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What would you like to see in a gm tool?

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Irian

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« on: (08:40:47/09-22-10) »
Hi,

some GMs like to use laptops (or netbooks) for gamemastering (keeping notes, etc.). As I'm one of them (and as my netbook doesn't take much space on my table - the GM screen takes more) I started writing a tool for this a while ago. As I'm rewritting it from scratch, I would like to get some input... What features would you like to see in a tool to support the GM in a gaming session?

Flo
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Dino

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« Reply #1 on: (13:20:29/09-22-10) »
Probably the most important thing I need when running is a way to keep track of everyone's initiative and damage, so some kind of tracker is a must. Honestly I'm not sure what else you would need a computer app to do for GMing Shadowrun, maybe a dice roller?

On a personal note, as a long-time linux user I really appreciate when programs are written in a portable language like java or python. Not everyone uses Windoze!

FastJack

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« Reply #2 on: (13:27:33/09-22-10) »
I'm waiting to see what Hero Labs is coming up with. They are developing SR for HL and I know the regular version has an Initiative tracker and other things like damage/status effects built in. They hoping to have a release around Christmas.

Irian

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« Reply #3 on: (14:47:14/09-22-10) »
Yup, I'm waiting for Hero labs myself, looks very promising, but for me Hero Lab looks more like a really nice character generator with some bonus features, which is something I need as a player, but not as a GM.

I also tend to see the combat tracker as an important feature and a dice roller will surely come in handy (but I'm pretty sure that there are enough GMs out there, who simply like the feeling of real dice :)). Some points I though of (and realized in an earlier version)...

* Character list (NPCs and PCs), either as a short GM-list (important skills, stats, etc. only) or as an full char sheet
* Combat tracker (for start, just initiative and damage boxes (mainly of npcs))
* NPC Generator (quite optional, but some gms might find it nice to get X Gangers created on the fly from templates)
* Note Editor - to keep your notes in one place
* Image viewer - the thing I like most in the first version (shows images on a 2nd screen (for example, a projector) and has the ability to draw on the images and move tokens around - fog of war included)
* Sound player (plays Mp3 files )

One general feature that I want is to save all files for a session (chars, images, notes, sounds, etc.) and load them with one click to allow preparing a session and save time when setting up on the table. Other ideas?
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tbrminsanity

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« Reply #4 on: (14:50:32/09-22-10) »
Yup, I'm waiting for Hero labs myself, looks very promising, but for me Hero Lab looks more like a really nice character generator with some bonus features, which is something I need as a player, but not as a GM.

I also tend to see the combat tracker as an important feature and a dice roller will surely come in handy (but I'm pretty sure that there are enough GMs out there, who simply like the feeling of real dice :)). Some points I though of (and realized in an earlier version)...

* Character list (NPCs and PCs), either as a short GM-list (important skills, stats, etc. only) or as an full char sheet
* Combat tracker (for start, just initiative and damage boxes (mainly of npcs))
* NPC Generator (quite optional, but some gms might find it nice to get X Gangers created on the fly from templates)
* Note Editor - to keep your notes in one place
* Image viewer - the thing I like most in the first version (shows images on a 2nd screen (for example, a projector) and has the ability to draw on the images and move tokens around - fog of war included)
* Sound player (plays Mp3 files )

One general feature that I want is to save all files for a session (chars, images, notes, sounds, etc.) and load them with one click to allow preparing a session and save time when setting up on the table. Other ideas?

That is a really good list.  The only thing I would add is a chat tool if your going to use the GM tool for online games.
Some people call me crazy...  Maybe they are right.

Irian

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« Reply #5 on: (15:00:52/09-22-10) »
Adding chat features... Personally, I will not do that, simply because that's not something I would use it for. For online gaming, I really like fantasy grounds (even if it's not free, but there's a nice Shadowrun ruleset for it ;)).

But as the new version of the tool will be heavily plugin-based (almost everything will be a plugin) it should be possible for someone else to add a chat-plugin, perhaps even allowing the image viewer not to show the images on a 2nd screen, but on the other chat clients (I already though of making the target screen a plugin, too).

Oh, and Dino: I'm coding in Java :)
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mortonstromgal

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« Reply #6 on: (17:24:08/09-22-10) »
It would be neat to have random map generator but that sounds like alot of work. Mostly I work off relationship maps and outlines.

anotherJack

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« Reply #7 on: (12:00:07/09-23-10) »
A timeline/agenda of the adventure's events.
To know when the characters get the infos they asked to their contacts, when an extented tasks end, note something about events, and so. I used time a lot when I was mastering the third edition, I put a broken watch on the table, which I could set to the current time, but it was far from the tools I was dreaming of.
Me am french, me am not speaking good english, but me am trying to correct this.

Irian

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« Reply #8 on: (12:47:09/09-23-10) »
Hm, I don't quite get the concept, as time really flows differently on the table and in the game. Could you explain this a little bit further?

(But when I first misread your comment, I thought "Hm, a campaign journal would be a nice idea" :)).
« Last Edit: (13:12:46/09-23-10) by Irian »
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Faradon

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« Reply #9 on: (14:26:20/09-23-10) »
Several of the above suggestions are great. 

One thing I'd like as a GM (other than many of the above tools/resources) would be a game calendar for keeping track of PC  & NPC downtime.

Another would be random NPC generators with names, attributes, etc.  This would probably be split in two... one for NPC/contacts so that when a PC bribes random_guard_01 and then wants to contact him again down the road with more bribes for info or something I have a quick set of names, stats, etc.  The other half would be for random gangers, corp sec, other shadowteams, etc.  For this half the latter should scale....  It would be nice to have a green red samurai team, a "regular" team, and an elite anti-shadowrunner team statted out with gear, cyber, etc.

anotherJack

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« Reply #10 on: (14:37:25/09-23-10) »
Sorry if I didn't said it right ;
I mean a tool like a timeline, with days and hours, where the GM could write notes on what is supposed to happen at which time, and a tool indicating the current time in game.
Me am french, me am not speaking good english, but me am trying to correct this.

tbrminsanity

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« Reply #11 on: (15:13:42/09-23-10) »
Oh, and Dino: I'm coding in Java :)

If your doing the code in Java, are you going to make sure it is cross platform?  Do you need help testing on Linux (I have two installs that I can run Java code from)?
Some people call me crazy...  Maybe they are right.

Irian

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« Reply #12 on: (10:03:08/09-24-10) »
Thanks for all the input...

An NPC-Generator is already in development, at the moment I was thinking along the lines of Templates, for example: Choose Template "Gang", choose Professionality "2", choose Count "5" and it will generate five apropriate npcs (from the template) who can be transfered into the NPC manager or the combat tracker with one click.
Adding names sounds like a good idea, random statistics (height, weight, "lisps", "stinks", etc.) aren't really "my" thing (I tend to improvise here), but could be generated from a list, too. With an apropriate template, let's say "Norm" you could also generate simple NPCs on the fly, but I tend to work out more important npcs myself.
The main "problem" I see here is to make the whole thing usable very quickly, because I would hate having to click around for a minute before being able to say "His name is Jimmy and he's fat." :-)

A calendar plugin sounds like a nice idea, but nothing that's on my list in the near future, but the whole thing is Open Source and it will be pretty easy to develop plugins, if you know Java, of course, so there's always a (small) change that someone else will write it :-)

Testing on other platforms would be pretty nice, but I'm optimistic, as I don't use any platform-dependent libraries for the core and most of the plugins (only the video plugin will probably neet the OS-specific JMF, but this plugin is highly optional). In any way, you'll simply be able to download the latest release (or the source code) from sourceforge and test it, for which I would be really gratefull :-)
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Kontact

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« Reply #13 on: (02:42:06/09-30-10) »
These cheat sheets are the bomb.

Java based, weighted rollers.  Never miss a modifier again.

Irian

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« Reply #14 on: (02:51:24/09-30-10) »
Nice. JavaScript, though, not Java (something completely different). I though about making some cheat sheets for the tool, but the main problem is, that it may take too long to use. If the gamemaster has to click around for a minute before being able to tell the modifier, that's not really helpfull, is it?
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