Wichita, Kansas (January 21st, 2013) Just under a year ago, Wichita, KS programmer Riley Dutton had grown envious about the gaming joys of his former college roommate Nolan T. Jones, now of Las Vegas, NV.
“We’d talk on the phone, and he’d talk about how much fun he was having getting back into tabletop roleplaying games. And I realized how much I wanted to play with my friends again, but we were literally spread across the country. That’s when I had the idea, and tried to get Nolan to talk me out of it,” said Dutton.
But Jones talked Dutton into pursuing his idea, and with the help of another former roommate— Richard Zayas of Arlington, VA— they started testing a system to play table based games online. After two months of testing they took their program to Kickstarter, an online “crowdfunding” platform where entrepreneurs pitch projects for funding to users that only expect a working product and input in return for their investment. They made over $39,000 in an eighteen day campaign at the end of April 2012. By June they moved the program into an open beta test and in September declared Roll20.net to be in regular service. Today Roll20 has logged its 100,000th account, with over one hundred and fifty-four years of gametime amassed by their users.
“We knew we were filling a need— both in reuniting people across long distances and giving potential newcomers to tabletop gaming a safe way to try these games from home. But I don’t think any of us knew this would become so popular so quickly. The community that’s rallied around this program has been incredible,” said Zayas.
The system is free to use, but has subscription options for those who desire more advanced features. The creators say that the most popular games used in Roll20 are various editions of “Dungeons & Dragons” and “Pathfinder”, but the system is capable of handling a variety of popular card and board games. Currently the group is working on expanding the social elements of their website along with making game setup faster.
“Our success to this point has been based in being easy to use— which is a result of us building Roll20 for our own use. We intend to keep using it, so we intend for it to keep getting easier to pick up and play,” said Jones.