Character App

Hi, I'm a software developer, and I'm currently working on a character app.
Curretly it's only for "Windows Phone 7 & 8" and "Win 8 RT & Pro" but later on i might port it to other platforms ...
The name of the app is: SpellsApp so if you are interested look it up (Not gona post a link because i'm not trying to advertice)
Currently it supports D&D 3.5 & 4 and Dark heresy systems ...

That was the background so here's my question:

1: What's your thoughts on character apps? Do you use apps or are you more to the traditional pen and paper?
2: For everyone who use apps: Would you use a character sheet app for starwars ?
3: What are the features in roleplay apps that you are looking for?
I'm the last guy on the planet that doesn't have a smart phone, so I'm probably not the right person to ask for this.

Personally, if I am GM'ing and I'm preparing a quest, I use software like Heroforge or Sagasheet or PCGen. During the actual quest, I usually don't use anything other than pen'n'paper. However, last time I had my laptop out, but it was just to keep track of Initiative. I would input the names of the PC's and enemies, and their Initiative counts. Then Sort. It's made things easier to know who's turn it is. So an app to keep track of Initiative in this way would be great.

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Hey ... Great answor :-) Thanks
I don't think your the last person to get a smart phone, especialy in the roleplay community it seams that many people don't need them. Personaly i know like a handfull of players that don't have a smart phone ... But maby i'm wrong :-)

Reguarding your post, you say that you use computer apps/ programs for GM'ing... 
So that leads me to think:  What would it take for me as a developer to get you to doo all your GM'ing work on your laptop? Is there features that you would need to run a campain with the laptop as the only tool? 


Imagin that you (For whateaver obscure reason) was forced to use ONLY a laptop or tablet: What programs / features would you need ?

And thesame as a player? What tools would you need as a player?      
 

For GM'ing in-game with a laptop only, it would be good to have all my opponent's stats (hp, Reflex, initiative, special attacks, once-per-encounter abilities).

As a player, I would want the same thing. It would be nice if you had a list of feats and talents and force powers that your player has. Then, at the press of a button, the power will activate and show you new stats. For example, let's say you have Battle Strike force power. You can press a button "Battle Strike", and then select the DC (ex: 25), and then the program would modify your attack roll to deal +1 attack and +3d6 damage.

Another thing that would be good is an automatic condition track calculator. You select your position on the CT (-1, -2, -5, -10, KO) and the program will automatically calculate and display your modified Defenses, attacks and skill checks.

The same thing would be nice when GM'ing also. It's hard to keep track of 6 opponents and their positions on the CT. Not to mention the other things.

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Take a look at the link in my signature.  I have a homemade Excel version of pretty much exactly what you're talking about.  Read the Instructions tab, and then take it for a spin.  You'll get a sense for the functionality it provides: PC/NPC generator, keeping track of combat, keeping track of starship combat, starship modification tool, generic NPC stats library, etc.

Welcome, Spells!  For what it's worth, I would LOVE to have stand-alone programs for all of my character generation, starship construction, etc.  However, it gets into a strange area of licensing and intellectual property.

The first question you need to ask is whether you plan on selling this app, or giving it away.  If you want to sell an app that is Star Wars gaming related, then you'll need to go through LFL (Lucasfilm Limited) to get the appropriate licensing, or the LFL lawyers will drag you into court faster than you can launch the app you just programmed. 

Even giving it away gets into some strange arenas legally.  The last guy who made a standalone Star Wars d20 generator got served a C&D.  The reason behind it is complex, so bear with me.  First, the ability to create any Star Wars software is (or perhaps rather was) the prerogative of Lucas Arts.  LFL  could NOT license the ability to make Star Wars software.  Thus, WotC was not allowed to either produce or knowingly allow someone else to produce SW RPG software.  When a fan did produce a generator (later called The Program That Cannot Be Named or TPTCBN), it gained tremendous community support.  But, LFL got wind, brought it to the attention of WOTC, and then it was with heavy heart that WOTC gave a C&D to the author of TPTCBN. 

"Hold on a second," I hear you cry, "there are links to dozens of tools here!"  And you're right.  Though the license restriction applied to stand alone software even up to the sale PDF books it does not cover PDF supplements or character generators made within other programs or applications.  Thus, an Excel record sheet is not a standalone program.  So, if WOTC still had the license, this would be an open and shut case of, "Dude, for your own sake, do NOT go there!"

However, a few things have changed just slightly.  You may or may not be familiar with the D6 version of the Star Wars RPG.  There are several programs and applications pertaining to that version, and for some reason LFL had never made WOTC crack down on them, nor had LFL cracked down on them.  They've operated and proliferated with impunity.  One may argue that it is because of the relative anonymity of a declining user base.  But it is what it is.

Further, FFG (Fantasy Flight Games) has acquired the license to produce the Star Wars RPG.  Somehow the new license allows them to produce phone and tablet apps that incorporate dice rolling.  I'm not going to pretend to understand how this fits in with the LucasArts perogative, but their license was 1) negotiated before the restructuring of LucasArts after acquisition by Disney and 2) still is structured in such a way that forbids them from producing PDF documents of their rulebook under the same "no electronic products" agreement.

The question is whether 1) The smartphone app applies to the "no electronic products" rule, 2) whether FFG would be required to serve a C&D to a product that does not apply to their Star Wars RPG line, and 3) whether LFL even cares anymore now that the system is no longer supported.

Again, I'm the first person who would download the thing if you made it, especially if you made laptop and tablet versions.  Though I feel it there is an imperative to strongly suggest that you consult your legal department first.  Several people have come in here suggesting the exact same thing as you before WOTC lost the license, and the Wiz-Os and developers all gave the same advice: "Don't."  Again, many things have changed.  Whether that affects the legality of such software, I don't know.  Just make yourself aware before you start developing.


Keep us posted!  I'd love to see this happen, and I'd love to know how your throughts progress on the subject.  I just also want you to be safe.

When a fan did produce a generator (later called The Program That Cannot Be Named or TPTCBN), it gained tremendous community support.  But, LFL got wind, brought it to the attention of WOTC, and then it was with heavy heart that WOTC gave a C&D to the author of TPTCBN. 


Just out of curiosity, how does TPTCBN compare with Sagasheet?

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Compiled files of all Star Wars Saga Edition resource documents & reference tools - NPCs, character sheets, Dawn of Defiance, Force and lightsaber form power cards, Jedi Counseling articles, NPC statblocks, Saga Index to all feats, talents, species, weapons, etc, Star Wars articles and web enhancements

I have limited experience with both, as I've only played one SAGA character, and I've been doing him by hand, and only refering to the sagasheet once in a while.  Though I have fooled around with the program once in a while.  I've got the RCR rules, but never played, but only familiarized myself with it so I could run conversions into D6.  But I did make sure I'd snaggd TPTCBN, and played around with it too.

So, I'm not fluent in either, but I can say that TPTCBN is unsurprisingly a bit more intuitive and visually a bit more elegant.  I attribute that to the fact that it is designed specifically for the purpose of generating characters, and Excel is not, but rather the sagasheet makes use of its many functions to do what we want it to do.  TPTCBN also allows you to generate a wonderful web-based character sheet that can easily be displayed in a browser, or just printed.  Since it was made before PDF printing was the norm, the web-based output made sense.

However, you plan to go looking for TPTCBN in hopes of getting something better than sagasheet, I wouldn't waste your time.  It's mean for the RCR version (or the d20 3.5 version) of Star Wars.  Also, I have no idea how difficult it would be to find now.  Given the hellfire and brimstone threatened upon the creator, most people who have it aren't willing to share it.  Sagasheet is really pretty darn good at doing what you want it to do, and it would be more trouble than it's worth to try to retrofit TPTCBN.  I've heard a few whisperings of people who were starting up similar projects for SAGA.  I think I've even got a java-based program somewhere on my hard drive that was an early attempt before the author (wisely) got twitchy and pulled the project.  In the end all of the projects were either abandoned, not as good, or kept well enough a secret such that there really isn't any active competition with sagasheet.
I have limited experience with both, as I've only played one SAGA character, and I've been doing him by hand, and only refering to the sagasheet once in a while.  Though I have fooled around with the program once in a while.  I've got the RCR rules, but never played, but only familiarized myself with it so I could run conversions into D6.  But I did make sure I'd snaggd TPTCBN, and played around with it too.

So, I'm not fluent in either, but I can say that TPTCBN is unsurprisingly a bit more intuitive and visually a bit more elegant.  I attribute that to the fact that it is designed specifically for the purpose of generating characters, and Excel is not, but rather the sagasheet makes use of its many functions to do what we want it to do.  TPTCBN also allows you to generate a wonderful web-based character sheet that can easily be displayed in a browser, or just printed.  Since it was made before PDF printing was the norm, the web-based output made sense.

However, you plan to go looking for TPTCBN in hopes of getting something better than sagasheet, I wouldn't waste your time.  It's mean for the RCR version (or the d20 3.5 version) of Star Wars.  Also, I have no idea how difficult it would be to find now.  Given the hellfire and brimstone threatened upon the creator, most people who have it aren't willing to share it.  Sagasheet is really pretty darn good at doing what you want it to do, and it would be more trouble than it's worth to try to retrofit TPTCBN.  I've heard a few whisperings of people who were starting up similar projects for SAGA.  I think I've even got a java-based program somewhere on my hard drive that was an early attempt before the author (wisely) got twitchy and pulled the project.  In the end all of the projects were either abandoned, not as good, or kept well enough a secret such that there really isn't any active competition with sagasheet.

Cool. Thanks.

JOIN US AT THE NEW STAR WARS SAGA EDITION COMMUNITY: THE SAGA CONTINUES!

 

Compiled files of all Star Wars Saga Edition resource documents & reference tools - NPCs, character sheets, Dawn of Defiance, Force and lightsaber form power cards, Jedi Counseling articles, NPC statblocks, Saga Index to all feats, talents, species, weapons, etc, Star Wars articles and web enhancements

richterbelmont10: Thaks again :-) It realy helps ...
old_benn: Thanks for the input that excel sheet is great inspiration ...


bandersnee: Wow that's quite a mouth full .... I has neaver realy been thinking about the license issues yet, but i think i'm good on that appartment ...
See the "idea" is that i'm nok making a starwars specific tool :-) what i'm making is a Role playing tool (Called "SpellsApp") that contains general tools for playing different roleplay games.... The first thing that i made was a character sheet tool (NOT a character generator) so it's kind of a pen and paper replacement with some improvements ... So that must be licensed the same way a writable PDF would Right ?... Secondly i have a "Backpack" part where you can freely enter items and data and here i'm planing on adding a "selection list"  so that you can quickly add items .... Kind of a Notepad with tools that help roleplayers specificly ... Dice Rolers, initiative trackers etc.. etc.. 
In other words: I'm trying make tools that are of a more general nature, but with setup that are system specific... So that selecting "Starwars d20" as system the items page are limited with starwars items only, and dice rolder will contain the dices types used in that system ... Hope you understand the idea? So i acturaly neaver make a starwars specific tool... I make a "Role Playing System" app with configurations options that set up the tools for starwars ...


Feel free to comment on the idea... 

And what i'm looking for right now is 2 things: first is there any reason for mee to make a "starwars d20" configuration file? (If i do will anyone use it?) and secondly: What kind of features am i missing in the app?


Right now i have 2-3 features that i will expand with: Initiative trackers, battle maps, and some improvements on the current backpack part ...

some suggestions;

HP trackers for PCs and numerous NPCs

Condition Track Trackers for numerous NPCs

a description of a given Force Power/Talent/Feat/Species Trait/Unique ability linked to it's spot in a statblock

 
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There is significant precedent that suggests that your plan isn't a problem in the LFL licensing department. If you have a modular program designed for multiple games and it can merely be adapted to also include a SW PRG, then it isn't so much an issue. For an example Roll 20 can track initiative, maps, etc. It has some modular Star Wars components, but it is not at its core a Star Wars product. Likewise Vassal can be used to play dozens of games online. The fact that it can be used to play Star Wars Miniatures Battles is incidental.

In my non-expert opinion (not to be mistaken for official legal advice) I find there to be a very low probability of running into any problems.
Feel free to comment on the idea... 

And what i'm looking for right now is 2 things: first is there any reason for mee to make a "starwars d20" configuration file? (If i do will anyone use it?) and secondly: What kind of features am i missing in the app?



I can think of a few not to do so, the main one being that if you're selling this with the intention of having an option that requires a license you have to get the license. You can't sell a product that you produce products with the name Star Wars attached without the proper licensing agreements. The Excel spreadsheets avoid that by being spreadsheets; they're complicated sure, but Excel's sole purpose isn't to provide character sheets for Star Wars roleplaying games and Microsoft isn't offering the spreadsheets.

You're best option would be to have a "space opera" option and adding things like "laser swords" if you need a specific named item. We all know what a "laser sword" is but it's not an IP name. Failing that juse have a customer option that lets users name it whatever they like, that way it's user generated product.

I'm sure the folks at Lone Wolf would love to get Star Wars into HeroLab but they can't without get the licensing for the game system from 1) Fantasy Flight Games and 2) Disney. I can't imagine that would all that easy. If you want to avoid trouble don't include anything that directly references Star Wars one way or another.

As for dice roller go with a D20 option. The WotC Star Wars games all use the same dice as other D20 system games so you're fine there. Same deal with WoD games, they're all d10 based so if you have a system call d10 Dice Pool it should be obvious what system it is for.

I like the idea, I'd just find a way to make it as generic as possible to avoid trouble later.
Thangs for the great repply's ...
Oooo! Oooo! So when is it coming out? Tomorrow?
Well acturaly the app is self is already out ... Kind of an on going project that i keep expanding every time i have a coupe of spare houers after work ...
It's called "SpellsApp" and you can find it in the windows store (Both on the windows phone store, and on windows 8 store) ...

Currently it "only" supports "dark heresy" and "dnd 3.5 and 4" ... as you may know thease systems are more or less "open license OGL it's called" where you may publish extentions as long as you only reffer to specific parts of the system (Detailed descriptions etc. is ofcause a no go).... But it's open enough to make some usefull apps...
:-) 

So the thing im missing is to do all the data work (Allot of xml documents containing app layout setup) for the Starwars system ... But because of the restrictions in license on starwars compared to dnd it will probably take a couple of month before i have the first version ready ....

And also allot of the new feature ideas are still missing: "Battle map", "Initiative and hp  / battle tracker", "Links to descriptions" etc are something that will be added on as time goes ... (I don't actualy have a development plan, it's kind of a what i feel people are looking for comes first ... ) But because i just started to play StarWars d20 layouts that can be used with that will probably be one of the next things i will be focusing on ....


Right now it's more or less only a "character sheet app" where you can store character data ... But "Battle trackers (hp, init etc)" will probably be adde soon alsow because it's something i here allot as suggestions....


I'm ofcause (as everyone ellse) always aiming to make the best app eaver, but i don't have a company an NO funding's so work is slow but now and then people randomly pops up asking if they may help my with something .. and YES OFCAUSE everyone are welcome to pitch in if they have some tallents that i can use :-) ... So some periods releases with content comes flying out, in other periods it's slow progress ...


But when i have something starwars related i will ofcause post here :-)