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Old 07-10-2007, 02:30 PM   #1
Crakkerjakk
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Default [Space] System Generator

A friend and I were thinking about writing some code to automate the process of randomly creating a star system, as outlined in 4ed Space. I was looking at the .pdf with the planetary control sheet, and basically the idea is to try to make a program that has a bunch of fields on that .pdf, you enter what you want (e.g. Primary Star solar mass = 1.1 or garden world in system) and the program back engineers the rest just like you would do if you were doing the stuff on paper. Or you can just hit the random button and it does the whole thing for you.

What I was wondering was this.

1) Whats the legality of this? It involves a couple of copyrighted materials (GURPS Space 4th ed and the GM Planetary control sheet PDF.) Do I just have to put in some disclaimers, give credit, etc? Or it it verbotten, since it automates the process of two chapters of GURPS Space? If thats the case, what if I distributed it in a zipped file whose passcode to unlock it was the nth word of the kth page of GURPS space (or something equivalent)? I don't plan on selling this or anything, just figured if I'm gonna put in all the time and effort others should have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

2) Has something like this already been done?

Thanks in advance for your responses.
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Old 07-10-2007, 03:02 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Space] System Generator

I'm almost positive that you are allowed to make this provided that you do not sell it and put a notice (" GURPS is proporty of Steve Jackson Games Inc...") somewhere in the program.
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Old 07-10-2007, 03:11 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Space] System Generator

I would LOVE to see a 4th ed. system generating program built.
I would buy that hypothetical program without a moment's hesitation, if it weren't illegal for you to sell, that is.
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Old 07-10-2007, 03:15 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Space] System Generator

I wonder if you could submit a proposal for the program to e23?
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Old 07-10-2007, 03:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Space] System Generator

Read this first:

http://www.sjgames.com/general/online_policy.html

I believe this is the relevant part:

V. So, does that mean that I can . . .
Create a character generator or other game aid?

Yes, as long as you include the appropriate notices. We want to ENCOURAGE our fans to create these programs, share them with the community, and have fun doing it. If you want to charge money for a game aid based on our work, the Online Policy does NOT apply . . . you must either get a license from us, or sell us the game aid for distribution as a regular product, and either way we'll hold you to professional standards. Email licensing@sjgames.com with a formal proposal letter.

We do, however, have some advice for creators of game aid programs. First, provide documentation. Some simple instructions on how to use the most basic features will be a big help to users. Second, support your creation. We've set up a forum for feedback; plan on being aware and active in these discussions.
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Old 07-10-2007, 09:50 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Space] System Generator

hope you guys use XML as a database.
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Old 07-11-2007, 12:36 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Space] System Generator

Agemogos,

I was talking about the entry of the constants you want for the system, as far as using the whole .pdf. Once you hit the randomize button, the hope was to print out the relevant information on the Planetary Record sheet(the second to last page in the .pdf) It's one page, has world/system info, and seems fairly well summarized. Even has a hex map for where certain land features might be, although I think that would be up to the individual GM to fill in.

The only problem with it is if you have multiple colonies within a single system, you would need to make a separate sheet for each colony as regards to it's economic/etc info, as all there is room for right now is colony data on one colony. I don't think it's unreasonable to presume that most systems will have one major economic/political center, and if a system has multiple ones, you can always just copy over the system info to a new sheet, focusing on a different colony per sheet. If you need more data because your players are going to be spending a whole lot of time in one system, well then you probably won't be doing random generation and will probably want more detailed notes for it anyways(I wouldn't try to run a THS campaign off of planetary record sheets, even with one record sheet per planet, for example.)

An index page and batch mode may be beyond the scope of the project, (unless e23 starts paying me, that is, but I'll need to put some serious thought into how much time/effort I can afford to put into this, as I'm heading into my Junior year of mechanical engineering this fall.) But, I'll see how much extra work it would be once I actually get started. No promises.

Thanks for the responses, and I'll try to post regular updates about the status of the project. Or at the very least let you know when it's finished.
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Old 07-11-2007, 04:54 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Space] System Generator

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos
One qualification, though: almost any other file format would be better than PDF.
Out of curiosity, what do you propose then? From what I've seen from GCS, Java doesn't look good for generator-type programs. I also envision the horror of having to compile the generator from a C source. Anything more esoteric than that will probably compromise cross-system portability.
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Old 07-11-2007, 05:16 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Space] System Generator

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos
HTML would be my first suggestion. Or a word processor format such as .doc or RTF. Even plain text. I would like something that I can modify at need, for instance by using the generator output to make an in-game document.
Oh. Missed that. Somehow I never learned how to save forms through HTML. In fact, I'm always annoyed when my browser, upon closure, forgets a half-finished reply I was writing to the fora. That's why I always open up vi to write down any ideas.
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Old 07-11-2007, 05:33 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Space] System Generator

I'd do it in html, javascript and xml (if required). Absolutely no worries about cross-platform compatibility - you just open it up in your browser.

Create the input form in html, where the user enters all the relevant data, and hits the Calculate! button. You could even enter only partial data, in which case after hitting Calculate! the program detects which input fields were left blank, fills them in randomly, and does the calcs. The output comes out in plain text, html or xml, depending on the user's choice.

Batch mode. Not hard to do, it's standard string processing. The user gives input in plain-text form (since it's the fastest to write up), with the list of all required data in a specified format (pipe delimited, tab delimited, whatever), and the program reads it and processes it in the same way as for a single system. Creates output in plain text, xml, single-page html or cross-linked multi-page html.

Since this thing is an automotion of a tedious task, you have to go for maximum funcitonality. It's a bit more work then just writing a simple script for single system generation with all the parameters supplied. The program should detect what is missing, and give the user a multitude of options for control over output format and other stuff, etc etc.
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