Google+ Hangout Battle Grid
Gird your loins and grid your browser. It’s time to take the battle online.
How do you play a role playing game? Get a group of friends together who want to play. This may be harder than it sounds. Now get them to commit to playing once a week at the same time on the same day (harder). Now get them to commit to playing for a month or several.
I had a group but after a while it drifted apart. Other commitments, loss of interest, whatever. Eventually there were only three of us and it was lame.
But while my city has only 30,000 inhabitants, the internet is full to overflowing. Google+ boasts over 90 million users (far more by the time you read this, I’m sure), and a few of them like RPGs. To make matters better, Google+ has introduced Hangouts, a free video conferencing system where up to 10 people can hangout together at the same time, doing whatever it is that 10 people do when they hangout. For me and my friend Fraser, this was the answer to our game problems.
Being a programmer, I quickly discovered that Google had created an API, an interface that would let me change the way the Hangout worked. The problem with playing online is that no one can see you roll dice. They also can’t see the map you drew to show off the inside of the dungeon unless you hold it up to the camera or jump through some hoops. So I got to work building a way to share in a Hangout window all the things we use to play role playing games.
Like this blog, I’ve named my system Dragons for Dinner. I may change that at some point to make it sound more menacing, but probably not. Sit in front of the computer, eat some dinner, slay some dragons – it may not be as good as having your friends round to your house to play but it does let you play with people all over the world any time you feel like it.
I’ll chronicle the development of my app here and in my Google stream. I’m in the alpha stage of development now, programming like mad and testing it twice a week on the two groups I play with. Soon I’ll open it up to a broader range of people to get some more thorough testing done, then it will be time to open it up to the world.
Below is a sample of the battle map. It lets you set a grid over top of a dungeon map and drag icons onto it representing you, your party and your allies and enemies. The icons can be dragged around the screen to simulate the characters and monsters moving around in battle.
Thanks to Greg Christopher for the great map and to my team mates for keeping my character alive while I blunder from one trap to the next. I promise a lot more reckless behavior as time goes on.