Interview: Mat Morton (Mesa Mundi)

[Beasley] I like to start many of my interviews out the same and have our readers get to know a little bit about my guests through their own words. Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself and how you became involved with d20Pro?

[Morton] I started programming and playing D&D about the same time back in middle school. At the risk of dating myself, I started coding BASIC on the Apple ][e and then Pascal and C++ in high school. Most of my programs ended up being gaming aids, like character sheets or simple initiative and hit point tracking. Fast forward about 10 years and I started getting back into D&D after getting my Computer Science degree. As part of my games, I started writing tools to track stats and mechanics. My hobby project grew into what d20Pro is today and I’m still here really excited about what will happen next.

[Beasley] d20Pro has been a major player in the field of online role-playing when it comes to revolutionizing how things are done in the industry. What are some of the hopes and expectations you have for Unlimited and what are some we should have?

[Morton] Thanks for recognizing d20Pro’s active role in shaping the VTT landscape of today. And, like so many others in this industry, it’s all been hobby time as we work other jobs to make ends meet. My hope is to get the opportunity work on d20Pro full time. That’s what d20Pro Unlimited is about; not just making the program limitless in terms of supporting any game system, but also removing the constraints I’ve had. You, and the greater gamer community should expect a renewed focus and consistent releases. There will also be a lot more Marketplace content soon, which just makes everything better.

[Beasley] Every project has its challenges and it’s well-known that kickstarters are always full of their own. What do you expect some of the biggest obstacles are going to be once the Kickstarter, or even the project itself, is live?

[Morton] Perhaps the biggest challenge is to accurately set expectations on how long d20Pro Unlimited will take to complete, especially in its full glory. Software, high quality software especially, is difficult and time consuming to make. There needs to be a healthy balance struck between getting certain features out as soon as possible and knowing when to pace out other deliverables for the overall health of the project. If we hit all our stretch goals, we will have years of work ahead of us. Fortunately this is our passion and we welcome however high the bar the backers would like to set.

[Beasley] Things always have a tendency to change between initial conceptualization and later on. Have there been any major changes with Unlimited between conceptualization and the stage d20Pro’s at now with the project?

[Morton] The original concept of the Unlimited Rules Engine has been pretty stable. We’ve had some great feedback from our community regarding important situations or mechanics to support. That hasn’t resulted in major changes per se, but has certainly been excellent to verify the existing design ideas are robust.

[Beasley] Okay, now that we’ve talked about expectations a bit, this is a question everyone loves to hear the answer to. Without giving away any trade secrets, would you be willing to walk me through the design process? What does it take to get something like this green lit? Is it a simple task or a particularly complicated one?

[Morton] Fortunately for me, this is actually my second Kickstarter. I ran a d20Pro Kickstarter last year about this time, though it was geared towards converting Frog God Games content for the d20Pro Marketplace instead of building new features like Unlimited. As for getting a project designed and ultimately approved, I think it’s a rather simple. First of all, make sure you have a story to tell. Second, your story should include something worthwhile that people will put money towards. And third, you need to be prepared to work your tail off once your project goes live.

[Beasley] Creature importers, shadow casting, and extraordinary mapping are all things d20Pro is known for and things you’ve said will be improved upon come Unlimited. As you said yourself, you’re looking to tie everything together now that was released in layers. Are you nervous about the scale of this undertaking or is just another day on the job for you?

[Morton] Thanks for this insightful question. Based on how many stretch goals we can hit, we are committing to a potentially humongous amount of research, development, and testing. Fortunately, I’ve been successfully delivering on innovative software projects for more than 15 years. So I honestly can say it’s “another day on the job” for me. The big change here is my ability for d20Pro to be my primary project. Everything that d20Pro is today, pre-Unlimited was built by myself and a small crew on exclusively nights, weekends, and vacations. I can’t think of anything more exciting than rebuilding d20Pro from top to bottom.

[Beasley] Okay, I think I’ve picked your brain enough for now on Unlimited, and there’s something else I’d like to talk about as well. That is your recent merger with Mesa Mundi. Now, we can speculate all we want, but is there anything you can share with us about what this means for the foreseeable future?

[Morton] Mesa Mundi is the new home of d20Pro, that was just purchased from my business, MindGene. This is a win-win across the board. The core d20Pro Team, led by yours truly, is all still intact. And Mesa Mundi has far more resources and reach than MindGene. Not to mention the founders of Mesa Mundi are true diehard gamers, so to combine their talents will only make d20Pro Unlimited even better. Mesa Mundi also sells touchscreen solutions of various assortments, which means we can offer entire turnkey solutions with gaming software and hardware. I could go on and on why it’s such a great thing for d20Pro to be acquired by Mesa Mundi.

[Beasley] I don’t want to carry the interview on for too long and spoil any of the surprises you have in store for us. Is there anything you’d like to say or add before we can conclude? Any last minute teases or words of wisdom for those who may be looking to break into the industry?

[Morton] Follow your passion. We share a wonderful hobby that fills people’s imaginations and connects us inter-personally at the same time. So whether you code gaming software, make costumes, game master, or whatever then do it with gusto. Stick with it because you love it, and look for your opportunity to make a living. Stranger things have happened!

 

Written by Robert Beasley