This little rails app is what I call my "role-playing social networking simulation".
In the last decade we saw social networks evolve from blog-like services into highly integrated communication and media access points. Suddenly, it is second nature for people to chat on Facebook or follow each other on Twitter from almost any internet enabled device.
My interest in social network design began accidentally while researching a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. I had came across a resource project called TreeBook, which was developed for Rails version 3 and had not been updated to work under Rails version 4. The process of updating and extending this resource would become my first venture into both Ruby on Rails as well as into social network architectures and design. From it, I began to think about the way I typically use social networks and wondered why I would want to make one in the first place.
You see, when it comes to Facebook I am kind of a "lurker". Often I just read the statuses that appear on my news feed but seldom post anything myself. I found that it was interesting how little control I had over what appeared on my news feed as well as the random nature of all the information displayed.
Perhaps it was my background in game development, but I started to wonder about the types of interactions and behaviors I could elicit from users if I restricted some form of status control from them. The idea reminded me of pen and paper role playing games, in which players are typically at the mercy of dice rolls within a campaign created by a "Dungeon Master" player. So I changed the theme of a traditional social networking site into something akin to a role-playing social networking simulation.
In short I wondered: “What would people do with a social networking site in which they generated updates that were not 100% up to their control?”
This project is the initial result.
HeroBook's design goal is to adhere to simple rule sets in an attempt to generate an experience distilled from unnecessary feature bloat. The rules as of 4/9/15 are as follows:
Eventually, the heroes will adventure together if they happen to be in the same "Hero-World" location.
When I began working on Rails I expected the majority of the project would be spent learning the architecture and implementing the various functional components of the web application. This effort would leave little time for graphic design and visual development. With this in mind I embraced a minimalist approach to design which was driven by clarity and simplicity as the primary goals.
Finally, this beautifull Hero icon and site logo were created by the very talented Robyn Diaz.