We do our best to ensure that Roll20 has low network and graphical performance requirements as is possible. However, if you (or one of your players) experience issues on our platform in part due to slow Internet speeds or older software/hardware, these tips may help optimize performance on our platform.
Roll20 is a web-based application, and there are two primary considerations in regards to user-side performance: the speed of your network connection, and your computer's ability to render graphics. This document aims to address optimizations in regards to both.
As a quick aside before proceeding with the rest of the document: Your own individual results may vary from other people playing in your game. If you're the GM building your game on Roll20, you'll want to keep the limitations of the user with the worst computing and network situation in mind. A very large map may scroll smoothly on your desktop computer with a hard-line network connection, but it may lag severely for your player connecting on an older laptop using a weak wifi signal.
Network Connection Performance
Network connection refers to two things: the amount of information your connection can carry at once (bandwidth) and the speed at which it can make a round-trip to the Roll20 servers (latency).
The virtual tabletop itself is relatively lightweight from a bandwidth perspective. Common actions such as sending a chat message or moving a token require very little data compared to downloading image data or streaming audio. This means that even if you have a slow connection, your general use of the Roll20 tabletop should not be affected very much. A low bandwidth will mostly cause you to have longer initial load times for assets as they're added to the game.
Latency, on the other hand, determines how quickly you receive data during gameplay. If you are located far away from Roll20 servers or have a very unreliable connection, you may experience delays of several seconds between someone moving a token piece and that movement appearing on your screen. You can check the performance of your network connection via a speed test here: speedtest.net.
Special Considerations for Video Chat
Voice and video chat is the part of Roll20 most-affected by your network connection. It is recommended that each player using video chat has at least 250 Kb/s of downstream bandwidth, as well as at least 250 Kb/s of upload bandwidth for broadcasting video to the group. High latency will also affect video chat performance, potentially causing delays or dropped/skipped frames. If you are using Roll20 video chat, your connection is good, and it's not working well for you, and the Video and Voice Chat troubleshooting hasn't resolved your issue, you may consider using another dedicated voice and video service. Many users have reported good performance with Discord, Skype, whereby.com, and others.
Graphics Rendering Performance
The graphics rendering performance of your computer is determined by several things, including having an up-to-date browser, your CPU speed, amount of available system memory, and your graphics card.
Playing on an under-powered machine may cause you to experience jerky or unresponsive performance. For best results, we suggest using a computer built in the last 3 or 4 years - though older machines may be fine as well - with a dedicated graphics card and a screen resolution of at least 1280x1024.
The graphics rendering of your computer directly affects how quickly things can be drawn on your screen as the scene changes. So when a token is moved or added, or you zoom, or scroll/pan around the map, the screen is being constantly redrawn. The better your graphics rendering performance, the smoother those actions should appear.
A few tips for getting the most out of Roll20 (sorted by "most likely to help" to "least likely"):
- Limit the number of PC and NPC Journal Entries you load into each game. A vast majority of users that report issues have games that contain entries for thousands of Characters and Creatures.
- Limit the number of objects that you use. For example, try to use only a single image on the maps layer, instead of a large number of map tiles, furniture, etc. Instead, create the map in an external program and then import it as one JPG or PNG file. The fewer objects that Roll20 has to render individually, the better your performance will be.
- Keep map sizes small. The default size of 20x20 is recommended. Dividing your encounters across several pages can also help.
- Turn off the Grid and/or Advanced Fog of War. These require extra graphics processing on each new frame draw to use, slowing down performance.
- Limit your use of the draw tools.
- Ensure Hardware Acceleration is enabled on your browser. Enabling Hardware Acceleration in your browser helps improve the performance of features like Dynamic Lighting.
What are common support issues?
Below are a few common performance issues seen by Roll20 users, and their cause:
- The map and sidebar are compressed into the top of my browser. This is usually caused by an extension or plugin. Try deactivating your extensions and plugins until you find the one causing the problem.
- Jerky/slow scrolling/panning/zooming. This is caused by low graphical rendering performance. See the section above for tips on improving graphic performance.
- Fog of war and/or grid completely disappears on the map. This is caused by your graphics card running out of video memory. You'll need to use smaller maps.
- When scrolling/panning, the grid or fog of war "lags behind", revealing parts of the map. This is caused by low graphical rendering performance. Your best bet is to use a smaller map, or not use the fog of war feature.
- Jerky video chat, skipping, dropped frames, "laggy". Could be caused by either network or graphical performance issues. Try using voice-only chat, using a dedicated video chat service, or disabling Roll20 video/voice chat entirely.
- There is a delay between when I see a text chat message appear and when someone says something about it in the video chat. There is a standard delay of a second or two in the video chat -- a lot of data has to make a trip to a server and then to your other group members, and the connection speeds and latency of the hops in between slow things down. If you're seeing a larger delay than that, it's most likely a latency issue.
Chrome Specific Settings
Chrome has adjustable flags that may improve performance on some systems. However please note that these are advanced settings and in certain cases can cause degradation or unexpected behaviors. To view the Flags section, type "chrome://flags/" in the address field.
Flags that may help with performance:
- Override software rendering list: This allows GPU acceleration on unsupported configurations. Useful if you tend to run experimental GPU drivers or if you think your GPU is not being recognized for some reason.