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RPG Bard Alpha: Supporting Content

Greetings! Short version is we are still working on the Alpha release of RPG Bard but wanted to share some actual screen grabs of the support content areas that support the Creating a Book process.

Font Line Heights Update

This is the last issue we are dealing with still. If we are able to resolve, all 400+ fonts will work will in the Alpha version. If we are not able to resolve, all fonts will still be available but only the default fonts for a book style (defined by the system and theme) will work well in the PDF export. You’d still be able to design books using all fonts and preview them online, just not print them.

Alpha Preview – Supporting Content Areas

The following all support the book creation process documented in our RPG Bard Alpha: Creating a Book newsletter. These areas support that process through process automation (cover and interior layout, content formatting), libraries of reusable content (fonts, images, stat blocks, visual elements), legal and support information (including feedback and feature request forms), and user account management.

Element, stat, and image libraries all allow you to add your own content. For fonts, which requires some extra back end finagling, a form is provided to request the addition of new fonts that we can then take care of on your behalf.

Elements

Visual elements can be inserted into the pages you create to expedite formatting and layout. These elements transform styles (fonts, colors, spacing, treatments, background images, etc.) automatically when you switch between different system styles and book templates.

You can also create your own elements to create your own library of custom content types and/or page layouts for future use. This can be done from scratch or by duplicating and modifying an existing visual element.

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Stats

Stat blocks can also be inserted into the pages you create, allowing you to skip all stat block formatting, which is a lot. The stat block will also transform styles as you switch between game system styles and book templates.

You can also create your own stat blocks from scratch, using a blank stat block template, or by duplicating and modifying any of the already 1000 stat blocks available.

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Images

Images can be added to book covers and interior pages and will automatically be resized to fit the bounding content area (such as fitting perfectly within a page column or adjusting to a “logo appropriate size” for company logos on a book cover). We have a set of free background images, which are free to use within RPG Bard and available to all. Images you upload are exclusively yours and not available to other users.

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Fonts

There are over 600 fonts available in about 200 font families for use in RPG Bard. All of these, as far as we can tell from reading their legal agreements, are free for commercial use. When they have been available for a font, we have provided links for the font download, legal agreement, and original source. There is also a form to request new fonts so we can add them for your, and everyone else’s, use.

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Support

While not terribly robust just yet, we do have some legalese and support documentation available through the “File” menu. Most important is the “Give Feedback to Ruxed LLC” option under “Help”. This will let you tell us what isn’t working so we can fix it and to request features so we can add them. This will allow us to go from Alpha to Beta and, ultimately, release a final product to the community at large.

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Account Management

You can also access and update your account info by clicking on your username in the top-right corner of the screen.

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Good gaming!

Shyloh Wideman
Creative Director
Trusty Sword Entertainment / RUXED LLC

RPG Bard Alpha: Creating a Book

Happy New Year!

We hope you’ve had a great 2015 in life and at the game table. May the plundering of your dungeons in 2016 yield you much loot and level you up fast (or at least once every three months)!

Thanks to everyone who has followed our hurdles and progress on Pinterest (over 20,000), via our Newsletter (3000+), and on Facebook (350+). Your liking and words of encouragement have helped keep us going.

In 2016, we will keep pinning, posting, and working on the RPG Bard alpha until it is finally in your hands.

In this newsletter, we’ve got info on the last issue we’re dealing with for alpha release, a preloaded content update, and (much more exciting) a preview of the RPG book creation process as it currently stands.

The One Remaining Issue

We are down to one issue: font line heights. While this might not seem like a big issue, what it currently means is you cannot change a font family (such as Ariel to Helvetica) or change a font size (such as from 12pt to 16pt) without getting radically different spacing between the online version and the PDF export version.

We have spent nearly a month with various work arounds and trying to “crack the code” to figuring out an elegant solution to this problem. The current work around is: the user can’t change font families or sizes and, on our end, we have to set alternate line-height rules for each different font at each different size and each different line height. Obviously not a long-term solution for anyone.

That said, once we get this resolved (or at least set up a full template with all these work arounds), the Alpha will be released and all those signed up for our newsletter will be notified of its release. (If you’re not already signed up, you can do so at the bottom of www.rpgbard.com.)

Preloaded Content Update

We now have over 1000 monster stat-blocks from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Reference Document (PRD) and over 600 fonts already implemented. There’s also a limited set of page backgrounds that are implemented by selection of a book “theme” (such as “ice” to get the blue and white background) for the book interior, which you can also use for your book covers instead of your own background artwork.

Alpha Preview – Creating a Book

The following demonstrates the 5 minute process of creating an account, logging in, setting up a book, creating a cover, creating a page with content blocks, previewing the book online, exporting the PDF, and previewing the PDF in Adobe Reader. This leaves out the population of the content blocks, which would take some additional time, but most of that content would just be a copy/past from your text editing software or a quick typing job, such as changing the “Header 1” text of a heading to the actual heading text.

1. Create an Account

Create your account, then check your email for your password.

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2. Log In

Enter your username and password.

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3. Create Book

Click “Books” (see above) and then “New Book” to create your new book. Set your system and theme design defaults to get your basic book styling.

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4. Create Cover

Click “Create” under “Book Cover” (see above). Then set your basic cover layout, fill in the text fields, add any images you want, save, and continue scrolling down to see your cover preview.

(Special thanks to Yuriy Chemezov who let us use his artwork for the creation of demo RPG Bard materials. Be sure to check out his portfolio and DeviantArt page. Great stuff!)

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5. Create Page

Click “Add” under “Book Pages”. Use the bottom-left 3 icons to insert a elements (both page templates and smaller elements such as an “aside” or “read aloud” box), stat blocks, and images. Then paste in or update your text content as desired.

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6. Preview HTML

Click “Preview” to view your complete book online.

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7. Export PDF

Click “Export” to save your book out as a PDF file, which can then be opened in Adobe Reader or any other PDF viewer.

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Alpha Preview – Supporting Content Areas

In our next newsletter, we will provide screens of all the content areas that support the book creation processed through automation (such as layout and formatting), libraries of reusable content (fonts, images, stat blocks, and visual elements), legal and support information (including feedback and feature request forms), and user account management.

Once again, Happy New Year and good gaming!

Shyloh Wideman
Creative Director
Trusty Sword Entertainment / RUXED LLC

RPG Game Design: Andrew Ragland

In order to inform RPG Bard design and development, we have been interviewing pen-and-paper roleplaying game (RPG) companies and independent developers on their game design process. Back in March 2015, I had the opportunity to interview Andrew Ragland, a line developer for FASA Games, Inc. and lead for their 1879 product line, currently under development.

RPG Game Design with Andrew Ragland of FASA Games, Inc.

rpgbard-fasa-logoCan you tell us a little bit about FASA Games, Inc. and its RPG products?
FASA Games, Inc. was formed in 2012 and holds the game licenses for 1879, Demonworld, Earthdawn, and Fading Suns. FASA Games is a wholly owned subsidiary of FASA Corporation, and produces pen-and-paper roleplaying and tabletop miniatures games and their associated minis and other accessories. Ral Partha Europe Ltd, formed in 1998, and also a wholly owned subsidiary of FASA Corporation, manufactures our minis.

Didn’t FASA Games also put out BattleTech?
FASA Corporation did, not FASA Games. Besides BattleTech, FASA Corporation released Shadowrun, Crimson Skies, Renegade Legion, Vor, Crucible, and their former licensed lines of Traveller, Star Trek, and Doctor Who. FASA Corporation currently manages and licenses its intellectual properties through FASA Games, Inc. and Ral Partha Europe Ltd to get out the entire line of books, minis, and other accessories.

Can you tell us a little bit about your RPG background and your current role at FASA Games?
I started out contributing to fan magazines and publications about 30 years ago and have been working in the industry ever since. Most recently, I was working as the world builder for the 1879 game system for FASA under Mark Stout, who was the line developer for both 1879 and Blue Planet at that time. In a strategic move to give more attention to both games, Mark moved to Blue Planet full time and I stepped up to take the role as line developer for 1879.

Where do FASA Games’ ideas come from? What about the 1879 product line?
FASA ideas come from line developers and management, filling in spaces in our game world cosmology, utilizing our existing resources, and expanding out to create new ones.

For example, 1879 was created when FASA was looking to create a plausible world for staging the Ral Partha Napoleonic, Victorian, and Demonworld minis together as well as fill the world gap left in the cosmology when the license to Shadowrun was sold off.

The 1879 game (the full intro is available on the Welcome to 1879 page) is an alternate-timeline history of the real world in which the British Empire has a foothold in a new world able to be reached via a portal in London, created after a horrible technological accident two years previously. This other world is technologically advanced and inhabited by the human descendants of the lost kingdom of Babylon as well as a race of bipedal lizard men, both of which settle disputes through wargames and warfare.

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This world allowed us to expand the cosmology and utilize existing Ral Partha Europe minis, while opening up the opportunity for creating new minis and other resources.

What is your RPG book design process at FASA?
At FASA Games, book story and art run through concurrent processes with two leads that work together (the Line Developer and the Art Director) and coordinate with CFO Ross Babcock on the financing. The Line Developer leads a team of Writers to develop the story and all other copy for the book, while the Art Director leads a team of artists to create the artwork for that book.

The general workflow is:

  1. Concept (Management/Line Developer)
  2. Writer
  3. Editorial
  4. Layout
  5. Editorial Proof
  6. eBook (PDF)
  7. print (usually hardcover)

The artwork is developed concurrently. Filler art is in place by the time the book moves to Layout and is fully replaced with the final art by the time it goes to the Editorial Proof, which is created using Adobe InDesign.

Is the design process the same for your minis?
For our custom miniatures, our development process starts with custom art that then goes to the sculptor. Photos are taken of the model from all angles and, once approved, the miniature makes the final move to production.

What formats do you release your RPG books in?
We produce both print and PDF books. We are also looking into ePUB, but have not started releasing in this format yet.

How do you distribute your products?
Distribution is primarily through the FASA Games Online Shop, RPGNow.com, and the Ral Partha Europe Online Store.

Have you ever done a Kickstarter? If so, how did you handle rewards?
In 2014, FASA Corporation did a successful Kickstarter for Earthdawn 4th Edition with a goal of $10,000. We were very successful, with over 1,000 backers and $100,000 pledged.

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Our most popular rewards for individuals were our PDF Bundles and Hardcover Bundles, which gave backers a complete set of the Gamemaster’s Guide, Player’s Guide, and all the sourcebooks unlocked through the Kickstarter stretch goals. For retailers, we offered Retailer Bundles, which had sets of hardcover and softcover books at half the cover price.

As for our release schedule, we decided to release the Earthdawn Player Book first as that would have the largest audience.

For aspiring RPG authors, do you have any recommending reading or resources?
For more about our design and development process, I’d suggest the FASA Games Blog. Other online resources would be the game designer communities on Google+ and the Paizo Blog, especially if you’re making Pathfinder compatible material.

For books, Strunk & White: The Elements of Style for writing and The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, by Jesse Schell, applies to video, board, card, and roleplaying games and has spiffy tools throughout that you can use.

Any other self-publishing words of wisdom?
Layout is expensive, often running $400 for 16 pages. If you’re self-publishing, it’s usually too expensive to hire someone so you will probably need to learn how to do this yourself.

Keep your work in your word processor for as long as you can. This makes it easier to review and edit and, if you’re working with more than one person, you can use “Track Changes” to leave comments and see the before/after of each other’s work.

Create a galley proof PDF before you send anything to the printer. Make sure everything is exactly how you want it before you pay to have it printed.

Before you pitch an idea to a company, make one of your own happen so you can build your skills and confidence, as well as demonstrate your ability to deliver, which is very important. If you have cherry ideas:

  1. Develop them yourself
  2. Do indie work
  3. Release
  4. Build street cred
  5. Then bring them to the big company

INTERVIEWER’S NOTES FOR RPG BARD DEVELOPMENT
Based on Andrew’s interview, the need for multiple users to be able to contribute to a single book is important (such as to review, modify text, or contribute art). In addition, role-specific contributors that would limit access to certain types of content, such as an art director being able to contribute art but not be able to accidentally modify or delete text or an editor to be able to provide feedback but not modify the original document, also appears valuable. These have been added to our RPG Bard future enhancements list.

If you’d like to learn more about Andrew Ragland’s work and the 1879 game world, check out Andrew’s 1879 blog and the 1879 Minis Corebook.

Shyloh Wideman
Creative Director
Trusty Sword Entertainment / RUXED LLC
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RPG Bard Alpha: Fonts Preview

We’ve been incommunicado for the last few months now as we’ve been scrambling to have the free RPG Bard Alpha Release to you this month. Even though we’ve whittled the to-do list down from a few hundred items to about 30 at this point, these last ones are all doozies. It’ looking like the free RPG Bard Alpha release date is going to push back at least a few months.

Upcoming Newsletters

On the plus side, a pushed back release date means I can finally do some communications work and start leaking RPG Bard screenshots as we finish up the various sections. I also had the opportunity to interview Andrew Ragland of FASA Games, Inc. and Tim C. Koppang of TCK Roleplaying back in March about their game design/book creation process to help inform the features and development of RPG Bard. I’m looking forward to sharing those interviews with you as well.

All Features Still On Track

At this point, we are still on track to implement the game system support, preloaded content, and initial features as described in our RPG Bard Alpha Release newsletter back in February. Preloaded content-wise, we have already implemented:

Because the majority of licenses on these allow or require free access and distribution, we have gone ahead and set up RPG Bard to allow full access to all the free fonts and Open Game License stats to everybody, including non-users.

RPG Bard Fonts

The RPG Bard Fonts section is split into three primary functions:

  • A font list: to pick your font family
  • Font detail pages: to view individual font styles, glyphs, license, and source information, as well as to download
  • And a “Request Font” form: to request the addition of another font to RPG Bard

The 600 fantasy, horror, and sci-fi fonts (in just over 200 font families) that are, from our review of the license, free for commercial use can be added to later by us and/or users. Currently implemented fonts were selected from:

If a user would like a new font added, they can (after reviewing a font’s license and verifying that it is free for commercial use) request that font be added to RPG Bard using the Request Font from. After the Request Font form is received, we’ll review the font and font license and, if everything looks good, add it to RPG Bard for you, making it also available to all other RPG Bard users. (New fonts are not limited to the above free font sites.)

Fonts List

Below is what the current Fonts page looks like. It provides the list of all the font families along with an example and the number of font styles in that font family. To add a new font, you’d click the Request Font button at the top of the page. To get to the font details page, you’d click on the font’s sample text.

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Font Detail Pages

Once you have clicked on the font’s sample text on the Fonts page, you will get the Font Details page for that font, which currently looks like the examples below. These include a link back to the source, a link to the license (or the text “No license” if one is not available), a download link, samples of the variant fonts, and a full glyph list so you can make sure the font has the characters that you need it to.

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Font Licenses

If you click on the License link, the license will pop up in a new tab. Most are plain text, so will look something like:

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I’ll have more screens for you as the other sections of RPG Bard are finalized.

Join The Alpha & Stay In Touch

  • For other updates and resources, see our Pinterest and Facebook pages.
  • For our newsletter and Alpha and Beta release notifications, sign up at the bottom of the page at www.rpgbard.com.

Thanks!

Shyloh Wideman
Creative Director
Trusty Sword Entertainment / RUXED LLC

RPG Bard Alpha Release

Hi! Know it’s been a while but wanted to give you a quick update on what’s been going on. At the end of 2014, we decided to release an Alpha version of RPG Bard so folks (including us!) could start using RPG Bard as soon as possible. We’ve already got about a quarter of the features listed below implemented!

Release Date and Cost

At this time, we expect RPG Bard Alpha release to be by June 2015 and be absolutely free!

Game System Support

RPG Bard Alpha release will support authors and game masters in their creation of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible, PFRPG, and OGL modules and adventures as allowed them by the license they are operating under. Some of the applicable licenses include:

Preloaded Content

RPG Bard Alpha release will start with hundreds of monster stat-blocks from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Reference Document (PRD) and a limited selection of preloaded artwork for quick and easy insertion into modules and adventures.

You will also be able to create your own stat-blocks (as well as modify existing ones) and upload your own artwork for use as interior content, on book covers, or for page backgrounds.

Initial Features

RPG Bard Alpha release will start with enough features implemented to allow you to go from start to finish and create a print-quality PDF of your final book. These include:

  • User profiles – so you can manage your account
  • Book and page development – so you can create, delete, edit, and reorder your book content
  • A cover designer – so you can select your basic cover design and set your text, images, logos, and background via a form
  • An interior theme selector – so you can select your interior design; you can then change the interior theme on a a page-by-page basis to support multiple game systems (such as a PFRPG/3.5/4.0/5.0 hybrid)
  • Preloaded monster stat-block library – so you can quickly and easily drop in; you will also be able to modify the preloaded stat blocks as well as create your own new ones
  • Preloaded artwork library – so you can quickly and easily test different pieces of art for the book cover and the interior content; you will also be able to upload your own art for full art customization
  • Print-quality PDF exporter – so you can export your finished book

Join the Alpha

For more information on RPG Bard and our Alpha (and future Beta) program, you can sign up for project notifications right now at www.rpgbard.com.

Shyloh Wideman
Creative Director
Trusty Sword Entertainment / RUXED LLC

Introducing RPG Bard

Hi, my name is Shyloh Wideman and I am the creative director and project manager for RPG Bard.

What is RPG Bard?

RPG Bard is a is a cross-platform roleplaying game development tool that allows authors and game masters to create professional-quality roleplaying game books, export them to a print-quality PDF, and then use, share, print, or sell them.

Among its many features, RPG Bard will include:

  • A robust cover designer
  • Font, art, and stat-block libraries
  • Automatic interior formatting
  • A stat-block database importer
  • And a print-quality PDF exporter

Our goal with this toolset is to make it quick and easy to create roleplaying game material for both existing game systems and any new ones a user might create. As gamers ourselves, we can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Making It Happen

If you’d like to help out during out development stage, we’d love to get your thoughts and suggestions: What roleplaying games do you play? What other features would you want in an RPG book-creation tool? Would you be interested in Beta testing RPG Bard?

We’ll be getting a game system survey out soon, as well as more information on RPG Bard and our Beta program. In the meantime, you can sign up for project notifications right now at www.rpgbard.com.

Shyloh Wideman

Creative Director
Trusty Sword Entertainment / RUXED LLC