Thursday, April 22, 2010

VTTs - Where's the Damn Book?

I've noticed that probably the most frustrating aspect about running your RPG sessions with a Virtual Table Top, or VTT software is the lack of newbie usable documentation.

Case(s) in point: 

Fantasy Grounds 2.  The online documentation is really next to worthless in explaining to a new user how to set up and run a game.  Sorry, it sucks.  The download-able manual?  Might help a newbie player, but the GM?  Not enough to run a game.The documentation on how to mod rule sets is pretty much limited to users that have some experience in writing in computer language (XML).

What was the cure for this horrible handicap?  A community created series of tutorial videos.  Vids so good it 's gotten me to the point that I can convert a printed module into FG2 format.  Yes, when I get my game of Labyrinth Lord running, I should have both feet on the ground and some confidence in running a fun and enjoyable game for my friends.  All this thanks to Xorn on the FG2 boards.

BattleGrounds has an outdated user manual, and updated (yet still a bit outdated) user manual and tutorial video.
The included manual is much, much more thorough than FG2

Maptool has a very nice set of community created tutorial videos.  Which helps with the steep (almost overwhelming) learning curve due to the immense amount of custom-ability of the software.

What do these 3 VTTs have in common?  Very active development / revision / patching / enhancing of the software, to the point that keeping an up to date Instruction manual  is next to impossible without stealing man-hours from improving the software.  All there also have active forums and frequent participation by the developers... many questions get answered quickly, but may be hard to find later as they get lost in the forum chatter.

Most learning is either by watching as a player (or as a pure observer) in game, and trial and error as a new GM.  Thankfully these videos put the new GM on firmer footing, which makes for a better game for all involved.  At least, I hope that is the case for me.  We will know in a couple of weeks.

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