View Full Version : Online Game software & Map Makers

12-14-2007, 11:38 AM
I've been looking to buy/start using one of the online gaming programs, and haven't decided which one I want to use yet. There are plusses and minuses to many of them. I've observed these:

Fantasy Grounds:
Most expensive because players must purchase their own licenses
Map tokens are just letters (unless there are more I haven't found yet)
Best looking interface, easiest to learn

Second most expensive, but i like their licensing option the best, players don't have to pay in DM had guest licenses
Second easiest to learn (so far)

I found it harder to learn to manipulate over the above
I liked the scaleability of the icons and the ease to move around the map.
Haven't foud the Concealment tool yet.
Tied for best price (free)
Had a hugely difficult time with maps

Found it hardest to use, so far
Found it hard to use for maps
Ties for best price (free)

Mostly I'm looking for people's opinions about the different programs and are they any I'm missing?

People who are using any of these programs, what are you using to make you maps, bee them dungeon or surface or overland?

12-14-2007, 11:54 AM
I use KloOge for my remote games with my old Dallas group. We use it in conjunction with a webcam over Skype, and really the only functionality from the program that we are using is the battlemat. I'd say it does a pretty good job at this at least, and I too found it much better than the alternatives.

For making maps, I actually use Neverwinter Nights I. I use the tilesets in the Aurora toolset to build my dungeon, city area, wilderness, etc and then just take a screenshot of it and use that. I've also used NWN to model some scenes, like this gate to the Elemental Plane of Fire that my players found in the underground passages near a volcano. (Warning: this is fairly large, http://www.penandpapergames.com/images/gate.PNG)

12-17-2007, 08:22 AM
I found a couple of free programs that might be useful for the online maps.

The first is the Creator System

The other is Dungeon Crafter III

Both are easy to use. They are super high quality graphics, but they are good enough for use in the other programs.

12-22-2007, 08:31 PM
You might find the two following links useful.

Online RPG Tool Comparisons (http://openrpg.digitalxero.net/wiki/index.php?page=Online+RPG+Tool+Comparisons)
Virtual Game Table Comparision (http://www.iconvention.org/vgtcomp.php)

I have yet to host a game online with strangers but I have played a few games with my wife when she has been at a friends house. Together we've used, and will use with others online, Skype for the voice communication and RPTools MapTool for the map. It is by far the most advanced online map software you'll find right now. It is freeware, is constantly being updated, has a very large community, can be used with ANY type of map or picture, has a dice roller, text chat, built in macro support, and it works oh so perfectly with the massive amount of professional quality maps released by the Djinn community. RPTools also makes a handy token maker which you can use to make an endless amount of tokens from the ridiculous amount of theme images available freely on the net.

12-28-2007, 08:09 AM
Not that I do much chat type RPG play, but I'll have to check out the comparison urls. I like to know what's out there in case I ever need to do that kind of role playing, so thanks for posting the links, Mulsiphix!

12-28-2007, 11:14 AM
You may want to check the free demo of ScreenMonkey. Only one person has to purchase it, and it's about $30 USD.

It has a good mapping function. You can upload your own maps. It has a dice roller built into the chat function, and it embeds rolls into chat. You can customize dice rolls, and create pre-made dice rolls for quick use.

12-28-2007, 11:33 AM
Your most welcome. I've downloaded and sampled every single program in the links above. For the "all-in-one" client I would have to recommend Klooge. Their licensing option is also the most flexible in my opinion.

I like MapTool the best because it basically is just a map that everybody connects to. People can move their own characters, GM's can use "fog of war" if they like, and GM's can also completely control the entire map if they like. By completely control I mean everything from player movement to controlling map zooming and forcing players to only see what the GM sees.

Just about everything else listed is either a poor excuse for Klooge, poor excuse for MapTool, or a disgusting hybrid of the two. MapTool also includes support projectors which I plan to use in my home. I can't afford, nor do I want to have to store, hundreds of mini's but MapTool allows you to have breath taking tokens and far more realistic maps than a battlemat or graph paper could ever deliver. Here is as hot of MapTool to give you an idea of what I'm talking about.


The greatest thing about MapTool is it can use any image for a map and you can apply any sized grid to the map so just about any map you can dig out of a PDF or any map you can create in one of the many dungeon creator software suites is usable. The community over at Dunjinni produces TONS of professional quality maps that anybody can download. I'll be putting together a thread soon enough for MapTool that will include tons of links to some of my favorite sites. Including a website that has all the Dunjinni content released, month by month, from August 2005 to current. Here is a taste of what the community has to offer.




12-28-2007, 03:58 PM
I've been looking at the various programs on the comparison page and Battlemap was looking good to me for a while. followed by Klooge.

I guess what slowing me down the most, is just the learning curve in mastering the programs. A 3 1/4 year-old his a horrible deterrant to the concentration needed to learn the programs.

Map tools looked cool to me, but I couldn't figure out how to recreate that visibility example shown in the screen show you included above. If I could figure out that, I'd use that program quickly.

12-28-2007, 04:12 PM
MapTool is simple to use but difficult to master. Getting that kind of lighting to show up on your map takes quite a bit more work than simply loading a map up. You have to define where all the physical things are on the map can react properly to light. You have to define the characters field of view and light sources in the map. MapTool is great for a simple battlemap situation but can give amazing results, as seen in the first image, when time is put into creating a full adventure. The MapTool forums are very helpful if your interested in learning the in's and out's of the program. I'm still experimenting with it heavily myself.

12-29-2007, 01:45 PM
battlegrounds is a fun tool, and the creator is a friend of mine. map tool is also nice, if you are willing to put the time in. for myself however, the map is just a supplement to my imagination, a placeholder/marker so to speak. so i don't need anything fancy, or anything that takes as much time or more than the other prep.

so i use gametable and crystalball-lite. gametable is a java based program. it is simple, straightforward and does exactly what it says without fuss or muss or a lot of time. make sure you know your port forwarding. on the minus side, it will occasionally disconnect, but reconnecting is not hard at all. it also will choke if you overload your java engine ram allotment with too many graphics-easily fixed by upping the memory available to java. see http://gametable.galactanet.com for the v1.2b (it's not really beta). then if you want the latest stable beta, go to the forums and do a search for tripwire, the link is in his sig.

crystalball-lite is the hands-down best dice roller i've seen anywhere. the most powerful, but it's basic and mid-range functions are simple to use. any of you recall tablesmith? this beats that. it can roll on tables, roll sets, exclude specific conditions, use variables, customizable buttons, a built in hierarchal notebook... and so much more. go to http://homepage.mac.com/crystalballmac it works on both mac and pc. (crystalball itself is mac-only until v4 is finished-in development now)

then we use some voicechat program like ventrillo or skype or something like that. works out great. =D

12-29-2007, 09:06 PM
Battlegrounds is still too much in development for my tastes. Requires a great deal more work than MapTool. If your going for an all-in-one client I couldn't imagine anything better or time tested as Klooge. Maps are generally pretty basic which is one of the reasons I enjoy MapTool so much. For a change you get something really detailed which can really help fuel the imagination in a way that a standard square grid can't. It really doesn't require any time at all to load in an image, set a grid, and to start playing. Its when you go for the lighting effects, field of view, playing with the multiple layers, etc... that it gets complicated. Given the massive amount of free maps available on the internet, from uber basic to professional quality, MapTool is the perfect choice in my opinion. If you guys can't tell I REALLY like MapTool :D

12-30-2007, 04:27 AM
i still hold out for gametable, myself. load some images and connect, and presto, you're gaming. the shared whiteboard feature makes it great. you move something, and everyone sees it. so is the 'i'm pointing here' hand that's viewable by everyone simultaneously. plus it supports decks of cards. ^^ built in chat and dice.... very handy. guess you can tell that i like gametable. ;D

as a further bonus, it's open to community modding.

12-30-2007, 08:21 AM
A face off eh? Alright nijineko DRAW!! MapTool is open source so anybody can contribute to its development. It too includes pointer support that everybody can see. Setting up a simple map takes virtually no effort at all, like you described for gametable, and while it doesn't support cards it does support tokens and a token maker which I use to make professional grade tokens from my MTG card collection! It has a built in dice roller, chat, macro support, and an extensive list of advanced features for the GM that wants to go the extra distance :D

Digital Arcanist
12-30-2007, 01:27 PM
This seems like an apt moment to remind everyone about the idiom involving arguing and the Special Olympics...

01-04-2008, 11:00 AM
heh, i don't think i've heard that one before.

however, if it's a feature comparison, i'm pretty sure that eventually i'll lose. one of gametable'ss features is its simplicity. it does what it says, and that's it. the only "extras" are what has been added by enterprising community members. as such it's still pretty sleek and slim.

i will mention that it's written in java, and is thus compatible with just about everyone and everything. it also has tokens, called pogs. it currently has four layers, a gm underlay (map tile) layer, a gm pog layer, and a player-visible version of each. pogs and underlays can be resized on the fly, as well as rotated. they can also be locked into place. it supports hex, square, and grid-less maps. it has simple drawing tools for everyone to mark up the maps with (football play schematics anyone?). supports feet, meters and "units". handy built in ruler for measuring line of sight and distance.

networked chat, die rolling, and die macro support are nice. as are a few features that have been recently added by a community member.

and that's about it. not much more to it than that. it does what it says, and the rest depends upon your artistic talent.

now dice rollers... there we could have a real challenge. let me know if you're up to taking on cblite.

01-04-2008, 03:51 PM
They actually sound quite similar. MapTool is java too. Whatever gets the job done with the least amount of game interruption is what I seek :D

01-05-2008, 08:32 PM
give it a try. however, i think you might wind up sticking with maptool, in that case. gametable has an oddball flaw that we've been trying to pin down where it will take it into it's head to just drop people sometimes. seem that running it through a web-based interface helps in that regard. if you happen to have a server to host it on. ^^

01-05-2008, 09:41 PM
Just about all programs with networking capability seem to suffer from unknown cause random client dropping. Just one of the things you have to learn to live with. Thins like auto-reconnect and configurable "no clients present" timeout delays are a programmers best friend.

01-05-2008, 09:57 PM
ah well, in that case, please do check it out. =D

01-05-2008, 10:00 PM
Already on my list of software to check out more thoroughly. Planer Genie and DM Genie are at the top of the list right now. Klooge is second. This fits in at third place :)

01-05-2008, 10:12 PM
i look forward to your review. =D

01-25-2008, 10:01 PM
Updates, Mulsiphix?

01-25-2008, 10:19 PM
Updates, Mulsiphix?On GameTable?

01-25-2008, 10:49 PM
Well, just on whatever you decided upon. How's it working out?

01-25-2008, 11:18 PM
I checked out GameTable and it is a capable program but I prefer MapTool by a long shot. MapTool also has a very large and active community that is quite helpful, many host pen and paper games regularly, and its a great place to find help making maps/download maps. I could happily use GameTable if MapTool wasn't an option, but as it is an option, I'm quite happy with its feature set and see no reason to change programs ;)

02-02-2008, 01:09 PM
well then, i'll go check it out again and see where it has gotten to.

(edit: the dev version won't run at all on my mac, but the stable version does, if slowly. maybe i should shut down some of the other programs to free up ram next time i fire it up....)

02-03-2008, 05:40 PM
I just played in a MapTool game last night and was amazed at how many features of MapTool I didn't know about. MapTool for the win! :D

02-04-2008, 12:16 PM
i'll take a look, really. eventually. ^^

03-08-2008, 08:29 AM
Mostly I'm looking for people's opinions about the different programs and are they any I'm missing?

A list of all the RPG-oriented virtual tabletop programs can be found here (http://www.battlegroundsgames.com/links.html#anchor6), as well as feature comparison charts and other useful links.

03-08-2008, 11:56 PM
haha! i had a feeling that this thread would draw you out, heruca! =D nice to see you here. and while everyone is at it, be sure to check out heruca's battlegrounds, very nice software indeed! ^^

jade von delioch
03-09-2008, 01:12 AM

03-09-2008, 04:16 AM
just use skype to do the same thing for free. (or at least no extra charge beyond your isp access....)

Jonathan Kwiat
03-10-2008, 12:13 AM
I've been looking to buy/start using one of the online gaming programs, and haven't decided which one I want to use yet. There are plusses and minuses to many of them. I've observed these:

Found it hardest to use, so far
Found it hard to use for maps
Ties for best price (free)

Mostly I'm looking for people's opinions about the different programs and are they any I'm missing?

hippie_mama uses OpenRPG and it has my vote. It is the only thing I will ever online DM with. Anybody that cannot be bothered to learn it with my help doesn't want to play with me anyway.

I'd debug the sound of their dice hitting the floor anyday over asking people to pay or using a program that is limited to certain hardware but heh...

plenty of people here feel free to share how much they hate Vista on this board so you will have plenty of players not matter which option you use. And others in the same breath as telling you knowingly how bad Vista is tell you to use closed source applications (for mapping software e.g. NeverWinter Nights which will not run on Vista) and mix it in with very cool open source applications.

To me it is a bad idea to have multiple network applications running on your machines and your gamers machines at the same time. It will lead to dropped connections. Even if they start browsing it can be a problem. Find an integrated application you can live with and find gamers for. That might mean paying a monthly subscription. Often times it can be worth it because the service will offer servers that will make sure, as much as possible, that internet connections will not be dropped and you can have small private games with professional RPG software.

To me though that solution is completely against the open source nature of true pen and paper games and it is socially isolating unless you on-line game with people in your geographical neighbourhood.

For me I'd pick OpenRPG, no questions,

I want something somebody will have no problem running from their college dorm or in Pennsylvania from their Linux Box. Not to mention Apples and Windows Machines. Also, I can debug that engine if everybody is running it and does not go crazy and try to download stuff during the middle of are games.

See, if you are the DM, you will find players and all this advice on this thread is secondary. It doesn't matter which software you use but do not use NeverWinter Nights stuff any more unless you are very good with it and cannot take the time to learn newer software.

But that's just my opinion and I am not going to defend it.

Be Well,


03-10-2008, 07:19 AM
i've been following the progress of rpgmapmakerx for some time now, since v2, and now it's v5.3.0. ^^ it's rather impressive. however, it's mac only at the moment.

jade von delioch
03-10-2008, 09:39 AM
http://www.rpginspiration.com (http://www.rpginspiration.com/)

Jonathan Kwiat
03-12-2008, 08:19 PM
http://www.rpginspiration.com (http://www.rpginspiration.com/)

LOL on that Tesral Quote!!!

"...I do not mash that button box..." Yeah GAD! He said that? What are those poor open source dweebs who are daily debugging OpenRPG in phython source code going to do with themselves now!?

-LOL Jonathan

Total Nerd v2.135 (final)
11-09-2008, 10:41 PM
WOW! maptool looks simply amazing!

I have a questions about the first and most expensive program Infostorm mentioned, Fantasy grounds...

A. How expensive is it?

B. How nice does it look?/ easy to use?

I found OpenRPG to be exactly like every other GNU-open-Linux-geek-programmed thing I've ever used--Confusing and intimidating. *no offense to GNU-open-Linux-geek-programmers, I am actually have a lot of friends who of said Meme*

Total Nerd v2.135 (final)
11-09-2008, 10:43 PM
http://www.rpginspiration.com (http://www.rpginspiration.com/)


Total Nerd v2.135 (final)
11-09-2008, 10:48 PM
For making maps, I actually use Neverwinter Nights I. I use the tilesets in the Aurora toolset to build my dungeon, city area, wilderness, etc and then just take a screenshot of it and use that. I've also used NWN to model some scenes, like this gate to the Elemental Plane of Fire that my players found in the underground passages near a volcano.

word, NWN 1 for ever and ever and ever!
that **** is so fly. but when i play it i feel starved of voice acting and the magic of human interaction. :(