Today NERD TREK brings you an exclusive interview with Brian Wood from AwesomeDice.com to talk about a new WordPress plugin that he and Dashifen have developed. This plugin fills a desperately needed function for those of us with RPG websites.
Brian, please tell us about this great new plugin!
Well, we’re obviously huge fans of dice over at Awesome Dice, but the sad fact is you can’t always have dice on hand when you need them. We thought it’d be a great idea to make a dice roller that people could put on their own blogs, rather than having to go to a special dice roller site. One of the main motivations for this was the idea of using a WordPress blog as a sort of campaign headquarters — someplace where a DM can include all the backstory and plot hooks and NPCs for her campaign. A blog can do a really good job of this, especially when the players are able to include their own character details and even character journals (which are perhaps incentivized with some bonus XP). It just seemed natural to also have a dice roller available on the same site for the poor players who forgot their dice — of which we’ve found there’s always at least one.
WordPress is is great for this with their easily expandable plugin functionality. We started just making a simple Gaming Dice roller, but got to talking about the different needs of different game systems and pretty soon had a huge list of possible dice rollers — we decided to start small and just do the top 3: the general dice roller that hits all the commonly used gaming dice, the D&D dice roller for modified d20 rolls, and a World of Darkness dice roller that counts successes. Then if these are popular enough we’ll move on down the list and look into making dice rollers for more specific systems.
That’s great to hear Brian! About 2 months ago I started building a website called NeedGamers.com where gamers can locate each other and set up gaming sessions. It can be used for any type of gaming including video games, but the main focus is tabletop gaming.
When I started searching for an WordPress dice plugin I was tortured by numerous terribly programmed disasters. After fiddling around for quite some time I was able to get something “rolling”, but it still wasn’t in the sidebar like I wanted.
Your plug-in D&D Dice Roller can be installed easily on WordPress by adding a new plug-in and then dragged and dropped into the sidebar for immediate use.
Tell us about the development process and how you determined what features to integrate?
Well, once we settled on the first three plugins, we had to write up a pretty detailed list of exactly how it would function, including how the backend admin would work, what was editable, etc. It sounds like it would be really simple, I know, but it was surprisingly complicated. In particular the functionality of the World of Darkness one got a big involved (try explaining it simply: set the difficulty and number of dice, then roll and everything equal to or over the difficulty is a success — but 10s are a success and then reroll — and 1s are always failures, and then cancel a success, and they cancel 10s first, preventing the 10 from rerolling…)
Did you have friends test out the plug-in or do it all yourself?
We hired a developer to create the plugin — that kind of coding is beyond the skillset of anyone at Awesome Dice, alas. So he worked on it and then we tested it with a small group of people who tried to break it, and succeeded through several iterations.
Is making a WordPress plug-in lucrative?
Ha! I know there are paid plugins out there, but since we’re offering it for free, not so much.
I can see that you will use this plug-in to assist in driving traffic to your dice website. Which came first? The website or the plug-in?
The website. The idea was to use the plugin to promote the website — this is one of the elements of the internet that I love: one of the best ways to promote an online business is to build cool or entertaining or useful tools and give them away for free. The nature of the internet encourages people to do good things with no price tag. It’s a win-win.
My friend and business partner Todd Gamble and I have started a website called Adventureaweek.com which features a new Pathfinder and 3.5 compatible adventure each week. How would our users benefit from your plug-in?
Am I required to use it in my widget sidebar, or may I place it into a PAGE on WordPress?
Is it still free to use if utilized on a website that charges a membership fee to access?
How will you handle that?
The plugin can only go in any widgetized area of your WordPress site — so not in the content area of a post. However whether you charge for access to your site or not, the plugin is always free. Anyone can use it for whatever purpose they want.
What other types of plug-ins or apps do you currently have planned or in development?
One of the big ones that I’d like to get to is a probability calculator. Something with different iterations for different RPGs that will let you know what your probability of succeeding or failing is. For something like D&D the math is super easy and straight forward, but with systems with exploding dice and cancels the math is actually pretty complicated. This would probably be a tool we’d just provide on Awesome Dice rather than a plugin, but I think it’s something that gamers would really find interesting. Well, at least I’d find it interesting, which is probably motivation enough to get it on the to-do list.
Now, I have to ask: What is your all-time favorite role-playing game?
Call of Cthulhu — I love the atmosphere of Cthulhu done well and I also like how approachable the game is to non-gamers. It’s usually the first system that I run for non-gamers because the rules are super simple, and they get to play a character that is a normal every-day person, which makes it very approachable I think.
What are your playing now?
How did you get involved in gaming?
I was pretty much a gamer from the beginning, but started playing D&D in junior high along with a handful of friends. Within a few years I was playing in two games a week, from D&D to World of Darkenss and L5R and Cthulhu and dozens of others.
Indeed, we even sell a few of them at the store. I just wish it was easier for us to order them just as dice, rather than as the collectible game (which makes the rares crazily expensive).
Thanks again for talking with us today Brian! We look forward to using your WordPress Plugin D&D Dice Roller!
Thanks for having me!