Let's see... I love Roll20 so far, but rather than fanboy about it (which won't help anyone), I'll just go straight for the bits that felt strange, difficult to work with as a player, or stuck out as shining. I'll break it down by area of the structure. I've been thinking about it since lastnight, and although nothing was glaringly painful, some issues stuck with me.
The text, drawing, etc, tools really do need that upcoming overhaul. So that's already in the works, and frankly, it needs it a lot. I did have trouble tracking activity around on the surface on a few occasions, unless I was zoomed out pretty far. I suspect that when the Pings fully drag your screen around to be sure you can see the action, that will be a lot easier. The GM's drawing on the fly wasn't too bad, if a little difficult to make out at times, but it got the point across. Again, something that should likely change in the overhaul.
Moving tokens worked like a charm, as did the swivel and the Alt-Swivel, on the hex grid. Being able to see the color of who was moving which token was also very helpful. There were however, a considerable number of issues with quick-searching for tokens to use as NPCs, which slowed our GM down a good bit as he hunted. He wasn't looking for anything terribly complicated, but nothing vaguely relevant popped up.
Roll20 Chat Space:
The chat feed feels very confined. I use Chrome, and in my browser at least, it isn't a resizeable area. But it does resize whenever I do anything else with Chrome that adds a frame to the page I am on, like using Inspect Elements, will do a resize of the frames. Perhaps there is something that can be toggled to make the division between the table and the chat area draggable?
We didn't use the chat a lot, but I can imagine getting a lot of use out of it in the future.
Roll20 Characters & Handouts:
When you load an image into the Handouts, right now it initially loads a smaller resolution image and scales up if you press the Magnifying Glass icon at the center. That's not a bad solution for quickly sifting through Handouts, however, it was a concern when it became clear I couldn't scroll that zoomed image. So the first and last 4th of the blown-up image was outside the window. That was kind of frustrating while trying to find things on the fly, although not impossible to get around. Although it did require I circumvent the protections of the page by using Chrome's element tools to locate the cached (max.gif) image file pertaining to the handout I wanted and move it to my desktop to open in another viewer. That was a lot of work to read a percentage of the page space. The only other work around was to zoom out on roll20 itself, which caused the image to shrink again anyway. It was.. frustrating. I couldn't even right-click to open the image in a new window, which I personally like as a feature for GMs. However, a handout should be toggleable from edit as downloadable or highlightable. A lack of highlighting kept me from copying out an inventory to keep it in a side notepad in another window, so I could free up some of my Roll20 table view, in an effort to keep up with the action. I had to screenshot it and paste it into a .png so I could see it from an image viewer.
In summary... if you have a decent number of handouts (8+) it becomes really cumbersome to have them above the table itself.
Thoughts on TokBox:
During play, when Agemegos would try to show us the differentiations between areas of a room by doing a hold-click to ping, it was incredibly out of sync with how he listed it. Although there was a slight lag from the process of taking the data into Roll20, then sending it out to everyone, it was only a second or two. On the other hand, TokBox was at times 5-15 seconds latent. Other times TB would show me someone speaking, and the audio would take a full 3 seconds to catch up with their lips. Which is truly surreal, considering audio and video are both handled by TB's API. The difference between lip movements and audio did change depending on the geographic location of the person involved; Kage and John are closer to me and their overall latency was less, making it less noticeable. Not a Roll20 issue entirely, but no doubt an issue we'll be seeing in the future.
Thoughts for development:
Idea One: <a href="http://community.roll20.net/discussion/454/tweaking-ping-general-" rel="nofollow">http://community.roll20.net/discussion/454/tweaking-ping-general-</a>
Idea Two: <a href="http://community.roll20.net/discussion/455/community-maptokenportrait-gallery" rel="nofollow">http://community.roll20.net/discussion/455/community-maptokenportrait-gallery</a>
Idea Three: <a href="http://community.roll20.net/discussion/456/auto-open-handouts" rel="nofollow">http://community.roll20.net/discussion/456/auto-open-handouts</a>
Idea Four: Still mulling this one threw... But GMs may need a way to set the default Zoom for a given page. Why? Because when you pop into a new page, it loads and leaves you staring at the maximum resolution at 100%. It barely gives us any idea where to begin, and takes away time spent in play, trying to approximate on the map where the action should be.
If someone likes these ideas, comment, vote them up. I am not concerned enough to ask they all be added beyond suggesting them, but if it would help others... well, let the popular request win on this one.
Thoughts on what Players & GMs need to keep in mind:
This is a different medium. For GMs from a primarily offline source who are looking for an online solution to distance, etc, this can't be beat... however, you need to plan in advance for it to take longer. Especially in a pickup game. It is very hard to read what people's faces are saying if they are lagged or unfamiliar to you, so its hard to know when it is safe to speak. That means you have the video window, but you can't rely on it to know when it is okay to talk. Getting over that hurdle is mostly one on a player/GM's end, so plan for it. Anticipate at least an additional hour of time to acclimate if people are unfamiliar. I'm planning a One-Shot right now, and I just added 2 hours to my anticipated play time.
If you're a GM, keep in mind that your players cannot read minds. That means if you give them a handout, you need to remember to tell them what it is. If you start a game and its pre-generated, you need to do twice as much explanation of the culture, etc. In an offline game, or in a game between players who know each other really well, we spend a large amount of time (that we don't account for) fielding questions about cultures, races, the environment, etc. When you have to do that through TokBox... it can take some time. Considerable time.
For players and GMs... be patient. Since it is in very early beta, this is all destined to see tweaking and change. We need to keep that in mind and account for that in our efforts. We may have helped fund it, but our developers are not superheroes... not yet, anyway. Riley's working on it by learning to defy sleep as a Platonic concept, but he's not there yet. Pull for him though--he needs it! ;)