Suggestion & Questions on Character form


  • Kanis
    Posts: 5
    Hello Micah,
    I'm going to post the questions, suggestions and comments in this one post for now since I don't see the exact place to ask them.

    First "Thank you" for the RPG tool, since it’s always a struggle to keep all the data available from location to location, with missing player and other mishaps. Now let me jump into the character creator.

    I like the simple open layout, more like a note pad that forcing you into an arbitrary sheet. I would suggest a few tweaks.

    First take out the drop down race selection since it’s not that helpful, and adding more races would turn it into a searching nightmare. Instead keep the simple field to enter whatever race you wish, from any system.
    Second the level box needs to be more flexible. Since some systems don't have levels and others have many different levels to keep track of (IE Multi-classing). Allowing a variety of thing to be placed in this field would be a great help. I'm not sure what your goals are for these fields and I hope I'm not walking all over your ideas.
    Third the "Select as NPC" hyperlink to the right of the character needs to be changed to a drop down menu with some sort of confirmation, I can't count how often I mistook this for a link back to the adventure.

    Next are issues or error, but since I'm not 100% comfortable with the interface or the use of "Textile" it could be my issues or errors to fix.

    First with the Khron ( character, each time I edit it the "tags" multiply for some reason and I can't seem to fix them all. Remembering to delete the duplicates is not always at the top of my list.
    Second when I edit the sheet, I have to re-enter the Race selection (as mentioned above) data each time or it shows up as nothing selected. So it may not save the ‘other’ racial information.
    Third is a spacing issue. On both the Khron sheet and the ‘test’ sheet for Marisa ( a character for another player I’m playing with) the footnote lines are separated by a space and I wanted to know if there is a work around for that. Also the mariatest sheet has a boxed in table and I don’t know how to add a space between it and the ‘spell list’ text below it.

    As you can see I like what you are up to, and I hope to be able to use it to help make things smooth with our group. Once I have the basic layout done I’ll post them on the forum (if it will allow me to do it the way I want) or I’ll make a Pdf that will allow other to copy edit and paste what I’ve done (with some explanations).
    So here is to learning how to better use it and to seeing it grow.

  • Micah
    Posts: 894
    This is all really great stuff. We really appreciate this sort of feedback. It's the only way we can figure out what to make better.

    Some answers:

    h2. drop-down race box

    I wanted to avoid a splintering of identical races: human/Human/man or half-elf/half elf/0.5 elf However, upon "usability testing" (ie. listening to you) it sounds like that's not worth it. I'll toss out the drop down and move to a standard text field.

    There is a balance to be struck between the structured data (name, level, race, game system) and the freeform (bio and description). The structured is a little harder to handle, allows less formatting control to the author, and is often system-specific. However, interesting things can be done with it like sorting, filtering, and searching. For example, that's how we do the "narrow by system" in the campaign list. The free-form text allows for all sorts of customization, but severely limits the amount of data discovery that can be done. Characters will look good, but be hard to find for someone searching.

    h2. level box

    I avoided this for a while, since I didn't want things to be too D&D specific, and because of its inflexibility as you noted. However, I finally gave in (to myself) and added this field in the hopes of making it eventually searchable. I am hoping that the character database will include lots of fully fleshed-out NPCs that people can use in their games without modification. This includes their "crunch" stats, not just their bios. To that end, I wanted characters to be searchable and sortable (eventually) by character level. So, someone could come looking for a level 8 minion to throw against their party.

    The _ultimate_ solution for this would be to key off of game system and provide something meaningful. For D&D, it's character level, while for Heroes it could mean character points. That's pretty advanced for where we are now, so don't count on it. For now, I think I will leave this one alone. After all, you don't have to fill it in.

    h2. Race selection errors

    Yeah, the "other" race selection was not something I implemented well. Sorry about that. I'll change that (and probably gender as well) to make them simple text fields. This data will not be as useful for searching/sorting as I thought. Besides, the search software we're using (very simple for now) understands that human and Human mean the same thing. Let's just hope that people don't get too creative and put in Hoo-Mahn too often...

    h2. Select as npc

    I'll look at this and see if I can figure out a better way to do it. There has to be some way to take a character and make them into an NPC for a campaign. The dropdown box with confirmation is a good idea. Let me experiment with it and see how it feels.

    h2. Tags

    Let me see if I can do some de-duplication in the tag list. I can't think of any reason that anyone would need to put the same tag on the same character twice.

    h2. Spacing

    We might be able to do a little more formatting here, but I'm not sure. I'll try to see what I can find out. For a lot of this stuff, you can get it 90% of the way there with very little effort, but to get it _exactly_ right requires knowledge of HTML, CSS, and all sorts of other stuff.

    For adding space above and below something, try using a paragraph with padding:

    p{padding-top:30px;}. This would have 30 pixels of space above it (except that it's an example)

    * *p* means paragraph (it might work with other tags, I'm not sure)
    * Use curly braces: { and } to enclose the style information
    * For style, use name:value; for example: "padding-top:30px" (without quotes). You can string together multiple styles like so: padding-top:30px;padding-bottom:30px;color:blue;
    * After the final curly brace, add a period and a space.

    For an example of this, look at "an NPC's bio": I added some padding before that last line using the technique above.

    h2. Thanks a lot!

    Let me close this by saying that I'm really grateful for this sort of feedback. We want to make this site very usable, and I'll be honest, that's not my greatest ability. I'm more of a "behind the scenes" sort of programmer. However, if you guys can accurately describe what is frustrating in the interface (like was described here), it goes a long way to helping us figure out what is broken and needs fixing. So, keep the ideas and thoughts coming, and please be patient. We're working as fast as we can.
  • deadshot
    Posts: 16
    Kanis is the man! He's my resident perfectionist so I have unleashed him on this place. You might be sorry you asked for his input! ;)

    Seriously, the guy knows how to make stuff like this look pretty and I am pleased to have him as my go-to guy to help the characters. It frees me up to just work on the Adventure log. Which is still two stories behind. But I'm workin' on it!!! ;)
  • Kanis
    Posts: 5

    *drop-down race box*

    I had an idea that is was a sorting thing, and I wanted to give a suggestion as opposed to just saying it didn't work. I'm still bouncing some idea, and tonight is gaming night so if I can think about it I'll pass it by 'our' programmer and the rest of the gang for input. I'm sure it can be kept functional in some way, since I get how it could be useful without being a pain to use. :)

    *level box*

    Another item that I figured was behind the scene based, and I think I get how complicated the searching can be. The issue isn't the having the box there, its how to make it work for multiclassing (and I haven't thought about the other systems gurps, shadowrun etc...). I think for D&D purposes adding the levels together will work, and other systems its ust a matter of putting point 'buy' or creation totals. Changing it may not be required, and I don't think you should remove it.

    *Race selection errors*

    This may not be an issue is changes are made to the drop down option. Its just that ever time I edit a character that isn't listed in the drop down menu I have to choose 'other' and type in the race every time. It doesn't sound like much, and may not be in the future where I won't be going in thirty times a day to tweak things; but its just a memory thing I'm sure.
    It would be great that if you select a system (D&D3.5 or Gama World etc) that you would only have the races for that system available... but again this would be overwhelming since D&D alone can fill screens with data due to the fact that you can theoretically play any race (or monster) as a character. I know I'm not helping by giving suggestions again... sorry ;)


    Thanks for the advice on formatting, the “p{padding-top:30px;}” worked. I adjusted the spacing and had to play with where it was placed in order to get the effect I wanted.

    I wish I knew more about some of the ‘tage/code’ that aren’t listed on the textiles sites. The padding, margins etc… it looks like css (which I don’t know much about).
    I’m all about giving feedback, and I try to give suggestions as well… not just criticism.
    The site is looking very promising, and I’m excited about being in at the ground floor.

  • Micah
    Posts: 894
    I already dropped the race box and replaced it with a simple text field. I think it will work better. There's no way I can keep track of all the races, nor do I want to. We'll run with it as a text field and see how that works out. I guess I'm reconsidering the fact that people would want to search on race. I think it's more likely that they would want to search on class or level.

    Level will stay as-is (there's more important stuff to work on). Like you said, perhaps I just need to explain how to use it for other systems, point-buy total being a good example for Hero system.

    I also fixed the tag duplication and "select as NPC" sidebar links.

    All these changes are already in, I just need to push it to the production site, which I'll probably do this evening after some more testing. So don't agonize over what to keep or how to change it. I've already figured it out.

    The styling in the curly braces is indeed CSS. I honestly didn't expect people to go that deep into it, but it seems that there are many people who are perfectionists about their character sheets and willing to play with the CSS stuff. I just wish there were better examples and tutorials.

    Keep the ideas coming.
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