What does Battlegrounds offer?

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Betterthanlife
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Post by Betterthanlife » Fri Jun 16, 2006 12:35 am

Omnidon wrote:
I'll definitely have to take a closer look at Klooge. I have already purchased BRPG and don't regret it, but you can never have too many good tools ;-)
Take a look. It will be worth your time. There are usually a couple of games going that don't mind lurkers or new players as well. Like I said my T20 game has some spare licenses. :)
Betterthanlife wrote:The biggest problem I have found in this type of software is lack of adequate documentation. None of these systems are really adequately documented enough to set it up for a new game system without serious hair pulling and stress. :) (I know I have now done that twice and am about to tackle a whole new game system. :) )
Omnidon wrote:heruca often points that out. As I said, BRPG is all about ease-of-use and he intends to provide the best documentation on the market. He already has quite an extensive manual written up (included with the download), and he has been updating it for nearly every version during beta.
Well then once it is stable I might have to give it serious consideration. :)

<SNIP!>
Myth wrote:I hosted a game last night on FG. Well, I tried to. Nobody could connect to the demo. We tried having one of the players host it (in case some kind of problem on my machine was the culprit.) Still, nobody could connect. :(
Omnidon wrote:I've been able to connect fine. That's too bad, I hope that's not another new bug cropping up :?
Just a quick, I think you missed it, he was talking about having problems connecting using the Demo of Fantasygrounds not Battlegrounds. :)

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Post by Omnidon » Fri Jun 16, 2006 12:45 am

Betterthanlife wrote:
Myth wrote:I hosted a game last night on FG. Well, I tried to. Nobody could connect to the demo. We tried having one of the players host it (in case some kind of problem on my machine was the culprit.) Still, nobody could connect. :(
Omnidon wrote:I've been able to connect fine. That's too bad, I hope that's not another new bug cropping up :?
Just a quick, I think you missed it, he was talking about having problems connecting using the Demo of Fantasygrounds not Battlegrounds. :)

Heheh yeah I missed it, thanks ;-) One less problem for poor heruca to deal with. Too bad for FG though :twisted:

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More discussion

Post by Myth » Fri Jun 16, 2006 1:16 pm

Thanks s'more!
As I said, BRPG is all about ease-of-use and he intends to provide the best documentation on the market. He already has quite an extensive manual written up (included with the download), and he has been updating it for nearly every version during beta.
That's awesome. I wish I had the time to delve into BRPG and help out. I used to write Help files and Software Manuals for the software company I worked for. In other words, I have 2 years of professional experience as a technical writer and I could probably assist.

But unfortunately, I work full-time, I'm a full-time student, and I'm a full-time dad to 5 sons. A weekly online campaign sucks up the last of my free time (which is fine!). But I simply don't have the time to invest. :(

Heruca, you're doing a bang-up job from all the signs I can see. Keep it up, man!

Myth

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Post by Betterthanlife » Sun Jun 18, 2006 8:04 pm

On Saturday I participated in my first game being run on Fantasy Grounds.

I find the dice rolling as neat as I thought it would be based on the demo. I find the graphics lack the interaction and detail available in Klooge but that may be simply the maps chosen by the GM. The game ran well and stable. Encoding the xml character sheet is apparently a nightmare, in terms of tedium. (At least according to the GM.) The Dice suite doesn't appear to be as good as Klooge or Screen Monkey and definitely is a far shout from where GRiP stopped development. The Fog of War works as expected on the maps. I am not sure how the Character sheet encoding can automate die rolls, or if it even can. Our campaign doesn't have that in there. I do like the fact that you can have multiple maps open on the player screen at once. But I think that utility can generally be compensated for with other graphics on the other systems.

I only have a player license for Fantasy Grounds so I can't tell you what the GM interface is like. (With the other systems I already own and being a little short of cash, I didn't see the point of getting the GM license at this time.)

So far the only things that stand out for FG is the fact that there are no floating licenses, so the players have to purchase a license to play (Bad!), and the dice rolling mechanics where you have the option of picking up the dice and rolling them on screen. (Good.) Otherwise I, so far, would put FG as run of the mill and an also ran, not up to the same capabilities that Klooge has. To be fair in some respects it isn't really even up to the standards of GRiP, unless you are running a D20 game, then it is about even with GRiP.

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Post by heruca » Wed Jun 21, 2006 11:07 pm

Welcome, Betterthanlife.

Some good discussion going on in this thread. The only thing I'd like to add is that in regards to rulesets and automation, that isn't currently part of BRPG's plans, and may well never be.
Omnidon wrote:As for BRPG being too unstable currently to compete, yes I do agree that it is a bit early for it to be going on the market. (I've been telling heruca this, but he's pretty stubborn about releasing it ASAP).
It's more a matter of financial necessity, not choice. :( But don't worry, I intend to solve the major stability problems by the time 1.0 is released.
myth wrote:I wish I had the time to delve into BRPG and help out. I used to write Help files and Software Manuals for the software company I worked for. In other words, I have 2 years of professional experience as a technical writer and I could probably assist.
Sounds like you'd be a good person to provide feedback on the User Manual. I hope someday you can spare some time to do so.
myth wrote:But unfortunately, I work full-time, I'm a full-time student, and I'm a full-time dad to 5 sons. A weekly online campaign sucks up the last of my free time (which is fine!). But I simply don't have the time to invest.
:shock: :shock: :shock:

And I thought I was busy.
myth wrote:Heruca, you're doing a bang-up job from all the signs I can see. Keep it up, man!
Thanks! :D
:arrow: Please help spread the word about BRPG and BGE, and never hesitate to tell me how I can make them better suit your gaming needs.

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Post by Betterthanlife » Wed Jun 21, 2006 11:28 pm

Thanks for allowing the discussion. I definitely recommend at least some automation when it comes to character sheets and die rolls. It is extremely helpful as a GM to know where the die rolls are coming from without having to keep looking at the character sheets, especially in an online game where things tend to be slower in the first place.

You tell them to make a roll, they push the appropiate button, the system tells you they pushed the right button and everything runs smoothly. The system should, of course, also let the GM know if the player is modifying their sheet.

Looking into the xml for a character sheet for Fantasy Grounds, making FG work for another rulesystem is a nightmare. You are placing textboxes by counting pixels. (Granted a good graphics software package can do the counting for you, but that is a pain in the butt.) The XML sheet in Klooge uses tables and lines and columns. Simple. GRiP is simpler yet as you aren't encoding xml you are using the built in character sheet generator and you can see it as you create it. However that, the dice suite and the players playing for free is about all that GRiP has going for it.

I do suggest that, in creating a new system to play these RPGs over the internet you do take a good look at the competition. Klooge's Demo is limited but offers interesting insight to how it works. (the Map tools are and graphics are simply awsome.) GRiP is fully functional for 60 days. And if it had a better manual and/or developer support and was still being imporved could probably be in the same league as Klooge by now. ScreenMonkey Lite is missing a few features, (scripting being the most important) but gives you a good feel for it. It, like FG, is missing the neat automated character sheets, that make a GM's life so much easier. It also, with a couple of scripts that are available, has a dice suite that rivals GRiP and in some cases surpasses it.

Just my two cents. For those that want a more serious look at Klooge I do run a Wednesday evening Traveller campaign every week. Ask and I will send you the IP address.

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Post by heruca » Thu Jun 22, 2006 12:18 am

If I can find my Klooge license code, I might take you up on that offer.

I do have plans on having interactive character sheets at some point, and those will allow for macro-based die rolls at the push of a button. What I meant by automation is that it won't do long strings of related events, like: "Roll to cast fireball spell, and if it succeeds, automatically rolls Save vs Spells for the fireball's target, and if the Save fails, apply damage, but reduce that damage by half due to a Cloak of Fire Protection being worn." That sort of thing.
:arrow: Please help spread the word about BRPG and BGE, and never hesitate to tell me how I can make them better suit your gaming needs.

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Post by Omnidon » Thu Jun 22, 2006 1:52 am

heruca wrote:If I can find my Klooge license code, I might take you up on that offer.

I do have plans on having interactive character sheets at some point, and those will allow for macro-based die rolls at the push of a button. What I meant by automation is that it won't do long strings of related events, like: "Roll to cast fireball spell, and if it succeeds, automatically rolls Save vs Spells for the fireball's target, and if the Save fails, apply damage, but reduce that damage by half due to a Cloak of Fire Protection being worn." That sort of thing.
But since BRPG allows the use of Flash within the program, it would be possible for advanced users to create extensions that do that. I intend to make Flash applications for any special rules in my RPG systems. Once I learn the ropes, I may start taking requests too.

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Post by masterlurker » Thu Jun 22, 2006 2:58 am

What does Battlegrounds offer?
I think you're all overcomplicating things.
Battlegrounds has Kepli *and* Halebop.
~lurker~
Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. -- Mark Twain

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Post by Betterthanlife » Thu Jun 22, 2006 3:22 am

Omnidon wrote:
heruca wrote:If I can find my Klooge license code, I might take you up on that offer.

I do have plans on having interactive character sheets at some point, and those will allow for macro-based die rolls at the push of a button. What I meant by automation is that it won't do long strings of related events, like: "Roll to cast fireball spell, and if it succeeds, automatically rolls Save vs Spells for the fireball's target, and if the Save fails, apply damage, but reduce that damage by half due to a Cloak of Fire Protection being worn." That sort of thing.
But since BRPG allows the use of Flash within the program, it would be possible for advanced users to create extensions that do that. I intend to make Flash applications for any special rules in my RPG systems. Once I learn the ropes, I may start taking requests too.
No license required. I have a couple of spares. (7 licenses total 4 current active players, plus the GM. )

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Post by Omnidon » Thu Jun 22, 2006 3:33 am

I may take you up on that too then sometime though I'll be busy for a while with unpacking.

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Proofing

Post by Myth » Thu Jun 22, 2006 2:59 pm

Sounds like you'd be a good person to provide feedback on the User Manual. I hope someday you can spare some time to do so.
Heruca, feel free to email it to me. (I'm sure it's listed here somewhere, but I'm not sure which is the most recent revision.) I'll bleed all over it. (Mark it up with red ink.) You choose which edits to keep and which to discard... it's all totally up to you.

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Post by heruca » Thu Jun 22, 2006 3:07 pm

Cool. I'll send it along in a few days, as soon as I've finished updating it.
:arrow: Please help spread the word about BRPG and BGE, and never hesitate to tell me how I can make them better suit your gaming needs.

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Oh no!

Post by GMBazUK » Sat Jul 01, 2006 5:27 pm

For the love of...

Please dont complicate BG to the extent that I cannot play my beloved, ancient and obscure roleplaying systems with it.

One of the things I like about BG is its emphasis on transferring info as imgaes, dice roll results, sound files and thats it.

Klooge may be everything to all men, but for me I didnt feel in control.

FG is great (I love the animated dice), but the fact that it comes with xml scripted data sheets for D20 systems kinda makes me feel like Im not using it properly when I run a different system, and have to have character sheets as jpgs because I dont have an xml file for them.

BG does what it says on the tin. You load it, you see a table top, a map grid (hexagonal - good start). You want to throw some dice and share it with your friends - ok theyre not animated, which could also be considered a good thing, but you can do that.
You need character sheets, you just store them as low dpi jpegs
Rules - if you need them - Save them as jpegs, and access them that way.
Initiatives - I dont know for sure, but if BG lets you order initiatives some way, that would be helpful.
Wanna send sound files...

I could go on, and I have, but for me as an old skool roleplayer, I just want a clean neat interface which lets me share stuff with the remotely located players, fast and efficiently.

Let me do the maths.

If there are going to be additional functions in the future ala Klooge, can we have it such that you can toggle the interface to show only what you want. You know have a dialogue box with radio buttons for activating etc.(this from someone who has trouble fitting a plug let alone writing a computer program)


Baz.

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Post by Betterthanlife » Sat Jul 01, 2006 6:39 pm

Ever try ScreenMonkey? http://www.nbos.com/products/screenmonk ... monkey.htm
It does just that. The only issue is the maps don't zoom. I personally prefer a little more bells and whistles. But I have considered running a new campaign on it as it is the only system that actually rolls Shadowrun 1st-3rd Ed dice without me having to do any programming. :) Player interface is free.
Bruce

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Post by Omnidon » Sat Jul 01, 2006 6:57 pm

Screenmonkey was a clever idea, but I too missed the bells and whistles. Plus it was aggravating to have to wait for long refreshes on big maps since it sent the whole map every time a change was made.

I don't know exactly what you mean by initiatives, but if you mean the order of turns in a battle, yes you can do that from the Turn Sequencer. (T)

BRPG will always be getting more features, but heruca is going to make a big effort to make it as user-friendly as possible.

It is likely that many of the more advanced features to come will have to be activated from the preferences menu so not to clutter things up for the newbies.

Nothing will keep you from using BRPG as you described. New features will just give you more options.

I intend to use BRPG for freestyle roleplaying, which I have never seen played over the net. So rest assured that I will be badgering heruca for the most flexible interface possible.

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Post by Betterthanlife » Sat Jul 01, 2006 7:36 pm

Actually it only sends the whole map if your player is using Netscape. For all other browsers it doesn't do that. (Not even Firefox which is also based on Mozilla, go figure.) And these days if everyone is using a highspeed connection you don't notice all that much. :)

I agree it is a great concept. And if The Keep (nbos's Campaign Manager Proof of Concept piece of software) actually does what it appears it should do, and they add the map zoom capability then ScreenMonkey is the winner for a barebones interface. But until it does, as far as I am concerned it is an also ran. (But a cheap also ran.) It also has one other feature that I haven't seen elsewhere. It will talk to the plug and play element in your router and open its port in the firewall for you. Why none of the other systems do this is beyond me.

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Post by Omnidon » Sat Jul 01, 2006 8:38 pm

Hmm well it's certainly true that I haven't tried Screenmonkey in quite a while.
Sounds like it has some new features.

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Post by Betterthanlife » Sat Jul 01, 2006 9:17 pm

It still misses the bells and whistles. Character sheets are virtually non-existant (Though the keep does allow for an HTML character sheet, it doesn't transfer anywhere.) There is also a script that allows you to set attributes so you can almost have a character sheet, or another that allows you to see the description on a tooltip. (Which means the character information can be entered as text and would be accessable.)

However, you are pretty much limited to 32x32 pixel icons. Like I said the map doesn't scale, and there are other issues. However for the price it is a great little tool.

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Initiative

Post by GMBazUK » Sun Jul 02, 2006 5:16 am

Initiatives - Yep, the order of turns in an action sequence.

I just checked out screen monkey, and it kind of underlines the problem which I personally have with Klooge. (Im sure lots of other people love it). It doesnt help to immerse you in the moment.

As a DM I think it is very important to visualise the fantasy/sci-fi setting as much as possible (when not rifling through rule books), so any system which requires me to look at a submenu of a submenu, only to click a button, and hey presto - the dragon is dead!

In short I want a system that doesnt forget, it is a means to an end. That of facilitating the immersion of players and DM in the game.
See FGs animated dice.

So if a box pops up for some function to be performed I want it to disappear when Im done. Oh and I want that box to be as neutral in design as possible. This is something BG does well. The interface definitely has that homaphrodite AppleMac, Im neither this or that, type of thing going on.

Baz. :D

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Various perks & flaws

Post by Myth » Thu Jul 06, 2006 4:21 pm

Wow, it's amazing that there are such varied demands from an online tabletop RPG aid. I feel bad for those folks who are designing this stuff... their customers want an incredibly wide variety of functionality and features.

I like the visual dice, but I've rolled enough dice in my life that it's not a big deal. I tend to like more automation of basic things like attack rolls, saves, skill checks, damage, etc. If that stuff is automated, combat goes *ever*-so-much faster, and we can accomplish a lot more than a simple skirmish in 4 hours of playing.

I love the map features, and yeah, zooming is a must. Cool tokens and figs also add a lot to the map's usefulness for me.

The chat interfaces I've seen are hopelessly inadequate for my needs. I put a great deal into my NPCs, and "you can talk as them" is nowhere near enough. I need to have multiple NPCs that I can control completely and easily. I need them to have persistent descriptions, hit points, skills, etc. I need them to be able to interact with each other and with the PCs, as well as the environment (weapons, armor, etc.) That's a level of functionality I've not seen in anything other than a MUD (which is why I went with a MUD to run my games on). This is my #1 need... communication interface.

Closely linked to that is multiple rooms, described and interactive, with exits and entrances, etc. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but a picture can't describe things as well as a single paragraph of text can. :) Environmental controls (lighting, silence, adjacent visibility, etc.) and targeting are additional perks. None of the bare-bones chat interfaces I've seen offer anything remotely close to these features, which kind of surprises me. I think that my needs are probably different from those of many users.

Sound is nice. That's one of FG's big drawbacks for me... I have to host my own sounds and provide URLs for my Players to hear them. That's a major pain. FG allows me to present additional graphics as a "map" which works out wonderfully. From NPC portraits to various graphics, I can do it in the same application as the map, and that's sweet. I don't use any animated graphics (other than some simple morphing GIFs) so multimedia support isn't useful for me.

Stability is important. I've left FG running for 24+ hours, and people can connect and disconnect without problems. That's awesome. I've not testing FG with 5+ users, but it's perfectly speedy with 4 users (including the host). That's awesome.

Getting FG to punch a hole through the firewall/IP was a major pain in the butt, and there were very inadequate instructions to accomplish it. Luckily, one of my Players had already done it, and he walked me through it. Otherwise I would've thrown in the towel on FG. I also don't understand why the software can't configure access itself, rather than requiring a LAN admin-comparable level of expertise. If you want to target only the highly-technical-savvy users, make 'em configure their internet access themselves. If you want to capture all of the non-techie users as well, you have to do it for them. Other programs do it, and I suspect that FG and Battlegrounds *could* although it's probably a programming nightmare.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the various platforms after playing 4 sessions so far with FG and Hesperian. :)

Myth

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Re: Various perks & flaws

Post by Omnidon » Thu Jul 06, 2006 11:23 pm

Myth wrote:I don't use any animated graphics (other than some simple morphing GIFs) so multimedia support isn't useful for me.
Eak! Don't talk heruca out of working on the Flash integration ;-)

Flash can do a lot more than animation. It could potentially make up for a lot of the features you find lacking.

Flash can already be used for placing sound buttons on the map or buttons that open up pictures / scenes when the player clicks it, among other things.

And once there is some way for Flash to communicate between GM and Player, the possibilities would be endless.
Chat consoles, dice automation, character sheets, and more.

More detail on that and other ideas will be in the suggestion list I'm compiling.

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Post by heruca » Fri Jul 07, 2006 12:15 am

LOL, Omni. You've been compiling that list for quite some time. When do we get to see it?
:arrow: Please help spread the word about BRPG and BGE, and never hesitate to tell me how I can make them better suit your gaming needs.

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Post by Omnidon » Fri Jul 07, 2006 12:50 am

ha, well i would've started posting it but I wanted to talk to you about it first. I guess I'll send a PM

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Flash

Post by Myth » Fri Jul 07, 2006 2:21 am

Flash sounds very cool. :)

Heruca, I don't mean to sound desultory about your product. It's top-notch. I have the utmost respect for you and for Battlegrounds.

Myth

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