August 29th, 2010
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.
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.)
August 27th, 2010
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.
August 22nd, 2010
Oops. As much as I’d like to spend hours testing every version before I publish it, I barely have time to code at all. As such, I had my first ‘oops’ just now, though it wasn’t really a bad one.
The new Notes field in each spell is working fine, except that on spells with short descriptions, where the text enter field is already on screen, the on-screen keyboard would pop up automatically, which was rather annoying.
I’ve implemented a quick fix and published a new version. I’m hoping not too many people had to upgrade twice.
August 22nd, 2010
It’s been another busy weekend coding, and v1.3 includes some helpful features. A lot of people have been asking for ways to keep track of various information. I’ve added a generic Notes: field to every spell, which I’m hoping will come in handy. You can use it to keep track of rounds, spells cast, modified attributes, etc. While I intend to at some point implement a better way to keep track of some of that information (such as spells memorised & cast), this is a temp solution which will likely have many other uses, such as the one in the screen shot below.
I’ve also started to implement proper search. From anywhere in the app you can now hit the search button on your phone to pull up the standard search box. Type any word or partial word and hit enter to be presented with matching results. The one piece of this which I’d like to improve upon is search suggestions, so that as you type in the search box, you are immediately presented with matching spells. I’ve found this to be particularly difficult to implement, so it didn’t make it into this weeks release.
Storing summoned creatures stats with spell in Notes.
Search can be used anywhere in the app.
I’ve also changed the scrolling on the About page, which seemed to not work for people with Samsung Galaxy S phones.
Finally, I’ve gotten a lot of requests for the functionality to store multiple spell lists. I guess a lot of you play multiple spells casters, which is cool. It will require some amount of restructuring of the app, and adds some amount of complexity to the interface, but it is something that will make it into the Spellbook app. It just might not make it in the next few weeks.
As always, happy gaming!
August 19th, 2010
After just 8 days, there have been over one thousand downloads of the Spellbook app. The feedback I’ve gotten has been overwhelmingly positive and helpful. That says a lot of things about both Android and D&D, I think. For one, the download rate is pretty steady. To be honest, I’m not sure how people are finding the app… I had the most daily downloads on the day I published, probably due to it being in the ‘Just in’ section, but since then it’s been very consistent. Since the app is targeted at a very specific audience, I have to assume that people are searching for it and spreading it through word of mouth. As Dungeons and Dragons is a group game, one could assume that if one person in the group tries the app, they’ll at least tell the other people about it, who might then download it as well, assuming they have an Android and are playing a spell caster (and maybe even if they don’t… I mainly use the app as a DM).
It’s also nice to see that so many people are still playing 3.5. I was listening to a podcast the other day which reminded me that fourth edition had been out for 2 years already. Based on an extensive survey, most people have moved on to either 4e or Pathfinder. I find myself in the 2nd group, and getting out a Pathfinder version of the app is something I want to do very soon. One thing I’m not sure about though, is where to spend my efforts first. Below is a mind map of feature requests, bugs, and things I’m working on. I think that as is, the app is already very helpful, and I’m using it during gameplay all the time, but to make this app truly awesome, there’s quite a bit of work to be done, and unfortunately it requires a lot of rewriting of code. So the question is, do I get the Pathfinder version out as is, or do I spend the time rewriting the code and implementing features, so that I can just do it right the first time (for the second app, anyway)?
August 16th, 2010
I’ve released v1.2 to the Market:
- Fixed Polymorph Any Object
- Tweaked formatting on a lot of spells
After finding another broken spell (thanks J M!), I spent some time reformatting some of the spell descriptions. The biggest issue I’m having right now is with tables being legible. I’m trying to figure out the best way to rearrange them in a way that makes them easy to use on a small screen. You can check out Prismatic Wall to see what I’m talking about.
We also had another D&D session last night (with bbq, yum), so I got to do the first bit of play testing since the release of version 1.1. While there weren’t a lot of spells cast, I did however find that spell filtering came in very handy, but I agree that it’s not as obvious as having a search feature. I like how the contacts app works: if you hit the search button, it launches the search, or if you just start typing, it launches the search. I’ll have to see if I can get something similar going.
Another bummer was that the SRD is already showing it’s limits. There were several spells that my wife couldn’t add to her spellbook. Really it was only a tiny fraction of her spells, but it’s an issue to consider. Adding the ability to insert your own spells is something I’d love to add to the app, but it will require some restructuring.
If anyone has used the app during game play and would like to pass along their thoughts, please do!
August 15th, 2010
4 days after first publishing, Spellbook has it’s 500th download. The feedback has been great so far. I’ve been busy coding all weekend, and have released version 1.1 with some new features and a few fixes:
The biggest and most helpful feature I added is filtering, when viewing All Spells. Simply start typing, and the list of spells will be filtered down to match your query. The nice thing is that any part of the spell name will work: Typing ‘magic’ will display both Detect Magic and Magic Missile. In addition, when scrolling through the list, you now get an overlay displaying the first letter of the topmost spell, which should help you find your spot when quickly scrolling.
Spell list filtering
Spell list overlay
Tip: If you’re using a phone without a physical keyboard, you can pull the keyboard up at any time by holding down the menu button. This will work for anywhere in Android, and enables you to filter the All Spells list in the Spellbook app.
- Improved book cover image (texture fixes)
- Updated Summon Monster and Summon Nature’s Ally spells. Previously the list of creatures one could summon was listed as its own spell. This has been broken up and moved to each appropriate spell by level.
- Fixed Summon Nature’s Ally IV
- Fixed Nightmare
- Updated About text
- Various behind the scenes code changes
I’ve gotten some great feedback and suggestions. I’m collecting all the info and will check out what’s feasible. If you have a thought, don’t hesitate to e-mail me (use the e-mail link in the Android Market).
August 11th, 2010
Announcing the release of my first Android App:
Spellbook – D&D 3.5 serves as a quick way to look up spell descriptions during a d&d gaming session. It includes all spells from the srd 3.5, and lets you store your spells in a custom list for even faster access.
My reason for building it is obvious if you know me. I love Android, and I’m an avid RPG gamer. One of the things that always slows down gaming sessions is looking things up, which unfortunately we have to do all the time. A common thing to look up is spell descriptions… what’s the range on that spell? How long does this spell last? How many targets can my Magic Missiles hit at 5th level?
Thus the Spellbook app was born. It is very fast, and lets you browse through all spells that are in the 3.5 SRD, which should be all the spells in the Players Handbook.
I hope you find the app useful, and can already promise a few enhancements in the coming weeks.
August 5th, 2010
So after huge delays and distractions I’m finally back to coding. I’ve finished a first version of my Android app, which is now out in the world being beta tested. I’m already getting tons of useful feedback, and have realized that I need to restructure part of my app. It’s going to be a busy weekend, but I’m hoping to have a second beta in people’s hands by Monday, and am aiming to finally publish the app on the market later that week.
Interesting news today is that Google is now activating two hundred thousand new andriods a day. While my app is aimed at a fairly niche market, that’s still a lot of potential customers. While this version of my app will be free, I’m already thinking of a paid version with a lot more features. A lot of potential excitement in the future…