February 21, 2015

Caves 'n Critters

So I have started playing what is probably one of the geekiest games around: Dungeons and Dragons. A friend of mine wanted to give it a go, and was offering to DM the experience. We quickly found enough party members to actually give it a go, and we haven't looked back since.

We're currently just playing with the default characters, acquanting ourselves with the game mechanics, and getting into the whole roleplaying spirit. But, being geeks, we also quickly started looking at apps which could help us out with all of the bookkeeping which comes with this game.

What we found was that there was no one app for all our different platforms, and certainly not one which would share its data across our devices. Which meant that we couldn't really help each other out very easily.

Now, as loyal readers of this blog you may have already guessed at what's coming. Yes, I decided to write something myself. And yes, I put it on sourceforge. It's called Caves 'n Critters, and it currently looks something like this:

The main features are that it works across all of our devices, which include laptops (Mac and Windows) and tablets (iPad and Android). In addition, any player who is connected gets all updates made by other players. This is most effectively seen in the combat initiative tracking screen:

The current life totals reflect the changes made by players as their characters take damage or heal. When rolling initiative each player just enters their roll, and the initiative list gets sorted automatically across all screens. The DM can indicate the current active player, and that too is shared across screens.

In its current state it's definitely usable, but the experience on tablets could be much better. It seems much harder than it needs to be to make nice apps by means of HTML, CSS and Javascript. The browser gets in the way too much, and some things just feel sluggish...

We'll be tweaking this one further as we keep playing. If anyone else feels like giving it a try, just download the code, read the readme, and let me know how it all went.