Friday, August 9, 2013

Tap on Fire's virtual RPG tabletop app is ready to go cross-platform

One of the greatest problems facing old school, dice-chucking gamers is the eventually dispersal of the nuclear gaming group.

As families, careers, Skyrim, and MMORPGs enter the mix, it becomes increasingly more difficult for a dedicated group of tabletop gamers to carve out a few hours of each week to enjoy an honest-to-Gygax dungeon crawl.

A popular solution to this problem is 'virtual tabletops', or online programs where a DM/GM can control the board and run players through an adventure while the group engages in a joint call on Skype or the like.

One of the most popular Virtual Tabletop programs is the Unity-powered Tap on Fire (available for iOS or Android), which allows players and a GM to control virtual minis on a 3D dungeon built from scratch.

It's a slick little app that lets you import maps and has a host of neat features like changing miniatures from 3D cardboard renders to flat tokens when you switch your viewing angle, but it's been held back by the fact that it can only be run on one device.

The mind behind Tap of Fire - kiwi gamer Brendon Duncan - is looking to change that and has launched a (successful!) Kickstarter that will enable a DM/GM to share a map with players across various mobile devices.

While it's no substitute for a bunch of friends sitting around a communal gaming table, Tap on Fire's new iteration is the gold standard for virtual tabletop programs.  With a bit of finagling, a DM/GM can upload a custom map to Tap on Fire and - once the new version launches - share it with players to interact with in real-time.

Although the Kickstarter is already funded, Duncan has a litany of stretch goals in the works for where he can go from here.  Additions like "fog of war" (which would keep players from seeing areas of the map that their characters couldn't, miniature numbering, and PC/Mac versions of Tap on Fire are all possibilities - as are aesthetic tweaks like fully 3D miniatures, dynamic lighting.

If Duncan gets everything that he wants for Christmas, he even has plans to add in a dice-rolling engine to the app thus making it the undisputed platform of choice for far-flung gaming groups.

Those interested in donating to Tap on Fire's Kickstarter campaign can do so by clicking here.