Tactfully Tackling the Top Ten List

Ankit Lal

Ankit Lal


We’re celebrating our ten year anniversary here at Roll20 this year, and it’s amazing to see how we’ve grown in the last ten (and especially the last two) years. Roll20’s leadership has previously spoken about our product team’s commitment to improving the user experience, and so many of the great feature ideas we’ve developed in those ten years came directly from our users.

For years you’ve been influencing the things we research, develop, and deliver by getting excited about the things you care about. Here are just a handful of the suggestions from the Suggestions & Ideas forum that we’ve completed in the last few years:

We’ve listened to your feedback on our forums, on social media, and through other channels, and we’re taking action on it. Your feedback as GMs and players is critical to our process, and it shapes our conversations about prioritization and our roadmap. Earlier this year we also promised more transparency on the work we’re doing to make your experience on Roll20 better than ever. CTO Morgan wrote, “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.” So here’s our promise:

In 2022, the Roll20 product and engineering teams have an ambitious goal: deliver 5 of the top 10 most requested features for our Roll20 users.

We admit it, at the beginning of the year that goal seemed like a major reach, but in only four months we’ve delivered three of the top 15 top-voted features on the Suggestions & Ideas forum and are on track to hit our 5 of the top 10 goal. With Dark Mode well underway and One-Way Barriers and Token Lock delivered alongside performance enhancements and some upcoming exciting announcements, we feel great about the progress we’ve made. Let’s talk a little bit about the work we’ve already done this year.

Suggested and Delivered

Dark Mode. Dark Mode has, for a long time, been our #1 top-voted suggestion with over a thousand votes. You’ve wanted it, and we’ve wanted it. You can see this now on the VTT and D&D 5e Character Sheet by Roll20, and Pro users can also check out the work happening to bring a dark theme to the rest of the site over on the Dev server.

One-Way Barriers. One-Way Barriers for Dynamic Lighting was #6 in 2022, as Morgan called out in “Improved Initiative,” and are also now available for use on the Roll20 VTT. When on the Dynamic Lighting Layer, GMs can select this new barrier type. One-Way Barriers block light and vision from one side of the line but let it pass through the other side, enabling GMs to grant vision to tokens on higher ground or let players see an object (like a pillar or foliage) while blocking vision beyond the object. We also included API accommodations for Pro users using One-Way Barriers.

Token Lock. Token Lock (with Pro API support) now enables GMs to lock a token in place on any VTT layer by right-clicking a token and navigating to Advanced > Lock Position. This feature was #15 on the Suggestions & Ideas forum.

User Focus and Delivery. We’ve made even more progress behind the scenes, conducting user interviews, doing research to uncover other wants and needs (you’ve probably seen a survey this year!), and breaking down the development needs for upcoming projects with the team. As our Change Log can attest, our development cadence is stronger than ever, and we’re working to deliver these big features alongside quality of life enhancements that solve our most pressing user issues.

Improved Performance. Last month we announced Operation Fire Bolt, a team dedicated to improving performance and stability on Roll20, and their first project: on-demand character data loading. As a result of that work, the vast majority (95%) of games now load up to 50% faster, and 50% of all games load in under 4 seconds, which means you’re getting to play sooner. Once on the VTT, our Firebase Real-time Database instances now need to transmit 60% less data on average, which means their response times are increased across the board, increasing the speed at which the VTT responds to changes you and other players make.

More 2022 Updates

Morgan mentioned in “Improved Initiative” that we “recite the Suggestions & Ideas forum rankings in our sleep,” but here’s what we’ve been dreaming up:

Foreground Map Layer would create an additional VTT layer for graphics to set a scene for player characters and enable player immersion. Alongside token locking, we think this has the potential to help you craft exciting visuals at your table, whether you’re playing in-person or remotely. This idea is currently vying for #2 most voted alongside Custom Compendium.

A Better Way to Organize Pages is on its way! Coming in at #4, this change is part of a planned suite of improvements to make the VTT more intuitive to use both as a GM and player. Navigating from dungeon to dungeon, across planes, and splitting the party will be easier than ever. We showed you a design for this at Roll20Con, and we’ve started over to incorporate your feedback and other UI improvements.

Printable Character Sheets would allow you to move between your online and in-person games seamlessly, keeping your character online safe from Cheeto dust and spilled soda while you take notes at the table. This is #5 most voted suggestion.

This year we aim to deliver five out of the top ten most voted suggestions on our Suggestions & Ideas forum as of January 2022 alongside many more features and improvements you’ve been hoping for. With those done we’re going to need more to work on, so don’t forget to check out the Suggestions & Ideas forum and vote on your favorites!

Contributions in this article from:
Ankit Lal, CEO
Morgan Buck, CTO
Ashton Duncan, Product Manager
Bianca Bickford, Marketing Manager

Ankit Lal CEO