Selected Writing

Sun and Moon

Sun and Moon is the best app for playing Legend of the Five Rings online. It lets you flip, bow, sift, and stack cards with natural gestures, while making it easy to connect to other players and test decks.

THE STORY: About this time last year, I created its antecedent for my good friend Ben. Ben got me into the L5R CCG when I was thirteen years old. Those of us inspired by his enthusiasm, however, eventually went separate ways, and playing L5R online has always been a haphazard affair. No longer, I hope! Thanks to encouragement from this coterie, and with guidance from Alderac, I’ve finally been authorized to release Sun and Moon to the community.

THE SYMBOL: The Sun and Moon are essential icons in Rokugan’s cosmology, but they are also excellent ciphers for the game itself. Rivalry between two players is what literally birthed the L5R world. They chase the one after the other, turnwise, until, one caught, a new cycle begins. This process is part of how one operates the game client itself: priority can be passed from player to player, enabling smooth gameplay without that otherwise constant refrain: “do you have any open actions?” “Are you done yet?”

THE SYSTEM: Sun and Moon solves several other huge issues with playing L5R online today:

1) Matchmaking. Matchmaking in Sun and Moon is done seamlessly in the cloud, obviating the need for IP addresses, router configuration, and other shenanigans.

2) Experience. In Sun and Moon, cards flip, slide, animate, and adjust in 3D. L5R should be tactile, even while the computer moots the tedious process of shuffling, hunting for cards in a cardboard box, and so on.

3) Flexibility. If someone posts an interesting decklist to the forums, you want to be able to instantly copy and paste that sucker for playtesting. All of Sun and Moon’s decks are plain text files. Create your decks like usual in Notepad with the Oracle open in a browser or in the client’s own rich deck editor. It’s up to you.

4) Exposure. It’s no substitute for the official AEG learning materials, but I’ve built in a tutorial to help explain the very basics of L5R to new players. It’s hard to get people into a CCG these days—convert your friends!

Finally, Sun and Moon uses the same XML database and image resources that other L5R clients do, making it easy for players to use several clients if they wish. But I’m guessing they won’t.

THE SITUATION: I’m just one Unity developer who loves L5R. I would love to develop the app further (don’t you think it would be cool on tablets?), but I have to balance time and money. I have no idea if there will be enough demand to see the client maintained and developed further, but I’d hope so. We’ll see. I’m calling this a “beta” now because it’s free and essentially unsupported. If there is enough interest I’ll publish it officially in the various app stores, buy a mobile device for testing, and probably put a price tag on it.

I’ve created a simple but (I’d like to think) rather attractive website for Sun and Moon where you can learn more about what the game can do and download the latest version for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

If you play L5R or are interested in L5R, I think you’ll love it.

Here are some more images.

The main menu, with the primary features listed:

The deck editor with filters for different card characteristics:

Customizable controls in-game: