Improved Initiative: A Roll20 Product Update

Morgan Buck

Morgan Buck

Chief Technical Officer

I’m sure your 2020 and 2021 were as strange as ours were. We’re ready for a change. How about you?

I’ve talked a bit about this in previous blog posts and on Roll20 Roundtables, but 2020 was about massive increases in traffic and scaling up our teams and infrastructure. To handle the increased demand, we went from two servers to over 150*, and spent our time moving systems over onto modern, scalable architecture.

In 2021, we’ve had some cool things to share. We launched and polished Dynamic Lighting, released the Companion App, and dropped Isometric Mode, Colored Lights and much more. You’ve seen some sneak previews of our new look-and-feel on improved login and signup pages and the re-organized Settings tab. We overhauled major underlying systems seamlessly and released more high-quality, ready-to-use TTRPG content than in any previous year.

Even with all of that, we still didn’t release as many cool new things as we would have liked. At times, we have made tough choices to balance our efforts at keeping the service accessible for all of our new users, upgrading our technology, and innovating on new features.

But like I said, it’s 2022 now and we’re ready for change. Our teams are strong and our tech is ready. We recite the Suggestions & Ideas forum rankings in our sleep (#6 is One Sided Dynamic Lighting). We’ve hired and trained new engineers, designers, and product folks. We’ve restructured and rebalanced our teams to cover all of the most important work.

In 2022, we’re going to launch those things you’ve been requesting, fix the stuff that doesn’t work great, and give you the best Roll20 possible.

We’ve been coy in the past talking about what we’re working on. Expect that to change a lot this year, too. We’ll be talking more about what’s up next, especially when it comes to performance improvements. We’ll also be sharing screenshots and sneak peeks of work in progress. We may still play coy every now and then, but now we’ll do it so that we can get hyped about new stuff together. In 2021, we said we were thinking about “dimming the lights.” In 2022, we tell you that we’re working on Dark Mode.

So what else are we working on? Well, Roll20 isn’t simple. It’s a whole suite of products and there are a lot of things to support. But for now, our big focuses are on VTT features and innovations, performance, and supporting in-person and hybrid play. Here are some examples of things we are looking at this year.

VTT Features and Innovations

We’re treating long-standing user feature requests as a hit-list and bringing on features that were once considered blocked, prior to the Dynamic Lighting update. This includes:

  • Immersive map and lighting features like doors, windows, and an overhead layer.
  • Improved GM tools to make setting up and running a game faster and more intuitive. Image layout and scaling is the first thing we’re eyeing, but there’s a lot more.
  • New types of content to share with your players and available on the Marketplace.
  • UI and Ease of Use improvements such as a full revamp of the Page Menu and more.


We’ve created a new team with some of our most senior software developers focused on perfecting system performance. Some of their first areas of focus are:

  • Speeding up load times around the site.
  • Reducing memory and CPU footprint on users’ computers.
  • Reducing slowdowns and improving reliability on the VTT, Character Sheets and Dice Rolling.

In-Person and Hybrid Play

  • Searchable Compendiums and dice rolling from the Mobile Companion App.
  • Shared Compendiums on the website, outside the VTT.
  • Printable Character Sheets.

It’s 2022. We’re ready for a change. How about you?

*- At peak. We actually auto-scale those now.

Morgan Buck Chief Technical Officer

Morgan Buck began her development career in R&D before moving into the video game industry. She has worked as a programmer on a number of titles including League of Legends, Legends of Runeterra and Smuggler's Run. Morgan lives on a small farm on a hillside with her family and enjoys playing music, woodworking, and the outdoors.