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Role Playing (Games) Technology

Dungeons & Dragons Tabletop Comes To VR Through Partnership With AltspaceVR (roadtovr.com) 40

An anonymous reader writes: Wizards of the Coast today announced an official partnership with virtual reality firm AltspaceVR to bring the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop roleplaying game to virtual reality. AlspaceVR is a social virtual reality platform which allows groups of users to share a virtual space. "AltspaceVR bridges the gap between Dungeons & Dragons video games and physically sitting around a table with friends," said Nathan Stewart, brand director for Dungeons & Dragons. "You get the same sense of excitement and drama in the AltspaceVR tavern, from laughing at your buddy's funny goblin voice to watching the d20 bounce and finally land on the natural 20 you needed to hit the beholder terrorizing your party." Starting today, AltspaceVR users have access to a virtual tavern space and officially licensed character sheets, figurines, and terrain tiles.
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Dungeons & Dragons Tabletop Comes To VR Through Partnership With AltspaceVR

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    And the goggles, for a change, do something.

  • This seems like a step backwards, rather than forwards. They have set up a technology to allow you to play a pencil and paper game remotely rather than create a game that can be played without having to fuck with all the books and papers. It's like a buggy whip maker wiring a buggy whip into a car's control console.
    • The problem is that coding the rules of DnD is actually hard. WotC tried producing that with 4th edition, but failed to release a working prototype (look at the advertisements in the back an originally printed PHB). Considering the amount of DM discretion given, only DMs themselves could code all their personal house rules and additions to the core game.
      • But content creation.... Part of the charm is for DMs to tell a story, hand wave an environment, etc. They rely heavily upon the players imagination to fill in the gaps. They will handwave if the player goes in an unexpected direction.

        Designing a scenario is easier than making a game (character design and level design and such is tedious, and has a learning curve.

      • by pr0t0 ( 216378 )

        This is a true. I tried coding a character builder for Pathfinder Society. It was all fine and dandy until you got into creating and undoing multi-classing. Then it all fell apart.

        With D&D 5th ed, it was much easier. Although I went from a "character builder" to more of an online character sheet after WotC shut down http://www.pathguy.com/ddnext.htm/ [pathguy.com] for a short time, and allowed him to continue only in a limited fashion.

        • Do you not like Hero Lab for some reason (other than the extreme cost)?

          I use Hero Lab for my characters and it works well for the most part, it only breaks down when I have to make a magic item that isn't in the system.

          • by pr0t0 ( 216378 )

            Hero Lab did not work on Android at the time (I don't think it does now either. I had a brief dialogue with one of their team about the difficulties in handling offline synchronization). While in IT, I'm not a coder by profession, so I also used the opportunity to teach myself: AngularJS, Firebase, and jsPDF. It was a fun project that looks/works really well. My DM loves it, and he's difficult to impress with RPG supplements. I used it at the table at Origins and GenCon this past year on my Galaxy Note 3, a

    • Re:Misguided move (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MagickalMyst ( 1003128 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @03:48PM (#50942403)
      I think that the appeal of D&D has much to do with the fact that it is a table game. For me, the best part of the game is seeing the action happen in your imagination.

      While computer games (and by extension, TV & movies) can be entertaining and a lot of fun, they fail to fully illuminate the mind's eye and spark the imagination - so to speak - in the way that traditional role playing games and novels do.

      It's kind of like reading a book vs. watching a movie. With a movie or video game, the visuals and audio effects have been created for us. We see and hear the characters as they are portrayed by the creator's imagination.

      While reading a book the story becomes more personalized because your own imagination fills in the blanks. This is why people are often disappointed with seeing a movie after reading the book (e.g; In the movie Johnny X didn't look anything like how I pictured him to be!)

      Imagination, in my opinion, is the heart and strength of role-playing games - especially D&D.
      • Correction:

        For me, the best part of the game is seeing the action happen in my imagination.

        Unfortunately, no matter how I try I cannot see in your imagination.
        • Unfortunately, no matter how I try I cannot see in your imagination.

          But you could imagine that you can.

        • Another part of D&D is figuring out novel solutions to problems. No matter how complex a game engine is, it won't be able to take into account every possible action a player can take.

          • I have a simple example. Doing a fairly basic dungeon crawl, our party ran into a number of fire elementals that were supposed to be a major source of combat challenge. The DM had to re-plan when the cleric in our group started casting "create water" over their heads. Unusual uses of spells and abilities would need to be individually coded into the game engine, and some will always be missed.
        • A shared story doesn't have to be visualized the same way. In fact much of the depth of folklore that D&D is based on is from how people coming out of a shared culture subtly shift their understanding and interpretation of stories over time.
      • I just got the brilliant notion of using Hololens to do all the dungeon and minifig stuff that has previously been just on the board...

        That would be pretty freaking cool... unnecessary, but WHO CARES IT'S COOL!

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      Hell, this is a step backward in the sense that tabletop playing is actually social. I'm perfectly happy playing video games at home by myself, but if I'm going to play a tabletop, I want to actually go somewhere and hang out.

      Granted, this may make it a little easier to actually find a group. They can be hard to come by sometimes.

  • Wasn't part of the point of having a multiplayer game that used books and a board and dice to actually give people some real social interaction? This technology is interesting but is limited to the social interaction of just the game, itself reduced through the lack of in-person meet, and strips off all of the associated social interaction like going out to dinner after a gaming session or the setup and teardown of the room for playing.

    I could see this getting some use where existing campaigns get broke
    • Social Interaction Pros and Cons (help me out here):

      Pros: Snacks and munchies you can actually share.

      Cons: The Level 15 Wizard has been wearing the same clothes for two weeks.


  • As an alternative that doesn't require VR, I recommend roll20.net [roll20.net] and optionally an external communications platform i.e. Google Hangout, Skype, IRC, email, etc. It supports multiple editions of DnD and macro support for die rolls that are a bit on the complex side.
    • Maptools also supports macros without being tied to any particular ruleset(you could even play Rolemaster with it)
    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      I second this.

      Got a weekly Pathfinder game on roll20, voice chat over Discord, and it Just Works.

      Hell, just setting up macros for full round attacks involving sneak attacks etc. is good fun all on its own, and the interface gives a really good sense of rolling the dice.

  • I looked at the screenshots - some crappy robots and a ninja around a 1990's era block of wood, in a "tavern" where the textures don't even flow together.

    Why are the graphics this poor for a "VR" experience?

  • Honestly standard VC software and RollD20 does a far better job than this ever will.

    • https://roll20.net/ [roll20.net] - yeah...that one has real video chat

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Which only works if everyone huddles around their PC. Setting up a cart with a table and a real VC client so that 4 players can be IRL and add remote players don't work with their video chat. so you use Skype or Google hangouts and Roll20 for the map if you really need a map.

        Cheap 42" TV's are plentiful, get a small laptop or better yet a mini PC (I use a chrome-box), webcam and a cart and you have Enterprise level telepresence at your game table.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    WoTC has squandered the DnD digital capabilities and overcharged for orc quality tools. I imagine this will be another flop.

    Our group has tried over the Internet tools over the past 20 years. Nothing beats face-to-face, smell of the sweat as players struggle for their lives. The weekend after Thanksgiving I'll be DM'ing a 3.5E (yea, >3.5E suck) epic party. Six character party (23rd average level). Homemade adventures since late 80s. One of these days I'll make them available others.

  • Well, this explains why some of the N-Space people got all antsy when we asked about VR in SCL :)

  • by Sowelu ( 713889 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @04:01PM (#50942485)

    If Tabletop Simulator supports VR (and if it doesn't, I'm surprised) then I can't see a need for any other VR-based Dungeons and Dragons thing. Okay, maybe it'd be nice having tools designed specifically to fuss with character sheets and help newbie players manage their spell lists, but 5e seems surprisingly light on the bookkeeping. Handling the rolls manually is part of the fun, it's pretty lightweight, keeps players involved, and lets the DM fudge things where appropriate.

    The times I've done Tabletop Simulator for other games (like Settlers), it's felt very close to playing it in person.

  • If I want to play Pen and Paper D&D, I'll do it the old fashioned way... Yeah I understand people move, etc. roll20 is for that.

    If I'm going to go out and buy an occulus rift, you better be damned sure when I put the goggles on:

    I'm going to be crawling through a beautiful dungeon, disabling traps, plundering chests and kicking the shit out of orcs / kobolds / goblins and all manner of monsters!
    I'll be going into taverns and getting into bar fights with surly dwarfs!

    I'll be riding a dragon, blasting pir
    • But wait... now you can actually be that level 20 half-orc thief sitting in a cave playing a game of 'Actuaries and Accountants' with a wizard, a fighter and a naked Amazonian.

      The future has arrived....and its much duller than you could possibly have imaged.

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb