Today we’re pleased to launch “Rugged Reroll”, our largest Roll20 update to date. It’s the result of hundreds hours of discussion with our community (especially on the Mentor forums), bug fixes, and of course lots of amazing new features. It’s also our present to the community this holiday season.
We’d like to offer special thanks to our subscribers who support Roll20 – your contributions are what enables us to keep these improvements coming. And to our Mentor subscribers, thanks for spending the last couple of months testing and giving us feedback as we worked to make Rugged Reroll a reality. (Shameless plug: please consider supporting Roll20; not only does it fund further development, but you get access to advanced features like Dynamic Lighting and the API!)
So pull up a chair, grab some warm apple cider, and let us walk you through the goodness:
As Roll20 has grown, so have the crazy, complicated campaigns from our power users. Maps spanning hundreds of “miles” (and tens of thousands of pixels), and hundreds of dynamic lights. Rugged Reroll introduces some great new performance improvements including dramatically faster rendering for large maps, WebGL-based rendering for dynamic lighting, and faster load times by “smartly” only loading data that you need to access right now. Read more about it on our previous blog post here.
Dynamic Lighting: Line of Sight, Custom Field of View
We’ve also been hard at work improving our most popular advanced feature, Dynamic Lighting. You can now enable Line of Sight on your maps, which makes sure that players can’t (for example) see a torch in another room through a wall. Adds a great new level of immersion and ease of use for GMs, and a fun new experience for players. You can also now customize the angles of lights and the line of sight, so you can further restrict vision to less than a full 360-degrees, to simulate a cone of vision or the small shaft of light coming from a covered lamp. Read more about these improvements on our previous post, and check out the Dynamic Lighting wiki page for instructions on using them.
Note that Dynamic Lighting and Line of Sight is only available to Supporters and Mentors.
Better Video and Voice Chat
We want Roll20 to have a great built-in video and voice chat. The current solution we’ve had since launch has been based around Flash technology, which was never really designed to be a good video chat communication system. We’re now introducing a new system based around a brand-new technology called WebRTC. Powered by Tokbox, we think you’ll find this new video and voice system to be head and shoulders above the previous one in terms of quality and reliability. GMs also now have the option to change a campaign-wide setting to change which video system is used, including “no video/voice” if you’re using an external program such as Google+ Hangouts or Skype. Read more about this on our previous blog post.
Token Actions and Target Variables and Abilities
Rugged Reroll also introduces two new features which make it easier to run games with lots of abilities and rolls to remember.
Token Actions are specially-designated Macros and Character Abilities which show up in a context-sensitive bar at the top of the screen when you select a token. So for example, you can set up system-wide rolls such as “Bluff” that show up on all tokens, and then token-specific rolls such as “Magic Missile” that show up only for tokens that can cast that spell. You can also take advantage of selected token variables to further customize the roll. This is great for new players, since as the GM you can set things up ahead of time, then just tell them “click your token and click this button.” And for GMs, you can set up monster types as Characters (e.g. “Goblin Mage”), and then when it’s time to play you can choose any monster on the board and instantly have access to the right rolls, without constantly referencing your notes.
Target Variables and Abilities work just like selected variables, but when a roll is performed you “click” on the target. In addition, players are able to choose any token on the board as a target, even ones they don’t control. Great for setting up rolls versus AC.
Sometimes it’s useful to know the exact path that a token took to get to its final destination. Did it step on that trap, or nimbly avoid it? Waypoints allow you to leave little marks on the table showing the path a token took square-by-square (or even when not using a grid at all). It also helpfully shows you the distance traveled as you’re moving the token. And you can now select any token in-game and press the Spacebar key to see the last move of that token, no matter how long ago the token was moved – great for reviewing a previous move a moment ago, or if you’re in a play-by-post or asynchronous game, review the move of a token a day or two after it was moved.
Improved Journal Features
Journals have grown to become a major part of many campaigns, and today we’re making them even better. You can now use brackets when editing a Character or Handout to link to another journal item. For example, “Riley wields the [Katana of Cherry Blossoms]” would create a clickable link that opens the “Katana of Cherry Blossoms” handout so you can quickly reference it in-game.
Supporter and Mentor users (and their players) can also now access Journal entries from outside the game, directly from the Campaign Details page. Paired with the journal linking feature, this allows the GM to create a mini knowledge base about your campaign that the GM and players can access any time (and that can share with the world – more on that below).
Show Off Your Campaign, and Public Campaigns
We’ve started introducing new features which allow you to customize the design of your campaign outside the game, on places such as the details, forums, and looking for group listings pages. Supporter and Mentor GMs can now choose from three different backgrounds to use for their campaign, and we intend to continue adding new backgrounds to choose from as time goes on. Mentors’ campaign backgrounds are also motion backgrounds, really helping your campaign stand out.
In addition, Mentors can now choose to make their Campaign public. This allows anyone to visit your campaign and view your details, read your forums (although not post), and view your Journal entries. Great for showing off the in-depth world you’ve crafted, or for GMs who stream their games to help keep the audience up to date on the latest happenings.
More info on these two features is available on our previous blog post.
Splitting the Party
Sometimes you may need to split up the group, and put players on different pages. Rugged Reroll makes this incredibly easy: just drag and drop the player from the player listing along the bottom, onto the page in the page toolbar you want that player to go to. That’s it! A little icon for the player will show up on the page to show where they’re at, and you can drag and drop that icon between pages to move them as needed. Players without specific pages assigned to them will follow the Player Bookmark. If you want to re-join the group, just drag and drop the player’s icon back onto the Player Bookmark. More info is on the Wiki.
Special FX Engine
Something that we’ve always wanted to experiment with is the ability of the GM to “enhance” an encounter or battle with special effects. For example, having a powerful dragon boss actually able to breath fire. We’ve been internally experimenting with this for a while, and Rugged Reroll features our first take on this. The video below shows off an early prototype of the feature in action:
Due to its status as an in-development feature, Special FX are only available to Mentor GMs at this time.
We’ve also been hard at work further expanding the Roll20 API. You can now create many new types of objects using the API (including tokens and maps, macros, token actions, and more), send pings from the API to the tabletop, and even more! If you’re looking to really take your Roll20 game to the next level via customization and automation, check out the API documentation for more info.
Note that the API is only available to Mentor GMs and their players.
There’s an incredible number of improvements and new features in Rugged Reroll. And this doesn’t even include all the behind-the-scenes work, including server upgrades and bug fixes. We hope that Rugged Reroll makes your Roll20 experience even more amazing in every way, and we look forward to continuing to make Roll20 better as we grow.