How To Playtest? #2: Tabletopia

Last week, I discussed the pros and cons of using Tabletop Simulator to prototype and playtest your games. For this week’s discussion, I’m turning my attention towards Tabletopia (Website).  I would also like to thank Joe Brogno (@Thebluemuzzy on Twitter and TheBlueMuzzy on Twitch.tv and Youtube) up front for providing a great deal of insight through watching him work with it in his design streams.

The TL:DR

Tabletopia is currently in Beta as a browser-based game creation and digital tabletop suite.  After having successfully Kickstarted, they have built their game making engine for browsers and are currently planning a Steam release later in the year.  Being Beta, changes can and will be made between now and release.  Everything in this article is subject to change due to platform expansion and new patches.

The Ups

Tabletopia is free! Or rather, it will be when it fully releases.  Anyone will be able to create and test games for free on the platform, with some notable limitations.  These limits should not be too bad for the average player and designers wishing to simply become familiar with it.

The robust toolset is easier to use than Tabletop Simulator from what I’ve experienced.  Custom assets are more easily uploaded and can easily be adjusted to the needs of your game, where Tabletop Simulator forces you into a few specific sizes or types of pieces.  These assets can also be much more easily edited and reuploaded to the site.  Simply refresh your table, and you’re good to go!

The Downs

The most notable disadvantage of Tabletopia is its pricing as a subscription service.  The costs quickly ratchet up for creators who want to take their designing to the next level, costing up to $19.99 per month for features like a publishing page and the ability to have more than 5 games on the site.

Another downside is its current reliance on the Unity plugin for Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Safari.  While this will be largely fixed by the Steam Release, being unable to use Chrome with the platform is a bit disappointing.

The Final Word

Tabletopia is a promising program that looks like it can bring the joy of the tabletop to new audiences due to its extensive tools and free basic access.  Current pricing models and browser restrictions limit it to an extent, but it is still powerful for Beta software.

The Verdict: 3.5 Card-Tokens out of 5

While I hope I can get more face time with Tabletopia in the future, I will patiently await their Steam release before diving headlong onto the platform.  Next week we bounce off the ropes to explore the physical side of prototyping.  Do you prefer digital? Or are you more of a physical tester?

Until next time,

Charles Weigand

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