Tom recently sat down and answered some great questions about tabletop gaming, his passions, and why he started Power VTT.
Tell us a little about yourself, Tom.
Sure! I’m Tom and I’ve been developing since I was 13. I’m originally from Long Island but now live in New Jersey with my girlfriend and our two dogs. Ever since I was little, I always wanted to make video games but I somehow I got stuck developing software for huge corporate backends instead. I had a chance in 2017 to quit work and start Power VTT and I have been loving it ever since! In between developing and playing video games, I make time to hike, go running, and even have a little personal music project I’m working on.
At what age did you become interested in tabletop gaming?
This might come as a surprise but it was only recent, last year, I found (and fell in love with) tabletop gaming. I wish I had known about it when I was younger, I have just started to scratch the surface of all that is out there and I’m eager to continue the adventures!
What was first game to get you hooked? What was special about it?
My first game ever.
A close friend of mine had been wanting to GM the new D&D 5e campaign that came out at the time and rallied up a group of beginner tabletop players, myself included. My friend was amazing, he helped us build our characters from start to finish and gave us complete control, too much control. I ended up with a 10ft green dragonborn who was way too powerful for my own good.
I think every new tabletop gamer has that, “I get it!” moment. I remember exploring the goblin cave when I went to light my torch (to see better, obviously) and our GM bursts out, “you light your torch and stand out like a sore, 10 ft tall, scaly, green thumb.” I was a lot more cautious from that point on.
You coded the whole Power VTT platform yourself, right? Had you coded other projects before?
Yup! Power VTT’s development, from marketplace to landing pages to weather, is all me.
Funny you should ask, I believe all of my past projects have given me the experience needed to build Power VTT.
Before starting this, I was an engineer lead at a major stock photography company for a few years. Prior to that I also worked on a number of high-profile ecommerce websites. Knowing the intricacies of an ecommerce backend and two-sided marketplace helped a lot when developing these systems.
I also have developed a number of social network, chat, and matching applications all of which is shaping the future community features of Power VTT.
The game development stuff is new, I have never programmed anything like dynamic lighting or a map editor before but it’s been a blast to learn!
What drew you building a Virtual Tabletop rather than something more physical, like a game store?
When I have a problem I want to solve, I naturally turn to software to solve it. I think there are a lot of problems tabletop gamers face today and I think there is a lot that can be made better. For instance, have you ever gone months without a group? It’s hard to find a reliable group of people to play with.
I wanted Power VTT to be an interactive tabletop gaming community since the beginning and thought the easiest way to start would be to build awesome tools for Game Masters. I knew I could rely on user feedback to figure out what features people needed the most from there.
What are some of your favorite elements that make Power VTT unique in a marketplace that already has a handful of various Virtual game spaces?
I spent a lot of time crafting the interface of Power VTT. A major goal was to have everything accessible within 3-clicks or less. This means I try not to hide features and menus behind obscure screens and buttons. If you need to perform an action, the action most likely has a button or hotkey ready.
Power VTT’s Dynamic Lighting is also pretty neat! As far as I know, we’re the only virtual tabletop to offer a near and far vision where you can see in both color and black and white.
My favorite feedback though comes from the simple everyday tools people enjoy using, like right-click to rotate when placing an asset or drag to tile.
What do folks get with their subscription to Power VTT?
A lot and we’re expanding it to include even more!
Right now subscriptions can unlock exclusive Power VTT online features like Weather and we even give you a huge a collection of brand new assets for your games with a Pro subscription! We are going to begin offering new features for subscribers as well such as Audio/Video integration, Music, and much more.
Tell me more about the assets, did you create all of those, too?
I have been extremely fortunate to work with such talented artists and well-known influencers in the tabletop community. The assets that come with a Pro subscription are offered by Mythic Portal Games who do a fantastic job at researching the right assets GMs need for battlemaps. They find what’s missing in current RPG assets and go out to make it happen so your encounters are never left bare.
Some other VTTs have a market for assets, I assume you have one of those? Tell us about it.
I’m really proud of our marketplace because it’s grown from one contributor to over 14 in just a few months and we plan to expand into digital compendiums and 3D dice as well!
Our marketplace allows users to browse dozens of different RPG artists and find assets for any genre of game; from sci-fi to fantasy to horror, we carry a lot of variety already! I think that’s a huge plus to Power VTT as well – our artist community is tight-niched and highly-curated meaning you are guaranteed to find high-quality assets for any encounter you are building. Anyone can have an official looking map in minutes by simply snapping together some assets.
We’re also have a wishlist and are going to open up gift purchasing for friends soon too!
Are there more features coming to Power VTT in the future? What most excites you about them?
We have a basket full of new huge features coming out next year. We want to try and make online tabletop gaming more fun and efficient and will be introducing some unique new tools to help.
We are currently building out the social side of Power VTT. Recommended games and players will help game masters and players find the right groups based on personal preferences and playing styles. Based on questions and preferences you select, we will recommend you a constant stream of new players and games to check out! The social side of Power VTT will also allow you to share in-game moments, screenshot your dice rolls, and so much more to make online tabletop games more inclusive to everyone.
We are also going to release collectable 3D Dice as well. Users will be able to show off and customize dice at the table when making rolls. We plan on releasing a large collection of different textured and colored dice that users can earn, share, and purchase from the marketplace.
The editor and online gameplay have new features planned as well such as triggers, which allow GMs to configure automated actions, and Fog of War, which will reveal your map as players explore it.
Where do you see the future of tabletop and virtual tabletop in particular going in the next few years?
I’m fascinated by this question. I think we’re going to see some incredible happen in the next few years.
Did you know there are approximately 18 million D&D players worldwide? That’s a lot of players for only one game! We have only scratched the surface of online tabletop games and there is so much more to explore and build.
I think we’re going to see a large spike in online tabletop gaming in the next few years. Books will always be popular but I think we’re going to see more and more publishers embracing online tools to give players a heightened sense of experience.
Is there anything else we missed, Tom?
I think you covered it all! Power VTT has seen some fascinating growth in the short year we’ve been around. It’s been a pleasure to build it with and for the community.
Looking to try tabletop roleplaying games online? Power VTT is a free, easy way to build encounters and play with your friends online.