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A Touch of Evil Android app
07-13-2012, 05:03 AM (This post was last modified: 07-13-2012 05:04 AM by JRSly.)
Post: #1
A Touch of Evil Android app
Copied this over from by Board Game Geek thread since I imagine there's plenty of interested folks 'round these parts.


ATOE has quickly emerged as my favorite Flying Frog game, the narrative you build anew with each game and the extremely immersive theme is just awesome. So in the last couple months since I've bought it, I've been doing all I can think of to enhance the enjoyment in any way I can think of.

The one aspect of the game that I find a bit clumsy, though a very necessary evil, are all the reference charts. The villain's abilities, the Minion Charts, the Mystery Phase Chart, the Showdown can break up the flow and fun a little bit to so frequently have to pause and scan down a letter-sized page and find what Mystery Phase event you need to resolve, or reach over and grab the Minion Chart and look something up. I can hear some people rolling their eyes, and I can agree to a large extent..these are minor little inconveniences of time and effort. But the other quality to factor in is table space. With approximately 36 decks of cards to find spots for, all your big Character cards, the Villain's card, tons of counters...unless you're playing on a conference table, who has the room to have the Minion Chart and two rulebooks(for the Mystery Phase and Showdown Chart) also laid out within easy reach?

I was watching the great Lonesome Gamer series on ATOE, watching him spin around and grab the rulebook at every Mystery Phase and I thought...what if you could handle all of this stuff on your smartphone? You could have a ton of table space consolidated into something only slightly bigger than a card's footprint and the app could even handle the actual 'work' of rolling dice and looking up the event or Minion! I got really excited and believed it truly could help streamline gameplay just enough to make it even more fun to play. When you think about it...all those seconds spent in every single round of the game add up. And these are precious little seconds where you're not being taken out of the game and the theme to reference a chart.

So, I finally took the plunge and started learning some simple Android coding. I've wanted to for a while, and now I finally had a fun project that could keep me motivated and excited. I'm using the Android App Inventor, now being hosted by MIT after Google abandoned it, to create the app with. It seems fairly robust and capable but has a very friendly, quasi-WYSIWYG, building block interface that keeps you from having to do barebones coding. I struggled at first, but quickly got my footing enough to tackle what ultimately would be pretty basic functionality. Mostly just showing the right images when you press certain buttons.

Okay...enough of my blathering. Let's look at some screenshots! The app's not going to set the world on fire with it's stunning graphics and clever design, I didn't want to get too ambitious on my first project. But I think it looks fairly attractive and is very intuitive.

When the app is opened..simple enough options. You can choose your villain or roll on the Mystery Phase Charts, green for the Basic one and red for Advanced. I like when an app lets me do what I want, so I thought if people just want to use the app to roll on the MPCs and they like to stick with the cardboard and paper Villain materials, good for them. I wasn't going to force anyone to go through the Villain choosing process before being able to do anything else.

[Image: 20120707020518.png]

Here's a random Mystery Phase event. When you want to go back to the main page, you just tap the ATOE logo.

[Image: 20120707020714.png]

The events are chosen randomly just as if you were using dice. With the Advanced Chart, the same Bell Curve Distribution exists, where items in the middle of the chart will appear much more frequently than the events resulting from rolling a 2 or 12.

If we hit "Choose The Villain" and we have all our choices...

[Image: 20120707020552.png]

I have all the Villains from all expansions, including the web exclusives. Each categorized on a page based on where they came from.

We'll choose the Vampire(since he's the only Villain I have all the other pages completed for so far)...

[Image: 20120707020631.png]

First, the MPC buttons work exactly the same, they're easily accessible on this page as well. Now onto the Villain...we'll go a bit backwards, and start on the top right, these are the two dice to roll on the Villain's Minion Charts. Again, both Basic and Advanced so all the bases are covered.

[Image: 20120707020655.png]

Okay, and if we hit the logo and go back to the Vampire's main screen...

If you long-press on the Minion dice buttons, you can see the Basic and Advanced Minion charts..if you need to reference how many Fight Dice something has, or look up an Event real quick.

[Image: 20120707020705.png]

You either hit the phone's Back button, or long-press on the Minion charts to close this screen and go back to the Villain's main screen...

Next going left is the Villain's portrait. If you tap this button, you bring up the Villain's special abilities. If you long-press, you roll for the Showdown Chart...

[Image: 20120707022814.png]

[Image: 20120707020741.png]

Just as with the Advanced MPC, the events are distributed properly so the same rate of occurrence as if you'd rolled dice is there.

Finally, on the far left are the Wound and Combat numbers. This was an aspect I hadn't planned initially but then the idea hit me and I had to include was more challenging than any other function, but I'm glad I got it figured out. If you long-press, you pop up this screen...

[Image: 20120707020720.png]

Here, you can set the number of Wounds(based on number of players in Coop and adding any as Mystery Cards dictate) and adjust the Combat as any bonuses are acquired throughout the game.

[Image: 20120707020518b.png]

And after you've set up these figures, you simply tap on the images and the number goes down by one. So you can quickly and easily knock a few Wounds off, or take away a Combat bonus once a card has been taken out of the game. I really like this little aspect. Again, having to keep track and count a pile of cardboard circles can disrupt the fun a bit..especially when you're talking about in the intensity of the final Showdown. Now, I can just glance at the phone and know exactly how much more it's going to take to defeat the bad guy.

Oh, and you just long-press on the logo and this takes you to the main page and clears the Villain so you can start over. Now, I can pretty much leave the MPCs, the Villain card, and its Minion Chart in the box and free up quite a bit of space on the table.

And that's that! I'd love to hear what people think, toss out suggestions or things you think I might have gone about in weird ways. I've made all this in a bubble, thinking only of my own I'm be very curious to see what it looks like to everyone else. I wouldn't be surprised if I might've overlooked something.

I've got the hard part figured out, all the functionality and logic is pretty much in place. Now it's just the much easier, if a bit time-consuming, process of making all the graphics and plopping them into the code.

I'd really like to share this and upload it to the Android Market so everyone can try it out and enjoy it. I'm just not sure if Flying Frog would like the idea. I feel like that wouldn't be crossing any lines, the app has a lot of info from the game in there, but no one is going to be able to play the game with just the app. But I've used official graphics and components from the game without permission, so they'd be perfectly in their right to say no. So I think I'll wait to hear from them before I upload it.


Update post a few days later

Sorry for not popping back in...been busy working on the app!

Thanks for all the replies, I'm glad some other folks see the potential and don't think this was a silly waste of time to put together.

I've finished everything for the base game Villains, putting together all the graphics for every Villain is gonna take a few days, especially now that we're back to Monday and another work week. And I'm also considering reformatting the layouts and functionality just a that may mean redoing the graphics I've already made. cry But I'll think about it.

My main concern is readability on the small screen, so I'm thinking I might make all the result pop-ups full screen, rather than keeping them in their own 'side-frame' with the logo still visible. Using up as much screen real estate as possible for the sake of clarity. On that note, I did drop all the headings, such as "Minions of the Vampire"...firstly because I've always thought it was sorta awkward calling events Minions, just the weird, anal side of me. And second, so no screen space and kilobytes are wasted on ultimately useless info like "Minions of the Vampire" or "Vampire's Special Abilities".

Other small change, I dropped the "Done" button on the screen where you set the Combat and Wounds. It was silly to have a different button, when the ATOE logo is used to go back in every other instance.

Next thing I'm working on, I think I'll do this while I contemplate the graphic situation and if I want to redo a lot of stuff, is making a "Random Villain" function. I'm thinking of how to go about this...the easiest would be to make one big pool of all the Villains that the app would look at and randomly pluck from. The problem would be if a player didn't have the Hero Pack or hadn't downloaded the Web Villains, and they'd get a Random Villain that was unusable. So they'd have to back out and randomize again...and if you had some bad app luck, you might get three or four unusable choices and that might be annoying.
Overhauled the graphics a bit, I thought a cool, spooky background might be more interesting than solid black everywhere. Unfortunately, this meant I had to go back(and am still in the process of) saving all my graphics out again with a transparent background. Luckily, I've saved (almost) everything in Photoshop, so it's quick just to drop the background, I don't have to remake much from scratch. But still a bit tedious.

[Image: 20120711004227.png]

[Image: 20120711003353.png]

Also, does anyone have better suggestions for a name? AToE Assistant is about the most straightforward name I came up with, but it's also the blandest. I've thought of maybe something like Shadowbrook Traveler's Guide, ATOE Hunter's Guide..something a bit more interesting and evocative.
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07-13-2012, 08:51 AM
Post: #2
RE: A Touch of Evil Android app
Awesome! ... and inspiring.

Someone out there thinking of doing something similar for LNoE?

"It's the smell... it's driving them CRAZY!"
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07-13-2012, 11:34 PM
Post: #3
RE: A Touch of Evil Android app
Been following this over @ BGG. Even though I don't have a smart phone, kudos to you on such a great project. Watchmen02 When you get it all finished, sound FX would be a nice touch (if that's even an option?)

As for a name...hmmmm..."The Tome of Arcane and Forbidden Lore"? (Actually I like Shadowbrook Travelers Guide Zombie03 )

"If you had any sense, you'd leave now! Get out while ya still can! It's too late for th' rest'a us. The Horseman rides tonight, an' he's comin' to take us all ta Hell!"
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07-14-2012, 12:17 AM
Post: #4
RE: A Touch of Evil Android app
Thanks! I've considered sound first I thought I'd go nuts and add sounds everywhere, like when you rolled for a Wolves minion, you'd hear a wolf howl...when you rolled "The Horseman Rides Again", you'd hear hooves beating down a dirt path, etc etc. Or maybe add a looping wind sound effect that would always be playing in the background. But I think that could end up being too much and start to get annoying. Ultimately, it felt needless when I want functionality to be the most important aspect.

But I still think I might add in some subtle blips and clicks just as button-press confirmation noises.

I've finished tweaking all the graphics so they have transparent backgrounds. I also redid the Mystery Phase and Showdown Chart results so they look better. And I finished the Random Villain button, if you long-press on the "Choose Villain" button, the app will randomly grab one for you. Like I mentioned earlier, I made just one big pool that the app chooses from, so you'll occasionally get a Villain from an expansion you don't have or a web Villain you haven't downloaded and printed out yet, but I don't find it too annoying to jump back to the main screen and try the randomization again.

Now that the annoying remaking is done, I just need to finish making all the minion graphics for the rest of the Villains....should be finished right around the time The Coast comes out and I'll have to make more!

I think I might try an actual game with the app tonight or tomorrow, I'm really curious to see how it works in practice finally.
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07-14-2012, 07:56 AM
Post: #5
RE: A Touch of Evil Android app
This sounds great. I love ATOE, and would surely try this out.
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07-14-2012, 10:09 AM
Post: #6
RE: A Touch of Evil Android app
You could call it the Evil Toucher...

Maybe not Zombie17

It looks really good. Dare I mention iPhone/iPad version?
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07-14-2012, 05:05 PM
Post: #7
RE: A Touch of Evil Android app
(07-14-2012 10:09 AM)sickboy Wrote:  You could call it the Evil Toucher...

Maybe not Zombie17

It looks really good. Dare I mention iPhone/iPad version?
I'd like to make an iOS app as well, but my programming experience is veeeery limited. I was only able to make this because Google created a simplified app developing platform that really does the actual coding for you. If something similar existed from Apple, I could give it a try.

Otherwise, I'm afraid it'd be a long while before I learned how to write code by hand and make something like this.

(07-13-2012 08:51 AM)scarydk Wrote:  Awesome! ... and inspiring.

Someone out there thinking of doing something similar for LNoE?
Thanks! Sorry I missed this earlier.

What would an app for LNoE be like, in your mind? What tasks would it cover?

To me, what would make the most sense...sort of how the AToE app works, would be to have the LNoE app handle 'the Villain'. In other words, you could turn the game, somewhat, into a coop/solo game by making an app that could handle the Zombie decisions and actions. It'd be much more ambitious, for certain, since rather than simply copying the tested and approved AI already setup by Flying Frog(in AToE), someone would have to create a set of rules and operations to create a challenging virtual Zombie opponent. But it might be interesting to try to make a simple opponent if you wanted to play solo.

I have considered this possibility for other games. I'm a big coop/solo guy, so any way I can get a game played more by eliminating the need for other players is a good thing. The challenge, again, is how clever and complicated the AI needs to be. One of my big goals has been to create a solo variant for Mansions of Madness...surely it wouldn't be the exact same experience as playing against a human keeper who has exact knowledge of what the Investigators are doing and can plan perfect attacks. But I had, what I felt, could be a pretty good approach to automating the Keepers actions and incorporating the story/clues through series of branching card decks. It seemed like it could work, but it would involve a lot of little stacks of cards and could get awfully fiddly.

Then, while working on this project, it hit me that my MoM idea would work perfect in app format. The same concept would be there, but all the fiddlyness would be hidden inside the program and the process would be streamlined and near invisible to the player. It would be much more complicated than this app, and ultimately it wouldn't be much more than random actions thrown at the player, instead of an intelligent human striking at just the right times, but I think it could still be a fun, worthwhile way to experience the game. So I've started hammering out some rough ideas in my head and piecing together the app in my mind.

Anyway...enough Mansions of Madness derailment. Insane20
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07-14-2012, 09:13 PM (This post was last modified: 07-14-2012 09:13 PM by MythosGamer.)
Post: #8
RE: A Touch of Evil Android app
Wow! This is very impressive! Makes me want to go get an Android phone! Great job. I really like your Mansions idea. Im a solo gamer too and that would add another game to our collection lol.
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07-14-2012, 09:41 PM
Post: #9
RE: A Touch of Evil Android app
My screenshots of the updated app aren't working up there for some reason, so here they are again.

[Image: 20120711004227.png]

[Image: 20120711003353.png]

I'm thinking about trying to add a Shadow Track to the app, one less thing to fiddle with and you wouldn't have to worry about knocking the indicator out of place or anything. But this might be too much, starts to get pretty cramped with that added. And the numbers(which would be buttons) might be too small to be easily operated with a finger. I might have crammed this thing with everything it can reasonably be crammed with. And when it comes to table space, the Shadow Track is an easy thing to make room for.
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07-28-2012, 09:13 PM
Post: #10
RE: A Touch of Evil Android app
I've been pretty busy with real life and work, so haven't had a lot of time to work on the app and get it finished up. But I'm also still waiting to hear back from Flying Frog, so I'd not be uploading it to the market yet, either way.

But the last couple days I've had some time and motivation to work on it a little more, and I put in the Shadow Track counter!

[Image: shadowtrackexample.jpg]

[Image: shadowtrackexample2.jpg]

So the way it works is, once you choose a Villain and are ready to start the game, it begins at 20 (of course). You tap on the number to move the Shadow Track closer to darkness, and long-press to move it away. When I first started on this aspect, at first I envisioned the graphic just reporting the current Shadow Track number, and you'd long-press it to pop up a new screen where you'd see the whole Shadow Track and the Lair Costs and the Villain bonuses. And on that screen is where you would move the Shadow Track position.

But I was confused as to how to fully make this work as I saw it. How to make the buttons properly function and create this large, interactive Shadow Track graphic. And so, because I'm still very programming-dumb and to make it as simple as possible, I thought I'd just try to incorporate all the info on the cardboard Shadow Track into that single main screen graphic. And I was happy that, hopefully, that worked well and it didn't seem overly cramped or hard to read.

It's simple but it's not entirely perfect. I think it's safe to say, in general, one would have to know the rules when using the app. A brand new player couldn't open the app and be given absolutely all of the needed info. And this is very true with the Shadow Track-there wasn't much room to add a note like "Apply Villain Bonuses only in Cooperative Games" and there's no clear indicator every time you've moved the track into a new section, necessary knowledge for some card effects. But if you know the game already, it works well enough, you'll know whether to apply Villain Bonuses or not and you'll know that whenever a Villain Bonus pops up on the graphic, that you've entered a new section of the Shadow Track.

So I think it does a preeeettty good job, for my purposes at least. The fact that I now don't have to reference anything other than cards is awesome. And the Shadow Track doesn't run the risk of being bumped or brushed over while messing with the board or the card decks.

I think this will be the last bit of function that I add in, and now REALLY I just need to finish up the graphics for the rest of the Villains. I'm excited to finish this up, cause I've been thinking of how I'd go about making a similar app for Fortune And Glory and I'm eager to get started.
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