Naturally Critical: Roll20 in 2020

The Roll20 Team

The Roll20 Team


Twenty looms large as a number of significance in our work. Getting the desired side of the infamous icosahedron die to display is a sign of great success and invites celebration. But rolls are random, despite what our brain tells us. While randomness and opportunity certainly play a role in building a product, they aren’t what you rely on to achieve progress.

We think it’s important to talk to you– our community– about the state of the board, and what we’re working on progressing in the new year. How do we talk about “2020” without first a little discussion of hindsight? :)

(Click below to keep reading)

2019: Steps Forward and Back, with Discussion Along the Way

At the start of 2019 we set out with three initial updates to improve the tabletop experience on Roll20; Charactermancer Levels Up to enable your characters progressing with us, Get a New Look to allow you to add moving images to the tabletop alongside improvements to Advanced Fog of War, and Bring Your Own Beat which gave the much-requested ability for you to place your own music in games. As the year progressed, we released official support for Pathfinder 2nd Edition, Call of Cthulhu, and others - releasing more licensed content than ever before, while also overhauling our Marketplace to better serve creators and customers with a better layout and wishlists. We also updated code libraries for WebRTC (voice and video), payment processing, and several backend databases.

In the midst of these advancements, we also had some setbacks. We were made aware that we were victims of a security breach, the Advanced Fog of War improvements of Get a New Look did not maintain existing expected functionality, and our work to update map-zooming to match general mapping standards across the web had to be rolled back. We worked with outside firms throughout the year to examine possible attack vectors of the breach and to plan for the future– continuing to work on a system that holds onto limited amounts of your data and protects the areas where information must be transmitted and stored. With the graphics rendering missteps, only now are we closing in on our desired outcome of better lighting settings (which delayed our progress on introducing a new layer to the tabletop). And with the Zoom tool, we are currently in public testing to ensure we’ve fixed the issues that occurred with trackpads and accessibility.

Hopefully throughout the year you’ve heard about many of these happenings, as we made an increased focus on consistent communication with you part of our 2019. Whether via the short news format of the Roll20 Rundown, in interactions via Community Roundtables, through our overhaul of and increased dialogue on the Suggestions Forum, or simply in detailed posts on our Change Log, you could stay apprised of what all happened with Roll20 this year. That’s in addition to hanging out with you at events throughout the year like Roll20CON, Gen Con, D&D Live, and Lost Odyssey. The work of communicating with you and improving the platform continues to grow, and we continue to change our processes to meet that growth. Additionally, over the course of the year we increased staff by over 30% to help better your access to us and our product.

And so onto a forward-looking focus…

2020: Your Vision, Your Table

We’re starting the new year with one of your favorite suggestions– custom token markers to express new statuses in your games.

In the first quarter of the year, we also expect to launch a better marriage between how Dynamic Lighting and Advanced Fog of War work in our system as we switch from Canvas to WebGL rendering on the tabletop, as well as a renewed mobile application for Roll20 that works across phones and tablets. Both of these projects will debut with a year’s worth of behind-the-scenes efforts in their development, and we’re very excited to be able to talk more fully about your wants for these features in the coming weeks.

Past the first quarter, there are many 2020 projects taking shape, including:

  • Your games loading faster via improved infrastructure
  • Your character sheets and compendiums being easier to access and update
  • Your Roll20 Twitch streams being more interactive than ever
  • Your music for sale on the Roll20 Marketplace

2020 will be a huge year in licensed content, with improved tools for Call of Cthulhu and FATE, an emphasis on character support and game reference for Pathfinder 2nd Edition, and continued Dungeons & Dragons work toward complete back-catalogue support.

We think it’s also important to say that we’re continuing to work on our overall processes. We’ve hired additional experience in programming, quality assurance, and management with further assistance on the way, and are working with these new hires (some of whom were existing Roll20 community members) to better serve you. Some of these changes will take time to implement, but progress is being made and hope you’ll feel the same as the year continues.

As we move forward, we invite you to keep sharing with us. Whether you’re a Pro User discussing new features on the development server, someone with a question for the next Community Roundtable, or are looking to rally emphasis behind your favorite suggestions, please continue to help us see the future you want for Roll20. We’re passing 5 million accounts created on Roll20 this month, and that’s entirely because of your passion for sharing the platform over the past eight years. We’re thankful for that passion, and hope to help build on it in this significant round ahead. Let’s do everything we can to see a critical success in 2020!

(Above advanced demonstration of future tabletop rendering by Tyler Jackson, utilizing team-favorite gif the Party Parrot and some sweet 2020 feels by Alice Socal.)

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.