SceneMonkey Mini Interview (2011)

How long has your VT been around, do you feel its keeping to it's original "design"?

ScreenMonkey was initially released in 2001, I believe. The original design was to provide a online gaming tool that allowed players to connect to the game using only a web browser. The goal was to simulate the at-table experience within a web browser.

SM was unique (and may still be) in that its a fully capable web server that is run on the GM's machine. For techies, ScreenMonkey's 'advanced' interface was one of the first uses of AJAX-style technology in a commercial application - its usage actually pre-dates the term.

Given the original design intent, I'd say its held true to it.

How many people contribute to developing your VT?

ScreenMonkey is developed in-house by NBOS Software

Do you target a specific RPG system, if so why? Is this likely to change.

No, SM has always been system independent. A physical table, after all, doesn't care what gaming system you are playing while sitting around it, and thus that was a primary design principle. Its very unlikely this will ever change. While SM is not designed to support specific systems, it does feature a scripting API which allows users to customize their campaign by creating chat commands, special dice rolls, and other functionality to support their game.

What system do you feel is the most popular on your VT, do you feel your user base would be affected by an official VT for that system?

I'd suspect various D&D variants due to their general popularity, but I don't have any hard data one way or the other. SM has always appealed to gamers using less popular games and homebrew systems because it is not tied to any gaming system, as well as old school gamers.

How do you decide which RPG systems to adapt for your VT?

This isn't applicable

Do you offer accessories for your VT, do you think there is a market for this?

No, we do not offer accessories for SM. There is though a file sharing area on our site that lets users share their scripts and resources.

Are you seeing an increase in the number of people that use your software, are VT's becoming more popular?

There's been some up tick in interest in ScreenMonkey over the past couple years, but nothing dramatic.

How have the tight financial times affected your product?

I don't have any hard data to say one way or the other, really. Software sales trends are cyclical with version releases, and attributing ups and downs to specific factors isn't always clear.

What do you think the strengths and weaknesses of your VT are?

SM's main strength is that players only need a web browser. Only the GM runs the software. ScreenMonkey provides a basic map, chat, dice rolls, and archives, and is not tied to a particular system. Thus, gamers with more 'open ended' styles may find that particularly appealing. Those with a technical bent may also appreciate the scripting interface that allows users to customize the application and create special chat commands.

The downside to the program's web-server based approach is that the GM often needs to configure their local network. So those who are not familiar with configuring their router or tweaking basic network settings may find it difficult to configure their network for SM.

What do you have on the cards next, what should we look forward to?

NBOS Software will soon be releasing AstroSynthesis 3.0, the next version in its revolutionary 3D Star Mapping software.

Where do you think RPGs and / or VTs will go next?

I don't believe RPGs will change dramatically in the near future. They've largely been the same for over 30 years. Online Gaming Tools will obviously grow more sophisticated with time.

In one sentence tell me why I should use your VT, over the competition?

ScreenMonkey provides an online gaming table that does not require players to purchase or install special software - all they need is a web browser. If a gamer is looking for a basic map and chat, and prefers a more open-ended, less crunchy style of game, ScreenMonkey may be what they are looking for.

Thanks to Ed_NBOS for taking the time to answer the questions.