Wild Child Dev Blog 1: a pandemic baby backstory

I’d played Dungeon’s and Dragons (DND) in university a couple of times. The group I’d joined had some compatibility and drama issues that honestly left me with an overall pretty whacked experience.

With everything I had heard about DND back then, I had expected a safe, fun place to nerd out and role play in some fantastical world of wonder. Instead, I got condescending gatekeeping and blatant misogyny, so I noped and left.

What I deeply regret (almost ten years later) is associating a terrible experience with one group of people with the game. That’s 100% on me. I was young and stupid, what more can I say? So for the longest time, I passed up several opportunities to play with what were probably totally awesome folks.

When the pandemic meteor hit us, we shut-in, stress ate, developed new mental health problems and, watched a lot of disheartening news. It took us time to adapt to remote work or unfortunately for many, zero work. And it’s far from over, so very many months later.

I didn’t expect DND to be one of the best things about the pandemic.

It started when my husband, Brad, discovered Critical Role (CR), and at first, I was not too hot about watching CR twitch vods practically 24/7. However, they made him laugh, smile and most importantly, it helped him cope. I soon developed an appreciation for the time I spent with him, lazily watching a bunch of nerdy voice actors play DND ๐Ÿ™‚ Soon after, my husband joined a DND group online and started playing it weekly. He was quickly drawn to the dungeon master (DM) role and decided: “What the hell” and created a brand new campaign from scratch. It honestly boggles my mind the amount of work that goes into being a DM, my respect to all you crazy world builders out there!

Sadly, as much as I had grown to love DND, I still found it hard to play with new people. So I joined Brad’s campaign and decided to be a druid. And ooof, let me tell you, I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. I also unknowingly created a utility druid. Neris is an outspoken and socially inept support-heavy halfling who casts too many spells and wild shapes so damn often that I make more animal noises during our sessions than speak. *Facepalm*

I have grown out of that habit a little (a little!). However, even though I love wild shaping, I am truly terrible at it. In fact, Brad and I, were both having trouble figure out wild shape stats and proficiencies. Ayeee, we constantly broke immersion to read wildshape rules and then still did it all wrong, often realizing later that some druid actions I took shouldn’t have even been possible (Whoops!)

Around the same time as our DND sessions took off, I was working on building my career profile as a mobile developer. So it was quite simple what happened next: I’m a coder, and like most coders, I write code to do things for me so that I don’t have to. So there you go, Wild Child was born! A shiny new pandemic code baby.

I was tired of breaking immersion trying to figure wildshape out, so I coded an app that did all the work instead! Now all I had to do was press a little transform button on a beast of my choosing and Voila! All my stats and proficiencies are wild-shape-figured-out. Ready to roleplay! (animal noises, accompanied by many long hours of mechanical keyboard typing noises)

Now my husband and I actively use Wild Child during our DND sessions! There’s a lot of functionality still left to implement for sure (you can stalk my kanban code board if you fancy), but it’s so rewarding to see it grow and come to life. I’m over the moon happy I get to share the app’s development journey with you. I’m also surprised that I have so many people signing up to beta test Wild Child too! I’m not sure if Wild Child will be open-source on release, but I want it to be something I can give back to the DND community. For all the joy DND has brought to my home, it’s the least I can do.

Thanks for reading folks, I hope you enjoyed Wild Child’s origin story <3, till next time!

She Codes Things | Wild Child Developer & Druidess