Software I'd like to see

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Somebody
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Software I'd like to see

Postby Somebody » Thu Jan 15, 2009 2:07 pm

There is some Software I'd like to see for Traveller.

Basic parameters, all IMHO
  • Operation System should be either WinXP or (where possible) Windows Mobile 5 or better. If it also runs on other plattforms fine but please start with the most common platforms first(1)
  • Allow export of the results into a form useabel without programs like XML-Files, PDF, LaTeX and if you use a database allow access to the result tables (This includes DOCUMENTATION!)
  • If you use structures/databases for storage allow use/sharing between programms, i.e. make the WorldGenerator data useabel by the character generator program
  • Implement the rules as written not any house-rules, specials etc. Or if you absolutely MUST use that stuff include an OFF switch
  • Web-Interfaces are not a must. On the contrary, they are a hindrance for use at conventions etc. where I have no/slow net access
  • Target a small/slow platform. Say a 1Ghz PIII system with a 1024x800 screen for PC and a 64MB/266Mhz PDA for the WiMo5 stuff
  • The software does not have to be free(2), just resonably priced. SJG's Character Generator is a good guideline for any of the big programs
Software

Character Generator
  • Should implement the classic and point by process
  • Allow for single player chargen as well as offer a group chargen
  • Manual entry of already existing characters would be nice
  • Allow storage and retrieval of characters, version system would be nice
  • Allow composing/disbanding of campaign groups
  • Allow character advancement
  • Export in a format viewabel on a PDA (PDF is not universal enough!)
  • Import in the same format
NPC Generator/Database
  • If possibly do so on a PDA plattform
  • If not possible try for a NPC viewer that can use a one-way export from the generator
  • Allow import of the character files from Chargen
Ship/vehicle construction software
  • Allow building ships, vehicles, weapons
  • Export in human readabel data sheet
  • Export for use by ship combat and trade tool
  • Include ship database for search
  • Allow adding files (i.e deckplans)
World/System Generator
  • Should allow single world gen and complete system generation
  • Should produce data useabel by the CharGen
  • Include stuff such as a subsector/sector map printer with a configureabel output (What data to show etc)
  • Allow export to trade tool
  • Allow export to
Trade tools
  • Should be a PDA software for in-game use
  • Based on World data set
  • Handle all trading for a ship including money/cargo tracking
Ship combat tool
  • Should be a PDA software for in-game use
  • Handle all ship combat roles
  • Track ship damage
  • Use files from ship construction software

(1) Unless you decide to start with Solaris/10, in that case please start with the LEAST common plattform first :)

(2) As in FREE BEER not as in Free Software Foundation
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Re: Software I'd like to see

Postby AndrewW » Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:59 pm

BenGunn wrote:There is some Software I'd like to see for Traveller.

Basic parameters, all IMHO
  • Operation System should be either WinXP or (where possible) Windows Mobile 5 or better. If it also runs on other plattforms fine but please start with the most common platforms first(1)
Better idea support multiple platforms from the start, make the code multi platform to ease porting. Linux, Macintosh and mickysoft windoze should probably all be supported.
BenGunn wrote:(1) Unless you decide to start with Solaris/10, in that case please start with the LEAST common plattform first :)
I'll disagree. The original Traveller software from GDW was for the Apple II but that's not a very common platform these days.
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Postby Paladin » Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:26 pm

Out of curiosity, are you a software developer/involved in the industry at all?
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Postby kristof65 » Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:29 pm

I could second all these, particularly the support of Windows mobile.


As I realize that's it's probably unlikely we'll see these as BenGunn proposes/requests, let me throw out an alternate idea - making them all available as online tools accessible via a web interface (but please support mobile devices, too). I would be willing to pay a reasonable monthly or annual fee to access such tools, provided I could download any output in some sort of text or other common format, so that I could have offline access to "my" creations and retain copies of them should I stop paying the monthly fee.
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Postby GypsyComet » Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:52 pm

kristof65 wrote:I would be willing to pay a reasonable monthly or annual fee to access such tools, provided I could download any output in some sort of text or other common format, so that I could have offline access to "my" creations and retain copies of them should I stop paying the monthly fee.
As an old gamer and netizen, the software-as-service business model sickens me, and I would not support it.
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Postby kristof65 » Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:12 pm

GypsyComet wrote:As an old gamer and netizen, the software-as-service business model sickens me, and I would not support it.
I'm that way on many things as well. Frex, I don't particularly care for WotCs new online "tools" for D&D 4e nor how their business model for it mirror's online games like WoW.

However, I do realize that in the case of a character generator (or starship generator or world builder, etc) , what I'm really interested in is the output of that program more than the program itself - IE, the character, the starship, the world, etc. As long as I can download that output, keep it indefinitely, and load it into other "tools" like a word processor or spreadsheet (and this part is important) and still have access to that data in a modifiable form even after I stopped paying for the access to the generator(s), then I can be a little more supportive of that business model. Particularly if it can be set up as either a subscription based model and an ala carte, pay as you go model so that people can choose either.

Is this my preferred solution? Not really. The only reason I mention this is that I know it provides some advantages for the company, as well as for the consumer.

- as an online service provided through a browser interface, if properly done it will support any operating system that has a browser available to it. This gives it the widest possible market, as just about every current OS option out there has a browser available for it.

- distribution of software and updates. By having it a host based service, any software updates can be applied immediately, and all customers benefit from them. No worrying about installation and upgrade issues.

- reduced support issues.costs. Again, because everything's on the host, no worries about bad disks, improper programs, etc being shipped/downloaded/etc. Fewer installation issues due to firewalls, etc.


Basically, if it comes down to the choice of these tools being provided as a "software-as-service" model, or not at all, I would choose the "software-as-service" model, IF it met my conditions above and was reasonably priced - no more than $9.95 a month or $0.10-$0.25 a download. Obviously, the lower the price per month, the more likely I'm to use it, at least for the durations of my campaigns.
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Postby kafka » Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:11 pm

Don't forget about us Linux users...whatever you make for Windows...make some for us.

In addition to all that has been cited (as they are all very good), I would very much like to see a character illustrator for Traveller. Take common motiffs eg. Vacc Suit, Cmbt Armour, civies, etc. plus standard science fiction uniforms shorn of their identifying marks (I am sure the copyright holders would not mind if you asked them nicely).
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Postby simonh » Thu Jan 15, 2009 11:13 pm

kristof65 wrote:I could second all these, particularly the support of Windows mobile.
The problem here is that the phone OS market is far more fragmented than the desktop OS market. There's also a lot more 'churn' in mobile phones. Which is to say people change phones more often than they change desktop or laptop computers, and there is a much higher chance that their new phone will have a completely different OS to the last one.

Finaly, even if someone does switch desktop OS, there are plenty of system virtualisation or emulation options that will allow them to keep running software for their old platform. There's nothing like that on mobile phones.

All these effects restrict the market for mobile applications, and the ammount people are prepared to pay for them, because such applications are perceived as being 'throwaway' in a way that desktop apps aren't.

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Postby kristof65 » Thu Jan 15, 2009 11:34 pm

simonh wrote:
kristof65 wrote:I could second all these, particularly the support of Windows mobile.
The problem here is that the phone OS market is far more fragmented than the desktop OS market. There's also a lot more 'churn' in mobile phones. Which is to say people change phones more often than they change desktop or laptop computers, and there is a much higher chance that their new phone will have a completely different OS to the last one.
Oh yeah, I'm a long time Windows Mobile user, and I'm very aware of that issue - even within Windows Mobile itself there are lots of differences and fractures. The appearance of the iPhone even had the effect of reducing the Window's mobile market even more. Yes, I would like Windows Mobile based Traveller applications. But I know the likelyhood of that happening is very, very slim.

That's why I have the view point that the most viable option from a market size and development perspective is a host based, web browser accessible tool. That way, you're really only "developing" for "two" markets - larger screen desktop/laptop devices and smaller screen mobile devices. And most of that difference can be accomplished through identifying the browser type and the use of style sheets.

Basically, if the software is developed for a specific OS family, people are going to be left out because of their hardware, or the development costs will go up by trying to develop for more OSs. OtoH, developing a web based service gives just about anyone access no matter how obscure their OS is, and the bulk of people left out are either because of their internet access speed or by choice.
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Postby brionl » Fri Jan 16, 2009 7:23 am

Well, I've been working on an Open Office spreadsheet for Ship design.
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Postby AndrewW » Fri Jan 16, 2009 7:50 am

brionl wrote:Well, I've been working on an Open Office spreadsheet for Ship design.
Got one myself but nothing fancy.
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Postby Gee4orce » Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:40 am

Well, I was toying with the idea of making an iPhone app - but I don't think I could even give it away without the express permission of Mongoose. :cry:

For the generator apps all you're interested in is the output - which is generally just a text string in Traveller. For these applications I think a script written in a scripting language like Ruby or Perl is most appropriate.

If you want an application to help you design a character or a ship or a world - then really you're just as well off with a correctly designed spreadsheet as you are with bespoke application.

BTW I have a nice Apple Pages Character sheet: if anyone wants it, PM me.
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Postby Stainless » Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:45 am

Hang on, isn't Java supposed to be explicitly multi-platform? It would seem logical to me to use a very widely used, multi-platform language such as jave for any software.

For my vote, about the only thing I'd really like is a NPC generator.
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Postby dorward » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:01 am

Gee4orce wrote:Well, I was toying with the idea of making an iPhone app - but I don't think I could even give it away without the express permission of Mongoose.
... and Apple.
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Postby dorward » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:02 am

Stainless wrote:Hang on, isn't Java supposed to be explicitly multi-platform?
Perl and Ruby are too (as are a number of other options).
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Postby AKAramis » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:17 am

dorward wrote:
Stainless wrote:Hang on, isn't Java supposed to be explicitly multi-platform?
Perl and Ruby are too (as are a number of other options).
Python, and EMCAScript/JavaScript, too.

Neat thing about JavaScript: if you embed it into a PDF, you get a neat loophole...PDF's are permitted.
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Postby Somebody » Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:15 am

@Paladin

Yes, I work in software, done that since the mid 1980s. Including an Engineers Degree (Applied Science). That's why I started with restricted platforms and a mobile platform that a) I know and b) Has the necessary programming tools

@All/JAVA

Java is platform independent. In Theory. In Reality it's a "mostly platform independent". Some OS lack support for current versions (IIRC Mac is still JDK 1.5 while the rest is JDK 1.6) and once you start with GUI's you quickly get programs that have a Look and Feel different from programs written specifically for the OS. When you go "Java in the Browser" it get's even more complex due to "Plugin vs. Buildin" and all. That's why Applets work fine in an INTRAnet where the Admins control installations and louse in the INTERnet where they don't. Java WebStart solves some problems but has issues of it's own.

It's a beautiful language and library set but the feature that most developers like it for is less the "runs anywhere" and more the "fails everywhere in the same way" that is if the Application throws Exception X at the customer it will throw the same Exception on your Dev-System something that often did not work for other languages.

@All/Mobile Plattform

Yes the market is fragmented, there are at least 5 platforms to consider (WiMo 5/6, iPhone, Symbian, Palm and the Nokia 8xx Tablets) The problem is that they have no common programing environment (Language + Libraries + GUI) with the Nokias lacking any Java and the Java on the others being a J2 MicroEdition (J2ME) not the more common desktop edition (JRE / JDK) with it's cutbacks.

WiMo 5/6 is resonably common thanks to T-Mobile etc. marketing the systems as Phone/PDA combinations and have a solid programing library with the current .NET Tools including the GUI part.
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Postby alex_greene » Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:35 pm

I was actually thinking about Java, Perl and Ruby as possible options for such stat generator software.

Would Python be any good as an optional source language?

Regardless of the language or platform, the process of creating stats is fairly simple - it is just crunch, after all, because you're doing the playing and not the computer - but apart from the concerns about the source language and multiplatform compatibility, two other concerns are of interest to me:-

- Expandability: the programs need to be expandable, preferably by the users through customisable controls, but if not, then through licensed updates and expansion packs released by the company and authorised third party software providers;

- Interface design: as well as a good engine, a good interface design is paramount, because it makes the program enjoyable and fun to use. Having a smart interface that enables a character sheet to be generated, say, as a PDF (or at the very least as a printable document of some sort, even an OpenOffice.org .odt file) would be really useful to players and Referees alike.

The interface also has to be smart enough to take the more exotic player options into consideration. If I want to generate a pack of Vargr scientists, I'd like the character sheet to read "Charisma" instead of "Social Standing," and a Droyne character sheet to have "Caste" there instead. Oh. And Psion characters and anyone with awakened psionics to have not only a Psionic Strength stat, but also space to list their Talents.

I'd honestly pay good money for software that was that well-designed and well-thought out.
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Postby Somebody » Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:56 pm

It won't be cheap. I'd estimate a good CharGen to run at 40-50 Person-Days IF written by someone who has basic knowledge about the rules system etc, quite a bit of that going into GUI-Design/Interfaces. Sure that will give you an expandabel framework type of program, running in JAVA and all but still.

WorldGen is easier, I'd say 15-20 days

TradeTool should be doabel in 10-15, same for SpaceCombat Tool

Shipbuilding is again more complex. Assuming you want all features it's 30-40 days
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Postby Stainless » Fri Jan 16, 2009 1:54 pm

BenGunn wrote:It won't be cheap. I'd estimate a good CharGen to run at 40-50 Person-Days
So a piece of cake for an unemployed Traveller grognard with the skills :D

My model here are the amazing amounts of work many people put into mods for computer games, all for free and the love of doing it.

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