In the last post, I talked about the new inline image editor in EpicTable 2 (upcoming) that lets you do some basic edits on images as you’re selecting them. With EpicTable 2, you won’t need to use a separate image editor for common things we all do to prep our images, and you get the benefit of EpicTable’s recommendations about image size, etc. In this preview, I look at cropping.
Check out this video demo of the work in progress.
One of the problems people run into when using a virtual tabletop for the first time is selecting images that are appropriate for a given use. Often people will use maps that are meant to be printed or large, high quality images for character portraits, and this wastes a lot of time and bandwidth, because they’re transferring sometimes huge images that are never going to be viewed at their original size. I always advise people to use smaller images, but it’s kind of a pain–now they have to use an image editor, and while many people are comfortable with that, EpicTable is supposed to be the easy virtual tabletop, right?
In EpicTable 2, I’m making this a lot easier. EpicTable 2 will tell you when you have an image that’s larger than recommended for its type. For instance, a character portrait should be a lot smaller than a map, and map shouldn’t be something you’re going to print out poster-sized. Not only will EpicTable tell you when you’ve got an image that’s not the appropriate size, but it will help you remedy that without resorting to an image editor. In addition, some common image manipulation beyond size, such as rotation, flipping, and cropping can be done right within EpicTable.
Check out this video demo of the work in progress.
Something changed with respect to the networking layer EpicTable relies on–either due to a Windows update or a change at my hosting provider. I’ve released a new version that changes the interaction with the invitation service to adapt to this. You can download 1.3.7 now.
Check it out. It should solve your invitation problem.
While I was releasing a new version, I picked up a one-line change that solves an issue with the background of one of the panels not changing when you change themes.
This is, of course, a free upgrade, and as always, you can just run the setup program to install over your existing EpicTable installation. All your existing games will work as-is with this update.
Sorry for the disruption of service, and thank you to the people who reported it so I could get this fixed.
A little eye candy for you while I work on pulling EpicTable 2.0 together. The new maps in EpicTable 2 support some new features. I’ve spoken to many of you about separating terrain and dungeon dressing from the map background and the token layer. While looking at the issue of map layers more generally, it struck me that there were some interesting effects possible. One such is this battle map of a volcanic cavern with flowing lava and smoke and steam. As cool as this is, I’ve no doubt it will drive some people crazy, so rest assured, I’ll give you a way to turn off animated elements of the map.
About this map
This map started life as one of the maps from the 2013 EpicTable Box Set, a beautiful cavern map created by one of my all-time favorite fantasy cartographers, Christopher West. You can find more of his work at Maps of Mastery. (Watch out, though–a lot of his stuff is for printing, so it’s super-high-resolution. I had to scale it down to some tiny percentage to make it virtual tabletop ready–and it still looks amazing.)
I made some areas of the map transparent, added some flowing lava under it, somewhat slower than the original, and added a layer of dark clouds, rendered mostly transparent and very slow, on top of it for the smoke and steam. Both those videos were from iStockphoto, and um…I’m chalking their cost up to my Marketing department (which is me).
Any of you think you might be able to make use of animated token bases? Check this out:
These are, for the moment, rather non-trivial to create yourself, so I’d probably start with a gallery of them for different conditions that you could apply to a character…like…um…”on fire”? 😉 I don’t know, honestly, that fire is the ideal example. I think maybe flying and confused and entangled might be better examples of indicating character status in this way. But you’ve got to admit the fire looks cool. 😉
How would you guys see using this? Or do you? Right now, I think of it as a proof of concept that may or may not have a concrete use. Before you suggest it–because I know you are about to–the related feature that this enables, which I’m more sure will be useful, is animated spell effects. I’ve been looking at things like (to go all D&D on you for a second) Obscuring Mist and Entangle and a Pleasantly Roiling Darkness. As with all things EpicTable, I’m trying to give you a set of game-system-neutral components that you can use in any game you want, but where I know certain things are going to be useful because they appear commonly in certain games, I’m not above providing some pre-builds for them.
A Little Gratuitous and Unnecessary Background for the Insatiably Curious
EpicTable 2 represents a fairly major technological uplift relative to EpicTable 1. I created the first version of EpicTable when some tech that’s available now just wasn’t around or wasn’t ready. As new devices have entered the market, it’s pushed me to upgrade the technology underlying EpicTable. In some cases, the benefit is just that it handles new scenarios like large screens and high resolution displays better. That’s why I started with chat, by the way–at the time that was written, one had to do horrifying things to render dice and text together, and not only was the code complicated, but it just doesn’t work perfectly with some of your new displays. The additional benefit, though, is that the new tech opens up all kinds of possibilities, and it’s looking like the EpicTable 2 codebase is going to be significantly smaller and simpler. The core is the same–the way a dice roll or a character or a map is modeled is the same underneath–but the way it hits the screen and allows interaction is way, way, simpler.
EpicTable 126.96.36.199 is now available. It’s a quick fix for a mistake I introduced in 1.3.6 (originally released on 12/21 as 188.8.131.52). It addresses one thing and one thing only: an error in loading “count successes” dice rolls into the dice roll editor. If you don’t use this kind of dice roll, there’s no need for you to upgrade. (And in that case, let’s just forget we had this little conversation.) If you’ve not already upgraded to 1.3.6, go ahead. There are other worthwhile things there. As always, it’s a free upgrade, and as always, it’s completely backwards compatible. Just download it and run the installer.
If you’ve been watching EpicTable lately, you might be wondering… There’s been a flurry of dice roll work on 1.3, a new help site, a user guide started… I’m happy to report that I’m feverishly working on EpicTable 2.0. There’s some pretty significant stuff in it, including a lot of enhancements to the chat window that people have requested. The chat stuff is looking really good, and that’s why I took a moment to backport some of the improvements to the dice roll grammar to 1.3.6.
You know what else uses dice rolls? Mini-sheets. These are small, flexible sheets with key stats and rolls. I previewed mini-sheets awhile back, and they’re definitely going to be there.
Also, there are some improvements to how game objects and other resources are managed that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I won’t hold up 2.0 long enough to do everything I’d like to do, but I think that at least these three things are must-haves for the new EpicTable.
Licensing, Backward Compatibility, and Other Stuff Not to Be Afraid Of
In appreciation for your support and encouragement over the years–or over the hours, for some of you 😉 I’m making EpicTable 2.0 a free upgrade. The licensing model will be the same “kitchen table licensing” that EpicTable 1.x uses. That is, no subscription, no need for player licenses. It’s your table. Play your game.
I’m going to do my best to make sure EpicTable 2.0 loads all existing 1.x games. If it doesn’t, I’ll consider it a bug and work to help you. You won’t necessarily be able to take the same game back to 1.x after you’ve loaded it into 2.0. (As of this writing, I do that all the time during development, but it seems like the kind of thing that’s going to bite me someday.) The other thing I know you won’t be able to do is have a mix–some people on 1.x and some people on 2.0 in the same game.
The Road Ahead
As usual. I’m not forecasting a date. I hope to be leaking some previews soon, though. And yeah, there’s going to be a beta. Details to follow.
My goal has always been for EpicTable to be easy enough to use that you don’t need a user guide. That said, perfection is an elusive thing and sometimes there’s a bit of functionality that’s not as obvious as I’d like or someone has a question about how to do something and having something written down would save their having to ask (or not asking and being frustrated).
So, with that preamble, let me introduce the EpicTable User Guide. It’s on the newly refreshed EpicTable Help site. It’s just starting out, but I’m adding to it bit-by-bit, and as I write new features, I’m adding draft documents that I can turn on as they’re released. You guys have been getting by with videos and exploration for too long. The User’s Guide is going to happen.
One thing that’s slowing me down a little… EpicTable 2.0. That’s right, there’s going to be a 2.0, and it’s going to change things a bit. So, if I’m light on screen shots or documentation is lagging in some areas, it could be that there’s some 2.0 documentation cued up. I’ll start leaking info about 2.0 soon.
EpicTable 1.3.6 is now available. As always, it’s a free upgrade, and as always, it’s completely backwards compatible. Just download it and run the installer.
What’s in 1.3.6?
A fix for an issue a user reported that left a player unable to control his own character.
Bugfixes for certain scenarios in the dice roller–fairly subtle stuff like exploding dice paired with dropping the lowest N dice, exploding paired with success counting in certain scenarios, that sort of thing.
A couple users recently reported issues with Internet Explorer and the new Microsoft Edge browser claiming that “The signature of EpicTable-184.108.40.206.exe is corrupt or invalid.” It’s neither. It is, however, signed with a hash algorithm that Microsoft browsers no longer like. If you right-click on the file in Explorer (not to be confused with IE or Internet Explorer) and select Properties and then Digital Signatures, you can see that Windows says it’s a valid signature. IE and Edge don’t like it. Chrome is fine with it. It’s also the case that despite the browsers’ complaint, the file downloads just fine, and you can go to your Downloads file and double-click on it to run it, and life is good. Meanwhile, I’m going to go figure out how to make my not-so-cheap signing certificate with a year left before its expiration more palatable to the Microsoft browsers.
A big thanks to the people who reported this to me.