Interview with Lortas programmer of the Earthdawn Character Editor

Character EditorThe following interview is the first real interview since a long time and of course the first for the year 2011. The title of the post almost says it all, for all those who missed the Earthdawn Character Editor have a look over here. The Editor is still an Alpha version so your help is needed to find bugs and errors. If you find one, please contact Lortas or leave a comment over here. I am proud that Lortas agreed to answer some questions and I hope you enjoy the interview.

Hey Lortas, would you short introduce yourself?

There is only a few to say. I am an IT-Security-Specialist with some knowledge in programming in different languages. I started role playing Earthdawn approx. in 1996 during my math study (1995-2001) at the university of Darmstadt. I also tried different role playing systems (Rolemaster, Dnd3, Shadowun, ...), but always came back to Earthdawn.

As you commented on the first article about the Editor, you develop it in your spare time. How come that you started to develop it?

A few (or some few more) years ago I came to the clue that it would be great to have an earthdawn character generator. I only found products for the English ED that only ran on MS-Windows. While I was using Linux, I decided to develop a perl-cgi Character Editor for the German ED. This worked well for some time, but then I hit the restriction of a web application build on the scratch. Some month ago our Earthdawn role playing group decided to change from ED2 to ED3. So we need a new tool. That's all.

Some time ago I introduced your Earthdawn Character Editor with the headline "Earthdawn Character Editor for MAC", but as I found out I was wrong, it also works on Windows. You just need Java. Was it your intention to make a character editor for MAC or is it just a side effect, cause you chose Java?

I just wanted to develop a tool witch runs on my favorite OS (Linux) and also runs on the most common OS (Windows). I decide not to go for an web application again. After evaluation perl-GTK and perl-TK, I chose java as language. That the editor also runs on MAC was just a side effect. (Sorry, MAC users. But, hey you are the first ones who have detected my new started development. Thanks).

You named the program "Editor". Did you choose this name, because you didn't want it to be mixed up with a "Character generator"? What differs it from a real Character Generator?

The tool should be more than a "simple" generator. I wanted to create a tool witch is able to accompany players during the grow up of his character(s). So he/she can "edit" his character after every session and can see all improvements.

You constantly develop the Editor, as I introduced it, it was in Version 0.1 Alpha, when I look at it now it is Version 0.11 still Alpha. What features did you add since the first 0.1 Version? What was improved and what was taken off?

hmm, yes a normal user can not see the improvements of my editor so far. I have two buddies assisting me. One is writing the GUI and one is writing the xslt (enables web browsers to render the character xml file). The buddy writing the GUI has run out of spare time. So the GUI development has stalled. :( But I hope this will change soon. In the background I have developed an extensive xml-schema structure, to enable the editor to handle any character discipline (sometimes I think Redbrick has only introduced the discipline “journeyman” to annoy me). The engine working in the background to calculate any dependencies is almost finished. If you take a look at the example characters you may see a lot of features you are missing in the GUI. This will change (soon). And of course, I have enhanced the export variants. Now you can export your character to three different pdf's and render it with in your web browser.

Can your Character Editor be run on a portable device like Android, iPhone or iPad? Or are you planning to program an application for them?

It is intended that the editor runs on Linux and Windows desktop computers. It has to be tested if it also runs on other platforms and OS. Because of the concept to use Java and separate GUI and logic, it should be possible to build versions which run on Android, iPhone, ... But it will be necessary to build a new GUI for this, so we need a volunteer for this task. :)

Which features will be added in the next versions? What are you working on atm?

In the next version of course the GUI will be enhanced, but I am also finishing the background engine to support almost all magic item features. Additionally, I am working on a small gimmick: Dice Cups. You will be able to set up different dice cups to roll the dices.

For the fans who want to create a character using your editor, how long does it take to create a character? Approx.? And is there or will you add a feature to track the changes of the character? Something like an advancement tracker?

Oh I have no idea. Because the GUI is still under construction. But creation should be very fast. You will spend a lot of time for tuning your attributes and choosing your optional talents and skills. Maybe there will be a small wizard for the initial circle one character.

You know about the Second Step character generator that is based on the Second Edition of Earthdawn. It is widely used by Earthdawn fans and still one of the best character generators for Earthdawn. But your Character editor is one of the few that's based on the Earthdawn Third Edition. So do you have in mind to provide the possibility to transfer the "old" Second Step characters to your editor? Would this even be possible?

The question is, can ED2 characters be transferred to ED3 characters? My group had ED2 characters and we decided to generate new ED3 characters which have the same disciplines and legendpoints as the old ones. And they kept their equipment.

I am not familiar with the Second Step. I have never  used it. I don't know the format and how it stores the generated characters. But while I store my characters in a xml-File with xml-Schema definition, it should be possible for someone knowing the Second Step format to build a converter independent from my editor.

Still Alpha! When can we expect a Beta version or a final product?

No clue. I hope to have a version which can be used by other people, then people with a powerful xml-editor, on MatzeCon.


I thank you for the interview and I am very happy to see that the characters you create with the Editor can be exported to the Editable Character Sheet of Ajfel and me.

1 Response to "Interview with Lortas programmer of the Earthdawn Character Editor"

  1. Wow. Bad Ass. I'm keeping this in mind while I re-tool my MapTool Framework. I think it would be super exciting if we could come up with a converter from this character editor's xml file to the maptool token-properties xml file. I have to re-design my properties and code-flow for the next round of the MapTool Framework. Thanks for the inspiration!

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