AjaxVTT a1 review

by rbytes.net on

AjaxVTT is a "Virtual Table Top" utility for multi-user, web-based battle mapping

License: GPL (GNU General Public License)
File size: 1901K
Developer: CJ Niemira
0 stars award from rbytes.net

AjaxVTT is a "Virtual Table Top" utility for multi-user, web-based battle mapping.

For quite some time I have wanted a way to play old-school, table-top, books-and-dice roll playing games online. I've looked at the packages out there (oh, mine is far from the only one) and found them all... lacking in a way. There's nothing I've come across that happens to do exactly what I want. So, like any developer with too much time on his hands, I decided to make my own.

AjaxVTT is not my first attempt at Internet gaming software. In fact, I've prototyped several VTT systems over the last four or so years, but never really finished any of them. I've also looked at several open source VTT packages and thought about contributing... but for various reasons never did or was never able to.

So what does AjaxVTT do? It's a graphical web-based battle map. No unnecessary bells and whistles, just simple solid functionality that's as close to the real 'table top' experience as possible. In addition to the "battle map," AjaxVTT features a chat system with voice, video, and macros (for things like rolling dice) and very little else.

I first got the idea to create this software when the whole concept of what's being called "Web 2.0" was just starting to develop, and ajax technology was only beginning to find its way into mainstream use. I decided, "hey, what if I took a web-app and integrated d-n-d (drag and drop, not the other definition) functionality with ajax functionality? What would I get?" Turns out, you do that, you get something pretty cool. AjaxVTT is actually the second program I've written to use this combination (the first was a sort of wiki that let you drag elements around the page, sorta like a web-based MS Power Point.)

Now, I know a lot of people who would cry out that a web page is hardly the place to build out a complex, interactive mutli-user application like this. In fact, I sorta agree with that - web technology is hacky, old, buggy, bloated, slow, and unreliable. The fact that it powers as much as it does, and has been built up as much as it has is really kinda impressive. But the bottom line is that, as much as PHP and Javascript are lousy choices to write functional thin client applications in... the end result does work. And it's hellaconvenient to tell an end-user "just go to this URL and you're done." No "pc or mac?" no "install this", no downloads (though, I do have to admit it only works in Mozilla-type browsers right now... open standards my butt).

AjaxVTT is still young and only partially complete. I've released the code under the GPL even though I'm not really sure what I really want to do with the project. Truth be told, I don't actually game that much anymore, and a big part of the effort was just to have done it. Not to do it because it could be done, but because I'm learning a lot as I go, and because there aren't a lot of ajax apps that do something similar to what I'm doing. And that's cool. It's enough to keep me motivated.

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