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Friday, October 6, 2017

Flashback: Tabletop RPG iGoogle Gadgets

I had nearly completely forgotten about these, until the "Facebook Memories" feature reminded me of a 7-year old post this morning. Did anyone else make use of when Google did the iGoogle thing with gadgets you could add to your search home page?

Nearly a decade back, I used it regularly and developed several tabletop RPG gadgets that were quite popular at the time. In fact a few of them were featured, and Google Labs sent me a swag bag of Google-branded promotional goodies that I still have stashed away here somewhere. 

Anyway, since Facebook was kind enough to remind me about them, I figured it would make a fun flashback article here on the blog. So, here are the details on a couple of those gadgets I developed back in 2005-2009.  

Obsidian Portal Plugin - A custom iGoogle gadget that I developed which interfaced with the service. It was the first external application to make use of the Obsidian Portal API which had been released a few weeks earlier. The gadget supported standard formatting via HTTP streaming XML, and integrated in most of the navigation functionality of Dungeons & Dragons campaigns hosted on the service. Required initial call via "campaign slug" to reference the datasource. 

Random Dungeon Map Generator - A custom iGoogle gadget that I developed which utilized a complex algorithm to generate relative grid coordinates for rooms, then a series of randomly placed doors/openings based on those coordinates, and finally a second algorithm to map out a path from opening to opening at the nearest rooms to create the halls. Each map was totally random and downloadable as a large high-resolution JPG format image.

Polydice Roller - A basic randomized dice roller I developed for iGoogle which randomly generated roll results for 5 sets of 4-sided, 6-sided, 8-sided, 10-sided, 12-sided, 20-sided, 30-sided, and 100/%-sided dice. Simple and straight forward.

Dice rollers are a dime-a-dozen these days, but back when I developed this (in the dark-ages before smart phones and apps), having a self-contained dice roller installed on your search home page with actually kind of nifty. 

Advanced Polydice Roller - (Thinking of VTT before it was common place) - Like the basic version of the Polydice roller, except I developed this version to allow for completely custom dice combinations with modifiers and up to 100 rolls of each set. Since this gadget is heavily used, and I had several requests to provide a service for "blind rolls, " I added features that allow players to roll a defined set of dice, and have it automatically e-mailed to the GM. This prevents players from cheating by re-rolling until they get the results they want. Also, I built in a version of "anti-spam" that allows e-mail addresses to opt-out of getting APD results. 

There were many others, most of which I don't have handy screen grabs to display here. Luckily for prosperity's sake, at some point in 2010 I posted these four to Facebook, and so can share them here today. Enjoy the flashback!

Oh, and just for fun, I fished out the old Google swag bag that Google Labs sent me for being a featured developer. Here's a pic. 

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