The Robust and Flexible Card Prototyping Tool For Your Game
I have been working on my own game project and have been using Nandeck prototyping tool created by Andrea Nand. After a bit of a learning curve, I have found it to be an incredibly flexible and accessible program that anticipates just about anything I might need.
I wanted to learn a little bit more about Andrea and his motivations for creating this tool and how it affects his career. My original thought is that this would be a great podcast episode, but it turns out that that would be a bit tricky due to a language barrier. Andrea was kind enough to do a written interview to answer my questions and share his experience with those that might like to support the tabletop industry with software tools.
Here it is – Enjoy!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What kind of games do you like and where does your passion for the hobby come from?
My passion came from long time ago (it’s a hint on my age). I lived in the golden age of Avalon Hill & SPI board games (when rules was written with numbered paragraphs), only grazed by the CCG explosion in 1995 and discovered german/euro games near 2000, when I’ve realized that mechanics can be great also without (or with little) theme.
I play at many games, only two kind I don’t like too much: collectibles (cards, dice, miniatures, etc.), for which usually I try only the base box (to learn the rules) and miniatures games, with rulers and without a fixed map (I don’t like the “analog” aspect) and also I don’t like paint (I’ve left all my miniatures “natural” gray).
It’s hard to say why I like games (like it’s hard to say why one likes music or paintings), maybe I like the “little worlds” that are enclosed in boxes, that can be played only with an active
participation of their players.
What sparked your passion for creating the nandeck software? did you want to make games yourself and didnt see any other tools out there you liked? Were you trying to help friends?
Exactly, there were many competitions for game creators where me and my friends wanted to take part, but with little time to playtest and create physical prototypes. One of the two problems was simpler to solve that the other, and I wrote nanDECK.
What inspires you to continue to support nandeck for all this time?
I’m a perfectionist (that’s the reason why I’ve almost never completed a game) and when I find a missing feature for nanDECK, I’ll add it.
What do you do as for a living? Do you make a significant portion of your income from Nandeck software?
I’m a software developer, and no, the donations for nanDECK are alittle part (but nevertless welcome).
It looks like you also program videogames- http://www.nand.it/games/ Is thatsomething you still do?
They came from eons ago (actually from nineties), when computers werereally different and DOS ruled the scene. I did not write games since then, with an exception for learning to program on Android (and anyway it’s like a board game):
How often do you usually come out with updates to Nandeck?
Usually when I’ve added several updates, every three-four months. More
frequently if I need to fix relevant bugs
How long did it take to make the first version of the software?
It was ten years ago and I didn’t remember the details, I suppose a couple of weeks (it was very simple and with a tiny fraction of the features that it has today).
How much time do you spend on it each week?
Usually a couple of hours (more if there are many requests).
Does anyone help you with the development work?
Strictly speaking no. It’s a “one man band” software.
You do an amazing job supporting a great game development tool internationally- How do you overcome the language barrier in supporting your fans/customers?
I have no problem in reading and (hopely) writing in English, and almost all the questions/requests that I’ve received are in this language (or in italian).
What tools do you use? How much extra time does it take?
I wrote it with a commercial product (Delphi) and using many libraries that I’ve bought for my work projects.
A lot of people get overwhelmed when starting a new project, especially in programming. How did you stay motivated to complete the first version of Nandeck release it to the public?
It was the need to build something tangible (cards prototypes) and I’ve released it because I’ve seen that there wasn’t nothing like it (besides “real” programming languages).
How did you decide on what the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) features were going to be?
The directives in the first version of nanDECK were these seven:
BORDER, CARDS, ELLIPSE, FONT, IMAGE, RECTANGLE, and TEXT
i.e. the minimum for have a number of cards, each with a border, and with texts (with different fonts), images, and some graphic: rectangles (+ squares) and ellipses (+ circles).
In the first version lacked many things (for example, an editor, the script had to be written with notepad, for example, and then loaded into nanDECK), but it was usable.
How did you budget your time to keep making progress with all the other priorities you have in your life?
I always liked writing software, so when I have some time (and no one to play something with), I prefer coding instead viewing a movie or playing a videogame.
How do you plan to expand Nandeck in the future?
There isn’t a predetermined plan, when I find a feature that’s needed (or that’s cool) I try to add it. Sometimes it work well, and sometimes it doesn’t work (and I remove it).
Do you plan on making more extensive integrations with other companies? what are the most requested features by users?
I’ve added a support for uploading decks to The Game Crafter because its programming interface (the API) was well written. I don’t see other companies that have made similar interfaces (beyond specifying the format of the images they need). The most requested feature is to run my software on OSX (with emulation is already possible) or working with vector files or CMYK images natively (both not possible without a total rewrite).
What is your favorite way for people to interact with you about nandeck (feature requests, donations, general questions?)
Questions or feature requests.
Also donations, but I accept them willingly when I’m told that my software was really useful (the author of Nations told me that it was playtested with nanDECK and I was very proud of it).
What are some of your favorite gaming resources to help you discover how you might want to expand your software? Conventions, websites, forums, friends etc…?
Forum and websites are really useful. Convention a bit less, because usually there isn’t the calm (or time) to look at specific problems.
In the past I’ve used a forum in Yahoo Groups, but the last change (in 2012) modified it in a way I didn’t like. Now I use a guild in Boardgamegeek and I have found all that I need (mainly a simple way to upload images and show scripts).
How can we, the community of game designers, most help you with your development efforts on Nandeck? Donations? Programming Assistance? User Testing/Feedback? Fan club that can help you with your latest work? etc…
User testing or feedback are welcome, I have a test suite of scripts,but it can never be complete, something slips always out.
Where can we find out more about your software and upcoming news about Nandeck?
The guild on BoardGameGeek, I check it daily and there are dozens of sample scripts and news on new versions: