Roleplay-Centric Chat

Posted in Screenshots on August 31, 2008 at 11:58 pm

In this post, I’m going to introduce you to EpicTable’s “Roleplay-Centric Chat” features. I call EpicTable’s text chat “roleplay centric” because it has features like an integrated dice roller, support for multiple personas, and many other features that tailor it to the roleplaying experience.

If you click on the screenshot to the left, you can get a full-size look at EpicTable’s chat window. The upper part of the chat window holds a scrolling log of the chat messages. To the left of each message is the portrait associated with the speaker. Typically, players will have another window with larger portraits available to them, but this small portrait provides instant recognition of the speaker and reinforces the text to the right, which announces the speaker by name.

Customizing Your Speech, Multiple Personas, and Tabs

Notice that in the first line shown in the chat log, Feldspar is outraged at Drayla’s earlier suggestion that they hide from an approaching monster (the ettin). This was accomplished through Feldspar’s player using the Tone of Voice feature. You can see the Tone of Voice selector in the chat input pane near the bottom of the screen. The GM used this same selector to convey the ettin’s anger at finding the adventurers in his cave.

Let’s talk more about that chat input pane. This smaller pane is where players and the GM enter their messages. In this screenshot, we see the GM’s view. He’s opened several tabs so that he can quickly switch between different kinds of interaction. He has his GM tab, a tab in which he’s carrying on a private conversation with Scot (Drayla’s player), and a tab for the ettin. He can add, remove and rename tabs as he sees fit during the game. Players have the same capability to open multiple tabs for different lines of communication.

Each tab allows the user to control whether they’re speaking in-character or out-of-character (the toggle button with the comedy/tragedy masks), which persona they’re speaking as, their tone of voice, and whether they’re speaking to everyone or carrying on a private conversation.

Integrated Dice Rolls

Now, lets take another look at the chat log. Notice the integrated dice rolls. The chat windows shows the result of each die as well as any modifiers and the total score. This example uses rolls from a D20 game, but the dice roller can handle rolls for many games (more about the dice roller later).

Dice rolls can come from a number of sources. One can enter dice rolls directly from the chat input window, but players are likely to make most rolls directly from their character sheet. I’ll show you the dice roller and the integration of dice rolls and character sheets in a later post.

Q & A

Finally, lets see if I can proactively answer a couple questions that I’m guessing you may have:

Can I eliminate or control the size of the portraits in the chat window?
Yes. You won’t be able to make them a lot larger, just from a screen real estate perspective, but you’ll be able to make them smaller or hide them completely.
That chat window looks awfully large…. or My group uses voice chat….
You can resize the chat window, auto-hide it, even close it completely if text chat doesn’t fit into your game.
Can one player play multiple characters?
Absolutely. And he can open a tab (or more) for each character.
How do I keep my players from taking on the personas of NPCs or characters that aren’t theirs?
A player’s choice of personas is limited to the characters he currently controls. The GM can use the GM persona or that of any of the NPCs or monsters currently "in the scene".
What do you mean by "in the scene"?
EpicTable uses the concept of scenes to organize available NPCs, monsters, etc. For example, the PCs are normally in the scene, and the GM brought the ettin into this scene when he started the encounter.
I sometimes write long messages. How do I manage responding to incoming messages? Also, that chat input window looks pretty small….
Not to worry. First off, you can just open up a separate tab or tabs for your lengthier messages and use another to respond to more urgent matters. To give you more room to write, there’s a slider between the input and output panes, so you can make the input pane larger if you need to. Also, the input pane scrolls, so even if you keep it rather small, you don’t have to worry about running up against a brick wall. You can write to your heart’s content.

Credits: Portraits by Fiery Dragon Productions. You can find them on my Links page.

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