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Author Topic: Character generator tool
drl2
Street-Level Hero
Posts: 23
Post Character generator tool
on: November 11, 2018, 21:07

I'd been looking for a project idea for a while to help me learn a number of new programming languages/frameworks I hadn't yet worked with, and a month or so ago while going through the process of rolling up a couple of random villains, I realized that a tool that would automate the initial random processes would let me skip ahead to the fun/creative portion of character creation.

It's now almost finished to my satisfaction, and has reached the point where I've already found it useful, so I figured I'd share it.

The tool itself is at: http://mpgen.drl2.com/

There's a page with more info (including some technical stuff if anyone cares) at https://gaming.drl2.com/mpgen-a-character-starter/

There are a couple of specific limitations I'm working on but they shouldn't cause too many problems:

  • It works fine when accessed from http:// but from https:// the buttons don't work - for now, just don't do that
  • When accessed from a mobile device, it refuses to load at all. The workaround is to set your mobile browser to "Show desktop site" - it should still scale relatively well. (I think this is related to some .htaccess settings it's inheriting from elsewhere on the hosting site.)
  • The "Download" button doesn't do anything yet. I'm working on having it create a simple spreadsheet of character data, plus hopefully an extra sheet whose layout is set up such that owners of the official Excel character sheet can do a simple copy-paste and it will plop all the stats into the right buckets to auto-populate it.

EDIT: Got the mobile & https issues fixed!

My Gaming Blog

Curse
Street-Level Hero
Posts: 6
Post Re: Character generator tool
on: November 12, 2018, 12:13

Looks quite useful and comprehensive. Nice work.
One thing though: there are only 4 abilities while usually you should be able to pick 4 out of 6. Maybe it would be useful to select them like the background.
I also like that you made it possible to pick certain things beforehand - some players just cannot / don't like to handle different genders / gender expressions ^.^

drl2
Street-Level Hero
Posts: 23
Post Re: Character generator tool
on: November 12, 2018, 14:16

One thing though: there are only 4 abilities while usually you should be able to pick 4 out of 6. Maybe it would be useful to select them like the background.

Ack! I actually started coding for that and commented it out temporarily for testing... and forgot to finish it up. I'll push out a fix for that in the next day or so as time permits.

My Gaming Blog

drl2
Street-Level Hero
Posts: 23
Post Re: Character generator tool
on: November 12, 2018, 15:07

It's updated to show all six abilities now. It's not a selectable list yet but there's a "Pick 4" notation above it for the moment, until I figure out how to correctly format a multi-column checklist in this user interface code...

My Gaming Blog

Hireling
High-Powered Superhero
Posts: 95
Post Re: Character generator tool
on: November 12, 2018, 19:26

Thanks, drl2! I'll put it thought some paces and see if I can provide some useful feedback.

Sescheraun
Street-Level Hero
Posts: 1
Post Re: Character generator tool
on: November 12, 2018, 20:42

Hello there,

Nice looking page, I would like to see a couple of color options maybe have a dark option for example and just reverse the colors.

On another note, I was playing around with it and noticed that if your Birthplace is Extra-dimensional and you select anything but random for your dimension then the program simply fails to work. It doesn't crash but the generate character button no longer works. If you switch the selected dimension back to random then the program starts to work normally again.

Thanks for the generator and I look forward to seeing it develope.

drl2
Street-Level Hero
Posts: 23
Post Re: Character generator tool
on: November 12, 2018, 22:16

Other dimension selection should be OK now.

I played around with trying to use a dark theme so it wouldn't look so different from my gaming blog, but I just wasn't having much luck wrapping my head around the mechanism for that in the user interface library I used. I've made some progress on that front in getting the necessary spacing, etc, applied to the lists on the page, so maybe I'll revisit it at some point.

For now I'm focusing on knocking out any functional bugs and getting the spreadsheet piece done. And just for the record, I'm really not a design guy by any stretch of the imagination, so the template I'm in the process of throwing together for the download is not gonna be much to look at 🙂

My Gaming Blog

drl2
Street-Level Hero
Posts: 23
Post Re: Character generator tool
on: November 13, 2018, 17:17

Made another quick update to put checkboxes next to the non-species-based abilities so you can select four of the six as "core" abilities but still have the other rolls listed in case you want allocate weakness points to activate them.

My Gaming Blog

Majestic
Cosmic Superhero
Posts: 3424
Post Re: Character generator tool
on: November 15, 2018, 01:25

Thanks for all your hard work on this!

V&V GM and player since 1982 (my current campaign is 22 years old); also run West End Games d6 Star Wars monthly, as well as the occasional The One Ring and Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game

drl2
Street-Level Hero
Posts: 23
Post Re: Character generator tool
on: December 5, 2018, 20:20

An update, a request, and a discussion topic:

The update is:

No new changes have been made yet to the tool as it's deployed but after a lot of tinkering (due to the whole "simultaneously learning multiple new languages and programming frameworks" thing) I've got the development version to the point where it can load up an excel template, populate it with some data (eventually the generated character), and send it to the user. But for all the hours I've spent working with Excel sheets, it's mostly involved writing code to read them into databases... and I'm pretty terrible at the design side of things.

So the request is:

Take a look at the template I threw together (http://drl2.com/CharTemplate.xlsx) and let me know if it's useful enough. Feel free to suggest changes, tinker directly with the file, or throw it out entirely and provide something better :). A couple of things to keep in mind:

- File size needs to stay small due to space & traffic limitations on the free service where part of the code is hosted, so minimal bitmap graphics
- Fits on a single printable page
- Not a lot of background coloring/shading etc, so it doesn't consume ink cartridges when printed
- I probably should have left room somewhere to paste in a character portrait...

... And the discussion topic:

It's occurred to me that I could leverage some of the code from the character generator to make a henchmen generator. You'd give it a power level and a number of henchmen, make some selections about equipment/powers, and it would generate a list similar to the combat record sheet, populated with characters with randomly-generated BCs appropriate to the selected power level.

The complexity is in the "enter some data about equipment/powers" bit. There would be no effort to model every possible power combo, or to enforce point expenditures; it would be left to the GM to choose gear/power combinations appropriate to the campaign and power level. You'd get a list of "pre-built" powers to select from - minimally, the example "special weapon" lists from the manual. There'd be some options for distributing different items across the group, so for instance you'd be able to generate 8 henchmen and specify that 5 of them should carry clubs and 3 should have pistols.

My main concern is how much variety in power selections it would take to make this tool widely useful. As described it would be good for those campaigns where all that's needed are some bodies to populate the local goon squad, but wouldn't do a good job rolling up the troop of power-armored soldiers guarding the archvillain's base.

Thoughts on how to balance usefulness vs complexity? Maybe a community-created list of common hench-powers?

My Gaming Blog

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