Dungeon Full Dive recreates Dungeons & Dragons 5e within a virtual tabletop. Arriving this year in early access on Steam, we took a closer look through a hands-off preview, interviewing TxK Gaming Studios to learn more.
VR has seen some great attempts at tabletop gaming in recent years. Between early efforts like Tabletop Simulator to RPGs like Demeo, Dungeon Full Dive (DFD) hopes to occupy a different niche within this market. Described as a “platform” instead of a game, DFD hopes to directly recreate Dungeons & Dragons 5E within a virtual tabletop for up to 8 players. Using peer-to-peer multiplayer, it supports both flatscreen play and VR.
As someone who backed the Kickstarter campaign two years ago, I was curious to learn more following its recent announcement. Speaking with CEO and co-founder Khang Parm, alongside co-founder Tom Bockhorn for a recent video interview, I asked how development began in 2021.
"In Germany, we also had a COVID-19 lockdown, making it illegal to meet people physically. That ended all of our tabletop sessions and we’re both big tabletop fans. I'm playing his campaigns, he plays in my campaigns,” Parm tells me, referring to Bockhorn. “We wanted to continue playing and this is where we then looked for like virtual tabletop solutions on the market."
Unfortunately, none of the available options filled the gap the duo were searching for. “With Roll 20, I like to call it PowerPoint multiplayer. I played a session but stopped afterwards because it’s not as immersive as I wanted it to be,” he tells me and having previously tried Roll 20, I can't help but laugh. Trying to recreate DnD with a modded version of Tabletob Simulator similarly proved fruitless.
Summarizing the platform's basic idea as “what if the DM (Dungeon Master) could press one button and everything becomes a reality,” the duo began planning.
We developed the idea to create a platform where people can create their own 3D worlds and their own tabletop adventures, create their own miniatures, and something that’s never been done before. Once you place the miniature on the board, you can switch into the mini’s perspective. That turns Dungeon Fill Dive into more of a live-action roleplay than you see with tabletop.
This eventually led to Kickstarter. Targeting roughly $10,700 (€10,000), Dungeon Full Dive smashed this goal by reaching 2300% funding at $250k (€234k), becoming Kickstarter’s most-funded VR game of all-time. Parm tells me the team scaled up to 14 people and two years later, they’re now preparing for the early access launch.
As someone who plays a weekly Dungeons & Dragons 5e game, my next question asked how tricky it was adapting such a vast game into a virtual tabletop. Specifically, I wanted to know what sort of freedoms this provides a DM. It's at this point Bockhorn loads up a preview build for a short hands-off demo, as Parm explains DFD uses the Open Game Licence.
While D&D 5e is the focus for early access, I'm told TxK Gaming Studios is looking to implement other rule sets later on. “We have built the architecture in a way that we can also make other rule systems or maybe allow people to mod their rule systems in as well,” Parm informs me.
I couldn't see all the different races available but I got a closer look at character customization, like clothing options, colors and how character sheets automatically calculate your ability values. Character models also lip sync with your speech for greater immersion. Soon after, we moved into the village map with explorable houses, though Parm confirms "there’s a lot of handcrafted developer maps” that you can directly search for.
Once you're in the game, there are two options. You can take the birds-eye view for the more classic tabletop experience, moving figures and items directly across the map. Or you can do first-person mode and watch events unfold around you directly, grabbing items directly with a magnetic grip. Following a brief moment with a playable lute, Parm explains how Dungeon Full Dive offers considerable interactivity.
You’ve got your interactions, you can pick up the stuff. We try to make it so it's not just visually there, but actually interactive. If you see a beer mug, then you can actually drink from it. If you see a bowl, you can shoot it. That's not connected to the combat system at the moment, but you can do a lot of roleplaying with it.
Simplicity is evidently DFD's goal and that includes dice rolls. Chosen from a quick menu, you can do five rolls at once for a D2, D4, D6, D8. D10, D12 and D20. Simply point at the option with your controllers or mouse, throw them and your results appear in a text box, so you don’t need to look too closely for results. This all looks straightforward, while an initiative tracker automatically shows who’s turn it is in combat.
I'm also intrigued by the tools offered to DMs for storytelling, like directly controlling monsters during set scenes. As for the atmosphere, Parm explains you can change the times of the day, turning maps from broad daylight to late night with a quick button press. Sound automatically adjusting to accompany this and they also have plans for soundboards, too. Querying whether DFD will support about weather effects like rain, I'm told this feature is planned.
Regarding campaigns, Parm doesn’t expect pre-built campaigns will be ready for the early access launch, likely in time for the full release instead. However, he explains that you can sell custom campaigns to others through an in-game marketplace, similar to buying D&D campaign books. Touching upon modding, the duo confirms Steam workshop support won’t be added due to the planned Quest release, but mod support is “something for later down the road.”
Even for an early build, I can tell there is a lot here and with future plans, Parm keenly emphasizes this is a platform instead of a game. “We really want to establish a platform where you go to and play all the tape to games you want," he says, confirming there is "a lot on the roadmap.” I queried if PSVR 2 support is likely and he explains it’s too early to decide. "That’s something that we can look at after release.”
Dungeon Full Dive arrives this year on PC VR via Steam, and you can sign up for future playtests through the official website. As for Quest 2 support, the website FAQ states "native Quest support is one of the first things on our planned feature agenda" after the full release.