Since we’ve been using our Tabletop Simulator mod to show off the mechanics of Commies! I thought it would be good to share with you some of what it took to build this mod. Tabletop Simulator is pretty fun and I want to offer up a window into what it took to put together this rather simple workshop mod in case anyone else was looking to import their game for online play.
Building Commies! inside of Tabletop Simulator was actually quite easy because when it comes down to it, Commies! is just a card game. Today’s version of TTS has the Deck Builder tool bundled inside of your Steam directory. This handy piece of software lets you simply drag and drop your cards into a template to build them. You’ll want to use the default settings throughout the process(10x7 no matter how many cards in your deck, 69(nice) card max per deck), and remember to place the back card image in the 70th slot. If any of your models even remotely resemble cards, it’s a good idea to throw them into 1 deck and import it into TTS that way. In the real life version of Commies!, the Party ID cards are about an inch shorter in each direction. Rather than creating a separate deck for importation in TTS, I simply added them in with the regular playing card deck and resized the cards once inside of TTS. You’re also going to want to use the highest resolution images that you have available when building your decks. And since the exported .png or .jpg tend to be large, I like to host them at places with great bandwidth and uptime, like Imgur. It might take a minute to load your game initially, but it’s really great to be able to stare at beautiful artwork in 1440p while you’re playing a game with friends.
The quickest way to get your game into TTS is use the available models and tools that come with the game! It sounds pretty basic but often I found myself trying to redesign models to make it perfect when TTS offered something 95% close to what I was aiming for. In the end, you want to spend more time playing your game than recreating it in a virtual environment, so be flexible and willing to use your creative imagination. I used this philosophy when deciding on the supporter chips. In the physical version of the game, Commies! comes with red plastic chips that have a solid ring around the edge, similar to a coin. Rather than trying to recreate this model in Blender, I opted to use the checkers model already included in TTS. Since the checkers already stack and display a count when hovered over, this also saved me the time of having to code that into what would have been my own custom model for our supporter chips.
Once you’ve got all your components imported into the game, the last thing to focus on making the gameplay as quick and smooth as possible for the players. This is more of an art form than a science–you’re done when you think you’re done but you’ll always find one more thing you’d like to enhance. I started with the easy stuff like creating a central gameplay area to help players out. For Commies! all I did was use a blank card that I included when I constructed the deck. It’s very easy to make copies of cards or other items if you need more than one. I made sure to lock them down as well. If something in your game isn’t going to be moving, you should lock it down. Having non-moving items locked down makes playing games in TTS so much smoother and easier for newcomers.
It’s also a great idea to utilize snap points every chance you get. It was a little difficult to solve the puzzle of where to put snap points with Commies! because the tableau changes in height as the game is played and its length changes based on the current player count. Leader cards are stacked on each other with about a 20% offset so you can see each card played, like in solitaire, but close enough to be able to pick up a stack of cards and easily move them. After much trial and error the best solution I came up with was using 5 snap points per row even though only 4 cards will ever be played there. Given a little practice the motion of placing and scooping up piles of cards becomes quick and second nature. Not only can snap points help players drop items onto the table, they can also rotate items. I decided to use that on our discard piles to help the game move along quicker. Each player places their selected card on the pile coming from all sorts of angles. Using a turning snap point just takes the step of turning the card out of the players’ hands. I always try to think about what features can enhance the gameplay without creating more trouble.
Here are some of my most frequently used keys:
Q and E: rotate items. If you’re playing tile games, it might help to switch your degree rotation to 90.
F: Flips items
L: Locks down an item
G: Groups similar items into a single pile
This is the second game I’ve imported into TTS and I still learn something new each time I play around with it. Do you know of a helpful TTS hint that would make the game run smoother? Please sound off and let me know!
You can check out mod yourself here.