A New Light, A New Path Ahead

The Roll20 Team

The Roll20 Team


Updated Dynamic Lighting is a big part of optimizing the VTT for digital play. It helps GMs add that “ooh and ahh” factor to their games. It creates an air of mystery and suspense. It makes combat and exploration more active, and it makes games feel more alive.

If you’re not familiar with Updated Dynamic Lighting, check out this blog post from April for an introduction. We have four important developments to UDL to share this week. We also have some exciting news to share about the future of Updated Dynamic Lighting.

Normally, we’d hop right into the updates and leave you with the anticipation of what that news might be, enticing you to read on. I mean, that’s just good writing.

But this blog post is going to be a bit longer than usual, so we’ll just tell you up front–with these four features,__ Updated Dynamic Lighting is now at feature-parity with Legacy Dynamic Lighting.__ To say we’re excited about this is an understatement.

__This opens up a world of possibilities for Updated Dynamic Lighting. __We’ll talk a little more about what this means for the future of Dynamic Lighting at the end of this post, but for now, let’s dive into today’s updates.

It’s Hip to Be Polygonal

Let’s say you want to manually illuminate a darkened, narrow corner of the map, but you want to keep the surrounding area hidden. Doing so with the rectangle reveal tool requires a level of care and finesse that many a rushed game master just doesn’t have.

Enter the Polygon Reveal Tool! Many users will know this feature from Fog of War. Draw all kinds of shapes to reveal unilluminated areas to your party, like one of the aforementioned sharp corners, a winding tunnel, or a twisting, maddening maze.

Sharpen the Edges

Previously, sharpness on the night vision effect was on by default. When multiple filters with sharpness switched on overlapped, some users felt they looked like, to use a technical term, “a hot mess.”

To solve this problem,__ we’ve added a sharpness toggle to tokens__. Under Night Vision on the token settings menu, GMs will be able to toggle a Sharpen Effect on and off. The Sharpen Effect will be off by default, but users will still be able to turn it back on. Take a look below!

_Look how happy these cowboys are to not be square-dancin’ on each others’ boots. _

Hello Darkness My Permanent Friend

We’ve added a new form of darkness to Updated Dynamic Lighting. Unlike Explorable Darkness,__ Permanent Darkness can’t be pierced by night vision or by light sources. __This will be useful for magical darkness in games systems that support that, but it’ll also be useful while building walls and other structures or objects that players aren’t meant to pass through. GMs won’t have to worry about players clipping through solid structures by accident if they miss connecting a line!

I Saw The Light

Our final update today is a nice quality-of-life feature for GMs. Previously, a Game Master wasn’t able to check their light settings unless a token with vision was on the map. The light simply wouldn’t show up.

No more! Now, a GM can see light is cast with a visual representation, even if there are no tokens with vision on the map. They’ll be able to see all light sources on the screen, giving them time to check their settings for the map and make sure everything is copacetic. Note that GMs will still be able to use the CTRL-L shortcut to view the map from a token’s perspective.

Looking to the Future

With these updates, we’re ready to declare __Updated Dynamic Lighting now has all the features of Legacy Dynamic Lighting—and more. __

We’re ecstatic to hit this milestone in Dynamic Lighting’s development. Here’s what it means for us:

  • __We can move into the next phase of development for Updated Dynamic Lighting. __Updated Dynamic Lighting opens up a path of new possibilities. At its core, the project’s intention was to roll all the elements of Fog of War, Advanced Fog of War, and Dynamic Lighting into a single system. That helps us set up better definitions for light and vision, and it opens new development. We’re excited to see where it takes us.
  • __We can continue to tune the performance of Updated Dynamic Lighting. __Feature-parity means we can better focus on smoothing out what’s already there. Of course, this is something we’ve been working on up to this point, but reaching parity is a nice milestone, as it clears the way to keep tuning, tweaking, and testing to make sure UDL is working optimally. This work has already started; you should notice a significant performance boost to UDL starting today, due to a patch we put out with the new features.
  • __While we’re calling this feature-parity with Legacy Dynamic Lighting, Updated Dynamic Lighting is already capable of much more than Legacy Dynamic Lighting. __Night Vision, for example, is separate from other types of vision, and it can be tinted with a color. Users can set a center for their field of vision range. Token vision and light sources are now two different things, so tokens can utilize the light from light sources separate from their own vision. UDL has already opened many doors for us in terms of development, and it’s not stopping there.

It means a lot to us, basically!

It also means that we’re moving into a new era for Updated Dynamic Lighting Development. Here’s what’s coming.

  • First: We’re NOT ready to announce a date for retiring Legacy Dynamic Lighting. Before we do that, we want to make sure that everyone has both the time and the resources necessary to convert their games. We want to make sure that’s in place before we announce a firm date. Know that it’s still on the horizon for later in 2020, but there’s nothing solid yet.
  • __Speaking of that, a tool for converting your games from Legacy Dynamic Lighting to Updated Dynamic Lighting is going live on the Dev Server tomorrow. __As always, the Dev server is available for all our Pro subscribers. If you’d like to get on the Dev server, here’s how. For more information on how to use the Dynamic Lighting Conversion tool, check out our help center article here. To get all the details about the Dynamic Lighting Conversion tool read our blog post here. This tool will become more widely available as we continue its development. Pro users, if you have feedback on the Tool, please let us know through this form. If you’re not a Pro user and you’d like to be, head here to learn more.
  • __If you have an idea or feature you’d like to see in Updated Dynamic Lighting, head over to the Pro Forums. __We have a forum built for user suggestions, and we’d love to hear what you’d love to see. We already have a long and great list of user requests to get us started.

Finally, we just want to say thank you to everyone who took a look at Updated Dynamic Lighting during its development. Your feedback and support has helped us get to this point, and we can’t wait for you to join us on this new path into the future of Roll20.

As always, thanks for playing with us!

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The Roll20 Team Roll20

Roll20 is the all-in-one solution for organizing and playing tabletop games online, allowing you to play your games anywhere and share them with anyone virtually. With the ability to choose from a number of popular titles built ready for your virtual tabletop, your adventures are limitless and you can get started playing with little to no prep. Dive into advanced features like Dynamic Lighting or explore macros and APIs to add some extra depth to your game. Roll20 lets you play your tabletop games, your way.