I took a break from the Character Manager a few weeks ago. Sometimes it helps to take a step back when you’re running into a patch of difficulty and the NPC manager for hirelings was giving me some trouble. I took the opportunity to dive back into the GM Screen and things went well, until they went horribly wrong.
The GM Screen, for all of its great ambition, boils down to it needing a slick, attractive design. After all, having access to the tools doesn’t mean much if you can’t readily grasp them. Furthermore, it should look nice, harkening to those tri-fold (or more) screens we all know and love. I decided that it would be nice to be able to set the background image of the GM Screen and have the controls be a bit opaque so that you could easily see the tools while having a background that evoked the mood of your game. Furthermore, the controls needed to be clear and easy to use. I jumped back in wanting to get the aesthetic right. That was the first problem.
The way I was going about it, using standard windows elements and a lot of other boring programing details, meant that a huge overhead was being generated graphically. It was, essential, broken. In order to do what I wanted I would have to employ different tools, and that would require all of the tools already built to be rebuilt. That was a lot to have to go through. Furthermore, I would have to learn how to employ those tools correctly, which meant a slight adjustment to a different type of programming I had no experience with. It meant starting almost completely over….again.
This aesthetic was important, important enough to justify it. So I grit my teeth and deleted the code. There was no going back.
It was probably the smartest thing I had done. Aesthetic appeal aside it gave me access to some new tools that allowed me a bit more control over some elements. This opened up a bunch of new doors and gave me access to making some old ideas a reality. In a couple of weeks I got everything almost rebuilt, and added in greater functionality within it. It also looks a lot better and is better organized. I moved most session tools such as awarding XP, Money and Reputation to a single place allowing you to select players easily, or the entire group. It also loads and makes changed dynamically, making the GM’s life a lot easier. You can now roll dice in two ways for each attribute and skill. I am also adding load out management and spells. I am also working on an integrated shopping tool. All of this give you access to running just about the entire game from the screen.
I also added new wizards, such as a target level wizard, a modifier wizard, and a dice cup that allows for equipment levels, skill levels, success levels, locking in modifiers and target levels for multiple rolls, and roll tracking. Everything also tracks to a single text box. Information for items and skills is handled through popups making these easier to work with. Overall, it’s a cleaner, more easily managed interface.
Here is a list of features and their progress:
- Adding and Removing Groups of Characters on the Fly – Complete
- Awarding XP, Money, and Reputation with Notes for single characters or selected characters or the party – Complete
- Interactive Character Sheets for rolling attribute tests, skill tests, spell tests, equipment tests, etc. – In progress (50%)
- Shopping which allows access to default campaign store or custom stores – In Progress (20%)
- Load out Management – In Progress (25%)
- Dice Cup Tool – Complete
- Combat Tracker – No Started
- Real Time Campaign Modification (Basically you make a change in the resource manager an it immediately updates the GM Screen. – In Progress.
Also, some other things are coming down the pipe. This will also include some downtime on the entire website. I wlll be posting more about that soon.