I would like to ask everyone - what software (for both DM's and players) would you like to be developed for D&D:N? What programs might make your life easier as a DM or a player? What features would you like to see implemented? I'm asking because I'm interested in starting a D&D-related programming project in my free time and it would be great if in the end my product could help people in their games. So let us discuss this.
The character builder was a fabulous program, offline was best but online was still very useful.
An encounter builder could be fun once they get the xp math right.
A monster compendium thingy that allows searching by level, role, and stuff like that. But also add in the ability to customize things; such as including Fort/Ref/Will, or use defenses instead of saves.
Oh! Oh! If we're making user wishes, something for applying 4e-style templates (kinda like the monster customizations in the playtest right now).
After the Character Builder... A Character Sheet app for iPhone, Android (and maybe Windows Phone) would be nice.
Show everything you need to know about the character - allow dice rolling and note taking.
A character portrait creator that is part of a character builder suite which makes a character sketch based off your PC/NPC attributes, race, class, etc... for the times you rather do it yourself than scrolling through deviantart.
A map/world builder that is "3D" and includes shadows, clouds, full sunlight, night, etc...
In all seriousness, one of the BIG issues with 3rd and 4th was the lack of well designed and easy to use digital tools. The character builder for 4e was great (until they killed the offline version... yes, yes... I know they had to, but they need a better solution than a subscription model.) But they under delivered on a lot of fronts. As much as I love sitting down at the table with all my friends, the bigger picture doesn't directly apply to me specifically, and the tools for full online "pen and paper" roleplaying need to be realized. The technology exists, and plenty of groups have found their own work-arounds, but WotC needs to capitalize on fully working system of their own.
To give my own impressions...
I played a few games of D&D Encounters with an old buddy who hadn't gamed much in the past decade. Had started a game of 4e with some new friends and got the bug back, but the group wasn't gaming all that often. So he and I joined a local Encounters game.
Two players played their characters from their iPads. Three of us from our smart phones. Only one person played from an actual sheet of paper, and that was because they didn't have time to create a character and played from a pre-gen that was available. Of the programs and tools used from the digital devices, not one of them was a WotC product. 100% because there was no WotC product available.
With my DDN group, we have 2 laptops, a tablet and two smart phones between us for referencing the PDFs at the table. We all grew up old school and love actually having a paper character sheet and rolling actual dice at the table, but even in a beta program for an unfinished game, we're highly digital.
D&D Next (or 5e, or whatever) NEEDS the following:
- A fully realized, flexible, modular character builder for desktop/laptop, tablets and smartphones.
- The Builder should then include a fully digital, customizable (and printable) character sheet that can be managed easily via any digital device the owner uses.
- Community and 3rd party character sheets should be supported. (I've made my own sheets from the beginning, including my well recieved 4e sheet.)
- As D&DN is supposed to be modular (I'm still waiting to see how well...) all of these modules should be supported via the digital tools. And in this, I feel it should be modular to HOW people play:
- I think it's the elephant in the room that we've all said "Hi" to but still can't find a seat for. Everyone prefers a different feel and style to their game and how it's presented. How awesome would it be to have a Character Builder, Character Sheet, Rulebook, etc... that was fully up-to-date with errata (let's hope there's very little) and with a small list of check boxes in the set-up:
- Fully digital gaming books. I don't care if a physical copy has to be purchased or not, but PDF or otherwise digital versions of ALL rule books should be available from day one of any books release. They should be update-able with errata (and vice-versa... the option to ignore errata should be available), have the same options of presentation (detailed paragraphs, 4e style, English/metric/square/hex units) and support the inclusion of bookmarks, house rule notes, etc...
- Give the DM full campaign tools. From days of long ago (from uncharted regions of the universe...) I dreamed of having a system where DMs could "pass notes" to players via a digital device through a dedicated game platform (as oppsosed to an IM, or text). Where a DM could look at the character sheets of their players without specifically requesting to "Let me see that sheet." A single platform to run their game through. With prepared monsters, notes, maps, even the ability to adjust character sheets. It would create a new level of immersion at the table, and make online gaming better.
There are a lot of challenges here.
Cross-platform compatibility. Limitations based on available technology of the gaming group, etc... but they are all something that would grow the product and help keep the hobby alive in the current market.
While this is not a full list of exactly what's needed, it's what's on the tip of my brain. Sadly, with the current direction of DDN, I'm not certain I'll be apart of the this last chapter for D&D. (I'm hoping to turn that around...) But if DDN is to make it, digital/online tools will be a 100%, full investment requirement.
What they should do is microtransactions add-ons for the character builder and monster builder...You can buy them those add-ons online and/or from the registration code from your printed book, the ones that got the book get access to it thru that code, and if you only want the digital content access from that book, you just buy them digitally. Think D&D version of steam...
A digital Library of .png files and GIMP/Photoshop brushes so we can build maps and tokens.
I like the look.
Character builder goes without saying.
Monster builder also seems like it'd be pretty useful as well. It'd be nice to be able to print a monster in a compressed format, similar to the old AD&D paragraph block monster formats, so they dont' take up 1/4 or 1/2 a page as the current D&DN monsters do.
So simply converting a monster to a single paragraph block that can be copied into your adventure would be very helpful.
I don't care what the software is as long as it isn't designed by the team that did the Character Builder, either version 1 or 2.
Or the people who designed this horrid website and forum.
What I would like to see most...(Might be longish)
A online play service cousin to MTGO
The primary architecture would be similiar in design to MTGO where DM's run predesigned or custom adventures or campaigns, with either open or closed format allowing either anyone or only friends to join.
The interface would ideally include both chat and voice.
The interface would have a dungeon/world building tool for DM's to create adventures.
The interface would handle tracking character information.
The interface would permit the DM to intervene: Such as changing a hostile monster to friendly, or killing a monster based on creative PC text/voice input. It would allow the DM to change a PC status from "Dead" to "Unconcious". Essentially, it would allow the DM fine control over events.
The interface would allow hardcore or reusable characters, with hardcore meaning Dead is Dead (No DM fiat), but reusable just means they're dead in that particular adventure/campaign.
A subscription would permit access to all source material, including accessories, and access to weekly/monthly content releases ala Dragon and Dungeon, along with unlimited game access/creation.
The DM/PC can participate F2P with limitations: Such as a limit to concurrent games, weekly/monthly game limits, access to only core material, no weekly/monthly predesigned content. They can then choose to purchase an extra concurrent game, or extra weekly/monthly game. They can purchase access to accessories, or weekly/monthly content.
The game would permit Clans and PvP in games, and could even permit DM's to pit multiple clans against each other in an adventure or campaign.
The game would permit arena like PvP without a DM where the system holds to the rules in the strictest sense.
The game would include leaderboards for hardcore characters and clans in PvP.
I'm sure this whole concept could be taken a great deal further, this is one of those things that the community input could make it a phenomenal product that not only grabs players who've lapsed due to lack of available players/play-areas, but also become a compelling facet of D&D play on it's own.
I also suspect it'd make money hand-over-fist.
A creature editor like from videogame spore.
+ A quest editor.
* I suggest a reboot of Birthright to create a kingdom simulation, like a mixture of Sims Medieval, the guild 2, and social network videogame Castleville, with pets and "housing" (building and managing your stronghold).
And "Red Steel" settin could be used to create a rpg with ships.
* I suggest a free-to-play videogame what could be played off-line with bought staff.
* Interactive pdf with previous edition pages..for example a pdf with monsters from Dark Sun, you get stats for next D&D and the AD&D + 3.5 + 4th editions.
A Treasure Builder generating random hoard of coins, gems and items with a single click.
Something working similarly to the new Inn Generator.
I would vote for everything Shado says on the first page. I don't see him post too often, but his name was familiar to me. When he mentioned his character sheets I remembered. Before my DDI subscription I always used his sheets for characters.
I do pretty much everything through hero lab so anything that works with it is a go.
Off the top of my head...
1. Character builder (I have some ideas, but they're too complex for me to describe them here, complex as in describing a way for it to be very very simple for people to use).
2. Monster Compendium, where one can search by level, name, and XP and also have a picture and a short description (the picture is mainly for showing players what the monster looks like, probably a good idea to have the option to hide the stat block).
3. 2D gametable with support for importing maps.
4. A Digital World Bible with interactive world map where one can see the probability of encountering various monsters and cultures (might work in tandem with the Monster Compendium).
...and those the ones I can name just from the top of my head, and my head is huge...
BTW...please no random table generator thing...we pay for quality professional products, not high school programming side-projects.
Something like the 2e tools (and expansion). I still use that. Any digital offering should make it very easy for DMs to make maps, encounters, treasure, custom items, NPCs, etc.; and for players to make PCs. Not by subscription -- most players won't pay for a subscription just to update their characters -- and not online only. This should be a package people can buy and install, and pay for upgrades (like when new books come out) for a modest price.
At least it's now been spoken for, so WotC can't claim "everyone" wants the subscription model.
Going back on subject:
Wizards will probably make the following:
- Monster Compendium/Builder
- Encounter Builder
- Character Builder
So write those off your list, someone is going to get paid to make the official one.
Take a look at this, because this needs to exist for DM's in creating content, worlds and their own campaigns.
Adding to that - if I were to find the spare time to program, I would make the following application.
1. Desktop & Mobile application
2. DM mode & player mode
3. Online/Multiplayer style connectivity between DM and players.
4. Support for chat and secret messaging. Imagine spotting something, and the DM sends you the message to your phone that you had there anyway. You reply back your action, and play continues quickly. DM probably has the information ready and available.
5. DM Mode has your encounters, and maps can be shared. I'm not saying you pop tactical combat to a virtual board. Something about having the real dice, minitures and battle mat out that gives it the D&D feel. But you can have city maps, and other handouts sent out in such formats.
- I can go into a huge list of features revolving around maps and hand outs. Passing out letters to specific players, pinging a map location so everyone knows the overall area something happens.
6. Initiative and combat tracker, with a DM and player view which is sync'd via the online.
7. Cloud data hub for the campaign, so things you add in like LORE or otherwise is there. Players can pull it up quickly if they wanted to.
8. Player mode - collection of notes, journal entries, NPC's they know, gear, etc. Player sheet being a big item on there.
9. Treasure/Loot awards - when you're playing digital like this, when the players find that sword of slaying, it would be awesome to send it to his character, and his sheet be updated immediately with the new effects. Also, awarding money/XP becomes so much easier when it's digitally tracked. No more "Who's keeping track of the 240sp, 86gp and the 1048cp that we just got and the 5 gems??". When your players find that chest of gold, just hit a few buttons and after a coin sack noise, everyone's characters are a bit more rich.
Obviously, this is a tool for the more technology minded. Focus would be on the UI so it's easy and intuitive to send the messages, award loot and bring up the combat tracker. The example Masterplan is pretty good for what it does, but it's a bit obtuse to use.
Best part of this software, is it can be modular. Start out as a shared combat tracker + chat and then grow up from there. Phones are a part of the table now-a-days, may as make them useful towards the game.
The above post did remind me of my number 1 request. A nice, easy to use, but powerful initiative tracker. One that lets you easily add effects, combatants, etc. That's the dream
I would like to see Off line character builder/ encounter builder / monster vault.
Of course WotC will want to make money so they can make online model as well.
Now to make money off line, they should make "book keys" like in any other software.
You will be able do DL demo PHB for free(feats, characters up to level 4, spell to level 2 etc.)
With every book you would get a book key and be able to upgrade your software on WotC official site.
I would be happy if they would just allow selling datasets again, like they did for eTools and PCGen.
Sure it doesn't make a ton of money, but it doesn't cost a lot either.
I still use PCGen for all my DnD gaming needs, it runs on any OS and I can change and edit the files as I see fit. The program is still maintained as Open Source by a group of dedicated volunteers.
I think that WotC would do better if they provided a platform and support for the existing community driven applications out there, instead of trying to build their own. Herolabs, PCGen and others are still out there and could be made to support DnDN with minimal effort.
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