Blast from the Past: Interview with Dorpond

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Bill Hart, aka Dorpond, is a member of the RPTools staff who provides guidance and support for new features in MapTool. While not as active as he once was, he still supports us as needed.

Dorpond was the driving force for much of the Light and Sight capabilities in MapTool today. He drove home the point that an elf with lowlight vision should see the map differently than a dwarf with dark vision.

For years, he also served as the primary tester working closely with Trevor to ensure the end product was as bug-free and functional as possible. He also served as the ‘Voice of the Community’ to the developers to make sure new features and functionality met end-user needs.

What follows is an interview from ‘Tales from the Savage Troll’ blog appearing February 2011.

We continue Maptool Month with an Interview with Bill Hart aka Dorpondfrom the MapTool forumsTrevor once described him as MapTool’s energizer bunny. Bill found MapTool and began contributing almost immediately. He was a driving force behind the current MapTool visions system. He drove home the point that an elf with lowlight vision should see the map differently than a dwarf with dark vision.

Bill continues to support MapTool contributing to the design and testing of the product. Those who don’t produce code for a living often don’t understand the old 40/20/40 rule of coding. Forty percent of a projects time is spent in analysis and design, twenty percent coding, and forty percent testing. Thus Bill is the forty percent bread in the MapTool code sandwich.

The other quality Bill brings to the table is endless enthusiasm.  You simply can’t get the man down even with a troll club (trust me, I’ve tried). He believes deeply in the mission of MapTool of providing a free, quality tool that brings gamers together.

So, without further ado, the Dorpond interview.

When did you start gaming and what were the games you played in the early days?

Does Zork count? That was really the game that convinced me that adventuring (and reading and writing) was awesome. It was the closest thing to pen and paper that I experienced at age 14. “It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue” – classic, just classic. If we are talking about Pen and Paper, I had one of the D&D monster manuals when I was just a kid but I didn’t understand the rules so I just found myself looking at the monsters all the time (and thinking how cool they were). My first game was when 3rd edition came out; I bought the core books and I read, a lot *whew*. I worked with a guy who had a regular 2nd edition group and he asked me to join them. I did, but couldn’t grasp 2nd edition after reading 3rd, so I convinced them to jump to 3rd, where I ran my first campaign. We have been playing every week since.

What games are you playing now?

4th edition D&D. We rotate DM hats but my campaign is based on the Diablo universe  (Blizzard entertainment) that I bring to life the best I can – more-so than any video game can. That is the pleasure of “pen and paper” gaming.

What’s your fondest gaming memory?

A friend of mine was playing a cleric/sorcerer by the name of Radagast the Brown, who was trying to spread the word of god to an already holy village. Everyone in this town were extremists when it came to their god, and in their eyes, there were no other gods. Well, my friend was doing as his character would do and tried convincing the locals and the priests that there were, in fact, more gods. For a matter of fact, Radagast followed the god of travel.

Well, the local priests were furious and told him to stop spreading such lies and that he was blasphemous saying such things. Well, Radagast was determined and didn’t stop; he continued spreading “the truth” every chance he had. Well, the local priests had enough. They cornered him while he was alone in the church (separated from the party of course) and they did all they could to try and capture him and knock him out. The battle itself was very epic but it didn’t fare well for Radagast. The priests eventually overwhelmed him and knocked him out silly. To make a long story short, the party eventually found Radagast some 10 miles out of town.

He was found just across the border where he was hog-tied and thrown in a sack with a note attached to him never to return – never to spread lies again! LOL. What makes this even more entertaining was that his familiar was also in a sack, carefully hog tied in a similar manner. LOL. I know, silly, but to this day I continue to bring up the fact that Radagast was thrown in a sack. Radagast in a SACK! So humiliating!

Humor aside though, the church scene was one of the best confrontations ever. For a matter of fact, since Radagast was split from the rest of the party, that player and I got together during the week, outside of the game, to play it out. Even he said it was one of the best.

How did you find MapTool?

I was looking for a virtual tabletop and reviewed at all that were available at the time. I saw MapTool was free so I downloaded it. I’ve been hooked ever since. Even at 1.0, it was still light years ahead of the game.

Do you use MapTool in face-to-face or remote games?

Face to face. Man, it totally beats a rubber battle mat. Now the archers won’t fall off the map or table! We do have one friend that is remote so that is 6 people face to face and one in another state. All one happy family.

What about the product made it your VTT of choice?

The ability to make massive maps. I can make a map that spans miles. One minute it is an overland map the next I zoom up close to see the details. Every other virtual tabletop had a maximum map size it seemed; the one that didn’t was just too complex to use.

What current feature of Maptool do you enjoy the most?

The vision stuff.  If a creature is behind a building or trees, you can’t see it.

What in 1.3 do you find the most irritating?

The drawing tools are too basic for my artistic needs. I gravitate towards the better side of map making so I hope to put better artist tools into 1.4.

What about the project convinced you to contribute?

MapTool was a wildfire – the best virtual tabletop ever, in my eyes. The community over at Dundjinni were developing a ton of free artwork. RPGMapshare was a new website where artists could upload a lot of image files. It was a new and exciting time, and making digital maps was hot! Being able to use all that stuff in Maptool was even hotter because we could play on those maps. Trevor, one of the founders, was very receptive to community requests and usually implemented them. Anyone would have jumped to the opportunity to be part of the storm. I had a burning need to be part of something huge so I helped promote the product, threw demos, and tested every build before it was released to public. Over time, I was eventually asked to join the team. I’ve been on the team now since Maptool 1.1 and it’s been one hell of a ride.

What’s your primary role on the MapTool project?

It has changed a lot over the years. Today it is probably split amongst 2: Design (in a vision sense) and Testing. I don’t code at all but I have a good visual sense of where Maptool should be. I usually discuss the ideas with the others and create mockups. If we all agree, they code it and then pass it back to me to test. It usually goes back a forth a few times and then released to the public.

What areas of the application do you find yourself working on most?

Wow – everything. There isn’t a part of MapTool that isn’t discussed or tweaked at some point or another. While MapTool can do just about anything, just about everything can be improved – a lot.

What’s it like now that you’re one of the three primary directors of the project?

So far so good. The others are top notch and have good heads on their shoulders. I am excited to see what 1.4 will bring now that we have fresh eyes working on the code. Fresh blood and ideas can be a good thing.

MapTool is bringing old gaming groups back together again as well as letting them bring in new folks that they would have never met otherwise. Does that awareness help motivate you?

Heck yeah! We make MapTool to bring gamers together – period. That is why we do all this for free. It’s all about the gamers!

Our old gaming group and our new members say “THANK YOU”!

Thank all of you too!

Thanks again to Dorpond for taking the time for this interview. Up next, Macro Master Craig.

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