Fantasy Grounds Unity KS Announced

LordEntrails

Adventurer
SmiteWorks has made a new announcement today. No words, only a few images. No explanation so we are left to wonder and speculate.

Is it just an April's Fool, or a marketing ploy to build hype and buzz before they actually announce Fantasy Grounds Unity?
FBTeaser_FGU1.jpg
FBTeaser_FGU2.jpg

If it's not a joke, does this mean that FG will now have a cloud/SaaS service and a public/private game listings? What might this mean for the competition?
 
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LordEntrails

Adventurer
So it's official, SmiteWorks has confirmed that Fantasy Ground Unity that has been in development for years is now a confirmed reality.

What We Know:
- Kickstarter launch on May 1st
- More information will be released as the time grows closer. 'Fantasy Grounds Fridays' stream on Twitch will be one source.
- This will be the new version and is built on the Unity platform and all existing DLC (adventures, books, etc) will be compatible (one-direction only)
- Dynamic Line of Sight
- New image and map features including layers
- New networking architecture;
- - increased performance with upload and download
- - no more need for port forwarding in those rare cases UPnP doesn't work
- 64 bit architecture for increased performance and to allow larger image assets to be used.
- better font and text formatting options
- FG 3 (current version) will still be available and supported, but for a limited time.
- license upgrades will be required for one-time license holders, cost will be based upon how long you have owned the license
- subscription licenses will have no upgrade cost

What We Think:
- dynamic maps and weather effect capabilities built in (this has been demo'd)
- Cloud hosting, so you can host and run your games off of an FG server rather than your own (the teaser images have a toggle for this)
- Private and Public game listing built into the client (again, from the teaser image)
- The KS is not for funding development, but rather for discounted license upgrades and stretch goals (only speculation at this time; game statistics, vanity/custom game aliases)
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
But will it cost less than the GDP of a small nation?
For most use cases it costs less than Roll20.

Could somebody explain what Unity is to the uninitiated?
Unity is a software development platform, or engine. Typically it is used for games and works on multiple platforms (like console, PC, phone, etc). It has a bunch of "libraries" or functions that can be used (or bought for use) that helps a developer not have to reinvent the wheel.

Basically it is a set of customize able building blocks of functions. A lot like a vBulletin or PHPBB is for forum software, but Unity is not narrowed to a single functionality, though it is tailored for things that games (solo, online, MMO, etc) typically want.

The Unity website; https://unity.com/
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
For most use cases it costs less than Roll20.


Unity is a software development platform, or engine. Typically it is used for games and works on multiple platforms (like console, PC, phone, etc). It has a bunch of "libraries" or functions that can be used (or bought for use) that helps a developer not have to reinvent the wheel.

Basically it is a set of customize able building blocks of functions. A lot like a vBulletin or PHPBB is for forum software, but Unity is not narrowed to a single functionality, though it is tailored for things that games (solo, online, MMO, etc) typically want.

The Unity website; https://unity.com/
So how does that affect Fantasy Grounds?
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
Hey guys, did you like paying those one-time fees to access the books you already own?

Well now you can pay them again!

We're calling it a "One More Time" fee.
*PS: this is funnier if you say it like Uncle from Jackie Chan Adventures.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
So how does that affect Fantasy Grounds?
The move to Unity?

So right now, FG is a whole custom app written in XML, LUA and maybe C++. The networking code, map handling, physics engine for the dice, et al is written and maintained by SmiteWorks. So if they want to do something like support 64-bit architecture, they have to re-write the whole things. If they want to change to using a different network protocol, they have to write the whole sub-routine.

It gives them absolute control, but also absolute responsibility for everything. With Unity, their are multiple libraries or packages of code for things like displaying images, or networking, or physics engines etc.

So, SW just has to decide on which packages they want to integrate, write the code so that the packages can talk to each other (i.e. the network package passes this data set to the image display package, and variables x, y, and z, in the network package equal variables m, n, o in the display package).

Think of it like an airplane. You could design and build one from the ground up, design and build your own jet engine, radios, seats, make your own carpet etc. Or, you could buy an existing engine, radio, etc ad just have to make them all work together right? Unity is a set of software packages that are designed to work together, you just have to build the frame for them all to fit in and make the "cables" to connect them and talk to each other.

That make sense?
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Hey guys, did you like paying those one-time fees to access the books you already own?

Well now you can pay them again!

We're calling it a "One More Time" fee.
*PS: this is funnier if you say it like Uncle from Jackie Chan Adventures.
I don't think you know what you are talking about...
1) if you own the hard covers, you never had to buy them in FG. You can use it without, or you could enter the info yourself. If you wanted to buy them either because it makes reference easy and character building simple, then you could. This is no different than the discussions around DDB.
2) With FGU you do not have to re-buy any content. Their is expected to be a license upgrade cost if you ahve the one-time license. But that is no different than if you buy a new version of Microsoft Office or Quick Books, or Turbo Tax. If you have a subscription license, then their is no (known/expected) change in cost.

So, no, never was a need to re-buy anything, and no their is no option to re-buy them with FGU.

Just because you have an emotional dislike of something, doesn't mean you should be be spreading misinformation or "alternative facts".
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
I don't think you know what you are talking about...
1) if you own the hard covers, you never had to buy them in FG. You can use it without, or you could enter the info yourself. If you wanted to buy them either because it makes reference easy and character building simple, then you could. This is no different than the discussions around DDB.
2) With FGU you do not have to re-buy any content. Their is expected to be a license upgrade cost if you ahve the one-time license. But that is no different than if you buy a new version of Microsoft Office or Quick Books, or Turbo Tax. If you have a subscription license, then their is no (known/expected) change in cost.

So, no, never was a need to re-buy anything, and no their is no option to re-buy them with FGU.

Just because you have an emotional dislike of something, doesn't mean you should be be spreading misinformation or "alternative facts".
Spin it however you like bro. Don't bother me none.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Yes, in the sense that every RPG table has four to eight of the free use cases and one of the $10/month use case. :)
I don't get your point? What is your basis for saying
But will it cost less than the GDP of a small nation
I assumed you were implying that it was expensive. For some people, a cup of coffee is expensive and any RPG product is a luxury. So, without hyperbole, what's expensive?

I assumed you were comparing it to Roll20. In which case, the only one in which Roll20 is less expensive than FG is if the GM and all players are free users and none of them buy anymore than 1 or 2 Roll20 versions of things.

So, go ahead and lay out your use case and we can go through actual numbers.
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
Why even engage in a discussion if you have nothing positive to contribute? Are you only here to troll and spread misinformation?
Actually, I was here to make a light-hearted joke, which considering the comments on the costs related to Fantasy Grounds back when they first launched, people would probably find funny.

You're really just taking all the fun out of it and making a huge deal over a harmless comment.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
The move to Unity?

So right now, FG is a whole custom app written in XML, LUA and maybe C++. The networking code, map handling, physics engine for the dice, et al is written and maintained by SmiteWorks. So if they want to do something like support 64-bit architecture, they have to re-write the whole things. If they want to change to using a different network protocol, they have to write the whole sub-routine.

It gives them absolute control, but also absolute responsibility for everything. With Unity, their are multiple libraries or packages of code for things like displaying images, or networking, or physics engines etc.

So, SW just has to decide on which packages they want to integrate, write the code so that the packages can talk to each other (i.e. the network package passes this data set to the image display package, and variables x, y, and z, in the network package equal variables m, n, o in the display package).

Think of it like an airplane. You could design and build one from the ground up, design and build your own jet engine, radios, seats, make your own carpet etc. Or, you could buy an existing engine, radio, etc ad just have to make them all work together right? Unity is a set of software packages that are designed to work together, you just have to build the frame for them all to fit in and make the "cables" to connect them and talk to each other.

That make sense?
So they’re sorta re-writing their software in a different programming language?

So how does that affect the users of FG? Does it make FG do something it couldn’t do before?

(Not being awkward; I just haven’t the foggiest what this means).
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
So they’re sorta re-writing their software in a different programming language?
So how does that affect the users of FG? Does it make FG do something it couldn’t do before?
(Not being awkward; I just haven’t the foggiest what this means).
It will probably make their existing VTT more attractive and robust, their databases run more quickly and smoothly, and their service more reliable. At least, that should be their goal. Any new functionality will be at SmiteWorks' discretion.

It apparently also means they get to send another invoice to their users who were savvy enough not to opt for their 'software as a service' rip-off scheme.

Just because you have an emotional dislike of something, doesn't mean you should be be spreading misinformation or "alternative facts".
Not an opinion: The Ultimate license, which a gamemaster needs to run a table without his players paying anything, costs $10/month or $149 flat. This includes no game content that isn't available for free elsewhere, just their VTT and campaign management machinery. It's worth noting that their free service doesn't even include that game content that is available for free elsewhere -- they gate that behind a lower price point. Running a game on Roll20 is, by comparison, free to all, with minor cosmetic limitations on the free license, and does include game content available for free elsewhere.

Opinion: That's a lot of money to spend on something that still doesn't work as well or as quickly as paper and pencil and a webcam.

Their is expected to be a license upgrade cost
Jesus take the wheel.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
So they’re sorta re-writing their software in a different programming language?

So how does that affect the users of FG? Does it make FG do something it couldn’t do before?

(Not being awkward; I just haven’t the foggiest what this means).
Not a problem. But yes, they are basically re-writing everything to a modern standard.

For the users it actually means very little (see my first post) right now. In general the user interface and such is expected to stay the same.

The biggest thing 'right-now' is in terms of networking. With FG being a client-server, meaning you host it on your own computer, and not the FG servers itself (like Roll20 does) it means that in some cases someone's firewall or network blocks the connection and they have to setup port forwarding or use a VPN to tunnel through their network to allow your computers to connect to each other. With new/current networking protocols, this should no longer be necessary.

Plus, with the expected hosted option, you will be able to have the FG servers host and run the game so you can run your campaign from any computer and not have to ever worry about networking, your computer power or drive space, etc.

The second "big thing" is dynamic line of sight. If you are familiar with Roll 20's dynamic line of sight / advanced fog of war, we are expecting something comparable to that in function, and since FG is a stand alone app and not a web browser, it should have better performance (but we will have to wait and see on that).

But, what it means for the user in the future is that FG staff won't have to dive into obscure code written by their predecessors to change some behavior. It means that they may be able to do things like augmented reality and 3D "table tops" (Remember Table Top Connect's beta? That was done in Unity and SmiteWorks bought that company; technology and the developer.)

It means thing like weather effects applied to maps (rain, snow, thunder, etc which has been demo's and can be see on YouTube) can be implemented. Animated gifs or other image formats might be available.

It also means that the FG developers can spend more time implementing new features and that they should be able to implement quicker, especially if their is a Unity Package they can use to do so.

It might mean easy ability for community developers to customize, as community developers can access and use Unity assets as well.

Oh, and it also means 64-bit architecture (and maybe multi-threading). Meaning better performance, bigger images, more ability to use the hardware available to the server.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
So let's dig into this. I think we can have a constructive discussion.
Not an opinion: The Ultimate license, which a gamemaster needs to run a table without his players paying anything, costs $10/month or $149 flat. This includes no game content that isn't available for free elsewhere, just their VTT and campaign management machinery. It's worth noting that their free service doesn't even include that game content that is available for free elsewhere -- they gate that behind a lower price point. Running a game on Roll20 is, by comparison, free to all, with minor cosmetic limitations on the free license, and does include game content available for free elsewhere.
Yep, FG ultimate license is 10/149 as you outlined. But that doesn't tell the whole story does it?

Free game content; Nope, not true, their is free game content for numerous game systems (D&D 1e, 3, 3.5, 5e, PF, Savage World, etc) available for free on their community forums and some for 5E on the DMsGuild. It is, admittedly, only a tiny fraction of what is available world-wide.

Of course, all that free stuff can easily be ripped from PDF or other formats and dropped into FG with what I'm told is less work than it takes to do the same for Roll20 (by folks that have used Roll20 for years).

As for free content that is behing a "gate", maybe you mean the D&D Basic Rules & the 5E SRD? I know at one time they were not distributed with the free license of FG, but that is no longer true, and hasn't been for some time.

I have no idea how much free content is available for Roll20 other than the 5E SRD and 5E Basic Rules. What else is there?

So now lets talk license cost comparisons.

Yes Roll 20 you can play and GM completely for free. In that use case, Roll20 is cheaper, no doubt, no argument. But, you have severe limitation on a free Roll20 account (storage size, feature access, sharing content between campaigns, etc) And content you buy can only be shred to ONE campaign. But you can play and GM no doubt.

So for $5/month on Roll20, you get more space, more features (dynamic line of site, ability to move character between campaigns), etc, and now you can share your purchased content to 3 campaigns.

For $10/month on Roll20 you get even more space and more features including the ability to customize and share your purchased content to 5 campaigns and move more than just characters between campaigns.

Now, on FG, for $4/month or $39 one-time you get a license that has no feature limitations (you can share your purchased content in an unlimited number of campaigns, you can customize the ruleset and most anything else. The only limit is that if you host/run a game, all your players also need a standard or ultimate license.

For $10/month or $149 you can get a Ultimate license, and now their are no license requirements on any of your players. They can all play for free.

So, if you are going to spend money on a license, either the Plus, Pro, Standard or Ultimate; FG is the same price or cheaper after 10 months.

Now, let's look at "content", using the D&D 5E books as an example:
The Player's Handbook
$30 on Roll 20 and you can only share it in 1, 3, or 5 campaigns
$30 on FG and no limit to the number of campaigns you can share it in
MToF
$50 on Roll 20 (and you have a share limits)
$30 on FG, no share limit
PotA
$50 on Roll20 ...
$30 on FG
Xanathar's
$30 on Roll20 but you can use it in the Charactermancer
$30 on FG (no such issue)

Say you want all the core books, they are 15% off on FG, no bundle discount on Roll20. Want to wait for a sale? FG regularly (weekly) has sales plus big discounts for the 2 annual Steam sales. Roll20? They don't believe in sales so no point in waiting.

So yea, their are use cases where Roll20 is cheaper or free, but I think the use case for most people is FG is cheaper. But, blanket statements are just misinformation. People should put together their own use cases and see.

'Our group of 4 people is going to buy x, y, and z and play for 1 year'

'I'm going to DM 6 different campaigns over the next 3 years and will buy all the books.'

Give people real info and not out dated "facts" and biased opinions and let them make an informed decision.

Opinion: That's a lot of money to spend on something that still doesn't work as well or as quickly as paper and pencil and a webcam.
An opinion that is absolutely valid. But it is your opinion, and one I do not share. My experience using FG, Roll20, Skype w/ Webcam and in person differs drastically.

Taking almost an identical group of players, with different D&D campaigns, in a typical 4 hours session, we would expect the following;
FG - 3 combats plus 2 roleplaying encounters
Roll20 - 2 combats plus 1 roleplaying encounters
Skype - 1 combat plus 1-2 roleplaying encounters
In Person - 2 combats plus 2 roleplaying encounters

If you are familiar with FG, and understand how to use the combat tracker, effects and PC actions, so much of the book keeping is take care of for you that combat is a fast, really fast. The system does the math (and we are engineers and math teachers and scientists, we are good at math) so we don't have to. It rolls saves and applies half damage automatically or no damage as needed. It considers prone, and cover, and mage armor. It doesn't automate everything, but it cuts out 80% of the book keeping that adds nothing to the enjoyment of the game.

But, it does not replace the face-to-face and human interaction of playing in person, unless you are using it in person (which I often do). VTTs are not for everyone, but they are far from an inferior experience unless you have decided they are.
 

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