Thursday, July 12, 2012

Some Virtual Gaming News from Wizards and Paizo

WotC's VTT
Here's a two-fer on a subject that a lot of gamers are following closely; virtual gaming.

First, from Wizards of the Coast, comes the announcement that they're shutting down the Beta test of their Virtual Table Top:
"I wanted to inform you all about an important decision that Wizards has made regarding the D&D Virtual Table and Virtual Table Beta. While we appreciate the enthusiasm and participation in the Beta phase, we were unable to generate enough support for the tool to launch a full version to the public. Effective July 30, 2012 the D&D Virtual Table Beta will be coming to an end and the VT will be closed.

Over the next three weeks, we encourage you to wrap up your existing campaigns and make sure to gather contact information from your online group members so that you can stay in touch if you like. We realize that because all data generated in the tool is in a proprietary format usable only by the Virtual Table, it is not possible to export your campaigns for use in another tool. You can, however, take screenshots of any notes, maps or adventures that you would like to hang on to or use in your home games.

We would like to thank everyone who participated in the VT Beta and look forward to continuing to support D&D game play through our D&D Insider digital tools and D&D Next."
Paizo's PGS
Certainly a bummer for those who like to (or must) do their gaming online with some sort of automated play aid. The most curious thing is the timing of the announcement, because it comes just two days after Paizo announced that they are coming out with their own online Paizo Game Space at Paizocon:
Paizo Game Space is amazing software that lets you play with the people you know... anywhere in the world. All you need is the internet.

It's a virtual tabletop. Now VTTs aren't new. I'm gonna say "VTT" a lot because "virtual tabletop" is kind of a mouthful.

Virtual tabletops aren't new. There have been literally dozens of them before this. Some of them we like. Some of them we like a lot.

But none of them is exactly what we think a virtual tabletop should be.

We've talked to a lot of people and they all say the same thing:

We love playing on a VTT. We can keep our group together after people move away.

We love playing on a VTT. As Cosmo told me the other day, it lets him game in his underwear without all the catcalling and wolf whistles.

People love playing on a VTT. But they're kind of annoying!

You have to find the software. And download it. Install it. Will it run on a Mac? That's a big one for us at Paizo.

And then you get the fun part. IP addresses and firewalls and port forwarding and all that. Even network administrators don't want to deal with that stuff. That's work! We're here for fun.

So today, Paizo is reinventing the virtual tabletop.

Paizo Game Space runs right in your web browser. There's no software to install! None. Not even a plug-in.

If you can get to, you and your friends can play on Paizo Game Space.
(The full text of the script used in the announcement is at the above link, message #22.)

Reading through the whole thing, the PGS definitely sounds like a good thing for thems as uses such fancy thingamabobs.

As far as the timing of the two announcements go, while I can't help but think that the WotC announcement is related to the winding-down of 4th edition, the timing is truly unfortunate. It makes it look like they couldn't hack it, and Paizo is stepping in once again to take over where WotC dropped the ball.