Battlegrounds Ultimate virtual tabletop software (Canceled)
A powerful and empowering toolset for playing pen-and-paper RPGs and boardgames online or face-to-face.
Battlegrounds Games has been developing virtual tabletop (VT) software for over 10 years. It has two main offerings:
- Battlegrounds: RPG Edition (aka BRPG) is for playing roleplaying games. Originally released in 2006, Battlegrounds has incrementally been honed and improved over the course of a decade to become one of the most well-respected and long-lived VT programs around.
- The newer Battlegrounds Gaming Edition (aka BGE) is custom-tailored for playing boardgames, wargames (including tabletop miniatures games), card games, and dice games.
Both programs are system-agnostic (i.e. permit the use of any ruleset) and allow games to be played either live online with up to 16 participants, or in face-to-face game sessions (generally using a projector or an HDTV). A fuller explanation of each program can be found by clicking on the animated images below.
However, both programs are currently at the end of their v1.x update cycle. The time has finally come to take the programs even further. But in order to move forward, a massive rewrite of portions of the apps needs to happen in order to update the underlying technology (the development environment). This overhaul will pave the way for powerful new features and substantial improvements that couldn't possibly be added in the current incarnations.
This Kickstarter campaign is intended to fund the development of Battlegrounds Ultimate (aka BGU) virtual tabletop software, which will be a next-generation fusion and enhancement of our two already-available and mature virtual tabletop programs. BGU should be considered to be version 2 of BRPG and version 2 of BGE, all rolled into one. BGU software releases will be in a "v2.x" format.
How many of these goals can be met will depend on the total level of funding achieved by this campaign.
1. Restore full Mac support
Although both BRPG and BGE were initially cross-platform (Windows and Macs), changes to Mac OS X in recent years have rendered the programs unusable on modern Macs running recent versions of OS X. Updating the development environment is crucial to restoring Mac-compatibility to Battlegrounds, and is one of my main goals for this campaign. The resulting software will not only be faster and more full-featured, it will also be more future-proofed, to ensure that users on both platforms can get many more years of use and enjoyment from the software.
2. A vastly enhanced user interface (UI)
The new UI will be gorgeous (despite being thematically generic), and will look the same regardless of whether you are running the app on Windows or on macOS. Should you happen to switch operating systems someday, you will be able to continue using BGU without missing a beat.
3. Unified code base (Stretch Goal #1)
I want to merge BRPG and BGE into a single program that encompasses the functionality of both programs. Depending on which license/s a particular user has, the program will operate in the corresponding mode. Since Battlegrounds Games is a small independent developer, having a single codebase would allow for significantly faster development and testing, so that new features and bug fixes can be rolled out to users up to twice as fast.
4. Freemium model (Stretch Goal #2)
I want BGU to offer a free level of play, so that it’s usable by anyone, even those who have not purchased a license (albeit with a more limited featureset). This will allow the BGU userbase to grow exponentially, which in turn will make the platform more appealing to game publishers, who may want to make their boardgames and RPG modules available for BGU.
5. Localization (support for multiple languages) (Stretch Goal)
Wouldn’t it be great to break away with the current English-only interface, and offer other language choices such as German, French, and Spanish (and potentially more)?
6. New features, of course (Stretch Goal)
I also want to add many, many new features to make the software even more powerful, versatile, and user-friendly. Although many of these features are ones I've already got planned (some are briefly mentioned in the project video), many will also be new ones suggested by backers of this campaign. Backers are going to help guide the development of BGU by voting on proposed features, by suggesting new ones, and they will often decide the order in which the new features get implemented (except in cases where one feature is a pre-requisite for another). If you're looking for a project where your involvement isn't just in the form of providing financial support but one where you become a part of the creative process, you've found it.
7. Support Materials (Stretch Goal)
These can include video tutorials, written PDF guides, and/or free artpacks and game files. Regardless of whether you are into RPGs or boardgames, there will be something for both crowds.
BGU in General Terms
In keeping with the tradition established by BRPG and BGE, BGU will endeavor to offer top-notch visuals, a deeper level of immersion than competing VTs, ease-of-use, and a very high level of customizability, so that you can play your games exactly the way you want to (especially if you use house rules). Nor will you ever have to do any programming, scripting, or XML editing of any sort. The client software will also continue to “be it’s own server”, so you will never have to rely on a central server being operational in order to use the software, nor will you require an internet connection for face-to-face or LAN use.
Regarding compatibility: Existing content for BRPG and BGE (such as artpacks and game conversions) will also work in BGU, or will be updated to work with BGU (should changes to the file formats be required that can't be auto-updated). It may be necessary to issue new registration codes, but this process will be automated to a great extent.
BGU compared to other VTs
Being a stand-alone client, BGU will be better suited than competing VT solutions that try to shoehorn your web browser into being a suitable gaming environment. Although subscriptions will be an option for those wanting to test out the full-featured software, they will be an exception, as most users will either use the software for free, or pay once and never have to deal with recurring subscriptions or bandwidth and upload limits, nor be subject to server downtimes or the developer going out of business. BGU's 2D (rather than 3D) approach, aside from allowing for faster and more efficient gameplay, has the added benefit of not draining your laptop's battery in record time or kicking your cooling fan into overdrive.
I have an established track record developing virtual tabletop software (BRPG alone has had 93 releases over a 10-year period, and I have never charged for any of those updates!). By being able to build atop my already-finished "version 1" programs, I can shave years off the development time of BGU.
As a software developer, I have a reputation for being accessible, communicative, open to feedback and criticism, and prolific. I've always provided timely technical support to all users of my software. In short, I deliver, I'm in this for the long haul, I have an established reputation to uphold, and I'm passionate about my products.
I expect the first beta release (v2.0) of BGU to be ready sometime around May 2017. There will likely be a couple of alpha releases in the months prior to this. If funding permits, more features will be incrementally added to make the software increasingly powerful while maintaining (or more likely increasing) the ease-of-use, while enhancing the efficiency (meaning your gameplay will proceed faster).
Each of the numbered Stretch Goals reached will require about two months of additional work to deliver, but these will be released as free updates to v2.0, so these will not impact the May 2017 delivery date.
The bulk of the money raised by this Kickstarter will pay for the development time that I have estimated it will take to complete this project, including the various Stretch Goals, if those are achieved. A very small part of the funds (a few hundred dollars) will cover a necessary software upgrade (Adobe Director 12, the new authoring environment), and a similar amount will be earmarked for advertising and marketing the final product.
Please don't get confused or intimidated by the number of pledge levels. Some are strictly for owners of the original BRPG or BGE software, so if you are new to Battlegrounds, you can safely ignore those pledge levels. Conversely, if you already own BRPG and/or BGE, you can completely ignore several pledge levels that are strictly for newcomers.
For those of you who are new to Battlegrounds, this is your chance to save some money on BRPG and/or BGE licenses. These are a one-time purchase (although monthly subscriptions are also available, for those who prefer).
All backers pledging $10 or more to this campaign will be given access to the already-available BRPG v1.9 beta, and to the BGE v1.8 beta as soon as it is released (to download and evaluate; this does not grant you a license if you don't already have one). Early access to the BGU alpha and beta releases will be provided only to those backers who pledge for a BGU (GM or Player) license or upgrade.
In addition to your Pledge Rewards, during this campaign you may pledge for the following items. Simply increase the amount of your pledge by the cost of the Add-On/s you desire (you may also purchase Add-Ons multiple times). A post-campaign survey will be sent to collect additional information and clarify exactly what items you pledged for.
Deluxe GM Bundle: $45 (normally $52) - This includes a GM Client for BRPG ($39), plus Base Map Pack 1 ($9), plus Component Dungeon Pack 1 ($10). Get this if you want a deal on the v1 software. Sold separately, these three items would cost $58.
GM Client for BRPG: $35 (normally $39) - Get this if you want a deal on the v1 software for GMs. This license allows you to host game sessions, or join someone else's game session as a player.
Player Client for BRPG: $15 (normally $19) - Get this if you want a deal on the v1 software for players. This license allows you to join game sessions that someone with a BRPG GM Client is hosting.
Floating License for BRPG: $15 (normally $19) - Add this to your BRPG GM Client to allow someone to join your game sessions using just the free BRPG Demo. In effect, you are paying on behalf of the player. How many Floating Licenses you need to get depends on how many non-paying players you wish to support.
5-Pack of Floating Licenses for BRPG: $70 (normally $79) - Add this to your BRPG GM Client to allow up to 5 players to join your game sessions using just the free BRPG Demo. In effect, you are paying on behalf of five players.
Floating License for BGU: $20 (normally $25) - Add this to your BGU GM Client to allow someone to join your game sessions using just the free BGU Demo. In effect, you are paying on behalf of the player. How many Floating Licenses you need to get depends on how many non-paying players you wish to support.
Upgrade a BRPG Floating License to a BGU Floating License: $10 each (only possible during this Kickstarter campaign) - This Add-On may of course be purchased multiple times.
Upgrade a BRPG Floating License 5-Pack to a BGU Floating License 5-Pack: $45 (only possible during this Kickstarter campaign)
Battlegrounds Gaming Engine (Gamer-8 Client License): $22 (normally $30). The license being offered here comes with 7 free Player Slots, allowing for 8 participants in a game session with only the host needing a license.
Devin Night Token Pack Mega-Bundle: $85 (normally $89) - A collection of 27 themed artpacks containing a total of 1915 tokens. If you missed out on our prior Kickstarter, this is your chance to pick up this incredible collection at a slight discount (an average of $3.19 per artpack).
Social Media Goal: Any backer Sharing or re-Tweeting my campaign launch announcements and/or my Updates to this Kickstarter campaign on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ will get early access to a couple of new BRPG-specific releases and a new game conversion (ie, boardgame module) for BGE. This content will not be available for other Battlegrounds users for at least one month from the end date of this campaign. To be eligible for this reward, you must be following Battlegrounds Games on either Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
$31,500 (Stretch Goal #5): Backers vote on what to add next: new features, multi-language support (if still not implemented), or support materials (if still not implemented) (delivered about 2 months later as a free update)
$35K: All Game Boxes currently available on the BG Store will be available for FREE to all backers of this campaign.
$50K: All backers of this campaign with a BGU GM Client license will receive Devin Night's Token Pack Mega-Bundle (27 artpacks containing 1915 tokens) free of charge.
Virtual tabletop software caters to a very niche market in a very crowded field. BRPG has over 70 competitors in the RPG market, and BGE has around 30 competitors in the board gaming market. To complicate matters, a great many of the VT programs are free (created as hobby projects, rather than businesses). It is nearly impossible to have a commercially viable product at an accessible price point, especially given the abundance of free competing software. I feel this project is ideal for Kickstarter because that's a large part of what this site is about: to bring projects to life which might not otherwise be economically-viable endeavors.
In short, this campaign will finance the development of the Battlegrounds Ultimate software for a minimum of 4 months, working on it full-time, and hopefully for a year or more, if sufficient Stretch Goals are met.
Although BRPG and BGE were self-funded (Kickstarter wasn't even a thing, back then), this time around I need your support to make BGU happen. If you do pledge, I encourage you to be actively involved in the program's creation and evolution, and join what I hope will be an amazing community of avid gamers. By supporting this Kickstarter campaign, you'll have the chance to "get in on the ground floor" and to help shape the future development of the BGU software.
Although I have a well-defined vision for where I want to take this in the future, I also want to hear from all the current and prospective users. Tell me what features you want and need to make your game sessions run more smoothly, more efficiently, and with less effort on your part. Help me create the ultimate tool for your RPG and tabletop gaming needs.
Whether or not you choose to make a pledge to this campaign, I would greatly appreciate it if you could mention this project to friends or family members who might be interested. I've made it easy to do so; just click on one of the buttons below. Help spread the word far and wide.
Last but not least, I'd love it if you would follow Battlegrounds Games on any or all of these social media sites, so you can stay apprised of all the latest news and developments.
Thank you for checking out this campaign!
When I first started contemplating creating a version 2 of my software, I made it clear that owners of v1 would be offered a discounted rate if they upgraded to v2, in other words that there would be a discounted “upgrade” price, rather than having to purchase the software all over again. THIS KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN IS THE MANIFESTATION OF THAT OFFER OF A DISCOUNTED UPGRADE. Once this campaign ends, the upgrade pricing will never be offered again. So if you are a v1 user of BRPG, I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity, because if you don’t and you later decide that you DO want to get BGU, you will have to pay full price.
Risks and challenges
Updating my software to a more-modern development/authoring environment (from Macromedia Director MX 2004 to Adobe Director 12) imposes some real technical challenges, but my research and preliminary R&D efforts have not discovered anything insurmountable.
Delays are always a possibility but I believe I've been somewhat generous in my time estimates to minimize the possibility of a late delivery.
Shipping won't be a factor with this campaign, since all rewards will be digital downloads, so that's a non-issue.
This project will be a full-time endeavor for me, not some tangential side project, so backers can rest assured that I will be devoting my full attention to ensuring a timely delivery of a high-quality piece of software. For over a decade now, developing VT software and content has been a passion of mine, and I am determined to make BGU the ultimate VT (hence the name I selected for it).Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (32 days)