Monday, September 17, 2012

Dungeon Mapp Review - Win a Free Copy!

This is a review of Dungeon Mapp, a mapping/gaming application designed to aid in playing tabletop RPG's using a tablet.

Full disclosure.  I'm not getting paid anything for this review.  In fact, I spent $10 to buy the app for my Android tablet.  Derek Proud, the creator, contacted me on Google+ and ask if I wanted to do a review, generously offering a full iPad version of the app, so read on for more information about the app and the giveaway.

I tested Dungeon Mapp Lite (the free trial version) on the iPad, and the full version on an Android tablet.  It can also run on some Android phones, but it's really a tablet app.

Before I go into too much about Dungeon Mapp IS, I think it's important to make it clear what Dungeon Mapp IS NOT.

Dungeon Mapp is NOT a VTT (Virtual Table-Top) like Maptools, which lets multiple people play tabletop RPG's via computer.

Dungeon Mapp is NOT a Cartography program, like Campaign Cartographer - it does allow you to map and save map files, but that it's really the primary purpose.

Dungeon Mapp is NOT edition or system-specific.  It makes a couple of 4e-related assumptions, but it really can be used with any dungeon-crawly RPG game.

That's what Dungeon Mapp isn't.  So what IS it?

Dungeon Mapp is an app that lets you quickly sketch out an encounter area, place tokens and run a combat.

Dungeon Mapp presents you with a gridded black background where you can use a variety of terrains to draw out encounter areas.  Its click and drag interface, with hold-to-edit options make good use of the touch screen of a table, letting you flesh out a room or area with just a few fast motions.  You can create tokens or use token files, setting some basic statistics (like HP and movement) if you want to.

Decals let you add some extra color and detail to your maps, and special tools let you add some nifty features.  One function lets you link multiple maps together - loading them automatically when you need them.  Another lets you automatically add all "party" tokens to a map with one click.  A third lets you hide parts of a map, revealing it with a single touch to the screen.

The interface is straightforward and easy to learn, and the tools work well, at least in the iPad version.  I was able to have basic maps sketched out after about 30 minutes of playing around.  I would have been faster, but I didn't look at the helpful tutorials right away.

An added bonus is that you can save map files, email them and even download some of the pre-built ones from the Dungeon Mapp site.  You can even download a version of the map I used for Totally Different Chapter 3 in my Blingdenstone Enhanced stuff.

I did have some issues with the software.  I found some things about the interface to be clunky - you can't scroll while laying down tiles, for example, and switching tiles requires going into a different selection window each time.  There also isn't an "undo" button - so if you mess up (and you will mess up), you have to manually fix it.

Still - these are the kinds of things that an interested developer - and Derek seems interested, can fix up.  They wouldn't get in the way of my buying this software.  Likewise, I had major issues with the app on my Android tablet.  I'm not sure if it's because my tablet (a Le Pan) is a POS - which it is, or if the recent release on Android hasn't had all the bugs worked out.  I suspect a little from both columns.  I also expect the issues will be resolved in the near future.

The big question is - should you buy this app?  It's $10, which puts it in the high range for app prices, but I could see it being worth the money if you fall into the one of these categories:

1) You currently use graph paper, chalkboards, dungeon tiles or other tabletop methods for gaming and you want to switch to a digital alternative.

2) You game in a place where space is limited, or you can't easily bring supplies.

3)  You play in your living room and don't have access to a gaming table.  For best results, hook a laptop up to your tv and screencast the tablet onto it.  Instant big and little gaming board!

4)  You want to play on vacations, car trips or trains.  This is really the perfect app for a kid like I was.  I had to drive 3 hrs each way to the dentist 1/month when I was a kid.  This would have been awesome for us to roleplay in the car.

If any of you have tried this app and can think of other scenarios where it would be useful, please put them in the comments.

If you would like to be entered to win the free full version of Dungeon Mapp, email me your name and email address at kootenaymurph at gmail dot com.  I'll announce the winner on Friday and send you a link to download the app.

If you DON'T want me to forward your email along to Derek so that you can find out news about Dungeon Mapp, put "keep this private" in the email, OK?

Have a great week and Happy Gaming!