Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
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Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby msprange » Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:18 am

Okay, we have a dream...

We are taking a serious look at creating a new version of Traveller, one that uses the same core rules (exactly the same) as the current edition (or, indeed, T5), but one where you come to the table not with a mountain of books, but with a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. All these devices will run the Traveller 'app' and all will automatically connect to one another to start playing the game (which is fun for the technical guys to accomplish, but fortunately, not something we have to worry about).

Play is fairly traditional, but we can use the power of the various devices and their connectivity to bring RPGs into the 21st Century. For the referee, easy to manage adventures, with maps and POV art going straight to players. Players have access to entire equipment lists, or can design a ship on the fly. When the players go off piste, the referee can create his own new subsector - or have the software create one for him.

We have an over-riding idea of what we want this game to be, but we would like to hear from you with specifics. What would you like to see from such a set up, and what new gaming experiences would you expect?
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby CosmicGamer » Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:04 pm

Off the top of my head:
Run a trade ship.
Run a pirate ship.
Run a military or mercenary ship.
Run a system.
Run a fleet.

"Game changing" challenge I see: Simulating the one week travel and communications lag. Will it really be Traveller without this.

Run a trade ship.
Typical going from system to system figuring out the best trade routes while avoiding pirates. Hiring the best crew. Making money to upgrade ship.

Run a pirate ship.
Typical commerce raiding while avoiding those that would stop you. Finding pirate friendly systems for repairs and selling stolen items. Making money to upgrade ship. Enslave and recruit crew. Perhaps this leads to running a fleet and even taking over a system to run.

Run a military ship.
Get those pirates and protect trade. Earn merit for success. Use Merit to gain better crew and upgrade ships. Perhaps this leads to running a fleet or getting your own system to run.

Run a system.
Economics. Education (producing the best people for others to recruit crew). Dealing with piracy - friend or foe? Manufacturing and ship building. Maintaining population and attracting new citizens. Politics between systems - allowing cooperative play so that system customize and fill each others needs.

Run a fleet.
With multiple governments, sometimes conflicts or cooperation can't be resolved peacefully. Perhaps this is part of running a system.
Last edited by CosmicGamer on Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby GypsyComet » Thu Mar 28, 2013 1:08 pm

If "bringing it to the table" is the goal, then simulating the tools that PCs might have is more useful than replacing the need for a table. This is Traveller, not SimTraveller.

First off, any use of electronic randomization to handle direct PC actions should be optional. A tabletop experience requires that the players look *at the table* at least occasionally.

Automating a lot of the Cargo handling, on the other hand, would be quite useful. That ties in with a sector data presentation tool, so your PC trader can tell quickly if he has advantageous markets for everything the broker is offering, and the Referee can generate a broker's wares in a few seconds instead of having the game break for lunch.

For both Refs and players, an interactive Library Data function with personal but shareable annotation is good. The Ref determines what the commercial LibDat looks like, both from a presumably purchased pool and his own campaign needs. That combined baseline is then available to all players, each of whom can annotate entries with their own experiences and either keep those private ("Wish we had Dave's handcomp right now...") or shared. The Ref also has annotation ability, but the default is that this is shared verbally. If the Ref is sharing "official" data, it just gets a new entry instead.

Obviously, a campaign notes tool (or tool layer on top of everything else) is important to the Ref. From keeping track of NPCs (including brokers) to remembering what the local crime boss likes for lunch and how many continents that world has (and what's on each one), Referees toss out a lot of information that they may or may not remember in six months.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby dragoner » Thu Mar 28, 2013 1:41 pm

msprange wrote:Okay, we have a dream...

We are taking a serious look at creating a new version of Traveller, one that uses the same core rules (exactly the same) as the current edition (or, indeed, T5), but one where you come to the table not with a mountain of books, but with a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. All these devices will run the Traveller 'app' and all will automatically connect to one another to start playing the game (which is fun for the technical guys to accomplish, but fortunately, not something we have to worry about).

Play is fairly traditional, but we can use the power of the various devices and their connectivity to bring RPGs into the 21st Century. For the referee, easy to manage adventures, with maps and POV art going straight to players. Players have access to entire equipment lists, or can design a ship on the fly. When the players go off piste, the referee can create his own new subsector - or have the software create one for him.

We have an over-riding idea of what we want this game to be, but we would like to hear from you with specifics. What would you like to see from such a set up, and what new gaming experiences would you expect?
I would avoid the app probably, unless you have time for endless support, bith AR and 6 are a pretty good example of the idea not working as planned. I would create a website, optimized for traveller playing called something such as 'charted space' for example. Unify the rules, put bookmarked links in them for relevant rules, sell the pdf's unlocked. Create easily useable software that can be used as a playing table or battlefield that the GM can set up and players can move pieces on over days in time. Create useable graphics, something the players can see, but also with importable deckplans to the field.

That would be a decent start.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby alex_greene » Thu Mar 28, 2013 2:40 pm

msprange wrote:Okay, we have a dream...

We are taking a serious look at creating a new version of Traveller, one that uses the same core rules (exactly the same) as the current edition (or, indeed, T5), but one where you come to the table not with a mountain of books, but with a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. All these devices will run the Traveller 'app' and all will automatically connect to one another to start playing the game (which is fun for the technical guys to accomplish, but fortunately, not something we have to worry about).

Play is fairly traditional, but we can use the power of the various devices and their connectivity to bring RPGs into the 21st Century. For the referee, easy to manage adventures, with maps and POV art going straight to players. Players have access to entire equipment lists, or can design a ship on the fly. When the players go off piste, the referee can create his own new subsector - or have the software create one for him.

We have an over-riding idea of what we want this game to be, but we would like to hear from you with specifics. What would you like to see from such a set up, and what new gaming experiences would you expect?
Seriously cool.

This is not an MMORPG you're thinking of, like EVE Online, everyone running the game in the same setting, but something to allow Refs and players to all run their own campaigns, yes?

I'd love to see, as a Ref, a facility for blue booking - keeping characters and NPCs centrally updated in a database, particularly to keep track of things like their finances, contacts, skill improvements, training and so on.

Oh, and also the ability as a Ref to alter certain set fundamental parameters and assumptions of the campaign, such as Jump - so we could have a campaign where hyperdrive, rather than Jump, is the norm for interstellar travel, or where we can amend the starship design rules for the individual campaign so, for instance, Jump fuel = 10% of the total drive mass (J-, M-, P- plants combined) per rated parsec, rather than 10% of the mass of the ship.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby msprange » Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:07 pm

alex_greene wrote: This is not an MMORPG you're thinking of, like EVE Online, everyone running the game in the same setting, but something to allow Refs and players to all run their own campaigns, yes?
Yes - basically, we are not creating a new game, but a new way of playing Traveller.

I'll put it another way :)

We want to replace books, pencils (and maybe dice - maybe not) and character sheets with laptops, tablets and smartphones and, in doing so, utilise the technology on hand to make the experience better.

Now, we have some broad ideas on how to do this;
alex_greene wrote: I'd love to see, as a Ref, a facility for blue booking - keeping characters and NPCs centrally updated in a database, particularly to keep track of things like their finances, contacts, skill improvements, training and so on.
Like this - your campaign database will have all the Contacts, Allies and Enemies of the players' characters all uploaded at the start of play, and will highlight themselves to the ref whenever the players stray close to the planet they were last on. Maybe even generate a connected Patron encounter automatically.

That sort of thing.
alex_greene wrote:Oh, and also the ability as a Ref to alter certain set fundamental parameters and assumptions of the campaign, such as Jump - so we could have a campaign where hyperdrive, rather than Jump, is the norm for interstellar travel, or where we can amend the starship design rules for the individual campaign so, for instance, Jump fuel = 10% of the total drive mass (J-, M-, P- plants combined) per rated parsec, rather than 10% of the mass of the ship.
Important note here - we don't want to change Traveller. However, if you can do something in the pen and paper version (like alter the way jumps work), then you should also be able to do it in this version.

We want this version to help players & referees, and make the play experience more exciting/satisfying. We do _not_ want to lock them into a certain style of play.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby CosmicGamer » Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:32 pm

Ok, guess I got too excited that you were going to make an actual computer game.
msprange wrote:We want to replace books, pencils (and maybe dice - maybe not) and character sheets with laptops, tablets and smartphones and, in doing so, utilise the technology on hand to make the experience better.
Well, character sheets, pencils, and dice are already replaced by most online PbP sites and virtual tabletop apps.

If it is just some gaming aids your talking about, people have done it on their own but they can't share because of licensing. Chargen, ship building, random encounters, subsector generation and so on. Why not start by looking at what others have done and offer a way of getting peoples software out to the public? I can see you as a publishing house for RP tools and software written by others.

Virtual tabletop software? Campaign helpers? Lots of those out there. Sorry, but to be brutally honest, I don't see a Mongoose investment in starting this from scratch paying off. Perhaps work with one of the developers already out there to customize a future version for better compatibility with Traveller and sell the add on that has the Traveller "rules".
Last edited by CosmicGamer on Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby sjmiller » Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:40 pm

msprange wrote:We want to replace books, pencils (and maybe dice - maybe not) and character sheets with laptops, tablets and smartphones and, in doing so, utilise the technology on hand to make the experience better.
For me especially, and for a vast majority of my gaming group, this is exactly what I do NOT want from an RPG. Of my main group of 15 players (broken into two groups) only one person has a tablet; two, maybe three people have smartphones; none of our gaming areas would have enough room or plugs for everyone to have a laptop (and several do not own one). We are gamers in a much more traditional sense. We like paper character sheets. We like miniatures. We like having our own dice and rolling them. We like sitting around a table and interacting, not staring at computers/phones. Electronic devices, however cool they might be, are always a distraction during gaming. That is why we do not allow them at the table.

Electronic tools are great for game preparation, character creation, and the like. Once we start gaming, computers are shut off, phones are put on vibrate, and we gather around the table to play a game.

As you can see, for us, the technology on hand would not make the experience better, but would make it worse. Sorry, guess I am not the target demographic you are looking for in this product.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby dragoner » Thu Mar 28, 2013 5:01 pm

I am that demographic, and not of the typical gamer stereotype, being more of a 'suit'. My campaign was spawned by another virtual game, and in turn has spawned many others, as well as my being brought, and in turn bring others over to mong trav.

I'm not seeing anything discussed being of much interest, forking other products is fine; seeing another eve is pointless, it is already of traveller lineage.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby AndrewW » Thu Mar 28, 2013 5:04 pm

Allow support for running on different devices and os's.

If one person is using Linux and another an ios device, let it interoperate between them.

Make it optional, so some could be using a device and it would still be easy to work with someone that isn't using any.

Don't require online access, may not be available at the gaming location. So one of the local devices needs to act as a server and coordinate between devices if this is needed.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby IanBruntlett » Thu Mar 28, 2013 5:23 pm

Before you start:-
* Determine what you are going to implement for the first stage.
* Decide what you are not going to implement just yet.

About storing stuff:-
* Design your data file(s), preferrably using a commonly supported data-format and include version info so 1) an old app can tell you the data is too new or 2) a new app can handle multiple version(s) of the data file(s)
* Avoid binary data file(s)

About choosing a programming language:-
* I don't know :) However, despite having a preference for C++, I would suggest a scripted language with a reasonable selection of libraries - something like Python for programming and Qt for the user interface?

Have fun :)
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby Dave Chase » Thu Mar 28, 2013 6:30 pm

An interactive E-Traveller

Very cool.

Now if you could also include the 3D holographic projector to place on the table, I am totally in. ;)

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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby mattman » Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:41 pm

Yes, holograms for starters :)

Unfortunately I can't lower my sights any further than the below two visualizations of what I want for RPGs. I think that I'll just hop back on the bus and get off at the next decade...

This is what I want for a technology-assisted tabletop RPG experience:

The immersive holo scene in the desert between Dr. Smith and another villain in the movie Lost In Space. Can you imagine playing tabletop Traveller with your pals all over the world in the middle of that desert?
(link takes you to the time I want; see 12:00 to 12:45)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIXghOvu ... E#t=12m00s

And of course, "let the wookie win, R2". I bet someone has or is doing something like this already with smartphones viewing the world like in the Traveller AR attempt:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mO6M4ngKRp0


But back to this decade:

Some of the below have probably been mentioned but...

Although adding a facility for sending secret messages across the table would be nice in your app, as well as good Travellerish sci-fi sound effects.

Also a very thorough combat assistant app that lets you place character map positions, click and drag in some scenery, provide player prompts for what they can do in a combat would be nice. It would *especially* would make it easier for the ref like me to keep up with numerous NPCs because I can't stand doing that.

A character generation assistant with all the events in it to enable rapid character gen around the table would be nice.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby Infojunky » Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:44 am

Hum....

Big question.

1st is easiest, Mapping... System mapping 1st, editable system mapping. Actuall what I truly want is a Traveller specific GIS system that starts at the sector level at least and can drill down to the planet surface level (regional is better). As I said GIS there should be a relation database available as well. While automated system generation would be nice, it isn't a requirement, just the ability to add and edit system entries. That is the basics of what I need. Additions to this Trade tables/cargo& freight generation would be real handy. (See Galatic 2.4c and Traveller Universe for prime examples)

What would be nice? A updatable database of careers. An equipment data base, A digital Character sheet also would be nice. So would Digital Ship's Papers, Manifest and Log app.

Most of what I want is tablet computer based apps that support Face to Face play.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby mechascorpio » Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:27 am

msprange wrote:We are taking a serious look at creating a new version of Traveller, one that uses the same core rules (exactly the same) as the current edition (or, indeed, T5), but one where you come to the table not with a mountain of books, but with a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. All these devices will run the Traveller 'app' and all will automatically connect to one another to start playing the game.
First, I find this really exciting for all sorts of reasons, Matt.

My wishlist: replace the table too.

There is an increasing number of games bringing small groups of players from all over the world to play a shared "tabletop game" online, in Google Hangouts, Roll20 and so on. Right now over in the Google+ Traveller community, someone is putting together an online game.

Traditionally, gaming is obviously very much dependent on putting together a local group. That's easy with D&D and Pathfinder, or a tight local group that plays a variety of games. Not so easy with Traveller (not a slight, probably true of 90% of the popular games out there today). This would be a great way to bring new gamers together, to expand the audience/market for Traveller.

To be clear: I'm not talking about an overwhelming, expensive project that will never get finished and requires a bunch of proprietary technology like WOTC's D&D Virtual Tabletop. Instead, take a look at what is already being done right now in a scrappy fashion, and consider what could be done to "Traveller-ise" the experience: integrated shared die roller, snappy interface, shared visuals, online shared character sheets, and so on. The players still drive the game through video, audio and typing. But Mongoose, through this initiative, could try to improve the experience and tie its "e-ruleset" into it.

Enabling a more "tablelike" experience for disparately located Traveller enthusiasts is, to me, a much more compelling result than players bringing their devices to an actual table. There's nothing wrong with what you're saying. Heck, many of us are already doing it with PDFs from you and FFE. If you're just looking to replace pen and paper, you could probably more easily do it with two separate applications: a "Character Folio" for players, and a "Campaign Manager" for GMs.

But at the end of the day, I still have a problem getting 4-6 players together to play Traveller. Now I might have to tell them to bring iPads and iPhones (perhaps not even Android?). So the way I see your approach with what little I've read is, perhaps, exclusionary and I'm suggesting something more inclusive.

One last thing, a rhetorical question from someone who is a software product manager in real life:

What problem are you trying to solve? Or, rather, is there a problem you can solve while you are doing this?

Anyway, kudos for thinking about your concept in the first place, and for putting it out here for us to comment on.

ADDED: And nothing I said above should preclude bringing an improved, enhanced Mongoose Traveller game to the physical table. I'm not trying to change your vision, just broaden it.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby Epicenter » Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:17 am

Right off the top of my head? Integrate stuff that really takes advantage of the fact that everyone is on a computer. I think it'd also have to offer something different from the current "GM game-runner software" that already exists and not many people use.

* Electronic note-passing. You know, between the GM and a select player and vice versa. If you're ideally talking about cellphone integration, you could even have a system where you can just play games with players in remote locations and people could just text their actions to the GM. It wouldn't be ideal for normal play, but it'd let the GM and some players get things done during lunch breaks and so on like the famous "you arrive in system X, you want to process the trades..." and leave the session for adventures everyone can participate in, instead of just the guy with Broker-4 taking up an hour for a one-on-one game session with the GM while everyone else wanders off and plays on the 360 or PS3.

* I'd say have plug-in rules which are optional add-ins to Traveller. These rules would be handled by the app and the sky is the limit for how complex they would be: they could be as modifier heavy as you wanted, with different stats that are tracked by the turn and so on. Like the big "benefit" I often hear bandied about regarding Classic Traveller is that it is "fast" and "simple" ... these things are a big benefit in a P&P RPG where you don't want to track a bunch of different stats and so on. It's not a big issue if everyone has a computer to handle it all seamlessly; there's no reason (to me) why you couldn't come up with combat systems, vehicle combat systems which take into account the facing a vehicle (like the 1st edition Twilight: 2000), complex trade systems where it's possible to make money with a ship that isn't Jump-1 (and perhaps a system where it's possible to lose money with a Jump-1, which honestly is hard to do in C:T once you figure it out how it works), on-the-fly mainworld and solar system generation which takes into account how much more we know about solar systems and stars since 1976, paid plug-ins that contain all the data from the Second Survey into a big Charted Space map, and other kinds of stuff which would be too fiddly to do in P&P but would be a cinch for a computer to do.

* I'd like to see the old and broken hex map replaced by 3D star map, perhaps based on a 3D subsector size so it's relatively manageable. I don't think this is beyond modern tablets or even smartphones. Just like a series of dots that spin around a single point to simulate being 3D with links showing the jump number to get to the nearest systems. The 2D paper hex map was the best solution they could come up with in 1976 because of technology limits. It's 2013 now. We're not Vilani. People may not like this, but really they probably wouldn't buy the app anyway.

* Ideally, a way for people who aren't in your company to write certain kinds of add-ons / subapps to interface with your software. I don't mean it has to be open-architecture, there could be some sort licensing or approval system (like apple's iPhone apps). This will allow third parties to develop plug-ins which will increase player interest and take some of the burden of developing the app off of your shoulders.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby AndrewW » Fri Mar 29, 2013 9:38 am

Epicenter wrote:* Electronic note-passing. You know, between the GM and a select player and vice versa. If you're ideally talking about cellphone integration, you could even have a system where you can just play games with players in remote locations and people could just text their actions to the GM. It wouldn't be ideal for normal play, but it'd let the GM and some players get things done during lunch breaks and so on like the famous "you arrive in system X, you want to process the trades..." and leave the session for adventures everyone can participate in, instead of just the guy with Broker-4 taking up an hour for a one-on-one game session with the GM while everyone else wanders off and plays on the 360 or PS3.
Can do this with existing technologies, don't think this would be the best area to put developer effort into.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby silburnl » Fri Mar 29, 2013 9:42 am

mechascorpio wrote: First, I find this really exciting for all sorts of reasons, Matt.
What he said. Seconded.

Especially the bits about 'what is the problem you are trying to solve?' (IT projects guy here as well) and looking at what is already being attempted with google hangouts, roll20 etc

I run a Pendragon game with players spread between Liverpool, London and Madrid and for my demographic (pushing solidly into middle-aged, cash-rich/time-poor, geographically dispersed)* anything that assists with managing virtual groups and reducing prep times for refs is golden.

Regards
Luke

[*] I fully acknowledge that this demographic is not necessarily your core audience mind.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby Jacqual » Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:38 am

I think the best approach would be something to automate a lot of tasks needed by the ref and players to speed up gameplay, doing this with a platform that can handle say players around a table where everyone may not have a PC or tablet or whatnot and handle over IP as well that way you are catching both groups at once. I have a laptop, iPad, and an iPhone having a program that can run on all 3 would be very nice.

I have all my Traveller books in both HC and PDF thanks to how mongoose incourages both. The program should have a way of importing the books in pdf format, and thus enable a download for the actual rules from the book to incorperate into the program. That way the program remains up to date. This further incourages the brick and morter already in use.

The app should allow whispers between players as well as to and from the gm, and have the private dice roll be a gm only roll (with no sounds automatically) and public rolls with sound. My iPad makes running games so much more efficient already with other dice rolling apps and loot generators, that a program that directly looks at MGT or T5 will be awesome souce lol.
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Re: Future Traveller - Suggestions Appreciated

Postby InexorableTash » Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:26 pm

Fan though I am of automating tasks with software, this sounds like the kind of endeavor requiring a huge investment of time, money, and other resources to get off the ground, then a continuous sunstantial support and update cost. Given the long history of software tools for RPGs, I see the corpses of many companies littered about, and can't think of any successes. GRiP maybe? Companies like FASA that ended up shredded for IP (Mechwarrior)?

Sounds nifty, but there's tremendous risk involved.

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