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Friday, 12th February, 2016, 01:16 AM #1
AMA - 3D Artist and Videogame Developer, Designer, and DM
My name is Dan Sandberg, for the better part of the last decade I've been a professional 3D Artist and Videogame Developer, Designer, and DM.
I originally came here to post about a Pen and Paper RPG app I've been working on called Infinitas DM, but rather than post a few empty responses to random threads to break my 3-post cherry I thought I'd try to do something more useful and put up an AMA.
Some of the games I've worked on include: Rise of The Tomb Raider, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, SMITE, Tribes: Ascend, Starwars Kinect, Ghostbusters: The Video Game, a plethora of unannounced titles, and more.
I've worked in studio and as a freelancer and two years ago incorporated my own business, Atom Switch, Inc.
I'm also a long time DM, lover of D&D, overly obsessive map maker and open-world campaign designer, musician, and all around weird guy. Ask Me Anything!
[Edit] You can see our Kickstarter Infinitas DM Thread here!
Last edited by AtomSwitch; Friday, 4th March, 2016 at 10:06 PM.
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Friday, 12th February, 2016, 01:48 AM #2
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
I've heard that d&d can be, in the video game world, like golph was in the business management world. Have you seen anything like that?
Friday, 12th February, 2016, 03:47 AM #3
I'm not 100% sure what you mean, but if you're saying is it a way to socialize with fellow developers, then yeah definitely. While I've worked with plenty of people that wanted nothing to do with D&D, it's still much more popular than in any other industry I've seen or been in.
One thing I've found is game developers (especially level designers) tend to make for really fantastic DMs. The attention to detail some of the designers I worked with put into their campaigns was amazing.
Thursday, 18th February, 2016, 08:34 PM #4
I just wanted to drop a note that I'll be leaving this AMA open for another week or so in case there are any other questions that come up about Infinitas DM (or anything else) after posting my upcoming Kickstarter in the Publishers, Promotions, Press Releases & Kickstarter Announcement forum.
Friday, 4th March, 2016, 06:50 PM #5
Hi Dan, I think it's awesome that you decided to start an AMA on here, I'm just sorry to see that it hasn't garnered too much attention so far - hopefully I can kick start some discourse on the subject.
Personally, I haven't really found an app so far that has really drawn me in as a dungeon master, but I can definitely see the benefits and convenience to a certain level of automation. I was incredibly excited by Codename Morningstar for 5e before the whole fracas surrounding its development. With that in mind, could you tell me a bit more about the features of Infinitas DM please? Especially regarding any unique or unusual features it has that might help it stand out from other apps on the market.
Also, what platforms might Infinitas DM be available on? Would it work on say, apple devices, android devices, kindles, windows phones, web browsers, pcs, macs, etc? Thanks.
Friday, 4th March, 2016, 09:23 PM #6
Hello fellow Dan,
Thanks for stopping by to ask some questions!
I'll start from the bottom of your question first. We're targeting Android and iOS as our primary platforms for the initial launch of Infinitas DM. During development though we will also be looking into windows phone, kindle (which should in theory be an easy port from android), windows touch, and PC/Mac/Web.
All of the touch platforms are the 'easiest' to target together since that is what the design is based around - touch controls and mobile devices. The biggest workload there is just being able to test across devices and getting approved on the various marketplaces.
That said, we will definitely be using at least a very rough PC build during development, so whether or not a PC/Web/Mac build is supported at launch will come down to one of a few factors. If the controls and overall experience ports over well to a mouse interface then it's just a matter of getting on Steam or GoG or whichever store to distribute it. If the experience isn't so great though and requires more work than our initial budget covers, it will either become a stretch goal, or failing that, a target for a future release.
Ok, now the more complicated question. I found myself in the same boat as you, after looking at a lot of different table top simulators and other tools I never found one that just 'felt right' to me. Most of them had a frustrating learning curve and felt far more complex than they needed to be. They also often forced players to play online, or at least from individual computers. For me this killed a lot of the fun of table top gaming.
What I wanted was something that was minimal, while still being powerful. I wanted something that didn't try to play the game for me, but just enhanced what I was already doing.
That's why Infinitas DM is focused on 2 core elements. Maps and documents. In prettier terms, worlds and lore. It's about giving you the power to create huge worlds that players can explore organically, with all the digital bonuses of things like live editing, quick swapping between maps, high levels of detail, fog of war, etc. without having to send everyone home to play online.
I'll throw down a few bullet pointed features to start, but for a complete rundown you can look at our website - www.infinitasdm.com - which has a complete tutorial on how the app will work.
For these features displayed in a nice photo gallery, check out Our Facebook Gallery Here (you don't need a FB account to view it).
Or for another quick visual run-through, check out the first half of our Kickstarter video:
Some Quick Highlights:
- Draw maps right in the app
- Import existing maps as image files
- Capture physical maps with the device camera
- Create and Edit campaigns from your smart device while players view on a secondary display
- Player view has unique elements like Fog of War and can have notes and locations hidden from players
- Write and edit documents right within the app
- Map Links to quickly access documents and link to other maps from convenient shortcuts placed directly on the map
- Atlas system to quickly access all of your maps
- place, name, and scale character tokens and apply status effects to them
 Sorry, hit post when I meant to preview.
If you have any other questions feel free to ask! I am happy to answer them and/or provide more clarification.
Friday, 4th March, 2016, 10:49 PM #7
Thanks for your swift and considered response Dan. After reading through your answer, your website, fb, and the video (awesome soundtrack btw), I have a lot of positive things to say about the project. Simply for the sake of brevity I won't go into all of them but I liked a lot of little details. For example, the fact that your map editing functionality operates over 4 layers immediately puts you head and shoulders above most of your competition. To my mind less layers grows exponentially worse and anything over 4 leads to diminishing returns - essentially 4 is a great number (or allowing a DM to 'create' layers as they see fit).
Additionally, the fact that 'Infinitas DM doesn't want to run your game for you' really resonates with me. As I've found apps that try to take over more of the process cumbersome and that they generally slow me down at the table. I can only speak for myself but simplicity & elegance are some of the primary things I would look for in a product such as what you're offering. And, while I wouldn't want to encourage all of my players to be using electronic devices at the table, 'broadcasting' a map from my device in real-time to a projector seems like a wonderful alternative (which is something I'd be able to do with pc functionality).
I think the information you have posted covers most of the follow-up questions I had in mind from the perspective of a consumer. The main other area I'm interested in would be your thoughts/plans regarding post-launch support. A lot of apps such as yours creep out with decent launch-functionality but are never expanded upon. For example, would you consider including a library or marketplace where additional brushes, tokens, fonts, etc, could be purchased? I know a lot of DMs (myself included) spend a fortune on trying to find ways to enrich our games. Heck, I'm sure a lot of people would happily pay for a subscription where generic battlemaps are released each month. After all, a lot of things like this work best when the creators provide a platform that can then be used to sell product. Fantasy Grounds does this extremely well, it sells you a subscription/licence for its platform, and then takes a cut out of each product you buy to use on it. I think as more apps like yours become available, the 'winner' will be the app with the best support and dlc, not the one with the best functionality or features.
I suppose that brings me to my other question. As someone who makes adventures and supplements, is your goal simply to get this application into the hands of players and DMs so that they can produce all the content, or would you approach it more similarly to something like fantasy grounds or roll20 - whereby companies can release maps/adventures/etc for it and artists/freelancers can also release token sets and other content as well?
The only criticism I have, which, to be fair, is so insanely subjective that it's not really relevant to anyone but me, is that I really don't like the name 'Infinitas DM'. But hey-ho, you can't please everyone all the time haha. Best of luck with the project, I'll be sure to keep an eye out for it and back it once it goes live (might be worth throwing up a mailing list on your website so that people can be notified when your KS is launching).
Last edited by Dan@DeepDark-Designs; Friday, 4th March, 2016 at 11:17 PM.
Friday, 4th March, 2016, 11:19 PM #8
I'm really glad to hear you like what you're seeing of the app Dan! Thanks for taking the time to comb through all of our information.
I completely agree with you that so many tools end up bogging down play when the real goal should be doing the exact opposite. I'm glad that central goal of the app came through clearly for you.
Your followup is something we have absolutely talked about internally. Getting a marketplace running where users can submit and sell (or give away) their own maps, token sets, campaigns, etc is a very big post-launch goal. Like you said, offering our own content and having featured content creators as well as user submissions would be key.
As for additional support post-release, that is another definite yes. If we can be so lucky, there are a number of additional features that would make great stretch goals, but even without that, we absolutely plan to support the app as it continues to grow with additional development time and user feedback.
As much as I enjoy the name on a personal level, it has been pointed out a few times now that it was a bit foolish to go with DM over GM. While I am admittedly a D&D player far more than any other game system, the name comes from two sides. Infinitas represents the infinite nature of the endless worlds that could be made within the app. The DM was from the original tagline for the app "InfinitasDM - Dungeon Mastery. Still, if that's your biggest complaint than I'm a very happy designer!
On a side note, while I haven't announced the Backer Reward tiers yet (though the goal is to do so soon, shooting for mid next week), one of the rewards is a mini-campaign. It should be a great example of what you can do with the app, as well as a fun little narrative romp that is fantasy based, but game-agnostic.
Oh, and yes - we do have a mailing list. I should really get a link to that on the website, it's just something I put together for a few reddit users who weren't into facebook or g+. You can Sign Up Here.
Thanks again for taking the time to look through all of our information and for such great responses! As always, I'm happy to answer anything else that comes to mind.