RPGBOT.News – Tabula Sono

Show Notes

In this episode of RPGBOT.News, we talk to Jim Powell of Tabula Sono, a free virtual tabletop launching later this year. We discuss Tabula Sono’s Kickstarter campaign, their virtual tabletop’s exciting features and accessibility, and we get an inside look into what the team has planned for the future.

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If you’ve enjoyed the show, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts, and rate us on Spotify or your favorite podcast app. It’s a quick, free way to support the podcast, and helps us reach new listeners.

Materials Referenced in this Episode

Transcript

Randall 

The RPGBOT.news. I’m Randall James and with me is Tyler Kamstra

Tyler 

Hi everybody.

Randall 

and Random Powell.

Random 

Howdy.

Randall 

And tonight we have a special guest with us: Jim Powell from Tabula Sono.

Jim Powell 

Hello there. So I’m Jim, I am the creator and founder lead evil genius behind Tabula Sono. I’ve been doing a lot of product development and all kinds of different things for lots of really big names and big companies. We thought it was time for a change. So we found something that we were passionate about, and now we’re all in. That’s why I’m here talking about Tabula Sono.

Randall 

Awesome. Alright, so tell us more about it. What’s going on at Tabula Sono these days?

Jim Powell 

Tabula Sona is an online virtual tabletop. For any miniatures-based tabletop RPG. That’s any of the big names, any of the smaller games, any of the less popular, but still really awesome tabletop RPG games. We support all of those. And the idea is everybody just joins in from wherever they are, whatever device they have access to, and just start playing the game. So designed to be super simple, super easy, out of the way.

Tyler 

So there’s a lot of options in the virtual tabletop space these days. There’s obviously Roll20. There’s couple other big names. Foundry, Shard. So what sets Tabula Sono apart from the other existing options?

Jim Powell 

First of all, don’t get me wrong, I love all of those tools. Me and my team have used all of them. Even ones that you didn’t mention. And they all have really strong points, as well as pain points and weaknesses. So we’re taking advantage of that. And we’re building so no in a way that avoids a lot of those different pain points. I think one of the biggest ones is ease of access. We’re in browser. Tabula Sono is in the browser, which means you get a link, you click it, and then you’re immediately playing the game. So you don’t have to install anything, you don’t have to buy anything. You don’t need, like, a crazy expensive gaming computer or rig and hardware. You don’t need steam. So we’re just we’re trying to keep everything really easy to use and easy to access. But at the same time, we’re also 3d. And that is something that generally doesn’t go together is 3d and the browser, it’s really incredibly difficult and challenging, which is good news for my team, because that’s where we thrive. We love building things that are difficult to build. And I think we do a pretty good job at it. And then I think those are kind of like feature-based answers to your question of what makes us different. But I think the idea behind why we’re different is that we’re trying to stay out of the way of the game and the storytelling. When we moved all our games online because of world events, we had to adapt our playstyle and we started to notice that we weren’t having as much fun. We weren’t doing so many crazy things. We were trying to stick to what was literally laid out in front of us. And it was just hard to do the things that we used to do. So we found out that it was, the tools were sometimes getting in the way, they were overly complicated. They were hard to use, there were too many systems, there were too many rule sets. We weren’t allowed to break the rules, which is one of the funnest parts about tabletop RPGs is actually breaking the rules when it serves the story. We’re trying to stay out of the way. We’re not backed by any big company, we don’t have a bunch of big publishers that are trying to push their content on us. And we’re trying to stay kind of system-agnostic so that we’re not catering to one big game and pushing out some of the smaller games. So homebrew stuff, and a whole bunch of other different platforms, we’re going to make sure that we stay simple enough and out of the way enough so that anybody can put their content on the platform and use it.

Randall 

Tyler and I were talking about it ahead of the podcast. And I feel like what you’ve adopted is effectively the Unix philosophy of do one thing really well. When I pop into Roll20, I can roll dice. But I have other systems that help me roll dice and maybe I don’t need that. I can chat and the chat’s a little clunky, so I’ve kind of got like my dice rolls going or my skills being listed in the same place that I’m chatting. I feel like I can never get the video and the voice to work. And so like in our regular weekly game, we actually use Discord’s voice and video chat. And the only thing we’re really using roll20 for Is the DnDBeyond integration and the map itself. And so taking that to what whatever Tabula Sono’s going to do, right? When I when I look at this and I see what do you want to do. You want to let me build a map. You want to let me import my miniatures. You potentially want to let me bring in like my VTT map if I have a 2d image, or I can even bring in 3d terrain, right?

Jim Powell 

That’s correct. Yeah, 3d terrain. Props, too. So barrels, barrels of monkeys, barrels and monkeys. Whichever.

Randall 

Can I have a barrel, like, exploding monkeys? Not even… the monkeys are fine, but just multiple coming out at a time. That’s really all I want. pressurized monkey cannon in a barrel.

Jim Powell 

Yeah, I will allow it.

Randall 

Yes. Fantastic. Okay,

Tyler 

We have we have canonically on this podcast established that there are rules for a hydraulic-powered badger cannon within the rules of fifth edition D&D. Hydraulic monkey cannon? Not even a hard stretch.

Randall 

It’s and they’re both mammals, right? We’re fine.

Jim Powell 

So you brought up an interesting point about… it’s a, it’s a philosophy that we use when we’re designing products. And it’s the difference between something being complicated and something being complex. Something that’s complicated means there’s lots of things that get in the way, and you have to work around the system itself. It takes a long time to learn it, there’s a huge learning curve. Something that’s complex or robust, is normally taken to be a bad thing, but it’s actually a good thing. One of the things that we’re trying to do, again, staying out of the way… I’ll say out of the way a lot you’ll get annoyed with me. But one of the things that we’re trying to do is when you when you load into the game for the first time, super easy to pick up, because there are only three things that you need to do as a player. We’re going to introduce you to those concepts, and then back up and go away and let you play the game. As a Game Master, we’re going to show you what you need to do in the bare minimum. And then we’re going to leave you alone. There are lots of other things to find. And you can explore and you can find other features, you can look things up. Plenty of tutorials and all that jazz. But we’re trying to show you what you need to know and then just getting out of the way. So you don’t ever have to use any of those crazy features if you don’t want to.

Random 

Yeah, I do say, especially having spent a lot of time in Roll20 and other thankfully dead map generating browser things, I will say that I was really appreciative of how minimalistic the UI is. In the little bits that I saw on the Kickstarter, which they’re currently doing. It’s great, you should go check them out. There’s, you know, there’s like demonstrations and stuff. And while I definitely understand the complexity behind what you can do, and presumably the technical complexity behind what is making that happen, as someone just interacting with it, it feels pretty intuitive. And the things that it wants you do are very easy to do. They’re very easy to just move the thing, place the thing and then it’s gone and you’re not looking at it again. You don’t have, you know, that like this enormous chatlog and all these player avatars taking up space, so I was really appreciative.

Jim Powell 

Yeah, well, I appreciate your appreciation. Thank you. That’s a That’s That’s our goal. And so it’s it’s nice to hear that,

Tyler 

I saw like the first 30 seconds of the Kickstarter originally. And the comparison made in the video was to, like, drawing on a physical sheet of paper, which, if you’ve used the the drawing tools in many other virtual tabletops, they are nightmarish. When I play D&D in person, I use a one-inch gridded easel pad. So it’s this giant gritted sheet of paper, and I can draw all over it. And I could draw walls and doors and, like, battle damage, and whatever, and just do all those things and it’s as easy as using a marker. and tabula Sona looks like it is as close as you can get to that with a keyboard and a mouse. And that is something that I’ve wanted from a virtual tabletop for, like, a decade plus, so I’m very excited to see this.

Jim Powell 

Do we have a quick moment for a storytime? Because I’d love to tell you about like, the genesis of where all of this came from. So we were, we were playing around. Me and my wife hand-built a really big gaming table in our basement. Of course, it’s got cupholders and USB chargers on it. Of course, it does, like, who do you think I am? So we were, we were doing that and one day, one of our friends was like, uou should cut a hole in the middle of that thing, and plop a TV in it. And we were like, okay. So we cut a hole in the table, we plopped the TV in the middle of it, we put plexiglass over the top, and then we would pull up our maps on the TV, plop the miniatures down and move them around. And we had whiteboard markers so if we needed to draw on the board, we could draw over the plexiglas and that was the Tabula Sonpo version 0.1. And we started doing that in person. And then we had to go online and we were like, it’s so… all the, all the other tools. Cool, very nice. Lots of features, lots of bells and whistles, but just too complicated. We just wanted to get back to throwin’ miniatures and dice around and having that tactile feel of moving something physically within a space and seeing things, seeing things adapt to that and being able to literally just draw a circle and say, This is a pond, let’s move on. Rather than Hey guys, let’s take it 15 minutes bio breaks so that I can draw this circle in our tool.

Random 

And one of the things that I wanted to say about that, that you kind of touched on earlier. So 3d. A thing that you would not have been able to do on version 0.1 that is very interesting here. And particularly when you compare it to, you know, sort of the Roll20 and other really big names. Ease of creating multiple layers of, like, a building, and then having things move between them. That is, boy, if you listened to us talk at length about how denoting flying on miniatures is terrible in virtual tabletops. Here you go. There’s your fix. And I, I am grateful that that we’re getting more options for that, because there aren’t a lot in the big names right now.

Jim Powell 

We actually have a campaign that we’re running right now where one of the NPCs is a mole person, and he likes to burrow. And that is a use case that a lot of people never think about, like, what if I actually want to take my mini and sink him into the ground just a little bit. So we made it so that you can do that.

Randall 

How many dragons have burrow speed, Right?

Jim Powell 

That’s right.

Randall 

Absolutely. Something they should take advantage.

Jim Powell 

Yeah. How do you visualize that? Answer: You don’t, I guess. But yeah, now you can. So…

Tyler 

That’s awesome. So you talked about running tabletop RPGs in Tabula Sono, and I have been poring over the Kickstarter materials and other other promotional stuff that you guys have done. I think I saw it mentioned somewhere that people were using this to play Warhammer, as well.

Jim Powell 

Yep.

Tyler 

If I wanted to turn off the grid, or if I just didn’t want miniatures to snap to a grid, could I play a game that didn’t use a grid?

Jim Powell 

Yes, absolutely. We have three options for grids, right now. We have square grids, no grid, and we just unlocked a stretch goal in Kickstarter the other day that unlocks hex grids as well. That means games like Lancer, really an up and coming one right now that a lot of people are like, I really need hex grids. It’s an option. But yeah, if you want to turn the thing off and just move things around freeform or things like that, we also have a measurement tool. I don’t think that’s in any of our material right now.

Tyler 

Nice!

Jim Powell 

But I see you can essentially set a scale. And then you can measure it because in in WarGames and things like that if you don’t have a grid and measuring things becomes crazy important for the ruleset. So there is a measuring tool in there. But in a lot of our games, we actually don’t snap to the grid. It’s an option. And it’s on by default, I’m actually contemplating turning it off by default, because what it does is it allows you to take your character, and when you’re speaking, slightly wiggle it, or slightly rotate it. And it gives it kind of like a life, it’s very, it’s very obvious who’s speaking and who’s talking inside the scene. You can also slowly back away like Homer or into the bushes. So they’re just, there’s different things that you can do. And it’s all in real time. So everybody can see you doing these really slight motion and movements on your miniatures. So you can use that to your advantage.

Randall 

I really want to see people deep-faking the miniatures to actually get, like, my mouth is moving while I’m giving a speech. Sorry.

Jim Powell 

We do have a plugin system that we can talk about later. Maybe that’s a good use case for that.

Randall 

Yeah. There’s a few things that I think are worth hitting. So we have mentioned the Kickstarter, but let’s put it out up front. What’s happening in the Kickstarter, right now? What are your goals? What can people get if they hop in?

Jim Powell 

Yeah, so we, we launched Kickstarter in February, and it’s going to go through March 15. We were funded within the first two hours. So we’re just working on stretch goals right now. Backers, every single tier of backer gets some level of early access. So everyone, not just the top tiers or anything like that. And then we also have, there’s a Kickstarter-exclusive content pack, that again, everybody gets, we’re never going to put those assets anywhere else. We had them professionally model just for us. So if you see them somewhere else, they’re a rip off. But we’re going to, we’re going to give those to all of the, all of the backers as well. And then we just add on things. We’re a free, a free tool. But we do have to keep the lights on. So we have a subscription model that gives you access to unlock some of the freer features. And for more power power users and things like that, you’ll get a lot of use out of that. Most of the tiers also come with 1, 3, 6, 12 month subscriptions. And some of the top tiers come with lifetime subscriptions, which is crazy. The dollar amount of that is is actually dependent on how long you live. So that’s a variable amount.

Randall 

So are you a betting person? That’s really the question we’re asking here.

Jim Powell 

Yeah, how much that one is worth is up to you.

Random 

The first Kickstarter to feature actuarial tables.

Jim Powell 

I’m happy to wear that badge.

Tyler 

So you mentioned asset packs as the, as part of the Kickstarter rewards. What are in the asset packs?

Jim Powell 

Props, mostly. We have a free library of miniatures that we’ve licensed from quite a few different artists. And I don’t, I honestly don’t know if I can say the name, but if you are a person that has 3d printed miniatures for use in Dungeons and Dragons, or Pathfinder, or any fantasy type game, you will probably recognize a lot of the miniatures that we have in our library. But a lot of those are specifically miniatures. It’s actually pretty hard to find good prop or terrain content to license online. So we’re putting that those prop in terrain items are in the Kickstarter exclusive content pack. And then there’s also a boss pack, where we have some, some really high-detail models specifically for our virtual tabletop. And we are going to be as soon as the Kickstarter releases, we will release three different backstories for each of those bosses to kind of get juices flowing and show that they can be versatile and things like that. Yeah, mostly in the Prop packs for for the Kickstarter, it is some really cool bosses, and then a whole bunch of props.

Randall 

Awesome. And we will put a link to the Kickstarter in the show notes. So if you’re listening to this right now, and you want to take a look, pop open your app, look at it, you can click through and you can take a look at this. So you talked about at its core, it is going to be a free tool, and folks will be able to use it for free without paying a subscription service, without paying a one time fee. You even talked about how easy it’s going to be, right? Your DM or whoever else is playing is going to send you a link, you click and you’re in. So at the free tier, what are folks going to be able to get?

Jim Powell 

Okay, so at a free tier as a player, you can play in unlimited games, we’re not going to ever limit that. You have access to the entire free library. I believe at launch, it’s going to be 1200 miniature characters, about three or 400 props. If you’re playing a fantasy, sci-fi, modern, or horror based game, you’re good. That’s all in the free library.

Randall 

Now that’s pretty awesome. I DM’ed and a homebrew game in Roll20 recently, and I swear I spent more time looking for pictures on the internet to then bring them into, like, Microsoft Paint 3d to transparency the background so that I could have Woodhouse from Archer serving drinks to George Clooney for for the the session than I did actually writing the story. And I feel like it showed.

Tyler 

The miniatures were wonderful.

Randall 

There were, there were a lot of jokes, like, that was… I think if nothing else good happened in that game, there was something funny every time we hopped in. But I say this to say like being able to come in and say when I want to find a Ranger, I have, you know, 50 different miniatures to choose from for my particular Ranger to have here. That sounds amazing.

Jim Powell 

Let me toot my own horn just real quick here. But my entire team, we’ve been building ecommerce platforms and search engines and all kinds of crazy things for a long time. So you better believe that if you are looking for something, you can type a couple search terms and you’ll be able to find it. If you type “frog”, frogs will be at the top not six pages down.

Tyler 

Oh good. That’s awesome.

Randall 

Yeah. Okay. Now that’s brilliant.

Jim Powell 

Maybe just search for “corgis” because we have several of those.

Tyler 

Oh, wonderful.

Jim Powell 

We have a battle Corgi. We have a pixie riding a battle Corgi etc. So there you go.

Randall 

I think so we always talk about Tyler’s anti-affinity for spiders. Yeah, I believe it is true that Tyler also loves corgis.

Tyler 

I do enjoy a good corgi. So this has been talked about on the Kickstarter. But let’s say I have invested in a 3d model of my own miniature and I come to Tabula Sono. And I want to use my miniature because I can’t find anything that feels quite right. What do I do with that?

Jim Powell 

You click the plus Import button at the top right hand corner of the screen, you give it the 3d model, and then it plops down onto the board. And I mean plop, there’s a cute little animation where it actually just falls from the sky. And that’s it. We’ve been spending a lot of time on our importer. There are so many different types of 3d assets out there. Most of them are sideways. If you’re a 3d modeler or an animator, you know what I mean. Is the Y axis up, or is the Z axis up? That is like a long, long-lived battle. We will figure that out for you when you import the model.

Randall 

Z is out of the camera. That’s the rule.

Jim Powell 

That’s, that’s the rule. Unless you’re in Blender. Yep, exactly. So we’ll we’ll translate those for you and figure those things out as well as there’s a there’s some floaty things that happen on top. So we’ll figure out where the center is and the top is and do all the hard work. If the model is coming in and it’s too complex to be able to run in the browser. We will lower the quality and will smooth out some of the edges and do our best to merge some of the pieces of it so that we can get it still running on that old work laptop that you’ve been playing games on. I won’t tell your boss, but take it with you so you can play Tabula Sono on the road. And then, yeah, and this is gonna be the same thing for 2d maps as well. I don’t know if we if we talked about that as well. I think, Randall you you were mentioning earlier. But the, the idea there is, there’s a lot of really cool map makers out there that generate 2d maps for you. So take those maps, pull them in, throw your minis on top of them. Same rules there. If it’s, if it’s too, like, too super crazy, high quality, and it’s going to slow people’s computers down, we will downsample it before we put it in the world to make sure that everybody can see it and everything will stay snappy and responsive.

Randall 

Okay, I have to throw you a curveball, and for this I apologize.

Jim Powell 

Bring it.

Randall 

I have had the experience several times of I have an image of a map that I want to use for combat, and somebody already put a combat grid on it. And then I bring it into Roll20. Rectifying that combat grid with Roll20’s combat grid just can’t happen. They’re incompatible, and I don’t know why. Have you had that experience?

Jim Powell 

You are… this is not a curveball, because I was actually working on that product, er the problem this morning. No joke.

Tyler 

Oh, wow!

Jim Powell 

A lot of maps will come in with a 1:1 aspect ratio, which means it’s just as wide as it is tall. But a lot of them from different things are made for print. And they’ll come in in a four by three aspect ratio. So when you pull it in on a screen, the squares are actually not squares. They come in as slightly rectangular and that doesn’t… that’s never going to line up with with actual squares on the screen. So Paul and I, one of the other developers, we were working on a system that would actually look at the grid, try and figure out if it’s square or not, and then try and automatically change it for you. And if we get it wrong, or if it didn’t notice it, then you can always manually squish. And it’s very fine-toothed comb. So you can get it really specific, get those things to line up. And then if all else fails, just pull in your map and turn off the grid. Use the grid that was already in the map.

Randall 

Because we do a free motion so we can just move from cell to cell.

Jim Powell 

Exactly.

Randall 

Perfect. Okay. Yeah, that makes great sense.

Random 

Obviously, you know, if you have models for things like terrain, you’d be able to import those. But if you had like an entire 3d map, would it be able to parse that and try and turn it into like a multi-story building, for instance?

Jim Powell 

Yes, that one will take a little bit of time on the import, because there’s a lot of things that we’re doing. But there’s a really nice animation there. Maybe we’ll add a corgi to it. But the… it’s definitely well worth the wait. We’ve pulled in some pretty crazy things. And we’re actually working on some partnerships with some other software platforms that do things like that already, but they just export it as 2d. And you don’t get that nice depth and things like that. So we’re working, we’re working with a couple people on some things like that, to pull those in. And that’s going to be pretty cool. But yeah, you can, you can pull in pretty much whatever you want, we’ll do our best to pull it in and make it work in the system.

Random 

So I was very explicitly thinking about Dungeon Alchemist, which is another kickstarted product that I have just played around with and had immense fun. I mean, you know, just like building an inn in an hour, and you know, a bunch of hidden secrets and props and stuff. It would do its best to try and figure out like all of the props that I had placed and try and put those based on stuff that you had in your assets? That sounds amazing.

Jim Powell 

We already support 2d from Dungeon Alchemy and Dungeon Alchemist. And Map Maker… Dungeon Map Maker is another one that’s on Kickstarter right now. I think they just finished a whole bunch of other ones. We already support the 2d but like I said, we’re asking around and working on on a couple partnerships to pull in those 3d ones, which, I don’t know, that’ll make my day for sure.

Randall 

So talking about the importing terrain, so… right, digital elevation models exist. In particular, like the geo-tip format is something where like the entire state of Virginia, you can actually go download, I think it like one meter spacing, the exact representation of the terrain of the entire state. So I’m now imagining taking Tabula Sono and I’m gonna march my party through the Shenandoah, and it’s gonna be brilliant. Yeah, maybe we have to chop those into bite sized chunks, though.

Jim Powell 

Neat. We’ll see.

Randall 

Yeah, that’s really cool.

Tyler 

That raises a good question. How much can you fit into a single map? Like if I’m, if I’ve got a map of Virginia or if I want to play Warhammer and I I’m Tyranids, so I’ve got 100 zerglings. I’m mixing my games, but you know what I mean.

Randall 

I actually don’t. What do you mean? Keep going, keep going.

Tyler 

I’ve got, I’ve got gaunts. I’ve got hundreds of gaunts. I’m fighting guard. They’ve got hundreds of conscripts, and we’re gonna mash them together and throw dice at each other. Like, can I fit all those guys on a screen?

Jim Powell 

Yes, so we’re using a common a common thing in the in the game industry called instancing. So if you have a whole bunch of things that are the same thing, there’s a trick that you can do with your computer and your graphics card to make it think that they’re all the same. So essentially, if you have one, or 10,000 guards, it’s the same thing as having one guard. Again, we’re trying to keep things simple and easy to use. And one of those ways is by using some of those tricks and some of those almost hacks to make it so that you can do things like that. If you have 1000 individual guards that are all each individual models, first of all, I’m very proud of you. That’s a that is quite an accomplishment. But that you might start to run into some performance issues in the browser there, which maybe I can speak to next next year. It’s a plan… actually, we’ll come back to that. There’s a plan for that for next year. So we’ll come back to that.

Randall 

Okay. All right.

Random 

A tangent to that would be okay, but what about the space to fit 10,000 guards. Like, so, you know, if they’re on a one inch space, like, am I going to have a map that I need to scroll for three hours to get to the other side of?

Jim Powell 

That’s a good question. We have a huge map. So every scene… you can have multiple scenes, so you can switch between scenes in the game. But every scene has, I believe it is 1200 squares by 1200 squares. If you if you want to get out to the edge of that, when you’re moving, if you hold down shift just like in like other games, you’ll sprint so you can move a lot faster. Without, before we put that in, Rey, our designer, I think she spent like an hour and a half one day and was like “I did it! Guys, I did it.” Like you did what? “I got to the edge of the world!” Screenshots came, started pouring in. So it’s huge. And and you can get around if you need to.

Randall 

That’s like two and a half by two and a half kilometers, ballpark. If you’re assuming five meter squares, right? That’s ridiculous.

Jim Powell 

It’s, it’s silly. And you’re probably not going to be able to use all of it. And yes, that is a challenge.

Tyler 

Okay, we’re gonna model Virginia, apparently.

Randall 

Yeah, that’s the plan. Just a nice pretty valley. That’s all. Awesome. So let’s talk about the team. Who is Tabula Sono?

Jim Powell 

Yeah, so we are small, tight knit. We all have agency development, product development backgrounds. So we’ve been around the block a bunch of different ways. We know a bunch of different good ways to do things and even more horrible ways to do things. We’re also very in tune to the business sides of running a product, what it means to be a free product. Just, spoiler alert, free products still cost money to run and to build and to maintain. So there’s a lot of economics that go with that. So that’s… our team was, we’re basically a full stop product development team. We have all the disciplines covered. And we were, we had an opportunity to cash out of something and take some of that money and reinvest it into ourselves. So we decided we could either buy a big boat and disappear for a couple months. Or we could build this thing that we’ve been talking about for two years now.

Randall 

Wait, how big of a boat did you get?

Random 

1200 squares to a side.

Jim Powell 

Yeah, well… How many squares is your boat?

Randall 

The vessel the imagination.

Jim Powell 

That’s right, we decided to embark on the on the vessel of imagination. So we’re a small team. We’ve got four total people, but it’s actually six different people. Two those people are halftime. So I think that math works out. But three full time dedicated. And then we’ve got a bunch of halftime people to make us up into four, or five. And then we’ve also got contractors that are working on licensed assets and art packs and things like that. But the core team is we’re pretty small. We’re trying to keep it that way so that we can stay in tune with the users. And we’re in Discord all the time. It’s not like the please don’t talk to us in our own Discord type situation. We like to be responsive, and we like to hear what people think. And we like to take that into account. Because, again, we’re not being run by the big companies or the big publishers, we’re being run by the people that use the platform.

Randall 

That’s actually a great point to get to. I feel like we haven’t nailed down a timeline yet. So I see when I look at the Kickstarter… Kickstarter, everything kind of has an August 2022 date. Yeah, no, I said August 2023, date. Some of the features will give you early access. I think it says you’ll get 30 days ahead of time. Some of the features I think says as far as like 45 to 90 days. So yeah, what are the timelines as we look to the summer?

Jim Powell 

We are going to start beta on May the fourth. Yeah. So we’re, we were doing the math and we were like, May 3rd. No, no, we’re doing this on May the fourth. So beta will start on May the fourth and that is invite only or some of the top tier backers. And then 30 days after that, we’ve got early access 1. 30 days after that we’ve got early access 2. And then on August 1, 2022, is our target launch. We put August 2022 in the Kickstarter to give us an additional 30 days should we need it. But we’re pretty confident in our date as of right now. So it’s looking like August 1, 2022 is the free launch to the public. And then early access will come before that. The second early access is also not for, not just for Kickstarter backers, we’ll also do some pre order stuff when it gets closer. So if people miss the Kickstarter, that’s okay. You can still get in beforehand.

Randall 

Okay, awesome. And so you talk about a Discord channel. We will put a link to the Discord channel in the show notes. It is open to the public and you made it seem this way, right?

Jim Powell 

It is yes.

Randall 

Okay, fantastic. So we’ll put a link if people want to hop in and start poking around, get involved in the Kickstarter. And then yeah, you could be beta testing this thing in two and a half months? Is that where we’re at?

Jim Powell 

Two and a half months?.

Randall 

How does that make you feel people are going to be beta testing your product in two and a half months.

Jim Powell 

Makes me feel great. We have a an alpha test going on right now. So I’m not too nervous about beta coming up. But we were talking about, like how much stuff is too much stuff. We have a stress test coming up March 1st. I think we might even livestream it. But we’re going to do a battle royale where we just start throwing players at a big bad evil bad guy. Well, we’ll do like some custom respawn rules. So when when you die, you don’t need to roll a death save, save just like go back 50 meters that way and good luck. We’ll see you in a couple rounds. So we’re just going to go at it and see see what it takes to crash our alpha server so that we can figure out what we need to do for beta servers and production servers. But yeah, so I’m not I’m not too nervous about right now. I think it’s gonna go pretty well. Swimmingly, you might say.

Randall 

I might say that. Okay, we’re gonna get in the weeds for a second because he said something that’s really interesting to me. I’ve imagined the way that you talked about drawing in the browser, that I’m more likely to kill my machine because Chrome is hungry than I am to kill your server. But it sounds like that’s actually not the case. You’ve got actually a pretty good system working.

Jim Powell 

Yeah. So we’re instancing we’re pulling we’re pulling in different types of lower memory use materials. We’re taking into account depth of field so things that are behind you or too far away, we’re not rendering those on screen. So we’re doing a lot of optimization things to keep Chrome and Firefox and even Edge happy. And Safari, too. Yeah, we’re we’re pretty confident about our ability to be able to run those so we’re we’re focusing our testing now on the back end side of things to see what we can do to break that bad boy.

Randall 

I love the broad Edge into this. It’s like, Edge, were you looking for Chrome?

Random 

Meanwhile, I’m actually having this call in Edge.

Randall 

What, Ra– I can’t hear you , Random, what?

Tyler 

I saw a coworker running Edge on a Mac the other day?

Randall 

What? Why? What went wrong in that person’s life?

Tyler 

Wo, uh, we’ll never be a sponsored by Microsoft.

Jim Powell 

So just there was a an E-commerce site that I went to a couple years ago. They actually had an Internet Explorer tax on it. So if you were checking out in Internet Explorer, they would charge you 7% extra, because that’s how much development time they had to devote to getting it running in Internet Explorer. Anyways, moving on. Sorry.

Random 

That’s brilliant. And also, here’s the fun segue off that. Speaking of buying things, so if people want to import their miniatures, nut just for their own, but let’s say, you know, someone is a real good blender artist, and they want to be like, Oh, yes, I did build this, this building. Or maybe I spent 100 hours in Dungeon Alchemist and built a whole campaigns worth of 3d maps. Can I…

Jim Powell 

Generally. So, star star asterisk asterisk. We are launching a creative marketplace, q1 or q2 of 2023. And the idea behind that is, we already have tons of free assets. You can go in and if you happen to have your own assets, you can import them. Nunch of nerds like me, definitely have their own 3d assets. But a lot of normal people don’t. Or like nerd light nerds, nerd light, they might not have 10,000 3d printer files laying around that they can pull in. For those types, there are a lot of people out there that are really talented creators, and they are building things just for their one group and they’re one team. And that almost seems like a waste of their talent. Like, how can we how can we help them get their stuff out? So we’re going to we’re going to build up marketplace and the idea is as a creator, you can upload things into the marketplace if you have the rights to use them, which is what the star star asterisk is. And then when you sell those things on the marketplace, you will get a no, you won’t get a cut, we will get a cut. So there’s there’s this like 50/50 rule, 70/30 rule. It’s heavily weighted in favor of the artist on this one. So we’re not trying to… we’re not trying to buy that yacht anymore. That’s, that’s off the table now. So yeah, so we’re heavily leaning towards the creator. But in the in the marketplace, we will have a whole bunch of stuff, including miniatures from a whole bunch of different genres, like, character miniatures. Props. We’re actually going to be adding particle effects soonish. Fog emitters, so that you can make the make the spooky come out occasionally. And then yeah, if you have prebuilt maps that you’ve made, and have rights to them, then you can put them in there and we can sell them on your behalf and take a cut of that. And then also, tons and tons of plugins. I don’t know that we’ve talked about the dev kit yet. It’s actually not something that we are advertising very heavily right now. But it’s something that we’re getting really deep into in our Discord right now. If you’re a developer, and you’re into this kind of thing, and you want to see how you could extend Tabula Sona in the future, we have a dev corner in Discord where we just pop into it. So…

Randall 

Alright, what are the language API’s?

Jim Powell 

Yeah, so it’s all in browser. Right now, it is all JavaScript. We’re pulling in JavaScript. We have plans. And right now we’re doing a bunch of surveys to see if it’s going to be worth it, to make a Lua interpreter and a Python interpreter to pull on top of that. So those are things that we’re looking into. No promises, hashtag, no promises. So we’ll get we’ll get into that. But if anybody has a strong opinion on that, pop on into the Discord, and let’s talk. But the idea behind those plugins is, we don’t want to be tied down to one specific RPG or one specific system, we want to spend our time building the platform itself. And there are tons of people out there, they have the capability, and they have the time and attention in the skills to be able to write a module in this plugin system, and then use it in their own games, and then share it with other people. So they don’t have to rewrite it. Again, same thing with the Creator marketplace, start star asterisk, you have to have access to and you have to have rights to distribute that content. But if you do, then that’s all for it. And we are the first, the first plugin that we are going to write as an example, is actually integrating with Google Sheets, and pulling in information from Google sheets into the campaign. Sounds weird. But there’s a lot of different applications for that. We’re also going to build a dice roller in our plugin system that will go into the chat window, just again, as an example. And then we also have a… some of our alpha people got really creative, we had a guy that made a maze generator, that would draw a maze. There was an option for that maze generator that would allow it to be non-completable. So that was fun. We had a we had a good time testing that he didn’t tell us about that. So we’re like, wait a second, where’s the accident? There isn’t one. And then all kinds of other really cool stuff like that. So not just not just things that are like specific to content and systems, but also things that are just like drawing tools. So random room generators, random encounter generators, like put in your challenge rating, and it’ll plop minis on the board for you. So all kinds of things like that. And that’s going to be a huge focus for us in 2023, is to keep that going. We don’t ever want to be a closed system. We want to be open and accessible so that people don’t have to wait on us for those like huge releases and all of those things. We’ve got to go through the whole process. But if you just want to bang something out on Saturday, and then play with it on Sunday, like go ahead, just write it and do it. It’s okay. We love you.

Randall 

Nice. Now that sounds pretty exciting. I think one more thing that we kind of glossed over as we were going through everything. I want to take a step back to the subscriptions. Do you have an idea what the pricing models gonna be on the subscriptions?

Jim Powell 

Yes, absolutely. So between 8 and $9. I know that’s a very small range slash very specific range. But we’re doing a lot of testing on that right now. So it will be between $8.00 and $8.99. The reason for that is we want to make it approachable again. So we don’t want to be the most expensive thing on the market. But we also don’t want to sell ourselves short from the value that we’re providing. So we’re trying to strike that balance and we’re, we’re using a lot of user feedback and input to find that balance rather than just taking a stab at it. So that’s why we haven’t decided yet is we’re still working through that. But that that subscription gets you access to a lot of things that are more based on limits. So as a free player, you can pull in your miniature. If you go on Hero Forge, or Titancraft, or Desktop Heroes, and you custom build your own miniature, you can import that as your player, you don’t have to send it to your DM. You’re welcome DMs. And ask them to import it, the player can do it. So you can import that and you can have one of those, you can lift that restriction by getting a subscription or buying anything ever in the marketplace. That limit then goes up to 10. Or if you are a subscriber, it is unlimited star star, the same way that your, that your verizon is unlimited.

Randall 

Unlimited isn’t actually a challenge.

Jim Powell 

That’s… within reason. And same thing for the the 2d imports, there’s a there’s a limit on those that’s released. So our thresholds for those are, if you’re a casual player and or casual DM that has one group or maybe two groups, you don’t have to pass anything. If you’re a power player, that’s in seven campaigns. Again, I’m very proud of you if that’s the case. Or a power DM that’s either doing this professionally or has lots of different groups and likes to really get into it with lots of custom content, then those are the people that we’re catering the subscriptions for.

Randall  

Oh, awesome, perfect. Cool. And so to step back into the roadmap, I feel like you had something you were teasing at earlier. So you’ve already talked about 2023, we’re going to create the crater marketplace, folks will be able to hop in and start contributing both, you know, either through the artifacts that they generate, terrain that they generate, or even it sounds like the plugin engine is actually going to be a really exciting opportunity not just to… right, to actually grow the system. You know, if you come up with a cool module, this might be something that everybody coming into Tabula Sono is actually taking advantage of. What else is on the roadmap?

Jim Powell 

We have a couple different things planned. One very interesting thing about my team is we are all musicians. That’s very weird. And it’s very, it’s very interesting that that kind of just all came together. But we all have… musicians. I actually have a bachelor’s degree in musical theater. And here I am. So that worked, I guess. But we all we all have like classical training, lots of theory, we have a couple composers, so we’re going to be doing some stuff that has to do with music that has to do with music for people that know music, as well as people that don’t know music. You don’t have to worry about your DM going into Spotify and clicking the pause button at just the wrong time where you’re like, oh my goodness, finish the phrase, please. We take care of key signatures and time signatures and all those things. So soundboard for automatic music generation. That’s our… not our end game, but that’s one of the big, like passion projects that we’ve got going on. That one is going to come out in small increments,

Randall 

I have to tell you, though, that actually really excites me. Even if you put that through another beta cycle, it would still be like an amazing thing. I spent… the same time that I was, you know, carving out pictures of famous politicians, I was also hunting down just the right mood music to have in our particular campaign. And it was like, yeah, it was a pain. Like, trying to find like, Okay, I you know, I wanted this to be like mysterious and spooky it also feel like a disco. And that’s hard to find.

Jim Powell 

It is. It is also hard to find, like more ambient music because all the all the things that you probably landed on was a movie soundtrack or a game soundtrack. And those have points of excitement. It’s already pre built into the sound to the song where it’s going to get exciting. So as a DM, if you’re if things are like lulling, when the music is getting exciting or backwards, it’s like watching a movie to the wrong soundtrack. It’s just going to be weird. We’re gonna try and get that cognitive dissonance out of the way and allow the DM to super easily control the mood with things that we already have like visual things like the lighting, you can change the wall colors and the floor colors and all the things, but also give them that other sense, sensory input. That helps a lot. And that’s something that we do in person all the time. I actually have a soundboard and a mixer. Well, we’re like mixed between things, and whatever. So making something like that that’s a lot easier and mimicking the in-person experience that we had again, that’s what we’re going for. We’re also working on partnerships, like I said, for next year, with a bunch of other tools. We’re not looking at everybody as competitors. We’re looking at everybody else in the space as everybody has something to offer to the community. So how can we work together on those things? Some people don’t agree with us on that approach, and that’s fine, but a lot of people do. So we’re working with a lot of people to figure out how we can all work together and make our products work for the good of the community for sure.

Randall 

Awesome. All right. Well, Jim Powell, thank you very much for being with us tonight.

Jim Powell 

You bet I it’s really good to be here and it’s really nice to talk to like minded people that also enjoy corgis and battle music. So if if you’re listening, if you if you would go check out our Kickstarter. Tabula Sono. Search for it and Kickstarter. T-A-B-U-L-A S-O-N-O, and then also come to our website tabulasono.com. Pop into the Discord. Any of our social channels. We have social stretch goals on our Kickstarter. So we’re trying to get to certain follower counts that will unlock things. So not just like funding goals, so help help get the word out. Check it out. If you have any feedback or input, pop into the Discord and just overall just come say hi. I like people. I like friends. Come be my friend.

Randall 

Awesome. All right, come be Jim’s friend. Yeah, well links in the show notes to the Kickstarter, the Tabula Sono website, to the Discord channel as well. And yeah, absolutely check it out. Jim, thanks for being with us. And you at home thanks, too. So now’s the part where we can hang out and be friendly. We can’t leave because if we leave, we risk everything.

Jim Powell 

The trolls are gonna come out. We don’t want to talk about it just yet.

Tyler 

That’s a perfectly reasonable answer, but yes, I agree.

One Response

  1. Keovar February 25, 2022

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