need stupid sheets of electronic paper that we can move the widgets around punch in the numbers and that we can scribble on.  We need modern character sheets without worn through hp boxes that have elegant ways to track those things that change often like damage, spell slots and arrows fired, and perhaps maybe link certain fields to a GM dashboard.

Someone Kickstart that.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. This is especially true for all those games that don't prominently use a battle map. An online character sheet, without automatic calculations or at least the ability to override those calculations, and a scribble pad. That done well, and as you say done "pretty", that can span multiple devices would cover the essentials. Battle maps, dice rollers, encounter generators are all nice o have add ons, but get good foundational pieces in place and you'll cover 80% of the market's needs.