About this project
Our Kickstarter campaign has ended, and if you missed out on the opportunity to support our project, you can still do so through PayPal by visiting our landing site below. We'll have a link to our donations page up in a few. Thank you for your interest in Mote!
A simple table comparing current VTTs to Mote. Do let us know if there's a VTT or other criteria you want to add!
What is Mote?
Our project is a non-profit effort to bring our vision of a Virtual Tabletop community to life.
Mote, in a nutshell, is a free and open software development project centered around a Virtual Tabletop built on top of MapTool, which is, quite possibly, the most widely known, and respected open-sourced VTT project of its kind. Mote does everything MapTool can do, but better, and it can do many things beyond MapTool's frozen feature set.
Mote is heavily enhanced, with a cleaner interface, an intuitive control scheme, the latest bug fixes, and chock full of features relevant to the VTT user base. We have samples of such features in demo videos below. Please feel free to skim through them at your leisure.
For the sake of comparison, here's a YouTube channel showcasing videos of MapTool being used (thanks to booga). While they're in French, they're really well-made. Here's another nice video (thanks to brad), this time in English.
As can be seen, MapTool has little in the way of a friendly user interface, and this is probably why a lot of first-time users back away, and choose something more pretty-looking, which is sad, because they miss out on the fact that MapTool is still leagues ahead in terms of relevant features.
Like its parent, Mote follows the free software ideal, in that, beyond the funds necessary to support development, the resulting product will always remain free, and its source code, openly available to the public. Taken from source code licensed under Apache 2.0, we look to release it under the same or similarly non-restrictive licensing.
We believe that an open, and free application, that is fully controlled and owned by its users, is how things should be when it comes to a Virtual Tabletop application.
We also believe that for this ideal to take root and spread, work must be done, not only on the application itself, but also on growing a healthy community that gives back to itself in a sustainable manner. We have plan to accomplish all this, and with your help, we can definitely make this happen!
Detailed Video Demos
Here are several in-depth videos showcasing some of the great new features people can expect to play around with once they get their hands on Mote releases.
For Phase 1, more often than not, videos will highlight features that are complementary to the original MapTool experience. Other videos will stress the Mote paradigm of empowering framework/game designers with powerful, yet easy to use design tools, so that they in turn can provide great gaming experiences to their players.
More videos will be made available throughout this Kickstarter drive.
Here's an early demo of what we have planned for Mote's new map system. It'll run on OpenGL, hardware-accelerated graphics, and have an open API in script to insert amazing visual effects found in no other VTT! More details here (http://bit.ly/1iZfYTk)
Play virtually popular sound formats from virtually any source! Please visit this page for more info (http://bit.ly/1aSq34C)
Ever wanted to open MapTool and just get directly to playing without having to write macros for basic dice rolls? Well this feature's for you ^_^ Read more about it here (http://bit.ly/1bKidW4).
Script writing made as easy as possible. Mote has a powerful macro editor stocked full of nifty features such as syntax highlighting, code completion and folding, bracket matching and in-word access to help pages. View the details here (http://bit.ly/M9HOkW)
A powerful VTT needs a reliable means of storing data. Whether its character sheet details, or the information on monsters, spells,items, and handouts, there is just too much to keep track of during games for peace of mind. We explain the reasons for this enhancement here (http://bit.ly/1eOJblg).
Trust us, while most users personally won't find a use for this, this features is probably one the most significant enhancements done on Mote. Keep an eye out for future game services that are centered on generating these GUI-less Motes. More on this here (http://bit.ly/1eoriUd).
Okay, so why Kickstarter?
We decided to do a Kickstarter project because we wanted to take a positive direction toward a life where we make a living on doing the things we love to do, while being around the people we love.
Succeeding at this will enable us to take a step back from our desk jobs, and fully focus on, not only finishing what we've started for Mote, but laying the foundation and setting things up in order to pursue our ambition to become a fully-fledged development company . We are excited at the possibilities, and can't thank you all enough for supporting our dreams.
While we worked independently from the team that made the official MapTool code, our aim was always to gather support in achieving the following goals:
Push the ideal of free and open-sourced software, running in a free and open community.
Empower game masters and designers to enrich content for the RPG community
Expand the MapTool user-base through this project
Enrich the tabletop community by adding a fully functional VTT option to the mix; moving ahead of the competition by making Mote the most feature-rich choice, despite its dirt cheap price tag.
With these goals, we are quite sure that Mote will stand as the shining standard for what Virtual Tabletops should be.
It is important to emphasize the point of the Kickstarter, which is to fund the development period, and not the product per se. This is because the end-product is intended, as its predecessor was, to be (forever) free.
We plunged into this fully aware of the fact that there are other competing products out there. Apart from other VTTs that haven't seen any development recently, we are also very much aware of the features offered by platforms such as Roll20, 3D Virtual Tabletop, and (the now defunct) TableTop Forge,. Without a doubt, these are great products, with solid visions of what they want their offerings to provide in the future. We just don't necessarily agree with their business model, especially when it comes to ads and access to certain features through subscriptions.
With that being said, we think Mote will end up as the VTT of choice for most enthusiasts. Here are the several reasons why (read more about it by clicking the link):
- $0.00 - Free always makes a nice bullet point. After the initial investment of supporting development on Mote, that's it. No more charges. Unless you want to pay us more, or make donations, you won't hear us complaining :)
"We provide the tool, you create the content" - we didn't design Mote just so we can benefit from or control what you do. Mote will be just that, a tool. What you do with it, is your own, and only your own, business.
Gaming on and off the cloud, and headless mode - We have a new mantra for the tabletop community "Full features for FREE™!". Try repeating it like 5x, and it will grown on you. Mote will never hide or expose features based on how much money you gave us. On the development run, leading all the way to the final public release, everyone, will get Mote at full power, warts and all, to do as they please. We only ask that you help Idle Ideas achieve its community ideals of creativity, helpfulness, generosity, and freedom.
Ease of use - As much as we love MapTool, it's interface leaves much to be desired. For people driven away from using it, it is common to hear that everything just feels so clunky, and dated. Mote will change all that. One of it's top priorities is to over-deliver the best interface and control scheme available on any VTT. Maybe it will never feel smooth like butter, but it WILL come close.
Macro scripting support - Gone are the days when people stop themselves before they even start thinking of writing macro script.
Superior vision tools - To this day, MapTool's vision is still holding it's own against other VTT's. Mote takes this even further by optimizing the underlying code, and is in the process of fixing several unpleasant experiences associated with individual views. What we are excited about is our eventual rewrite of the vision system, all detailed on the link above :)
Sound controls - Music, the great communicator! We believe in this so much that it was the first feature we wrote in after finishing our macro editor. Sound controls in Mote function like any other sound player, but best of all, it's accessible through macro script! Now every action within the game can be synced to sound, and every situation can be scripted with the right background music. Check out the sound demo we made to see what we mean.
Alternate data manipulation, hosting, and dissemination - Simply put: databases, web services, and push systems for auto updating, and information delivery.
HTML5 and rich internet content - Write modern interfaces for your players! Interact with content on the web! Embed material created for web viewing into Mote! Who needs a browser anymore? We apologize for all the hype-sounding verbiage. We just couldn't help it :)
A host of other stuff! - There's just so much to mention and these will be brought up as more details are made available as we progress along the Kickstarter period. Please do not hesitate to ask questions. We will be more than glad to answer!
Phase Plans as Stretch Goals:
Right now, Phase 1 is simply a heavily enhanced version of MapTool, whereas accomplishing all the planned phases will provide investors in the idea with a platform to do just about anything in terms of tabletop gaming.
Development for Mote will come in phases, driven primarily by the funding accrued from this Kickstarter. Each phase has a set goal to accomplish, with Phase 1 primarily focused on providing ease of use through a more intuitive user interface, and enhancing current tools to assist campaign builders in their creations.
Phase 2 is the main push for this Kickstarter. Apart from putting great tools in the hands of GMs, we also want to provide a gentler learning curve for first-time and returning users.
Rest assured, as long as the community is supportive of Idle Ideas' continued development of Mote, we are very eager to comply!
Stretch Goals in Detail:
In all phases, the optimization and translation aspects are continuously being worked on, and there will be plenty of undocumented (here on KS) new features that will get coded in as development progresses. Things such as new macro functions, map tools and effects, and a whole lot more.
Until the initial goal is reached, we refrained from displaying the actual computed cost to development time, for now
Phase 2 Stretch Goals: Ease of Use upgrade
- $7,000 - IRC + muliple chat windows: We will be integrating this powerful method of connecting people and communities. We have a lot of plans for this, as it is an ideal platform to disseminate information; for example, the configuration settings required for game sessions to start. Also, since we're going through a GUI revamp at this stage, we will either be upgrading or retiring clunky MapTool interfaces in favor of a more responsive GUI.
- $8,000 - Help system and wizards (e.g. framework creation, network setup). Total revamp of desktop GUI toward customizable JavaFX and stylized Swing. Skin Mote the way you want it to look like!
Estimated time of delivery: Mid-2014
Phase 3 Stretch Goals: Designer Tools
- $8,500 - Cards support - We supply the card system, you dump in the cards. Shuffle, deal, win. Rinse and repeat.
- $9,500 - New event hooks. We've rewritten this aspect of MapTool, making it easy to create more event types. Currently, events are mainly triggered when a campaign is loaded, and when a token is moved. To date, Mote has added 5 more events, all with completely different triggering mechanisms.
$12,500 - Debugging tools for macro writing. These include: variable value watch, execution context monitor, step-by-step or line-by-line macro execution. No other VTT has a robust editor, and even less will have the power of a highly fledged development environment.
- $15,000 - HTML5 support. Build nice in-game interfaces, and serve rich content to your players! Design content displayable by HTML5, and offer it to the community! The eventual interface scheme for Mote will be very minimalistic. We decided to do this in order to make game content created by users stand out more. With the power afforded by the HTML5 standard, and what is sure to be an army of expert and hobbyist programmers, we look forward to what the community comes up with.
Estimated time of delivery: Last quarter 2014 - January, 2015
Phase 4 Stretch Goals: Networking
- $ - Client-Server rewrite - we will rewrite the network capabilities of Mote to accommodate the features we've got lined up for the higher stretch goal levels. Stability, and efficiency over connected clients, are the benefits gained from these changes
- $ - External services on the web, and other server-side components. An example is a cloud-based service that generates and hosts Mote sessions.. Another is our plan for what will host the in-application store. Discussions regarding the potential for Idle Ideas itself hosting such services starts here. Note that the last statement will likely entail a small maintenance fee which completely goes toward funding subscribers' data usage. Since we believe in freedom in software, users are encouraged to roll their own instances over platforms such as Google's Cloud Engine, or Amazon' robust web services, using the service applications we'll provide here.
Estimated time of delivery: Early 2015Phase 5 Stretch Goals: The New Map System
- $ - Animation API. Translate, rotate, transform, and apply other effects to in-game objects through script.
- $ - Complete map building and presentation platform overhaul to hardware accelerated graphics and physics. This touches on map layers, dynamic lighting, and, of course, Fog of War.
$ - Cross platform clients. Apart from the desktop OS's that can run Java, we will have Mote clients running on both Android and iOS. Exciting, no?
Estimated time of delivery: 2015
A Virtual Tabletop for Everyone
Before anything else, we'd like to say that, even if most of the project aspects detailed here are technical in nature, and may seem to only benefit those who know how to use them, the support given to this project also supports the creative community that will eventually use the application.
So while you may believe that you have no use for this tool, since you lack the technical expertise, there are a large number of people eager to use the tool, in order to create projects of their own, that will benefit the tabletop community as a whole.
We invite you to take a few minutes to review some of the empowering features you will help bring to reality with your support.
What would we be without the help of others?
We'd like to thank the following awesome brands for providing their support to this Kickstarter:
Here's our landing page again, please help us get the word out by visiting this site: Project Mote's Landing Site
Risks and challenges
There are virtually no risks involved. The official MapTool software, which Mote follows closely, is at its development cycle's end. At the time of this launch, Mote is already a more advanced offering that does everything MapTool can do, and much more. This basically means that this software is, at this stage, fully capable of (easily) creating game content and running sessions.
Phase 1 features are, at most, either complete or near completion, with the exception of the wizard interfaces, which are trivial to make since the underlying mechanisms involved have already been coded in. We cannot stress enough that most of the work done on Mote is improvements under the hood; all the hard work needed to be ready for the development period that commences once this campaign reaches its funding goals.
The Kickstarter drive, at its minimum goals, is for allowing development time to polish up the experience even more, and to allow time for time-consuming aspects such as GUI improvements, writing the xml dictionaries for code completion and assistance, etc.
If any delays should arise, these will most likely be related to providing the rewards where external parties, such as art and module creators, are involved. But I do not foresee this problem arising as these sources are very professional, and almost always go above and beyond in fulfilling their provisions for similar causes.
Stretch goals involving highly technical aspects such as dynamic vision, the new layering system, HTML5 support, and the like, may incur delays but the delivery schedule has been engineered to provide completely functional instances of the tool that do not miss or rely on a promised future feature, and have such features staggered in order to deliver them in a finished state.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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