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Library

Post by KemeticCultus » Wed Sep 22, 2010 6:38 pm

I would like to be able to import information from PDFs of the game universe I play. For instance, it would be great to be able to have a library of critters, with each image not only showing what the critter looks like but also any information about him. This can be done by taking a screen shot of the text in the PDF about the critter and then pasting it next to a picture of the critter.

The problem is that I can only open one image at a time. Also, there is no way to minimize the image or scroll (although it is possible to drag the image around to read its contents if the image ends up quite large).

Am I only allowed to have one image open at a time because it is the BRPG demo?

I wouldn't mind having a text-based library, and it would probably be much quicker to compile, but there's something to be said for being able to show players a picture of what they're up against. It's also nice to be able to have the image of the critter, stats and any pertinent information all in one place.

What is the best way for me to have lists of critters, friendly NPCs, spells, lists of gear and other information at my fingertips in BRPG?

Thank you.

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Post by heruca » Wed Sep 22, 2010 6:47 pm

Are you currently using the Portrait feature or the Visual Aids feature to display these images?

A thumbnail-sized free-floating object with multiple tokens attached to it and the Portrait set to "Use Current Token" makes for a nice, always-accessible reference library.
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Post by KemeticCultus » Wed Sep 22, 2010 8:54 pm

I am clicking on "Library" and then selecting a category and the image. I open the image designed for reference purposes (image is composed of text and a picture of the critter) but I can only open one at a time, which is a problem.

I'm guessing the "Send Visual Aid" feature is what I should be using if I want to also share the reference image with the players, but with that too you can only have one image open at time.

It would be good to be able to open several images, have the ability to minimize them and send them to the players if I want.

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Post by heruca » Wed Sep 22, 2010 9:38 pm

Would it help if you think of the "thumbnail-sized free-floating object" I mentioned above as a minimized library reference or a minimized visual aid? Because you can have up to 12 of them on-screen at once.
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Post by KemeticCultus » Wed Sep 22, 2010 10:23 pm

How do I use a "thumbnail-sized free-floating object"?

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Post by heruca » Wed Sep 22, 2010 11:12 pm

Place an object, set the Portrait to be the current token, set the object to be Free-Floating, and then do an "Edit object...: to scale it way down.

Here's an example with 5 such objects in use. As you mouse-over (or select) each one, the relevant game chart (or picture) appears as a Portrait.

Here's another example, with 8 FFOs (the die itself is one).
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Post by heruca » Wed Sep 22, 2010 11:17 pm

This picture shows a free-floating object being triggered.
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Post by KemeticCultus » Wed Sep 22, 2010 11:34 pm

Place an object, set the Portrait to be the current token, set the object to be Free-Floating, and then do an "Edit object...: to scale it way down.


I will be honest: This sounds complicated, time consuming, counter-intuitive and not what I'm looking for.

I need to be able to pull up lists of gear and share that list if I want to;
If the players encounter a critter, I want to be able to show them a picture of what it looks like;
I want to be able to easily access descriptions of gear;
descriptions of creatures;
have a list of notes that describes the narrative;
or a separate window I can open, close, minimize or share that describes what is in each room in a building, etc.

If a character steps into a restaurant, and I have a prop prepared of what's on the menu, I'd like to be able to share that image, along with the map, and then a picture of what the guy looks like that he's supposed to meet, and then when the guy gets there and describes all the stolen goods he has, I'd like to be able to share that list with the players. I want to have a window off to the side that has the narrative about the decor and atmosphere of the place, and when the contact arrives I want to be able to open up a window that has the text of what the guy is supposed to say. If a security drone comes crashing through the window of the restaurant I want to be able to share an image of what it looks like, etc., etc., etc.

It doesn't seem like I can do that with your software.

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Post by heruca » Wed Sep 22, 2010 11:55 pm

Much of what you want to do can be handled with pre-written Text Macros (see pg. 78 of the updated User Manual) and with Notes or Portraits attached to information icons located in each room. Giving your players images to place in their Library folder is another solution if you want them to be able to access the items anytime they want.

The free-floating object method I described was specifically to address your desire to have more than one thing available to the players on-screen at one time. And it really only takes about 10-15 seconds to set one up. Not a factor if you've prepared it ahead of game time, and not a show-stopper if you have to put it together on the spot.

Battlegrounds v1.x does indeed allow you to do everything you mentioned in your last post, just not all at the same time.

Battlegrounds v2 will probably have a more direct support for what you are describing (you seem to essentially want a second window to place stuff on, in addition to the map window).
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Post by KemeticCultus » Thu Sep 23, 2010 12:05 am

Battlegrounds v2 will probably have a more direct support for what you are describing (you seem to essentially want a second window to place stuff on, in addition to the map window).

No, I want to be able to have as many reference windows opened as my computer can handle and I want to be able to share any of them or keep them all to myself if I want to. I also want to be able to minimize any of them.

If it was a real world tabletop I might be sitting behind a gamemaster screen, I might have one book open on my right which has a list of weapons, I've got a map in front of me that the players can see, I've got a little chest filled with tokens or figurines, I've got pictures of what various things look like, I've got several sheets of paper that cover the narration of the campaign and what certain characters are going to say, I've got cheat sheets that summarize the rules, etc., etc., etc.

Your competitor's product can have multiple references open (images, text, etc.) but to input a library of information you have to be a programmer, which is [I'll be blunt] retarded [and has been a wretched waste of my money].

I'll flip through your user manual (in the next version of your user manual, please have a clickable table of contents like this PDF has on the left-hand column).

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Post by KemeticCultus » Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:02 am

Place an object, set the Portrait to be the current token, set the object to be Free-Floating, and then do an "Edit object...: to scale it way down.
I can place an object but how do I "set the Portrait to be the current token" and how do I "set the object to be Free-Floating" (there is no option for Free-Floating when I right-click an object).

Also, even if all this is done, doesn't this mean that the reference material is tied to a particular map that has a particular object? Wouldn't that mean that I must be prepared with all the objects placed, portraits set to the current tokens, objects set to be free-floating, objects edited and scaled appropriately before I connect with the players?

Let's say I have a need for the same object with the same information tied to it, but on a different map. Does this mean that I have to repeat the steps above?

This goes back to my other post on the subject of preparation. Gamemasters are literally shafted both in the fact that they must spend more money not only typically on a larger collection of books and other materials but also for the gamemaster license (notably more expensive than a player's license) and then furthermore have to prepare each and every campaign (i.e., the software is not designed for "campaigns on the fly").

Is the GM ever going to get a break?

Virtual tabletops need to be designed to relieve a gamemaster's preparation time, not create more. As someone else noted about the preparation time needed with your competitor's product, he said it became like a second job. I am going to be honest, that although you beat your competitor in almost every area, it doesn't seem like the software was designed to cut down on a GM's preparation or cater to a GM who wants to be able to make up campaigns on the fly.

Think about how much information is on a gamemaster's screen. I should be able to have all of that at my fingertips with a virtual tabletop.

At a table I can pass a player a list of weapons to look through. I should be able to do the same thing with a virtual tabletop and it shouldn't require retyping a list or having it tied to a specific map or object. I should be able to open the reference material and send it. It should be a two-step process just like picking up a piece of paper and handing it someone across the table.

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Post by heruca » Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:42 am

KemeticCultus wrote:in the next version of your user manual, please have a clickable table of contents
Yes, it was always the plan to have clickable links in the Table of Contents of the User Manual just like in the one that currently comes with the BRPG software.

The problem is that I use Adobe Acrobat to make those clickable links, and creating those links is a major pain using Acrobat's interface (at least in the old version of Acrobat I happen to have), so I didn't bother doing so for the Draft of the updated User Manual. I will certainly do so when the PDF is finalized later this year.
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Post by heruca » Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:53 am

KemeticCultus wrote:I can place an object but how do I "set the Portrait to be the current token"
See the attached picture.
KemeticCultus wrote:how do I "set the object to be Free-Floating" (there is no option for Free-Floating when I right-click an object).
To help ease the learning curve for new users, BRPG has something called "Learning Mode", which hides certain commands and features from a user until they have mastered the basics. "Free-Floating" is an advanced feature, so you will not be able to see it until you disable "Learning Mode" (this is done in the first screen of the Preferences panel).
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Use Current Token as Portrait.png
Use Current Token as Portrait.png (223.54 KiB) Viewed 10349 times
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Post by heruca » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:10 am

KemeticCultus wrote:Also, even if all this is done, doesn't this mean that the reference material is tied to a particular map that has a particular object? Wouldn't that mean that I must be prepared with all the objects placed, portraits set to the current tokens, objects set to be free-floating, objects edited and scaled appropriately before I connect with the players?

Let's say I have a need for the same object with the same information tied to it, but on a different map. Does this mean that I have to repeat the steps above?
No, that's what the Deployment feature is for (see pg. 109 of the updated User Manual). You can save any frequently-used unit/s to a Deployment file, so that it can be quickly and easily placed on any other Encounters.
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Post by heruca » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:23 am

KemeticCultus wrote:This goes back to my other post on the subject of preparation. Gamemasters are literally shafted both in the fact that they must spend more money not only typically on a larger collection of books and other materials but also for the gamemaster license (notably more expensive than a player's license) and then furthermore have to prepare each and every campaign (i.e., the software is not designed for "campaigns on the fly").

Is the GM ever going to get a break?

Virtual tabletops need to be designed to relieve a gamemaster's preparation time, not create more. As someone else noted about the preparation time needed with your competitor's product, he said it became like a second job. I am going to be honest, that although you beat your competitor in almost every area, it doesn't seem like the software was designed to cut down on a GM's preparation or cater to a GM who wants to be able to make up campaigns on the fly.
I doubt the GM is ever going to get a break. It's a job that by its very nature requires a much more significant investment in time (and usually in money) than a player.
KemeticCultus wrote:Think about how much information is on a gamemaster's screen. I should be able to have all of that at my fingertips with a virtual tabletop.

At a table I can pass a player a list of weapons to look through. I should be able to do the same thing with a virtual tabletop and it shouldn't require retyping a list or having it tied to a specific map or object. I should be able to open the reference material and send it. It should be a two-step process just like picking up a piece of paper and handing it someone across the table.
That's exactly what the Visual Aid feature does. It lets you select what you want your player to see (e.g. a chart from the GM's screen), sends it to the player/s you select, and displays it on their screen. The Library feature is very similar, except it is for local use only (i.e., it's for looking stuff up, vs. showing someone something).
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Post by KemeticCultus » Thu Sep 23, 2010 5:19 pm

To help ease the learning curve for new users, BRPG has something called "Learning Mode", which hides certain commands and features from a user until they have mastered the basics. "Free-Floating" is an advanced feature, so you will not be able to see it until you disable "Learning Mode" (this is done in the first screen of the Preferences panel).
I don't see "Use Current Token".

I place an object and the next step is to "Use Current Token" but that doesn't come up in the menu when I click on the object.

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Post by heruca » Thu Sep 23, 2010 5:24 pm

Can you post a screenshot of what you DO see when you right-click on a unit on the map? If the Portrait submenu appears, make sure you access it before taking the screenshot. Thanks.
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Post by KemeticCultus » Thu Sep 23, 2010 5:31 pm

I open a map up. I place a random object (one that comes with the demo, like a blanket or a fireball or whatever). I right-click the object and "Use Current Token" is not in the menu.

UPDATE: The feature was not available in the demo version I was using.

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Post by Omnidon » Thu Sep 23, 2010 6:27 pm

Sorry if I'm steering the thread away from the primary topic but...
heruca wrote:I doubt the GM is ever going to get a break. It's a job that by its very nature requires a much more significant investment in time (and usually in money) than a player.
It will certainly always take *more* time (and money) for the GM than it does for the player. However, it's a question of *how much* more.

I actually agree with him that no software currently available in the RPG community is very good at creating on-the-fly games.

I, however, blame the map making software more than I do the VT software. While it's certainly true that BG badly needs more efficient ways to locate and share/place files more quickly, the thing that tends to eat up most of a GM's time is preparing the map before it is ever loaded into a VT. It's pathetic that it takes more than 5 minutes (often hours) to create even a sparsely detailed map of any reasonable size using the available mapping software.

That's why I've often said that the ideal mapping application for on-the-fly gaming would be one that uses small, reusable, interlocking tiles, including some smart tiles that automatically adapt themselves to neighboring tiles (such as those used by the gaming industry). I've been intending to design such a program myself (and am in fact already at least 25% done coding it), but I just haven't been able to work on it much lately.

One could of course try to do both with a single application. However, while I'd love to have a fully-featured 2-in-1 mapping and VT application, it's unlikely that any developer in this niche market will find the time to do both at once any time soon. (MapTool made a pretty good try, but still isn't adequate as an on-the-fly mapping tool IMO)

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Post by heruca » Thu Sep 23, 2010 6:50 pm

KemeticCultus wrote:I open a map up. I place a random object (one that comes with the demo, like a blanket or a fireball or whatever). I right-click the object and "Use Current Token" is not in the menu.

UPDATE: The feature was not available in the demo version I was using.
As shown in the screenshot I posted, you would find the "Use Current Token" command in the "Portrait" submenu. Is that not showing up for you, either?

This is not a command that is unavailable in the Demo, and is unaffected by having "Learning Mode" enabled.
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Post by KemeticCultus » Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:34 pm

This is not a command that is unavailable in the Demo, and is unaffected by having "Learning Mode" enabled.
The problem was that I was using an earlier version of the demo. I downloaded the latest beta (1.6) and the option was there.



By the way, is it possible to have two or three different maps open at the same time and switch between them? If not, that should be a feature for 2.0. Otherwise there is no way to have the party get split it. It would be a bonus to pick which players get to see which maps. That way, a character can fall through a trap door, crawl through a ventilation system, etc., and he'll see something completely different from everyone else. Such a feature would really add more suspense as you couldn't see what your teammate is seeing.

Also, I have replied to your thread on suggestions for BGE 2.0.

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Post by heruca » Fri Sep 24, 2010 5:00 pm

KemeticCultus wrote:The problem was that I was using an earlier version of the demo. I downloaded the latest beta (1.6) and the option was there.
Ah, yes, the "Use Current Token" option was added in v1.5. All this time I thought it was a feature of v1.4i, so I didn't even bring it up.
KemeticCultus wrote:By the way, is it possible to have two or three different maps open at the same time and switch between them? If not, that should be a feature for 2.0.
Yes, definitely slated for v2, and it will likely be implemented via tabs. And when there is support for shared interactive character sheets, you will be able to have several character sheets open at once, as well.
KemeticCultus wrote:Otherwise there is no way to have the party get split it. It would be a bonus to pick which players get to see which maps. That way, a character can fall through a trap door, crawl through a ventilation system, etc., and he'll see something completely different from everyone else. Such a feature would really add more suspense as you couldn't see what your teammate is seeing.
As long as you don't need Fog of War on both maps, you could manage something like that even now, using the Views feature and placing the second map as an object somewhere far away from the main map.

I don't have a great example of that to show you right now, but if you look at the following two images, which have little to do with each other, they are taken from the same Encounter, and you jump from one to the other using the Views buttons. Pretend the two images are shots of different dungeon levels, or something, and you'll get the idea.

Image 1
Image 2
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