Monday, December 26, 2011

Computers, Rolplaying, iPads and all that

I program for a living, creating interfaces for metal cutting machines, and at home I am a computer hobbyist in addition to my tabletop roleplaying. In the 25 odd years since my family got a Radio Shack Model I, my main interest with computer has been how to make a better machine for tabletop roleplaying. 

From my first word proccessor, CorelDRAW for mapping, to writing utilities to cranks Traveller Sectors I fiddle with my machines to make running my campaign easier. I never liked using a computer at the table as it was too clunky and in the way. Instead I tried to figure out how to produce really good play aids for myself and my player keeping to paper on the table. Heck when somebody tried to use a iPad for dice rolling, I told him to put it away and gave him one of my spare sets to use in it's place.

I am not against the use of computers at the table. It great to have DM Genie and Nbos' the Keep running while I am using Fantasy Grounds., but it has to be the right setup before I starting using at a normal tabletop session.

For two years I finally found it and it was the iPad and similar tablets. The reason is not in using a utility but rather as a means of organizing the books and reams of notes I use during the game. Lying flat with a touch interface with well bookmarked PDFs would be exactly what I need. While I appreciate the open Android platform, I learned with my experience with the Kindle is that it is really worth the extra money to get the best when things are so unsettled. For now, the best in tablets means the iPad.

And I got one for Christmas. It was my one and only Christmas present this year given to me by my entire family.  My wife Kelly Anne organized the effort and I can't thank her enough. Tomorrow I will post some details on how I am going to set it up and what I am going to use the other computers I have for.

5 comments:

Paul said...

While I appreciate the open Android platform, I learned with my experience with the Kindle is that it is really worth the extra money to get the best when things are so unsettled. For now, the best in tablets means the iPad.

I also found this to be true. While the Fire is a great value, it doesn't have nearly the polish of the iPad.

Congratulations on your new tablet.

Adelaide Gamer said...

A great xmas gift by the sounds of it, one which takes a conspiracy to organise is bound to be so! Season's Greetings to you and yours.

Kerry said...

Congrats on the new ipad! I recommend "iAnnotate" for gaming with pdfs. It handles bookmarks (built into the PDF and your own custom ones), notes, quick searches, remembers your current page in closed PDFs, and can side-load through itunes or dropbox. Probably most important, you can have multiple PDFs open and it organizes them by tabs so you can swap around quickly. I've been playing gurps with it for about a year now, and I swear by it.

Peter said...

Nice gift.

I've been using a PC at the table for a long time. It started when I'd come home from Japan to visit and run a session of game. Can't exactly prepare reams of notes and then cart them home on a plane. I haven't stopped since - Foxit Reader with my PDFs open, Word docs with my adventure notes, and scratch notes for the HP and damage and whatnot.

I'm trying to decide between a true tablet and a new PC for my next gaming rig. It's tough, because a tablet seems easier to use but a PC is easier to write books on . . .

Philo Pharynx said...

What? I still use my TRS-80 model I at the gaming table. When my players hear the weird sctraching noises of the data cassette tapes, they know they're in for danger! Seriously, I use my laptop at the table. It's about the same as having a GM screen in front of you. I like being able to have multiple documents open - PDF's, spreadsheets to keep track of combat, websites with rules references (Pathfinder has a couple good ones and Wizards' 4e compendium is a really quick reference). We also use virtual battlemats in a couple of games.
I just a Kinde Fire for Christmas (my family didn't coordinate like yours). And I would have a hard time using it as a gaming machine.