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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 59 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Laptops with Universalis  (Read 4101 times)
Zatt
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Posts: 12


« on: December 05, 2006, 11:45:55 AM »

Just a question: How many of you use a laptop when you're acting as the recorder? It came to me that I type much faster than I can write, and applications like databases could be used to easily keep track of components, while word processors could be used to document events.

This came to me last night as I was playing a game as the recorder, using a legal pad and note cards. I thought, "There's a better and faster way of doing this."
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2006, 12:26:08 PM »

It's been proposed before (by me, in at least one case). But I've never seen a report of it done that way.

Of course, now I have access to a laptop, so maybe next time I play...

:-)

Mike "Uses Computers So Much to Write that His Handwriting has Atrophied into Illegibility" Holmes
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Darren Hill
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2006, 01:23:23 PM »

One possible problem: using index cards or scrap paper means the components can be seen and grabbed by everyone at the table. With a laptop, that isn't so easy.

I'm a big fan of using computers at the gaming table, though, so if anyone tries this I'm keen to hear how it goes - along with what software setup they used.
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Zatt
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Posts: 12


« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2006, 02:37:58 PM »

One possible problem: using index cards or scrap paper means the components can be seen and grabbed by everyone at the table. With a laptop, that isn't so easy.

I propose that you could network the computers through the internet or a LAN, so that everyone could see the updates as they happen. Files could easily be transferred by simple chat programs and the like.
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Darren Hill
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2006, 09:43:41 PM »

Are you playing over the internet?
I was thinking you were talking about a tabletop game.
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Zatt
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Posts: 12


« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2006, 02:05:42 AM »

Sorry, I must clarify - we are playing a table-top game. I'm just suggesting linking the computers so that anyone around the table with their own laptop (which is everyone in our group) can access the information from the recorder.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2006, 05:50:54 AM »

The one objection I've seen to this is that people fear that the laptop screens will make both a physical and social barrier to player interaction. Now if they have to be kept off to the side or something...

There's also a fear that players will surf or otherwise become engaged in something besides the game. This fear probably comes from experiences losing players to having the TV on.

Anyhow, with internet play, this is dead simple stuff that we've done in IRC for years.

Mike
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Curufea
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« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2006, 12:29:10 AM »

If you have a projector, or large screen - then the laptop essentially becomes a whiteboard on which anyone can see what has been written.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2006, 08:54:10 AM »

A cool idea, but requires an expensive projector. That I don't have, unfortunately. (Hmm, must check eBay...)

Mike
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Robotech_Master
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Posts: 45


« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2007, 02:35:09 PM »

Another method of interactive notes, assuming that everybody has access to a computer that can run it, is a collaborative text editor, like SubEthaEdit for the Mac, or MoonEdit for Windows or Linux. (SEE and ME aren't compatible with each other, alas.) This could be particularly useful if you are playing IRC or Voice Over IP games, so that everyone would have access to the notes.
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David Artman
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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2007, 09:15:58 AM »

I've thought some about both elements of this thread: using PCs in any RPG, and using computer applications for Universalis in particular.

Regarding the use of PCs, in particular a single PC for the whole group: most PCs and ALL modern laptops have S-Video or composite (RCA) video outputs. So as long as you setup your machine and gaming area near a fairly large TV, you have your "projector". Or lump in a cheap Bluetooth keyboard, and it's pretty easy to hand off the recorder task--no need to pass the laptop or have a long keyboard cable for your PC. The nice thing about this is that it eliminates the need for a table: you can gather around the TV as if for a show, and pass the keyboard as needed, and "watch" the Object cards on-screen.

Regarding the "killer app" for Universalis: open MS Word, activate the Drawing toolbar, and check out the AutoShapes button. See those Connectors? They're dynamic, maintaining their connection to another drawing object as they are dragged around. Voila! Relationship indicators! See the flowcharting shapes? Pick one for Master templates, another for Objects. And it's easy to drag them around to be nearer each other, to sort them somehow, or to resize them to show significance or make room for additional Traits. Better still, if you have Visio, all those flowcharting elements are the same AND they can be made to "auto rearrange," to keep the connectors clear (or not).

In short, if you have Office or OpenOffice, you've got all you need to clearly draw out Objects and relationships.

Now, you *might* find that there's just not enough "screen real estate" for you to show everything at all times. To some extent, this will put a burden on the players to remember where every Object is and what's available, perhaps even to the point of additional organization of them in the document (say, all the "bad guys" are on a page, all the "good guys" are on another page, and all the "places" are on a third).

Hope this helps;
David
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