So, no video this week as the actual changes to the RPG WorldBuilder are minimal as far as dynamic video content is concerned. Instead, I’d like to talk a bit about the creative process and the idea of being flexible in design.
One of the things you quickly learn in the development of any project is that while you may have certain ideas and direction as to the nature of the project and the end result, rarely will these ideas remain unchanged during the journey to complete said project. For example, in the development of this app we have created a good deal of artwork that will never even be seen in the finished version. While this may seem like a huge waste of time and effort (and I suppose it could be viewed like that by the more negative folk among us), I view it as working through a design process as I explore and come to a finished state, the state that initially existed as an idea but required multiple iterations to see the tangible, physical elements site by side and say “yeah, this is it.”
The creation of a project doesn’t always work this way as sometimes things are created immediately and are used in the final version. The idea here is that when one enters into a creative process, there may exist a nebulous end goal of design, but that goal can only be achieved through a flexible, organic process of trial and error. For example, we have recently made a design choice to edit the over world tiles for this app. This is based solely on the overall look and feel of the content. During the creative process, we have explored various design styles and while we know we want a fairly hand drawn look, the actual nature of the finished look has only recently come to fruition. And the catalyst for this decision did not come from the app itself but rather from a project outside this app.
In the course of redrawing artwork for the Far Away Land RPG, I began redrawing the maps included in the original books. At first the maps were based off the design style of the tiles we were using in the RPG WorldBuilder demonstrations. I felt like these were sort of muddled, similar, and unimpressive visually. The same was true for two finished FALRPG maps done in that style, visually unimpressive. So, the FAL maps were redrawn from scratch into the final version that you can see below…
And it is in this style that we have decided to redraw each tile for the overworld portion of the app. Why? Because it looks better. It gives a better sense of depth and specificity as to the various biomes included. It feels better. It’s more interesting. It’s more detailed and it’s more exciting to look at. Specifically, there are various shades which add depth. The tiles will remain the same shape as before (they are not isometric) but the content within will have added color and shadow to give more detail and to differentiate tiles on a glance. The aesthetic quality plays into the design factor in that it makes the images easier to learn and interpret which in turn reduces the learning curve for the user.
In order to come to this style, it took multiple iterations and trial and error. We had to make mistakes and prototype things out. It took the time to allow the style to marinate and sink in and for us to discuss and view it from various distances and times. You try several things to determine what doesn’t work, learning what doesn't work leads you in a specific direction. You get warmer until you get hot.
I have no idea how this would all work in a large team. I can see various opinions and ideas getting in the way, meetings where design was discussed and left on the table to discuss later on. As it is, we have a small, two man team where we share a specific vision as to the nature of this creative project. We are flexible and can quickly adapt to meet design goals and obstacles. This allows us to not only work faster, but to continuously focus on the end goal of design. It is in our best interest to work synergistically for the greater good of the app.
This week’s video takes a continued look at icons as well as dungeon map layovers. While the icons are fairly self-explanatory, the dungeon layovers are less so. Basically, the RPG WorldBuilder app uses premade dungeon tiles in certain flavors of location (like edges and centers) to create a basic map. In order to give greater variety to each tile, transparent layovers were created. This allows a single tile to pull from a number of layovers. So while tiles may sometimes be the same, the layovers and dungeon content which they contain will usually be completely different simply due to the vast amount of layovers we have created.
Another important element I would like to talk about concerning this app is that of detail. We are wanting to create a unique app in both feel and use. As such, we are paying special detail to nuanced elements such as artwork. Plenty of artwork for encounters, treasures, build, and maps are included already in the app. Not only do these elements add to functionality by giving the user a visual representation of various elements, but the overall feel of the app and the information it contains is also framed among colorful, easily recognizable artwork. Each icon and element has been designed so that they are immediately recognizable by both new and experienced users.
One of our design goals as we develop this app has been to create an extremely robust piece of software that has a small learning curve. As such, we are spending a large amount of time simplifying and streamlining the RPG WorldBuilder app so as to make it as easy to use as possible.
Check out the video below for working examples of what we are talking about...
This week we take a further look at linking Encounters, Treasures, and Builds and the idea of associating icons with each linked item. The goal is to create a plethora of items and allow users to choose each in order to more readily identify database content while also have colorful identifying artwork to accompany text. Each linked item will have a specific icon associated with it which will be visible in the “Note” section of the particular map tile. Several icons have been posted below to give an idea as to what will be included in the app…
So, a double post this week.
In the video below we are demonstrating how to create a custom encounter, add it to the RPG WorldBuilder database, and then link that encounter to a tile. This is an incredibly flexible system which allows for the creation of any type of encounter along with notes, stats, and other important information. It's just one of the many features of the RPG WorldBuilder.
This week I wanted to give a comprehensive look at everything we intend to include in the RPG WorldBuilder app. These features are to be included in the base version of the app. I say base version because we fully intend to create add-on packs of overworld tiles, dungeon tiles, items, extra cards, etc. The design of the base app was created with these future, expandable features in mind.
WAC Card Deck
DAC Card Deck
Overworld Map Generator (OMG)
Dungeon Map Generator (DMG)