Roll20 Virtual Tabletop Nears 500,000 Users, Big Update Coming

Roll20 Virtual Tabletop Nears 500,000 Users, Big Update Coming

Roll20

Browser-based virtual tabletop application Roll20 is closing in on 500,000 registered users. By the end of May, a big update titled Data Delve will launch several new features.

Roll20 recently reached a milestone: the two year anniversary of the end of its Kickstarter campaign and beginning of closed beta. Since then, the virtual tabletop has garnered almost 500,000 users - a milestone the developers believe will be attained by the end of May, alongside the release of a major content update called Data Delve. As of May 12, the virtual tabletop had 486,000 accounts, Roll20 co-founder Nolan T. Jones told The Escapist, and was averaging 800 new users a day.

When the Roll20 team initially launched its Kickstarter, it wasn't sure an audience even existed for the app. "Two years ago when we took Roll20 to Kickstarter, we did it as an 18-day campaign because we weren't certain there was anybody else out there that needed to play tabletop games long distance and if we were going to fail, we wanted to do it quickly," said co-founder Riley Dutton. Now, with almost half a million users and all three co-creators working on the program full-time, Dutton can safely say "we weren't alone."

The upcoming Data Delve update, which goes live May 28, includes one massive feature that the Roll20 developers initially intended to keep out of their app: character sheets. "This update includes an overhaul to fully support character sheets for roleplaying games, which is funny to us as developers because we were adamant at our start that Roll20 was just going to be table components; tokens, maps, and dice," said Jones. "But we've grown to a point where there are so many games that would really benefit from players being able to make rolls directly from their sheet, and decided it was time to increase the scope of what we're doing."

Further, Data Delve will be adding new measures to ensure that players don't think Roll20's random dice algorithms are fudging their rolls. "One of the weirdest and wildest features of the Data Delve update is the overkill we've put into dice rolling," said Jones. "Computers can't actually be random; but they can get so close it doesn't matter. The thing is, people look for patterns - so after they get on a rough streak, they start to assume Roll20's dice engine is broken, because they're only seeing the rolls in their individual game. So we've done two things. First, we're making a "leader board" of rolls that will give people an idea of the overall random action happening across the platform. And second, we're now using a formula for randomness based on the fluctuations of a particle of light. It's almost too much."

Personally, I've been a virtual tabletop gamer for almost a decade, and have always been a strong proponent of MapTool as my virtual tabletop of choice. But with every Roll20 update making the app increasingly inviting, I'm finding fewer and fewer reasons to not make the crossover, apart from the burden of having to transfer entire campaigns over. Character sheets may just be my final holdout.

Source: Nolan T. Jones, Roll20 co-founder

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Roll20 is pretty awesome - especially the integration with G+ hangouts given the huge presence of RPG players already using that network. I've gone from not playing AD&D in twenty years (outside of some sessions with my kids) to two campaigns and eight hours of playing a week for the last seven months (player in a 2E game; DM in a 1E game).

I have to say that I wasn't sure about this virtual tabletop either. On a whim, I backed Tabletop Forge (which was subsumed into Roll20), but didn't start playing until last November because of my uncertainty. As soon as I joined a couple of games, though, I was hooked. Now I just have to hope that Net Neutrality survives, because there's no way Roll20 has the funds to get into an internet fast-lane.

I don't think I even heard about this one. Of all the RPG app" style kickstarters, this one seems to have actually done some good. Now I must check it out.

Zachary Amaranth:
I don't think I even heard about this one. Of all the RPG app" style kickstarters, this one seems to have actually done some good. Now I must check it out.

In the nicest possible way I can only assume you've been living under a rock, or you aren't overly active in internet discussions regarding RPGs! :P

I'm intrigued by the character sheet inclusion, are we talking a basic feature to show a scanned version of a sheet, or will it actually incorporate a dynamical sheet?

I'm one of the convinced people that the dice roll is broken in some way. Last session I rolled 4 1's in a row on d20's.

I'd personally like an average d20 number for my session. That said, real dice aren't actually perfectly random either as almost all consumer dice are molded. Casino dice, conversely, are actually machined with a computer and have their holes drilled and filled in with a polymer the exact same density of the dice to ensure there is no uneven weight distribution.

Anyways, roll20 is easily the best virtual tabletop out there IMO.

Avid tabletop RPGer, wasn't even aware there was a decent virtual tabletop option out there.

I don't outright think that it'll appeal to me, its probably great from a mechanics stand point but if I wanted that... I'd go play a game on a computer, but if its looking to integrate as much as it can then I'd be up for it.

Anyone here know what kind of dice systems is it compatible with?

Fasckira:

In the nicest possible way I can only assume you've been living under a rock, or you aren't overly active in internet discussions regarding RPGs! :P

It's partially true, but mostly I just started filtering out all the hype because there were a million of these things two years ago and I still see some of them promoted. At that point, it more or less became the equivalent of "This will take down D&D," or use of "WoW/CoD Killer." I just got tired of all the pointless hype and bandwagon jumping for a thousand different claims that would make Peter Molyneux ashamed.

Weaver:
I'm one of the convinced people that the dice roll is broken in some way. Last session I rolled 4 1's in a row on d20's.

I'd personally like an average d20 number for my session. That said, real dice aren't actually perfectly random either as almost all consumer dice are molded. Casino dice, conversely, are actually machined with a computer and have their holes drilled and filled in with a polymer the exact same density of the dice to ensure there is no uneven weight distribution.

Anyways, roll20 is easily the best virtual tabletop out there IMO.

That's the problem with a truly random system, though. Even in the real world, with those not-completely-balanced dice, I've had streaks of all 1s, or all 20s, or consistently low/high rolls--sometimes on the same die. Randomness can be a real bitch.

But then, it also makes the good rolls the more fun.

Zachary Amaranth:
But then, it also makes the good rolls the more fun.

Aye!

Any dice-chucker worth their weight in miniatures enjoys the 1's as much as the 20's, if not more!

A friend of mine started DMing a Pathfinder game on Roll20, and I have to say, this is the best role-playing experience I've ever had. It feels almost like playing a CRPG like Baldur's Gate, but with the full freedom of the tabletop game that it actually is.

evilnancyreagan:

Zachary Amaranth:
But then, it also makes the good rolls the more fun.

Aye!

Any dice-chucker worth their weight in miniatures enjoys the 1's as much as the 20's, if not more!

such as the ninja who is built entirely for stealth having the GM do a stealth check and walk into a room none the wiser he rolled a nat 1 exploding and ended with -17.

Essentially smashing the door open and stomping around yelling "I AM BEING SNEAKY".

those moments are always hilarious.

Kalezian:
such as the ninja who is built entirely for stealth having the GM do a stealth check and walk into a room none the wiser he rolled a nat 1 exploding and ended with -17.

Essentially smashing the door open and stomping around yelling "I AM BEING SNEAKY".

those moments are always hilarious.

Exactly!

A respectable DM knows how to carry the narrative through those terrible rolls in such a way that everyone walks away from the table satisfied with the outcome of the session.

PuckFuppet:
Avid tabletop RPGer, wasn't even aware there was a decent virtual tabletop option out there.

I don't outright think that it'll appeal to me, its probably great from a mechanics stand point but if I wanted that... I'd go play a game on a computer, but if its looking to integrate as much as it can then I'd be up for it.

Anyone here know what kind of dice systems is it compatible with?

Pretty much any system. Want exploding dice ala Shadowrun? Has it. Want to roll-and-keep ala L5R? Got it. Need poker chips and cards for Deadlands? Got it. Want to count successes ala WoD? Got it. FUDGE/FATE dice? Got it. It's pretty remarkably robust; Roll20 is truly a systemless engine which need not follow any particular system.

Reference

I've had a great set of experiences with Roll20: we've done Numenera, Iron Kingdoms, Shadowrun, Kobolds Ate My Baby, and of course, Pathfinder. The engine is phenomenal for a thing you don't have to pay for.

I will say to the hold-outs, consider having two laptops, one for the GM and one hooked up to a television or projector. Then allow the players to see everything on the screen. You will not need to worry about lacking a mini, or having everyone unsure where the characters are, or any of that nonsense.

And while I'm shamelessly gushing: RPG Mapshare. More free maps than you can shake a kobold at.

thedoclc:

I will say to the hold-outs, consider having two laptops, one for the GM and one hooked up to a television or projector. Then allow the players to see everything on the screen. You will not need to worry about lacking a mini, or having everyone unsure where the characters are, or any of that nonsense.

This is an amazing idea!

Even though Roll20 is fun, I really wish that there were tailor-fit engines for the various tabletop games out there. Wizards of the Coast made a half-assed attempt with their 4E tabletop engine, and it was terrible, but it did show me that having engines specifically tailored to systems could be worth their weight in gold.

funksobeefy:

thedoclc:

I will say to the hold-outs, consider having two laptops, one for the GM and one hooked up to a television or projector. Then allow the players to see everything on the screen. You will not need to worry about lacking a mini, or having everyone unsure where the characters are, or any of that nonsense.

This is an amazing idea!

Well, thank you, good sir. With line of sight blockers, it is also nice. The only functionality you lose with that is the ability to pass notes to one other player rather than all other players.

Huh, this looks interesting. I've been curious about getting into DnD or Pathfinder recently, but no one I know plays it. To the people here who use this app, does it offer a way to join random games, or is it mostly a tool for groups that are already organized? And would this be a good place to start for a complete beginner?

Hosting a Star Wars: Saga edition in Roll20 for about 4 months now, I cannot explain just how awesome it is. The best way to describe it (especially with Dynamic shadows and such) is like what Signa said, it's almost like playing Baldur's Gate, or another CRPG, but with all the flexibility of normal tabletop (and animations for attacks I guess).

The ease of swtiching maps, setting up the tokens, hiding them in different layers AND obscuring rooms from view make Roll20 just fantastic. Hell, I would be tempted to use it for a *normal* sit down session with players, the map functionality is that good (only tempted cause I have a few thousand miniatures I don't want to collect dust pointlessly :P).

 

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