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Optimizing Map and Image Management for Enhanced Gameplay in Fantasy Grounds Unity

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

Optimizing Map and Image Management for Enhanced Gameplay in Fantasy Grounds Unity

Introduction:

A seamless and immersive virtual tabletop (VTT) experience in Fantasy Grounds Unity (FGU) often depends on effective map and image management. This comprehensive guide will help you master these elements, delving into aspects such as image size, pixel density, map dimensions, and connection issues. Through understanding and navigating these complexities, you can streamline your gaming sessions and significantly enhance your FGU gameplay.

Unraveling Connection and Performance Impact:

In FGU's host-client model, where the Game Master (GM) hosts the game on their personal computer, the participant with the slowest or most unstable connection can affect everyone's experience. This is because data synchronization can only be as fast as the weakest link. Large maps or high-resolution images can strain the system, causing slow gameplay, particularly for users with slower connections. Therefore, FGU developers recommend capping image dimensions at 4000x4000 pixels. Balancing performance quality with rich imagery is a key part of enhancing the gaming experience.

Performance can also be influenced by other factors such as video card settings, video card drivers, software settings, antivirus software, computer hardware, and extensive map or token collections in FGU. Regular updates and judicious management of assets can help maintain a steady performance.

Mastering Map Management Strategies:

Strategically selecting and managing your maps can considerably enhance gameplay. Here are some pointers:

  1. Tactical Battle Maps: These are usually scaled for close-up play and typically range between 1000-1800 pixels in dimension.

  2. Non-Tactical Maps: Not all maps are created for tactical play, and forcing them into such a role on a VTT platform can be challenging.

  3. Large Cavernous Maps: These maps are often data-intensive, leading to potential performance issues.

  4. Regional Maps: These can be larger, often between 2000-3000 pixels, as they don't typically host many occluders or assets.

User experience is paramount, so consider the need for constant scrolling and zooming when selecting or creating maps.



Deciphering Pixels and File Size Calculations:

FGU operates optimally at a standard pixel size of 100 pixels per square inch. Sticking to this guideline ensures excellent performance and compatibility. Use the formula: Width (in pixels) x Height (in pixels) x Bit Depth ÷ 8,192 = File Size (KB) to estimate image file sizes. Remember, larger file sizes might deliver better image quality, but can also lead to performance issues, particularly for players with slower connections.

Understanding the number of squares in a map can also help. For instance, a map with 100 pixels per square on a 1200x1600 pixel map contains 192 squares (12x16). This understanding can assist in scaling maps properly.

The Influence of Extensions and Custom Graphics:

While extensions and custom graphics can enrich gameplay, they can also affect performance. If performance issues persist, consider disabling extensions or limiting custom graphics. Striking a balance between aesthetic enhancements and performance is key.

Navigating Image Management in Evolving Campaigns:

As your campaign grows, so does the number of shared images and maps, which can impact performance over time. Rather than deleting these resources, consider 'un-sharing' them, keeping your library manageable without compromising performance.

Resolving Common Issues:

There are some common issues that you may encounter:

  1. Poor Performance: If your gameplay is slow or lagging, it could be due to factors like video card settings, outdated drivers, software settings, antivirus software, computer hardware, third-party extensions, or an extensive collection of maps or tokens in FGU.

  2. Invisible Maps: If a player cannot see any maps, it may be due to low bandwidth or interference from firewall or antivirus software. Sometimes a map may not be setup correctly or the LoS is not turned on in the "Play" settings for a given map image.

  3. Comparison with other platforms: FGU is hosted directly on your computer, unlike platforms like Foundry or Roll20 that operate through a browser. This difference in hosting can lead to variations in performance. Both systems have their unique strengths and weaknesses, and understanding these can help you utilize FGU more effectively.

Conclusion:

Maintaining an excellent VTT gaming experience in FGU requires nuanced management of maps, images, and other resources. By understanding map types and sizes, pixel density, file sizes, and effective practices for handling extensions and graphics, you can deliver smooth, uninterrupted adventures.

For a detailed guide on managing images in Fantasy Grounds Unity, refer to the Atlassian website: Working with Images as the GM. By applying these strategies, you can harness FGU's potential to elevate your VTT experiences.



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