D&D General ARcana -- Augmented TTRPG Platform from Actor Joe Manganiello

Mirrorscape, an augmented reality company which includes actor Joe Manganellio as Creative Director, is a way to view your game's tabletop in AR through a phone or tablet device. It's on Kickstarter now with a planned release at the end of this year.


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The platform works as an iOS or Android app, and enables you to simulate a full tabletop with models, scenery, and miniatures, anywhere you have a flat surface.

You can purchase additional terrain or miniatures from Mirrorscape's partners, which include Dwaven Forge, Reaper Minis, Hero Forge, and Fat Dragon Games.

If you pledge $30 (or more) in the Kickstarter you get a starter set and a discount on terrain and mini packs; and at higher levels you get beta access (staring at $50) and Kickstarter exclusives.

 

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Heilemann

Explorer
I think the point about VTTs not being graphically impressive is a misunderstanding of the primary purposes of VTTs. It isn't to make TTRPGs more like CRPGs or more "impressive". It's first and foremost to allow for people to play remotely with one another. The graphical side of that is secondary. In fact, the more you raise the level of 'accepted graphics excellence', the harder it is for people to get into it, and the more expensive it is to create assets, and the asset library will never be able to deliver just the right thing for your particular need and so on an so forth.

Secondary purposes of VTTs include of course bringing the power of digital productivity tools to bear on TTRPGs, which I think is also under appreciated. I've run games on VTTs that would have fallen apart or at least shown strain from tracking twenty NPC initiatives and HPs and so on.

I wouldn't look at digital tools as trying to replace the table experience. Sometimes they do because people have to play remote (my high school friends live in six different countries now), but portability, ease of reference and ease of use (I love Rolemaster and Hârn, but in all honesty it can be incredibly tedious to perform the mechanics of the system sometimes; VTTs are great at this) are just as much a part of it.
 

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I think the point about VTTs not being graphically impressive is a misunderstanding of the primary purposes of VTTs. It isn't to make TTRPGs more like CRPGs or more "impressive". It's first and foremost to allow for people to play remotely with one another. The graphical side of that is secondary. In fact, the more you raise the level of 'accepted graphics excellence', the harder it is for people to get into it, and the more expensive it is to create assets, and the asset library will never be able to deliver just the right thing for your particular need and so on an so forth.

Secondary purposes of VTTs include of course bringing the power of digital productivity tools to bear on TTRPGs, which I think is also under appreciated. I've run games on VTTs that would have fallen apart or at least shown strain from tracking twenty NPC initiatives and HPs and so on.

I wouldn't look at digital tools as trying to replace the table experience. Sometimes they do because people have to play remote (my high school friends live in six different countries now), but portability, ease of reference and ease of use (I love Rolemaster and Hârn, but in all honesty it can be incredibly tedious to perform the mechanics of the system sometimes; VTTs are great at this) are just as much a part of it.

I agree with you on basically every point, if we're just talking about VTTs. We're talking about an AR/VR VTT, where the whole point is to increase the visual, graphical immersion. I'm fine with using the most bare-bones VTT experience in the world to play RPGs--give me Zoom in one window and a Google sheet in another. But if I'm going to throw on goggles or use some AR interface to represent the in-game environment, and the end-result is becoming immersed in something that looks terrible (rather than theater of the mind or a basic 2D battlemap) that's a degraded experience, imo.
 

Heilemann

Explorer
Yes, completely agreed in the case of ARcana and its ilk, that the graphics are the point. But my post was in reference to e.g. Jaeger complaining about other VTTs (which I took to mean Roll20, Fantasy Grounds and Foundry in particular).
 

Yes, completely agreed in the case of ARcana and its ilk, that the graphics are the point. But my post was in reference to e.g. Jaeger complaining about other VTTs (which I took to mean Roll20, Fantasy Grounds and Foundry in particular).
Great point. I'm usually the one jumping on people for criticizing anything about VTT-based play, and here I am randomly getting all snippy with you, when we're in the same foxhole!

What gets my back up are complaints about VTTs compared to in-person play. Like, yeah, being at the same table is better for a lot of people, but VTTs are sometimes the only option, especially as you get older and friends become geographically scattered, and also for those who want more options than whatever flavor of D&D the three other gamers in their entire town are into. And the success of The Gauntlet is pretty good proof that remote play can be amazing if you just figure out some best practices.
 

Great point. I'm usually the one jumping on people for criticizing anything about VTT-based play, and here I am randomly getting all snippy with you, when we're in the same foxhole!

What gets my back up are complaints about VTTs compared to in-person play. Like, yeah, being at the same table is better for a lot of people, but VTTs are sometimes the only option, especially as you get older and friends become geographically scattered, and also for those who want more options than whatever flavor of D&D the three other gamers in their entire town are into. And the success of The Gauntlet is pretty good proof that remote play can be amazing if you just figure out some best practices.
I think you can run a good online game without a VTT, depending on what you are trying to do. For example, the Dice Camera Action podcast with Chris Perkins was all theater of the mind even thought he players were connecting via videochat, but he did a great job of presenting scenes in ways that still made sense. I think what you have to give up are large dungeons and especially combats with too many enemies, but the benefit is that, while you are still looking at each other at a screen, you are looking at each other and not at a map and tokens. (in fact, while I don't watch a ton of streams, when I do I can't stand to watch ppl using VTTs (partially also because I prefer to listen in podcast form but that's neither here nor there)).

My experience of switching to roll 20 at the start of the pandemic is that it just became too much overhead. DM prep involved getting the right maps and tokens and sounds and artwork, and while it sounded cool it was very tiring. So now I try to do everything TotM (over zoom), and if absolutely necessary use owlbear rodeo
 

I think you can run a good online game without a VTT, depending on what you are trying to do. For example, the Dice Camera Action podcast with Chris Perkins was all theater of the mind even thought he players were connecting via videochat, but he did a great job of presenting scenes in ways that still made sense. I think what you have to give up are large dungeons and especially combats with too many enemies, but the benefit is that, while you are still looking at each other at a screen, you are looking at each other and not at a map and tokens. (in fact, while I don't watch a ton of streams, when I do I can't stand to watch ppl using VTTs (partially also because I prefer to listen in podcast form but that's neither here nor there)).

My experience of switching to roll 20 at the start of the pandemic is that it just became too much overhead. DM prep involved getting the right maps and tokens and sounds and artwork, and while it sounded cool it was very tiring. So now I try to do everything TotM (over zoom), and if absolutely necessary use owlbear rodeo

I agree with all this. I'm being sloppy, using VTTs and remote play interchangeably, which they definitely aren't.

I personally don't usually mess with tokens and such on Roll20, and just like it as a kind of whiteboard platform, and for the dice rolling--I've been using Shadowrun rules for my campaign, and I think even if I played in-person I'd still want Roll20 to do all those calculations and rolls. Where I think people get in trouble with VTTs is setting up their adventures as little videogames. Just not my thing, and VTTs are bad at that. But I've also never used minis for RPGs, so that sort of play isn't my mode.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Having mucked around with the modding tools of Neverwinter Nights one and two, I can say that anything 3d adds so much complexity to level (map ) creation that it is pretty much a show stopper for a VTT. May be an AI based system that turns a 2d map to a 3 d level might work. I would also add I am not a fan of some isometric cameras implementations in video games, especially ones where the terrain block the views and this would be another point against 3d for me.
 

Heilemann

Explorer
Having mucked around with the modding tools of Neverwinter Nights one and two, I can say that anything 3d adds so much complexity to level (map ) creation that it is pretty much a show stopper for a VTT. May be an AI based system that turns a 2d map to a 3 d level might work. I would also add I am not a fan of some isometric cameras implementations in video games, especially ones where the terrain block the views and this would be another point against 3d for me.
100% this. I did the same, and it's just oodles of complexity. I also worked at a large computer games company which pursued doing 3D world building tools for "everyman" and it's doable, but the WORK involved is tedious. The prep is multitudes worse than anything else a GM might otherwise do.

There could be pre-built dungeons etc for published adventures, etc etc, but even so the barrier to entry to players is ALSO higher, both in reading and in navigating the environment and in manipulating it.

I've built a prototype of this thing recently, and my takeaway as a UX designer was simply that the added complexity isn't worth it if you're going for any sort of broader application. God knows the current lot of VTTs are hard enough to use as is...
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
Given what’s going on with Hasbro and The Foundry & D&D Beyond, I’m betting Joe Manganiello will be purchased for $54-60m, easy!
 

Cruentus

Adventurer
I’ve moved away from the VTT bells and whistles to paper character sheets and owlbear, or maybe using the VTT for dice rolls and record keeping. Stuff that complicates prep, or has ongoing costs is a non-starter.

Considering DND beyond mentions 10 million ‘users’ or ‘logins’ or whatever, 3,000 backers and half a million bucks is a rounding error. This would need to pull in orders of magnitude more or really explode to be noticed by WOTC. I’m going to wait and see how WOTC handles the basics of online/digital, and track if they do that well. Until then, I don’t want them even looking in the direction of 3D/VR anything.
 

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