Spellbook, 200 ratings!

The Spellbook – D&D 3.5 app received it’s 200th rating this morning. I thought I’d take the opportunity to review some of the rating data and comments.

Above is an image capture from the Android Market Developer Console. It shows the distribution of ratings, and if we do the math, it comes out to an average rating of 4.61. I’m pretty happy, nay, ecstatic about that! It’s a simple app, but I try to put out a quality product, and this kind of feedback is great.

Now let’s look at some of the comments:

Favorite comment:
(5 stars)
by Bret (October 27, 2010)
Im a level 9 wizard!

Yay Bret!

Least favorite comment:
(1 star)
by Jacob (October 11, 2010)
Horrible dont get it

Hmn… Do you not get what the app is for, or are you telling people not to download it?

Feel good comments:
by Zackariah (October 25, 2010)
Super helpful, when needing to look up spells on the fly.

by Brian (October 20, 2010)
This app keeps getting better! It seriously saves tons of time during a game

by Paul (August 26, 2010)
Fantastic app! Simple and easy to use. Much easier than paging through a book.

Comments like these let me know I’m on the right track. The app was written to make your (and my) life easier during game play.

Understandable yet frustrating comments:

by Larry (October 30, 2010)
This is a fantastic app! All I’d ask for is more expanded and non-core spells, such as those from the Complete Arcane and Divine books. Thanks much!

by Sjach (August 31, 2010)
Would be better if it had.all the spells..power word maladroit for example, or cloud of knives. Is not a complete list by a long-shot.

by Allan (August 24, 2010)
Very good application. Would love to see all 3.5 spells from all the various wotc sources and a more complete sorting system.

To be fair, most of these comments went away after the last update, in which I added a pop-up, letting people know that I’m simply not allowed to add those spells, as they are not available under the Open Gaming License. I’ve tried contacting Wizards of the Coast several times now to get permission to add those spells, but they’ve so far ignored me. More recently, those comments have been replaced by comments like this:

by Paul (October 10, 2010)
Very useful. If you can’t add spells because of legal mumbo-jumbo, can you give the ability to enter our own spells?

Yep, that’s the plan, though the more I look into it, the harder it seems to be. The way I wrote the app uses an interesting way to store the spell descriptions, which reduces the size of it on your phone, and allows most of it to be stored on the sd card (for those who have that option). It also makes the spell linking a little easier (where spells link to other spells). However, it makes it very hard to add spells from within the app, so I think I’ll have to completely re-write that part.

Foreign language comments:
by Eníale Nömcerth (October 26, 2010)
Genial aplicacion,de gran ayuda en las partidas,se agradecerian mas idiomas,por lo demas perfecta app :)

by Jann (October 8, 2010)
Super fedt for rollespillere :-) mangler bare de kan vises efter class

Hurray for Google Translate! I actually have no idea which countries D&D is published in… one person asked for a translation to polish, but I couldn’t find a polish language srd.

Happy Gaming!

MLITQ: Day 3

Didn’t really have time to do much on Day 2, but yesterday I spent some time working on getting content from the site. Ibm of all places had an old but good tutorial on how to bild an rss reader for Android. I quite like how the code is structured, and it works, though you can see that it’ll take some work to get it to display nice.

I’m also playing with transition animations. After watching the Windows Phone 7 keynote, I felt like adding some visual flair to transitions in the app. There are a few Layout Animation examples in the API Demos, and implementing one of them was a snap. Going beyond that though is proving to be a major headache, which is the way these things tend to work out. Again I’m hitting the limitations of my Java knowledge, and I realize that I should just finish that book I bought some time ago.

Meanwhile, Meg is building a database of trivia questions. I checked out some of the other trivia games on Android, and while I found a very nice one, the majority of them look extremely primitive and, well, ugly. I’m hoping that to add enough polish to this app to make it stand out of the crowd.

New Android App In The Works

Day 1: Exploring layouts for the main screen.

So last night I started work on my second Android app. While I very much want to make a Pathfinder version of my Spellbook app, I decided to go with something totally different, which will hopefully expose me to different features in Android, which then might make their way back into the Spellbook app. Someone somewhere (link forthcoming) created a challenge to create a game and make $1 from it in the month of October. Meanwhile, Meg has been blogging away on her site, and we thought it might be fun to make a game that ties into her battle with the queue.

While not a lot has been finalized yet, we’re leaning towards a trivia game with intermittent moments of frantic action. The app will also let you view her reviews and her Netflix Queue.

I’m thinking of some fun areas to explore… live wallpapers of movie posters (for the app, not the home screen, though I suppose it could go both ways), notifications of new articles, etc. And of course I have to figure out how to code up a game… should I use openGL or vanilla Android stuff? The coming days will tell…

The schedule is pretty short, and I have a large project coming up at work at the end of the month, and I’m out of town this weekend… so really it’s not looking very good as far as actually making the deadline. But who knows?  I might as well try!

Spellbook, v1.6

One of the most requested features has finally made it into the Spellbook, D&D 3.5 app. You can now view spell lists & domains for all the standard casting classes. They are presented as collapsible lists, so you can click on the Level or Domain header to open or collapse a group of spells. You can also access the Menu to collapse or expand all spell groups. I’ve also added short descriptions to each spell in this view, as you would find in the Players Handbook. I hope this will make spell selection and planning easier.

I also added a What’s New dialog popup when you first launch the app or upgrade to a new version, which will inform you of any changes, and also addresses the most commonly asked question:
Q: Can you add more spells from the Compendium or other books?
A: Unfortunately only spells from the SRD are open gaming content. Spells from the Spell Compendium or any other book are copyright protected. If you do find additional Open Gaming Content, I’ll be happy to add it in.

If you open up to the first page of the Spell Compendium or PHB2 or other book with spells in it, you’ll find some legal information stating that the content can absolutely not be used without written permission. I’ve gone ahead and written in for permission, but Wizards of the Coast has not gotten back to me.

I hope you enjoy this new version. Next I’ll be adding sorting by class and level for spells you’ve added to your spellbook.

Happy gaming!

New Banner

New banner on my site. Woo.

5000 Downloads & Programming Snags


The Spellbook – D&D 3.5 app has hit 5000 downloads (5112 as of this morning)! That puts me in the awesome 5,000-10,000 category in the Android Market. I’m getting more comments all the time, and the feedback has been great. I’m definitely listening to all the suggestions, and I’ve been hard at work on the next release, which will finally let you view spells by class and level. This release has taken a lot longer than I expected, and along with several life things I’ve had to deal with, I’m hitting some real road blocks in Android programming and Java. I’m still working my way through a Java book, but on the Android side I’m having a harder time figuring out the source of errors than usual. That being said, I really do hope to have it done this weekend, but that involves overcoming one giant hurdle I’m battling with right now (and I keep rolling 1’s!?!).

One interesting thing I found is that even though I haven’t had many updates, the download rate only dropped a small amount. I’m very curious about how people are finding the app. Feel free to leave a note about it in the comments.

This weekend I also hope to get back to our D&D game, which has taken a bit of a hiatus. Assuming I can figure out what to do with cleric domains (there’s really no good way of fitting them into an organized structure), I hope to get some more play testing in :).

If you  have any good recent gaming stories, I’d love to hear them.

Cheers & happy gaming!

Update on Chuck

So, it’s been 2 weeks, and Chloe is doing very well. She had her stitches removed, but more than anything, I think she’s happy she no longer has to wear that evil cone of shame. She’s pretty much back to normal: running to the kitchen to meow for food in the mornings, fighting for the best sunlit spots to nap in the afternoon, and jumping/climbing onto high places that realistically she should have no way of getting to.

One bummer is that she hasn’t changed her feelings about our dog… when she was sedated, she had no energy to swat him away, and he was very gentle with her, so we thought they might become friends. Now that she’s back to her usual self, she’s more inclined to hiss and swat at him. Oh well…

From Kitties

Chuck breaks a leg (but not in the good luck way)

You may have read a post some time ago, speculating that my cat had cancer. That initial diagnosis had been downgraded to a cist, which was a relief at the time, but basically we were looking at something growing in her left femur. This caused her to limp, but didn’t actually seem to hamper her too much, until last Saturday, that is. Whatever was growing in her leg had made the bone brittle, and as she was walking down the hallway, possibly chasing our newest feline family member, Mad Eye Moody, it simply snapped. Because of the underlying problem, repairing the bone wasn’t really an option, so the only thing we could do was amputate. It’s a strange thing to agree to, but apparently cats (and dogs) do very well after the procedure. In fact, while we were waiting, we saw a three legged dog bouncing around the waiting area, happy as could be. I guess that gave me some amount if confidence. Maybe she’ll be more mobile after the operation, not having to limp along on a brittle leg?

Keep Reading…

Spellbook, v1.5

With Megan’s help, we updated over 100 spells to cross-link to one another. So if a spell refers to another spell, getting there is now even easier.

spell links

Spell linking

This week has been particularly busy, but I’m looking forward to the upcoming 3 day weekend to get in some of the most requested features. Also, I’m reading Head First Java, which I highly recommend if you want to learn Java programming (which you’ll need if you want to make Android apps.)

Happy gaming!

Keeping steady

While the official numbers I have on the Developer Console are 6 downloads short, I’ll give myself the benefit of the doubt and will go ahead and say that my Spellbook app has been downloaded 2000 times now. That comes 8 days after I reached 1000 downloads, which also took 8 days to reach. That means the app is continuing its very steady pace, which I find somewhat fascinating.

I don’t have statistics about who is downloading my app, but based on visitors to this website, it’s being downloaded all over the world, though the vast majority of people are from the US (and then Germany, for some reason… maybe cause I have family there, so I’ll consider that stat to be skewed).

It’s been a very busy week at work, but I’ve gotten a little bit of programming time in, and am hoping to post a new update this weekend. The research I’m doing will also help me put together the Pathfinder version, which I really want to get to soon, now that I’ve started playing a new spell caster in my pathfinder campaign.

Finally, a word on my recent programming experience: I’d just like to say that content providers in Android suck. Maybe it’s just me, but while they seem like a great idea, I’ve spent way too much time actually getting them to work, and all the benefit seems lost on me right now. Maybe if the documentation and examples weren’t so spread out and incomplete I would feel better about the whole thing. Here’s  hoping I don’t have to work tomorrow, so that I can get some ‘work’ done.