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Improving Audio, Storage, and Performance

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Nolan T. J.
Roll20 Team
Today we launched  My Audio  and tripled storage for Roll20 subscribers. Plus users have gone from only 1GB of storage space up to 3GB of storage space, while Pro users have gone from 2GB to 6GB of storage space. Subscribers can use that space to upload their own audio files as well as the animations introduced by  Get a New Look  last month. Between these new features and recent data trends we've been tracking, we expect larger and larger game campaigns to be built on Roll20. We have updated our best file practices  to help keep your game running smoothly. On our end, we continue to optimize storage, transferring, and rendering data. There are lots of performance pieces we’re working on right now including: The recent improvements to Advanced Fog of War that came in the  Get a New Look  update. We're expecting further enhancements in coming months as we roll out new layer support. (Also, keep your eyes peeled for a developer chat similar to what we had with the  Behind the Scenes of the Charactermancer  that will offer some more insight into just how much an impact these rendering improvements made!) An overhaul of how we structure data, with a mindset on prepping for better mobile support and optimization of character sheets within Roll20. Further enhancement to software and hardware running the Voice and Video Streaming feature (WebRTC), including some finessing of how we handle server connections. Closing piracy loopholes which, in addition to breaking our Terms of Service, enable recurring malicious practices that break individual users' games and strain the Roll20 system. All those things are in the pipeline for the months ahead. Between users following our best practices and our development team constantly improving efficiency, we can continue to add new and exciting pieces to the virtual tabletop without performance dragging. In the coming weeks, we will announce the next feature roll-out plan as well as schedule another Community Roundtable for the month of March. If you have questions about today's releases or other updates from  Roll20 Resolutions , feel free to ask here in this thread! We have also made  significant changes  to improve transparency and communication on our  Suggestions Forum , where we welcome you to share your own ideas about how you'd like to see Roll20 grow in the future. The technical release note is here . 
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Okay so free users are screwed then?
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keithcurtis
Forum Champion
Kudos to Kenton on the revision to the Best File Practice page. Awesome job explaining a detailed subject and should be required reading.
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Free users aren't screwed, they just have to be very selective with music.  At least Roll20 didn't opt to make music a subscriber only feature.  And at the end of the day music is just fluff, not integral game function. I'm a little surprised Roll20 isn't transcoding music uploads to a single compressed format though for efficiency.
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VP
Pro
Dylan L. said: Okay so free users are screwed then? If you're a free user you can also utilize other options such as creating playlists on YouTube. Not ideal but a functional alternative.
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Euphamia
Marketplace Creator
Free users should really be bumped up to 500 mb or a gig honestly.
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Will there ever be the option to look up other music people have already uploaded. It'll start getting much harder to maintain a wide selection if I have to download and upload every song I want to use.
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There's also the Rhythm bot for playing music in Discord.  Or use a virtual audio cable to pipe music in straight from your player.  Or have your group chip in and get your GM a subscription.  That'd be like $1 a month per player in the typical campaign.
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Dark theme. Don't make people download 3rd party things, make it a free option. Also a suggestion that's likely gone into Archeives by this point; multiple sheets per game. If you guys are going to effectively trash portions of current games; you can at least boost the base features whilst you're at it. Just gotten used to Fanburst from the old stuff, I hope the replacement feature has the same stuff as the previous. Hard to found soundtracks as is.
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100 MB in comparrison to 3 GIGs for baseline subscribers?! My ART assets nearly have me pinned at close to 80 megs as is (and that's with frequent reshuffling of maps no longer required since the library of free 3rd party maps & art assets has shrunk abymsmally).  Sorry, but I call B/S here. 300 MB's (a fair increase in keeping with the rest of the paid users) would at least give free users a decent wiggle room to bring in low-end "gif" level quality sfx and muzak and not have to compromise the visual aspect of the games.
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As much as fanburst was limiting, I did appreciate the fact I could use as much of their music as possible. It sucks that not only do I have to now manually upload music, but I have a limited amount I can use as a free account. (Not to mention it's hard enough as it is to finding and uploading mp3 files without going through sketch websites). I mean, this is a decent compromise with fanburst shutting down and all. It's better than having no music at all. But I wish there was something better. Personally, and I'm sure other people included, wish that we could use Spotify. (I'm not sure why roll20 hasn't already)
Thank you all for your hard work. πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ˜Š
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Dope, thanks for getting this sorted out so fast. I am still of course hoping that we will one day have a system like Fanburst again where I can search for music that other's have uploaded since I quite enjoy doing that.
I think free users should have had their space bumped up a bit as well. I know most people struggle with the 100 MB space with just images alone. What would've been better, in my opinion, would be to have 100 MB of storage for music and 100 MB of storage for images separately so that users don't need to compromise between the two. It would also be nice if people were able to use the music uploaded by fellow users just like with how Fanburst worked.
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keithcurtis
Forum Champion
There are other hosting services besides Fanburst in the Jukebox. Free users are in no way "screwed". There are many alternatives as folks here have pointed out. Are Free users slightly more inconvenienced than they were before? In some ways, but that's on Fanburst's doorstep.
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Great stuff thank you for continuing to progress Roll20 every week.
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At the appologists for R20 's decision to screw us Free Users over (I stand by my statement); please stop making excuses for the site.  Yes, Fanburst screwed us first with being unable to maintain their achitecture & hosting.  That still does not change the fact that the gap between paid and unpaid users has grown even further, and being forced to use third party sites (re; having to open a secondary window, instead of using features native to R20) defeats the entire purpose of why most of us joined up in the first place.  So instead of telling us to "suck it up or pay up"; why don't you speak on OUR behalf to the admins and get some equity in service back to the free users, hmmmm? Just a polite suggestion.
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keithcurtis
Forum Champion
Dylan L. said: So instead of telling us to "suck it up or pay up"; why don't you speak on OUR behalf to the admins and get some equity in service back to the free users, hmmmm? Just a polite suggestion. I don't believe anyone said that. If anything, people have been pointing out alternatives to give you the ability to stream music.
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Tom
Pro
This is a good solution. I'm sure Roll20 was/is expensive to develop and maintain. Storage space isn't cheap. I just don't get the entitlement of people claiming they deserve 3 GBs (or whatever) of space as a FREE user.
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keithcurtis
Forum Champion
I believe I know the answer to this, but it would probably be good to make it explicit. As I understand it, uploaded songs are treated like your image library, they are not loaded into the browser memory, but are merely pointers to streamed files. Adding a previously-uploaded track to your jukebox playlist should not impact performance. Correct?
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@Dylan L; free users do not pay to keep the lights on and contribute nothing to Roll20. Guess what; Roll20 has costs. This is the real world. If no one pays then Roll20 ceases to exist. How about saying 'Thanks Roll20 for providing this service for free to most users' or 'Thanks to the contributors for paying for my gaming every week'? Having said that, I think Roll20 should introduce another tier; maybe $1 /month for an extra 200-500 MB of storage.
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Roll20 is a business and them allowing free users options beyond the base virtual tabletop is actually very generous.
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Tech is very expensive when you have a user base in the millions with many of those users not paying for the service. Ads only support you for so long so this is an awesome direction to go in for Roll20 and for the hobby. For a few dollars per month I can store a lot of music for my games now. That's fantastic! I and many others have wanted this for a very long time. Thank you so much! edit: I seriously feel that the hobby was declining for a while there until Roll20 came along. You guys have done such a great job staying true to us and our hobby. Any other platform would nickle and dime you to death. Roll20 doesn't do that and it is greatly appreciated. I've personally felt that everyone should have to pay a minimum of $5/month to play to keep Roll20 out of the hands of crappy investors and in the hands of us . Thank you. 
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I agree. While we do feel for you Free Users, the costs of running the site and doing all of this for you just so you can play are expensive. That is why we have to do our part. Look, if you can buy a cup of coffee every day, 4.99 per MONTH is NOT going to slaughter your bank account.
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keithcurtis
Forum Champion
Before this turns into a gripefest between subs and free, maybe we should concentrate on doing what Roll20 users do best? Finding ways to break our new toys. ;) Seriously, this thread would be greatly served by people testing things out and finding out what works and doesn't work. The devs rushed this into production due to the unexpected Fanburst closure. I would be surprised if there weren't a few speed bumps.
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Chandra said: I agree. While we do feel for you Free Users, the costs of running the site and doing all of this for you just so you can play are expensive. That is why we have to do our part. Look, if you can buy a cup of coffee every day, 4.99 per MONTH is NOT going to slaughter your bank account. Missing the point.
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Here's an idea - @Roll20, could you partition storage for free accounts? 150 MB for Art files, 150 MB for Sound files, something like that? That will help the free accounts along without breaking the bank I think. If a free account starts using their sound storage, then that creates the partition. otherwise if they're not using sound at all, then the partition stays closed and you hold onto 150 MB extra. For reference, I have a HUGE repo of music and sound effects, and it totals up to 675 MB. 150 MB would be more than enough for just sound Sound is a very important flavor for games!
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 some are on a fixed income like disability can not afford things working class do it would take away a vital thing like a perscription or a meal, i'm lucky as i can  but many cannot ,there should be something out there that can  benifit both types of players.
For everyone, who is saying, that "4.99 per month isn't going to slaughter your bank account": please, keep in mind, that not everyone has so much money as you have. Not everyone is living in countries, where the payment for your job is so high. The example is my party: we're living in Russia and we're all students, we're living in different cities and cannot meet in real life - and we have no money for such a payment, 4.99 per month, but we want to play with music and ambients, with CUSTOM sound effects, that is not always available and can someday become a deleted ones. And now everyone is saying, that we should now use different service such as YouTube for music, opening it in second window? Well, not everyone has the second screen for its comfortable music - and after all, not everyone will hear the music without other programs, that will broadcast it.
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Damn, we freebie plebs kinda got hosed on data... I woulda been grateful for another measly 50 megs. Heh. With all my space tied up in art and tokens though, I'm gonna gonna miss the built in jukebox.
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Dylan, I believe you're missing the point.  The rest of us Pros pay for R20 because we want to get the most out of the service we choose to run our games on. I was a free user until I wanted to GM a game. Then I started paying because I wanted access to all of the features that my GM has access to.  The point is if you want good quality service then you have to pay for it. Welcome to the Real World, nothing of quality is free.  And what Chandra said is perfect, I think. If you can afford a $3 cup of coffee every morning, then you can afford $4.99 a month. And if you can't then i'm sure there are ways you can cost cut in your daily life to make sure you can afford it. Additionally, this is the first notification of this update. Free users on other sites and various other services do still tend to reap a minority of the benefits of updates given some time after the paid users do. Give it couple weeks and maybe Free users here will see a mild storage increase as well. Basically, just keep an open mind about it. Don't assume that because free users didn't get a new feature at the same time as paid users that it won't happen at all.
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Jase
Pro
It's pretty painless to do all the audio through Discord and have a bot like Rythm bot join and play youtube music/ambience into the audio. You don't need a second screen and everyone in the channel will hear it without doing anything on their end. Ashen said: And now everyone is saying, that we should now use different service such as YouTube for music, opening it in second window? Well, not everyone has the second screen for its comfortable music - and after all, not everyone will hear the music without other programs, that will broadcast it.
Yeah this is a pretty horrible blow to one of the core features of the site. Thanks for crippling this functionality for a vast swathe of your users.
xUndyingPhoenix said: Dylan, I believe you're missing the point.  The rest of us Pros pay for R20 because we want to get the most out of the service we choose to run our games on. I was a free user until I wanted to GM a game. Then I started paying because I wanted access to all of the features that my GM has access to.  The point is if you want good quality service then you have to pay for it. Welcome to the Real World, nothing of quality is free.  And what Chandra said is perfect, I think. If you can afford a $3 cup of coffee every morning, then you can afford $4.99 a month. And if you can't then i'm sure there are ways you can cost cut in your daily life to make sure you can afford it. Where do you live where a cup of coffee is $3? This is the problem, people think that just because they can splurge fortunes on their Starbucks lattes means that everyone can. As Ashen has said, people in most countries don't have the luxury to pay the sub every month, much less buy a freaking $3 coffee every day. That's just crazy.
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Dylan L. said: Okay so free users are screwed then? How are you getting screwed?  Your not paying into it.   Your just using a free service.  You get what you didn't pay for.
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Uh I have a question.  What happens to the existing tracks I am using for my roll20 sessions?  Do I have to move them and then relocate to a new server / service or will they remain as a game asset? 
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This is a very nice feature, but for me it just brings up the argument again that uploading and managing files on Roll20 is honestly a horrible experience. Being given 3gb of storage is nice, but being given an FTP connection to upload and manage that storage would be ideal.
Reinhardt AVVS said: xUndyingPhoenix said: Dylan, I believe you're missing the point.  The rest of us Pros pay for R20 because we want to get the most out of the service we choose to run our games on. I was a free user until I wanted to GM a game. Then I started paying because I wanted access to all of the features that my GM has access to.  The point is if you want good quality service then you have to pay for it. Welcome to the Real World, nothing of quality is free.  And what Chandra said is perfect, I think. If you can afford a $3 cup of coffee every morning, then you can afford $4.99 a month. And if you can't then i'm sure there are ways you can cost cut in your daily life to make sure you can afford it. Where do you live where a cup of coffee is $3? This is the problem, people think that just because they can splurge fortunes on their Starbucks lattes means that everyone can. As Ashen has said, people in most countries don't have the luxury to pay the sub every month, much less buy a freaking $3 coffee every day. That's just crazy. The US, Britain, Germany, Australia... I could go on, but I think you get the point.  People in East Europe are the only ones, that I am aware, that don't have strong enough currency to be somewhat comparable. PS.  Starbucks is $5 per cup. and the cheapest fuel station filth is $0.75. At least in the US. I have also never gone to Starbucks for an Americano, which is just straight black coffee.  I also don't buy coffee every morning for just this reason. I buy the beans and grind them myself.
Aniond said: How are you getting screwed?  Your not paying into it.   Your just using a free service.  You get what you didn't pay for. Maybe, you know. Just a wild thought. ADDING IN ways to restrict the already small 100 MB worth of storage and not increasing it is kind of counter-productive? Or are you going to suggest NOT to use it for music, so there may as well be no point to even let free users use this option?
Rerednaw said: Uh I have a question.  What happens to the existing tracks I am using for my roll20 sessions?  Do I have to move them and then relocate to a new server / service or will they remain as a game asset?  Anything hosted by Fanburst will be gone on the 25th, when Fanburst shuts down. Items that you are using from Tabletop Audio, Incompetech, and Battlebards will not be effected.
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Bast L.
Pro
API Scripter
Edit:  Dylan L.  said: Okay so free users are screwed then? Huff  said: Yeah this is a pretty horrible blow to one of the core features of the site. Thanks for crippling this functionality for a vast swathe of your users. Am I misreading, or did Roll20 not do this? Roll20 is using what's available, but Fanburst is closing. How is that Roll20's fault? Saying that they're screwing you over for only giving you 100 MB for free is odd. A more reasonable discussion could be had about an optional storage subscription. Something low cost, and only offering the storage (and file size) increase.
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ADDING IN ways to restrict the already small 100 MB worth of storage and not increasing it is kind of counter-productive? Or are you going to suggest NOT to use it for music, so there may as well be no point to even let free users use this option? It's to tease you into paying the subscription. It's also incredibly lame.
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Rerednaw, the answer to that depends on where the tracks are currently hosted.  Anything on Fanburst will be permanently deleted on February 25.  This is because Fanburst is going out of business and Roll20 has no control over that.  It's one of those things that happen when you give too much away for free and your venture capital runs out...
So the core complaint of the free user base is that now they may have to Alt+Tab to a second window to control their audio? It seems very petty from individuals who are benefiting from a free service. I mean if you stream to the discord channel like others suggest it is literally just Alt+Tab to that window, make selection and then Alt+Tab back. It probably takes maybe an additional 5 seconds or so more at the most than what the old capability was. Incredibly petty unless I'm missing something...
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@ Dylan L.  I have never heard someone complain so much for a service that's provided for free. If the FREE account inst meeting your needs, you can always hand over 5 bucks a month.  It sounds like it would be worth the value to you.
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keithcurtis
Forum Champion
I would like to remind people to remain civil, by the CoC you all agreed to when you joined the forums. "Be excellent to each other."
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DXWarlock
Pro
Sheet Author
API Scripter
You can have a game of 10 people 100 people, 1000 people, only one needs to pay. I think that's a great deal to start with. So say you run for 4 people, that $1 a month from each. I run a game for 8 people only one of is isnt 'free' tier. They are providing a game for 9 people, for the price of 1. I fail to see how the free users are 'getting screwed'. Are you not getting your monies worth? :P And I do get the idea of that's why you came to Roll20 the integration, but the draw of free is to encourage you to sub. The "Free" tier isnt their foundation business model of operation. If they gave free users everything they need, what reason would people feel a need to upgrade? 
Riddle me this, people who paid. Why won't you switch tabs to youtube? Or set up a bot on discord?