It is difficult to believe that two years have already passed since the launch of Foundry Virtual Tabletop. Looking back, it seems as though so much time has passed and simultaneously as though it has been no time at all. Taking the time to reflect on all that we have accomplished in that two year period is an experience that is humbling and exciting.
The past year has brought a lot for us to celebrate and reflect upon. We hope this article provides a useful summary of what we have accomplished and the direction we are taking moving forward.
Version 9 (December 2021)
Over the last year we've worked nonstop to create our vision for a modern, self-hosted TTRPG solution. Foundry Virtual Tabletop's Version 9 began in August 2021, showcasing our new versioning system and development model.
Over the course of the next five months the team churned out hundreds of changes, and worked closely with our community developers to make the transition to this new stable version as smooth as possible. By December 20, 2021 Version 9 was ready for release as an early Christmas present, and came packed with tons of new features.
An unexpected but flagship feature of Version 9 was the work to create "Adaptive Lighting" which innovated upon our previous lighting engine with a sophisticated method for balancing additive and multiplicative blending for light sources. With this new blending more colors are mixed naturally creating beautiful results. Along with this came half a dozen new light animations to add motion and style to scenes!
Canvas Performance Optimization
We are especially proud of the strides we have made in improving performance of rendering on the VTT canvas. Version 9 is the best-performing version of the software yet. We worked hard to make strides in this area where the performance gains we unlocked far surpassed the added performance costs of Adaptive Lighting and other new systems. On top of these baseline gains, we added user configurability with different performance modes that allow users to fine-tune the behavior of the software for their own use cases.
A late addition to V9, the key binding system allows users module developers to define their own hotkeys for users, while the control interface allows users to see and edit these bindings to suit their tastes and workflow!
Card Support (V1)
Playing card support was a key feature of V9 that was added as the outcome of the community Patreon feature vote. With this new system, Foundry VTT has first-class support for the concepts of Cards (collections like "hands", "decks", and "piles") and Card (individual cards) which adds the data structures, APIs, and interfaces to support playing card-based games in Foundry Virtual Tabletop.
Coming Up in Version 10 (Expected July 2022)
Our team has been working hard to make Version 10 the most exciting Foundry Virtual Tabletop release yet! We have now concluded the Prototype Phase and have implemented several major features which we are confident will revolutionize the way that you use Foundry Virtual Tabletop. We are excited to engage with the community as part of our Developer Testing and User Testing phases to polish and stabilize V10 for a stable release in June or July.
Some of the most significant features arriving in Version 10 are:
Overhauled Data Structure
A new framework for data models under the hood heavily streamlines how data is stored by Foundry. This makes development easier and more streamlined, which should result in faster Core updates and an easier time for Package developers.
Improved User Experience
We've heard the community feedback on the workflow and user experience, and are committed to improving it in tangible ways for V10. Our prototypes already include the framework necessary for guided tours to new users, and the display of improved tooltips on the UI. On top of this the team is looking into ways to streamline workflows throughout the software, including needing less clicks to accomplish tasks, improved display of information, so that users new and old alike will have an easier time getting their games going.
The second update to the journal system provides a complete overhaul to the way users create, organize and view journals in their games. This new interface will include an improved editor, revamped display and navigation setup for journal entries, and countless new ways to customize the content and appearance of them.
With the creation of the adventure document in Foundry, users will soon have the ability to access Adventure Compendia which holds an entire game world's worth of scenes, actors, playlists, and journal entries. Adventure Compendia can be imported with just a click, and for those looking to get into content creation, tools will be provided to package up content quickly and easily.
V10 will feature animated pings that can be used to indicate targets, warn of danger, and pull attention to key points of interest. The framework built to support these pings can also be used by modders to add new ping types and customize the appearance of them!
V10 extends the lighting engine's power to token vision in ways previously impossible. Now actors will be able to have specialized vision modes that change the way they view scenes! The vision mode system will include several predefined vision modes such as night vision, dark vision, tremorsense, and even blindness. It will also include the ability to create custom vision modes, and assign them to actors.
It just wouldn't be a Foundry stable release without an update to the lighting engine in some form! Our dev team has managed to streamline the Foundry lighting and rendering engine even further from V9, blowing away previous internal benchmarks. With V10 it'll be even easier for low-end machines to manage large scenes with numerous walls and lights at playable frame rates.
Looking Ahead Towards Version 11
We have not yet committed to the set of features that Version 11 will prioritize, but we certainly won't be sitting on laurels and we are already thinking about ways to innovate Foundry Virtual Tabletop beyond the awesome additions which Version 10 provides. A sampling of our big ideas which will likely inform future plans are:
User Interface Redesign
We want to continue spending time on strengthening new user experiences and improving software usability for all users. This ranges from tightening up workflows to updating the appearance of the UI to be more attractive and readable.
Application Framework V2
Something that has been on the team's mind more and more is developing a new application framework for defining and managing interface elements. This would allow us to streamline workflows, improve performance, make setup easier, and go hand-in-hand with our planned UI updates.
Scene Levels & Transitions
On the desired feature list for a while is a native way to handle multiple floors in scenes, allowing users to move actors up and down terrain levels, or between scenes via transition points. We've already begun doing some foundational work to support this in the future, and hope it's something that comes sooner than later!
Database Performance Improvements
As game worlds grow larger, as they are filled with monsters and the supporting cast of allies and enemies fill out, worlds can become slower and less responsive. Through Compendia users can reduce a world's footprint, but we would like to explore ways to make worlds themselves more performant.
Increased Accessibility Features
Tabletop gaming allows people to tell and be a part of grand stories that surpass reality and terrestrial limitations. As our community grows we want to make sure that Foundry's interface facilitates people being able to take part in these adventures, no matter what their usability needs are.
Expanded Visual Effects
This includes a multitude of possible features such as ways to shape lights, control shadow projection, or customize light appearance. This would also include expanding shader selection and customization, creating simple but powerful particle emitters, and generally enhancing performance for users.
The last year was a great one for Foundry in terms of community growth! Almost every corner of our community doubled in size but still managed to maintain a friendly, inclusive and welcoming culture.
We achieved tremendous growth in the past 12 months. We sold almost exactly the same number of software licenses between June 2021 through May 2022 that we did during the 12 months prior. That means that the total number of Foundry Virtual Tabletop software owners doubled since this time last year.
On the user retention front, 87% of our users have installed or updated the software during the past year. For the cohort of customers who purchased the software before May 2021, 76% of those users have updated the software this year. We are proud of that degree of retention which shows that our customers aren't just buying Foundry VTT, but rather are continuing to use it.
In terms of version adoption, 55% of users have updated to Version 9 or greater (including the Version 10 prototype) while 41% of licenses have not yet updated past Version 8. Only 4% of users did not ever update past Version 7. If we restrict our view to users who were active more recently (within the past 3 months) - 76% of those users are running Foundry Virtual Tabletop Version 9. We are satisfied with this rate of adoption for new versions, but a goal for the next 12 months will be to try and get more users running the latest stable version of Foundry VTT instead of remaining on an older generation of the software.
As part of our anniversary celebration we have launched phase 1 of our new website redesign which is the first part of a long-term process for us to refine our brand aesthetic to match the quality of the Foundry VTT software itself. The first phase of our redesign has upgraded our Home and Purchase pages, with more changes soon to follow for other areas of the site.
Big Discord, Little Strife
Nearly doubling our size in a year, the Foundry Discord Community is still going strong and growing like crazy. In the last year we've added over 20,000 new members and now have nearly two-thousand other servers following our announcements! On any given month our community of 52,000 will send about 100,000 messages discussing game systems, macros, modules, and foundry in general! It's not just text though, because every month our community spends over 130 hours in voice chatting, playing games, and interacting with each other!
All of this madness is overseen by a dedicated team of only 16 moderators and 45 community helpers! With their hard work and our awesome community we continue to provide an open, friendly and inclusive environment for everyone to share their excitement about Foundry and the games they run with it. There's not many better places to be a TTRPG fan than here among all of you. The team is forever grateful to each and every community member who does their part to make our official Discord and Reddit communities great places to be.
Our Reddit community continues to grow, in fact they are up more than 15,000 users in the last year, effectively doubling the number of people cruising for karma by showing off their landing pages and red hot memes! Thanks to the hard work of community moderators and friendly users the subreddit is a great place to stop by and chat about Foundry, mirroring our discord community in its welcoming attitudes and friendly vibes.
Hammering It Out
Our in-house talk show (mostly) hosted by Cody and Shane has featured over a dozen guests across eleven episodes! Each episode highlights one or more notable figures in the Foundry community and their ongoing work to provide new content and features to Foundry. Though we can't predict who our future guests will be, we look forward to chatting with them and having you all in the audience when we do.
If you've missed previous episodes of Hammering out, you can go to this handy link here to see the current playlist on YouTube! Our most recent episode included Josh Sawyer, lead designer for Fallout: New Vegas and the Pillars of Eternity series!
A number of our team members attended PAX Unplugged this year, not only to collect swag and buy stuff, but to attend a panel discussion on the future of digital content creation, meet members of the community, and hand out a bit of swag to whoever ran into us on the floor. This was our first official convention appearance as a team, but certainly won't be the last!
In fact, you'll be able to find some of our team prowling the convention floor at GenCon this August! If you're going to be attending, keep an eye peeled. We're always excited to meet with fellow Foundry users.
Team Expansion and Successes
We continued to build our team in the past year, adding specialized talent to help Foundry Virtual Tabletop evolve in new and exciting ways. We specifically added two super-talented newcomers to the team:
- Ludovic (secretfire#4843) - A developer with expertise in lighting and particle effects, you probably know him best from his work on Token Magic FX, which lets you set your tokens on fire, among many other things! Ludovic joined in January and has been a driving force behind updates to the lighting engine and canvas rendering.
- Mark (caeora#9261) - An artist that comes to our team already well known by the TTRPG community for his exemplary cartography and token work. He's working with the team on various projects, the most immediately visible one being the overhaul to the website's appearance which you can see on our main page already.
For the data junkies in the audience and fellow developers wondering about our contribution calendar; over the last 12 months Foundry's master code branch (currently V9 stable) added nearly 1,200 commits authored by Andrew, Cody, Kim and Ludovic with thousands of lines of code added or revised. Our development team has worked - and will continue to work - tirelessly to expand the software, add thrilling new features, and squashing bugs with relentless determination!
Not to be outdone, the support arm of the team has spent the last year providing support to users and content creators left and right. Collectively the team has authored somewhere around 80,000 words worth of content announcements, patch notes, knowledge base updates, and more. On top of that the team has responded to and resolved over 5,000 support email requests, proving that nobody on this team is afraid to play support!
Our team is a small one, but it cannot be understated how proud we are of the work everyone on the team is doing. Every member of the team pitches in to make Foundry VTT and our community as great as it can be.
The Demon Queen Awakens
Beginning life last year as an anniversary celebration game, what was meant to be a brief and dangerous jaunt into an ancient vault turned into a multi-session slugfest of good versus evil that saw heroes laying their lives on the line to save the world from an ancient evil. The streamed game went so well that we knew we had something cool on our hands and we wanted to make it available for everyone in our community to enjoy at a high level of production quality.
A little less than a year later the The Demon Queen Awakens was released as our first in-house adventure designed specifically for Foundry VTT version 9 and its powerful feature set. Though primarily written and designed by Andrew and Roman, the entire team worked together to turn the adventure into a one of a kind experience. Not only that, but the adventure featured art and music from celebrated creators like Forgotten Adventures, Caeora, Devin Night, McRoMusic, Tabletop RPG Music, MusicD20 and so many more! The Demon Queen Awakens can be purchased on Drive Thru RPG here, and the first episode of the original 3-part stream can be found on our youtube channel here.
Invitation to Adventure...
While we don't have a streamed actual-play adventure this anniversary week, the team has not been idle. We have incorporated some lessons from creating The Demon Queen Awakens and been hard at work building a new role-playing adventure which will be really spectacular. Later this year you will be invited to embark on a grand adventure with us and we can't wait to share more.
Over the last year we established and strengthened relationships with some big names in the TTRPG world to deliver official content, product integrations, and new ways for creators and users to connect. We're looking forward to another year of awesome releases like the ones you'll find below!
Perhaps our biggest announcement of the last 12 months is an official partnership with DriveThruRPG, the world's largest marketplace for digital RPG content. Our partnership with DriveThruRPG is only just getting started, but it will provide an opportunity to offer a marketplace experience that is accessible and trusted by customers and creators alike. We have already seen over a dozen creators offering premium Foundry VTT content via DriveThruRPG with more creators and titles being added each week. We are excited to see the functionality, presentation, and integration offered by that marketplace grow in the coming year.
Paizo's Beginner Box & Abomination Vaults
We were thrilled to announce a renewed partnership with Paizo in early April, opening the gates for a sustainable and ongoing pipeline for official Pathfinder content on Foundry Virtual Tabletop. We are off to a fast start, with the Beginner Box, Outlaws of Alkenstar, and the re-mastered definitive edition of Abomination Vaults already released.
As the first part of our partnership with Paizo, and to coincide with Beginner Box Day last March, Shane led a small team of crack content creators to pull together the starter adventure for FoundryVTT with upscaled maps and high quality tokens, and fully integrated journals all prepared for play with minimal setup.
That's not it though, because we've also got the Abomination Vaults, Pathfinder 2e's grand adventure path which originally spanned three books, now combined into a single, epic, super adventure for Foundry VTT. For this project we pulled out all the stops, remastered all the maps in ultra-high quality, put together stunning journals, made custom tokens for tons of creatures, the whole shebang.
This is also just our side of things, there's plenty more coming in the future with Paizo and Foundry's partnership, which should make the next year very exciting!
Over the past year we've worked with the developers at Gameboard to innovate a new way to use Foundry Virtual Tabletop as part of your in-person gaming experience. Mixing Gameboard's patented Sense screen and the power of Foundry VTT gives you the best of in person play with physical minis and dice and the ease of use of digital play with automatic fog of war exploration, dynamic lighting, tons of game system support, and more.
Early this year we launched an integration with Patreon which allows creators throughout the TTRPG community to provide content for Foundry Virtual Tabletop that is securely available as premium content to their Patreon supporters at specific tiers. We already have a number of super-talented Patreon creators taking advantage of this feature to deliver Foundry content, including Caeora, Ivan Duch, The MAD Cartographer, Grim Press, and more! We plan to continue working on this integration to add support for new models of content delivery and enable even more Patreon creators to use this system to deliver a fantastic user experience to their supporters.
This year saw an absolutely immense amount of premium content released for Foundry VTT, with over 120 releases across 18 different publishers making their adventures, rules and supplements available for purchase! This completely blows away the previous year's releases by a wide margin and is something we're thrilled to see because we want more official support for content and that's exactly what this is.
Premium Content Releases
We are absolutely blown away by the sheer number of Premium Content releases that Foundry got this year. Last year's premium content roster included six publishers and the release of 31 pieces of premium content, which we thought was awesome at the time. However, thoses were apparently rookie numbers, because publishers stepped up their game substantially in the year to follow!
In the last twelve months the total number of publishers tripled to eighteen total, and between them they released over four times as much content, putting out a whopping one hundred and thirty products for sale! This eighteen celebrated publishers we saw over one hundred products released for sale with Foundry, including content from Ulisses Spiele, Paizo, Evil Hat, Cubicle 7 and many many more!
Exclusive Content Releases
Everybody loves free content, and this year was a good one for free Exclusive Content packages in Foundry! We had nearly thirty exclusive packages released, each one providing custom, and hand-made content for Foundry ranging from music to art to maps! On top of that almost every exclusive module we have received small updates to improve lighting, add V9 support, or add more content.
Our sincere thanks goes out to all of the awesome creators that chose to share their hard work with our community. It was a joy working with you on your releases, and we look forward to more in the coming years!
Over the last year we've helped promote almost twenty kickstarters offering Foundry support, with most of these kickstarter campaigns including specific Foundry pledge tiers or stretch goals! We've been stoked seeing more and more projects rolling out with built-in support and will continue to do our best to promote those campaigns when they come up. Needless to say it's thrilling to see more projects being planned with VTT support in mind in general, let alone with our platform specifically!
These Dice are Hot!
As a small show of thanks, we commissioned a custom iron and lava skin for Dice So Nice which we are giving away to all members of the Foundry Community. These dice feature gorgeous lava rock textures with glowing lava, dark iron chamfers, and the Foundry anvil logo. You can check out the module here! This add-on for Dice So Nice can be downloaded from the add-on module browser in Foundry.
Our team is proud of everything we have accomplished this year and we are energized by the support and passion of our wonderful community. We foresee great things to come for Foundry Virtual Tabletop as we continue to improve the software, grow our community, support creators, and break new ground with features never-seen-before in the TTRPG space. We would not be here without the dedication and support of our community, moderators, helpers, family, and friends. From the bottom of our hearts the Foundry Virtual Tabletop team thanks all of you for joining us on this journey and for many years yet to come!