We’re all getting excited about Foundry VTT 0.8.x series, and even though it is still on ALPHA (yes, the upper-case means: don’t try it yet), it takes us to the point where we can see in action what’s coming soon!
So, let’s get hyped together about the changes that are coming to Foundry VTT 0.8.1 Alpha, which means that eventually, these will be part of a STABLE release some time down the road soon.
This is going to be an alpha release. It is not intended to be stable and will most definitely break many features, modules, and worlds. It is intended as a preview for developers to help them update their systems and modules, which are impacted by the breaking changes.
DO NOT UPDATE – wait for a stable release.
Previously, Alpha 0.8.0 began with mostly under the hood changes. 0.8.1 starts getting into perceptible changes for users. In this article, we are going to focus on the changes that actually have user impact. Technical topics will be only mentioned on the high level so at least you get an idea. The idea is to make it easier for you, as GMs, to catch on what’s going on, so hopefully this helps.
These are the major feature changes that are introduced with 0.8.1. Check Foundry VTTs 3 hour Stream Preview for details.
- Audio System Improvements
Audio System is one of the main focus areas of the series. Improvements in Playlist management, Tracks control, Ambience audio and Infrastructure will be covered in detail down below. These will certainly allow GMs and users have a more detailed control and management of audio, including crossfading, playback mode by playlist and mass import.
- Dice System Improvement
New modifiers will extend system support and functionality, while also starting to allow external sources of dice rolls, which are becoming common in these times. Physical electronic dice rolls, web services, and other external systems will soon be able to define the dice results.
- Improvements in other areas as a side effect
As development goes by, some times developer find areas of improvement as a side effect of other improvements. This is always good and it means things start getting each time more flexible and flexible. Journal entries and lighting also get some love in this release.
Audio System Improvements
Core Background Changes
This of course means little to normal users and GMs, but basically the backend audio was completely rewritten. The previous technology, called howler.js is being replaced with a more standardized modern approach called the Web Audio API. The benefits are mostly towards more streamlined development approaches where howler.js proved to be too much for what was needed by Foundry. This will also directly impact Macro usage and the way audio trackers are used by developers and avoid an issue where HTML 5 was running out of browser sockets.
New Features in the User Interface
Folders in the music tab
This is of course absolutely awesome and a very welcome feature. Being able to create folders into which we can place playlists will significantly help in the organization of music.
Search bar in the music tab
Another cool feature is the capability of searching for playlist names and tracks. This helps GMs that have different audio tracks ready for different situations, and when improvisation comes into play. Nothing is more frustrating than line-searching the right audio for the moment!
Reorganized user interface
We will now be able to see the time reference of the track being played, and the volume controls in a cleaner more condensed view of the track. This also includes play, pause, stop buttons as before, but includes a playlist level next-previous songs control.
New context menu in playlist
We will be able to mass-manage playlists and folders with right-click context menus, including copying, duplicating, exporting (to other worlds or games), mass deleting, and more.
Better UI feedback on buffering
When the audio is not yet loaded on the client, it will show a loading-loop to indicate that the audio track is not yet playing. This is one of the side-benefits also of the new technology behind Foundry VTT.
New Functionalities in Audio Controls
Fade & Crossfade support
This is if not, one of the most exciting new features we get. We can set Fade in/out time per both, track or playlist, and this will automatically slowly and smoothly fade in/out the song or crossfade to the next song coming up.
Individual settings on Audio Tracks will override the more general Playlist configuration.
Playlist Playback Mode
Another super cool feature, now playlists can be set across different mode, such as sequential, shuffle or simultaneous, configuring the way a playlist behave. Non simultaneous playlists will automatically make it so only one track may be played at a time. This means, pressing play on a track will automatically stop the previous one, and crossfade if configured!
Even though current achievable by third party modules, bulk loading will be natively supported. We will be able to select a folder and all audio within will be imported into the chosen playlist.
(Audio that is placed on the map)
Wall configuration for Audio Passthrough
We will be now be able to precisely set the behavior of each wall (or group of walls) to define whether we want the audio to go through it or not. This will improve immersion significantly in dungeons, for instance.
Fading applies more naturally on token movement
The outcome experience of going through an area with sound effects, will now adjust more naturally.
GM Testing capabilities
A toggle button will allow the GMs easily test their ambient audio by just using their Mouse Cursor, rather than having to drop in tokens.
Multiple sources of audio behave better on simultaneous token controls
Areas that have multiple audio sources will apply when using selecting multiple tokens, becoming capable of hearing all sources.
Darkness Thresholds and Activation Range
For those super-pro scene builders, night and day can have different ambient audio tracks. So you can set up people talking during the day and the sound of insects during the night. This brings a side effect to scene audio control of darkness thresholds, now called Darkness Activation Range.
Behind the Scene Changes
.m4a and .opus audio format supported
Increase the compatibility with different audio formats.
Fading & Crossfading behavior
Fading applies when stopping and starting, as well on scene change, except on pause, which immediately stops playing audio.
Better preload buffering
Audio Tracks will automatically preload 20 seconds before the next audio track begins. This will help players stay more in synch with the GM. Tracks can be marked for preloading as before, but overall the functionality has been improved significantly.
Better client volume controls
Global volume levels apply to each user independently, and now variations in the volume are better handled and should act more precisely as expected, improving the synchronization between levels and the predefined volumes.
Better synchronized Shuffle
Randomness should now be less random and more predictable 🙂 Shuffle playlists now ensure everyone starts the same audio track in randomized playlists.
Playlists will be sorted alphabetically by default, but also users will be able of drag & drop audio tracks on top.
Dice System Improvements
Dice Rolls Metadata
This impacts mostly developers, but a wrapper around dice rolls allows enhanced functionality in general. One of the user oriented benefits of this is that now rolls may now contain flavors related to their numerical components. For example a +1 Bonus can now come with “Strength Bonus from Thanos Glove”
Atropos writing code at the speed of light 🙂 An Insight onto Dice Rolls Flavour text
New Roll Modifiers
– minimum and maximum: Allows for defining absolute results on dice rolls
– even or odd: Allows for picking up certain roll results
– recursive rolls: Advanced logic allows re-rolling under a custom condition
Backend API Improvements and External dice rolling support
The Roll function will become asynchronous. This has several technical consequences of course, but the main reason behind this change, is to allow external inputs that provide dice results, for example results from rolling dice physically, the new Pixel Dice or external services, among other benefits.
Lighting Improvements in Darkness Threshold
As part of the audio improvements done, Foundry will allow setting up a Darkness Activation Range that affects illumination based on darkness level, but now, in both directions, rather than only lights off or on in Darkness.
Journal In-Line rolls flavor
In line rolls in Journals will allow a flavor text on top of the button, improving the user experience of this specific functionality.
Phew! That was a LOT of info right? Well, the point was to give you an insight (yes, this is not all) of what’s going on in Foundry after all. So, what do you think about the changes mentioned? Foundry is growing up immensely and it comes together accompanied by it’s community. It’s main developer, Atropos, creates these Alpha builds not for just testing, but also for gathering feedback.
You can find the official patch notes here. Looking forward the next release will focus on a new feature Overhead Tiles as well as improvements to A/V and package management. So I hope everyone get’s on the hype train with me and get prepared for more roleplaying stuff to come in these online times 😀