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Little known Free Virtual Gaming Table

Duvik

First Post
Gametable: A simple Virtual Gaming Table

Gametable

While out scouring the web for my daily dose of Virtual Role Playing news, I was delighted to come across a Virtual Gaming Table that I had never seen before. The name of the tool is Gametable and its perfect for beginners to the realm of pen and paper style gaming online. I'd even recommend Gametable to die hard fans of OpenRPG or MapTool. Now, don't let appearances fool ya. Though their website is pretty old fashioned looking, the Gametable Homepage conceals a great treasure just below the surface.

First order of business... the download. It's less than 2MB, I kid you not. It took me longer to type that last sentence than it did for me to download the file. The file you will receive is a .zip file and you'll need a program that can handle the .zip extension in order to unpack it. Gametable will extract into a tidy little directory that you can drag and drop wherever you wish. In order to launch the client, you'll also need to have Java installed on your machine. Most of you probably have Java already, if not, google it and get it. Have ya done that yet? Good. So far, it's just been a simple download and extraction. If you're still with us, you're well on your way to gaming.

Now, in order to launch the client I simply navigated to the directory we created for the program and double clicked the gametable.jar file. Windows users can elect to use the Gametable.bat file and are recommended to do so. Take a deep breath... and exhale... the program should be up and running by the time you're finished. You are greeted with an interface that will be pretty familiar to regular users of Virtual Gaming Tables like OpenRPG and MapTool.

The layout that appears on a fresh install puts me in the mind of MapTool in that there is a small toolbar across the top of the window that contains simple drawing tools. You get all the necessities; Pointer, Hand, Pencil, Line, Rectangle, Circle, Ruler, and Erasers. There is also a button to publish your changes to the map that I'm guessing makes your edits visible to the other players. There are two drop down menus available up there as well. One is for changing the color of the lines drawn when using the line editing tools and the other changes the measurement value of the grid.

A standard menu system at the very top of the window gives you access to further features. Changing the grid type is one of the features I like. You can elect to use a square grid, a hexagonal grid, or no grid at all. The Network menu allows for the simple creation of a server and also lets clients connect to an established server. Note that there is no metaserver available as there is when using OpenRPG. You can only connect to a known person that is hosting a server. There are also no lobby or room creation features. You're at the mercy of websites like The Tangled Web for finding others interested in gaming with you.

In addition to the above mentioned menu selections, there is a menu for the Map that allows you to clear, save, and load maps on the screen. You'll also find a Window menu that lets you undock the chat, library, and map windows so that you may arrange your table as you see fit. This feature works pretty simply and efficiently compared to the troubles I've experienced in the past with undocking windows in OpenRPG. The final menu option left to cover is the Dice menu. This menu allows you to add macros for speedy dice rolling. Macros are best used for rolling those complicated strings of dice and modifiers that tend to plague us as role players.

Dice rolling in Gametable is pretty simple. You simply type in a special string to let the chat parser know you are gonna roll a die. The form is as follows...

/roll 1d20

You can change the number of dice or the type of dice rolled by simply changing the numbers before and after the 'd'.

Further special chat commands are:

Slash Commands


  • /as: Display a narrative of a character saying something
  • /deck: Various deck actions. type
  • /deck for more details
  • /emote: Display an emote
  • /goto: Centers a pog in the map view.
  • /help: list all slash commands
  • /macro: macro a die roll
  • /macrodelete: deletes an unwanted macro
  • /poglist: lists pogs by attribute
  • /proll: roll dice privately
  • /roll: roll dice
  • /tell: send a private message to another player
  • /who: lists connected players
  • //: list all slash commands


I tried some simple HTML formatting in the chat as OpenRPG allows and it doesn't work. I also noted that links are only parsed and made linkable if you include the 'http://' before the address. This means that simply typing in 'www.thetangledweb.net' will not create a link in the chat window but, if you type or paste in 'http://www.thetangledweb.net', then a linkable string of text will be sent to chat.

So, as you can see, the chat is simple enough to get right into your gaming while remaining robust enough to make the more experienced user happy. The next part of the interface we'll consider is the Library window. This is the area where you'll be storing your pogs, maps, and macros. You'll find that there are three tabs at the top of the library area that facilitate this function.

The first of these tabs is the Pog Library. This will be the place to find all of your pogs and map underlays. There is a major difference between a standard pog and an underlay. An underlay is essentially an image that sits on the bottom most layer of the map window. It's a representation of the game map. A pog on the otherhand, will always show as being set atop of an underlay. Pogs represent moveable tokens whereas an underlay will not generally need to be moved. The default installation includes a number of underlay patterns that can be interconnected much like Dungeon Tiles. You'll find that you pogs and your underlays appear in different branches in the Pog Library tab. Simply drag a pog or underlay from the library and onto the map in order to place it.

After you've dragged a few items from the Pog Library onto the map, you'll find them all appearing again under the Active Pogs tab. Pretty self explanatory I believe. This tab simply keeps track of all active Pogs currently in play on the map. If you click on one of the images, it will center your view of the map on that particular Pog. I'd like to see some further work done in this area someday but, I'm not sure how active the development team is on this program so, I'm not going to hold my breathe.

The final tab in the library is the Dice Macros tab. This tab will give you a list of all the macros you create and allows you to edit, delete, or inititate the macro at a single click. This window will see a lot of use from game masters and players alike. It gets pretty annoying having to type in long strings of text to roll your attacks and defenses in a session. Using macros efficiently will certainly save a lot of frustration and you can thus focus your energy on properly describing your furious 'stumbling crane attack' with full flavor!

The final major function of any worthy Virtual Gaming Table is the map area. Gametable certainly shines in this area. The map window handles much like MapTool and, if you've ever used MapTool, you know that it's got the best interface out there. Well, Gametable has very similar feel and this gives it major boost in the ratings. You can use the hand tool to pan around on the map. A scroll wheel allows you to zoom in and out in a pinch. The map itself is boundless so you can create massive battlefields and dungeons guide your party through. You can use all of the drawing tools on the map without any glitches... something virtually unheard of in OpenRPG.

One last feature available in the map area is certainly my favorite and it involves the pogs. In addtion to being able to change the size, title, and facing of any pog; you can also assign attributes to each pog. When you assign attributes to any given pog and then hover your mouse pointer over said pog, a pop up window appears that contains all the information on the attributes you may have added. This allows for a simple but effective character sheet to be attached for quick reference during an encounter. I always found this to be a great aspect of MapTool and to find it hear in Gametable really raises it's value to the casual gamer.

Overall, in my toying around with Gametable, I found that it has everything one needs to run a top notch campaign online. I'd recommend this program to anyone that is looking for a lot of power in a small and easy to install package. I observed a session for over four hours one night and nght one interruption occured during that time. If you're looking for a simple program to get started in playing your favorite pen and paper style role playing games online, this is the program for you. While not as advanced as OpenRPG or MapTool, this program can handle the bulk of the workload with a minimum of face palming.

Thanks for reading.
Let the good times roll...

Find traditional style pen and paper games played online using VGTs at The Tangled Web
 
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heruca

Explorer
Gametable has a reputation for being one of the simplest virtual tabletop programs to install and use, and I haven't heard any complaints about it being unstable. However...

The Gametable forums have been down for several months. Does anyone have any idea when/if they will be restored? Are folks looking for tech support for Gametable out of luck?
 

CzarAlex

First Post
The Gametable forums have been down for several months. Does anyone have any idea when/if they will be restored? Are folks looking for tech support for Gametable out of luck?

Welp..kinda. I've tried to contact the admin there and have not gotten any replies. In the meantime, I've been running a series on my blog about how to use Gametable along with a weekly release of Pogs I've been making (tutorial are included in the series)

There's a forum on my site that I've set up with a small subforum for Gametable related questions. As of now.. there is no activity there :\ . Either way, it may be a place to start.

Links:
Gametable Tutorials, Weekly Pogs
Gametable subforum (hardly any activity yet..boo)

I hope some of this helps. I too, enjoy the program and am more than willing to help others with it.
 

Duvik

First Post
Yeah, it seems pretty grim on the development and support front but, guys like CzarAlex and others supporting the program can only increase the liklihood of the project picking back up.

The program is pretty stable it seems, though my testing trial was limited, If your looking to find other folks who use this table you can check out WereDragon and join the chat there anytime. The folks there are the ones who first introduced me to this table. They also happen to be publishing a quarterly pdf in the tradition of Dragon/Dungeon magazine that is a great bargain for only $3.50. Their first issue was over 100 pages chock full with 3 ready to run adventures and great articles on gaming. It is focused on 3.x and does not feature any 4ed content though.

Another community that might be of interest for finding other gamers to play with is The Tangled Web. There are a ton of resources at that site for folks who use Virtual Gaming Tables.

Maybe you could be the first true Gametable user to advertise a game there.

.....

Heya Heruca... I haven't seen ya out and about in ages. ((My own fault... I've been in hibernation)) How's the Battlegrounds battlefront? Perhaps you could do a compare and contrast of BG against this particular program. I'm not as familiar with the paid VGTs as I am with the freebies like openRPG, MapTool, and now Gametable so, I can't rightly refer to them much in articles.

I invite users and developers of other commercial VGTs to also compare Gametable to their program of choice in this thread.

Further searching on Gametable led me to the following sites in addition to czar's...

Tokens and lots of information on running a game via Gametable

A wiki devoted to Gametable
 
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Topknot

First Post
Im loving the Gametable progy. I am woking on monster pogs & maps for my group. I have not mastered the underlays as of yet. Hoping to work on that soon as I have found that I could use alot of tiles (like stairs and things ) in my maping. It did not take but a few hours playing with the softaware to get the hang of it. I would like to see a central location for uploading indivual work for sharing.

just my .02 on the progy so far.
 


periculum

First Post
I am new to online gaming tables and just downloaded the gametable application. it looks awesome and seems to have everything i would want but i'm having a bit of trouble trying to host a session. since their forums aren't working i thought i might make my plea to you guys.

To host a game all i need to do is click networking: host
then fill in my name, player name, and password. i leave the port alone at 6812.

My friends then join by clicking networking: join
then filling in my ip address and password. correct?

that's what i thought anyways. to test it out, my wife on the computer next to mine tried joining my session. She tried typing in the ip address, no go. She tried leaving host address as simply "localhost" and still no go. what are we doing wrong?
 

Bel

First Post
Praise & Issues

We use this program to run our games online. It's the best interface we've used, however there is one issue that we encounter after 3-4hours of play.

There appears to be a memory leak in the program as it occupies up to 300mb of memory after 3 hours, creating an unacceptable level of lag. We have to restart the program every hour to avoid this.

Otherwise I love the program.

Bel
0x07
 

Kishin

First Post
I used Gametable in my current campaign nigh on eight months. As Bel said, there is definitely a memory leak. We usually notice it by the end of a combat.

I've since switched to MapTool, which IMO is much more flexible, and is capable of producing prettier maps.
 

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