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Friday, January 21, 2011

What's Up With the iTabletop Virtual Table Top?

As many of you know, I have a large interest in Virtual Table Tops. I find them to be an acceptable substitute for Face to Face gaming. Each VTT has it's own set of strength and weaknesses... I should know, as I've spent money on a large share of them.

I was interested in the iTabletop V2 / Pandoren VTT from the moment it was announced. It promised voice, video and all the usual VTT bells and whistles. This spring will be 2 years since the announcement if my memory serves me correct, and I was one of the first to drop $200 to me a lifetime founding member. Yes, I knew then my investment was more of a gamble then anything else, but I felt the bet was worth the promise.

Since then, the software has been improved in spurts, both large and small. For me, it still isn't where I would want to use it for a regular game with the other options I have access to... it still isn't "there" for me.

Funding and pricing of memberships has been an issue from the beginning, as iTT was initially planned to be a monthly sub, then a bunch of discounted lifetime memberships were sold, at one point MLM was discussed (and thankfully discarded) and now there is talk of going to micro transactions (popular with certain MMORPGs like DDO).

Forum activity (or lack thereof) has been an issue from the beginning. When you don't hear from the devs for weeks or months, there is a feeling that little is going on with the platform. At one point, I attempted to be a volunteer mod, but I want knowledgeable enough to actually conduct any sort of customer service. There was another volunteer mod after me, but I think he faded too.

I wish I knew where iTT was heading, how soon and even if it will fill my gaming needs, but I don't have these answers. Truthfully, I'm not all that concerned, as I have other options available that do what I need now (with the addition of Skype or Ventrilo I even have the feature that is iTT's biggest selling point - voice communication). I would like to see it succeed, as the guys behind it are decent folks that really want to get things right. The VTT market is hot now, with the WotC VTT Beta grabbing attention, but its getting crowded. iTT's time to strike is getting short if they want to grab enough market size to be profitable. I hope they can do it. I hope I get to play with it. I had been holding off starting an online campaign with the hopes of using iTT to run it, but now I'll probably use Fantasy Grounds / Skype and consider the switch to iTT later. If and when it gets there.

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