Virtual tabletop: as respectable as real miniatures?

General Miniature Wargaming Talk

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Is using a virtual tabletop as respectable as using actual miniatures?

No, because it doesn't provide the battlefield "feel"
1
10%
No, because it doesn't require the same level of work/care/pride
0
No votes
No, because using a computer leaves out the social element of playing an opponent face-to-face
0
No votes
Yes, because you're doing the same thing from a different point of view
3
30%
Yes, because ultimately it's all about playing the game
4
40%
I have no opinion either way
1
10%
Other
1
10%
 
Total votes: 10

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josta59
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Virtual tabletop: as respectable as real miniatures?

Postby josta59 » Thu Sep 10, 2015 2:27 pm

I'll have to tread lightly here, but I wanted to bring up a topic that many of you may not relate to very well. I've only been gaming for about three years, but I'm pretty serious about it now. Many of you know that I've made a transition from board gaming to miniatures, but that I've never actually bought any miniatures. I've been using virtual tables of my own creation, sometimes from scratch, but lately often using video game maps or Google Earth maps.

I'm really into game mechanisms and rules designs nowadays, but buying, collecting, painting, improving models--none of that interests me in the least. It's moving pieces around on a big piece of land and seeing what happens that gets me excited, and for the last couple of years I've found miniatures rules more interesting, and often simpler to use, than board game rules. And though I usually play solo, I have used virtual tables in games with others, both as moderator and as a player.

Here's what prompted this post. Over the past month I played a new miniatures game called SabreSquadron, using a Google Earth map to provide a very realistic feel. I posted my AAR here the other day and linked to it at The Miniatures Page. The user there named Sabresquadron, I'm guessing the game's designer or maybe head marketer, responded quickly. That was cool! But his response, after calling my setup "very innovative," was that it looks like a great way of testing or for playing while traveling.

At first I thought that was cool and nice. After a couple of days, I realized that in a way he seemed to be marginalizing my game play, simply because I played the game on a screen and not with models on a table. Comparing my pictures to those on the SabreSquadron website, there's nothing more impressive about their AARs using models. They certainly don't look more realistic. They do provide many more angles and the ability to focus on just a few models at a time, but they still look like toys on very boring, fake terrain.

Mind you, I'm not putting down the hobby of using models on artificial terrain at all. I respect it. I just have no time or interest in it, and if I can play the same game on a real map of the world, why should that be marginalized as a way to test the game or for travel play only? I realize he said that for the benefit of other members who might not otherwise have thought of playing it my way or wouldn't know why to try it. But it did make me feel like my method wasn't worthy of as much respect. And I think that's silly. I'm able to use every rule they offer with my virtual table. I lack a third dimension, but that's easy to compensate for, and it wasn't necessary in this particular case.

Not only that, but they probably don't realize the work I put into these games. I spend a lot of time researching scenarios, deciding on a setting, finding the perfect map, sizing it correctly for the AAR I'll eventually write after playing, and prepping images to use as game pieces. It takes hours of preparation before I move a single piece to begin turn 1.

So I guess I'm looking for verification from you guys, my crew. Maybe you've never given it much thought. But could the virtual table be a way forward in wargaming, especially for newcomers? Should we hold it in the same esteem as using models on a real table? If not, why would you disagree?
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Re: Virtual tabletop: as respectable as real miniatures?

Postby Frank » Thu Sep 10, 2015 3:01 pm

Personally I love minis gaming as I regard the whole collecting and painting thing as an essential part of the hobby but I quite accept that nothing stays the same, change is an essential part of everything. I will probably not make the change as my I T skills are almost non existent but, who knows?
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Re: Virtual tabletop: as respectable as real miniatures?

Postby Lucky Luke » Fri Sep 11, 2015 6:10 am

I have not such a space to organize anything like a wargame table (and I'm a total loss with my scarce patience in painting...!) and I 'covert' with easy miniature games to a 'electronic' boardgame...

The real thing is way better but only because if I resort to a 'physical' copy it means I have a FtF game coming up...!!!
V6!

Luca



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Re: Virtual tabletop: as respectable as real miniatures?

Postby 50th » Mon Sep 14, 2015 1:35 am

I use the kitchen table I bought when single as my wargame table. I am a "tech" guy (as my wife puts it), but when it comes to wargames, if I'm going to play face to face, I want a physical representation, not a computerized one. Now if I am playing solo, bring it on! I like the social aspect of playing games. I've played many games with friends and we have talked for hours while playing.
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Re: Virtual tabletop: as respectable as real miniatures?

Postby Whiterook » Sat Oct 03, 2015 4:52 pm

Sorry I haven't gotten to this thread until now....this is an EXCELLENT topic, and I think you put it across perfectly.

Let me state my succinct, ultimate opinion on this: I totally view virtual tabletop as a 'respectable' and quite viable form of wargaming. Absolutely. I also think he was being dismissive (and perhaps not realizing it but, quite rude).

My thoughts....

There are a lot of narrow-minded individuals in almost every hobby....model building being one of the worst, IMHO. But to what you present, the first thing that comes to mind is, you are thinking so far outside-of-the-box that it is beyond quick comprehension of a lot of folks.

What I mean by that is:

From a Gamers' perspective: In miniatures gaming, as Frank eloquently posed...it is that aspect of collecting and painting are a quitessential and important part of physical miniatures game playing. It is the 3-D embodiement of its' boardgaming brethren.

It's tactile.

There are gamers that like to see that physical representation on real 3-D terrain dioramas. It lends a life-like experience where your eyes are staring at men and machines that look like real men and machines, versus a picture on a tiny 1/2" carboard counter (and in the old days, rendered horribly and simplistic).

From a designer's perspective: It's sales. Of course they are going to have the knee-jerk reaction of anything outside of the box of buying their (or someones') miniatures is fluff. Also, they likely designed the gamee specifically for 3-D miniatures, which is likely their thing, so not using those types of miniatures is *odd*. Again...my humble opinion.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now to what you are doing....I think it is ground breaking. We have boardgaming. For the style games we are playing (meaning, wargames or damned close): We have miniature gaming. We have elctronic gaming. What I have seen you do is meld two or each, at diffferent games....electronic and board, and electronic and miniature. The closest thingI have seen in doing that is VASSAL mods....

Look at the Axis & Allies Minaitures mod on VASSAL Mods. It is literally the A&AM maps with super-imposed pictures of the pieces (tanks, arty, etc.). Many respect that. so I ask, what is so different about what you are doing, as opposed to that? Nothing...you're just doing it a hell of a lot better! Honestly...that demands respect. You have that from me, for sure.

Another way to look at it is, take a peek at any of the VASSAL generated boardgames I've hosted here: Tank on Tank; Nations at War: Wghite Star Rising; Nuklear Winter '68; Band of Heroes...and so on. What makes those acceptable and 'respectable' versions of thir physical board counterparts? Just because they are on VASSAL? Hogwash. VASSAL folks think outside-of-the-box.

What you are doing is just another avenue of what is done on VASSAL, Sun Tzu, Battle Ground, or any other electronic interface game conversion software or method. What I find so amazing and impressive of your take is, what you mentioned about hours of painstaking research and electronic programming to make your games possible.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In my opinion, the designer you spoke of should be happy as a three dicked rabbit. He is getting exposure to his ruleset. he has someone that is making people THINK about his ruleset. he missed the boat, IMHO.
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Re: Virtual tabletop: as respectable as real miniatures?

Postby josta59 » Wed Oct 14, 2015 5:38 pm

Wow, thanks buddy! What seems groundbreaking to you is really just doing what I have to do to get my thrills without a gaming club or budget. But I guess it is outside the box, probably because I never got anywhere near the box. Maybe this was all fate. ;)

I sure appreciate your comments! They inspire me to keep moving forward.
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Re: Virtual tabletop: as respectable as real miniatures?

Postby 50th » Wed Oct 14, 2015 5:59 pm

There are now games coming out that kind of blur the lines between the computer game and boardgame. Xcom is the only one I can think of right now, and I'm sorry I don't know much about it, but I know that there is a computer element because a friend of mine played it at a convention this last summer. There was another one where there were physical representations of the player/characters, but each had a bar code or QR code on the bottom or something, where the computer would keep track of current stats and things like that. I do that with a couple of RPG games that I solo (see spreadsheet gamers' friend). I think this kind of gaming would be good, as it simplifies the book keeping part of the game.
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Re: Virtual tabletop: as respectable as real miniatures?

Postby Heruca » Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:41 am

Whiterook wrote:this is an EXCELLENT topic, and I think you put it across perfectly.

Let me state my succinct, ultimate opinion on this: I totally view virtual tabletop as a 'respectable' and quite viable form of wargaming.


I completely agree with Whiterook. Great topic, well presented, and perfectly viable.

I am the developer of a virtual tabletop program intended for boardgaming, called Battlegrounds Gaming Engine (aka BGE). I am currently trying to widen the program's appeal and userbase by making it a useful tool for playing tabletop miniatures games, as well.

If you take a look at this software preview video, you'll get a good idea of where the software is headed.

I am posting here to try to solicit feedback and advice from gamers far better versed than I in the intricacies of tabletop miniature wargaming (I've only dabbled with Warhammer, and I focused more on the miniature painting and scenery building than on the gameplay). I need one or two experienced gamers to help direct the addition of the features necessary to make my program better support this hobby.

Any takers?

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Re: Virtual tabletop: as respectable as real miniatures?

Postby Whiterook » Wed Aug 03, 2016 7:31 pm

Heruca wrote:
Whiterook wrote:this is an EXCELLENT topic, and I think you put it across perfectly.

Let me state my succinct, ultimate opinion on this: I totally view virtual tabletop as a 'respectable' and quite viable form of wargaming.


I completely agree with Whiterook. Great topic, well presented, and perfectly viable.

I am the developer of a virtual tabletop program intended for boardgaming, called Battlegrounds Gaming Engine (aka BGE). I am currently trying to widen the program's appeal and userbase by making it a useful tool for playing tabletop miniatures games, as well.

If you take a look at this software preview video, you'll get a good idea of where the software is headed.

I am posting here to try to solicit feedback and advice from gamers far better versed than I in the intricacies of tabletop miniature wargaming (I've only dabbled with Warhammer, and I focused more on the miniature painting and scenery building than on the gameplay). I need one or two experienced gamers to help direct the addition of the features necessary to make my program better support this hobby.

Any takers?


Cool stuff on BGE! I actually stumbled across it at some point in the past and can't recollect why I didn't pursue it more, but I'm very happy to see you bring it to the forum here. I would suggest starting a post (with what you presented in your post) in the Proving Grounds subform of the War College.... it's exactly the kind of stuff we're looking for!

You've some top notch miniatures gamers here at MWF, so if you can get them engaged, you might find a lot of great feedback.

Myself, I'm fascinated by what I just watched on your Youtube video. The first things running through my head actually, were tanks! WWII and tanks are like candy to most of us!!! Another thing that hit me right away was WWII Naval warfare.

But overarching all the thoughts running through my head was: The tech involved (and it's associated learning curve) kinda scared the hell out of me :lol: I only have so many brain cells left apparently, and I am wondering how many I'd burn up learning all those commands. I don't mean that in a bad or negative way, though it kinda sounded like it.... I'm just saying, most miniature and wargamers I know are a bit shy of tech skills. I'd be curious to hear if that's come up in the past, and what your advice would be as to ease of learning the software.

Anyway, I'd love to hear more :D
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Re: Virtual tabletop: as respectable as real miniatures?

Postby Heruca » Sun Aug 14, 2016 11:06 am

Thanks, Whiterook. I took your advice and re-posted in Proving Grounds.

I love your idea of using some of the new features for tanks, for rotating the turrets and having them move along with the tank body. Wish I'd thought of that for inclusion in the video! I even have all the requisite graphics (3D renders) for a bunch of WW2 tanks.

No need to be afraid of the tech. Installing the app is as simple as uncompressing a Zip file. Learning the hotkeys isn't too hard, either, and there is often more than one way to achieve the same effect (for example, hotkey OR menu command OR button click). To help learn the software, I've provided extra documentation you can download from here, namely the "Quick-Start Guide" and the "Quick Reference Sheet".


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