The 2013 ENnies nominations have been announced and voting is now open. I caught up with Nolan T. Jones of Roll20.net. I’m a big fan of Roll20 — I’m running a Shackled City campaign on their platform right now, and I’m pleased to report that their web site is nominated for Best Web Site ENnie. Voting begins on Monday, July 22 and runs to Wednesday, July 31. The ceremony itself will be on Friday, August 16, in the Union Station Grand Hall at 8 pm with the cocktail reception beginning at 6:30 pm.
Michael Tresca (MT): Tell us about your company.
Nolan T. Jones (NTJ): Roll20 is the biggest online virtual tabletop, usable from your browser with no downloads required. In terms of our “company,” the three-man team that created Roll20 (Riley Dutton, Richard Zayas, and myself, Nolan T. Jones) go by the name “The Orr Group”, and we are very, very lucky to have an excellent group of moderators that help us respond to the nearly quarter million members of our community.
MT: Why should voters vote for your product? What sets it apart?
NTJ: We’re an easy-to-use method of engaging in your favorite tabletop games with friends from across the globe. And while we take Roll20 seriously as a “product,” it also wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t created it for our OWN needs in gaming together across long distances– our personal desire to have something to use ourselves keeps us constantly improving the product.
MT: How do you feel about the state of the gaming industry today?
NTJ: Currently the gaming industry is in a state of flux. On one hand, the internet and crowd-funding have made a great equalizer which has helped to realize all sorts of amazing projects. On the other hand, some (not all) of the more established elements of the industry are guarded about these new talents, which creates an unnecessary “us versus them” dynamic. Hopefully we can all work in tandem to make better gaming products in the future!
MT: How hard is it for a game publisher in this economy?
NTJ: You have to have a lot of faith in your work and your community’s support to try and make a living in gaming. We have been very fortunate to consistently see our users WANT us to be successful, and that’s been amazing.
MT: How has Kickstarter changed or influenced your business model, if at all?
NTJ: Kickstarter is how Roll20 began– so I think it’s fair to say it’s our MAIN influence! It’s a fantastic method of connecting with passionate and savvy people who want to support ambitious ideas. It’s been an ongoing lesson in remembering that ANYTHING is possible.
MT: What’s next for your company?
NTJ: Continuing to refine the tabletop. With Roll20, we’re constantly working to make the interface more intuitive; making the experience feel more like sitting around a table.
MT: Will you be at Gen Con? Where?
NTJ: The whole development team will be there! Here’s some information on the panels we’re hosting.
MT: Where can we find out more about your company online?
MT: Anything else you’d like to share?
NTJ: The Orr Group records a weekly podcast about the things we love (including Roll20) here.
We also write an ongoing adventure webcomic about a scrappy guild which can be read here.
Both those things are worth having a look at…
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