So what are the goals of the project I’m embarking on?
That’s a tough question actually as there are many, and they depend on the ‘lens’ that I’m considering the project through. Here, however, is an attempt at some of the answers. I’m sure this will morph as I go, but it’s always worth having something to refer back to, a baseline if you will.
One of the primary reasons that I enjoy software development outside my day job is because (well apart from the fact I just love coding…) is to learn, and to keep myself up-to-date with modern development practices, even though in my actual career I can no longer actively code.
For this reason, I will also be looking at new (sometimes bleeding edge…) open source libraries, sometimes trying something just because I can, not necessarily because I need to. I will also be looking to make full use of DevOps practices and Cloud, as these represent the future of technology, and I want my knowledge to be up there.
Besides, learning keeps you young, and Old Father Time knows I need a bit of that …
Develop Tools I want to use
I’ve tried using lots of RPG tools. The reality is, with most of them I’ve hardly got off first base. A little play around, and then I come up against the big gotcha. Whadaya mean, you can’t do X?
This is swiftly followed by disillusionment and abandonment. Is this the fault of the tool itself? Not always, as I have some strong views about how some of this should work, but definitely sometimes. As an example, I was a full-on Kickstarter supporter for the Realm Works product from Lone Wolf Development, which is now discontinued in active development, and I loved the idea of it. It was on the face of it a great toolset, but it fell down on some tiny things. You could put material into it, but you couldn’t get it out! Just simply print out in a nice format that Encounter you’ve planned and just want to run at the table tonight? Nope. This has generally been my experience.
Actually I have to say that one of the major success stories in my book was the 4E DDI toolset from Wizards of the Coast: Character Builder and Monster Builder. They were great for what they did, and I used them a huge amount in my 4E campaigns. I get that Wizards totally failed on their core promise around DDI, as I’ve written about before, but those tools worked.
So a major goal is to develop a set of RPG Tools that I can, and do, actually use in my own campaigns.
Stimulate an Ecosystem
I strongly believe that the arena of RPG tools is missing the concept of a platform, or ecosystem of tools that interoperate, so that users can choose the tools that make sense to them, or support their chosen system, with the knowledge that it will work seamlessly with other tools.
For example, a character sheet manager/repository that supports system ‘A’, and might even have been developed or licensed by the producer of that system, should still, if a suitable platform exists, be able to be utilised by campaign manager or VTT tools which are developed by others.
At present, it seems most interoperability options are supported by export/import features, which are typically one-time only. Or, each tool developer ends up having to effectively provide all the necessary platform features themselves, leading to duplication and lack of cohesion.
So a clear goal of this project is to create or stimulate such an ecosystem.
So there are three worthy goals I think. Next time we’ll start to look at some of the technology options I’m planning to utilise.