I wanted to like iTabletop. I tried to like iTabletop; it seemed to be exactly what I needed in a virtual table top. Unfortunately, it has failed which is sad because it has a lot of potential.
What is iTabletop? It’s a virtual table top program that allows you to play RPGs online. It has a bunch of really cool features, which I’ll get to in a moment. We’ve been using MapTool & Skype for voice for the last couple of years and decided to give iTabletop a try especially since a lifetime license was only $25. Most of my group shelled out for the lifetime license, and I purchased an additional four “floating licenses” to allow those that didn’t to play in the games I was running on iTabletop.
Unfortunately, last night, we had to go back to the free MapTool program + Skype for voice as our session was just unplayable.
There are many things I liked about iTabletop.
- Integrated voice chat, as well as text-based chat
- The game was hosted in the cloud, so nobody had to host a file and let people connect to their computers, nobody had to mess around with trying to forward ports, etc. etc.
- Integrated video capabilities.
- The ability to play sounds and music.
- The ability to attach .pdf files, such as character sheets, to tokens.
- Integrated dice rolling.
Many of these features, particularly integrated voice and video chat, are not available on MapTool. The program is built on Silverlight and can be accessed by any web browser that has the current version of Silverlight installed, so there is nothing to install on the client computers.
Unfortunately, most of the stuff that I liked doesn’t work very well. The voice chat is laggy with at least a 2 second delay even with video turned off and intermittently either doesn’t work for one or two people or cuts out entirely. The text chat is even worse, sometimes not even recognizing keystrokes. Uploading the maps, sounds, token images, etc. and creating the adventure can be an exercise in frustration due to the slowness of it all. Don’t get me wrong, there are times that it runs extremely quickly and smoothly, but those times don’t seem to coincide with our weekly games. Everyone in our group exceeds the low system requirements to run the program, and we all have very good speed internet. We have tried two weeks in a row, and the same problems are occurring. And I understand that there is going to be some lag due to the online in-the-cloud nature of the program, but it shouldn’t render your sessions unplayable.
Unfortunately, because of all of these issues, I can’t recommend using this program for playing RPGs, which is a shame because I truly like the features that, were the program working the way it should, would be extremely cool. Sadly, they don’t. If they are able to fix some of these issues in a future release, we’ll probably go ahead and give it another shot, but for now, we’re sticking with the free solution of Maptools and Skype.
Edit: If I hear that some of these issues are addressed, I will definitely reconsider my opinion.
[tags]virtual table top,VTT,role playing games,rpgs[/tags]