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More About Paizo Game Space

Thursday, October 18, 2012


The Swallowtail Festival from Rise of the Runelords in full swing! We still don't know who invited the dragon...

At the PaizoCon 2012 banquet, we announced we've been working on Paizo Game Space, a virtual tabletop that runs right in your web browser. We've shown some screenshots, and clarified why we're doing this (hint: it's not to crush our enemies). But now it's been a few months, and the VTT isn't available yet, so we'd like to give you an update on where we are and answer some big questions: "When can I use it?" and "How much will it cost?"

When can I use it?

We're going to be starting public beta testing in the next few weeks. This beta test will be open to anybody who bought a ticket online for PaizoCon 2012. This gives us a reasonably limited group of people to bang on it and break the obvious stuff so we can fix it before opening it up to everybody. Ideally, the beta test will last just a few weeks, but that will depend on what breaks.

How much will it cost?

As we've said before, it'll be free to play. But we'll have ways for you to give us money. Since we're talking about selling access to digital data, pretty much anything is possible, but initially, we're focusing on maps, tokens and adventures.

We've also settled on some basic principles:

  • If you buy it, you keep it. That means no limited number of uses, no monthly fees, no pay-per-play, no rentals. If you buy a token set for Paizo Game Space, you can use those tokens whenever you like. Period. There's no extra charge to use the same token in multiple games. You won't have to pay us again next year to keep using it. And if you buy a campaign and want to run multiple groups through it, you can do that, too.
  • If someone at the table has it, everybody can see it. Rather than make GMs have to purchase everything, we think it's important for players to be able to help out. So if Karzoug is running a campaign, and needs Flip-Mat: Country Inn, Merisiel can just let him use hers.*

So how much does that Flip-Mat cost Merisiel? We're still working out pricing for things like Adventure Paths and token packs, but we can tell you this: Flip-Mats and Map Packs will be just $1.99. And if you already bought the PDF for a Flip-Mat or Map Pack? You can use it in Paizo Game Space, free.

Gary Teter
Senior Software Developer

*Little-known fact: rogues love to share. And runelords make great GMs.

More Paizo Blog.
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Paizo Employee Webstore Gninja Minion

*squee*

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Gary Teter wrote:
Quick update: We marked off several more milestones this week and things are looking pretty good for opening up the closed alpha testing soon. There are a few things we really want to get fixed before that, so for now here's another screenshot.

One difference I see since the first screenshot is that the character (and monster) icons now seem to be positioned on grid intersections, not in the underlying squares. Is this a deliberate change, or is this one of those things you have to fix?

Paizo Employee Webstore Gninja Minion

JohnF wrote:
Gary Teter wrote:
Quick update: We marked off several more milestones this week and things are looking pretty good for opening up the closed alpha testing soon. There are a few things we really want to get fixed before that, so for now here's another screenshot.
One difference I see since the first screenshot is that the character (and monster) icons now seem to be positioned on grid intersections, not in the underlying squares. Is this a deliberate change, or is this one of those things you have to fix?

It's a bug that crept in that has since been squashed. :D

Paizo Employee Customer Carebear

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I had a blast last night. The map looks fantastic and while there were some bugs, the simplicity of the system made it super easy for us to jump in and have a blast playing. We didn't have the full compliment of our gaming group last night, just CS Erik, Liz and myself so we were doing a lot of goofing around, but I cannot wait until the next session!

Game Space Beta Tester

I would just like to say that I'm incredibly happy that you guys are doing this. Although I like it, I've basically driven myself insane learning map tool. I've also bought the paper minis and have been able to remove the white background in photoshop and use them in my games. Regardless, whatever you guys come up with - I'm in. I just need something user friendly. Right now my biggest issue is that map tool is great, but tends to distract from the gaming experience. I'm sure that will happen, as I don't know it that well yet. Regardless, it would be nice to have a VTT that's designed for the game and setting I'm quickly growing to love (see obsession.)

So please keep us updated frequently about this project. I'm hoping that it will be out for us to use in the next few months. If longer, it would be nice to know so I can make alternate plans accordingly.

P.S. you guys are awesome.

Paizo Employee Webstore Gninja Minion

One of the big goals that I know is on the Must Have List for Gamespace is to not let the technology get in the way of the gaming. The test session that I ran last night was very easy and the controls were nicely intuitive.

Andoran Game Space Beta Tester

This has probably already been answered, but... what software does this run on? If it's standard browser- based Javascript, then awesome. I once subscribed to DDI back when I used to run some 4e, but much of it was lost to me as it needed Microsoft Silverlight. (I run everything on Linux, except for my Android tablet and phone, which is only sorta Linux given the standard usage of the term Linux that RMS hates.)

Paizo Employee Webstore Gninja Minion

It's all browser-based, no plugins required.

Osirion

I am looking forward to the gamespace launch.

I had to suspend a game when players moved away. Some of them are not very good with computers. An easy to use web based browser may allow me to resume that campaign.

Shadow Lodge

Roll20 has made really good progress too... They might be able to get you rolling while paizo is working out their kinks.....I really likening the direction that roll20 is going . I hope paizo is watching them because they have some cool things going.

Osirion Game Space Beta Tester

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Looking forward to an easy to pick up but robust system. Waiting patiently for Game Space to kick the wagon wheels.

Qadira Game Space Beta Tester

Is it done yet? How about now?


So just to double check...

The basic system will be free to use?

Andoran

Can't wait for this. Best gaming related news of 2012.

-Vaz

Paizo Employee PostMonster General

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Paizo Game Space will be free to use. We might have for-pay features at some point but right now we're expecting to make our money by selling adventures, maps, tokens, etc. We've identified a base set of tokens and maps that will be included for free.


Gary Teter wrote:
Paizo Game Space will be free to use. We might have for-pay features at some point but right now we're expecting to make our money by selling adventures, maps, tokens, etc. We've identified a base set of tokens and maps that will be included for free.

Sweet. I would be happy with just basic Tokens that just use a Square with Letter/Numbers or Names and a Flip-Mat based grid to start with.

I am willing to pay for additional resources but I don't really like paying for something I can't try out completely first...


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Gary Teter wrote:
Paizo Game Space will be free to use. We might have for-pay features at some point but right now we're expecting to make our money by selling adventures, maps, tokens, etc. We've identified a base set of tokens and maps that will be included for free.

Nice....

What's the ETA on it's release...


Gary Teter wrote:
Paizo Game Space will be free to use. We might have for-pay features at some point but right now we're expecting to make our money by selling adventures, maps, tokens, etc. We've identified a base set of tokens and maps that will be included for free.

Will you be able to create and import your own tokens?

Qadira

Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Is this still the best place for Game Space Updates?

I will admit, that the 'knee jerk' reaction to have to check 'web site feed back' instead of a forum dedicated to 'Game Space' leaves one (that one being me,) feeling that perhaps this is a 'back burner' project.

sad face.

Here's hoping for the best!!

lot's of love from an Eager Gamer.

zWolf.

Paizo Employee PostMonster General

Oh it's not a back burner project at all. There's just not a whole lot to talk about until more people can get their hands on it and put it through its paces. Once that happens I expect there'll be a LOT of conversation about it.

Qadira

Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Gary Teter wrote:
Oh it's not a back burner project at all. There's just not a whole lot to talk about until more people can get their hands on it and put it through its paces. Once that happens I expect there'll be a LOT of conversation about it.

Excellent... I just got my ATIV 700T Tablet, (has an I5 Processor, and run's Windows 8,) I'm STOKED about the potential of using this device with my games and CAN'T wait to try out Pathfinder's VTT.

zWolf.

Paizo Employee PostMonster General

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I will give you a heads-up right now: the odds that Paizo Game Space will work properly under any version of Internet Explorer are vanishingly small at this point. There are just too many weird things about that browser for us to support properly. If you can run Chrome, Firefox or Safari you've got a better chance.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If I recall MS Internet explorer does not follow all the rules and standards for net browsers, and that's the problem right?

Osirion

Gary Teter wrote:
I will give you a heads-up right now: the odds that Paizo Game Space will work properly under any version of Internet Explorer are vanishingly small at this point. There are just too many weird things about that browser for us to support properly. If you can run Chrome, Firefox or Safari you've got a better chance.

Does that include IE10?

Not that I would use anything except Chrome at home, but I know the latest version of Internet Explorer breaks websites designed around older versions.

I've already had to tell a few clients to use compatibility mode.

Silver Crusade Game Space Beta Tester

What about Lynx users? ;-)

Paizo Employee PostMonster General

13 people marked this as a favorite.

For Lynx users it'll look something like this. Except not as pretty.*

*Note: Offer only available to drooling mouthy bags.

Silver Crusade Game Space Beta Tester

Gary Teter wrote:

For Lynx users it'll look something like this. Except not as pretty.*

*Note: Offer only available to drooling mouthy bags.

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

Shadow Lodge Game Space Beta Tester

How much closer are we getting to the beta? Weeks... months, still?


Gary: What game is that? It takes me back to my early days of Computer RPGs. Wouldnt mind revisiting that era with a game like that.

- Gauss

Paizo Employee Webstore Gninja Minion

Gauss wrote:

Gary: What game is that? It takes me back to my early days of Computer RPGs. Wouldnt mind revisiting that era with a game like that.

- Gauss

Per the screenshot, it's Nethack. :)


Liz, I wasnt sure if that was the game name or the program interface.

- Gauss


So that'll mean practically every Paizo client will drop Internet Explorer then? It certainly assists in my decision about figuring out which laptop to purchase for my job.


Where applicable, some type of direct linkage from a PbP campaign thread would be nice.

Work limits me to using Ie. Disappointing development that also knocked roll20net out for me. Blah.

Paizo Employee PostMonster General

19 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm reluctant to name any specific time frames now that my estimates have come back to haunt me several times in the past few months. I can give a basic update on what's been going on with the development process, though.

The version of Paizo Game Space at PaizoCon was like 80% of a working VTT application. The chat features were weak and needed to be rewritten, but people could gather around a virtual table and play a game on one of our super high-resolution maps.

What was mostly missing was being tied into the rest of the Paizo codebase. We know our customers have really high expectations about how the website should integrate with the VTT. You shouldn't have a separate login and password for the VTT. Any maps or tokens you buy for Paizo Game Space should show up in your order history and customer service should be able to fix problems with those the way they can with personalized PDFs. There are some interesting intersections between VTT functionality and play-by-post campaigns. I think when you are looking for a game you should be able to see VTT games, PbP games, PFS game nights at retailers, convention events, etc.

These are just a few examples off the top of my head, it's a pretty big list. We're not trying to get perfect integration right out of the gate but there are some bare minimum expectations that we need to be able to meet at launch.

Paizo's had a custom-built website in continuous development since 2003. We have a very complex e-commerce system integrated with a fairly complex content management system. There is a lot of code there. We've got code that deals with dynamically creating ruleset PDFs for the Stonehenge Library, code that runs RPG Superstar submissions and voting, code for combining items in your shopping cart with items from a subscription order and then splitting into multiple packages based on thousands of possible shipping rates, code that personalizes PDFs and fetches serial numbers for purchased software, code for maintaining an event registry, code for polls and surveys, code for play-by-post campaigns, code for redeeming Kickstarter pledges and integrating reward orders with your subscription orders. Again, not an exhaustive list, just indicative of the breadth of code we're talking about.

So all that code's been worked on and added to and reworked and refactored and hacked up and removed and pretty much everything else you can think of that you might do to that codebase. For a couple years we basically rewrote our subscription processing system on a monthly basis. And still there's code in there specific to annual magazine subscriptions, and we haven't offered those in like half a decade.

When all is said and done the VTT will probably have as much code dedicated to it as the rest of the website and a lot of that functionality will be parallel to what we already have or need on the main website. For example, keeping track of personalizing PDFs is very similar to keeping track of purchased maps and tokens. But the code isn't exactly what we need, and it's got a bunch of outdated features we don't use, hacks to work around specific cases, weirdnesses and oddities. Some developers call that job security, I guess. When you've got a codebase like this you do not want to just toss it all and rewrite it from scratch.

So what we've been doing is undertaking a major code cleanup with each subsystem that integrates with the VTT. We're not adding (much) new functionality to the website, just cleaning up what's already there. Chat transcripts are similar to messageboard threads. So the messageboards code gets refactored and cleaned up and a LOT of cruft goes away, and main website performance gets a boost here and there. That sort of thing.

The "will you please get to the point" part of this post: Rather than add another giant layer of special cases and tweaks to our existing code, or creating an entire parallel set of code that does nearly the same thing, we are instead taking this opportunity to make both the VTT code and the main website code cleaner, more stable and more maintainable. This is taking longer than a just-get-it-out-the-damn-door approach but I think it's the right thing to do.

Cheliax

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Gary Teter wrote:
The "will you please get to the point" part of this post: Rather than add another giant layer of special cases and tweaks to our existing code, or creating an entire parallel set of code that does nearly the same thing, we are instead taking this opportunity to make both the VTT code and the main website code cleaner, more stable and more maintainable. This is taking longer than a just-get-it-out-the-damn-door approach but I think it's the right thing to do.

You, sir, and your team rock.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

HolmesandWatson:

Unfortunately, this is really a fault with IE rather than any particular website or VTT. However, have you tried the Google Chrome plugin for IE? You can run Roll20 that way and (depending on how Paizo does it) might be able to run the Paizo VTT that way as well.

- Gauss

Sczarni

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gary Teter wrote:

For Lynx users it'll look something like this. Except not as pretty.*

*Note: Offer only available to drooling mouthy bags.

Dude, if the Paizo VTT had a hidden "Roguelike" mode...

...it would be the coolest thing ever.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Kastarr Eunson wrote:
So that'll mean practically every Paizo client will drop Internet Explorer then? It certainly assists in my decision about figuring out which laptop to purchase for my job.

You can load Chrome or Firefox on Windows just fine... well unless you are using Windows RT in which case you are SOL.


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
Gary Teter wrote:

rewrite it from scratch

This article brought me back to the first week of comp science 1100. (1) Hello World (2) Comment your friggen code!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I am really looking forward to this.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Now that the Goblin Works Kickstarter has succeeded, could we plan another Kickstarter to add a Roguelike Mode to the Paizo VTT?

Paizo Employee CEO

14 people marked this as a favorite.
Trinite wrote:
Now that the Goblin Works Kickstarter has succeeded, could we plan another Kickstarter to add a Roguelike Mode to the Paizo VTT?

No more Kickstarters! Gack!

Lisa

Osirion

Lisa Stevens wrote:
Trinite wrote:
Now that the Goblin Works Kickstarter has succeeded, could we plan another Kickstarter to add a Roguelike Mode to the Paizo VTT?

No more Kickstarters! Gack!

Lisa

Oh yeah, I think I have had enough of that for a while!

Still, I'll be looking forward to the Goblin Store, where I'll hopefully be able to help in smaller, less stressful ways. I didn't hear about the Tech Demo KS until after it was over, and I'd be interested in buying some of the swag developed for it. Then for this 'Accelerated Development' KS it came down to getting either the print pack or a number of other add-ons, so I hope there will be a way to catch up on the print stuff when I have the funds.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Another Kickstarter won't be all that usefull. Partly because quite a lot of people have spend their rpg budget for this month (and maybe more) for the Pathfinder Online Kickstarter.
On the other side, I don't think that Paizo needs the money (and is not that hot on giving Kickstarter/Amazon a share of the Kickstarter money.
And bluntly throwing more people at a problem like this is not always beneficial.


The two big things for me and VTTs is how easy is it for me to put in characters, and maps. Does it only use paizo storebought flip maps? Does it have a character importer.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oh c'mon, Lisa! You of all people should understand the value of capturing the Roguelike market! :)


Hm, I wonder if AP suscribers will get an additonal discount on VTT purchases of APs they own ( or newly get with their monthly suscription ).

Paizo Employee PostMonster General

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Quick update: We are a week or so away from beginning the Paizo Game Space external alpha test.

Expected sequence of events:

External alpha test. A very limited test for Paizo employees and a handful of outside testers. This test shouldn't last more than a week or two. Its major purpose is to find and fix obvious flaws before the beta test so we don't get hundreds of duplicate bug reports. Please don't contact us asking for access to this test, all the slots are full.

Public beta test. Open to anybody with a badge for PaizoCon 2012. This test will last for at least several weeks. During this period we will be focused on fixing bugs and smoothing the rough edges on the user interface. We may add some features during this test if they're ready.

During the first part of this public beta, PaizoCon 2012 attendees will only be able to invite other PaizoCon 2012 attendees to join games. Later in the beta, we'll allow PaizoCon 2012 attendees to invite anyone with a paizo.com account to join their games.

Public launch. At this point anybody with a paizo.com account will be able to try out Paizo Game Space.

Paizo Employee Webstore Gninja Minion

Huzzah!

Silver Crusade

I have very happy that the Paizo VTT is moving along, but sad that I have to wait so long to enjoy it.

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