I've found Tabletop Simulator a great venue for playtesting and I need to update the Scandinavia and the World workshop entry - so I thought that it might be nice for me to do this in the form of a tutorial. It's been a really great venue for me and isn't tricky to use, so a bit of a step by step guide seems like something that might help break down barriers to entry for other designers.
Boot up TTS and find the main menu. Click "Single Player" so that you can work on your game without being disturbed. You'll still see chat from the main room, but you can ignore it.
When you go into single player you'll be confronted with a host of games to play. Ignore all of them and hit the "X" at the top right corner of the screen. These are just shortcuts for opening other people's games and you're here to make your own!
To get your game into the editor you're going to need custom components. So hit "objects" and select "custom". This will bring up choices for various components - since I'm making a card game, let's take a look at custom deck:
So here we have a menu asking for a bunch of things. Going through each of them in turn:
Face: A link to the images for the front of the cards.
Back: A link to the images for the back of the cards.
Unique Backs: If this is checked then the software will treat the image at "Back" as one image and paste it onto the back of every card. Otherwise it'll treat it as several different images and chop it up, putting a bit onto the back of each card.
Sideways: Used if the cards should be held and displayed in landscape rather than portrait
Back is Hidden: If you want a double sided card, but want it to be ambiguous what a player is holding in their hand check this box. It will ensure that the card backs are not displayed to the other players while it is in your hand - instead the last card in the face image will be displayed.
Width & Height: "Face" linked to a single image, but that image contains the images for all of the cards in the deck. These tell the software how many images are in the super image.
Confused? Let me show you my image:
So here I have one image that shows a lot of different cards for my game. If I tell the software that this image is a 7 x 10 grid (i.e. width 7 height 10), then it automatically cuts the cards out and displays them differently so I don't need to do 70 separate uploads. Ignore the Escape the Nightmare card, that shouldn't be there
Once your deck is imported into the game, you can drag and drop individual cards to set up your game however you like. This is how players will encounter it when they load the mod, so doing as much setup as possible is good - but bear in mind that any randomisation will be saved, so if you shuffle a deck then everyone who loads your mod will get the cards in the same order.
Move a card: Click and drag (doing this on a deck will take the top card of the deck)
Flip a card face up/down: Press "F" while holding the card
Shuffle a deck: Click and hold on a deck and wave the mouse furiously
Stack cards together: Place them on top of each other or drag and select a bunch and then click and hold the mouse while waving it furiously (This will collect all selected cards and shuffle them)
Resize the cards: Press "+" or "-" while holding to rescale the card.
Zoom: Holding "ALT" on mouse over will show a zoomed in version of the card so that you can read it more easily.
Delete a card: Hit DEL while holding the card.
Undo: The left facing arrow icon (first icon along the bar at the top of the screen)
Once you're happy that your game is as you'd like your playtesters to find it, it's time to upload it for the internet at large to see.
The upload button is pretty self explanatory - you give the game a title, a description and tag some types and a player count and then hit go.
The only pitfall is that you'll need an image for the workshop thumbnail. This image needs to be square and will be displayed at 100x100 or 256x256 depending on where someone is looking at it.
Once you've uploaded it, quit out of TTS and have a look at steam. Hit Community and then Workshop to get to the steam workshop.
Then scroll down a bit and click on "Your Files" which doesn't look like a hyperlink, but it is! That'll show you your uploads and you can pick your newly uploaded game.
At the top left is a URL. That's the URL that you want to give to anyone who is planning on playing the game - it'll lead them to this page and they can hit the "Subscribe" button which will mean that they automatically download updates to this game from now on. Go ahead and subscribe to your own game!
The "owner controls" at the bottom right are also pretty handy. As well as putting some more detail into the games description, you can also include a link to your site about the physical game.
Also, by default your game will have one image and it'll be a super zoomed in version of your square image - it's nicer to show off some box art and cards from the game and the like. You can upload new images there (Note that steam will display them at something daft like 636 x 358 which can make them look weird if you've not prepared them at that size)
Finally, whenever you change the mod that little line that says "6 change notes" will update. If you hit the view button, you'll see steam says something like "Modified on date X" You can edit the change notes to display what you actually did if you like.
Once you're happy with the workshop page, boot up TTS again to make sure that it all works.
If you uploaded and subscribed correctly you should see your little square image displayed on the "workshop" row. Give it a click and see what happens.
All going to plan you should now be looking at your game, exactly as you'd like a new player to see it. If that's what's happened, great! Now you just need to tell people it's there and you'll be able to enjoy playtests with people all over the world without needing to create and post a million prototypes.
Obviously there's more that you can do beyond this brief tutorial: You can see that I've changed the table and included a rulesheet as well as the steps previously taken. I couldn't possibly highlight all of the components you might want your game to improve, but you can't go wrong by playing around in the "objects - custom" category and trying things out.
I hope this whistle stop tour of online playtesting is useful to you. If you fancy taking a peek at SatW then the link for my workshop mod is right here. Happy gaming and see you online