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Formatting a large number of cards

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Anonymous

Formatting a large number of cards

Hey guys I was wondering if any of you have experience in formatting a large number of cards for a game. The newest game I’m making will have a deck of about 120 total cards with about 80 unique cards if I hit my goal. I have laid out decks of cards in Photoshop before but I want a streamlined process that does not take forever.

So is there any function in Excel that will allow me to create a standard card form and have it input all the details where I need them on the card. I do not want it to take two whole days to make a deck of cards again. thanks

sedjtroll
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Formatting a large number of cards

I don't know the answer, but I'd like to second the question. I'd like to find a good way to auto-format cards for 8/7 Central. I understand there's some way in Word or Excel to make a template which will import things from a list- so I'd list the card info and the template would import it to the right places. Anyone know how that works? And how to make the template the right size and shape for cards?

- Seth

Aerjen
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Formatting a large number of cards

Why don't you just make a template in photoshop? Copy and past it a couple of times to fit multiple cards on one page and there you are.

phpbbadmin
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Formatting a large number of cards

Hmmm... Although it seems simple enough it probably is very difficult. It might not be to hard to do a mail merge in word to a customized template (I.E. Labels), but anything other than text would require using Visual Basic for applications and would not be easy. The time it would take to setup/debug would be far greater than it would take to set up the cards by hand. I know Fastlearner was working on making a piece of software to do exactly what you want, but as far as I know time constraints have prevented him from completing it.

Again, for simple cards you could use Word. You would need to set up the card sheet using a custom 'label' type (Tools-> Envelopes and Lables ->Labels Tab->Options->New Labels) and then use mail merge to populate the card database (Tools-> Mail Merge). I don't know the specifics, but that should get you started.

-Darke

sedjtroll
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Formatting a large number of cards

Aerjen wrote:
Why don't you just make a template in photoshop? Copy and past it a couple of times to fit multiple cards on one page and there you are.

2 reasons. First, you'd still have to individually update each field on each card, which is what the original poster (and myself!) are trying to avoid (time consuming).

Second, I don't have Photoshop.

- Seth

zaiga
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Formatting a large number of cards

sedjtroll wrote:
Aerjen wrote:
Why don't you just make a template in photoshop? Copy and past it a couple of times to fit multiple cards on one page and there you are.

2 reasons. First, you'd still have to individually update each field on each card, which is what the original poster (and myself!) are trying to avoid (time consuming).

Well, you will have to type in that information in somewhere, don't you? I really don't see how you can do it much faster than in the way Aerjan suggested it. I make my cards that way too and it usually doesn't take much longer than an hour or two.

- René Wiersma

IngredientX
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Formatting a large number of cards

Personally, I'm a big fan of using databases to create cards. Granted, my cards don't have more than a very sparse design (with text and the occasional clipart or webding as visuals), and ideas like "bleedthrough" make me think of a first-aid kit. :)

But the nice thing is that you can set up each record as a card, and each field as an item on the card. And if you really know your databases, or if you can at least doggie paddle (like me), you can set up relationships so that your master card table links to a single descriptive table. The upshot of that is, if you want to change a single piece of text, you change it in one record and all the related records will update accordingly.

This helps greatly in prototyping, as it gives me lots of flexibility. I can change lots of card elements without having to re-design the entire card.

It may not be Photoshop-quality, but it's good enough for a prototype.

Anonymous
Formatting a large number of cards

i have made a few nice decks of cards using Photoshop (if your smart you can get it for like 300 bucks on ebay). composing and copy pasting each card is a real pain if your doing more than 60 different cards.

The label idea sounds like a good one, thank you for helping me find that function. I’m going to be making beta decks with this all text method. And then slogging it out with Photoshop when I want to take it to a publisher

Anonymous
Formatting a large number of cards

how does one set up a database? what application do you use

IngredientX
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Formatting a large number of cards

super wrote:
how does one set up a database? what application do you use

A database is simply a supercharged spreadsheet. What you'll do is set up "fields," which are the categories your data fits into. For a card, fields might be "Name," "Description," "Cost," and "Image" (because a picture can be used as data as well as text). Think of fields as the columns of a spreadsheet.

Once you've defined your fields, then you set up your records. Each record is a different card. Think of records as the rows of a spreadsheet.

That's all a database is... but then you can do some hot stuff, like relational links, advanced querying, and so on. What I like about it is that once you've entered all the data, you can create a "report" that will look like your card. So you'll drag the name field at the top left of the card, the cost field at the top right, the image in the middle, and the description at the bottom. Format the card so that six of them fit on a page, and whammo! You can easily print out all your cards.

If you have Microsoft Office on your computer, there's a chance you might have Microsoft Access. It's a clunky, complex database, and a little too powerful for what we need it to do. Still, it could be worse.

Personally, I use a program called FileMaker Pro, which is insanely easy to learn, and allows some pretty nifty formatting options, like rotating fields (which I use to print double-sided cards).

Again, I do this because I'm a wannabe database geek, so it's certainly not the only way to do things. But it's a system I've grown comfortable with. :)

VeritasGames
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Formatting a large number of cards

I use a database for prototyping. You want to use a PAGE LAYOUT not a PAINT program for card layout for the final version.

Access for XP database:
http://members.aol.com/veritasgames/card_layout.zip

Sample output at:
http://members.aol.com/veritasgames/sample_output.pdf

FastLearner
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Formatting a large number of cards

Also, I am making progress on my card design software (database-based), but it's still a couple of months away.

-- Matthew

Anonymous
Formatting a large number of cards

Hello everyone. I've been trying to make my own TCG for a while now and thought maybe you guys could help me a little, in exchange for my assistance and opinions for your projects.

However, this is not the point of the post. I saw a Card editor for Magic the Gathering that Uses Java Scripts. I'm not an expert at that kind of thing, but I think if one were to somehow learn Java Script and be able to manipulate it in the way you want, you can create a nice sized database.

The website is: www.mtglair.de (It's in english)

The thing you want to click on is MTG Editor if you want to download it, and it's free. Just incase you guys were still looking for a way to use a database type thing.

onew0rd
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Formatting a large number of cards

All you need is Word (Excel and Access make it easier). Create a list of all the cards in Excel, Word, or access in a table/datasheet format. Like let's say regular playing cards: You would create a table with 3 columns and 52 rows. The first column would have a header of Color, the second a header of suit, and the third a header of number/value. Then each row would have a different card...Red,Ace,Diamond or something like that. I guess if you give it some thought you could axe the color column as suits are exclusive to colors.

Sorry got carried away there...anyhow...then open up word and go to Tools...Mail Merge. Just follow the steps and you should be on your way. IF you get stuck, PM me and I'll see if I can help. I'm in and out this weekend but I will reply to all PMs as soon as I get around to it. These cards may not be "Photoshop Quality", but you could do some pretty damn near close to professional work if you put some work into it. And this tool is definitely more than effective (and efficient) for creating top notch prototype cards.

Good Luck,

Eugene

Anonymous
Formatting a large number of cards

I managed to create 40 some odd unique cards in a couple of minutes. What I did was I created a background image (all the cards had a similar background) in my imaging software and used Image Magick (http://www.imagemagick.com/) to add the unique features to each card.

I wrote a .bat file that would add text and extra information graphics to each card in the appropriate place. A single line of the .bat file looks something like:

convert background.jpg area1.jpg -geometry +100+930 -compose over -font Arial -fill black -pointsize 150 -draw "text 100,160 'Venus'" -draw "text 950,1046 '6'" -fill white -draw "text 96,156 'Venus'" Venus0.jpg

The resulting card has the name in the upper left; the area1.jpg is printed on the lower left; and the cost on the lower right.

The .bat file was generated from a couple of fields in a database (for the example above - area1.gif, Venus and 6). You could probably do the same from Excel.

Good Luck

VeritasGames
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Formatting a large number of cards

jhager wrote:
I managed to create 40 some odd unique cards in a couple of minutes. What I did was I created a background image (all the cards had a similar background) in my imaging software and used Image Magick (http://www.imagemagick.com/) to add the unique features to each card.

Can we see some samples of this? Is this in any way better than doing some type of mail/photo merge in a page layout program?

Thanks,

jkopena
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Formatting a large number of cards

Familiarity with common typesetting tools is a great help in areas like this. I can make cards pretty easily using them. Plus, the tools are free.

First, describing all the cards. A database as mentioned is pretty good. I tend to use XML files containing a list of card descriptions, with each containing title, effect text, flavor text, pointer to the graphic, # of cards in set, and so on. I'm more familiar with that than databases, I don't need a database engine as I'm just working with text files, and the transformation tools for XML are probably better at this point.

Following from that, second is drawing the cards. I then run the XML through an XSL transform to create actual output. If they're really simple, I just generate raw PostScript (e.g., [1] has a really barebones example). If they're more complex, have graphics, etc, I generate LaTeX source. I run that through pdflatex, and all of a sudden I've got a nice, printable PDF of my cards. If I need to make some changes, I edit the XML file, run the process again, and I'm good to go in a couple seconds.

What this gets me is really nice cards, really quickly. Everything's vector art, so it scales well/prints on different printers, often has small file sizes, etc. In addition, the text and layout is nicely done. Word and most word processors do a poor job at kerning/justifying text, spacing things, and so on. Tools like tex do an awesome job and are completely free and cross-platform. You're only going to get similar (not better, and maybe not as good) quality if you do something pretty fancy like drive a PageMaker template from a database. Some of these tools might seem to have a sharp learning curve, but none are that bad, and they're invaluable for rapidly putting together high quality materials---everything from cards (as above) to rules (typesetting with LaTeX) to websites (using XML/XSLT to generate pages).

[1] http://gicl.cs.drexel.edu/people/tjkopena/tmp/cards.ps

VeritasGames
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Formatting a large number of cards

I was pleasantly surprised that Serif Page Plus 10 has a photo/mail merge function which is AWESOME for laying out cards. Wow. You can apply filters to fields even so that, for instance, all card titles have a drop shadow on them automatically.

Each card is setup with a standard layout during the merge, and then you can tweak the cards on a card by card basis. It can work with ODBC data sources I believe too, so it can leverage Access databases if you want.

How cool?!

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