Before my days as a programmer, or as a ground pounder for that matter (which seems like a different lifetime), I was an aspiring sequential artist and illustrator. I used to draw all the time, but the days of emulating my heroes of the four color world has passed. Now I find some skills I used to take for granted have slipped and it takes me a while to get back into the groove, and even once I’m there, it seems like my vision far outpaces my execution.
Mad Brew’s Avatar
But alas, enough lamenting my poor abilities. I have been kicking around some rough ideas for a new avatar for the site, something to brighten up my banner. I finally decided on one of my roughs, so I scanned it in and began inking it up and I wanted to show what I have. I tried to keep the lines simple and clean (like the the site) but still bring some edge and grit in attitude.
I plan on doing some simple color, but with some cool lighting effects emanating from the item ol’ Mad Brew is grasping (a philosopher’s d20?). I haven’t decided if I will “pog” the avatar’s head to be my gravatar or if I will go with a more stylized (and cleaner) version of my current flask design.
Game Table Update
I am also making progress on the design of my dream gaming table. I’ve went through about five preliminary sketches, before settling on this one. I was at work when I doodled this one up, and only had pens (and dry erase markers) at my disposal. So the drawing may not be too clear.
The idea is that there are two levels within the table itself, the bottom being comprised of wood and is the actual bottom of the table. This level would probably be inscribed with a grid of 1″ squares. About 6 inches above the bottom level would be a ledge where two lexan panels would sit, providing the second layer. I envision having several interchangeable panels with different grids (1″ hex, 1″ square, 1.5″ square) transfixed under the playing surface. This lexan surface would be 1-2 inches from the top of the table. The third layer would actually be an insert that would sit flush with the top of the sides of the table.
The idea would be to have some bad-ass image carved into the center using something like the CompuCarve. Otherwise this would just be an ordinary table surface to play card and boardgames on. I don’t forsee the need for a bunch of drawers (like on the Sultan), just large workspaces and book storage. I have decided to do a 3D animation of the table using Maya 2008 (before I actually CAD it up), and here are some screenshots of the WIP.
So I have a few crude tools that I had created for personal use, but I was thinking about re-designing them from the ground up and putting a slick interface on them (I just got Microsoft’s Expression Studio) and providing them to the community for free. But I find myself wondering if there is really a need for another digital tool. I don’t think I’d be doing anything new, but it gives me an excuse to fine tune my programming skills with something that interests me. These of course would be for D&D (3.5 or 4e, or both depending on what I think I will be playing more of). However, I have thought about doing Storytelling System versions.
Here are some things I was thinking about creating:
- Creature Crucible: Updatable creature catalog, monster creator, encounter builder, xp calculator
- Campaign Chronicler: Helps with the task of world building, adventure creation, and documentation
- Character Forge: Character generator & play log
- Game Nexus VTT: A virtual table top with dice and chat functions
This is really just a pipe dream, as I might get knee deep in one of these and hit the proverbial wall and give up, but I would like to at least attempt one or two. I have [very] rough versions of the Creature Crucible and Campaign Chronicler already, that I use just for myself, but are limited and buggy.
What would be nice is to develop each one with the other in mind, as a suite of tools. Create an XML schema that each one shares so information can be passed freely between the programs. For example, you can import encounters or creatures created with the Creature Crucible into Game Nexus to run an online adventure, then export the game log to the Campaign Chronicler for inclusion into the campaign’s game notes. Eh, we’ll see how motivated I am after I finish the few projects I already have started.