adventures in desktop publishing

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
steve98052
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adventures in desktop publishing

Postby steve98052 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:01 am

In another thread, I asked about Mongoose Traveller writers' guidelines. If you already read it there, scroll past all the quotes.
steve98052 wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 5:10 pm
Going off topic a bit, can you point to Mongoose Traveller writers' guidelines?

When Steve Jackson Games had the license they had great writers' resources: how to write for the company in general (for on-line and print), how to write Traveller material, what kind of submissions they liked for JTAS, what they'd like for print, how to submit work, and even a "we're not interested in this kind of thing" list of things that people often wanted to do. Their guidelines are still on their web site (even the Traveller guidelines, which may not have been updated since their license expired). They had art guidelines too.

I'm sure Mongoose has such guides, but I haven't figured out whether they're visible on-line. If you have links, please point the way. I sold the only JTAS article I wrote, in part because their guidelines were so clear.
This resulted in some replies, still off topic for the other thread:
ShawnDriscoll wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 1:31 am
See viewtopic.php?f=2&t=119092
steve98052 wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 7:21 pm
Thanks for the pointer!

It appears, however, that it only covers self-published material through the TAS sub-license. I don't see anything about "how to write for Mongoose". If that's because they do all their writing in-house, or that they have enough freelance writers to cover all their planned projects, it makes sense that they don't have a wish list.

But it would still make sense to have the house style easier to find, so that potential TAS writers can follow the same style. A house style covers more than type face choices, after all.

It also might be nice to have the In Design templates saved in Scribus format too; hobbyist writers don't usually want to spend $20 per month for desktop publishing software they rarely use. But if templates don't readily save-as, I suppose we can just look at published Mongoose books and follow their style, or use their own style.
MonkeyX wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:53 pm
I second a Scribus template. I use it for all my layout work and if it were available a few Traveller may actually be on the horizon.
The discussion flowed onto page two of the original thread:
steve98052 wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 10:09 pm
OK, I'm downloading a seven-day trial version of In Design. My oh my, it's a slow download. And if I ever need to open another In Design document beyond the seven days, I'll have to pay up. But at least I'll have that TAS template in Scribus format, assuming I can figure out enough about In Design to export the template elements, and create a Scribus template from them. Maybe I'll also do a Word template, in case Scribus feels like overkill.

Of course, I probably can't share the Scribus or Word templates without permission from Mongoose, even if I manage to get them to work. Anyway, time to wait 42 to 44 minutes for the rest of the download, then who knows how long to figure out how to use the darn thing.
steve98052 wrote:
Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:50 am
Update:
  • I've managed to install my seven-day trial of In Design.
  • It didn't work at first because I forgot to install the four fonts listed on the design template page (Walkway, League Gothic, Code Bold, Alegre Sans.) I installed them.
  • It still didn't work, because I failed to install some fonts not listed on the design template page, including some that were supposed to have been covered with the links on the page. I searched, and installed them. They're all at least legal for personal use, but I'm not sure they're all free for commercial use though, so they may not be permissible in a paid-for document. I couldn't find an exact match for one of the fonts (Trade Gothic Condensed No. 18), and had to do a manual substitution.
  • I exported as EPS, as described in a procedure for converting things to Scribus, and I got some error messages, most relating to absent images. I searched for the absent images, and they were nowhere to be found.
  • I imported with Scribus. Each attempted import took quite a bit of time, even though I have a halfway respectable machine with 16 GB of memory and an SSD. I got lots and lots of errors:
    • traveller template_1.eps : Converting of 4 images failed!
    • traveller template_2.eps : Converting of 145 images failed!
    • traveller template_3.eps : Converting of 137 images failed!
    • traveller template_4.eps : Converting of 146 images failed!
    • traveller template_5.eps : Converting of 152 images failed!
    • traveller template_6.eps : Converting of 1 images failed! [sic: It didn't change the dialog box to "image".]
    • traveller template_7.eps : Converting of 1 images failed! [sic]
    • traveller template_8.eps : Converting of 43 images failed!
    • traveller template_9.eps : Converting of 41 images failed!
    • traveller template_10.eps : Converting of 224 images failed!
    • traveller template_11.eps : Converting of 1212 images failed!
    • traveller template_12.eps : Converting of 229 images failed!
    • traveller template_13.eps : Converting of 1172 images failed!
It's probably obvious that I'm a bit frustrated by this process. I have to run errands. When I get back, I think I'll ask my wife if I can use her PDF editing software, and try to replicate it in Word. Maybe I'll do Scribus later.

So far, my experience with In Design is pretty similar to everything else by Adobe (except Premiere, in spite of its quirks): I find it aggravating.
While beating on this for the rest of the evening, I discovered another problem with the file, even for use as with In Design: the file "Trav4.psd" is missing; that's the Traveller logo with the letters in red all-caps (darkening top to bottom), the sparkle on the top-left of the first "E", and the arrow swooping around from behind the "T" across the front of the "RAVEL", as on the cover of current Mongoose Traveller books.
Last edited by steve98052 on Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Tom Kalbfus
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Re: adventures in desktop publishing

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:47 am

Sounds like your having problems with fonts rather than the creative part of the process. And 45 minutes is an extremely long time to download a font just so you can publish an adventure. Writing the adventure is what you should be spending your time doing, not downloading a font!
paltrysum
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Re: adventures in desktop publishing

Postby paltrysum » Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:35 pm

InDesign is a little old world when it comes to the complexities of desktop publishing. Reminds me a bit of FrameMaker, a highly counter-intuitive tool if there ever was one. Both are under the Adobe name, of course. I wish I could remember all the details of how I got it to work, but both of the Traveller adventures I've published so far under the TAS program were assembled in InDesign. I'll try to play around with it in the next few days and post something more useful to this thread.
"Spacers lead a sedentary life. They live at home, and their home is always with them—their starship, and so is their country—the depths of space."
MonkeyX
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Re: adventures in desktop publishing

Postby MonkeyX » Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:43 pm

If something Scribus related comes out of this that’d be great.
steve98052
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Re: adventures in desktop publishing

Postby steve98052 » Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:10 pm

I worked on it some more last night, and more pieces seem to be hidden or absent. Besides the Trav4.psd that I already mentioned, I can't figure out where the faint hex map over space background of the books (such as the introduction page) might be hiding. It appears to be comprised of at least three layers: a dark "concept" layer, a colorful "space fantasy" layer, and the hex grid layer. If my wife's Acrobat editor can't figure it out, maybe I'll just grab an Inkscape hex grid and convert it to EPS

I already made a replica of the Third Imperium box wrapper in Inkscape. That eliminated the need for one offbeat (but well chosen) font, which appeared only in the lettering "III". It's easier to keep track of the Inkscape SVG and the resulting EPS than to keep track of more fonts.

And speaking of fonts, I'm tempted to replace all of the various sans-serif fonts with near-universal sans-serif fonts like Century Gothic.
AndrewW
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Re: adventures in desktop publishing

Postby AndrewW » Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:28 pm

steve98052 wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:10 pm
I worked on it some more last night, and more pieces seem to be hidden or absent. Besides the Trav4.psd that I already mentioned, I can't figure out where the faint hex map over space background of the books (such as the introduction page) might be hiding. It appears to be comprised of at least three layers: a dark "concept" layer, a colorful "space fantasy" layer, and the hex grid layer. If my wife's Acrobat editor can't figure it out, maybe I'll just grab an Inkscape hex grid and convert it to EPS
Will this do? (Blank hex grid for a sector)

SVG: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1zKxoh ... 2ivzdhD31K
EPS: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1zQiyZ ... fQpFT8CElh
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: adventures in desktop publishing

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:39 pm

I think I ended up making my own hex grid layer for career types. I know nothing about Photoshop beyond CS2.
steve98052
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Re: adventures in desktop publishing

Postby steve98052 » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:33 am

AndrewW wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:28 pm
Will this do? (Blank hex grid for a sector)
. . .
It wasn't quite the right scale for what I was needed it for. Here's my effort, using a pattern:

hex-paper-A0 25mm-side 1.125-stroke.svg

It's a full A0 sheet, with 25 mm hexes (measured side to side), with the stroke width set to 1.125 mm. That works out to not quite 55 hexes across, 34 hexes high.

Using patterns should reduce render time, and definitely reduces file size. That's not an issue if you're just going to use print it, but since I'm going to be doing lots of other stuff with it I wanted it to be fast.
Tom Kalbfus
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Re: adventures in desktop publishing

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:57 pm

I make my own hex grids as well, What I do is draw a circle with my paint program, and the paint program also includes hexes, so I create a hex around a circle so that all the straight edges of the hex are tangential to the circle I drew, and that creates a regular polygon hex. I then erase the circle and copy and past the hex a number of times until I fill the whole page with hexes to create a hex grid, and for a final touch, using the paint program, I rotate the entire image 90 degrees, because the hexes supplied by paint are oriented the wrong way for making a subsector or sector map. Since I'm not worried about printing it, I give my hex grids a black background to represent space, I also find that this allows me to represent the true colors of the stars against the black background of space, though to distinguish the star types I often find I need to exaggerate the color differences of stars, as in real life a class M red dwarf actually looks orange to gold in color, a type K looks yellow, A G looks white, an F looks white, and an A looks white, B looks slightly blue, and so does a type O. What I end up doing on the map is to make Type M red, as in tomato or cherry red, K is orange, G is yellow ( even though it space it actually looks white), F is white, A is cyan, B is blue, and O is violet.


Funny thing is Traveller maps often don't include the star type of the primary, and I think the star a planet orbits is an important thing. A star determines the lighting conditions on a planet and in reality 90% of all stars are red dwarfs and around red dwarfs, a planet in the life zone of the star can assume to be tidally locked to its parent star, so there will be a dayside and a nightside. Since Red Dwarfs are often flare stars, any human habitation on a red dwarf planet would probably be better located on the night side, so you have the entire planet protecting you from the star when it flares up. To create day light levels of illumination on the night side of the planet, you have orbital mirrors orbiting separately around the star, these mirrors don't orbit the planet because any 24-hour orbit around a planet that takes 7 to 12 days to orbit its star, is not going to be viable. So basically the orbital mirrors orbit in a separate orbit around the star and probably in the opposite direction from the direction the planet is orbiting in. If the planet for example takes 8 days to orbit its star, you will need four mirrors orbiting around that star in the opposite direction to get a 24-hour day/night cycle on the dark side of the planet. The mirrors will be thin enough almost to be solar sails to save on material. Unless you want to terraform the planet, the mirrors don't have to be big enough to illuminate an entire hemisphere, also because of the flare activity of the star, such a planet probably doesn't have much of an atmosphere anyway, so we're likely talking about a domed settlement. Mirrors probably require less maintenance over a large settlement than artificial illumination, as light bulbs need replacing.
InexorableTash
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Re: adventures in desktop publishing

Postby InexorableTash » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:32 pm

Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:57 pm
Funny thing is Traveller maps often don't include the star type of the primary, and I think the star a planet orbits is an important thing.
Yep. The classic maps by GDW were focused on (wait for it...) space travel, and show the bare minimum: "is liquid water and/or a gas giant present for free fuel?" "what sort of starport is there to repair or provision my ship?" "is it particularly dangerous?" and that's about it. Other details of the world (UWP and beyond) are not included, as they don't matter if you're jumping in, refueling, and jumping back out.

Of course, if you plan to stay a while and maybe have an adventure, then all of those details are critical and the type of the primary definitely impacts the experience.
A star determines the lighting conditions on a planet and in reality 90% of all stars are red dwarfs and around red dwarfs...
On my map site the world data cards tint the images based on lighting provided by the primary, so indeed most worlds end up with a red cast to them. (This doesn't show on the map itself, though.)
steve98052
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Re: adventures in desktop publishing

Postby steve98052 » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:33 pm

Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:57 pm
. . .
Funny thing is Traveller maps often don't include the star type of the primary, and I think the star a planet orbits is an important thing. A star determines the lighting conditions on a planet and in reality 90% of all stars are red dwarfs and around red dwarfs, a planet in the life zone of the star can assume to be tidally locked to its parent star, so there will be a dayside and a nightside. . . .
The ideal world for a red dwarf would be a large gas giant satellite. The tidal warming from the gravitational interactions between the star and gas giant would supply energy to keep the planet's core melted (maintaining a strong planetary magnetic field). But it should be the gas giant's only large satellite, because the gravitational interactions between multiple satellites wouldn't generate too much volcanic activity.

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