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Kobold
 
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 1:49 pm
Posts: 14
 Post subject: User created System Packs for RPTools
PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:36 am 
Hey guys, i have been interested in RPTools for a long time but the amount of work necessary to put it to good use is more than i think i can handle, despite that, i have taken a look at some user created things and realized most of the work has been done by someone somewhere at some point, so it wouldn't be really smart to reinvent the wheel.

But the main thing is, RPTools could be come a lot more user friendly if we gathered all the system related stuff and packaged it into system packs to be used with it.

Mostly, my interest is with 4e, i envision the possibility of making RPTools do All the math for the game, with stuff like passive perception checks, cover/concealment allowing stealth or adding modifiers, action limits, conditional modifiers from feats, magic items etc, 4e is a very strictly ruled system so it could actually be programed entirely to function with all the predefined rules, obviously the DM would have the final say and could change things whatever he wanted during play.

Basically, i believe the RPTools can become a lot more user friendly to the point that you could just add a system pack and start playing. That would certainly make RPtools reach its full potential and new heights of popularity entirely!

Ideally it would go something like this:
Install RPTools, install system pack, run it
- screen pops up where user can select system or no system
- after system is selected user chooses GM role or Player,
- if GM is chosen screen pops up with GM tool options:
map creation, encounter creation, session runner
- the creation options would lead to a step by step wizard to set up all about the encounter
- the session runner would be an organizer that would allow the manipulation of all the pre made GM material to run the session. when an Encounter starts it asks for things like surprise actions or initiative rolls and would automatically cycle the combat rounds and pausing for free actions would also be integrated

If all RPTools resources where organized like that it would be a million times easier to get people interested in the program, adding new features to the packs would come a lot more frequently and naturally by then.


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Deity
 
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2007 6:31 pm
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 Post subject: Re: User created System Packs for RPTools
PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:06 am 
KKDragonLord wrote:
Hey guys, i have been interested in RPTools for a long time but the amount of work necessary to put it to good use is more than i think i can handle, despite that, i have taken a look at some user created things and realized most of the work has been done by someone somewhere at some point, so it wouldn't be really smart to reinvent the wheel.

But the main thing is, RPTools could be come a lot more user friendly if we gathered all the system related stuff and packaged it into system packs to be used with it.

Mostly, my interest is with 4e, i envision the possibility of making RPTools do All the math for the game, with stuff like passive perception checks, cover/concealment allowing stealth or adding modifiers, action limits, conditional modifiers from feats, magic items etc, 4e is a very strictly ruled system so it could actually be programed entirely to function with all the predefined rules, obviously the DM would have the final say and could change things whatever he wanted during play.

Basically, i believe the RPTools can become a lot more user friendly to the point that you could just add a system pack and start playing. That would certainly make RPtools reach its full potential and new heights of popularity entirely!

Ideally it would go something like this:
Install RPTools, install system pack, run it
- screen pops up where user can select system or no system
- after system is selected user chooses GM role or Player,
- if GM is chosen screen pops up with GM tool options:
map creation, encounter creation, session runner
- the creation options would lead to a step by step wizard to set up all about the encounter
- the session runner would be an organizer that would allow the manipulation of all the pre made GM material to run the session. when an Encounter starts it asks for things like surprise actions or initiative rolls and would automatically cycle the combat rounds and pausing for free actions would also be integrated

If all RPTools resources where organized like that it would be a million times easier to get people interested in the program, adding new features to the packs would come a lot more frequently and naturally by then.


Wont happen(at least not the way you are expecting). Maptools is meant to be system agnostic while trying to support the mechanical bits of multiple systems(which it can't always do). The developers will not release an "Official" system pack for various reasons, one of which has to do with licencing terms. Due to Licencing issues, RPTools could not use the name D&D or Dungeons & Dragons in naming a system pack since those are copyrighted names. So, with that, how would you find the game pack you wanted??? There is only so much "fair use" you can get and programming what amounts to a full ruleset is a BIG NO NO. That is where the user forums come into play... if you note, the existing D&D 4E frameworks provide no power details, leaving that detail for the final user to input prior to playing. If the classes powers were already there, this would most likely result in a big fat lawsuit. The type of integration you are asking for would have to be something built by a professional software company who licensed the D&D name from Wizards of the Coast and in most cases, WotC would get a royalty percentage of each unit sold. Such would be the case of things like Baldurs Gate, Icewind Dales computer games, etc.

_________________
I save all my Campaign Files to DropBox. Not only can I access a campaign file from pretty much any OS that will run Maptool(Win,OSX, linux), but each file is versioned, so if something goes crazy wild, I can always roll back to a previous version of the same file.

Get your Dropbox 2GB via my referral link, and as a bonus, I get an extra 250 MB of space. Even if you don't don't use my link, I still enthusiastically recommend Dropbox..


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Kobold
 
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 1:49 pm
Posts: 14
 Post subject: Re: User created System Packs for RPTools
PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:40 am 
Well, "where there is a will there is a way" i think.

I understand i am new to all this and just found out about the frameworks, they are pretty much what a system pack would be, even if every information would have to be inputted by the user or acquired from somewhere else such as with some sort of integration with the D&DI tools, i believe it would still be possible to make those packs.

The naming problem isn't that much of a big deal, there are stuff such as iPlay4e around, im pretty sure its possible to come up with something.

But the main thing, i think, is that there should be an easier to use interface to use the basic stuff with the RPtools. Once you download and open the program its easy to see all those functionalities and still don't know where or how to begin. A simple wizard would do it, one that would give step by step instructions on how to set up the basic stuff to run a session with Rptools. The video tutorials are great to illustrate the possibilities, but it doesnt really help all that much when you dont even know where to begin.

Also integration with all the tools would be a very important thing, i think.

But either way if it comes down to simple system based wizards i dont think it would be so impossible to do.


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Deity
 
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2007 6:31 pm
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 Post subject: Re: User created System Packs for RPTools
PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:55 am 
Don't get me wrong... some of the things you bring up are valid points and things that will be addressed in future releases. I was going off of how I understood your original post comments. For example, integration with all of the tools "may" come in 1.4 (or may not!). At that point, you could possibly click a button called lets say create new character and Character builder would open and you would select your game system, build your character and it would be dumped to the screen as a token. Likewise, the existing maptool code does not do anything regarding game system "events" in initiative the way that Inittool does.

In a future release, with Inittool integrated and properly configured by the user, when you init comes up, you will take ongoing damage and when you are done, you will make saves, etc. The big thing is will such events be preset, or something you as an end user can set up with some simple scripting. There is a fine line between breaking the law and not. Another example is lets say that WotC comes up with a new state named Furblegasted. That specific term would be IP unless they explicitly said otherwise and no tool would be able to use such a term legally unless they could prove prior art that the term existed prior to WotC's "creation" of that term.

And yes, one of the main goals of the next release is to make the UI both prettier AND more user friendly.

_________________
I save all my Campaign Files to DropBox. Not only can I access a campaign file from pretty much any OS that will run Maptool(Win,OSX, linux), but each file is versioned, so if something goes crazy wild, I can always roll back to a previous version of the same file.

Get your Dropbox 2GB via my referral link, and as a bonus, I get an extra 250 MB of space. Even if you don't don't use my link, I still enthusiastically recommend Dropbox..


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Kobold
 
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 1:49 pm
Posts: 14
 Post subject: Re: User created System Packs for RPTools
PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 11:10 am 
Yeah, im really sorry if i am kinda stating the obvious here you guys are probably way ahead of me.

I saw some great stuff floating around the user creation sections such as:
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=12364

that i got a little carried away thinking about the possibilities when i don't even know how to do anyhing myself yet.


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Site Admin
 
Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2006 12:20 pm
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 Post subject: Re: User created System Packs for RPTools
PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 10:38 pm 
Don't be scared off from discussing this kind of thing, though.

Having users suggest ideas can often jump-start the brains of the developers (or other users) and that kind of inspiration is a Good Thing(tm). 8)


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Cave Troll
 
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:50 am
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Location: Washington, DC
 Post subject: Re: User created System Packs for RPTools
PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 1:02 pm 
jfrazierjr wrote:
Wont happen(at least not the way you are expecting). Maptools is meant to be system agnostic while trying to support the mechanical bits of multiple systems(which it can't always do). The developers will not release an "Official" system pack for various reasons, one of which has to do with licencing terms. Due to Licencing issues, RPTools could not use the name D&D or Dungeons & Dragons in naming a system pack since those are copyrighted names. So, with that, how would you find the game pack you wanted??? There is only so much "fair use" you can get and programming what amounts to a full ruleset is a BIG NO NO. That is where the user forums come into play... if you note, the existing D&D 4E frameworks provide no power details, leaving that detail for the final user to input prior to playing. If the classes powers were already there, this would most likely result in a big fat lawsuit. The type of integration you are asking for would have to be something built by a professional software company who licensed the D&D name from Wizards of the Coast and in most cases, WotC would get a royalty percentage of each unit sold. Such would be the case of things like Baldurs Gate, Icewind Dales computer games, etc.


Clearly this is possible, just not exactly as described. Having some sort of installer framework to support the installation and removal of custom "system" packages could certainly be done while maintaining MapTool's system agnosticism.

JFrazierJr, maybe it's just me, but a lot of your posts seem like you relish saying "no" on a technicality. It can't be encouraging to new posters.

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& So Forth a blog about dungeons & dragons & so forth. With a particular eye for virtual table-top play, 5e, and OSR themes.


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Dragon
 
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 3:48 pm
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 Post subject: Re: User created System Packs for RPTools
PostPosted: Thu May 27, 2010 10:12 pm 
I'm confused -- how is this different from the various 4E frameworks that already exist? Maptool already tracks all of stats you mentioned, along with basically everything else. You just have to download a couple tokens and a properties file... Or are you saying that installation of the current frameworks should be simplified?


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Dragon
 
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:40 pm
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 Post subject: Re: User created System Packs for RPTools
PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2010 8:38 am 
Random Thoughts:
Having used PC-Gen, the idea of loading a "system pack" seemed like a great idea, except when I wanted to tweak something in the system (I'm a big fan of homebrew rules and I have yet to see a software package to handles RPG information just the way I like).
I fell in love with MapTool and the whole open-source approach, but also understand the frustration of having to build things "from scratch". I love the automation potential, and yet I am consistently frustrated by the amount of my time it sucks away from me (partly because I'm just never satisfied). On the other hand, there are a large number of resources now available, much of which is modular. I can easily load a campaign with some system-specific components ("frameworks"), and whatever other tools I want for ease-of-play (teleporting tokens, speech managers, etc.). I love the modularity and ability to customize details, and I would now balk at the idea of a structured interface that forced to "pick a system" one-at-a-time for a particular campaign file.

It seems like there is a trade-off between the ease of a system that lets users pick from a list (such as PC-Gen or what is proposed in the original post), and flexibility of the open-source approach or the "system-agnosticism" of MapTool, which forces the user to create your own structure.
I think the frameworks are a great balance: a package of stuff that's ready to go, but all the pieces are accessible and can be modified by the user.

Different users, different problems.
Please don't feel like I'm rejecting your ideas out of hand. I do agree that there is an opportunity to make MapTool easier for new users to get into. Then again, I tried several competing VTTs and settled on MapTool because it was so easy to start using, map-wise. I didn't get into the Macro side of things until later. The biggest challenge for me was getting the thing running in the first place, but that has improved significantly (at least on the Mac side of things) in the past year.
What developers might choose to re-think is the way custom macro sets are loaded and tracked in a campaign file. The current system of Lib:tokens does work, but there is no simple interface that shows a user what Lib:tokens are loaded, what custom functions are defined, etc. So much of a framework's utility depends on the framework developer to ensure adequate documentation, making the installation process easy, etc.

Suggestions and Ideas
Maybe what would help is a set of standards or guidelines (or "best practices") for framework devs to help ensure some consistency in the way frameworks are loaded into campaigns? Frameworks that follow certain standards can be listed in a forum somewhere, so that users can see available options and know roughly how to deal with all of them. Framework devs wouldn't need to follow the standards, but then their work would not be in the same list.

What about a "framework installer" procedure in the MapTool UI that loads a "package" containing lib:tokens, necessary tables, and campaign properties for a particular framework? These can all currently be im/exported separately, but the only way to have them all together is in a full campaign file - what if you want to use more than one "framework" in a single campaign? What if the different components could be bundled together into a single "package" file and there was a command in MapTool to load all components, or pick the ones you want, from a framework "package"? Ideally, this installer could also check the settings to ensure Lib:Tokens are set-up properly, or other common issues that might break a framework. This would not have to replace the current system and the flexibility it affords, but might make it easier for new users to load all the pieces of a full framework more easily.

I'm thinking of other open-source projects like R (http://www.r-rpoject.org), which is open-source, has the same flexibility and total lack of structure that is overwhelming to new users, but also has a system for add-on "packages", which are developed by other users all over the world, but all follow the same standards of documentation, installation procedures, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: User created System Packs for RPTools
PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2010 11:34 am 
biodude wrote:
What about a "framework installer" procedure in the MapTool UI that loads a "package" containing lib:tokens, necessary tables, and campaign properties for a particular framework?

Standards are great. Everyone should have one. We have several. 8)

I worked on a "unified import/export" architecture for MapTool early last year. The code was actually checked into SVN but never enabled through the menus.

What is there right now is the framework: the system finds all exportable resources and builds a checkbox tree that the user can then enable or disable various parts of it. The result would be an Export button that only exports those pieces of the tree. This would allow a single export file that has the campaign properties, sight, light, preferences, maps, assets, tokens, tables, macros, textures, and so on. When importing the tree would be much smaller (it would only include the things in the export file) and again the user could choose which ones to import.

The problem was not in the implementation but in semantics. If I export a map, does it automatically export all tokens/objects on the map? (If it does not, then what is the definition of a map?) If a token on that map uses a particular property type should that property type be forced into the export file or still be user controlled? So many of the various pieces are inter-related that exporting anything causes everything else to be exported. :? (Well, except for tables and preferences.)

Right now the actual import/export process is non-functional. I had a lot of work left to do in the tie-ins that allow each MapTool subsystem to play nicely with the new code. For example, the map subsystem needs to register with my code so that my code knows who to call when it's time to build a list of map names/objects for export.

We now have the (configurable) ability to export individual maps. That allows a lot of tokens to be written out as a single unit -- something we haven't had previously. But the map feature needs to be specifically enabled. There will be a checkbox on the Preferences panel that enables that code at run time in b68 (I hope) so maybe more people will be testing it. :)

Documentation is a completely different matter. I'm only responsible for documentation on MapTool code. Those people working on and using campaign frameworks need to handle their own documentation. And yet, docs are not a lot of fun to keep up to date. The person doing that work needs to stay in close touch with the FW developer so that the docs don't become out of date.

And there are two levels of documentation: interface and implementation. The interface is how the user, er, "interfaces" with the FW. And the implementation documents the internal details of how things work in case another MTscripter wants to make changes. Each type of doc requires a different writing style and often a person who is good at one style isn't so good at the other style. Then there's the rare individual who's good at both!

Sorry, enough rambling. I'll climb back under my rock now...


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