Here's another virtual table top that looks pretty good -- at least from the screenshots and description, anyway. Anyone play around with Fantasty Grounds before?
I find myself in an interesting situation--gaming wise, that is. In the next couple of months, I'll be packing up and moving from Dallas and on my way out to Seattle. There are a ton of gamers out there, and I definitely plan on starting up or joining a group once I'm there. But, the campaign I am running is far from over, and my players and I definitely want to finish it. So, we've been exploring ways that we can keep the game going even after I leave.
The plan is that they will all still get together at our usual gaming location, and I will run the game from my home computer. We're going to hook up a quality webcam and mic at both ends and video conference using a tool like Skype. Our normal gaming room has a large screen TV, so they're actually going to run a s-video cable from one of the player's laptops to the TV which will make it easy for everyone to see me. I'll also have a pretty good view of the players. Being able to see each other is critical to the success of the game in my mind, since so much is lost when you take out the component of body language and facial expression.
Of course, one of the biggest problems we will run into is combat situations. We've been using a grid map and miniatures at our games for years, and we don't want to start trying to manage combat without it. I also don't want to have to try to describe how to move the baddies around on the board King-to-Rook-Four chess style. Ideally, I'd like to have a tool that will let me scan in a map and then have a virtual table-top that the group and I can use.
A google search yielded two excellent candidates - KloOge and OpenRPG. OpenRPG is completely free and open source. Klooge on the other hand is a commercial product, albeit very reasonably priced. I downloaded and tried both of them, and thus far, I'm pretty sold on Klooge. Both had far more features than I was ever looking for, actually. Both have the capability to handle almost all of the D&D rules AND a number of other systems as well. I probably won't use anything past the interactive player map (and the cool fog-of-war feature Klooge has), but I was impressed at how far Internet gaming had come from the days of using dice-bots and trying to run a game over IRC.
I'm saddened to be leaving my gaming group behind, but I'm excited about the possibility of being able to still game with them even though more than a thousand miles will separate us. Anyone else here ever tried something like what my group is planning on doing, or running a full fledged game using one of these tools? I'm interested to hear what your experiences were, and any advice you might have.
I haven't had to run a game long distance like that so far. Usually, when I've had to move from one area to another, and that was really just for college, I either had enough time to end all current campaigns, or we put them on hold. So I really don't have any experience in using those types of gaming tools.
What you're talking about doing sounds like a really great idea, and from the sounds of it, the combination of Skype and Klooge is the way to go, even if all your going to use Klooge for is the map.
The concept of you being on the big screen TV sound really great as well. It should make you a little bigger than human sized, or you could make sure you set the camera up that way and as GM, it will make your presence a little larger than life! Hope your ideas work out, and make sure to keep us informed of how things go!
You might want to take a look at ScreenMonkey. I've dinked around with a free "Lite" available on RPGNow and elsewhere; it looked interesting. Maybe it would even be sufficient; if not, the commercial version is only $35.
Having said that, one thing I wish these programs would have (besides an automatic "poke through NAT" button) is a way to provide other visual aids besides a tactical map: handouts, a "dashboard" for the PC and NPC status, and "virtual index cards" to record items found and the like. Plus, I've yet to see a system that handles rolling Fudge dice. Call me picky.
"On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
- Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)
When seeing this thread I thought "Great, finally I can recommend GameTable!" but then I saw the date
I was a big fan of OpenRPG, but I can't say I am now. It certainly works well enough, but its just got so many bugs that make it a hassle to use. I still run a game in there, but its going to be my last one.
I have started doing a lot more with MapTools, and that has some real promise. Connecting to the game is a bit trickier, but once thats done MapTool has far more to offer than OpenRPG.
You've already found one to use, but I figured I'd put in my two cents in the event that someone else is looking for suggestions.