Friday, February 02, 2007

Abulafia + Relationship Maps = FUN

I am thinking of a new RPG web-toy.

I put together Abulafia, which is doing pretty well. Recent successes and attention included getting listed on BoingBoing for remixing a Cory Doctorow short story, and some major attention from the City of Heroes/Villains community for the Superhero name generator. So I feel good about that.

But I want a random generator that handles Relationship Maps. I tell it how many people and how interlinked they are, and it spits back a webby diagram of how they're connected. If I don't like it, generate again. Relationship maps are exactly what they sound like - a diagram of a bunch of people (nodes) connected by lines with labels as to the nature of the relationship (edges). In computer science we call that kind of data structure a 'graph', and there are a few tools out there to deal with such things.

It looks like the best way to approach this is by using graphviz, which has a mediawiki extension that might allow me to just plug it straight into Abulafia, which would rock. Getting graphviz onto the server is going to be a bit of a headache if it's possible at all, as I'll have to compile it for Debian linux (along with all its dependencies, which are legion) and get it all happy on my hosting. I'm not all that good at stuff like that, so that may not work out in the end.

Another possiblity is to generate .xml for the relationship map and feed it into a flash web thingy, like this one currently undergoing development. That might end up being both prettier and easier, although not being able to tap into name & personality generators residing on Abu is a downside to this approach.

There are several tools that somebody who already has a map in mind can use to put it on the web - that's not really what I'm after. Those are great tools - this will be a toy. I want to be able to hit it for idea inspiration the same way I use Abulafia - not necessarily taking exactly what it gives me but using it as a starting point.


KarlM said...

graphviz is already a debian package....

KarlM said...

Oops. This one works...

graphiz is a debian package