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Pen & Paper Roleplaying Central => Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion => Topic started by: oggsmash on September 01, 2020, 08:12:06 pm

Title: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: oggsmash on September 01, 2020, 08:12:06 pm
   I was curious how many folks here have ever played in or run a game on roll20.   It seems to support a couple of rulesets I like quite a bit there and I was wondering how performance is online.  I read some people feel the audio and video are better with a third party.   I personally prefer to meet my group in person, but I am really busy now, and getting that gang together is like herding cats.  I feel roll20 might give us a good bit of consistency with actually finishing a campaign or two.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: Shrieking Banshee on September 01, 2020, 08:20:23 pm
Worse then in person but the most hassle free of the online game hosting things even if the owners are utter shits.


Audio is indeed better 3rd person.


Its in part customizable so thats a plus.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: GameDaddy on September 01, 2020, 08:25:35 pm
Roll 20 works just fine. There are a few small improvements it could use. It's functional, you can create dice macros on the fly.

I use Discord for audio, and don't usually use video, just the VTT so it minimizes any lag.

My experience has been good with the software and mediocre with the Roll20 design team.

Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: lordmalachdrim on September 01, 2020, 09:51:14 pm
Tried it years ago when it first came out. Had nothing but issues so we went back to Fantasy Grounds and haven't looked back.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: spon on September 02, 2020, 05:20:04 am
I use roll20 for maps and die-rolls and discord for chat and audio. It can be a bit laggy when it's busy but it's pretty handy whilst we can't meet face-to-face.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: S'mon on September 02, 2020, 05:27:51 am
I use the VTT along with text chat - the audio/video is terrible but I've come to love the VTT. With a Pro account I can use the Transmogrifier in Settings to build maps in one game and export them to my other games, so eg the work put in to making a cool castle isn't wasted. It has definitely given back the more I've put in to it - getting to know it was my summer project and I have got quite hooked on building my virtual worlds and letting my players loose in them. I'm very much a sandbox GM and the Roll20 VTT setup is really good for this IME. I bought a few premium assets - Slap Down Towns, Slap Down Fortress, and the WoTC tiles set. The former two at least have been great value. But there are a ton of free web assets you can access directly from within Roll20.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: mAcular Chaotic on September 02, 2020, 10:29:07 am
I’m a big r20 guy. I’ve used it over 5000 hours over 5 years. I’ll drop my take soon when I get a chance.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: KingCheops on September 02, 2020, 12:00:34 pm
I play in roll20 but have been running games in Tabletop Simulator.  I love roll20 and find it very powerful.  But as a couple other people have said you do need to put time into a) learning it, and b) setting it up.  That being said it is so much more powerful than TTS where I spend a TON of time trying to set things up but don't get nearly half the payoff I do in roll20.


For instance I had to put my map on game tiles, arrange them on the table top and then apply black stamps to every part of the map so that I could remove them as needed.  If this were roll20 I could load a map and then add fog of war and trace the map.  Then as the players explore they just naturally see what they see -- including only illuminating what they can actually physically see.  I'm trying to fiddle about with templates in TTS to try to figure out how to show who can see what.  Very fiddly.


But a couple of people who require the more "sensory" feel of TTS now feel better about playing online.  FML.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: Steven Mitchell on September 02, 2020, 01:08:43 pm
KingCheops,
As soon as I can scrape together some time to do it, I'm going to try a game in TTS.  Already bought and downloaded, just life getting in the way. 

After reviewing all the platforms out there, I think it might work better for my style of "mostly no grid", strangely enough.  Have you done much with that where you don't even use the tiles?  Maybe sketch a few wall like on a battle mat?
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: KingCheops on September 02, 2020, 03:07:35 pm
KingCheops,
As soon as I can scrape together some time to do it, I'm going to try a game in TTS.  Already bought and downloaded, just life getting in the way. 

After reviewing all the platforms out there, I think it might work better for my style of "mostly no grid", strangely enough.  Have you done much with that where you don't even use the tiles?  Maybe sketch a few wall like on a battle mat?


I'm running Dungeon of the Mad Mage so I'm not doing gridless.  They had a patch back in like May where they got rid of the Pixel Paint and replaced it with a Vector Paint.  Unfortunately that means they've limited the amount of lines you can draw and made it harder to erase.  It might be okay for your purposes if you aren't trying to keep a map up permanently.  I'd been hoping to just paint over my map and slowly erase as they discovered stuff.


Oh I did try to use it to draw some of the Elder Runes on the table top but I already suck with paint anyway so didn't work hot for me.  But it does work.  Also my group gets a kick out of the Blindfold feature I use to cover their eyes while I make sure I don't show secrets while unstamping my map.


Just as a virtual table top it is very pretty.  We play in a tavern and we have chairs at the table and our avatars at the table.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: Dropbear on September 02, 2020, 04:39:57 pm
I was using R20 while our city was on lockdown in March-April. Our group meets on Fridays every week, and we were unable to during that time. No one could get the audio working properly, although the proper instructions were being followed (I think). Only myself and my fiancé could regularly make conversation using R20, so we moved to Discord. other than that, it seemed to work very well for dice rolling and character sheets. I was impressed, and I still think it’s likely issues with group members’ equipment that caused a lot of the issues. Two of those who had issues were using $40 Android tabs on 6 or so year old versions of Android trying to use R20, and those same folks had issues with Discord frequently just shutting down.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: rocksfalleverybodydies on September 02, 2020, 09:09:54 pm
Roll20 is good for setting up quick maps and grid-based combat.
It's popular so a lot of YT tutorials on how to set it up and most VTT players are at least familiar with it to some degree.


That being said, if a new user looking for a VTT purchase, I would not invest any serious money into it as you're then locked in, paying your subscription fee just to use all the stuff you purchased.


For the basic, free option it's fine.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: mAcular Chaotic on September 02, 2020, 09:57:40 pm
roll20 is great. It's easy for your friends to jump in because they don't need to download anything -- all they need to do is make an account and use their browser.

The one caveat I would add is that using it is like learning its own separate game. Running D&D on roll20 isn't just running D&D, you have to learn roll20 on top of it completely separately. So it adds to the overhead. But once you learn how then it's smooth sailing.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: Libramarian on September 03, 2020, 12:08:15 am
Their twitter feed with its upsidedownland picture of roleplayer demographics is kind of annoying, but the product itself is quite nice and my campaign there is going great.

I didn't have too much trouble learning how to use it. I think the most difficult thing was aligning the grid to the maps. Just have to start in the middle and make adjustments to every side of the image.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: spon on September 03, 2020, 05:36:44 am
I think the most difficult thing was aligning the grid to the maps. Just have to start in the middle and make adjustments to every side of the image.


Tell me about it! One of the things I didn't realise initially was that when you stretch out/enlarge any picture using the mouse, it doesn't necessarily keep the aspect ratio the same. You can stretch in one direction only, but it takes a bit of practice and until you realise it's possible, it's pretty frustrating when your square map only aligns to the grid in one direction! 
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: KingCheops on September 03, 2020, 02:50:17 pm
Dynamic lighting is such a game changer.  Makes you realize just how bat shit crazy your characters are.  I mean intellectually I always got how creepy it was but it's not until you hear your friends fighting things off in the dark that it really sets in.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: Zalman on September 03, 2020, 06:53:49 pm
My experience using Roll20 has been 100% negative. Pure kludge that does nothing to enhance my game experience, and much to detract from it. Slow, klunky, visually crowded, unresponsive, and terrible graphics are but a few of the reasons I don't enjoy it.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: GameDaddy on September 03, 2020, 10:55:42 pm
My experience using Roll20 has been 100% negative. Pure kludge that does nothing to enhance my game experience, and much to detract from it. Slow, klunky, visually crowded, unresponsive, and terrible graphics are but a few of the reasons I don't enjoy it.


Yah. ...what do you use for virtual tabletop?
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: Heavy Josh on September 04, 2020, 07:48:15 am
Dynamic lighting is such a game changer.  Makes you realize just how bat shit crazy your characters are.  I mean intellectually I always got how creepy it was but it's not until you hear your friends fighting things off in the dark that it really sets in.


Right?  I was playing in a D&D game on Roll20, and the dynamic lighting really made for a whole new layer of gameplay: the visibility rules were really powerful and made combat much more challenging and enjoyable.


Overall, I find Roll20 is better than the alternative: not gaming.  It's useful and there's some neat features that I want to keep when I return to a real tabletop.  But it's also finicky as hell sometimes, and takes some getting used to.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: Zalman on September 04, 2020, 11:04:13 am
My experience using Roll20 has been 100% negative. Pure kludge that does nothing to enhance my game experience, and much to detract from it. Slow, klunky, visually crowded, unresponsive, and terrible graphics are but a few of the reasons I don't enjoy it.


Yah. ...what do you use for virtual tabletop?
Personally, I prefer theater of the mind for my own games, so I don't use a virtual tabletop -- my experience with roll20 is primarily as a player. If I were to use a virtual tabletop, the one over at Owlbear Rodeo (http://owlbear.rodeo) seems like it would fit any of my needs nicely, and from the bit I've played with it very responsive, simple-yet-useful, with clear and easy to distinguish tokens. It doesn't have the 400 features that roll20 does, but then, I wouldn't be using them anyway, and my guess would be that it's all those features that turn roll20 into the limping slug that it's always been for me.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: Redheaddev on September 04, 2020, 12:35:39 pm
The main campaign I run has been postponed since the pandemic started, and since then I've used Roll20 to run premade One-shots mostly, to sate the thirst for games haha.It's got some decent features, nice character sheet integration, lighting/fog of war, and other small stuff. It definitely does what I need it to, but that being said there's a bit of magic that's lost compared to in person games, so I probably won't be running this for my main campaign. Overall not a bad option for online tools.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: capvideo on September 04, 2020, 01:38:34 pm
I’m in a game currently that’s using Roll20 for the game mechanics, and Zoom for the video/audio. We use Roll20’s chat for in-game stuff, and text messaging for out-of-band jokes and stupid photos/videos. It seems to work great, at least for 5e. A little getting used to the dice rolling. By default (I assume this is when it is set up for 5e) it always rolls two dice, and you are supposed to mentally throw out the second roll unless you have advantage/disadvantage. As a superstitious gamer who doesn't like wasting die rolls, it still took me a while to find out how to shut that feature off.


Separating the character sheet into a different window only works with specific browsers, so this is currently the only site I use Chrome with, as that’s one of the browsers.


I can never remember that to roll damage, you have to hit the name of the attack in the chat log rather than on the character sheet entry, so I have that in a notes file that I keep open during every game.


While I have once used it on a tablet, it is far better to have a nice giant desktop screen to keep all the windows open that I want, although this is more to do with online gaming than Roll20 specifically. The windows I have open are:


1. Roll20 map/chat log (Chrome)
2. Roll20 character sheet (Chrome)
3. Notes file for notes on what we've done so far as well as Roll20 shortcuts. (iA Writer)
4. Web page for the GM’s world notes (Safari)
5. Video/Audio feed (Zoom)
6. Text message window (Messages)


The first five windows are all on one virtual screen, the sixth in a separate virtual screen. (Basically one screen for game stuff, one screen for non-game stuff.)
I do not have anything to compare it with, as it’s the only tool I’ve used for remote gaming.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: KingCheops on September 04, 2020, 02:57:05 pm
I personally haven't done it yet but for the TotM folks there's Discord with the Avrae-bot.  No need to actually use the bot since you can just roll IRL and announce the results in chat.  You can post photos and handouts since you just need a visual reference without tracking anything.


Even for roll20 I prefer to use Discord for chat/video.  Having separate channels makes it easier to track conversations and side-conversations without chat getting clogged up with results and rules postings.  Even when running TTS we still use Discord for chat.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: Vidgrip on September 04, 2020, 03:51:10 pm
I've used Roll20 to run two short campaigns.  The experience as a whole was better than I expected.  The audio is rather glitchy so I used Skype with one group and Discord with another group.  Both worked fine.  It does take time to learn Roll20 and to set things up for the game.  I actually enjoy making maps and other graphics to show so I didn't mind the additional prep time.  All things considered I would still much prefer to game in-person.  If, however, your issue is motivating players to hop in a car and drive 30+ minutes to your table, then Roll20 might be worth a try.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: S'mon on September 05, 2020, 02:20:02 am
My experience using Roll20 has been 100% negative. Pure kludge that does nothing to enhance my game experience, and much to detract from it. Slow, klunky, visually crowded, unresponsive, and terrible graphics are but a few of the reasons I don't enjoy it.


If the VTT is visually crowded & has terrible graphics, that's your GM's choice for what he put on it. Roll20 is very much build-your-own. Some of my games look great, since I can use literally anything on the Internet for both the map/battlemap and the player & NPC tokens. If I want Helen Mirren playing the local matriarch, that's trivially easy. Eg here's a site with nice looking D&D tokens anyone can use - https://imgur.com/a/0hFdv?grid (https://imgur.com/a/0hFdv?grid)


Here's a campaign page of mine with some of the tokens I use http://frloudwater.blogspot.com/2020/08/faerun-adventures-beginner-5e-d-game.html
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: Zalman on September 05, 2020, 09:13:33 am
If the VTT is visually crowded & has terrible graphics, that's your GM's choice for what he put on it. Roll20 is very much build-your-own.
Not entirely. Sure, the terribly ugly default tokens can be replaced with custom versions if you want to put in the work. But the VTT graphics still render terribly slowly, movement and change of position leads to freezing, and the zoom feature is like trying to pick up dust with a pair of pliers.

And it's the interface in general that is visually crowded, not just the VTT itself: the jumble of VTT, images, chat, and other buttons and features is so poorly organized and distributed that just finding what I'm supposed to be looking at during the game is a giant distraction for me.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: Libramarian on September 05, 2020, 11:18:36 am
I'm also running text-only -- after seeing @S'mon mention he runs online games this way -- and I like it.

It has several benefits, some of which are not obvious:
- more immersive (slows things down a bit, so players are encouraged to make it count when they say something)
- fewer technical issues
- easier to handle large groups (e.g. 7 PCs in my game). Everything happens in one place (chat log) and I have the players using in-line rolls, so there's no confusion about which rolls correlate to which actions. Multiple players can declare their actions simultaneously and I can handle them sequentially (group initiative really feels like group initiative!).
- everything is logged, so it's easy to review later and I don't need to take notes during play
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: Valatar on September 05, 2020, 01:51:26 pm
Roll20 is basically garbage compared to Foundry or Fantasy Grounds.  If you're bound and determined to never pay, the free Roll20 tier is better than nothing, but once money is involved you're better off with other VTTs.  Both Foundry and Fantasy Grounds are available as one-time purchases as opposed to pay-forever subscriptions, Foundry is a simply better Roll20 with a web interface, dynamic light, sound, animated maps and tokens, and tons of development in the few months it's been released, and Fantasy Grounds uses client software but has extremely polished modules available for most RPG systems.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: lordmalachdrim on September 05, 2020, 04:37:09 pm
Don't forget the new version of Fantasy Grounds may have software you install but the game can be hosted on their servers (no more GM having to make sure you can reach their computer), has dynamic lighting, has a one time purchase option, and (best of all if you have purchased any rule sets or content for the older version) all your existing purchases work in the new one as well.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: Lurkndog on September 05, 2020, 08:58:05 pm
My Friday night gaming group uses Slack as our groupware/clubhouse/lobby, Roll20 for our tabletop and dice roller, and Skype for audio chat. That is working pretty well. Oh, and we use Google Sheets for character sheets.

Slack is just okay as freeware groupware. The native dice roller, Dicebot, is pretty terrible. It is a rickety stack of APIs that crashes at least once per session. Which is why we tend to use Roll20 even if we're not on a map.

Roll20 is a bit clunky, probably because it is running in a browser. It is kind of laggy, performance can be downright poor, but it does work pretty much every time for what we use it for. I don't think I would pay money for it, but for the price, it is worth it. We do not use more than a fraction of the features, though. The dice roller is solid, and it is easy to set up macros for things like initiative rolls. We do not have integrated character sheets, so we are just typing "/roll 2d100<68 Observation" for our dice rolls.

Skype has gone a bit downhill since Microsoft bought it, but like Roll20, it does the job and the price is right.
Google Sheets work pretty damn well for our character sheets, we are quite happy with them.

What we used previously:
We started out gaming in a private IRC channel, using Yahoo Groups for our groupware solution, and Excel spreadsheets for character sheets. IRC has decent dice rollers, but no tabletop. We would post maps to the Yahoo Group instead. The Yahoo Group gave us a reliable email list, as well as places to post files for character sheets, character art, and maps. The Excel spreadsheets worked, but we soon switched over to Google Sheets because they were online and worked just as well for the simple things we were doing with them.

Most of us were happy on IRC, but some people just couldn't deal with all the typing, and wanted voice chat. There was also the potential issue of our IRC server going away at some point, since we didn't run our own server.

Yahoo Groups worked well for a long time, until Yahoo abandoned them, and eventually shut them down.
Title: Re: Roll20 experience out there? Curious about experiences with the platform
Post by: oggsmash on September 06, 2020, 06:16:03 pm
  Spent a few hours at this point making macros and a couple of maps with encounters, and roll 20 at the for free point seems decent.  i took a look at foundry and if I can get the group to do a bit of VTT, I could certainly see an upgrade to using foundry.