The internet today is all a twitter about the announcement from Wizards of the Coast that they are finally going to be releasing the Virtual Gaming Table product that they promised and then cancelled so many years ago. For many, this virtual gaming table was one of the primary reasons they initially signed up for a DDI Subscription in the first place, and when it was cancelled, it upset a large number of people. The news that they are developing the product agains comes with an interesting twist – it’s going to be a web based application suitable for PC’s and Mac, just like their new Character Generator.
While details are sketchy at the moment, there are a few things that we know. The main features at this point in time include the basics that you would require to run a long distance D&D game, namely (and I quote from their FAQ), “an editable map, movable tokens, a dice roller, character and monster information storage, condition tracking and both text and voice chat.” They say that at this stage, the characters that you have stored in the Character Generator tool won’t be connected to the platform (wait, what?) but you will be able to use all of the stored data in the monster databases, etc.
At this point you may be asking yourself, why do I need a virtual table? Well, there are two main reasons that this might be useful. Firstly, if you run long distance games, this will be an incredibly useful addition to the game. Some of the most memorable and fun games have been run using nothing but IM. I can only imagine how much improved those games may have been if we’d had a virtual table to help map out encounters.
Secondly, if you don’t run a long distance game, connecting your computer to the TV or a projector gives you a lot more room on the gaming table to show what everyone is doing. There is something to be said for using maps and tiles on the table, but if you’re short on space, or don’t have them, having the game play displayed for all to see is of tremendous benefit to your players.
The announcement also stated that there is no embargo on the beta testers – they’re welcome (and it would seem, encouraged) to offer their opinions, blog about it and provide screen shots of their experiences. I imagine we will be bombarded with information as lucky playtesters get to try out what should prove to be an exciting new tool to try out at your gaming table.