Take me HOME
Thursday, July 22, 2010 05:57 PM

I've been working on an online D&D application for quite some time now, as you may have noticed. The first inception of the system was by no means perfect and was solely based on character sheets.  As time went on, I found that there were still many things that would be useful for me as the game master, and I realized immediately that it was all based around the character sheet; thus was born TTORP.

NOTE: there's also a page on Facebook dedicated to this.

What is TTORP?

It's an acronym, and stands for Table-Top Role-Playing Game.  It is intended to (eventually) be a helper for "old school" game masters and players that appreciate the pen-and-paper style of role playing games.

The Evolution of TTORP

There's a lot of factors that slow down a traditional style game; my intention with this system is to have something that will automatically handle most of those complexities.  Filling out a character sheet largely involves adding up numbers based on other numbers (i.e. a skill modifier: ranks + misc modifier + ability modifier).  It can be very monotonous to set these things up, especially when one ends up writing the same number dozens and dozens of times (and leveling-up involves erasing and re-writing many numbers, along with adding them up again).  There's lots of room for human error, and it is a very frustrating (and all-to-common) experience to have a game suddenly stop (often and the best parts) because some number sounds like it is calculated wrong; since there's no history to show how that number became the way it was (i.e. why the character has a +13 misc modifier for a given skill), it devolves into going through figuring it out level-by-level.  Ugh.

So I wanted to build a system that could turn all that manual stuff into something more automatic: update an ability modifier, and all the dependent items get updated immediately; add ranks to a skill and the total modifier gets updated too. Now all that boring, monotonous, frustrating stuff has suddenly become fast and automatic.  Now updating stats and leveling has changed from an hours-long process of making sure all those numbers get updated into a few minutes, mostly involving the fun stuff: looking up new feats, figuring out where to put skill ranks, and the other stuff that makes traditional games fun.

The Future of TTORP

As I stated before, I realized there were things that were missing.  A character sheet is important, but it is only the basic part of a traditional game.  A system that shows the game master all the important stats for his players while the game is going.  No more spending an hour writing up a big sheet of paper to copy these things, only to have to recreate it for the next game.  This, of course, is all based on the information from a character sheet.

But there's another, more important piece still missing.  In a game that involves a lot of battles, keeping track of the order of events is very important, not to mention horribly time-consuming and frustrating.  And when something happens out of order, or the order changes, then even more time is taken to rectify the problem.  For me, more often than not, I just run the whole battle "by the elbows" (pulling stuff from so far up my @ss that... well, you get the picture).  It becomes a frustrating mix of trying to keep the pace going while still doing things by the rules that make it possible.

A New Version in the Works...

I've been working on updating the existing version for quite some time now.  The old system is based on a very simple database design.  Initially it was built to be very flexible, but it became far too large far too fast.  A single character sheet quickly became hundreds of generic records, each corresponding to a single input box on a massive form.

So this new version has a more complex and robust database layout.  It isn't as flexible, but makes handling changes far easier.  In addition, I am building the new backend through unit testing: instead of writing it and finding bugs later, I'm running each component through a massive series of tests to make sure it does what it is supposed to do; currently the system has nearly 4,000 tests to make sure everything works as expected, and I'm expecting that to skyrocket to around 15,000 tests to make sure the fewest possible bugs remain.

This new version, like the current one, is focused on character sheets--again, that is the basis for every other system.  All the updates will be done through AJAX, so it will feel more like a web application and less like a web page, i.e. "Web 2.0"--the current system uses AJAX, but is much less stable and far more prone to errors.

Stay Tuned!

More updates are on the way!  As the new system nears completion, I'll be needing some BETA testers to find and fix as many bugs as possible.  What we'll be doing:

  • Creating new characters from scratch
  • Leveling characters

We'll be looking to ensure that:

  • changes automatically update all the appropriate fields
  • calculations are all correct
  • everything is saved correctly

Probably other stuff, too.  I'll try to keep this page updated, or at least link new articles to this one and vice-versa.  Stay tuned!

UPDATE [April 5th, 2011]: 

Screenshots for those of you that don't have access.


Related stats are automatically updated:


UPDATE [April 5th, 2011]: 

New screenshots here.