Fantasy Grounds Unity Kickstarter Has Launched

Fans of Fantasy Grounds, the virtual tabletop (VTT) software platform, will be interested to hear that a Kickstarter for a new version has been launched, featuring dynamic lighting, advanced fog of war, tole-based map building, and some technical computer things.


thumbnail_FGUKickstarter.jpg


Fantasy Grounds launched in 2004, and was one of the earliest VTTs, and was the first to get a Dungeons & Dragons license. It also has modules for other games, including Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, WOIN, Call of Cthulhu, Traveller, Mutants & Masterminds, and more. The new version uses something called a Unity, which sounds exciting.

It launched yesterday, has made over $150K already, and has about a month to run. For $15-$30 you can upgrade from the old version (price dependent on how long ago you originally got it) and for $35 you get the new version during its Beta run.

There's a bunch of video demos on the Kickstarter page which are worth checking out.
 
Russ Morrissey

Comments

Mistwell

Hero
The new features have been in the works for some time, but the thing that has delayed the development of the Unity version of Fantasy Grounds has been ensuring that it will be compatible with existing rule sets, assets, and campaigns. You will be able to take everything you have for the current program and plug it into the new one.

Having used both Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds, there is really no comparison. Even the current version of FG is much more of a full-featured virtual tabletop and is much much easier to use for preparing and running a game. Hell, the combat tracker alone is enough to make me lament the occasions when I have to use Roll20 because someone has to have a browser-based connection. Roll20 has had an advantage in terms of pretty looking doo-dads and a better set of map tools, but FG is set to leapfrog past it in that category, too. Roll20 has dynamic lighting while FGU, when it launches, will only have dynamic line-of-sight, but lighting and darkvision are supposedly early priorities for next year.

SmiteWorks has, in point of fact, been developing this with their existing income. The Unity program is in its last stage of development, with the beta release planned a couple months after the Kickstarter and the live program available before the end of the year.

There are a number of free tile-based mapping solutions available, but if you were doing everything in that video in Roll20, you weren't using the free version unless you were using one of the scripts that unlocks the premium tools and adds extra features to Roll20, and you were certainly not enjoying the level of responsiveness shown in the video with map tools in any browser-based solution.
I was doing everything with tiles from day 1 with Roll 20. I can even show you maps I made that look just like that. And it was free and not using any scripts or premium tools.

For example, I threw this together, using entirely free assets, for my players 5 years ago during the beta test. It's not as pretty as it once was because I moved some assets around, but you can see that I was making very similar stuff in Roll20 for free 5 years ago.

 

EthanSental

Explorer
I’ve used both, played in games with both...FG is a more polished application to me and prefer it. Roll20 feels like a cheaply made game back in the dos days, a no frills $9.95 bucket game from Walmart when the new system comes out and they are trying to unload old stuff.....but that’s just me :)
 

smiteworks

Explorer
That's a cool map Mistwell.

We wanted FG users to be able to build those sort of things as well because map creation was something that was totally ignored in FG up to this point. We only consumed maps or provided pre-built ones up until now.

I'm not sure if Roll20 does things the same way or not, but a few features that I think are somewhat unique about our implementation now are these:

1: You can easily size things to fit in a specific # of squares (Width x Height) and then start stamping it. This also sets the scale for the current map, and this is used whenever you drag over new maps. For example, if your grid is 75 px x 75 px and you drag over a 100 pixel x 100 pixel tile to the tile tool, you could tell it to be 1x1. Sure, you could just place it and re-scale it, but knowing that 100 px by 100 px should be treated as 75 x 75 will allow you to automatically size all future tiles you drag onto the map until you reset the scale for a new tile. That tile that is 6x2 squares will automatically resize to 450 x 150.

2: Another thing we are still finalizing and having shown yet is that you can define LOS, doors and terrain indicators for a tile. Prebuilt tiles will have these preset. That way when you build a map using those tiles, the LOS will be done for you automatically as you build.

3: For trees and other terrain, the LOS blocks vision beyond the terrain but not at the outer edge of the terrain. That means that you will be able to see that a tree is blocking stuff behind it without losing the detail of the tree. If you want to have it no longer block LOS (in the case of a creature flying overhead, for instance, you can just click on it to toggle whether or not it blocks. Doors will show the entire graphic of the door (from both inside and outside views) and you just have to click to open it. A next phase will allow us to have locked and unlocked indicators too so you can let players open their own doors if you want.

4: We think the FX layers are going to be very popular and powerful.

Areas we haven't finished up yet and may not have at Phase 1 would be: Sound and lighting/vision settings. We have several other components that are not ready to show yet but that we think will be unique to our platform when we add them.
 

epithet

Explorer
...

4: We think the FX layers are going to be very popular and powerful.

...
Will it be possible to have a layer (for example, a ship map) on top of an FX layer (for example, water ripples) that is on top of another graphical layer (like water)? Or will the FX always be on top, making the ship ripple in inappropriate ways?
 

smiteworks

Explorer
Will it be possible to have a layer (for example, a ship map) on top of an FX layer (for example, water ripples) that is on top of another graphical layer (like water)? Or will the FX always be on top, making the ship ripple in inappropriate ways?
Yes. I have an example of one like that that I created with an earlier iteration of the software that I plan to re-do with the later versions. One of our FX layers is called Ocean specifically for this intended effect.

You could then add an FX layer on top of that to make it rain or to add myst, clouds, etc.
 

mach1.9pants

Adventurer
[MENTION=87795]smiteworks[/MENTION] Why is it those of us that have been supporting you longest pay more for the Kickstarter? That's an instant no thanks from me
 

epithet

Explorer
[MENTION=87795]smiteworks[/MENTION] Why is it those of us that have been supporting you longest pay more for the Kickstarter? That's an instant no thanks from me
The Unity program will cost about the same as the Classic program. If you already have a license for the Classic version, you get a discount on the Unity version. If you have only bought your Classic license within the last year (and a bit), the idea is that you haven't had very long to get your money's worth out of it, so if you're willing to jump up to the Unity program immediately, you get a little bit more of a discount.

Most of us who have been using Fantasy Grounds for a couple of years or more probably are so reliant on the program that we'd pay full price for the Unity upgrade if we had to.
 

smiteworks

Explorer
[MENTION=87795]smiteworks[/MENTION] Why is it those of us that have been supporting you longest pay more for the Kickstarter? That's an instant no thanks from me
The 1-time licenses for Ultimate are replacements for not paying $10/month. After 15 months, they basically become free to play compared with someone who is still paying the monthly fees. Someone who just bought the Ultimate license outright hasn't yet recouped their value out of it. Therefore, we give them a bigger discount on buying a 1-time license for FGU. Older 1-time licenses should have a minimum of $240 saved value if they bought right before the cut off in Dec 2017 by the time FGU launches this December. Customers who bought when the Ultimate first launched will have saved roughly $810 in monthly fees. We think that is valuing our older customers very well. We still grant those supporters $90 off of the post-Kickstarter list price and essentially put them into a situation where they only have 6 months before they get back into free play mode again.

We are not charging anything for DLC enhancements we plan to do or asking anyone to re-buy any content they already bought for FGC.
 

epithet

Explorer
Yes. I have an example of one like that that I created with an earlier iteration of the software that I plan to re-do with the later versions. One of our FX layers is called Ocean specifically for this intended effect.

You could then add an FX layer on top of that to make it rain or to add myst, clouds, etc.
Shut up and take my money (and give me your software.)
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
2: Another thing we are still finalizing and having shown yet is that you can define LOS, doors and terrain indicators for a tile. Prebuilt tiles will have these preset. That way when you build a map using those tiles, the LOS will be done for you automatically as you build.
Are you saying that any map I build you your pre-built tiles will already have LOS settings preconfigured‽ That's huge for me.

That may be what get's me to back this.

One thing that keeps me from using VTTs when running my games is the extra prep works to get the maps ready. If I can replace dungeonographer with Fantasy Grounds to build my maps with tiles sets and have those maps already have LOS set...wow!

Doesn't help with purchased maps, but I suspect for major published adventures, those are already available in FG.

Now if only there were integration with RealmWorks...
 

smiteworks

Explorer
Are you saying that any map I build you your pre-built tiles will already have LOS settings preconfigured‽ That's huge for me.

That may be what get's me to back this.

One thing that keeps me from using VTTs when running my games is the extra prep works to get the maps ready. If I can replace dungeonographer with Fantasy Grounds to build my maps with tiles sets and have those maps already have LOS set...wow!
Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying. If you scale it up or rotate it, the LOS data scales and rotates right along with it too.
 
One of the things I like about Smiteworks is their positive attitude and their honesty towards competitors. They are here posting that today they don’t have. Jolt in mapping tools (you can add grids and such, but nothing to build the maps themselves). They also think the total market is growing and there is room for more than one VTT.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Besides the feature aspects of FG, and as an occasional user of Roll 20 and fervent user of FG, I think FG has two outstanding features compared to Roll 20;

1) Stability. FG is stable, polished and reliable (and gets regular updates and new features). Just over the last two months or so numerous "key" features of Roll 20 (like sound and advanced FOW) have been broken by updates often for weeks or months at a time. This seems to be common over the ~2 years I have been paying attention to the VTT world. That's not acceptable to me.

2) Culture. Admittedly ever since the big blow up on the Roll 20 reddit the Orr Group has been making huge strides to be customer focused. But prior to that, their culture was absolutely atrocious in regards to their own customers. I have worked with and for major international software companies that have had such cultures, it is not something I choose to support, and it takes more than a few months for the culture to change completely, it takes many years. In fact it will not truly permeate the culture until the current executive team is gone. SmiteWorks has never had such a culture and continues to show outstanding customer focus.

Congrats on the Kickstarter's success :)
 

mach1.9pants

Adventurer
The 1-time licenses for Ultimate are replacements for not paying $10/month. After 15 months, they basically become free to play compared with someone who is still paying the monthly fees. Someone who just bought the Ultimate license outright hasn't yet recouped their value out of it. Therefore, we give them a bigger discount on buying a 1-time license for FGU. Older 1-time licenses should have a minimum of $240 saved value if they bought right before the cut off in Dec 2017 by the time FGU launches this December. Customers who bought when the Ultimate first launched will have saved roughly $810 in monthly fees. We think that is valuing our older customers very well. We still grant those supporters $90 off of the post-Kickstarter list price and essentially put them into a situation where they only have 6 months before they get back into free play mode again.

We are not charging anything for DLC enhancements we plan to do or asking anyone to re-buy any content they already bought for FGC.
Thanks for your reply, that's fair enough, I didn't even know you'd gone to a subscription model. I buy from steam, and have not kept up with your stuff. Just to confirm if I get the veterans upgrade, I still will never have to pay a subscription on the unity version?
 

smiteworks

Explorer
Thanks for your reply, that's fair enough, I didn't even know you'd gone to a subscription model. I buy from steam, and have not kept up with your stuff. Just to confirm if I get the veterans upgrade, I still will never have to pay a subscription on the unity version?
Yes, that is correct. You won't have any monthly or recurring fees.
 
One other big advantage to Fantasy Grounds is the very deep catalog of DLC for the games they support. For the DMs Guild, they negotiated with One Bookshelf and Fantasy Grounds conversions for many popular items are sold there. You can always convert things yourself, but if you want to save time, there really is a lot already available.
 

Hussar

Legend
I thought they said dynamic lighting and fog of war was "in the works" years ago? Both are already a part of Roll20 and have been for years. Why can't they afford to develop this using their ordinary income source from Fantasy Grounds?

In fact, if Tile Based Map Building is what I think it is, Roll20 has had that from day one and for free! [Edit - I just watched their video on Tile Based Map Building and yes, I was doing just that with Roll20 for free all the way back to the 5e beta]
Heh. I've been a pretty outspoken critic of Fantasy Grounds for years. While, it's true that their automation in terms of mechanics has been great (although, frankly, not any really better than anything else out there), their actual map tools and UI are terrible. There's a shopping list of features that other VTT's do and do a lot better. The only reason I use FG is because of the WotC license.

That being said, Smiteworks DOES upgrade the VTT constantly. They are always adding in new functions. With the Unity build, if it delivers (and I've already pledged my $ on the kickstarter because I think it will), it will finally be the best VTT on the market. It will finally have the map functionality of programs like Roll20 or Maptools and the automation for FG.

I am actually quite excited about this.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
FYI [MENTION=87795]smiteworks[/MENTION] snuck in some new add-ons without telling us, Darkwoulfe token packs! I can say I commissioned him to do some custom tokens for one of my groups and was really happy with what he did. Great to see more add-on options, and some that I need and within my budget :)
 

EthanSental

Explorer
I know I’ve been busy and not keeping up but I missed FG’s 2e D&D support completely. I’ve got a few DLCs to pick up!

edit - picked up the 2e core books and the reptile god adventure....Thanks Doug and FG crew!
 
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