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MSE as a Prototyping Tool or is there something better?

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oltyan
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Joined: 04/25/2012

Hello all!

Recently join and wanted to see what tools people were using out there (not for printing) but the actual setup and analysis of cards.

At my recent job, some folks had suggested MSE (http://magicseteditor.sourceforge.net/). This has been working fairly well for me as it provides the ability to setup a card with an image with some amount of flexibility. I am not using the majority of the MtG based features in the program, but as far as setting up basic text, getting in an image, flavor text, and art descriptions, it seems like a solid tool. The ability to do statistical analysis with it is pretty helpful as well.

I was using straight spreadsheets before, but transferring those to something that was nicely printable was not terribly easy. I do miss the ability to do the detailed analysis on costing and power that I had so I will probably be back porting my current prototype to that and vice-versa.

So, to get back to my question, has anyone been using/found/aware of a prototyping tool that can

  • Setup cards for printing easily
  • Allow for statistical analysis on the cards I'm designing
  • Allow greater ability to set custom fields on a card (since I'm not making a TCG, a lot of MSE features aren't really useful for me)

    Thanks!

  • Palindrome
    Offline
    Joined: 04/14/2012
    Prototyping

    I'm not sure if you are talking about designing cards or just analyzing them, but for designing, I use InDesign. I was seriously looking at MSE, but the majority of the templates are based on Magic: the Gathering. That isn't necessarily a bad thing (as I used to be an avid Magic player many ages ago), but I'm not interested in making a Magic clone or using anything that reminds the player of Magic on first impression. All the other templates are based on established CCG/TCG/LCG brands such as Yu-Gi-Oh, Legend of the Five Rings, etc, which I'm not going there. I can't draw or do any sort of decent design work, which is why I went with InDesign and not Photoshop.

    innuendo
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    Joined: 05/25/2010
    You can create your own

    You can create your own templates in MSE with whatever fields you want? I use MSE for my own prototyping and I probably have done about 20 different games in one, of varying complexity.

    If you just use the magic frame you'll be disappointed. But the scripting language isn't complicated and it is worth learning if you want to use it.

    The real genious with MSE is a wysiwyg card editting and custom export templates. For example, I use Lackey CCG (speaking of suggestions for a better program, anyone?) to do digital testing of my games for quick and dirty feedback. I have an MSE -> Lackey export plugin I built awhile back so I can take an MSE set and convert it to a lackey setinfo.txt file for playtesting in a matter of minutes (prep time not included).

    I have a friend who is just getting his teeth into inDesign and finds it very powerful. I tend to think it's a shit ton of overhead for something that doesn't seem that nice. Something about datamerging just feels haphazard to me. Especially when it comes to making fine edits to certain cards, something I think MSE is great at.

    That's my take at least.

    oltyan
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    Joined: 04/25/2012
    More toolz

    Add mse_designer to that tool chain and you have the beginnings of a powerful prototyping system from design to play.

    I was talking with a friend who actually created a web interface to input data into MSE templates. I'm working on getting the next prototype of my game done with my existing tools, but after that's done and I'm in playtesting mode, I'll use extra the time to see if I can string some of these things together into a package.

    Wouldn't it be great if you could:
    -Input data in a google sheet (so you can balance out numbers and whatnot)
    -Use webtool to edit pictures / Customize templates / import data from sheet
    -Export to a tool that lets you play it (assuming the HUMAN system is capable of enforcing the rules)

    All in one go? I know that would save metric *tons of work on my end particularly if I'm doing solo player testing.

    Awaclus
    Awaclus's picture
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    Joined: 07/17/2012
    I use MSE with custom

    I use MSE with custom templates a lot. Getting a custom template work takes up a few hours (from me - I use to program sometimes just for fun, but I'm not very good at it), but is definitely worth the effort.

    nand
    nand's picture
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    Joined: 07/27/2008
    nanDECK

    nanDECK (the program I wrote) is capable to read an Excel (or csv) file and use the fields for filling templates, it works all with scripts, for example, if this is a test.xls file (commas separate columns):

    name, img, desc
    alpha, alpha.jpg, "This is description for card alpha"
    beta, beta.png, "This is description for card beta"
    gamma, gamma.bmp, "This is description for card gamma"

    It can be read by a script like this:

    link=test.xls
    font=arial,18,,#000000
    [range]=1-3
    text=[range],[name],0,0,100%,20%
    image=[range],[img],0,20%,100%,40%,0,P
    text=[range],[desc],0,60%,100%,40%,left,wordwrap

    The result is one card for each line of the .xls file, with one title, one image and one description.
    The program is free, and can be downloaded from here:
    http://www.nandeck.com

    If you have some questions, feel free to ask.

    ihmcallister
    Offline
    Joined: 08/16/2008
    I have been using Indesign

    I have been using Indesign and google docs to create csv files and then data merge. You have to think about your spreadsheets a bit differently but this is an incredibly powerful tool to produce games quickly and change elements easily. If you dont want the cost overhead then you could sign up to their subscription which is very reasonable for such a powerful programme. I've used this method to put together 3 prototypes in the last week alone, my time being taken up with the rules and data rather than layout.

    I use gimp to make images up that I can import with the datamerge method, and find it just powerful enough for me without being overwhelming. Thankfully it is also free.

    Daniel Solis had a good thing over on his blog about datamerge recently. Worth checking out for advice on how to set it up.

    Cheers

    Iain

    boylejm
    boylejm's picture
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    Joined: 01/03/2010
    I found Nandeck a few days

    I found Nandeck a few days ago (can't remember where I first found the link) and I was already planning on using excel to organize my cards, but I thought I was going to have to set up my own custom code to export the data to a text file format that Nandeck could use.

    When you said here that I can use the excel file directly, it seriously made my day! I'm really excited to use this for my game and I really appreciate the effort you've put into the program so far (and I'm glad to see it's still in active development too!)

    Thanks!

    blackorse
    Offline
    Joined: 09/06/2012
    nandeck

    hello
    ı use nandeck and pretty happy with it
    btw nandeck had a cool counter example which showed excel integration before but I cannot find it in last version of web site.
    nandeck developer, please advise

    nand
    nand's picture
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    Joined: 07/27/2008
    boylejm wrote:I found Nandeck

    boylejm wrote:
    I found Nandeck a few days ago (can't remember where I first found the link) and I was already planning on using excel to organize my cards, but I thought I was going to have to set up my own custom code to export the data to a text file format that Nandeck could use.

    When you said here that I can use the excel file directly, it seriously made my day! I'm really excited to use this for my game and I really appreciate the effort you've put into the program so far (and I'm glad to see it's still in active development too!)


    Thanks to you for using nanDECK.

    I'm and adding some simple features (fixing some bug now). If you have suggestion, it's the right time ;-)

    blackorse wrote:
    hello
    ı use nandeck and pretty happy with it
    btw nandeck had a cool counter example which showed excel integration before but I cannot find it in last version of web site.
    nandeck developer, please advise

    You can find a tutorial here:

    http://www.nand.it/nandeck/tut_d.html

    In this example there is a .csv text file, but it works also with an Excel file.

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