What's it gonna cost?

edited May 2009 in EpicTable Discussion
I just found out about this program tonight and i'm curious as to what the cost is going to be as I saw nothing on the main site mentioning it.



So, the question is... How much is that Doggy in the window gonna cost?
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Comments

  • duvik;716 wrote: I just found out about this program tonight and i'm curious as to what the cost is going to be as I saw nothing on the main site mentioning it.



    I get the feeling that it's going to be pay to play though.



    So, the question is... How much is that Doggy in the window?


    Hey duvik,

    Pricing isn't set yet, but here's what I can tell you:

    • It's not going to be free.

    • It's not going to be out of reach.

    • There will be some manner of floating license

    • There will be some sort of outfit-my-group plan

    • There may be a subscription model, but I'm very aware of pushback on yet another subscription service, so don't blast me yet.;) It would be less like an MMO sub and more like a tools sub--free updates, perks, floating licenses, ... something along those lines. But I'm still just thinking on this.



    I haven't started the licensing discussion yet, so you're arriving at a good time. I want to arrive at something that works for me and works for all of you. (Okay, that being perhaps unachievable, most of you.) I want something that's fair, lets people bring their group in without the need to sell all of them on EpicTable, and lets people demo EpicTable to others. I just need to translate that into specifics.



    I guess this just opened the pricing discussion.:eek:
  • Well, it's a tough sell given the competition already out there.



    Klooge and Fantasy Grounds already have a head start on you in the pay to play department and there are free programs that are also going to be giving you a run for your money.



    You've also got piracy to consider... Klooge and FG have already been broken I believe and it's only a matter of time afore your program gets cracked.



    However, if it does get cracked, that means it's worth cracking if ya follow me ;D



    Are you going to have two different clients? A GM and a player client? Or will one client serve both purposes?



    My suggestion would be $10 for a GM client and $5 for a player license if you go the dual route. Maybe a combo pack for a DM that would include 4 player licenses for a one time cost of $25.



    I really don't see a subscription service working out at all. How would you plan on working that?
  • duvik;719 wrote: You've also got piracy to consider... Klooge and FG have already been broken I believe and it's only a matter of time afore your program gets cracked.


    I know that FG1 was cracked/pirated, but hadn't heard about that happening with FG2.
  • Duvik's suggested pricing would probably net you between $1500 & $2000 per year. If you have a day job, that might be enough for you, if all you're hoping to get out of this commercial endeavor is some spending money to feed your RPG hobby needs. But I suspect you may want to double or triple those suggested prices to be on par with other commercial VTs. If a product is too much cheaper than competing products, sometimes people assume it must not be as good or have as many features as its competitors, and that translates into less sales.



    Personally, I think all commercial VTs are underpriced, for the amount of effort that goes into making the software and the smallish size of the niche market (exacerbated by the availability and abundance of free VTs).
  • My price suggestions reflect what I'm willing to pay for a product that performs a function that is already emulated exceedingly well by free software.



    From what I've read so far, there will be a few extra features that are nice but, I can't see anything that would be much more.



    There is certainly a lot of effort put into development of such a program but, it's something that is going to be resold over and over after the main base code is set. If his product is good, it'll continue to sell for years to come.



    So far as cracking goes, if FG2 hasn't been cracked yet, it's only a matter of time. If folks can break the security surrounding a $4000 program like Solidworks for 3d Modeling or Photoshop for graphic design, they can most certainly crack a simple VGT.



    The question on that matter is, will the program be worth bootlegging. If the answer is yes, that means you have a success on your hands.



    What is your pricing on Battlegrounds? I'd have to say that your opinion on this matter is very biased. The reason, if Epictable runs as good as things are looking, it's going to be stiff competition for you.



    This table looks pretty sweet but, it had better offer me something for my money that the free alternatives do not. 80% of the most important features are already accounted for.



    It's what he does above and beyond what is offered for free already that I am purchasing.



    Battlegrounds, Klooge, Fantasy Grounds 2, and any other paid VGT has yet to show me anything I can't get for free via my preferred freebie tables. We've had this debate before you and I if I recall.



    You've yet to show me why Battlegrounds is any better than the freebirds.



    Anyway, back to this topic...



    This is most certainly a niche market. It's also a market that can have nearly anything it wants for roleplaying online for free. If you overprice it, you're just digging an early grave.



    Why should he offer his product up at the same price as his competitors? Epictable needs something to entice folks away from the other paid options.



    Setting an even medium between free and what the established guys are charging is in his best interests but, certainly not yours. ;D



    And thus I defend my suggestion. From the standpoint of a potential consumer.



    edit: don't forget about that edit button Heruca... I'm sure you know the general Taboo on double posting
  • duvik;719 wrote: I really don't see a subscription service working out at all. How would you plan on working that?


    I'm still thinking through how this could work. There are a couple models I've seen:

    • some upfront purchase price + some smaller amount per year for updates

    • "free" product download with a monthly fee

    • upfront price + subscription for extras like updates, floating licenses, access to additional features, etc.



    In any case, I'm not talking about hitting people for a lot of money. Something less than the initial cost. In terms of orders of magnitude, I was thinking about something to the tune of $25/year. I'm more comfortable (as a consumer) with a yearly sub, rather than getting hit monthly for less, though I've heard people say exactly the opposite.



    My motivation for doing something like this would be two-fold:

    1. overcome the psychological barrier to upgrading (For instance, I have some dev tools that are on subscription and some that I have to take explicit action to upgrade. I'm happy to have upgraded both, but the one I have to take action on always causes agonizing over should I, shouldn't I? Whereas the one that's on subscription just arrives like a present to myself. In both cases, I've spent the money, but in the subscription case, I'm happier. Maybe I'm the only one irrational about that kind of thing....:o)

    2. offset the costs associated with some of the features I'd like to add that would require more backend infrastructure. This is really the major issue. There are features I'd like to add but which carry a recurring cost in proportion to the number of users. Without recurring revenue to offset that cost, the product's own success could result in my being unable to afford to maintain those features. For that reason, I'd think very carefully about introducing them in the first place if I'm reliant on upgrades for ongoing revenue.



    All of this is just thinking and talking right now. Obviously, I can't/won't do something that the community rejects. The pricing model and the options open to me as a developer are somewhat entwined. If I'm in a single-buy, low-cost, niche market, I have to watch recurring costs really closely.
  • duvik;726 wrote: edit: don't forget about that edit button Heruca... I'm sure you know the general Taboo on double posting


    For what it's worth, addressing different topics in different messages the way Heruca's done is fine by me. (In fact, I'm doing it by posting this.) I'll keep that in mind when I'm on other boards, but here, I don't consider it taboo.
  • For what it's worth, addressing different topics in different messages the way Heruca's done is fine by me. (In fact, I'm doing it by posting this.) I'll keep that in mind when I'm on other boards, but here, I don't consider it taboo.


    Yer board, yer rules ;D
  • duvik;726 wrote: My price suggestions reflect what I'm willing to pay for a product that performs a function that is already emulated exceedingly well by free software.



    From what I've read so far, there will be a few extra features that are nice but, I can't see anything that would be much more.



    There is certainly a lot of effort put into development of such a program but, it's something that is going to be resold over and over after the main base code is set. If his product is good, it'll continue to sell for years to come.



    So far as cracking goes, if FG2 hasn't been cracked yet, it's only a matter of time. If folks can break the security surrounding a $4000 program like Solidworks for 3d Modeling or Photoshop for graphic design, they can most certainly crack a simple VGT.



    The question on that matter is, will the program be worth bootlegging. If the answer is yes, that means you have a success on your hands.



    What is your pricing on Battlegrounds? I'd have to say that your opinion on this matter is very biased. The reason, if Epictable runs as good as things are looking, it's going to be stiff competition for you.



    This table looks pretty sweet but, it had better offer me something for my money that the free alternatives do not. 80% of the most important features are already accounted for.



    It's what he does above and beyond what is offered for free already that I am purchasing.



    Battlegrounds, Klooge, Fantasy Grounds 2, and any other paid VGT has yet to show me anything I can't get for free via my preferred freebie tables. We've had this debate before you and I if I recall.



    You've yet to show me why Battlegrounds is any better than the freebirds.



    Anyway, back to this topic...



    This is most certainly a niche market. It's also a market that can have nearly anything it wants for roleplaying online for free. If you overprice it, you're just digging an early grave.



    Why should he offer his product up at the same price as his competitors? Epictable needs something to entice folks away from the other paid options.



    Setting an even medium between free and what the established guys are charging is in his best interests but, certainly not yours. ;D



    And thus I defend my suggestion. From the standpoint of a potential consumer.



    edit: don't forget about that edit button Heruca... I'm sure you know the general Taboo on double posting




    I must say you're wrong on the "This table looks pretty sweet but, it had better offer me something for my money that the free alternatives do not. 80% of the most important features are already accounted for." bit, you may get a fair percentage of the features with free software, but you'll have to use multiple ones, instead of a single encompassing all VT such as EpicTable.



    EpicTable's character sheet generator, as far as I know is pretty much unique. At least a few more features are pretty rare too, but, hopefully, you'll see by yourself on a demo.
  • The demo will certainly tell the tale.



    From what I've read, 80% is a fair estimate. There isn't much that CAN be offered above what is available for free already.



    How much more is needed above and beyond the ability to roll dice, chat, display maps and tokens, and store macros?



    That there encompasses 100% of what one needs to play online.



    My estimate of 80% was an arbitrary number that represents the bulk of what is necessary for playing online using a VGT. Anything above and beyond that is just a perk.



    I don't believe that you'd need to use multiple VGTs to achieve that 80%. In fact, MapTool covers all the bases and then some. It even has decent character sheet functions.



    So, here's the question that's going to make or break Epictable.



    Can you honestly say that it is going to be better than MapTool is at this point in MapTool's development cycle? If the answer is yes. Tell me exactly how it is going to be better.



    MapTool sets one heck of a bar. One would be hard pressed to get much higher. Even harder still if they want money for the product.
  • I'll setup another round of demos soon, and you can draw your own conclusions. I have a lot of respect for the other VTs out there, and I'm not going to get into picking apart anybody's feature set. I think gamers should evaluate what's out there and make an informed decision about which VT makes the most sense for them. (Heruca maintains a nice list of the VTs out there.) MapTool is going to be the right VT for some. For others, it'll be Battlegrounds or Fantasy Grounds, and I'd like to think that EpicTable is going to be the right choice for some of you. Time will tell.
  • I can tell you that none of the existing VTs perform well when it comes to the multitude of indie rpgs such as Dogs in the Vineyard, In a Wicked Age, Universalis, or Primetime Adventures.



    These games tend to have novel dice mechanics and the character sheets change frequently. There are also a lot of them, and the community of people who enjoy them tend to play a game for a few sessions and then switch to another game. Since there are tons of games out there, it has to be easy to create character sheets and dice mechanics without spending months learning some obscure scripting language.



    I don't know that ET will outperform other VTs for traditional games like Savage Worlds or D&D, as I don't play those games; but for indie rpgs it is the only one for me.
  • John Lammers;717 wrote:

    • There may be a subscription model, but I'm very aware of pushback on yet another subscription service, so don't blast me yet.;) It would be less like an MMO sub and more like a tools sub--free updates, perks, floating licenses, ... something along those lines. But I'm still just thinking on this.

    Sorry to "blast" you, but I would not pay a subscription fee for a VT out of general principle and most RPers I know are the same way. I feel you are very wrong in your belief that subscription fees have a better psychological impact. One-time fees allow to you to know exactly how much it's going to cost you and to decide whether you really feel it's worth it. Subscription fees force you to make a long-term commitment and to constantly think about whether you've gotten you're money's worth since the last payment.



    Besides, subscription fees make a developer obligated to constantly release quality updates rather than allowing him to set his own pace or to or branch out into other projects.



    Also, subscription fees punish people who play infrequently, early adopters, and people who who like to own multiple VTs. Some people like to use a different VT to each type of game, while others are willing to purchase VTs they don't use very often just to support the community.



    And finally, subscription fees punish those without a regular income or credit card as well as those who fund their RPing by extracting money from reluctant players rather than out of their own pocket. It can be very difficult and annoying for such people to scrounge up the money and get it into a paypal account on a regular basis.



    duvik;726 wrote: What is your pricing on Battlegrounds? I'd have to say that your opinion on this matter is very biased. The reason, if Epictable runs as good as things are looking, it's going to be stiff competition for you.
    While I agree with you that pricing for BG has always seemed a bit high to me, I think it is very unfair to heruca to dismiss his opinion just because he has his own product. He has been very objective and supportive of other projects, especially ET, and always encourages people to pick whatever VT they will be most happy with.

    duvik;726 wrote: My price suggestions reflect what I'm willing to pay for a product that performs a function that is already emulated exceedingly well by free software.

    [...]

    This table looks pretty sweet but, it had better offer me something for my money that the free alternatives do not. 80% of the most important features are already accounted for.
    duvik;741 wrote: There isn't much that CAN be offered above what is available for free already.



    How much more is needed above and beyond the ability to roll dice, chat, display maps and tokens, and store macros?



    That there encompasses 100% of what one needs to play online.
    Some rulesets and game types can be rendered utterly unplayable by the lack of a single feature. Often two people using the same ruleset (even common ones like D&D), will have vastly different needs.



    You're implying that "roll dice, chat, display maps and tokens, and store macros" are each simple, easy to implement features that are used the same way by everyone. However, those features are massively complex in their implementation and subtle limitations can become very obvious during a game, such as a limitation on the size of a map or the ability to quickly and reliably deliver graphics to the players. Every system has different dice mechanics, every game type uses maps and tokens differently, creating very different needs for different people. Even the chatting capabilities of a VT can vary greatly.



    Besides, there ARE a LOT of other features to be considered. Dynamic character sheets, filetype support, extensibility, file management, Fog of War, turn sequencers, drawing tools, graphics filters, user interface, documentation, networking, licensing models, audio support, and much much more...



    While you don't need to have low standards to go with the free options, you do need to be flexible. The paid solutions are designed for people with very specific needs or desires. Just because a VT can't attract everyone does not mean that it will fail, unless it is, as heruca mentioned, extremely income-dependent. I guess I just felt you were saying that if John does not manage to convince the entire MapTool community to switch to ET, then it is doomed to failure, which is obviously untrue. ;)



    heruca;724 wrote: Duvik's suggested pricing would probably net you between $1500 & $2000 per year. If you have a day job, that might be enough for you
    Honestly heruca, I don't think the VT market will support a full-time income no matter what, unless you really did manage to recruit every single buyer out there.
    heruca;724 wrote: If a product is too much cheaper than competing products, sometimes people assume it must not be as good or have as many features as its competitors, and that translates into less sales.
    While that's true, RPers are notoriously reluctant to part with money, so I think the appeal of a lower price would win out in the end if the features really were comparable.
    heruca;724 wrote: Personally, I think all commercial VTs are underpriced, for the amount of effort that goes into making the software and the smallish size of the niche market (exacerbated by the availability and abundance of free VTs).
    People rarely get what they deserve ;) The market will always set the price. As you know, no one makes a VT to get rich; developers get started because they want something to suit their own needs or because they want to contribute to the community. That's *why* there are so many free VTs.
  • I think you made several good points and I didn't want to take them out of context, but it was getting tough to reference pieces of your post, so ultimately, I chunked it up. I actually share some of your concerns about a subscription model, and I appreciate the feedback.

    Omnidon;749 wrote: Sorry to "blast" you, but I would not pay a subscription fee for a VT out of general principle and most RPers I know are the same way. I feel you are very wrong in your belief that subscription fees have a better psychological impact.
    Apparently. ;) Not to worry, no lasting blast marks here.

    I was just speculating based on the way some of the tools I use are priced. I don't like deciding whether to upgrade, and a yearly sub--as long as the price is low enough--is like not deciding, in an irrational, twisted sort of way. I don't expect everyone who buys EpicTable to be irrational. ;)

    Omnidon;749 wrote: One-time fees allow to you to know exactly how much it's going to cost you and to decide whether you really feel it's worth it. Subscription fees force you to make a long-term commitment and to constantly think about whether you've gotten you're money's worth since the last payment.
    I think that depends on the length and price of the subscription. If it's a yearly sub, and the price is relatively low, relative to a typical upgrade, I think it's actually better, precisely because it's not a long-term commitment. I feel a lot better about my $70 yearly sub for one of my dev tools than my occasional $450 Visual Studio upgrade. (Neither figure bears any resemblance to prices I'm considering for EpicTable.;))



    Omnidon;749 wrote:

    Besides, subscription fees make a developer obligated to constantly release quality updates rather than allowing him to set his own pace or to or branch out into other projects.
    I agree with that to the extent that there's no service provided other than the software itself. If there were something else that one had access to via the subscription, it changes the equation.

    Omnidon;749 wrote:

    Also, subscription fees punish people who play infrequently, early adopters, and people who who like to own multiple VTs. Some people like to use a different VT to each type of game, while others are willing to purchase VTs they don't use very often just to support the community.

    I really do agree with this one (unless the subscription fees are so low that they don't cover their own costs). It's tough keeping a group together, and I really don't want to have people paying for something they're not using.



    The subscription idea was the result of my thinking, "What if I release feature X, which is a bandwidth consumer, and people buy version 1 (hooray!), use the hell out of it (hooray!), and by year 2 I have no money coming in and a hefty bandwidth bill that keeps coming (boo!)." That line of thinking got me to, "I either need to forget feature X, figure out a different way to do something like it, or figure out a way to have recurring inflows to help offset recurring outflows.



    So, my initial thought was, if I foresee ever doing a subscription, I should consider it right up front, so that people don't feel like I've changed the rules on them. As I've gathered feedback and thought about it more, it seems to me that the way to go is to pull together a suite of features that are nice but not required for EpicTable (I'm taking "Future Hypothetical Stance" here) and make those subscription-based if they need to be.

    Omnidon;749 wrote: While I agree with you that pricing for BG has always seemed a bit high to me, I think it is very unfair to heruca to dismiss his opinion just because he has his own product. He has been very objective and supportive of other projects, especially ET, and always encourages people to pick whatever VT they will be most happy with.
    I couldn't agree more.
  • John Lammers;752 wrote: I agree with that to the extent that there's no service provided other than the software itself. If there were something else that one had access to via the subscription, it changes the equation.


    Yeah, I actually meant to mention that the only thing that might make a subscription fee justifiable was a feature that required constant maintenance and developer investment above and beyond initial development, but, in the case of a VT, there really aren't many such features.

    John Lammers;752 wrote: The subscription idea was the result of my thinking, "What if I release feature X, which is a bandwidth consumer, and people buy version 1 (hooray!), use the hell out of it (hooray!), and by year 2 I have no money coming in and a hefty bandwidth bill that keeps coming (boo!)."
    Bandwidth costs are absurdly low these days. If you're using a big webhost such as lunarpages.com or midphase.com, then 100 GB or more per month (a typical hit from the BG website), doesn't even come close to touching your bandwidth limit on a typical $70-80 / year plan.



    Website storage space too is extremely inexpensive on such plans. I doubt you could fill it up even if you offered everyone free storage for their materials (something which I do regularly). I suppose a long term guarantee of said space might warrant on ongoing fee, but that would have to be implemented in such a way as to attract a long of users.



    I do admit that I have actually considered myself developing a dedicated server application for roleplaying needs, and dedicated servers, unlike webservers, ARE expensive. Such a service would definitely require a subscription fee, but unfortunately the financial risk of undertaking such a project if it failed to sell quickly is likely prohibitive.

    John Lammers;752 wrote: So, my initial thought was, if I foresee ever doing a subscription, I should consider it right up front, so that people don't feel like I've changed the rules on them. As I've gathered feedback and thought about it more, it seems to me that the way to go is to pull together a suite of features that are nice but not required for EpicTable (I'm taking "Future Hypothetical Stance" here) and make those subscription-based if they need to be.


    As indicated above, if you did manage to provide a useful, high maintenance online service, then you might be able justify a usage/subscription fee.



    However, if it's merely a bonus feature pack or optional plugin, then I recommend simply releasing it as a separate, discount product.



    If you did manage to provide some major improvements to that product within a year, then just release it as a low-cost upgrade. That way people might end up paying the same amount as the subscription would charge, but know exactly what they're getting out of the deal and don't have to commit to anything in advance.
  • Omnidon;749 wrote: I agree with you that pricing for BG has always seemed a bit high to me
    Compared to what, exactly? Fantasy Grounds seems to be selling well enough, at $7 more per client than BRPG. And that's for a VT that is Windows-only, offers no audio support, floating licenses, or upgrade path from player to GM client, and it requires complex scripting to customize and has very basic Fog of War and map support.



    Compared to iTabletop? That's also Windows-only, and a GM Client is $72 PER YEAR, while a Player Client is $36 PER YEAR (twice the cost of a BRPG Player Client, which you OWN, not rent).



    Compared to d20-Pro? Even players HAVE to get the full GM client ($30), and the VT is very geared towards d20-based games, so it offers little to no support for other popular RPG systems like Rolemaster, Savage Worlds, GURPS, etc.



    Edit: I realize this probably sounds rather defensive on my part, but I truly think that BRPG is fairly and competitively priced. Perhaps you meant to say that ALL commercial VTs are priced too high? Singling out BRPG, considering the prices of other commercial VTs and what you get for your money, seems unfair.

    Omnidon;749 wrote: Honestly heruca, I don't think the VT market will support a full-time income no matter what
    So I've learned.:rolleyes:
  • Omnidon;753 wrote: Bandwidth costs are absurdly low these days...dedicated servers, unlike webservers, ARE expensive.


    You're right, of course. I misspoke. I've been speaking in terms of bandwidth, but of greater concern is the fact that I couldn't host this on a shared server due to some restrictions on what one can do in that environment. So, I'd been looking at virtual dedicated servers, which are in the neighborhood of $40/month to start. That's not totally out of reach, but the break even on a $12/year sub (for mathematical convenience only) is 40 subs, or 20 subs at $24/year.... But really socks it to me at $0/year.:( And I'd kind of be compelled to get two, I think. I know it's not an air traffic control app or a medical app, but since people are paying for use of a service, I feel like I owe them at least that level of redundancy.



    I totally get where you're coming from on the subscription issue, though. At this point, I've been convinced to keep any potential subscription-based features separate, unless I start hearing compelling arguments to the contrary.
  • heruca;756 wrote: Compared to what, exactly?
    I wasn't comparing it to anything, just giving my impression. That impression comes solely from knowing that roleplayers are cheap and that the GM almost always gets stuck with the bill. I said that BG's price felt a *bit* high. The prices of the other commercial VTs feel absurdly high. :p

    Whether they *deserve* a high price and are a good value for the money wasn't in question.

    heruca;756 wrote: Edit: I realize this probably sounds rather defensive on my part, but I truly think that BRPG is fairly and competitively priced. Perhaps you meant to say that ALL commercial VTs are priced too high? Singling out BRPG, considering the prices of other commercial VTs and what you get for your money, seems unfair.


    I just posted several paragraphs defending BG and ET from duvik's comments, so I felt it would hardly be unfair to give some honest criticism at the same time. As they say, the unbiased viewpoint tends to be the one that makes neither side happy. ;)

    John Lammers;758 wrote: I couldn't host this on a shared server due to some restrictions on what one can do in that environment.


    Just out of curiosity, what is it that ET needs that doesn't work on a shared webhost?
  • Omnidon;764 wrote: Just out of curiosity, what is it that ET needs that doesn't work on a shared webhost?


    There's a class of operations that the security model of a shared host won't allow. Mostly, these focus on outbound interactions with other services, access to kernel level synchronization objects for cross process coordination, that kind of thing. None of this is necessary for basic EpicTable functionality, but there are a couple things I was thinking about....
  • John Lammers;767 wrote: There's a class of operations that the security model of a shared host won't allow. Mostly, these focus on outbound interactions with other services, access to kernel level synchronization objects for cross process coordination, that kind of thing. None of this is necessary for basic EpicTable functionality, but there are a couple things I was thinking about...


    Sounds to me like something that would be better postponed until you actually are ready to add those features. No reason to pay that much when you aren't using them.



    Also, would it be feasible to use shared hosts for the main website and backup server, while using a only a single VPS for your other content?
  • Omnidon;771 wrote: Sounds to me like something that would be better postponed until you actually are ready to add those features. No reason to pay that much when you aren't using them.
    Agreed.

    Omnidon;771 wrote: Also, would it be feasible to use shared hosts for the main website and backup server, while using a only a single VPS for your other content?
    Yeah, my site is on a shared host, as is the small set of services that EpicTable currently uses. Whether I can get by with a single host, shared or otherwise, depends on the reliability of that host and how necessary the services on it are. Right now, it's IP address exchange and game invitations, which players could coordinate offline in a pinch. Sort of an unholy pain to do so though.
  • John Lammers;772 wrote: Yeah, my site is on a shared host, as is the small set of services that EpicTable currently uses. Whether I can get by with a single host, shared or otherwise, depends on the reliability of that host and how necessary the services on it are. Right now, it's IP address exchange and game invitations, which players could coordinate offline in a pinch. Sort of an unholy pain to do so though.


    Most private websites, even commercial ones, don't have much redundancy aside from regular backups. Some web hosts certainly do have reliability issues, but I've had very few problems with the two I mentioned.



    Glad to hear that ET will have game broadcasting features though. ;-)

    Game invitations & IP sharing wouldn't need a VPS, so that's something that could easily be put on a shared backup server if you started having problems.
  • Firstly, so that all the cards are on the table, I'll mention that I'm a developer too, so my stance is perhaps slightly biased in that I am 100% behind the idea that a developer should be appropriately remunerated for their efforts. However, I am also a consumer, and will be a buyer of EpicTable once it's released.



    Personally, I have no problem with an annual subscription model. It allows me to commit to a known amount of money that I pay at the same time each year and I get all updates. One of the key benefits of this model is that updates can be released regularly as each new individual feature is added, whereas the 'pay for upgrade' approach means I have to wait until a whole bunch of planned features are completed, and then have to decide whether it's worth the cost to upgrade. I fully understand John's meaning when he talks about the 'pschological' benefit of the subscription model - there's essentially no decision to be made, you just keep paying the fee, and you get the updates. Yes, there is the possibility that I may feel the developer isn't releasing enough new functions each year to justify the subscription cost, but I can always opt out.



    I think some of the contention may come from the question of whether you get to keep using the software if you stop paying the subscription fee. Either way is possible and in fact both could be offered - a 'rental' version, where I pay a low cost each year, but if I stop my subscription I no longer get to use the software, and a 'purchase + subscription' type model where I pay a higher amount for the software with an optional subscription cost for updates. I can opt in or out at my discretion, but I get to keep using the software even if I'm not a paying 'subscriber'. Lastly would be the 'purchase + upgrade' model, where I buy the software and simply pay to upgrade when I feel enough features have been added to make it worthwhile - this would be the most expensive option.



    In terms of cost, and the idea of a different price for a 'GM' client, and a 'Player' client, my personal belief is that there shouldn't be any distinction. If a group of players want to play Neverwinter Nights together, they all pay the same cost, the 'GM client' as such, is just part of the software. Why should there be any distinction for a VT? The essential components of the technology are the same for both GM and player, it's just that one happens to be doing more 'sending' of information that the others. I certainly have no interest in paying for licences for a bunch of players simply because they're too tight to cough up - especially given that as the GM I'm already investing a lot of time in creating the game, and probably investing money in purchasing content as well - the players can at least contribute by buying their own software. Also, my primary game is Ars Magica which promotes rotation of the GM role between all participants, so in my case, it would be simpler if there was just one program to purchase. But of course, there needs to be a 'trial' licence available so a new player can try it all out before spending.
  • For me a subscription model is totally acceptable, if I receive a service in return. A service for a VGT would be regular updates to allow me to play my favourite game(s) via the VGT without having to code myself. Say I buy a subscription to EpicTable D&D4e. I'd expect to receive the macros to automate the game, and I'd expect to receive updates when new stuff for the game is published. Okay, not within a week after publishing, but maybe on a regular schedule.



    On the other hand, I'd buy a VGT as a toolbox, provided it offers the capabilities to run my game(s), is well documented as far as scripting goes and has a helpful, friendly community. Oh, still another requirement: I would want a good demo mode allowing me to check whether running the game as well as scripting work out.



    I would actually prefer the service solution. It takes time to actually play, it takes time to create my stuff for the game, so I'm not so keen on investing lots of extra time for the technical stuff.



    Huldvoll



    Jan van Leyden
  • Thanks, everyone who weighed in on this issue. Based on what I've seen here, I don't think subscription-only is the way to go. Additionally, it seems like there's a place for subscriptions, down the road, but I need to see how the pipeline of content and updates shapes up.
  • I must say, a subscription type option would be a big turn-off for me. I would much rather pay up front, and deal with the worries of having to pay for V2 (if, and when you decided that was necessary). Subscriptions end up costing more over time, and having to factor $5 and $10 dollar non-necessities every month into your bank book is too much of a PITA. Also from other VTT boards, I would guess the biggest request is one DM version +x number of revolving accounts, that can be "borrowed out". Then a 1 person DM/Player version. And last a player only version.

    Of course if you end up not going a player only version, scratch the 3rd type. I would LOVE a DM version with between 3-5 revolving accounts, because that would make getting my regular group to purchase a copy a whole lot easier. Of course any number of people will have their own version of how it should be packaged. However it goes down I will most assuredly buy it. But getting it your way always tastes better :D
  • Hrathor;821 wrote: I would LOVE a DM version with between 3-5 revolving accounts


    By "revolving accounts" do you mean "floating licenses"? (That's an almost meaningless question isn't it, if I don't say what I mean by "floating licenses"? I may as well have asked, "do you mean burfwibbits?")



    I've read a lot of discussion about floating licenses over the last month, and there are a few different takes on them out there. Here's what I think is simplest and most intuitive.



    If you buy EpicTable, it's as if you bought a physical table and one chair. Your friends can come over, but they have to bring their own chairs--unless you, being a good host, bought some more chairs; or they, being good friends, chipped in and helped you buy some chairs to fill out the set.



    The chairs are floating licenses--anyone can sit in them, and that person can play any role--player, GM, whatever--a chair's a chair. Just because you bought the table, doesn't mean you have to be the GM all the time. (Though, in keeping with gamer norms, I think it does mean that your friends have to bring the snacks!) Chairs are cheaper than tables, so you're better off buying a set of chairs than having everyone bring their own.



    Now, if someone did bring his own chair, by all means, he should take it with him when he leaves. But otherwise he can't take the chair to someone else's house--it's your chair. He may have chipped in for it, but hey, he got to sit in it for awhile, enjoy your company, and it was a pretty nice chair. Maybe he'll even buy his own someday. If he doesn't want to hang out with you anymore, that's okay, but he shouldn't take your chair. That's just bad form. After all, you might have other guests coming over....
  • LOL! I like the idea of virtual chairs for a virtual tabletop.:D
  • John Lammers wrote: By "revolving accounts" do you mean "floating licenses"?


    Exactly, sorry for not using the conventional terminology, hehe.
  • heruca;823 wrote: LOL! I like the idea of virtual chairs for a virtual tabletop.:D


    I second that! Great analogy John :D
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