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Software for game design

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LSJ
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Software for game design

I used to use MS Word mail merge to make playtest versions of cards. But then I finally threw in the towel and wrote a perl script to take the same data (now in tab-delimitted form) and write out postscript directly. The added bonus is that the script sizes the text to match the physical constraints of the card (that is, the text point size is decreased until fit into whatever bounding box I specify, rather than the box growing bigger as MS word likes to do). And I can insert eps files (icons) anywhere in the text -- they flow with the text and are sized proportionately to the text -- in addition to putting icon in "fixed" positions at various places on the card of course.

Give it a try -- postscript isn't that difficult to learn if you already know some procedural programming language.

larienna
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Software for game design

Speaking of software, My friend just emailed me a link :

http://www.profantasy.com/

This is a company that makes tool for RPG player. You can get various tool like Character, item and map creators.

Unfortunately, the softwares are not free but there is a demo version for some tools.

seo
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Software for game design

This thread has been quiet for some time, but I think it's better to add this info here than opening a new thread.

A couple days ago a link was posted at the Yahoo group about a free software package for card design. I gave it a quick try and it seems to be quite nice and powerfull. It's script driven, so that you work on a text describing your cards, and then use the program to convert that script into the actual cards.

It lets you include images, adjust image and text placement, use different fonts, font-sizes, text alignment, font and background color, text rotation, set the cards measures, etc. By itself (writing the scripts manually in a text processor) or combined with a database that outputs the script, this seems like a very good tool for card prototyping.

Those interested can see more info and download the program at the nandDECK website.
Really worth a try.

Seo

phpbbadmin
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Software for game design

Definitely a good find Seo. Quite honestly an answer to our game design prayers. Let's hope it continues to be improved. From the version changelog, it seems he is updating it rather regularly. Perhaps there is a 'front-end' in the works for creating the deck itself. Or maybe someone could design a front end in something like Microsoft Access or VB. Seo, would you (or anyone whom has time for that matter) be willing to write a little tutorial on how to create the scripts? Quite a little gem.

-Darke

seo
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Darke:

I'm affraid I'm not qualified to write a tutorial, at least not now. I just saw the link on the Yahoo list a couple days ago and went to see how the program was, mostly out of curiosity and with this thread in mind. I was surprised to see that the program was so powerfull and simple to use, bu haven't even mad a test deck just yet.

But If you download it, you'll find a good help file included in the zip. It explains how to write the script. I'm not an Access user either, but I'm sure that producing an automated script out of the DB has to be easier than producing the formatted cards, as some have already done, and a combination of DB with nanDECK should be able to produce some great looking cards with little effort.

The nanDECK page also has links to two sample scripts to produce a standard poker deck and a Warewolf deck. That should also help starting.

I suggested the author to post an announcement here on the forums, but he didn't so far, so I decided to let you guys know about it. In the end, it's probably better this way; many of us feel reluctant to follow a link from a first time poster promoting his own soft or website.

Seo

Carlos
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Software for game design

Hey, just wanted to say that I downloaded and tried this program out last night. My first impression is that it's pretty good! Believe me, I am not a computer programmer--the farthest I got with that stuff was modifying my autoexec.bat file back in the DOS days. :) But following the format instructions and using the examples proved easy enough for me to whip up a quickie prototype of my game cards, which have 4-5 separate images on them a piece.

Once you get one down, you're just copying and pasting for other cards, and you can design whole swathes of cards at a time as well. I really like that I was just working in a text file that the program then read, and it didn't seem too too finicky about spacing and punctuation and what not.

Definitely worth a look folks. While I too Darke would prefer a front-end, let me just say that the back end isn't as daunting as I thought it would be. Great find Seo!

seo
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It just came to me, no merit on my side.

It would be great if you can post one or two samples of the cards you made with the program.

Seo

OutsideLime
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Software for game design

Carlos wrote:
While I too Darke would prefer a front-end, let me just say that the back end isn't as daunting as I thought it would be.

Taking quotes out of context is fun.

~Josh

Carlos
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Software for game design

OutsideLime wrote:
Carlos wrote:
While I too Darke would prefer a front-end, let me just say that the back end isn't as daunting as I thought it would be.

Taking quotes out of context is fun.

~Josh

/spit take
/monocle pops out
Well I never! ;)

RobBartel
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Software for game design

Hrmm... I'm getting some nasty banding and loss of color depth when I begin adding images. I just been using oversized *.jpgs so far and haven't had a chance to experiment with anything else. Has anyone else had better success with including images?

Also, has anyone found a way to alter page size or page orientation? I've got a new large format color printer and am hoping to print the cards onto 11x17 sheets. =o)

Cheers,
Rob

larienna
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WOW, so cool! ( Phew! I won't have to make one )

It might be possible to easily make an access front end. Not that you will be able to see the result of the card while entering the data, but just make a data base that contains the data, save the data base as a text file, and make a program that will format the field of each entry in the database with the script command of the software.

What I am not sure is if I can make a generic program. I'll have to take a closer look at the script command. First I tought of using 2 files, 1 file with the data generated by access, and 1 file containing the command you are going to use for each field of each entry in the database.

The only flaws I found so far is that the files are saved as BMP, so you need a batch converter to recompress them all in a smaller format ( 1.5 meg per card is a lot ). Saving direcly in PDF format would have been much better.

Besides latex ( where the code could have been generated by a program), I do not know many software or tools that could take a serie of pictures and place them correcltly in a PDF without doing it manually.

Does it support many card resolution and/or size, I don't see anyways to adjust the shape of the card.

Anyways, it has a lot of potential and it was a good idea to use a script system because it allows to manage more easily the variable number of data fields a card can have in a game. The need to manage a lot of variability made the card creation software very difficult to make, so the script is a good solution.

RobBartel
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Software for game design

The "cardsize" command lets you customize the size of the card and the "dpi" command lets you adjust the resolution (unfortunately, this also ends up interfering with font size, I found). No way to change shape yet (although the "border" command lets you swap between rectangles and rounded rectangles at this point). It's also not clear whether any math functions are included - if you could turn the font size into a formula, you could avoid the dpi interference, for instance.

For more info, just open the NANDECK.HLP file included in the download.

Hope that helps,
Rob

nand
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Software for game design

Hi! I'm the author of nanDECK, and, after reading all the posts, I want to say thanks to everybody for the appreciation of the program.

I'm searching for some ideas to improve it, so every advice would be great.

So far, after reading this thread, I've planned to add in the next version:

- PDF output
- keywords for setting page size and orientation

Other suggestions?

Carlos
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Software for game design

Hey Nand, thansk for the great software! This community has long been looking for something like this!

I don't suppose there is a simple way to put a user-friendly front end on this software? Something like a card-building wizard that led you through the steps of making the cards? I know MANY more people would benefit from this software if something like that existed. I know that might be tricky, since technically you use an outside text editor to "write" the parameters for the cardgame, but I also know that some people are intimidated by even the simple scripting you have in your program (even me a little bit!).

Also, a previous poster mentioned some difficulty with image colors from jpgs; addressing that I think should be a priority.

Thanks again for the great work on this program. Like I said, it's what these boards have been looking for! PS, Darke, we should add this to the list of available software in the Downloads section.

--Carlos

phpbbadmin
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Software for game design

Carlos wrote:
PS, Darke, we should add this to the list of available software in the Downloads section.

--Carlos

I beat you to it, it's already there.
-Darke

Carlos
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Software for game design

Darkehorse wrote:
Carlos wrote:
PS, Darke, we should add this to the list of available software in the Downloads section.

--Carlos

I beat you to it, it's already there.
-Darke

I think I just got served. :)

RobBartel
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Software for game design

Yes, thanks for all of your work on this so far, Nand. As you can see, it's definitely meeting the needs of a lot of the people on these forums.

As for upcoming features, I agree with those suggested so far (PDF output, keywords for page size and page orientation, a wizard-based front end, and fixing the *.jpg image banding).

Some other suggestions are as follows:
- Support for PNG image files. Their lossless compression and transparency support make them extremely useful. Consider that as an export option, too.
- Ability to edit the TXT file directly within NANDeck. The need to open the file in a text editor, make a simple change, save it, reopen it in NANDeck, etc, seems a little redundant. I suggest splitting the current text window into two separate windows, one for editing the text file and the other for providing feedback.
- Upgrade the TXT input to RTF. This would remove the need for a separate FONT command and allow the user to put all of the font, size, and color info directly into the TEXT command. It would also make the input file more visual for the end user.
- Support for different card shapes. I think a lot of people would appreciate being able to create hex-shaped counters, for instance, but I can see this being a difficult suggestion to implement.
- Keep font size relative to card size rather than to DPI. Increasing the DPI will currently decrease the font size relative to the size of the card. Given the increase in deck-building times when working at higher resolutions, I think a lot of people would like to build their roughs at a low DPI, then increase the DPI at the very end once everything is in place.
- Inclusion of math operations. I originally thought of this as a useful workaround to the font/DPI issue but I think it would also be extremely helpful when dealing with the locations of different card elements. Essentially, it allows you to keep things relative by listing a position as [x]+1, [y]+1. This may be overkill, however.
- Better support for rotation. You can rotate images when you first place them but text xan only be rotated via the COPY command. It would be helpful to rotate the text immediately upon placing it.

Hope that helps,
Rob[/b]

seo
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Software for game design

RobBartel wrote:
- Keep font size relative to card size rather than to DPI. Increasing the DPI will currently decrease the font size relative to the size of the card. Given the increase in deck-building times when working at higher resolutions, I think a lot of people would like to build their roughs at a low DPI, then increase the DPI at the very end once everything is in place.

Wouldn't it be better to set font size in points, as in a regular word processor or DTP program? That would make it independent of resolution, AND of card size. I undrestand that in some situations having font size relative to card size would be nice, but on other ocassions it would be quite annoying.
Anyone with even the slightest experience with a word processor would know how to handle font size in points, and setting text in 10 or 12 points size should be quite intuitive.

Seo

RobBartel
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Software for game design

Yes, by keeping the font relative to cardsize, I don't mean that we express it as a percentage or anything. Traditional fontsize scales are fine - the key is simply that the fontsize remain consistent across realworld measurements. If a 10-point Arial font displays the word "Werewolf" within a 2cm x 5cm space, then it should always do so even when you change the number of pixels within that 2cm x 5cm space.

In NANDeck, currently, ellipses, rectangles, and images keep a consistent size when you change the DPI but text does not.

In short, seo and I are requesting the same thing,
Thanks,
Rob

RobBartel
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Software for game design

Another request:

* Vector-based output format. Being able to export into a popular vector-based format such as the open-standard SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) would also be useful. Aside from being open-standard, SVG also has the benefit of direct support for vector, raster, and text-based information, which seems to be a good summary of what NANDeck is all about.

larienna
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Software for game design

From Access to PDF

Here is the list of step that should be done to make it available to take the information from a access data base and generate a pdf file with it. To do so, it would require : Access, the card generator, an image batch converter, pdflatex and 2 homemade programs.

1- Make a access database containg the structure of the card and the information of the card themselves. Since the information on each card is variable from a card set to another, the user will have to make sure the information in each field match the structure define in the structure table.

2-Save the database as a text file. Then run a home made program that will read the structure and data table and generate a script text file.

3- load the script text file into the card generator to generate all the images as bmp.

4- Use a batch image converter to convert all the images as .png.

5- Use another home made program to generate the latex source code according to various parameters like the size of the cards, number of cards per column and row, Paper format, etc.

6- Run pdf latex to generate the pdf file.

So as you can see, it can be done, but of course there is a lot of trouble.

--- Section for programmers ---

By the way, Access save their text data on a format that looks like this

"data 1", "data 2", "data 3"

Is there a C library somewhere that allows to read entries like this. I generally use strtok() which allow formatting like this.

data 1;data 2;data 3;

FastLearner
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Software for game design

Much easier would be downloading PDF995 (free of charge), creating a simple 9-up or 10-up (whichever you prefer) report in Access, and printing to PDF995.

http://www.pdf995.com/

---

More specific to your question, the file format you're talking about is called Comma Separated Values, or CSV. There are many, many libraries for reading and writing CSV format. It is the most popular plain text format in the ASCII world, perhaps only rivaled by tab-delimited text files.

-- Matthew

nand
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Software for game design

Well, I've just uploaded a new release (1.4) with these improvements:

- Internal text editor (with help and syntax highlights),
- PDF output,
- New PAGE directive for page size and orientation,
- FONT size in typographical points (1/72 of an inch), sorry but you have to recheck all your scripts :-/
- FONT parameter for background color.

phpbbadmin
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Software for game design

nand wrote:
Well, I've just uploaded a new release (1.4) with these improvements:

- Internal text editor (with help and syntax highlights),
- PDF output,
- New PAGE directive for page size and orientation,
- FONT size in typographical points (1/72 of an inch), sorry but you have to recheck all your scripts :-/
- FONT parameter for background color.

Nand,

Wow thanks a million. Can I make a donation to you for all your hard work?
-Darke

RobBartel
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Software for game design

Fast work, Nand! I look forward to downloading the new version and trying it out.

Rob

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