View Full Version : Network Ready Battle Tracker

2009-09-18, 04:43 PM
I'm a computer science student currently in my senior year, and I had a great idea for a senior design project. Even if it's not picked as a candidate for a graded project, I'm still interested in pursuing it.

Right now, I see several people talking about how difficult it is to run 4th edition combat in non-traditional games, meaning that unless all the players are in the same room with a grid in front of them, it's hard to run battle. My idea was to make a program that would track battle positioning, along with having highlighted movement ranges, opportunity attacks and a point and click interface for targeting with abilities, both single target and AoE. It would also feature a standard, real time chat window for communication and have one user designated as an administrator (the DM) who can override rules and spawn additional combatants, among other things.

So, my question is, if I made said software, would anybody here want to use it? Would you be willing to pay for such a thing (if it features 4th ed rules, WotC will want a cut)? How much would you pay? If it came with D&D Insider (like their character builder does), would you be more likely to join? What would you think if it were integrated with the character creator (allowing you to import the character sheets so you don't have to edit your abilities)?

Since it features a 'DM' designation, I can, of course, make it minimalistic and feature no rules (to stay out of copyright territory), but the fewer rules programmed directly into the software, the harder it will be to use.

2009-09-18, 05:24 PM
Have a look at the application "Battle Chronicler", they programmed a WPF/C# application that can be used to battle with many kinds of systems (Warhammer and others). You could aim to have a generic base like so, with the option of adding a grid and movement.

But as soon as you are adding detection of attacks of opportunity and other specific things, you basically need to implement D&D4e as an engine. I already did a lot of work in that direction when 4e came out and lost interest when it came to basically inputting all the power capabilities for the monster manual.

A lot of virtual tabletop software like Dungeon Helper (http://dh.abomb.info/index.php), Battlegrounds (http://www.battlegroundsgames.com/), Fantasy Grounds (http://www.fantasygrounds.com/), Klooge.Werks (http://www.kloogeinc.com/index.html), OpenRPG (http://www.rpgobjects.com/index.php?c=orpg), ScreenMonkey (http://www.nbos.com/products/screenmonkey/screenmonkey.htm)and MapTools (http://www.rptools.net/) exist and are actively supported, used and developed.

There would be a huge investment in time, effort, design and artwork necessary to beat those established products. Not to say it can't be done, but just to point out it's been done before, quite well and to beat that requires lots of work.

The applications that aren't free usually have a light version that comes free. Otherwise what seems to work is a free client application, but a paying DM tool. The price point of these apps seems to be between $20 and $40. But mostly, I would just use the free ones and make do with whatever limitations they have.

I recommend you download a few of these and play with them a bit, especially get two other people to connect to get a feel for the system. Look at MapTools especially, ScreenMonkey and FantasyGrounds.

Hope that helps.