I first discovered MapTool in May 2010. At the time, the most up-to-date version of the program was good ol’ 1.3.b66. That’s what I downloaded, and that’s what I kept using for about a year and a half.
Why? Well, first of all, it worked. Second, I had heard that certain things that worked in older versions (macros, etc.) would not necessarily work if you tried them out in a newer version. Third, new builds kept coming out regularly, and I didn’t want my players to have to constantly download new programs just to connect to my game.
Recently, I was browsing the MapTool wiki and forums and found some discussion about the program’s performance. Specifically, I saw a note that moving a whole bunch of tokens at once was faster in newer builds.
Now, I don’t have many complaints about MapTool, but it’s definitely been a major annoyance to want to move the entire party from one section of the map to another and having to wait 30 seconds for MapTool to make this happen. So, I downloaded the current version of MapTool, 1.3.b86 (as of this writing), which has been the most recent version for months (and thus pretty stable).
Woo hoo – I can now move mobs of tokens across the map instantly! I can also run a macro on a whole bunch of tokens at once – such as when I have a bunch of enemies that are invisible to the players and I want to run my “Toggle Visibility” macro on all of them. Previously, the tokens would blink into existence one by one (which was a kind of neat effect, I suppose, but not really what I wanted). Now – poof, they all appear! Awesome!
Best of all, I haven’t found any macros that have broken yet. I try to keep my macros pretty straightforward, of course, and I’m guessing that helps. But every adventure I’ve opened so far in 1.3.b86, even though it was created in 1.3.b66, has had no problems.
The real test will come on Friday, when my regular players will have downloaded the new software and will try playing with it together. Honestly, I’m expecting it to be a non-issue, but we shall see.
So, the moral of the story for me is: Use the latest version of MapTool, as long as it’s been out for, say, a month with no updates. I don’t want to update constantly, but in this case the update is definitely worth the trouble.
One thing to watch out for if you are trying newer versions of software in general is that MapTools is NOT compatible with the newest version of Java (Java 7). My group and I were fighting for weeks with the program which would act as if .cmpgn files I would create would become corrupted for no reason. We had no idea what the problem was and were actually on the verge of giving up altogether when I finally saw this post (http://forums.rptools.net/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=19503&sid=62d1b0d5b4d096b2cc45a75d63bbf233) on the forums explaining the problem and instructing how to fix it by directing MapTools to use Java 6 instead.
Just something of which I think people should be aware since it is a frustrating problem which will end a night’s play very quickly!
Good to know – thank you for the public service announcement! I guess I’d better make sure I don’t accidentally upgrade Java on my computer.
Thank you. I am finishing my first dungeon using MapTools, and I want to run it soon. Your articles have been a big help and incentive. I’m excited about playing the game I love with friends far and wide. Thanks for making this possible.
Shannon, you’ve made my day. This is the kind of comment I love to hear! I’m glad I could help.
If you run into any MapTool issues that are giving you trouble, just let me know if I can be of assistance.
They just dropped v 1.3.B87 which fixes the Fog of War problem and the Null Pointer Exception while Initiative is active and Lock Player Movement is on. I have been running SVN for the past month and a half to help fix these problems.
Sorry for the double post.
@Joshua Groves: This is fixed with B87 as it was a problem with the XStream library which was a known problem by the whole JAVA community and was quickly rectified by the JAVA library programmers soon after JAVA 7 was released.
@OnlineDM: Try using Wolph42’s Bag of Tricks drop-in to move tokens around the map. It is much faster as now you the DM don’t have to worry about moving tokens, the players just move onto a teleport pad and they are whisked away by macros. It also has other nice features such as wards, pits, traps, automated/animated doors and a macro to autogenerate forests that are very life like(he researched the ratio of trunk to canopy size).
BTW: If anyone ever needs help with MapTool (no “s”) drop me a email at neofax99 at google’s mail service and I will try to provide help or point you in the right direction.
Thanks for the tip about the new version, NeoFax!
In case it wasn’t clear, I don’t hold myself out as the greatest MapTool expert in the world; the folks like you who are more involved in the program and frameworks and such know FAR more than I do. I’m more aiming to help the more casual programmer (people like me).
And I’m sure that the Bag of Tricks is great. I just enjoying creating things on my own, even if they’re pretty unimpressive compared to the awesomeness out there.
You are doing a great job at posting quality code for common problems. Also, your blog is great at showing that with a basic map and imagination, the game is just as enjoyable if you have the professional made map and perfect tokens for every situation.
Sorry if I came off as a snob, wasn’t my intention. I love MapTool as it got me back into RPG after a long hiatus and a guess I can be a little(or lot depending on view) overbearing with my opinions.
Keep up the great service!
I sure hope all goes well with today game bud!