11 November 2015

Spaghetti Spaceships (Ezjobaal Class Strike Cruiser)

I hope to continue playtesting the complete overhaul of my solo tabletop space miniatures game Greater Space Battles.  If the games prove fun, I plan to write up all the changed rules over the holidays.

In anticipation of this playtesting, I've made some more scratch builds using the "assembly-line" method highlighted in a previous post.  The construction features pasta and CA glue as the primary building material with plastic bits added.  Total work time was maybe 3 hours with some Netflix distraction.

I tried a new technique that I am very pleased with…spray paint.  Of course, I've always used gray spray primer but then proceeded to brush-paint with acrylic craft paints.  Painting by brush always left my spaceship miniatures looking terrible.  The uniformity of the spray paint really appeals to me, even though I will dry-brush these to highlight the details.  If it turns out well I'll share those pics too.

Didn't prime the lead ship… it shows

Needs dry-brushing and a painted base

05 November 2015

Create Your Own CCG

My explorations into using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) for gaming has given me more ideas.  Specifically, I realized that VBA can be used to very quickly create a complete deck of virtual cards for a homemade collectible (or as I prefer, customizable) card game (CCG).  Heck, it could be used to create ready-to-print sheets for actual hands-on play.

So to create your own CCG you need a great idea for a game and a solid set of rules.  I can't help you there.  The great thing about this technique however is that if your rules need adjustment, you can recreate an entirely new virtual deck with a single click.

Assuming you have your game and rules, now you need some artwork.  Nope, can't help you there either.

Alright, now that you have your rules and art, we can talk about how to make your own virtual (or real) CCG.

Enter all of the card information in an Excel Spreadsheet.  Ensure that one column of information designates the card-type of each individual card.  Here's an example of a post-apocalyptic Gamma World-type game I'm working on.

Cards can be changed at whim

The next thing to do is create card templates using Shapes.  You can do this directly in the Excel workbook.  Use Shapes instead of Text Boxes to position the writing on the cards.  Ensure that you name each individual Shape.  For example, in the picture below the template on the far left is named "Ruin Template" as it corresponds to the "Ruin" card type.  The top silver shape on that card template has its own name "Ruin Field 1", and the text area on the bottom of the card is named "Ruin Field 2".  All the shapes for one card template are grouped under the template name.

Example templates; a real game would have 8+

After one template is made (and all parts named appropriately) for each card type, then a macro is written to make the deck.  I won't bore anyone with the code here but I'll explain the general procedure.

The macro starts at the top of the card list and uses the card type written there to select the "Field" Shapes on the respective template.  The text in the shape is then overwritten with the data from the spreadsheet.  The process is repeated for each text field.  If there is artwork, the macro can get the art from a file, position it on the card template and adjust the order of the template's layers so that the art sits over the background but beneath the text (not shown here).  Next the macro copies the template, with all the current card's information filled in, and pastes it in a different area of the sheet as a picture (.jpg).  The macro names the picture with the name of the card, then pastes a second copy below, shrinks it, and names that pic as "card-name thumbnail".  The macro then loops to the next card on the spreadsheet list and does it all over again.  The template is still a collection of shapes, each of which retains the appropriate name so the same process can be used for the next card.   

It would take hours to type these out…a macro made them in 30 seconds

Once the cards are created any changes required after playtesting can be made right on the spreadsheet. Then, with the click of a button all the cards, with changes, are redrawn.  

Speaking of playtesting, once you have a virtual deck of all your cards, you can write other macros to emulate the actual game environment such as shuffling and dealing.  I've done this already for commercially produced CCGs; see my previous post and downloads page for an example.