Archive for category Macs

Revenge of the Game Master

Introducing the latest version of Game Master. I’ve now added a basic dice roller into the application (check the Window menu) that can handle basic arithmetic, parentheses and dice expressions. No support for exploding dice or dropping the lowest. Unfortunately, to implement the dice roller, I used some new regular expression APIs that were introduced in OS X 10.7. As a result, this version of Game Master will only run on 10.7 or better. For those of you on older versions of OS X, I’ve kept the old version of Game Master available for download (check the side bar).

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Steve Jobs

Still nothing happening on the RPG front. My regular games have been put on extended hiatus, incidentally, if anyone has a regular opening for an online OSR game, I’m interested. On the other hand, as you may have heard, there has been some big happenings in the world of Apple. Steve Jobs has been many things to many people. A mentor, a role model, and an inspiration to some; an enemy, an adversary, and a symbol of all that is wrong in the computer industry to others. Inspiration is perhaps the most greatest effect Mr. Jobs had on me. Though I was into computers long before I had my first mac, it was owning and learning everything about that mac that put me on the path I travel today. Growing up, I dreamt of working for Apple, and for a while I did, although in the retail stores rather than corporate where I had dreamed. Working for Apple was an incredible experience, I met some fantastic people and I saw first hand the introduction of some world changers, including the first iPhone. Eventually, the strain of retail took its toll, and a personal disagreement with some new retail policies forced me to take my leave of Apple. I never met Steve Jobs, but his company and his products had an impact on me just the same.

I can’t say that I am moved to the degree that others have been, but I do think that the world will be a lesser place without the driving vision that Steve Jobs had for the future. Not everyone agreed with that vision to be sure, but without that vision I think it’s safe to say the world of computers we know today would be very different. Tonight and over the rest of the week, I’m sure people will be toasting (or cursing) Steve Jobs, but if there is one lesson we should all take from him, it is to stop looking back and move forward and make the future we dream of.

Salut Steve, and thanks.

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Using Game Master to Run a Game

Friday night was the first time I had a chance to run a game using my Game Master software. We ran Level 1 of Dyson’s Delve with a party of 3 characters, a Dwarven Fighter, a Halfling Cleric and an Elven Mage (yes, I know that violates some class / race restrictions, but I’m the GM and I say it’s all good). Prep for game was pretty easy. I started with a new .dungeon file for each level of the Delve, and a new area for each numbered room in the delve. Flavor text and player knowledge goes in the yellow description box, while notes about traps, treasures and other non player knowledge goes in the green GM notes box. Monster stat blocks and the individual HPs are tracked in the blue box, and overarching information like wandering monster charts, general level info and session XP / GP totals go in the pink box. Of course, nothing prevents you from filling in anything into any box, but that was the intended layout when I wrote the program.

Running the game went fairly smoothly. Most of the information I needed was always in that one screen, the only exception being the map itself, which I just kept open in another window. I did notice that despite the default size setting, Game Master definitely works best run at full screen. I plan to implement a new version in the future that takes advantage of the full screen capabilities of Lion. So what needs to change? Well, one thing I did notice was a need for some scratch space. In theory I could probably use the general notes section at the bottom to include notes on for example how many rounds before the zombie isn’t turned  and how many turns have elapsed for that torch, but for some reason I found myself simply using extra dice as counters. I’m thinking about possibly implementing a round/turn counter program, that would let you tick by the rounds or turns and allow you to set up flags for items.

Other than that though, the Game Master program worked well, as it should have, given that I wrote it for my work flow, so I officially declare Game Master a rousing success.

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Game Master

Get Game Master Here

When I set out to map out my game for last week’s S&W session, I spent a bit of time looking at some RPG software online for something I might be able to use to do some basic notes organizing with. Of course there are various gaming programs out there to do all sorts of wonderful things. The folks at rptools make some excellent (if not complex) software for mapping, tokens and PC gen. The Gametable Project is far and away the best simple no-frills white board / game table if you just want something that can easily simulate you sitting at a table with nothing but you and some wet erase markers for your game surface. And for something with a smaller learning curve than the rptools software, but still powerful, you can’t go wrong with Battlegrounds. All of these are excellent tools (oh, and they’ll all run on your mac), but they weren’t what I wanted. I just needed something that I could write some notes about each room and the creatures and treasures contained inside, and then keep all those distinct, yet grouped notes together. I wanted a sort of virtual source book. Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything in the gaming software. Others have found various other solutions to this problem, Greywulf found Corkboard.me to be an adequate solution, and indeed, ultimately my screen wound up looking something like that, but I didn’t want to use a tool that I had to be online for.

Defeated in my search, I settled for using an old standby for many mac users: Antler! (or Stickies for those of you who didn’t use macs before OS X). And it worked great, different colored notes for different pieces of information, all laid out in a fairly organized and logical manner. In the end, my screen looked something like this:

Sticky Gaming

Each bar with text is a collapsed sticky, double click it and it expands to show all its juicy goodness. Ultimately, I ran into a problem: I can’t save all the stickies at once, in one file. When you quit stickies, they’re all save into the stickies database file, and when you open it again, they all appear exactly where and how you left them. I could backup and make a new copy of the stickies database every time, but that would just be irritating to have to replace it every time I wanted to change encounters or maps. Also, if I ever needed or wanted to print this out, I’d need to issue a print command for each sticky.

So it was resolved, if I couldn’t find a program to do what I wanted, I’d make one myself. And Game Master was born. A simple app, game master stores a collection of areas in a single file, each area has 3 separate note fields, one for a description, one for the game master’s notes, and one for enemies, traps and other misc. stuff. Each file also has a single general notes field, so that information that applies to the entire dungeon or map is displayed no matter what room you’re currently looking at. Last but not least, you can tell Game Master to export your file and it will dump everything into a plain text file for you to do with as you please.

Game Master is definitely not a finished piece of software, and I’m sure as I game more, I’ll come up with new bits to add, but it’s quick, it’s easy and I thought others might find it useful to, so it’s also released and free. You can use it and distribute it however you want, all I ask is a link back here. Also feel free to let me know what you’d like to see in it if you like it.

Game Master is a Mac application, and though it should run on any mac running 10.5 or later I’ve only run it on my machine, and I didn’t muck with any of the build settings in XCode so I can’t say for sure. So far the only known issue is a memory leak when closing a file and choosing not to save your changes. I don’t know why it does that, I didn’t do anything weird to the document closing behavior, but it does. I’ll try to fix it in a future version. If you want to see the source, just ask me.

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