The Gamer Corner
All right, so I was wrong
Talraen
Lost your password?

Design Document

( 1| 2) Next Page
Design Document – July 19, 2010 5:29 PM (edited 7/21/10 1:30 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
This won't be a formalized design document, but rather a general list of features we all want to see on this site. I'll be editing and adding to it as people suggest or refine ideas.

Campaigns
• Any user can create a campaign, which makes them the GM of that campaign by default. They can allow for public signups, or specifically add users to the campaign. From here they set general campaign options such as the die rolling style, what game they're playing, a description, and so on
• GMs can add variable fields that users should fill in, for vital stats such as HP or certain skills. These skills can then be accessed directly by the GM during gameplay

User Features
• The site will have its own, independent user database, with all the typical user data (site preferences, optional personal information, etc.)
• Each user can have one or more character aliases, each with their own preferences related to chat, such as font and color. You will be able to be using more than one of these at a time, albeit in separate windows. Character aliases are specific to a given campaign
• Character aliases may be optionally shareable with other players or the GM
• Characters can upload or create documents for use with their characters, which will be accessible via links in their character box during chat (see below)

Chat Features
• Each game session will have an independent chat room, with an infinite number of chat rooms available for creation
• The GM(s) and all players in a session will have archival access to chat rooms, as well as any other users the GMs decide to give access to
• A chat room can be designated as public, which makes it visible to any user (even one not logged in) for some period of time
• Public chat rooms may also allow live viewers who can read the chat but cannot participate directly
• The GM and players can send each other private messages via separate chat windows on the main chat page. These will be archived, but whether they are visible to players other than those involved is determined by the GM. (For instance, private chat may become publicly visible a month after the chat ends)
• Each separate message window will contain only private chat between the current user and the user they are chatting with, but all private chat will also appear in the main window
• The GM will have an option whether private player-to-player chat is visible to GMs. If it is, the players will be informed and this setting cannot be changed mid-chat
• The GM will also have a GM-only chat area, where they can roll dice, make notes, or otherwise use the chat for any purpose that players are not privy to
• The chat will have some graphical interface for rolling dice. Perhaps a series of three text boxes for [x]d[y]+[z], and if you click the appropriate die it fills in y (and treats a blank x as 1 and a blank z as 0), with a "Roll!" button. It may even show you the macro text for that command so you can learn the shortcuts.
• The chat will have a robust set of slash commands, especially things like "/roll 2d6+5", as well as emotes
• The slash commands will allow for the creation of macros, such as aliasing "/attack" to a specific roll for your attacks
• Users will have the ability to have their macros available as quick links, so they do not need to type them
• A list of "user boxes" for all players in the chat. The header of these boxes is an enlarged version of the character's name, in their chat font and color. Underneath is an arbitrary amount of information, editable by the GM by clicking the box. (The edit is saved when the GM clicks elsewhere) In addition to basic information and formatting, you can enter checkboxes whose values are saved dynamically. The GM can also allow players to edit their own information and/or checkboxes.
• User boxes have both visible and private data, the latter of which is used for GMs to keep notes on players that they are not privy to
• The GM will have a "character queue" box that initially contains all character names, and further names can be added to it at will. These names can be dragged to re-order them, and an "advance" button will take the top of the queue and put it on the bottom. Finally, a separate part of the queue, shaded a different color, will allow you to "hold" a character there so it's no longer part of the queue but can be reinserted later. The GM has the option to show this queue to the players. (This would obviously be used for initiative)
• The top name in the queue will be displayed in a different color to indicate that it is their turn. Further, their character box will be highlighted, and there will be an indication on their page that it is their turn.
• Both the active player and GMs will have an "end turn" button that rotates the initiative order, as well as "delay" button that puts that player in the delay portion of the initiative

General UI Considerations
• All layouts will be customizable in that you can move elements wherever you like them, and the layout will be saved automatically. You will also have the option to save specific layouts that can be loaded later. (Note that having movable elements is very easy. I'm not sure about resizable elements, though - probably possible, but I've never done it before)
• All participants will be able to create draggable "sticky notes" where they can enter any text they like and put it anywhere on the page
• When editing a particular text field, that field is locked from being edited by any other user, indicated by the edit icon disappearing. GMs may have the ability to override this (which would end the player's edit and save whatever they currently have)

EDITS:
Red text contains features added by me that no one directly suggested
Blue text contains features that were requested and added to the document

--
There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 6:05 PM (edited 7/19/10 2:05 PM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
A few ideas right off the top of my head:

1) I'm not a big fan of the /roll mechanic. It's hard to type in, especially when in the thick of things, and even if you can save a macro it's a pain to type. Why not create a a box on the site where you can save roll macros as buttons. Then users can have a list of labeled buttons that they can just click on to do the roll.

2) You should allow for the uploading of documents. In the short term, I see this feature used so people can upload their character sheets for viewing as PDF/Excel documents. Then you can have a little icon next to everyone's character name that opens that document. Maybe have a setting to allow for full table viewing, or DM viewing only. In the long run, uploading files can be useful for uploading customized graphics when (if?) you implement a map system.

3) What about having an interactive, customizable box to display the character's name? What I'm thinking is, instead of just having a list of users in the current chat, have each character name in a box that can be customized to display vital stats to everyone. I'm thinking along the lines of having interactive boxes that displays similar information to the DM summary cards that come on the 4th ed character sheets. The player or the DM can edit the stats as needed, so, for example, everyone would be able to see both max and current HP for each player.

Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 6:14 PM (edited 7/19/10 2:14 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
Oh there will definitely be non-macro ways to do anything you can do with macros. Macros are, after all, shortcuts. And if you want to click the d20 and manually add 3, or enter 3 in a box, be my guest, but us cool kids will just type /r d20+3 (because no matter how short the command, there must be a shorter version!) Wink

I like the document upload thing, and we should make a list of supported formats. That way I can have the links open PDF in a window, etc. It's not hard to do via mime type. I was thinking in the future to have some kind of character sheet generator where you enter vital statistics and can view it as a popup or something, as well.

The brief vital stats thing is also a very good idea, I'm picturing almost like the party list in a Final Fantasy game or something: names with little brief stats next to them. But where should these go? I'm thinking not in the chat itself, though perhaps an even smaller input might be useful for things like "(not present)" or "(bleeding)" or something like that. There could be a list of characters, each with a line of text next to them, but I feel like boxes of text are more easily delineated. Maybe show each character's name as sort of a "tab" at the top of the box, in their chat font and colors, with brief data underneath. What do you think?

--
There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 6:14 PM (edited 7/19/10 2:14 PM)
Debonair (259 posts) Lurker Extraordinaire
Rating: Not Rated
Don't forget the possibility for checkboxes and such in the customizable boxes if you go that route. Would be good to have a nice easy place for the player and DM to see which Encounter/Daily powers have been used if its 4th ed, or which spells were used if its an earlier version.

Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 6:15 PM (edited 7/19/10 2:15 PM)
Balerion (1224 posts) Elite Powergamer
Rating: Not Rated
I'd try to condense 2 and 3 together, personally. While I think the document upload is a must in general (campaign notes, maps, custom spells / whatever), I really think the character sheet should be interactive, so that if you click to see someone's sheet you'll see their current hp and powers used and so forth. Very useful info and the kind of thing you'd usually be able to glean just from hanging around the table.

_________________________________________________
I really think the three “!”s really captures the exuberance that Clair must have been feeling when he almost said it. -Cuzzo
Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 6:19 PM (edited 7/19/10 2:19 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
Yeah Matt I see the uploaded files as more of a reference, with the dynamic stats being more useful during actual play. I mean, you certainly don't want to waste space putting down all your skill checks on the chat, but it's nice to have access to them.

--
There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 6:21 PM (edited 7/19/10 2:21 PM)
Debonair (259 posts) Lurker Extraordinaire
Rating: /images/autobot.gif + 1
By allowing stats to be dynamic, it would also allow the possibility for a feature to be created that the DM could push a stat check across. ie, DM hits a spot check button that forces all players to roll a spot check automagically, or even better. Forces a spot check without alerting the players, so there's no meta-gaming of "Why'd I take a spot check, let me be careful and search around now"

Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 6:23 PM (edited 7/19/10 2:23 PM)
Balerion (1224 posts) Elite Powergamer
Rating: Not Rated
Well, if you have a document upload then you need to be able to link to those documents in the chat - similar to Facebook's link posting interface, but with a more limited scope.


Re: Layout:

If the map happens then it's clearly the centerpiece. From there you've basically got three (or four) display options. Top and left are commonly used as menus, below the map you would want to have be more data-filled, and the right side of the screen doesn't usually get a separate data piece, but it's not impossible.

Currently I would think the main page would include site-wide navigation (character sheets, document uploads, options, preferences, etc) along the top. The left hand side could be small boxes with quick stats, like the 4E DM cards, and the bottom could be the primary chat window. Private chat windows could either be pop ups or go on the right hand side.

_________________________________________________
I really think the three “!”s really captures the exuberance that Clair must have been feeling when he almost said it. -Cuzzo
Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 6:23 PM (edited 7/19/10 2:23 PM)
Balerion (1224 posts) Elite Powergamer
Rating: Not Rated
Rating up and responding to this because the idea is just that good.

_________________________________________________
I really think the three “!”s really captures the exuberance that Clair must have been feeling when he almost said it. -Cuzzo
Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 6:27 PM (edited 7/19/10 2:27 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
It's a good idea, but I'm not sure how to reasonably implement it, since it requires specific rules knowledge and right now I'm thinking more generally. That said, it's certainly doable, just more of a long-term thing. I could create a whole markup language with game-specific plugins, for instance. Like say you put something like [skill stealth 5] and that appears as "Stealth +5", which is also a link to a 1d20+5 die roll that specifically says it's a stealth check? I'll try to keep this sort of thing in mind, but as a long-term goal.

--
There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 6:30 PM (edited 7/19/10 2:30 PM)
Balerion (1224 posts) Elite Powergamer
Rating: Not Rated
When you're saying rules knowledge, you mean coded into the system? The only reason I can think of for not doing this would be to leave it open for more than one system, and while that would benefit me the most I have to say that I think you're better off constraining it for the time being.

_________________________________________________
I really think the three “!”s really captures the exuberance that Clair must have been feeling when he almost said it. -Cuzzo
Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 6:36 PM (edited 7/19/10 2:36 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
Yeah I don't want any systems hardcoded into how the thing works. That said, I'm not at all against things like "/rollstyle whitewolf" which would interpret a /roll 6d10 in terms of successes, as opposed to /rollstyle d&d which adds everything up. Hell, you could even do /roll whitewolf 6d10 while in D&D "mode" and do that, and make that into a macro. The issue is where to draw the line between usability and flexibility.

For instance, having the system parse through your text to find spot check values and whatnot is probably impractical unless it's hardcoded for D&D. However, having GM-determined variables that you can enter makes this a lot easier. Maybe the GM sets up boxes for HP, healing surges, Perception score, and Stealth score (or whatever). It would then be fairly simple for the DM to have some kind of macro to deal with those values directly, without putting rules directly into the code. (Incidentally, this is why there are passive perception and insight checks in 4E Wink)

--
There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 6:56 PM (edited 7/19/10 2:56 PM)
chaoscat (452 posts) Ambassador of Good Will
Rating: Not Rated
That being said, I think the general functionality for the DM of "apply this macro (or whatever) to each player and display the results so only I can see them" is a pretty universally handy tool. Even without adding in player specific stats, it'd still be handy (you could do the addition mentally if needed), but long term some way to refer to stats in macro text seems like it will be needed.

I like the rollstyle idea. I presume you would set a default per character? or maybe per chat room for all characters in that chat room? Importing a character from a different game system seems like more of an edgecase than is really worth dealing with.



_________________________________________________
Syllabic (4:14 PM): tozzi are you like dowd's jiminy cricket
Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 6:57 PM (edited 7/19/10 2:57 PM)
Balerion (1224 posts) Elite Powergamer
Rating: Not Rated
I'd strongly recommend you rethink this.

If you do want to turn this into a marketable product then there's no way it's going to trump the already free OpenRPG system in terms of features offered. As an individual coding a system designed for running an RPG session online, your knowledge of D&D is invaluable in and of itself, and a system designed to work with one particular RPG has a much better chance of bringing forward a feature set that people would be willing to pay for.

_________________________________________________
I really think the three “!”s really captures the exuberance that Clair must have been feeling when he almost said it. -Cuzzo
Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 6:59 PM (edited 7/19/10 2:59 PM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
Wow, that was a lot of very quick responses to my one post...

Anyway, I'm with Dowd in thinking that whatever gets built for this should be as open, and not system oriented as possible. Not only does this open the possible uses further, but it also would prevent the site from becoming outdated the next time the system of choice's version digit levels up.

Regarding my first point: Yes Dowd, clicking a roll d20 button and manually adding +5 is the lame. This is not what I was after though. What I want to see is the ability to create a macro (say: /MyAttack1=1d20+5) and then, in addition to being able to type /MyAttack1, actually see a button on the side of the screen labeled "MyAttack1" that automatically kicks off your saved macro. Because the only thing lamer than manually adding is manually typing.

Also, my suggestion for uploading pdf character sheets was specifically to get you up and running fast without having to code a whole interactive character sheet module per system. You may want to even go this way as your long term solution as well. I mean, you're RPGCC module isn't bad for high level details about a character concept, but who wants to manually re-type all their characters stats into the online character sheet? This is especially bad for 4th ed because of all the power cards involved. The pdf character sheet upload gives players a quick way to get their character sheet, and all of it's details viewable to everyone. It not only saves work on you as the programmer, but also saves the players from a lot of up front typing.

Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 7:04 PM (edited 7/19/10 3:04 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
There are two reasons I'm against this idea.

First, if this is designed for a specific system, that system is 4E. And 4E is designed to avoid the "everyone roll a Perception check" thing entirely. In those cases, you use passive checks, and you can roll on your own when you're actively looking. So in a 4E system, this would be an extraneous feature anyway.

Much more to the point, though, OpenRPG had a ton of rules implementations, and they were insanely archaic and no one ever used them. There are really only two ways to go with this: full-on, this is for 4E and nothing else, or make it open. And if it's hardcore 4E, what about house rules? What happens when I use my edited rules where there are no daily powers at all anymore? Is the system just going to fall apart? That's not a risk I'm willing to take.

--
There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 7:07 PM (edited 7/19/10 3:07 PM)
chaoscat (452 posts) Ambassador of Good Will
Rating: Not Rated
Eh, I think there's a niche besides OpenRPG. For one thing, browser based applications are probably nicer for non-tech savy folks than python applications.

Beyond that, system specific information is likely subject to some manner of copyright. I'm not sure what the actual rules are on that, but if you build something for playing D&D 4th ed online, and WotC is planning to build a product for that, and you have any measurable degree of success, they're going to sue the pants off of you. If you keep it fairly generic, you at least have some ground to stand on, I think.

_________________________________________________
Syllabic (4:14 PM): tozzi are you like dowd's jiminy cricket
Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 7:08 PM (edited 7/19/10 3:08 PM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
Matt, if Dowd does want to market this, he may run into legal troubles if he explicitly uses Wizards of the Coast rules/ functionality. And why wouldn't this site be able compete with OpenRPG for features? having used OpenRPG for a while, I think there is great value just for having the core functionality of OpenRPG available as a website.

Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 7:09 PM (edited 7/19/10 3:09 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
I like the idea with the macro buttons, and it's pretty trivial to do, so in it goes.

As for character sheets, I have no intention of making fully interactive character sheets. They tried that in OpenRPG and, as I said, no one ever used it because it was archaic. Honestly I don't think rules implementation should be a priority for this site at all. I know my experiences role-playing online were in no way reliant on rules implementations, and implementing rules is inherently limiting. I'm pretty sure the Wizards online tabletop thing wasn't going to have any significant rules implementation either.

That said, it's not a big deal to create a D&D character sheet template, which just organizes the relevant information (not powers) in a reasonably small space, and then let people edit it. Getting the information down is easy, it's getting the data down that's hard. And probably not worth the effort.

--
There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Re: Design Document – July 19, 2010 7:09 PM (edited 7/19/10 3:09 PM)
chaoscat (452 posts) Ambassador of Good Will
Rating: Not Rated
I'm sure you're already thinking this in line with your general customizability, but the DM should be able to control what stats he sees in his boxes as well as what stats are available to players to view. If someone wants to run a game where players don't know their own HP totals, the system should support that.

_________________________________________________
Syllabic (4:14 PM): tozzi are you like dowd's jiminy cricket
( 1| 2) Next Page
Active Users: (none)
no users viewing | Refresh