"And of course getting positive feedback is always good motivation. Artists live off that, because they sure don’t do it for the riches."
An interview with the creator of the RPG Story Constructor
Q&A with Dailor of the RPG Story Constructor
How did you get into creating random generators?
Being a roleplaying gamer and growing up with computers in the eighties, it is basically inevitable. You start with programming little adventures, then character generators and random generators will follow.
What was the inspiration behind the RPG Story Constructor?
As much as I’d like to say that inspiration struck me and chorus of angels sang, it wasn’t really my idea. In the good old times when google plus was still a thing there was a community for the wonderful ICRPG.
People over there were creative and used dice to build stories in a way very similar to what the Story Constructor does. I thought to myself, that physical dice were very limited in their possibilities and an online tool would be a perfect match. And I needed something like that. So … I just hacked it in!
And let’s not forget: without the free access to the content from game-icons.net this project probably wouldn’t have been possible. Kudos to them!
After the tool was online and I showed it in reddit, people seemed to like the little toy and made suggestions for improvements. I tried to cater to their needs with what little resources I had and so the tool grew a little. I want it to stay simple, though, and not to overdo it with options and functions.
What is the most fun thing about creating generators?
Seeing it "click". When the program starts to work and you add functions and try this and that … that is very satisfying and fun. And of course getting positive feedback is always good motivation. Artists live off that, because they sure don’t do it for the riches.
What are the most biggest challenges of creating generators?
Oh – there are many big challenges for programming. Especially as I am not a good programmer. I am not even a decent programmer. Let’s face it: I am terrible at it. But I get them to work and for a free hobby project that has to suffice.
This means, my programs are a pain in the butt to modify after some time has passed. They are poorly documented. They are a mess. To plan a ahead and design the code in a way that will help your future self to do things you didn’t think about now, that is the real challenge for me.
Also: I am married and I have a job with some responsibilities. I want to play roleplaying games, too. I Want to improve my drawing skills, play some computer games, meet friends, eat, sleep or just procrastinate surfing reddit. Finding the time to do this kind of side-work is a real challenge.
A challenge that will haunt every hobby programmer in future is making the tools barrier-free and accessible for people with a disability. There is a LOT to consider.
How do you use random generators yourself?
I rarely do, honestly. I use my own story constructor, obviously.
But sometimes I need some quick material and many a generator has then been a session-saviour. I tend to search and collect different generators just for the case I might need them. I most often used dungeon- or city generators for a quick structured sandbox session. Sometimes I see a freaky generator, try it once, get inspired and make something of it. Then I never use that thing again.
I once made a generator-generator where you could upload a file with different lists and you could then let the tool parse the file as often as you liked. I made some npc-generators with it and not much else. One of the many ideas that sound good, but you end up not using them.
What is the most interesting generator or tool you've seen?
I loved the character generator for D&D Gamma World. It looked great, it was fun to toy with, it was customizable and it was a lot of fun. Great.
I remember another character generator for D&D 4E that came on CD. It had a background voice explaining everything. That was a great feature and I have the feeling that there aren’t enough tools that make good use of voice-over or sound in general. There is a lot of potential here.
What are your next big projects (generators or otherwise) that you can talk about?
Programming wise I think the Story Constructor will probably be my final project. I’d like to reprogram it, cleaning the code and making it better manageable. But you never know when inspiration strikes and an angel chorus starts to sing.
Where can people find you on social media?
I hope I was of help and thanks a lot for the opportunity. I am honored.
You can find more more Creator Interviews on Rand Roll.