WotC Guessing as to WotC's VTT plans

WotC have hired literally hundreds of developers for D&D beyond and boasted of a 3d virtual tabletop. I'm unclear that a 3d VTT would be my first choice for D&D - but I can see why it's the first choice for Hasbro. If WotC make one with a decent library of 3d art assets it's going to make every single other VTT out there look like retro gaming. Which means that WotC's VTT will be the first choice for any new group that wants to use a virtual tabletop. It will also look awesome which means that it will be the first choice for most streaming sessions that use a VTT at all (no, Son of a Dungeon doesn't count).

So what I'm expecting is a wide array of customisable options, with limited (Pokemon-level) animation; a couple of animations per weapon/attack and a lot of art and animation reuse. They'll put out art for SRD monsters and basics for free to get you hooked and then want you to both buy and subscribe. And to do it they will offer you things that no one else has the money to be able to compete with as a package.

As I say, I think this is terrible for Roll20 and Foundry because it's basically impossible to compete without a Hasbro sized budget. I also think that I don't trust WotC to be able to pull this off - but I'm going to find what they do interesting.
 

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Hussar

Legend
My only issue with a 3d environment, from my POV, will be if I have to use their assets all the time. That will definitely be a deal breaker for me.

But, I imagine it will be a like a lot of other VTT's that you can use your own background images or use their assets.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
I'd consider using a 3d vtt as long as I can get skins to make the monsters look like a motley assortment of chess pawns, coins, monopoly pieces, and the random other gewgaws I've typically used on a battle map.
Oh, and I need the ability to make the environment look like it was hastily scribbled with a dry-erase marker!
 

Hussar

Legend
To be fair though, there are already map makers like Dungeon Alchemist that let you create 3d environments really, really easily. So, what I could see is that each new module release or setting release will also have a map pack - probably sold separately or maybe as a bundle - that lets you create maps in that style. So Curse of Strahd has a bundle for creating spooky/gothic stuff, Spelljammer has a different aesthetic, Ghosts of Saltmarsh a naval style pack, that sort of thing.

The key here will obviously be how easy it is to generate a decent looking map. Doesn't have to be award winning, but, it's got to look good and it has to be fast and easy. Which is a pretty tall order. If it takes me hours to bang out an adventure map when I could just go on Reddit and download a 2d one (or pull one from my embarrassingly large collection on my hard drive - hey some people collect porn, I collect map porn) and use that in 30 seconds, well, ease of use will always win out for me.

On the flip side though, I can imagine that the actual game table itself - die rollers, chat, voice, probably video, recording capabilities, and various other doodads could be pretty amazing, Heck, I remember the old 4e VTT that WotC tried to bang out did have voice chat (which for 2009 or so was cutting edge for VTT's) which had voice modulation. That right there is a fantastic add on for someone like me who cannot do "voices" for NPC's to save my life. Add in the ability to play sounds and music and that would be great.

And, hell, just being able to use different fonts would put it ahead of Fantasy Grounds. :p
 


Steel_Wind

Legend
Theripper93 has had his suite of 3d Canvas tools for Foundry VTT in dev and available for the past year. It still a WIP from one guy - but you can import STL files in as tokens using his 3d suite and have been able to do so for almost a year.

His website is here theripper93. You should look at that amazing naughty word he has going on there before you opine further on this. Really -- it's necessary for you to do that so you get up to speed to see what you can do right now. [Note: Theripper93 is a coder, he's not much of a 3d modeler or texture artist. Other skills are necessary to get that stuff up to speed. What you are seeing on Ripper93's website is what the tech can do -- not what it can look like when good modelers and texture artists assets are used. ]

If you think WotC is going to be able to get its VTT to market before all of this 3d stuff is in place on Foundry -- and using a vast number of available STL files imported as .obj into Foundry? Not so. Hell, this was from a year ago. He's done a LOT since then. Ripper93's patreon isn't cheap, but it also allows him to do this as a fulltime job. Being a nimble small shop doth hath its advantages.

Now, it may well be that the stuff available for Foundry may not be as polished as Whatever DDB comes up with in 2-3 years. And then again? It may.

Point is: I am not so confident as you are that WotC is going to be able to pull its software project off, let alone do so as if all of this work being done by others hasn't happened already for Foundry VTT. It has happened; it is happening; it will continue to happen - regardless of what WotC does or doesn't do. WotC is not the gorilla in this VTT space you think they are. Right now, they got vaporware - that's what they've got.

There are PLENTY of clever coders out there; I promise you that most of them don't work for WotC. There are PLENTY of excellent 3d creature models out there for STL already, ALL of them can be imported as .obj files with ~2 clicks - and I promise you -- there will ALWAYS be more of them produced by others than there ever will be by WotC. It's simple numbers -- there are more competitors in that space than there are employees at WotC and they have had a head start on this for most of the past ten years.

Similarly, texture artists have been painting creature models and creating dungeons since Wolfenstein 3d came out 30 years ago. There is nothing in that realm which WotC will be inventing, nothing they lead in, nothing they know that 3d modelers do not. The reverse is not true. My money is on the field in that competition, thank-you-very-much.

None of this gives WotC a competitive edge or a head start; absolutely none of it. Indeed, WotC is already behind the curve in terms of this tech development in this space.

And that is BEFORE we consider the effect of AI on easy creation and importation of 2d art and 3d art (and 3d art rendered in 2d), the development of which is progressing at an utterly breathtaking pace right now -- so much so that only a fool would try to put limits on it where it will be 6 months from now, let alone 2 years from now!

I am a great deal less sanguine about the bullet-proof Godzilla nature of this not-yet-released official WotC effort than some are expressing here. Don't get me wrong, DDB is a big player and locking down the IP rights to use WotC's 5e/6e rules is an important element in its features and benefits. If they get it right? It will be big. No argument.

But if you think that others can't compete with WotC in this high tech VTT space? You are dreaming. Indeed, I would be surprised if WotC's VTT tech is anywhere NEAR as advanced as its competitors when it releases. Early adopters aren't hobbled by the lower tech requirements that a mass market developer has to aim at to hit its sales targets.
 
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Steel_Wind

Legend
To be fair though, there are already map makers like Dungeon Alchemist that let you create 3d environments really, really easily. So, what I could see is that each new module release or setting release will also have a map pack - probably sold separately or maybe as a bundle - that lets you create maps in that style. So Curse of Strahd has a bundle for creating spooky/gothic stuff, Spelljammer has a different aesthetic, Ghosts of Saltmarsh a naval style pack, that sort of thing.

The key here will obviously be how easy it is to generate a decent looking map. Doesn't have to be award winning, but, it's got to look good and it has to be fast and easy. Which is a pretty tall order. If it takes me hours to bang out an adventure map when I could just go on Reddit and download a 2d one (or pull one from my embarrassingly large collection on my hard drive - hey some people collect porn, I collect map porn) and use that in 30 seconds, well, ease of use will always win out for me.

On the flip side though, I can imagine that the actual game table itself - die rollers, chat, voice, probably video, recording capabilities, and various other doodads could be pretty amazing, Heck, I remember the old 4e VTT that WotC tried to bang out did have voice chat (which for 2009 or so was cutting edge for VTT's) which had voice modulation. That right there is a fantastic add on for someone like me who cannot do "voices" for NPC's to save my life. Add in the ability to play sounds and music and that would be great.

And, hell, just being able to use different fonts would put it ahead of Fantasy Grounds. :p
What we have not seen yet -- but will see as 2023 moves on and Dungeon Alchemist delivers and finishes off its Kickstarter, is an exporter to a portable .ojb format that theRipper's 3d Canvas can import. That will be a GAME CHANGER.

The devs at DA have promised something along those lines in 2023. The problem is finishing off their KS, which was immensely successful.

Point is: it's coming.
 



3d VTTs will either not really go very far or become a major constraint on DM and player flexibility and creativity. WotC's push presumably has to do with impressing Hasbro investors and executives who don't really understand these weird nerdy book games we play, but are much more comfortable throwing millions at something that looks like a videogame.

As a stockholder I wish Hasbro wouldn't waste my money on this idiot boondoggle. As a player I worry about what it will do to new groups and the hobby at large if it actually catches on. As a sometimes paid DM I worry about the expectations it might place on me to work within a much more constrictive framework if it did somehow become the default expectation of new players.

Fundamentally even the most full-featured 3d VTT you can imagine will be harder to find and create assets for than any reasonably designed 2d VTT. Sure technology will advance, but until AI art gets to a Star Trek holodeck level of perfectly designing things from simple instructions, 3d will always be much harder to create for than 2d, and thus have vastly fewer assets available and fewer people ready to create some themselves. I'm sure some 3d VTTs will be really cool, but if I want to have my options constrained in the name of slick graphics there's legions of great computer games to play. Heck, you can even create, share, and play D&D modules for Solasta Crown of the Magester using a modified 5e rule set.
 


WotC have hired literally hundreds of developers for D&D beyond
Where do you get that from? Not that I'm all that plugged in, but this is the first I've heard that they might have hired ANY additional developers for DDB and their VTT. Hundreds you say? That' would be enough to put out several AAA games in matter of months. That would require an overall size team many times that size just to manage it. Actually, I don't think you could effectively manage that many developers on a single limited scope application like a 3D VTT. But hey, what do I know?
So what I'm expecting is a ...
Which is nothing like what I'm expecting they are even trying for. It's nice to dream. I mean I dream of being gifted a full race prepped GT3RS or R8, of maybe even a LMDP prototype and the crew and funds to race it as much as I want. But yea, I'm not expecting that.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Where do you get that from? Not that I'm all that plugged in, but this is the first I've heard that they might have hired ANY additional developers for DDB and their VTT. Hundreds you say? That' would be enough to put out several AAA games in matter of months. That would require an overall size team many times that size just to manage it. Actually, I don't think you could effectively manage that many developers on a single limited scope application like a 3D VTT. But hey, what do I know?
It was mentioned in Hasbro's "fireside chat" for investors this past week, 350 hired for DDB. Here's the thread with the overview info:
 

It was mentioned in Hasbro's "fireside chat" for investors this past week, 350 hired for DDB. Here's the thread with the overview info:
Thx. That huge. Just ROM is $25 million a year in labor/salary, plus facility costs etc.
 

I'd consider using a 3d vtt as long as I can get skins to make the monsters look like a motley assortment of chess pawns, coins, monopoly pieces, and the random other gewgaws I've typically used on a battle map.
Oh, and I need the ability to make the environment look like it was hastily scribbled with a dry-erase marker!
Yep, if we could do Monopoly pieces for PCs and Chess pieces for monsters, I'd be like my group's time playing 4E.
 


Reynard

Legend
I really don't think the 3D thing is going to be that constraining. First of all,it's guaranteed to be easy and modular. And I think most players are pretty casual and won't care much -- just by law of averages on numbers of new players. Some folks will create really amazing layouts and if WotC is smart they will make it easy for folks to share and even sell their stuff.

The really big question is how tied to Beyond will the VTT be. If you can't use the poorly though out winged cat race you found on reddit, that might hurt them.
 



I don't know why it would do this, given that people use minis and boards.
The concern would be, they release a Temple and Cavern set. So the only limit is your imagination...as long as it's a temple or cavern. But my adventure features a crypt! Well, the Crypt Expansion for the Temple Pack is coming in 2026.

As it stands, I can grab any one of thousands of 2D maps online and use them. Hell, I never have to leave the Dyson Logos site if I like his style. But maybe they'll give the community tools to create these assets, and we'll have thousands of community-made 3D environments to choose from. I'll be surprised, but that would be nice.
 

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