The Strange Character Creator

http://chargen.thestrangerpg.com

One of the rewards from The Strange Kickstarter was an online, free character creator for The Strange. Monte Cook Games had approached a fan who had already made a character creator for Numenera about modifying his excellent program for use with The Strange. Circumstances made it so that he was unable to complete the project, but it was open source and MCG got his permission to carry the project forward without him. It came to me right in the middle of multiple other projects, so I subcontracted it to a friend, Rory Garand, and together we added some functionality and redesigned the original program.

Features

  • Fully featured program that allows players of The Strange to make, advance, translate, and print characters
  • Saves information locally on user’s computer
  • Creates new information in flat file each time character uses the translate feature.
  • Landing page for increased SEO optimization and usability.


For those not familiar with tabletop roleplaying games, like The Strange, a common task is for each player to create a unique character to represent them in the game world. Coding something that allows this isn’t too complex. The Strange throws in an interesting twist – characters “Translate” to different worlds and their powers and abilities change on each one. That means we needed to modify the original program to change aspects of the character each time, but retain character values for previous translations. Since each power and ability gave different bonuses and bumps to different areas, it took some deep thinking between Rory and I to make it happen.


Recreating Vs. Starting From Scratch

The fan who created the original program did an excellent job with the Numenera character creator app. It was unfortunate that he was unable to complete The Strange version of the program due to his other concerns. When I took on the task and brought Rory onboard, we had considered recreating the character creator from scratch. The original program had a lot to offer and various attempts at creating the “Translate” feature were in the system. The system was built on the Dojo javascript framework and we found some difficulties getting internal bits of the Dojo system to play nice with what we wanted to do. With enough time looking at and decoding the base files, we were able to implement a smooth system that allowed for translation and retained all the correct and proper information. Working back and forth, with Rory doing most of the coding, we managed to get the program in line with the new game’s requirements and produce a solid and usable end product.

Many Options From The Book had to be recreated with math and logic to allow them to auto calculate.

We wanted to retain the simple interface from the original program, changing only style differences to match book design in the UI.

A landing page was created to guide users through the process before ever seeing the program.

The dynamically generated character sheet templates had to be tweaked to display the proper information.


Complex Back End, Simple Front End

Though Rory did most of the coding on The Strange Character Creator rework, it was an enjoyable challenge to dig into the multiple sections and flat file databases that the original program used. Crafting a program like this for a game system is not an easy task, but seeing the end result in action and knowing how the code works to make it happen is always a fun experience. Sometimes you need to go to sources with more expertise in certain areas, like Rory, to get things done on the timeframe you need. With a project like this, it was important and made the work go much more smoothly.