I started to look at Spindle back in April, spent some time with it and asked some questions of the team creating it. As I write this Spindle is in open Beta although I believe the actual launch to be imminent.
Spindle is a tool for creating and organising all the information that is required to run a larp. Its not a generic tool and by that I mean it is not folder to put documents in or a word processor with some kind of LARP plugin. Instead it employs a systematic approach to helping you create and organise information. Its more like a database of everything in your larp.
It is also not a piece of software you install on your computer. Spindle takes a cloud approach. You log into via web browser and do all your work online. This should make sharing information between members of a Larp writing team easier.
You can find Spindle at: spindle.pl
Interestingly it is not engineered to supply all the things you might need. Instead it follows a specific methodology for writing larp; which was presented at Kola 2012. If you are interested here’s a link to an English language PDF version of that presentation. http://www.argos.edu.pl/downloads/Quantum_ontology.pdf
One of the consequences of this is the rule that you should never have to write anything more than once. I like that.
In Spindle scenarios are made up of
These are mostly self explanatory. Except for Sections – so lets take a look at a definition of those. Sections define the information needed to define a character. I’m thinking of them as the questions you need to answer to know who a character in a particular world is. It gives character creation an non statistic based structure. This means that Spindle does not worry about how in your systems mechanics you define a character. It just concerns itself with the characters role in the story.
I also need to mention that handouts are generated for each character. The information that is built and assigned to a character is assembled for that character. That’s quite nice. It also means that as a writer you need to take a structured approach in that you don’t mix character information and plot information. Both need to be separated in the writing phase so that all you write for a character is all a player will see.
So far I’ve talked about plot and character creation. So let’s move for a moment into game management. There is a section to store basic player information. Basically a name, email address and photo (handy when dealing with players you have never met). You can also assign characters to players. This means that you don’t have to move from the system to see who is playing who. So quite useful.
At this point I’d also like to point out that Spindle organises things into functional blocks. A scenario is made of plots, characters and players. Plots can be added placed in order. Characters are built from similar sections and players are assigned characters.
Once you’ve got your head around the concepts it is easy enough to follow.
Since this is cloud based the answers to a couple of questions that are always asked. The first of which is can you export / backup your scenario. The answer is yes.
The other is how does a team access the scenario. The answer is not in the beta – but assigning accounts to have access to scenario is coming at launch.
If I write too much more on this there is a chance I’ll start writing tutorial on Spindles use. I don’t want to do this as Spindle is in Beta. I’d rather talk more about that topic after it launches. However I have taken a number of screenshots. Take a look at these and you should get an idea as to what is going on.