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iD&D Company Spotlight: Level 99 Games

Posted by Ryan Wood on March 31st, 2011

Hello fellow RPGers. After a short hiatus, iD&D is back. This month we take a look at a company who is doing the right thing for RPG players throughout the genres, Level 99 Games. I caught up with the Supreme Overlord of Level 99 Games, Brad Talton, for a quick overview of his company.

Brad's basis for creating Level 99 Games came from his personal interest in the field of RPGs. "I created Level 99 Games with two ideas in mind: Expression and Immersion. The first is the idea that games are a form of personal expression. RPGs especially allow players to take the game and make it their own by adding content, creating characters, and planning their own adventures."

Immersion is found much more in their competitive titles, such as the companies recent release of Super Psychic Chibi Fighters 3. "...players want to become immersed in games that deepen and grow the more they are played and examined. For this reason, I try to create games with many layers of strategy."

Level 99 Games boasts an impressive library of tools and games for various interest levels. For iD&D, of course, we're especially interested in pen and paper titles. Below is a brief summary of the titles currently available from Brad and his company.

iD&D: Gamebook Adventures

Posted by Ryan Wood on December 22nd, 2010

Welcome to another edition of iD&D. This month we are switching gears to take a look at a pocket of games that are based on the largely popular pen and paper RPG genre. There is no shortage of games available in the app store that make use of this genre, especially because many credit the original dungeons and dragons as the birth place of role playing games. This month we’re taking a look at the line of Gamebook Adventures available from Tin Man Games.

Currently there are four adventures available in the Gamebook lineup. The four titles are “An Assassin in Orlandes,” “The Siege of the Necromancer,” “Slaves of Rema” and “Revenant Rising.” All four titles use the same background world to build their story base from, which allows for each of the titles to fill in a piece of an overall fantasy world. Each title also offers updated background information on the world itself that helps to deliver an overall flourishing game world.

The Gamebooks are best described as the next iteration in choose your own adventure books. Players (Readers) travel through the story making choices along the way that help to develop the overall direction of the story. At any point one wrong move can bring up an untimely end to the adventure, which only serves to extend the playability of these stories even further.

The true gem, and the reason these are next iteration choose your own adventure books, is the dice component in the overall story. At the beginning of the story players roll dice to determine their Vitality and Fitness scores. These scores are extremely important to the overall interaction of the story because they determine how much health you have, and how agile you are as a player. Additionally, starting equipment is provided that helps to dictate encounters.

As the stories progress players will undoubtedly find themselves needing to fight their way through to the next pages. Encounters are randomized based on the current equipment scores. For example, I started the game with a dagger with a score of 2 and a leather jerkin with a score of 2. A goblin jumps out of the bushes without any armor on and holding a battle axe. The goblins armor score is 1 and his attack score is 4. The scores determine the number of die rolls each combatant gets to make, and then those die rolls are compared against the opponents rolls to determine the results.

Each story, while being based in the same world, is self contained and provides hours of entertainment depending on how many poor choices a player makes. Thankfully there are a number of bookmarks that allow the story to be started from a specific part of the story. Using a bookmark allows the player to begin from a specific point in the story, rather than the beginning.

The following story summaries are taken directly from the iTunes store descriptions from Tin Man Games. While there is no real order requirements, the overall fantasy world story truly develops from game to game, so my recommendation would be to start from Gamebook Adventure 1 and work your way numerically.

Gamebook Adventures 1: An Assassin in Orlandes

Set within Orlandes City, nobles are being systematically murdered by a ruthless assassin no-one seems able to catch. Finding yourself thrust in the middle of a large conspiracy, you must make decisions that may put yourself and one other most precious to you in great danger. Can you locate the Assassin in Orlandes before it is too late?"

Gamebook Adventures 2: The Siege of the Necromancer

"Set in the coastal town of Myr, you have returned home after a long Summer in the mines of Durath Tor to find your hometown besieged by strange creatures. A dark presence has taken over the town and you are the only one who can rid the stronghold of Erid Buul, the mysterious new Lord and his ghastly cohorts."

Gamebook Adventures 3: Slaves of Rema

"Cruelly taken from your homeland of Orlandes, you find yourself in a far off land at the mercy of a gladiatorial arena. Somehow trying to find a way to escape overseas, can you also unravel a potentially dangerous mystery that puts two nations on the brink of war?"

Gamebook Adventures 4: Revenant Rising

"The mighty city of Falavia, the military backbone of Orlandes, is under attack from an army led by a man claiming to be a God. How did this come to pass you ask yourself? You're sure it all started as some innocent adventure in search of treasure but somehow it turned into a nightmare. Also, why are people staring at you strangely? It’s not as if you look like you've recently been brought back from the dead or something. Oh yes, that's right. You remember now... "

148apps has a limited number of promo codes available for distribution. Leave a comment about Gamebook Adventures and enter yourself for a chance to win a promo code for one of the four adventures.
Thanks for reading the December edition of iD&D. Everyone have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

iD&D: Dice Rollers Part 2

Posted by Ryan Wood on November 1st, 2010

In this, our exciting conclusion to last month's Part 1 of Dice Rollers iD&D special, we'll be taking a look at another 3 dice roller apps. Last month we showed you Pip, Mach Dice, and Quick Roll; three apps with various levels of power. This month we will be jumping in with the same methodology. Lets begin.

Perhaps the most simplistic, and arguably the least polished, of the apps today is Multi Dice Roller. The reason I included it in the list is the unique way it goes about handling the process of dice rolling. It strips out the graphical interface, does away with complex settings, and takes a basic button push approach to getting the desired result. Multi Dice Roller offers two separate methods of rolling. The first, classic method, allows the user to adjust the total number of dice being rolled, and then the user presses the corresponding die to see the total. It’s as simple as that. The second tab is called Dice Pool, and rather than give totals on the die, it allows for thresholds to be set, and success or failure to be made. Set the target roll, set the number of dice making an attempt to meet that target, and when the specific die is clicked a number of successes, or critical failure for 1, will be displayed.
Who Multi Dice Roller is for: This unique approach to dice rolling is best suited for a niche group of people who find this type of rolling to be beneficial.
Who Multi Dice Roller is not for: Anyone wanting aesthetic rolling should stay away from this app. Its versatility is extremely limited as well, so those needing a more powerful dice roller are better off looking at one of the other options.
Issues: Multi Dice Roller is a unique spin on dice rollers, but really fails to outperform many of the others at a comparable cost. It’s included because of its stand out approach to rolling, and there isn’t enough individuality in the app store.
Recommendation: Multi Dice Roller isn’t an expensive app, but its use is extremely narrow. Don’t expect a lot of developer support either.

RPG Calc, by Razeware (The makers of Battle Map), makes the list because of its simple and straightforward design. RPG Calc takes the visual representation of the rolling dice out of the equation, and instead makes use of a calculator for rolling purposes. Enter an equation into the app and with a shake of the ipod or a push of the equals sign the answer will be displayed on the screen. Need to take that answer and do further rolls? With the press of a button the answer is added into the next set of calculations automatically.
Who RPG Calc is for: This app is the next step in versatility. This is an excellent app for the dice roller who needs a big jump in programmability of rolls without a lot of duplication.
Who RPG Calc is not for: RPG Calc sits in an awkward position in this list of dice apps. It’s a great app, but it offers too little to really appeal to the hard core user, while offering just enough to possibly set itself above the casual user. Its powerful calculation tools are well designed, but aren’t something you can’t find with more tools somewhere else, and the lack of graphic representation may push some individuals away.
Issues: The limited screen size makes it impossible to display each and every dice roll when dealing with larger calculations, so unless you are only concerned with the end total, it becomes difficult to make good use of.
iPad differences: RPG Calc is a universal app, but using RPG Calc on the iPad improves the game app in several ways. First and foremost is the increased screen size, which allows for more versatility in seeing rolls. Additionally there are added features in the calculator including parenthetical statements, a D(variable) calculation, and a recent rolls list. While this doesn’t completely take the place of detailed history or pre-programmed rolls which are offered by other apps, it certainly opens up its use to a wider audience.
Recommendation: RPG Calc takes the graphical nonsense out of the equation, providing a straight forward experience. If this appeals to you, there is a good argument for trying out RPG Calc.
Side Note: RPG Calc comes free with Battle Map, so you’ve already been using, or have used, this app if you purchased our first month’s iD&D app.

I can’t hope to include, in a comparison such as this, the feature list that Dicenomicon offers. It would take this fairly long article and springboard it into a 10,000 word essay. This is the advanced programmer's dice app. Detailed background options, detailed UI adjustments, dice color and texture adjustments, physics changes, lighting changes, custom dice, character sheets, pre-programmed information from various gaming systems, if/then statements, built in PDF viewer, the list goes on and on.
Dicenomicon is feature heavy and the learning curve is intense. If you can master it, however, the possibilities are endless. The feature list is so heavy there is currently a Dicenomicon manual being developed by the creator, which is far from done, but can be checked out on the Dicenomicon web board here.
An app with the kind of feature list that Dicenomicon has deserves its own review, and in the future I’ll look into doing so. For now, check out the extensive list of features on the app store page, or check out the website here.
Who Dicenomicon is for: Advanced users. People willing to take the time to put ultimate power in their finger tips. Creating a character sheet inside Dicenomicon that works intuitively with the dice roll features, adding in the variables on its own, adjusting for hit chance and calculating EVERYTHING, based on predesigned formulas, is only one possible use of Dicenomicon. However, Dicenomicon can be used in a simpler fashion as well. There are drag and drop elements available for Dicenomicon for the simple user. Really though, why would you purchase a 32in HD monitor and hook it up to a top of the line Alienware system to surf the internet. Thankfully, power is sometimes cheap to obtain, and at $4.99, that’s a lot of bite for not a lot of investment.
Who Dicenomicon is not for: The light user, the casual gamer, the clinically sane (just kidding); it’s a power hungry app that requires an advanced user who is ready to take the time to use it to its full potential.
Issues: I was aware that a new update was coming for Dicenomicon so I delayed my review until now. These might be simple bugs as a result of the new patch, and a quick fix will take care of them, but I cannot get into some of the more advanced features of Dicenomicon without crashing the system right now. These include the extremely important role macro settings.
Recommendation: Be ready for the intimidation that is experienced when opening an app like this. I haven’t even begun to touch the feature list that Dicenomicon has, but it’s heavy. If you want the ultimate, this is it, and it comes at a pretty affordable cost. Don’t go this route if you want something simple. There are better, more straight forward options.

Time to step up to the plate folks. Next month is up in the air in regards to focus. I've got three different ideas for next months feature, and your input will help guide that decision. Are you looking for an all in one game manager? Want something a little lighter, say just a character sheet guide? Or we can take it a complete 360 and check out some of the best games for those that are pen and paper RPG enthusiasts. Shoot me an email, post in the comments, send me a twitter message, it's up to you! Until next time, keep on gaming!

iD&D: Dice Rollers Part 1

Posted by Ryan Wood on September 30th, 2010

Welcome, readers, to another edition of iD&D. Last month we took an epic journey through the inner workings of the app store map power house, Battle Map. Our review took readers through the powerful tools that Battle Map offers, and showed the versatility of customization and real time interaction through the external monitor options. Check out the newest update for Battle Map in the app store now.

This month, we’re taking a dip into the wide world of dice rollers. They come in all shapes and sizes, from bare bones options to the extremely customizable and programmable options. There are tons of dice rollers out there, so we’ve decided to take a closer look at 3 different apps this month, three different apps next month, and provide a comparative analysis of each of these 6 apps. Well, I’m “die”ing to get into this month’s article so let’s jump right in.

Pip, from Mystery Coconut Games, offers beauty in a simplistic package. Pip is, simply put, a dice roller. Pip includes the standard 7 dice that are required in a d20 game: d20, d12, d10, d8, d6, d4, and a percentile. These are dragged onto the “table” from a side menu showing each of the 7 dice. Only the color is customizable. It’s like having a dice bag filled with as many of the standard 7 as you could ever need.

Pip uses an actual table that is rolled by shaking the iPod or iPhone. The physics engine powering Pip does a great job of emulating the actual movement that dice would make if shaken in a specific way. Pip offers multiple tables as well. These tables can be scrolled through with a swipe of the finger, offering some versatility in its simplicity.

Who Pip is for: Pip shines at the basic users must have dice roller. Its basic design and intuitive control structure make it an absolute asset in games.
Who Pip is not for: Pip isn’t for a complex player looking to calculate complex equations in a single roll. There is no “d20-4” options, so you’ll be doing your own math if you use Pip.
Issues: Pip’s drag and drop display is somewhat cut off on my 3rd gen iPod, making it difficult (but not impossible) to drag the percentile from the menu to the table.
Recommendation: If you’re looking for a simplistic dice roller, you cannot find a better option than Pip.
Side Note: In case you were not aware, a pip is the dot usually found on 6 sided dice that come with games such as monopoly. True to its name, Pip (the app) keeps the dots on 6 sided die. Good show!

Update: The tab button that hides and shows the dice panel can actually be dragged up and down, showing access to fudge and average dice, as well as a delete all button. With the additional dice options and the ability to scroll through the dice, my main issue with Pip is cleared up. Thanks to Coconut Games for clearing that up for me.

Mach Dice takes the general ideas evident within Pip, and splashes in a few additional options. Graphically Mach Dice is a bit less appealing, though respectable in its own right. It’s the options that really help set Mach Dice up as the next step in dice rolling needs. Aesthetic options such as d6 edges, numerical or pip display, and background colors are mixed in with such utilization options like tilt and shake sensitivity, labels on d10 and d3 (Fudge or standard), and how the physics work.

Perhaps the key difference between Pip and Mach Dice is the ability for Mach Dice to add variables into the equation. A very basic screen can be brought up allowing for d(variable) to be added or subtracted from ability scores, etc. or from other d(variable) rolls. Mach Dice offers five different tables, with differing backgrounds and arrows to scroll between. Each table can have a different set of dice on it, and a history list shows a seemingly endless set of previous rolls.

Who Mach Dice is for: The users who need a little more versatility than Pip, while being ok with a step down in graphical design. The inclusion of the variable sided die with added modifiers is a big jump from Pip. FUDGE gamers will find the required dice in Mach Dice’s options.
Who Mach Dice is not for: With added features comes added interaction. Where Pip has a simple drag and drop interface, Mach Dice requires equations to be input into the system to work properly.
Issues: Changing the color of dice is somewhat forced into the input screen. It’s an extremely distracting method to change the color of dice. Also, I’ve had instances where one of the tables come up without any graphics at all, and I can only see the top and bottom interface bars.
Recommendation: Mach Dice isn’t as crisp an experience as Pip, but still offers additional versatility without sacrificing simplicity. It’s an extremely cheap option at $0.99, and really is a great choice for the individual looking to gain an added level of customization. It’s by far the simple option for any Do-It-Yourself Gaming System (FUDGE) gamer.
Side Note: The developer recently updated Mach Dice to include the FUDGE dice, and based on his blog posting on his website, plans at least a few additional updates in the future. Support = Win!

Quick Roll is the first feature powerhouse app on the list, and is dangerously close to becoming my must have companion for all of my gaming adventures. Quick Roll throws the graphical representation of Pip and Mach Dice out the window, and frankly I think it’s a great decision. Five tabs separate the different screens available in Quick Roll including a pre-programmable roll tab, an attack tab, a roll history tab, a profile tab, and a free form tab. These features work together to make a truly winning app.

Who Quick Roll is for: Quick Roll is for the guy with multiple characters, multiple rolls, complicated character sheets, and a need to get everything under one nice umbrella app.
Who Quick Roll is not for: Quick Roll steps out of the realm of graphics and into the realm of power. It’s a lot of versatility, and if you can’t see yourself using it to its full potential, I would recommend sticking with a lighter roller.
Issues: The attack tab is good in theory, but is limited in customization making it difficult to use for people with multiple attacks w/ differing damage rolls.
Recommendation: Quick Roll provides me with everything I need, without offering me things I don’t. It’s not pretty, it doesn’t have a physics engine or a nice graphical roller, but it fits my needs. If you need power without beauty, get Quick Roll. Its slick design will keep you happy for a long time.
Side Note: Quick Roll takes a lot of up-front work, especially if you

Next month we will conclude our two part special on Dice Rollers. We will be taking a look at Multi Dice Roller, RPG Calc, and the powerhouse Dicenomicon.

Is there a dice roller that you use that's not on this list? Let us know what it is? What do you like about it? How does it compare to the above apps?

iD&D: Battlemap

Posted by Ryan Wood on August 31st, 2010
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Welcome, my fellow masters of geekdom, to a new monthly special running here at 148apps entitled iD&D. Each month you’ll find me, your friendly resident Dungeon Master, offering you info on some of the best (or worst) apps available in the app store that make it easier (or harder) for us to do our job. Don’t worry players; you’re not left out either. There are plenty of apps, including one that’s part of today’s article, for you as well.

Additionally I’ll be asking you, the reader, to provide us with some information each month that I will provide to the readership in the following months article. For example, this week’s question will be a survey on people who use an iDevice to enhance their pen and paper experience. Check out the end of this article for more details.

Caveat: I play the majority of my games using the Advance Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 gaming system. I’ll be referring primarily to Dungeons and Dragons (3.5), but unless otherwise stated, expect the majority of apps in this section to be universal in application. For those apps specifically for the fourth edition game system, I’ll be running smaller mini-campaigns to get a feel for their usefulness. If there may be variances from system to system, I will do my best to point them out.

Well, if I knew the 148apps lawyers, I’m sure they would be elated with me right now. As for me though, I’m anxious to get into our first article.