As you’ve probably heard by now, Paizo have officially announced the 2nd edition of the immensely popular Pathfinder game. As with the 1st edition, there will be a massive open playtest, and all playtest material (including a massive 400 page fully laid out and illustrated hardcover) will become available on 2nd of August.
I, for one, am pretty interested in the direction the game seems to be taking, from what they’ve revealed so far. While I played Pathfinder for many years, there’s no denying that it’s a complex system, made worse by the sheer volume of options, especially feats with their micro-adjustments or ever-more conditional modifiers. It’s difficult to get into, and making a high-level character is a dreaded chore rather than something exciting. Your mileage may vary, but I like that they seem to be taking careful notice of the many ways roleplaying game design has evolved over the years, and are looking for fun in depth of characters and stories rather than in volumes of subsystems.
It’s no secret that all the apps I’ve written so far came to be because I wanted them to exist for a game I discovered and was passionate about. So while I haven’t played Pathfinder in quite some time, I can see myself getting swept up by 2nd ed mania, and by extension, the drive to create a 2nd ed compatible character sheet app.
However, before I dive headlong into such an endeavour, I have to step back and evaluate the project through a lens of realism and the dreaded time management gremlin.
When I wrote the original app all these years ago, I had considerably more time on my hand, so if I am to undertake a new app, I need to learn from the past and focus on what’s most important to people. With that in mind, I’ve created a very small survey, and I’d be grateful—if you are a user of my current Pathfinder character sheet app—if you could fill it in and circulate it among any other users you know.
What’s the deal with the manual import/export question?
If you look at my Spire app you’ll notice that there’s no registration or login, and no questions of saving, yet your data is always there. It’s simple, I’m storing it all in your browser’s so-called local storage. This is a safe place that only the app that wrote it can access. And because it’s only on your device, I can safe that only you (and whoever else you might have given access to your device) can access it.
In constrast to this is the current Sheet app experience, where you must log in with a Google or GitHub account, and all the data is stored in a massive central database and accessed from whichever device you have logged on. This is a considerably more complex setup to create and maintain.
None of it is very difficult, but it does require much more coding, and it also requires a backend server and database server (or service). All of which cost money to run. Without it, I can host the app on a free hosting service (the absolutely awesome Netlify), and get coding straight to the core of the app. And the only feature you’re missing out on is automatic syncing of sheets across devices.
What alternative are you proposing?
An export button that saves all your data in a file that you can store in your favorite cloud storage, like Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, etc. And an import button that reads said file and immediately brings your local data up to date. And it would warn you if you tried to import a file that had older data than the one already on your device.
So your data would still be portable (because you’d keep it your cloud), so can you can switch devices. But if you switch devices a lot, it’s an extra 2 steps, minus 1 step for login. But it saves me an awful lot of time and complexity and makes it that much more likely that such an app would happen.
You made it this far, so you deserve a pretty picture. Please share this article and survey with other people who might be interested in a new version of my character sheet app for Pathfinder 2nd edition!