How to Programming RPG Systems

Non-bug comments, suggestions, and feature requests for BRPG and/or BGE
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Lonewolf
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How to Programming RPG Systems

Post by Lonewolf » Sun Mar 05, 2006 10:33 pm

One big let down in most table top software is lack a easy method to program in game systems. As we all know Battlegrounds will not come out with data pulled from gaming books. The user will have to type it in himself for 'personal use'. The big problem that I see is there is not much help in programming the software. For example Klooge requires about a weeks work to get to run D20 and only if you know where to go and find help. The user group was a big help and without them Klooge really is just junk. Which is a shame because the effort that goes into it is fantastic.

What we need is a character sheet that can add number fields together. For example if I am programming D20 then Armor Class is the sum of Dex + Armour + Ablility. Changing one number should update AC.

I need the ability to create a data table and add cells together or use them as modifiers in the dice panel.

The ability to add a modifier with a added label. For example if someone gets a lable saying "blind". The modifiers to combat should be factored in from the label table.

In short if I am going to play GURPS, D20, World of Darkness or Call of Cthulhu. I should not have to reverse engineer the software and spend weeks online working out a way to hack the program and game system which is how we use other versions of the software.

An important point here is where game systems are copy write protected pure maths is not. Give me the an easy way to enter maths and store numbers on 'character sheets' and I will show you any game system that takes your fancy.

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Post by riddles » Mon Mar 06, 2006 8:00 am

Does this need to be part of BRPG though? If not, excel or some other spreadsheet program is probably best...
... and by all means, link it in to BRPG, but I'm not sure I want (at least for version 1) a full blown character sheet system.

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Post by Omnidon » Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:50 am

Yeah this sounds like a pretty complex thing.

Perhaps there is some way that heruca can have it import Excell documents into BRPG?

The problem here is BRPG is a tabletop, not a game engine. The purpose of BRPG is to display information, not make calculations.

Calculating AC isn't too hard, but making BRPG capable of so much customization that you can design a character sheet *within* the program, seems like a whole new project entirely rather than just a new feature.

Eventually I may write a script for my website that would allow people to design character sheets. But that won't be any time soon.

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Post by heruca » Mon Mar 06, 2006 12:31 pm

For version 2 of BRPG, I'm planning to add support for user-designed character sheets. Once that's in place, it might not be too hard to add auto-calculation features to the number fields. Of course, it would have to allow for more than just adding fields together, since some RPG systems might also require subtraction, multiplication, division, keeping the highest or lowest of two or more values, etc.

Until then, perhaps I can allow macros to be programmed in by the users which would launch applications (Skype, DMGenie, etc.) and/or specific documents (Excel spreadsheet, campaign notes in a Word doc, etc.).

In any case, all this is gravy, since when you play face to face, your battlemat and figures don't add up numbers for you. You do.
:arrow: Please help spread the word about BRPG and BGE, and never hesitate to tell me how I can make them better suit your gaming needs.

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Post by Omnidon » Mon Mar 06, 2006 12:36 pm

Sounds good ;-)

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Post by Gwindel » Mon Mar 06, 2006 12:47 pm

I don't think this kind of things should be a part of Battlegrounds. What I need is a battlemat to play on. The use of the system is my problem. That's the kind of complexification that keeps me away from Klooge.
Being able to call a document is quite enough.
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Post by Omnidon » Mon Mar 06, 2006 12:51 pm

I actually agree with you there.
However, a lot of people will probably feel like LoneWolf does, so heruca has to humor them ;-)

heruca just has to make sure that things like the character sheet design menu don't get in the way of normal play.
Perhaps it could be a separate "Design Mode", or even a separate download that acts as an add-on or extension to BRPG.

Either way, that's for Version 2, which is quite a ways off.

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Post by riddles » Mon Mar 06, 2006 12:53 pm

Omnidon wrote: Perhaps it could be a separate "Design Mode", or even a separate download that acts as an add-on or extension to BRPG.
Do it as another related program. Charge more for it. ;)

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Post by heruca » Mon Mar 06, 2006 1:05 pm

Whichever way I go, I won't make BRPG any more difficult to use because of those additions. It'll be an option, and won't get in the way if you choose not to use that functionality. Kind of like the features for sending audio and visual aids. If you don't want to use them, you don't have to, but they're there if you need them.

I value the simplicity of the current version, and I don't want to lose that.
:arrow: Please help spread the word about BRPG and BGE, and never hesitate to tell me how I can make them better suit your gaming needs.

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Post by Gwindel » Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:34 pm

As far as character sheets are concerned, I liked the idea you had earlier:
And doing fillable boxes for character sheets is certainly possible using this program. Which in fact gave me a very promising idea!

What if character sheets ARE just a background graphic, and I provide tools to let you lay out text fields, boxes, portraits, logos, etc., just as if you were placing objects on a map, only without the grid or the snapping behavior. Then you could save and load it the same way you would an Encounter (except it's stored elsewhere). And the info could be transmitted to everyone in realtime, if desired.

This approach is completely generic and usable with any RPG system, and allows for custom character sheets that incorporate house rules. Of course, all this would have to wait until BRPG v2.
It has the advantage of using the same logic for the map and for the sheets, which means that anyone that can use the map can make his own character sheets. I think it wouldn't be long for sheets to appear for every game and anyway it would be possible for anybody to make his own easily. Having the sheets as game manager (making calculations and the like) is probably too much IMHO, but as long as it can be disregarded, it is no problem.
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Post by heruca » Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:45 pm

Gwindel wrote:I liked the idea you had earlier
That's still my plan. I was just going to add the math portion.
:arrow: Please help spread the word about BRPG and BGE, and never hesitate to tell me how I can make them better suit your gaming needs.

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Post by Gwindel » Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:14 pm

heruca wrote:
Gwindel wrote:I liked the idea you had earlier
That's still my plan. I was just going to add the math portion.
Oh, then it would still be quite simple to use, and much more simpler than the Klooge way (which was what I was afraid of).
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Post by heruca » Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:19 pm

BRPG has already been called a Klooge-clone, on another forum. Frankly, I don't see the comparison. If anything, I see BRPG as the opposite of Klooge.
:arrow: Please help spread the word about BRPG and BGE, and never hesitate to tell me how I can make them better suit your gaming needs.

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Post by Halebop » Mon Mar 06, 2006 11:16 pm

Lordy! No way is BRPG a Klooge clone... :roll:

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Post by masterlurker » Tue Mar 07, 2006 2:12 am

Having a completely system-unbiased virtual tabletop is both the draw and problem I have with BRPG. On one hand, everyone who plays d20 (which is most people) ought to know the rules well enough to play thier char or know how to Google the Hypertext SRD. And it's good that it's system-less in that I hopefully won't have my players randomly assaigning thier values to rolls as if it was d20 when I'm playing one of my homebrew systems (that's a royal pain). On the other hand, I can see where people would have a problem--the sizable chunk of the vocal market uses d20/OGL, so having to supply your own rules knowledge could be a big turn off to them, as big a draw it'll be for players of GURPS, Rolemaster, et al.

Whoever said BRPG = KloOge clone is smoking/drinking a fermented product and needs serious psychiatric help.
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Post by Lonewolf » Tue Mar 07, 2006 2:34 am

Omnidon wrote:I actually agree with you there. However, a lot of people will probably feel like LoneWolf does, so heruca has to humor them ;-)
If he wants the money :-)
Gwindel wrote:
heruca wrote:
Gwindel wrote:I liked the idea you had earlier
That's still my plan. I was just going to add the math portion.
Oh, then it would still be quite simple to use, and much more simpler than the Klooge way (which was what I was afraid of).
Yes that is all I want. Now let me explain what a character sheet is. It is one array of numbers thats all. Sure in some game systems it can be a big array. All we need is basic maths functions between the cells of that array. From that the end user can design any game system.

The bottom line is I can add the same graphics from Battlegrounds into other software and play exactly the same. The real buck to be made here is in automation of the game rules. Take GURPS 3e for example. Nice system but lets face it adding all those numbers is a pain next to using a computer (We tweaked a lot for 4e). I am not asking you to copy the game system, I am asking for the ability to do it myself.

The bottom line is Klooge is a total pain to use but it does maths and map moves. Without you being able to target a figure. Roll to hit and record damage Battlegrounds just will lose ground to Klooge everytime.

I like Battlegrounds so far. The whole thing is looks user friendly right from the start. That is the biggest strength over software like Klooge. It's just not enough of a strength advantage yet. So far I like how far you have come with this.
RPGs are copywrite but maths is not. Let me type in numbers and we can play any game system.

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Post by Omnidon » Tue Mar 07, 2006 12:21 pm

Good comments Lonewolf ;-)
I agree with you there. There are some tabletops out there with some nice functionality, but they don't have the ease of use necessary to make it worthwhile to play online.

That's why I've been so excited about BRPG :)

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Post by Emryys » Wed Mar 08, 2006 12:46 am

Ease of use is one of your strong points. I think some people's aversion to RPGing online is this very fact... "Getting the game to run like I want it to run"

GRiP has the ability to make fully funtional sheets via it's own little language CSML - Character Sheet makeup Language. It's quite powerful in it's abilities to compute (fully functional GURPs Sheet), but does take some time to do even if it's not "hacking" the software. Creating macro functions and placing them as buttons on your proposed sheets could solve the functional issue and be easy to use. As some roleplaying games/systems don't involve as much combat/minatures, not having some of these features developed may not make BRPG seem useful to these players, thus hindering a possible desirable market.
Even if you were just using BRPG to "push minatures on a map", some integration of your play system is desirable/necessary...

Having Character sheets and chat developed, but with easy to use functions, combined with it's already stunning visuals and generic adaptability will make BRPG a winning product.

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Post by Omnidon » Wed Mar 08, 2006 9:48 am

Well said :D

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Post by Lonewolf » Wed Mar 08, 2006 4:18 pm

Emryys wrote:Ease of use is one of your strong points. I think some people's aversion to RPGing online is this very fact... "Getting the game to run like I want it to run"
That is exactly what I mean. People just want to get on and play games. The thing I most hate about software is the lack of documentation make a bad GUI unworkable. No wonder there is such an aversion like you said.
Emryys wrote:GRiP has the ability to make fully funtional sheets via it's own little language CSML - Character Sheet makeup Language. It's quite powerful in it's abilities to compute (fully functional GURPs Sheet), but does take some time to do even if it's not "hacking" the software.
I have used it and it is ugly. GRIP is still on sale but is no longer supported. The site does not always work and I do know people that have been ripped off. CSML was a good idea at the time but it takes skill. GRIP still does not even do what it is supposed to and there is not help out there. I have only found two site on the web with files for it. I had to reverse engineer those to understand CSML. Like I said ugly work.

Lets look at the whole nature of the beast here by creating a bit of a game system:

A=1,B=14,C=2,D=2,E=14,F=2,G=10,H=12,Z=10

Can you guess what that is?

What if I said instead in a pretty GUI viewer just for you based on my choice of label name and the value:

Basic Attack:1 (Fighter 1st), Str=14,To Hit+2, Damage+ 2, Dex 14, Dex Bonus+2,AC Flatfooted=10,AC Dodge =12, Hit Points 10.

Now you know its D20 right. Battlegrounds could know that a macro
of

TH = A+C+1d20 is a roll to hit.
If TH > Defender H goto damage

Or should I say

Roll 1d20 add your basic attack bonus and you hit if you roll over the targets armor class.

Its not a complex system it just simple maths. In a macro drawing numbers from and array. That is all any RPG is.

The cool bit is you tell me the copywrite on the this:

Type in A,B,C....etc.
Type in die macro 1.
RPGs are copywrite but maths is not. Let me type in numbers and we can play any game system.

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Post by Emryys » Thu Mar 09, 2006 12:17 am

Lonewolf wrote:I have used it and it is ugly
Agreed, but RPGing is using your imagination ;)
Lonewolf wrote:GRIP is still on sale but is no longer supported
Yes, not by the company, and No, check my Sig :)
Lonewolf wrote:CSML was a good idea at the time but it takes skill
Agreed, but that's why we're here ;) (Community! In fact I find generally online RPGers helpful ;) )
Lonewolf wrote:GRIP still does not even do what it is supposed to and there is not help out there
Check last answer...
Lonewolf wrote:I have only found two sites on the web with files for it
Check second answer and Sig

Enough about GRiP...

Looking to the future... :)

One may ask why I still use GRiP (besides the fact that I already own it) and the reason is the "Roleplaying" aspects. Chat, sending files, character sheets that at least lighten the burden of "tracking" typical "Roll-playing" aspects, thus allowing more roleplaying ;)

I think the big draw to "tabletop software" RPGing is the live GM. In NWN you could try, but it's difficult, requires programming skill, and still feels like a computer RPG. In TT rpging, even if you are a typing demon, time can be your enemy, because keeping the players interested while you check if the player hit...calculate damage...talk as the giant...pull up a map etc, can be challenging and detract from the wonderful minatures/battlefield that's on the screen :)

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Post by Omnidon » Thu Mar 09, 2006 2:27 am

Emryys wrote:I think the big draw to "tabletop software" RPGing is the live GM. In NWN you could try, but it's difficult, requires programming skill, and still feels like a computer RPG. In TT rpging, even if you are a typing demon, time can be your enemy, because keeping the players interested while you check if the player hit...calculate damage...talk as the giant...pull up a map etc, can be challenging and detract from the wonderful minatures/battlefield that's on the screen :)
Heheh yeah, that's why I do most of my long-distance roleplaying on the phone. BRPG will hopefully provide all the other audio/visual things I need.

I will probably also be using Teamspeak for some roleplaying. It has advantages over most voice applications in that it allows you to have a great number of people talking at once, it allows you to have a Push-To-Talk button so you don't get background noise, and it lets you have multiple channels for those private communications.

I too am a fan of NWN, but you're right in that it forces you to plan everything out in advance too exactly and leaves you little room to change your plans in-game when your roleplayers do something unexpected. And of course it ends up too hack & slash if you use the combat system.
What they really needed was an in-game toolset, or at least to the ability to transfer new content to players on the fly (Yay for BRPG!).

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Post by Guest » Thu Mar 16, 2006 3:53 pm

Emryys wrote:
Lonewolf wrote:I have used it and it is ugly
Agreed, but RPGing is using your imagination ;)
Lonewolf wrote:GRIP is still on sale but is no longer supported
Yes, not by the company, and No, check my Sig :)
Lonewolf wrote:CSML was a good idea at the time but it takes skill
Agreed, but that's why we're here ;) (Community! In fact I find generally online RPGers helpful ;) )
Lonewolf wrote:GRIP still does not even do what it is supposed to and there is not help out there
Check last answer...
Lonewolf wrote:I have only found two sites on the web with files for it
Check second answer and Sig

Enough about GRiP...

Looking to the future... :)

One may ask why I still use GRiP (besides the fact that I already own it) and the reason is the "Roleplaying" aspects. Chat, sending files, character sheets that at least lighten the burden of "tracking" typical "Roll-playing" aspects, thus allowing more roleplaying ;)

I think the big draw to "tabletop software" RPGing is the live GM. In NWN you could try, but it's difficult, requires programming skill, and still feels like a computer RPG. In TT rpging, even if you are a typing demon, time can be your enemy, because keeping the players interested while you check if the player hit...calculate damage...talk as the giant...pull up a map etc, can be challenging and detract from the wonderful minatures/battlefield that's on the screen :)
Well i stand corrected on a number of points. However GRIP is not supported by the developer but there is a community for CSML.

We are in fact on the exactly the same wavelength here about the nature to roleplaying. You want the chat, file sharing and battlemaps. To tell your story to the players. This is exactly what I want to.

The primary barrier is the mechanics of the game. The only way it works is if you 'dumb' down the dice mechanics or improve the flow of information. That's why voice comms works better, you can explain what the dice are doing better.

Now what happens if we throw out most of the game mechanics. What we have is character dialogue. You can get on with the 'roleplaying' and not bother about the 'table crunching'.

Having tryed all the software. I still thing it comes down to having a shared 'charcter sheet' and automated dice rolling based on a text script on that character sheet.

This is what Klooge does. The trouble with the way Klooge does it really awkward to use. You need a scripted defination file otherwise the whole thing falls over.

The solution is rather simple. A 'character sheet' with ability to do maths and interact with the chat window. Let it calculate any line on maths and print the answer to chat.

The real trick here is not to write any files for each game system. I just want straight maths nothing more that. The user enters the macros he wants into the character sheet. When the character sheet is opened the macro does maths using numbers stored on the character sheet and prints the answer. If the source numbers come from more that one character sheet then you can compare two characters.

From there you can convert ANY game system. Some sytems like White Wolf (Vampire, WOD, Werewolve) that use a pool of d10 are a bit of a difficult but can still be converted.

D20 is really simple to write. This where Klooge does well. D20 does have the biggest fan following so makes sense.

GURPS runs with 3d6 but it is still basically comparing one total against another in the end.

Can we work out a solution to just do maths on a battlemap across the internet? Do you thing this is possible in the future?

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Post by heruca » Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:10 pm

The doing the math thing is possible, as is the capability to design your own character sheet for any game system, complete with character portrait, embedded tables, etc. I could even make it so that you click on a "Roll to Hit" or a "Roll Damage" button on the sheet itself and it would cue up the die roller with all the right settings (type and number of dice, modifiers, etc.), giving you a chance to add any last-minute special-case modifiers (e.g., a darkness or moving target penalty) before hitting the "Roll" button. Finally, there could be the full character sheet that the owning player and the GM can see, and another that the other players can see. Useful for keeping certain character traits secret, or just for hiding the behind the scenes numbers, since some people prefer not to have full disclosure of their CSs.

However, I've been thinking that this CS functionality should probably be made available as a separate application, distinct from BRPG while remaining fully compatible and interoperable.

Benefits of making it a separate app:
Your character sheet is always just an ALT-TAB away.
Those who don't need the CS functionality don't have to pay for or be stuck with features they'll never use.
It would be useful for people to use in conjuction with some other VT or with an IRC client, if they don't care for the battlemap and minis aspect of BRPG.

What do you all think?
:arrow: Please help spread the word about BRPG and BGE, and never hesitate to tell me how I can make them better suit your gaming needs.

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Post by Omnidon » Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:47 pm

I think it's a good idea to have it as a separate app.

Perhaps there could be some sort of plugin eventually too to allow BRPG to show the character sheets for those who want it in BRPG.

As I said somewhere else, once I'm done with my current project of making an online RP scheduler, I intend to make a script that will allow people to create custom character sheets and store them online.

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