We looked into different methods players use to visualize their game. Why is this important for TTRPG? Because game immersion is one of the most important reason why we invest in game visualization tools. From laminated physical map to digital tabletop, as players, we want to experience the game as we were actually there.
Games such as Dungeons and Dragons at its core is a game of pure imagination. Players reply on theatre of the mind narration. 2D images are sometimes used to set the mood of the scene. 2D top-view map is currently the most common way to visualize, because they are the easiest to use on Roll20 and also on a table with miniatures.
Though many are satisfied with the 2D maps, and there are many artists producing them, some found them not as flexible as dry erase boards, for example.
Many players displayed the wish of having a 3D map, but cannot afford the physical 3D environment or don't have time to build a digital one. So, when looking at the satisfaction rate for 3D maps, keep in mind the 1) small sample size of the category and 2) the struggles obtaining a 3D terrain.
The tools currently used can be broken down into the categories of real-time communication, whether in-person, or apart over Discord, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Roll20, etc.; a tool that facilitates game mechanics anything from a character sheet and dice, to software like Roll20, D&D Beyond or Discord Bots; and a map creation tool that is either low-tech (pen and paper, digital painting, image manipulation, improv tools), mid-tech (Roll20, Inkarnate, Fantasy Ground, Wonderdraft), or high-tech (TaleSpire, Tilt Five). Our TTRPG community is heavily supported by local and virtual communities as well.
Throughout history, real science and science fiction have always been intertwined with and influenced by each other. Science provides a guideline for fantasy, and fantasy gives inspiration to science. So what are the chances of our dream tech becoming reality? One could say it's very likely.
In general, players see TTRPGs in the future becoming more immersive with the aid of emerging tech such as AR, VR, AI, and holographic projection. There is both an expectation and fear of the blurring lines between video game RPGs and TTRPGs.
"10 [years]: dedicated even easier to use online tools geared towards specific systems. 25: VR tabletop where pieces can be moved by players (with haptic feedback), will feel like in-person games. 50: who knows. Full immersion first person playing of the adventure."
“2D maps becoming 3D as the standard, virtual reality options, holographic designs replacing plastic and cardboard constructions."
"Eventually, AIs were developed to replace or assist the Players and Game Master in handling mechanics or looking up rules. Perhaps one day the role of GM would even be fully carried out by an AI – though I don't think an AI would have the necessary imagination to develop an adapting RPG campaign for quite some time yet.”
"Unless holograms become a reality, I don't see any major change. We already have a TV set in tables, 3D printers, lighted decors and terrain, CGI, laptops and cells, online gaming. It's hard to tell what more we could have."
Are you willing to use AR/VR?
Top Reasons Why We Don't Want to Try AR or VR
Top Reasons why try AR/VR?
VR innovations in TTRPG
AR innovations in TTRPG
CartographR (2021) - Drag and drop element, seen via multiple devices in realtime.
AR headset and AR glasses might be the future if the cost can be reduced significantly.