With a full-time job, a newborn baby, and a virtual tabletop software application project all consuming his schedule, Trevor Croft, creator and caretaker of MapTool, was kind enough to take a few moments from his own busy life to answer a few questions.
(Article originally appeared in The Dice of Life )
Q: How did you get started gaming?I started in elementary school, probably 8-10yrs old, with a buddy of mine. We didn't really get the concept, but we enjoyed making characters and the dungeons they would explore. That lasted a couple years, then I didn't play after that.
Truth be told, I'm still not a big gamer. I have played in a few games over the past couple years by invitation, and those have been fun.
Q: What's your favorite gaming memory?As a kid, I had a character named Kilomino, a monk, that I thought was the coolest. Hmmm, now that I think about it, he eventually met his demise by a jerk GM that didn't like me/the way I was playing/had a bad day/had a thistle up his butt/whatever and dropped him into an instant death spike pit. Wait a minute, that's not such a great memory after all...
Next would have to be the night my parents brought me home the original basic box set (I had begged them for it), with the green dragon on the front. I poured over the manuals a thousand times. That was awesome. I spent way more time preparing and planning than I did actually playing.
Q: How did MapTool come about?I was into graphics programming and was working on a couple side projects to that end, such as an isometric MMO (hence the networking and graphics background). I was working with a guy, giliath on the forums, that was big into gaming. They had been using kLoOge but found it too cumbersome. When I showed him the projects I was working on, he said he had and idea. So we hammered out some basic ideas for what we wanted it to do. He supplied the direction and I supplied the coding (although, he did contribute to the non graphical programming, he wrote the dice parser, for example).
The rest, as they say, is history. :)
Q: What was it like in its first incarnation?It was a background texture with a grid, that you could drag images onto and move around, we were pretty excited the first time we connected our clients together and we could see each other moving tokens around. I have a picture of it around here somewhere...
Q: Why did you decide to make it an open source project?It's never been about money, but about having a good time. Making things for-pay turns them into a job. That's no fun, I already have a full time job.
Q: When did it turn from a tool you and your group used into a tool driven primarily by user input?It was roughly after 1.2 was released. Giliath's group had all the features they were immediately interested in, so were less and less involved. About that time the community was gaining some great momentum, so the new feature requests from the community started driving the tool. It's been that way ever since.
Q: Describe the process by which others contribute code to the project. How are they given coding assignments?It's interest motivated. Most contributors submit patches for functionality that they are personally interested in. Other contributors who just want to help out look through the feature request or bug fix forums and find something to work on. Then they contact me to let me know so that I don't work on it at the same time, and so I can offer insight into how I think it should be approached given the context of the system as a whole.
Q: I see on the forum titles like MapTool Staff? Are these the original contributors? (feel free to describe the current team)There are "staff" and there are "founders". The founders are: trevor, giliath, Mr.Ice, and jay. Today, I'm the only original founder that still contributes regularly. Dorpond came on board shortly after the initial release of MT as a voice to the community.
Currently the "staff" list is pretty vague. There are some members that help out with forum administration and moderation, and a couple regular contributors. That said, it's about time to sit down and formalize the growth we've had over the past year or two, bringing in new people as official staff, and formalize the development process a little more.
I don't want to publish a formal list of people at this point because I would certainly forget someone, but super big props to Azhrei who has taken point on all things related to the web site (i.e. - forums, launching, content, etc). That's been a huge help. And Craig has been a monster contributor on the macro system and is lining up to do some fantastic work on other aspects as well. Dorpond has assumed the role of lead tester and does a great job finding and helping to track down bugs.