Recommend
31 
 Thumb up
 Hide
170 Posts
1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [7] | 

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » Do It Yourself

Subject: Introducing Multideck: Design custom card decks on Macintosh. Feedback wanted! rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Rick Holzgrafe
United States
Happy Valley
Oregon
flag msg tools
designer
badge
"the understandably frightening and chimeric semicolon" -- HiveGod
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
News Update: We have begun an open beta test program for Multideck. To learn more, and to participate in the beta program, please visit the Multideck Blog.

Introducing Multideck

Do you want to create your own custom card decks for your game prototypes?

Do you use an Apple Macintosh computer?

If your answer to both of these questions is Yes, I may be able to help you out.

I have created and mostly finished an app for macOS that lets you create and print custom card decks. It's called Multideck. I built it for my own use, but I'm considering taking the time and effort to make it publicly available. I'd like to know how many people would be interested in this project, and that's the reason for this post.

If you don't use a Mac, you won't care about this. There are several excellent apps for Windows and Linux that you can use instead.

If you are interested in creating final card art for a publishable game, you may not be interested. Multideck is intended for making prototypes, not perfectly polished final art. But it is still capable of producing some pretty good-looking cards. In addition to creating PnP output, it can create image files that you can upload to print-on-demand services such as TheGameCrafter. (But please note that these services do not endorse Multideck. They don't even know it exists.)

Still interested? Then read on, please, and add your comments to this thread. Thank you for your feedback!

How does it work?
You define your card deck by entering text in your favorite spreadsheet. One card per line, and each column represents the content of one "field" of a card: its title, or its victory points, or its icon, or its background image, or its flavor text, and so on.

Separately, you use Multideck's WYSIWYG layout editor to specify where each field goes on the card. You can place each field wherever you want it, and set details such as its width and height, font and font size, background color, and so on. One deck can have several different layouts if necessary. Multideck saves your deck and its layouts in a Multideck document.

When you're ready, Multideck reads your spreadsheet (actually, a CSV file that you export from your spreadsheet) and creates printable card images by filling in the fields in your layout with the content from the spreadsheet.

You can choose the card size freely. The only restriction is that all cards in a deck must be the same size. (But if you need different sizes, you can do it by creating a separate Multideck document for each different size.)

You can also choose your paper size. When you print your cards, Multideck will fit as many as possible onto each sheet of paper. For example, it can fit 9 poker-size cards onto each sheet of US Letter-size (8.5x11) paper.

There are more details, and some sample output, below.

When will Multideck be available?
Probably a couple of months after I decide it's worth publishing. Multideck already exists and works; we used it heavily when designing Villages of Valeria for Daily Magic Games. But it will need a bit of final polish before it will be ready for sale.

How much will it cost?
I haven't decided. But it won't be free. I wish I could afford to give it away, but I have bills to pay. But the price won't be absurdly high, either. I want it to be affordable for a serious hobbyist. If you can afford to buy printer paper, ink, and card sleeves, you'll be able to afford Multideck.

Will there be any way to try it out before I buy?
I expect I will produce a free version that anyone can download and try, to see how it works and whether it meets your needs. That version will be limited in some fashion to give you a reason to buy the full version, which will be offered through the Mac App Store.

Okay, I'm interested. What do you want from me right now?
Right now, I'd just like you to tell me that you are interested. You're not committing to anything, you're just helping me decide whether this project is worth the effort.

You are also welcome to ask questions about the app, and suggest features that you think are missing. But please be aware that there are an infinite number of cool features that might be added. I'm certainly open to making improvements, but I will not give priority to features that aren't popular (asked for by lots of people), and I certainly can't promise that every request will be fulfilled.

Sounds good, but I'd like to know more about the app.
No problem! The rest of this post is details about the app, and some examples of its output.


Sample Output

Here's a sample page of output, showing 9 poker-sized cards on a US Letter-sized (8.5x11") sheet. This is a page of Villages of Valeria cards:



Here's one card from that page:



It is very close to, but not identical to, the final card artwork that will appear in the published game. The final art was not created by Multideck.

This card shows a number of cool features:

* The use of a special font
* The placement of text and smaller images on top of a full-sized background image
* Translucent colored backgrounds behind text fields (white, in this case)
* Rich text fields which allow embedded images to be treated as if they were letters in the text.


A Brief Guide to Using Multideck

Defining Your Deck, and Preparing It for Multideck

First, define your card deck using your favorite spreadsheet. The spreadsheet defines the content of each field on each card. Only the text you enter matters, you never put actual images in the spreadsheet. Here's a screen shot of part of the spreadsheet that created the card and page shown above:



Note the "Power" column: it contains text with embedded images. The images are specified inside the {curly braces}. The "Background" column specifies the filename of the large image of background art that is printed behind all the other fields. (Fancy artwork is up to you. The images shown here were created by Mihajlo Dimitrievski for Daily Magic Games, and are Copyright 2016 by Daily Magic Games.)

Then you use your spreadsheet's Export to CSV function to produce a text file whose contents look like this:

Index,Resource,Building,Type,VpImage,VPs,Power,BuildCost,Version,Vstr,Background,CardCostImage,#count,NameBox,ResBox,
1,magic,Barracks,soldier,vp.png,1,Develop: {plus}{card},{food} {stone} ,4.15,{..Index}-v{..Version},BARRACKS.jpg,CardCost.png,3,y,y,
2,food,Keep,soldier,vp.png,3, {instant}{card}{take}{player} ,{food} {food} {stone} {stone} ,4.15,{..Index}-v{..Version},KEEP.jpg,CardCost.png,3,y,y,
3,stone,Armory,soldier,vp.png,2,Build: {plus}{card} ,{wood} {stone} {stone} ,4.15,{..Index}-v{..Version},ARMORY.jpg,CardCost.png,3,y,y,
4,wood,Encampment,soldier,vp.png,2, {instant}{card} ,{food} {food} ,4.15,{..Index}-v{..Version},ENCAMPMENT.jpg,CardCost.png,3,y,y,
5,food,Guard Tower,soldier,vp.png,2,Harvest: {plus}{card} ,{food} {stone} {stone} ,4.15,{..Index}-v{..Version},GUARD TOWER.jpg,CardCost.png,3,y,y,
6,stone,Headquarters,soldier,vp.png,2,Build: {card}{card}{pay}{gold} ,{wood} {stone} {stone} {magic} ,4.15,{..Index}-v{..Version},HQ.jpg,CardCost.png,3,y,y,


Normally you won't need to even look at the CSV file contents. Multideck will read your CSV file to fill in the fields of your card layouts.

Creating a Deck in Multideck

Open Multideck, and create a new document. You'll see this window:



You can choose your deck size either by selecting a pre-set size (such as "Poker") from the Card Size menu, or by entering your desired size in inches. Custom sizes are perfectly okay.

Every document has at least one template. A template is a card layout. By creating multiple templates, your deck can have multiple layouts. The column on the left lists your deck's templates. You can give a helpful name to each template.

Each template needs a CSV file and an image folder. The image folder contains all the image files that your deck will need.

Working with Layouts

To create and edit a layout, select the Layout tab. You'll see something like this:



The image above shows the finished "Game Card" layout for Villages of Valeria. For a new document or layout, the card outline and item list would be empty. You start adding items to it by clicking the Add New Item button. Each item is shown by a rectangular outline. The item's title is shown inside the rectangle, in the item's default font and font size.

Click an item to select it, and its outline turns red. You can drag the item to place it where you want it, and drag its edges to set its size.

Full info for the selected item is shown in the panel below the card outline. You can use the panel to set the item's size and location precisely, if you need to. You can set the item's title (which is only for your convenient reference), and associate it with a field from your spreadsheet. Items can be plain text, rich text, or images. They can be rotated in 45° increments (so you can, for example, print text upside down or sideways along the edge of the card). Each item can optionally have a background color, either solid or translucent.

Items can overlap each other; you control the z-order (that is, which ones print on top and which are underneath the others). Items can extend beyond the edges of the card, which is useful for full-bleed artwork.

Preview Mode

Obviously, the layout view doesn't look much like the real card. With Multideck's preview feature, you can see what each card will look like without having to print your deck.

Select the Preview checkbox to see your card with all of its fields filled in:



The controls under the Preview checkbox let you select which card to view. You can easily click through your entire deck in Preview mode, to review every card.

You will notice a light blue border just inside the edges of the card. That's the "safe border": important card content should be kept inside this border. Print-on-demand services recommend this because they can't guarantee that your artwork will be perfectly placed on the card. Staying inside the safe border guarantees that your important content won't be clipped.

The safe border never shows on your printed cards. It's an optional aid for your use, and you can turn it on and off with a checkbox.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

As you work on a deck, you will constantly be making changes to it. This includes adding new cards to your spreadsheet, and changing the content of existing cards. When you do, just export your spreadsheet to CSV again (overwriting your existing CSV file), and then click the Reload CSV button. Multideck will read the new CSV on the fly. Keep both your spreadsheet and Multideck open at the same time, and click back and forth between them for easy, fast development work.

Printing Your Deck

When your deck is ready, just print it with the usual Print menu command.

You can print directly to your printer, of course. But we recommend printing to a PDF file instead. This has several benefits:

* You can review the PDF file before printing, to save ink in case you find a problem.
* You can easily share your PDF with others, so they can make their own PnP decks to playtest your game.
* You can save older versions of your deck as you develop it, for comparison and version tracking.

The cards are always packed close together on the page, so you can cut them out with minimal cuts. We recommend using heavier cardstock paper, and sleeving your cards after you cut them out: this makes a very nice deck that's easy to shuffle. But that's up to you.


Blog and Beta Test Program

Updated Dec 12 2016: We have created the Multideck Blog where you can follow Multideck's development. The blog also hosts the Multideck Beta Program. If you'd like to participate in testing Multideck, please visit the blog to get started!


Thank you!

If you've read this far, you should now know a fair bit about Multideck. I really appreciate that you've taken the time for this, and I hope you will leave your comments below.

If enough people like you show your support, I'll make it happen!

  • [+] Dice rolls
Dylan Posa
United States
Lebanon
OH
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You can consider me interested...
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hernan Ruiz Camauer
Argentina
Buenos Aires
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This sounds very interesting!

While your primary audience will be people wanting to print out the cards they design, please be aware that your app could also be very useful to people who have no intention of ever printing anything out: virtual tabletop game/module designers.

If you include an option to save the card output to a bitmap (ideally PNG, for cards with rounded corners), the program will be useful to folks wanting to create digital prototypes, for use in programs like Vassal, ZunTzu, Battlegrounds, Tabletopia, Tabletop Simulator, etc.

A program like ZunTzu will want to have all the cards on a single large bitmap, whereas a program like Battlegrounds will need each card to be a separate bitmap. I hope you'll consider adding these output options to your app.
3 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rick Holzgrafe
United States
Happy Valley
Oregon
flag msg tools
designer
badge
"the understandably frightening and chimeric semicolon" -- HiveGod
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
heruca wrote:
A program like ZunTzu will want to have all the cards on a single large bitmap, whereas a program like Battlegrounds will need each card to be a separate bitmap. I hope you'll consider adding these output options to your app.

I hadn't considered that, and those are very good ideas. Thanks!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Seth Jaffee
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Rick, that looks amazing! I almost wish I had a Mac so I could tell you I'm interested... alas, I do not.

I should really get on learning how to use auto-merge features of the apps I already have access to (Daniel Solis' Card-at-Work video series is helpful here, I just need to do it!)

Good luck!

Oh, is this an evolution of that thing you wrote years ago, which you used to help me with 8/7 Central way back when?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hedyn Brand
Norway
Oslo
Lethargy
flag msg tools
Nothing to see here. Move along.
badge
Rules? I gotta read RULES‽
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Customisable size cards? Interested. I would prefer to work on decks entirely inside the app though, rather than be tied to CSVs from outside.

If it handles things more project-based, and the price vs. my laziness has the right ratio, it's an instabuy
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rick Holzgrafe
United States
Happy Valley
Oregon
flag msg tools
designer
badge
"the understandably frightening and chimeric semicolon" -- HiveGod
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
sedjtroll wrote:
Oh, is this an evolution of that thing you wrote years ago, which you used to help me with 8/7 Central way back when?

Same idea, new app. My long-ago first attempt had a lot of flaws in its basic design. Multideck is much better. :-)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Clive Lovett
Canada
Kamloops
British Columbia
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Very interested
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sen-Foong Lim
Canada
London
Ontario
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You had me at "Mac"

Thanks for doing this, Rick! Let me know when this becomes beta testable and I'll be alllllll over it.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Isaias Vallejo
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Multideck was invaluable in doing rapid prototyping for Villages of Valeria. Highly recommended!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rick Holzgrafe
United States
Happy Valley
Oregon
flag msg tools
designer
badge
"the understandably frightening and chimeric semicolon" -- HiveGod
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
gnurf wrote:
I would prefer to work on decks entirely inside the app though, rather than be tied to CSVs from outside.

I hear you. But it's hard for me to justify putting a mini-spreadsheet into the app when everybody's already got a perfectly good one! I think my time and effort will be better spent on other things.

Still, I'll keep it in mind. It might not actually be that hard to do. Thanks for the feedback!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Daryl Andrews
Canada
Waterloo
ON
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Im in! If you need a beta tester - I would be happy to be involved. Also, happy to pay for something that makes my life easier.

Thanks for all your work.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jessey
Canada
flag msg tools
designer
For the King!
badge
I bend all elements!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'd support this, looks great! Following.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Timothy Young
United States
Ogden
UT
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
I may have missed it, but does Multideck provide a way to print only certain cards, rather than the entire deck? What about multiple copies of just those specific cards?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rick Holzgrafe
United States
Happy Valley
Oregon
flag msg tools
designer
badge
"the understandably frightening and chimeric semicolon" -- HiveGod
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
TIM0THY wrote:
I may have missed it, but does Multideck provide a way to print only certain cards, rather than the entire deck? What about multiple copies of just those specific cards?

You didn't miss it, I just didn't mention it.

Multideck has a facility for printing only selected cards from your deck, which is useful for updating your prototype by printing only the cards you've recently changed. I admit, though, that this feature is a bit primitive. You have to add a special column to your spreadsheet whose values control whether each card gets printed, then re-export your spreadsheet to CSV before printing. I'd like an easier solution, and I'll probably dream one up some day. But it's at least possible to do: you don't have to waste paper and ink on unwanted copies.

If your deck needs multiple identical copies of a card, your spreadsheet still only needs one line for all those copies. You just include a column with the special title "#count" and put the number of copies you want for each card into that cell.

Also, in preview mode, the "Next Unique" button skips over copies and shows you the next card in your deck that's not a copy of the previous card. So when you're previewing, you don't have to wear out your mouse finger by clicking through all the duplicates.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Forrest & Ryan Driskel
United States
Longmont
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I really miss the data merge feature I had back when I had Photoshop. Could do this stuff right inside the app. Now I use Affinity Designer and have to manually do this :/ So, I guess you could say I am interested.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nushura
United States
Boston
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Cont me interested as well. I will certainly buy the app if it has reasonable price and has all these cool features you mention.

Please just make sure that the trial version shows all of its glory (you can add watermark, black and white or whatever you feel so as to make sure we do abuse from it)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan Stapleton
United States
Chantilly
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I am interested. Having a Mac native app is always a bonus.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Miller
United States
Brunswick
Maine
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm interested and if you need any beta testers, my group has several card games in the works.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adastra
Germany
Düsseldorf
flag msg tools
O_o
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sound interesting!

I wonder how accurate the positioning of objects & text is though - I usually use InDesign, and for me every millimeter counts and everything has to align perfectly
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rick Holzgrafe
United States
Happy Valley
Oregon
flag msg tools
designer
badge
"the understandably frightening and chimeric semicolon" -- HiveGod
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
raevynn wrote:
I wonder how accurate the positioning of objects & text is though - I usually use InDesign, and for me every millimeter counts and everything has to align perfectly

Item positioning and sizing can be quite precise. It's measured in 1/72", so an item with a horizontal position of "72" will be one inch in from the left edge of the card. Edit: But you can enter positions and dimensions as decimal fractions if you need greater precision, for more precise positioning when printing at high DPI. Sorry, that was a lie. I thought it was true, but I misremembered. You can only enter integer values. But that still gives you 1/72" accuracy.

Text positioning within the borders of a text item can be imperfect, especially if there are images embedded in the text. If your primary concern is really precise text layout, there are workarounds that are probably not worth the effort for most users.

As I said above, it's possible to make very nice cards with Multideck, but it is primarily intended for making prototypes. It's good enough that you could use it to self-publish through a service like TheGameCrafter, if your standards of perfection are not too high. But although we used Multideck heavily while developing Villages of Valeria, we did not use it for the final published art.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Meneely
United States
Rochester
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Squib is my Ruby library for prototyping tabletop games
badge
I spent 100 geek gold on this and I can't think of what to say here.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Looks cool!!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
The Dave
United States
Ogden
Utah
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As someone who has had to borrow windows computers so I could use NanDeck, YES I AM INTERESTED!!!!

Sorry, I got a little excited.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marlin Deckert
United States
San Jose
California
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This looks very useful. It would probably have saved me some time on a recent project, so yes, I'm interested, and can I get it yesterday?

Can the margin that defines the safe border be adjusted? If so, can it be done independently for the sides versus the top/bottom? That would be useful when working with "cards" where the final product is not rectangular.

I would second the suggestion for output options to produce each card in a separate image file. I would need that to produce images for tiles (which are just thick cards, right?) for the print services that require individual files for each.

Will it have a good way to handle different card backs within the same deck? Obviously, when doing this manually at home with sleeves, it's fine to print the backs separately and collate them properly when sleeving each pair. But for a print service that needs full sheets for both faces and backs, it would be good to have a way to handle that. I suppose you could use one MultiDeck project for the faces and another for the backs, with appropriate reversals along one page axis or the other. That assumes the print order is the same for both projects and can be controlled in some fashion. Does the print order correspond to the order listed in the spreadsheet and is that guaranteed?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Clarke
msg tools
Grasshopper walks into a bar. Bartender says "hey, you know we have a drink named after you?"
badge
Grasshopper looks surprised and says "You have a drink named Stan?"
Avatar
mb
Count me as interested. Just please make it compatible with El Capitan.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [7] |