Rugged Reroll, our massive update which was released at the end of 2013, brought Roll20 a whole host of new and improved features. Now that the dust has settled and all most of the bugs have been worked out from all those shiny new things, we’re beginning to ask ourselves: what’s next?
Today we’re pleased to start introducing you to the Roll20 Spring Update (doesn’t have a catchy name just yet). While many of these features are still in the early planning stages and as such we don’t have any fun screenshots to share just yet, we did want to let the community know what we’re working on behind the scenes so you can start getting excited about the first major update for Roll20 in 2014.
Ah, Character Sheets. If you go back to the very beginning of Roll20, you’ll find the Dev Team saying things like, “We are never going to do Character Sheets.” (Seriously, go listen to an early podcast by us from 2012 – we actually said ridiculous things like this on a regular basis).
Later, we relented and added Character Attributes and Abilities, which we felt were a good compromise between adding quick-reference values to Roll20 (such as hit points and AC), while at the same time not having full-blown character sheets with every piece of info on a character. And while that works well for some games like Dungeon World that don’t have a lot of traits to track, other games like Pathfinder require lots of stats to be used on a regular basis – leading many GMs to put 100’s of Attributes in their Characters, which the system doesn’t really handle so well from an organizational standpoint.
So we’ve finally decided to tackle this problem head-on. In the Spring Update, you can expect to see full-blown character sheets in Roll20. Sheets can have hundreds of fields of data if needed, different types of fields (text boxes, check boxes, radio buttons, etc.), can be styled to change how they look to match the game, and there will be a library of community-created templates to choose from so you can get up and running quickly. We’re also examining the possibility of adding a “Character Vault” which allows you to store characters on your Roll20 account and bring them to multiple games, perfect for those quick pickup games or ongoing society-style gameplay.
We’re still working out all the various nuts-and-bolts to make this function, and as with everything Roll20 we want it to be as easy to use as possible. But we’re well enough underway that we can say for sure “this is coming,” and we’re excited to share more details with you as development continues.
A “More” Random Dice Engine
One of the things that we constantly get asked about is the state of the random-number generator included in Roll20. Folks really, really want to make sure that the dice they roll in their games are fair and accurate. While we’ve done extensive testing on our current RNG, and have proven using “math” that it’s very random, the fact remains that it is still only a PRNG (pseudo-random number generator) – as are the RNGs used in every virtual tabletop, and indeed most computer applications.
We asked ourselves, what can we do to finally put this question to rest? And we think we’ve found the answer. Suffice it to say that it involves light beams and quantum vacuums, and it is a way to generate your dice rolls using a “true” random number generator.
We’ll have more info on this in a future blog post, and we think you’ll be excited to see the lengths to which we’ve gone to show once and for all that Roll20 dice rolls are as random as they come.
Roll20’s growth has been amazing. More than 30,000 new players are joining us every month, and the number of players who play at least one game each month has been growing substantially as well. We’ve been continually working to optimize our software to handle the increased load, but the fact of the matter is that we need to get some better hardware to run the site and handle today’s influx of players – and the future’s as well!
We’re working behind-the-scenes right now to get brand-new server hardware built to specifically handle the needs of the site, and anticipate having that new hardware in place when this new update launches. You’ll experience faster load times and quicker access to the site, especially during peak times such as Friday and Saturday nights.
This is an investment for us as a company that we know will pay dividends for years to come, and we thank our community of subscribers for their support which allows us to provide you with the best experience possible.
These are just a few of the things we’re working on, and there will likely be more. As with Rugged Reroll, we’ll be doing weekly blog posts to highlight the new things we’re building as we build them; in addition, our Mentor subscribers will have the opportunity to use and give feedback on these features on the Dev Server prior to their public release.
More to come next week!