Last night I began to use Fantasy Grounds Unity for the first time seriously. Due to the whole Covid-19 debacle my in-person group are going to play online until we get through all of this. The Warhammer game officially ended a few weeks ago and we decided that Call of Cthulhu was where we were headed.
Game System Support
The game system support seems as extensive as ever before. I purchased the 7th edition Call of Cthulhu for Fantasy Grounds and am impressed with it “straight out of the box”. Hopping into Fantasy Grounds and beginning to upload materials for the Masks of Nyarlathotep is pretty intuitive. I played around with the dice and found it all nicely intuitive. Once I had worked out the steps that my players needed to get them logged in we were good. We got through a night of character generation pretty well and we should be ready to play in a week or so.
What I liked
The people at Fantasy Grounds have stepped up their interface skills. In Fantasy Grounds 2 there seemed to be a lack of intuitiveness to the system. In this version though I am finding things much easier to use without looking in the manual. My players (some are not technically brilliant) all seemed to come out of the other end of the night with completed characters. I also really liked the icons that are being used. They are much clearer as to their purpose than the ones that were in Fantasy Grounds 2.
What we had trouble with
When I was working alone and preparing the night I found the system would occasionally become unresponsive. Things would grey out and I would have to wait several seconds before what I was trying to do would register. That was not a huge issue, but when I get into seriously moving information into the system these kinds of delay will bother me. The other thing that bothered me when we were all in the system was that the program is a windowed program now. I went to close an image I had opened and hit the x for the whole thing and everyone got booted. This never happened with FG2 because you needed to do a very specific set of actions to close the game. I managed to catch myself a couple of times through the rest of the night from doing it again.
At the start of the night when the players had taken their characters, if they closed their character sheet, they could not see it in the character selector. I would have to clear the owner before they could see them. I think this issue disappeared later in the night but we will have to see next time we load up.
The percentile issue
I lodged a bug about this, and then realised that I had this conversation with Fantasy Grounds people before. I don’t often play percentile games, especially online, and I can’t tell you how much this bothers me – let me explain. When you first start role-playing you get taught how to roll two ten sided dice and get a number from 1-100. One, the tens dice and one is the single dice. You roll a 6 (or 60 if you use the special d10) on the tens and an 8 – you get 68. You roll a 7 (or 70) on the tens dice and a 10 (usually represented as a 0) then you have 70.
Everyone is probably nodding at the basic guide above but in the second case listed above (70 and the 10) you get the result of 80 in Fantasy Grounds. This irritates me more than I care to admit. Sure, they add the result of the singles dice to the tens dice – but in a real tabletop if you roll a 10 on the singles dice that is considered 0 meaning you get what was on the 10’s dice only. PLEASE change this – it is infuriating having to reteach people how to play a game they thought they knew.
One last thing. I am using a standard window which is all grey, with grey icons and grey writing on the icons. Your interface needs some contrast and some solid writing. Many of my players commented on how blurry/fuzzy the text looked like. Most of them decided that it was the use of low-resolution graphics and fonts. There has to be a way the system can apply sharper graphics and better contrast so the users get the best experience.
I am excited to have backed this project and there is a lot more that I want to do with this system. More blogs as the Open Beta comes toward the final product. I hope to blog a lot about my discoveries along the way. Fantasy Grounds is still my number one choice of online desktop program and I am excited to be a part of this moving forward.