“So, what is the big deal about Kin anyway?”, is a question I am asked a lot. So I’m going to try to explain it.

The idea

For quite a few years I’ve had a pet peeve concerning the state of preparation for LARPs. As we create our characters and build relationships we ostensibly run into the problem of trying to fake relationships that have lasted for decades, if not longer. The problem is that we usually only get to talk to one another sporadically leading up to a LARP, and maybe create one or two shared foundation scenes at a workshop. So to say that the foundation for our characters is thin is an understatement at best and a blatant disregard for the truth at worst.

And for quite some time I wondered if a social media portal wouldn’t be able to remedy some of these shortcomings. Sure, we’d have to pit in a little bit more time in preparation and the LARP would have to be one for which using a social network would be appropriate. But I still believed that the concept of having a dedicated site where you could post stuff as your character would be a great for others to get to know that character.

Not only that, but you’d be able to develop the characters tone, style and language much sooner than normally.
All in all I thought my plan was pretty solid, but I didn’t have anyone to test it on. But lo and behold, here came College of Wizardry. True, it was set in the fictional world of Harry Potter (these days it’s set in a universe of our own making, but that’s another story). But Harry Potter is still just  a shade different from our own, and so it wouldn’t be that far fetched to believe that characters would enjoy using a social network.

Czochabook

That became the spark that started the Kin project. Originally called Czochabook (because College of Wizardry takes place at Czocha Castle in Poland), the software in it’s very first iteration was actually running on WordPress (with the BuddyPress plugin, as well as several other addons). It was a hacked together PoS. But it was good enough, and it proved my point.

Today

These days Kin is an entirely different beast. It’s been built from scratch to provide all the functionality we need. It’s a big application (~38k lines of code as of last counting). Built on PHP and MySQL, because we want it to be portable and run as many hosting platforms as possible, and because that combination is a tried and true technical stack.

We’re a team of two developers and four testers that’s doing our best to keep this thing running.

So far Kin has been used for the following LARPs; College of Wizardry 1-8, with 9 and 10 upcoming, as well as the swedish boarding school LARP Lindängen International.

We’re always looking for more LARPs to use Kin, so if you’re interested, let us know.

Tomorrow

What’s next? Well, we still have a ton of stuff to do before the core application is ready for the Stable tag and a 1.0, but we’re already working on an API for integrating to Kin, as well as basic mobile app.

If you want to come along for the ride, please drop me a line at thomas@tmertz.com. We can use all the help we can get.