Thursday, October 30, 2014

Attention all ye potential 5e App Developers

Dungeonscape has gone down as Wizards of the Coast terminated their licensing agreement. I got in both Web and Android beta. The app for a beta sucked. It wasn't buggy but rather so bare of content and utility it was like wow this has a long way to go.  With the work that Fantasy Grounds, Roll20, and all the unofficial aides on Enworld had done, there is no real excuse for the state of affairs for Dungeonscape. All they had done was a basic character sheet with a lot (but not all) of the PHB data behind. But all you could is fill it out. No printing or exporting was there yet.

My day job is developing vertical market applications for the metal cutting industry. Specifically for cutting table designed to cut flat pieces of metal with various tools. Just this week I wrapped a project that involved cutting 1/4 inch stainless steel with nothing more than water and crushed gemstones (garnet). I been doing this since the mid 80s and full time since 89. So I know something about what it takes to develop an application.

One thing I do when our company develops a new machine is look at how other companies handle the new cutting process in software. I lay them out and assess their pros and cons.

The folks behind Dungeonscape did not this. It was obvious from their user interface as it was something I never seen before in a RPG application. Not even the ones that are currently found on Google Play or the Apple App Store.

Folk, if you are doing a RPG application do everybody a favor and look at what out there. If you think they suck, politely say so and explain at least why you think your "novel" idea is so much better.

For me the gold standard of system specific RPG applications is the Crawler Companion for the Dungeon Crawl Classics. It is both a utility and a reference. One neat trick that should be standard for all RPG utility is the choice to let the app roll for you or for you to do the rolling with real dice and look up the result using the number you rolled. This feature is really outstanding and turns what could have been an intrusion at the table to a useful tool no matter what your stance is on computers.

Other really useful application I found (in no particular order) are

Fantasy Grounds
The Keep
Inspiration Pad Pro
Campaign Cartographer
DM Genie

Currently the three I use the most often are The Keep, Inspiration Pad Pro, and Roll20. There is a ton more out there but I haven't had the opportunity to use them yet.


Dan said...

Yeah I'm guessing Wizards terminated the contract as Dungeonscape was not meeting its milestone deadlines.

I hope they find a better partner soon; in this day and age it is just silly not to have solid player and DM support apps for a game as supposedly big as D&D.

Argamae said...

I absolutely agree with Dan above. I would like to see HeroLab and/or RealmWorks from Lone Wolf Development support D&D 5. It's possibly the best professional electronic character designer/manager out there.