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Card Creating Programs

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Anonymous

I've been having a lot of trouble creating cards lately and I was wondering, does anybody know any programs that can help me create cards?

Brykovian
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Card Creating Programs

"Create cards" in what way?

Layout? Setting it up to print properly on a form? Content?

Let us know what you've been trying to do and what hasn't been working.

-Bryk

SVan
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Card Creating Programs

I don't know if there is a program that exists, but it would be nice to have a card creating program (like a database) that puts the card's information into a word or graphics program. I can think of something that may work for Word itself, although it would be a lot of work to put forth and don't have any other programs besides word and photoshop 7.0 (which I am still trying to figure out as well.)

Anyone have any ideas?

-Steve

FastLearner
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Card Creating Programs

I'm working on just such an app. It's effectively a card database, letting you create, replace, delete cards, etc., then print them out using templates or your own layouts, replacing settings with graphics, printing the whole deck or just parts (including the ones you most recently changed), etc. Basic functionality will be freeware, extended will be shareware. (Yeah, a form of crippleware, but the basics are still really good.)

-- Matthew

VeritasGames
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SVan wrote:
I don't know if there is a program that exists, but it would be nice to have a card creating program (like a database) that puts the card's information into a word or graphics program. I can think of something that may work for Word itself, although it would be a lot of work to put forth and don't have any other programs besides word and photoshop 7.0 (which I am still trying to figure out as well.)

Why do you need to output it to Word or a Graphics program?

You can easily do the layout in MS Access if you want and then print to a PDF. From there it's easy to convert each page to a JPEG or something if you want.

Can you be more explicit about what you are trying to do?

One of my designs right now is in Access. I do the layout of the card background, etc. in a graphics program, put that into an Access form or report layout, and then overlay fields on top if it as necessary.

VeritasGames
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BTW -- are you doing CCGs, cards that are wholly text, or what? I just thought of telling you, another option if you need to lay them out in MSWord you could probably do some form of mail merge so as to leave the text outside of MSWord in a separate file and then merge it with a layout to make cards.

SVan
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Card Creating Programs

FastLearner wrote:
I'm working on just such an app. It's effectively a card database, letting you create, replace, delete cards, etc., then print them out using templates or your own layouts, replacing settings with graphics, printing the whole deck or just parts (including the ones you most recently changed), etc. Basic functionality will be freeware, extended will be shareware. (Yeah, a form of crippleware, but the basics are still really good.)

-- Matthew

I would be willing to pay for a good program if it did what I wanted it to do. What you are describing sounds like it would work pretty good.

VeritasGames wrote:
Why do you need to output it to Word or a Graphics program?

You can easily do the layout in MS Access if you want and then print to a PDF. From there it's easy to convert each page to a JPEG or something if you want.

Mostly I'm thinking of a time saving way to make cards. I usually type and add pics in Word in the specific 9 card file (or the 6 card format that is used for the card sheets that can be ordered from here) and that isn't that bad but I figure a database that exports that stuff into a word or graphic program would save time.

Quote:
One of my designs right now is in Access. I do the layout of the card background, etc. in a graphics program, put that into an Access form or report layout, and then overlay fields on top if it as necessary.

That's one of my problems. Access is my least known office program (well maybe it's tied with publisher) so I know next to nothing what you can do with it.

Quote:
BTW -- are you doing CCGs, cards that are wholly text, or what? I just thought of telling you, another option if you need to lay them out in MSWord you could probably do some form of mail merge so as to leave the text outside of MSWord in a separate file and then merge it with a layout to make cards.

Nope, I'm done creating CCG's for the present. Just doing the all in the box now and this is for a proto so it doesn't have to be pretty.

I thought about the mail merge and figured it could be pain setting it all up but that's the only way i could think of as well.

Thanks for the comments and help.

-Steve

IngredientX
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Card Creating Programs

SVan wrote:
Mostly I'm thinking of a time saving way to make cards. I usually type and add pics in Word in the specific 9 card file (or the 6 card format that is used for the card sheets that can be ordered from here) and that isn't that bad but I figure a database that exports that stuff into a word or graphic program would save time.

I use a database program called FileMaker Pro. It's not as powerful as Access, but it's much better at laying stuff out. For example, in Access, you can't really rotate stuff that easily; I think you can only rotate it 90 degrees, while in FMPro, you can rotate it 90, 180, or 270 degrees. FMPro is also much better at integrating text and graphics, IMHO.

A database program is a natural at card creation, because each record stands for a different card, and each field is a seperate element on the card. Most databases can handle relations, so if you have one graphic that will be repeated across a bunch of cards, you set up a single "Picture" table, and have all the cards that need the graphic link to it. That way, if you need to change the picture, you only need to make the change once; the relationship will handle the update across all the cards.

Good luck!

FastLearner
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Card Creating Programs

Aye, that's precisely why I'm going the route I am.

I'm using Visual Basic, which will allow me to rotate as needed, thankfully. The app is engineered to be easy to use with just a small set of cards that are part of a larger boardgame, with repetitive cards that have ranks and suits, and with CCG-type cards. You can change any graphic, background, category, etc., and it automatically populates through the cards.

The part that's slowing me down (as usual) is a simple-yet-powerful interface. I originally figured I'd be done with it in April or May (in my spare time), but it's looking like July/August.

-- Matthew

IngredientX
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FastLearner wrote:
Aye, that's precisely why I'm going the route I am.

I'm using Visual Basic, which will allow me to rotate as needed, thankfully. The app is engineered to be easy to use with just a small set of cards that are part of a larger boardgame, with repetitive cards that have ranks and suits, and with CCG-type cards. You can change any graphic, background, category, etc., and it automatically populates through the cards.

The part that's slowing me down (as usual) is a simple-yet-powerful interface. I originally figured I'd be done with it in April or May (in my spare time), but it's looking like July/August.

-- Matthew

Do what you have to do, and make it great! It's going to be an incredible tool for us. I don't mind using a database, but each card is a different record, even if the cards are alike. I just printed out cards to one of my games tonight. There are only six different kinds of cards in the deck, but they're repeated 15 times each, so my table needs 90 records. It would be wonderful to have six records, with a "15" written in each field, and kapow, 90 cards!

Good luck with it!

VeritasGames
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If you use an appropriate one-to-many or many-to-many relationship, you can keep the card data for each card in one and only one time, but you can multiply it as many times as you want.

That's a standard feature of a relational database.

Consider, for example, a business database where I want everyone from a given company to have the same address. I record each person's name once with their company name, then I record each company address and name once in a different table. When I merge them, the company address is repeated as many times as there are applicable employees.

If you keep multiple copies of the same card it defeats the advantage of having the database often because you have to remember to edit each field on each card (unless you have a universal find and replace function). But either way, there are extra steps.

With the one-to-many or many-to-many relationships, you can have a single table with the names or ID numbers of the cards and you simply edit that table and add the ID number or something to add another copy of the card to the printout. Additionally, with a little visual basic scripting you could probably just type in something like (where the colon is actually a representation of a new field):

Card A:15
Card B: 5
Card C: 1

and it could create the ID number table for you. That would require a script, a card template form, and a table listing the number of copies of each card to display.

VeritasGames
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Re: rotating an image in Access, particularly if you have a square image you might try (I haven't, so I can't verify if this works) creating an OLE image field where you embed a link to the image instead of the image. In Windows XP at least, you can click on an image on the Windows desktop to Quickview it. There's a rotation button which rotates the image and saves it rotated automatically. It should update in Access (since it's linked and not embedded).

Again, haven't tried it. Just thinking.

Besides, most OLE fields allow you to double click the field and launch the appropriate editing application. So this lack of functionality isn't a huge deal since you can double click on the image and rotate it in the managing application and when you save it it will be rotated (this is for embedded images, text, etc.).

IngredientX
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VeritasGames wrote:
If you use an appropriate one-to-many or many-to-many relationship, you can keep the card data for each card in one and only one time, but you can multiply it as many times as you want.

That's a standard feature of a relational database.

Yeah... at that point, you have three sets of tables. One table has the raw data (everything that could possibly appear on the card), one table has the individual cards (created through links to the raw data), and one table has one record for each card printed (which, as you say, can be manipulated through a script, so that I don't have to manually create or delete records to add or remove cards).

The problem, such that it is, is that I maintain a couple of databases at work. But I'm not really trained to do that... it's just something I fell into doing because no one else was able to do it, or had the time. So (a) I spend enough time at work dealing with databases, albeit spending much more time and energy than someone who is actually experienced at doing so, and (b) when I get home, the last thing I want to do is muck around with relationships and scripts. By dinnertime, one level of relationship is all my little brain can take.

This is where FastLearner's program comes in. If he does all the work, and all I have to do is punch in numbers, then bring it on!

Of course, now he's got our hopes up and our expectations to meet... :)

DanogNellows
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Card Creating Programs

Has anyone tried the CCG Maker program?

www.ccgmaker.com

looks like it might be useful

Danog

VeritasGames
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DanogNellows wrote:
Has anyone tried the CCG Maker program?

www.ccgmaker.com

looks like it might be useful

Danog

Largely only if you want to design prototype magic the gathering cards.

I'd say stick to page layout or database software.

DanogNellows
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Card Creating Programs

hmmm,

well could you recommend a resource for someone that
has never used those types of software before?

Thanks

Danog

Anonymous
Card Creating Programs

Hello all. This is my first post, so please be nice :)

I too have faced the dilemma of trying to find the "right" program for card creation. After searching the web, I have settled with using Access to store all of my card information, and utilizing Serif Software's PagePlus 5.0 for design layout. The 5.0 version is freeware and can be downloaded from freeserifsoftware.com. I must admit it acts buggy sometimes, but since it is free it will suffice until something better comes along.

FastLearner, I would also be very interested in the program you're working on.

The cards I am working on is an animal card game, heavily based on the Pokemon(R) card game. Hopefully in the next week or so I will make a post requesting additional creative input from this board, once I have a site up with some samples and the basic rules.

DanogNellows
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Vertigo,

I too am struggling to find a solution. I now realize that the ccgmaker program I referred to earlier is too limited. I tried stuff in paint then tried the paint shop pro 8 demo but it's over my head. So what you describe sounds like a solution.

Could you perhaps whip up a simple tutorial on how to make a sample
card using the programs you described?

Thanks,
Danog

p.s. FastLearner how's that program coming?, it sounds like the
answer for a lot of us!

jwarrend
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Card Creating Programs

I'm surprised that people occasionally seem to be stumped by designing cards. I am by no means a graphic arts whiz, but I've been able to make perfectly functional playtesting cards pretty quickly and straightforwardly. It is possible that either folks are searching for an optimal way of doing things (like Matthew's program), or production-quality, in which case I can't help, but here's a simple recipe to whip up some cards:
(note: I use cards that are 2" x 3"; change the dimensions if you want poker-sized cards -- 2.5 x 3.5)

1. Open a document in a simple drawing application; I use a draw application in AppleWorks 5.0, but presumably PowerPoint or Excel would work just as well. "Paint" might even work, but you need something with rulers.

2. Draw a rectangular box that is 2" by 3". Make it a solid color, or use one of the fills that you like.

3. Make another box 1.8" by 2.8", preferably with rounded corners. The background should be white.

4. Drag the small box on top of the big box, offsetting it by 0.1" from each border.

5. Now, add the text to the inside of the white box by creating a separate text box for the title, icons, flavor text, abilities, etc. Also, add clip art if you want. Put values of cards and/or icons in all 4 corners if possible. Use a couple of different fonts for title text and rules text, but not more than that. Don't add extraneous flavor text unless you're designing a CCG, in which case such things are apparently seen as necessary for some reason or other...

6. Now select the whole object and drag it up to the top left corner. This will be your card master.

7. Copy the card and paste it three times, placing the copies in the same vertical position but offsetting them by 2", 4", and 6" respectively.

8. Now select the entire row of cards. Copy it, and paste it twice, offsetting it down by 3" and 6", respectively.

9. Now, go back and edit the text entries for the individual cards.

Voila! You have 12 cards ready to print out on a standard printer. After printing, cut with scissors, or a paper cutter. To make more sheets, just go back and edit all of the entries on the cards (but make sure you save each sheet separately!)

Making a full page of cards probably doesn't take me much more than 20 minutes or so, and subsequent sheets are only a couple of minutes each to change.

The cards don't look earth-shatteringly beautiful, but they're functional, quick, easy, and don't require laying out money for some fancy graphic arts program. I'd be wary of laying out a lot of money for a program. Unless you're quite accomplished, it's almost certainly going to have more capabilities than you need or would know how to use. If you're just making a prototype, just use something simple and clean, and preferably something you already have. Remember, the first goal of a prototype is playability, not cosmetic appeal. You're trying to get feedback on the game itself. Pretty cards will help people want to like your game, but they won't help much at getting to the core question -- is this game good? Just make something that has information organized in a logical and clear way.

Hope this helps someone...

-Jeff

Anonymous
Card Creating Programs

FastLearner wrote:
I originally figured I'd be done with it in April or May (in my spare time), but it's looking like July/August.

-- Matthew

Man, don't give up. This sounds like a _very_ useful tool. I could use this _today_.

Thompson

IngredientX
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Well... I never said I was "stumped... " :) I actually have a pretty quick way of making double-sided cards myself (the results of which you'll see firsthand tomorrow - ooh!).

But it sure is a pain in the butt to have to make one change across fifteen, or thirty, or sixty cards, or whatever. I'm sure it's worse if you're using a word processor or paint program instead of a database! ;)

Lee had a good suggestion in using an additional layer of relationships... perhaps one day I'll get off my lazy tush and try it.

Matthew's program is being anxiously awaited because it'll take care of most of these issues for us.

jwarrend
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Card Creating Programs

Just to clarify, as I mentioned, my remarks weren't directed so much as people who are looking for the *optimal* way to do things, but rather to people who say "I don't even know where to get started." My advice to such people is, make something simple using what you already have -- chances are it's good enough, and spending lots of money getting a great program, or lots of time getting the cards "beautiful", isn't worth it for a prototype, from my perspective anyway....

-Jeff

Anonymous
Card Creating Programs

jwarrend wrote:
My advice to such people is, make something simple using what you already have...

Good point, I have even seen some games posted to this site that use Microsoft Word. They set up a table with enough rows and columns on each page to give them 6, 8, 9, 12 or however many cards of whatever size they need. They then just type in the text and do rough formatting (you don't ned to be a typographer for early prototypes). The result is adequate for playtesting and fine-tuning.

I think the real adavantage is to NOT have to hand write out each of 50, 60 or more cards. Computers also give you the added benefit of copy and paste (for similar or identical cards) and find and replace (for globally changing things).

It doesn't have to be pretty at the early stages (or even at some of the later stages).

DanogNellows
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Card Creating Programs

Vertigo,

Are you somehow importing your info from your database into PagePlus?
I downloaded it myself and i don't see how that is done.

Thanks,
Danog

Anonymous
Card Creating Programs

I'm not importing info from Access in PagePlus. I'm using Access to maintain all of my data and figures, and PagePlus to create the cards themselves.

Basically what I did was create the templates for the cards in PagePlus, then just reference Access for the info and individually plug it into PagePlus. It is working for now, but that "optimal" program or method is still elusive.

I could have something pretty close to a practical application using Access to input all data with pictures and autogenerating cards, but for some reason embedding bound pictures in forms and reports is not my strongpoint, and I get really stupid at that point trying to figure it out. :)

I think by the end of this weekend I will have a couple of my sample cards on a website, so you can get an idea of what I'm doing. It's nothing fancy, but I'm not in it for the riches and glamor; just trying to create something fun and different for my kids...

VeritasGames
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vertigo wrote:
I could have something pretty close to a practical application using Access to input all data with pictures and autogenerating cards, but for some reason embedding bound pictures in forms and reports is not my strongpoint, and I get really stupid at that point trying to figure it out. :)

It's not you. OLE automation is sometimes unstable. I find it sometimes easier to just paste an image in instead of using OLE automation, but then again, OLE automation allows you to double click the image and edit it "in place".

BTW -- to those with Access 2002 check out this for an example of a simple application that leverages a relational model to piece together cards. It limits data redundancy to keep the database small and to make it easy to change 100 cards all at once.

http://members.aol.com/veritasgames/card_layout.zip

Sample output (low DPI) is available at:

http://members.aol.com/veritasgames/sample_output.pdf

Let me know if it's useful.

If absolutely necessary, I can try rolling back this program to an earlier version of Access, but if I did then I couldn't promise that it would work.

SVan
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Card Creating Programs

Very nice, indeed. Didn't play with it much but I really like the basic idea of it. Thanks for posting it.

-Steve

VeritasGames
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SVan wrote:
Very nice, indeed. Didn't play with it much but I really like the basic idea of it. Thanks for posting it.

-Steve

Sure, no problem. I re-edited my post if you want to see a sample layout using a couple of clipart images. It's not perfect, but it's very workable.

I think this type of idea is best implemented as a database. I think a piece of canned software unless it is very advanced won't allow for enough field editing and manipulation of graphics, fields, etc.

The advantage of this method is that the query results that feeds the report page (the multicard query) can be opened separately and saved as an XLS file. That lets people do things like mail merge it over to MSWord if need be. From there it could be imported into a variety of page layout programs (particularly Microsoft's layout program which now imports MSWord files).

Another feature that's possible is to have image fields that run calculations and then decide what to display. That's a good way to have the database overlay icons. For example, suppose you have an attack score of X and a defense score of Y on some cards, but not all cards. The program could check to see if the values exist, and if they do, overlay two icons (say a shield and a pair of crossed swords) on the card and then overlay text on top of that. You'd store Attack: 5 and Defense: 4 in the database and you'd end up with a 5 on top of crossed swords and a 4 on top of a shield on that card. The next card may have neither numbers and neither icons.

Anonymous
Card Creating Programs

VeritasGames,

This is a very nice little program. Thank you for sharing it with the group. I just think I might be able to do some neat things with it. I will definitely let you know if some good progress comes from this all.

~vert

Anonymous
Card Creating Programs

jwarrend wrote:
The cards don't look earth-shatteringly beautiful, but they're functional, quick, easy, and don't require laying out money for some fancy graphic arts program. I'd be wary of laying out a lot of money for a program.

Jeff,

That's pretty much how I do things too. I picked up a load of playing cards (at 6 packs for £1) about five years ago, and have been using these as cards onto which to pritt stick paper cards from the printer ever since. I use Microsoft Print It, which is a fairly dire idiot-proof program-- I'll hopefully get something better, with more comptability to other people's software, in the future. For now, I've got fed up of cutting and sticking cards, and so have ordered some of the sheets from protoparts. I'll still be relying on this method of drawing cards, though.

Richard.

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