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Subject: Has Anyone Tried to Digitize This? rss

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Rick Bateman
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There have been a few games where I've scanned all the components and then put them in GIMP (a free Photoshop clone), to essentially create a virtual tabletop (without having to program everything into VASSAL) where I can play the game with no setup, no table space being occupied, save states, altering game pieces or even the board itself as I see fit, etc. I find this to be a highly convenient way to play board games (when I'm playing by myself, of course). Convenient, that is, after the process of scanning all the components in has been completed. I've thought about doing this for Firefly, because of how much table space it takes up, and also because I'm thinking about doing an ongoing, persistent variant (currently, my bed is the only table I have big enough for the game, so there's no way I could leave it there persistently), but I must say, I'm daunted by the Herculean task of scanning everything. Even if I were playing on the computer, I would probably still draw the cards manually, but I'd also want to have scans of the cards so I could lay out the Ship Cards and all the crew and gear for each leader digitally. That's a lot of scanning.

Has anybody considered, or actually achieved, anything like this for Firefly?
 
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Christopher Rau
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I'm working on one and have been for the last several months. It is basically a pet project of mine. I am working alone so it is taking some time. Plus, I have never worked in Adobe Flash and I thought it would be awesome, for many of the reasons you have cited.

It is slow going though, as I have a full time job. So, weekends and evenings are the only time I have to work on it. Also, it turns out there is A LOT of stuff going on in this game. Just the game setup is a task in itself.

I hope to have something testable in the next few months. But, I am worried about the rights to the art and the game, so I will probably contact GaleForce 9 before distributing it to a wider audience.
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Rick Bateman
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It sounds like what you're saying is that you have all the physical images digitized, you're just working on more on the programming side at this point. Is that correct?
 
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Christopher Rau
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Yes, that is basically correct. Although I have not scanned everything yet.

I have scanned the game board, the ship boards, and some of the cards. Just to give an idea, I have tried to publish the game board on a Google Sites page here. I think you can see the game board if you click on the .swf file to open it in Flash Player. But, I am not sure how well Google supports the Flash plugins and it might not work very well.

In any event, I have not scanned in all of the cards. There are over 600 of them after all. What I have done is updated the spreadsheet originally posted by gwek. The spreadsheet contains all of the textual information found in the game (i.e. all of the crew, gear, upgrades, navigation, misbehaves, ect.) You can find that here.

That being said, I have received feedback from some friends that maybe I should shift gears and focus more on simply setting up the graphical game elements and back off of the core logic. That would greatly simplify game set-up and obviously reduce the physical footprint of the game.

Of course, the eventual goal is to have a networked game that enforces turns and rules, allows distributed players, and can be saved for later. But that is going to take a while. Anyway, it is a fun pet project and I am learning Flash and Actionscript as I go.
 
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George Krubski
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Chris, I'm curious how the quality of your scans are. My cousin and I tried multiple scans of Crew cards on different devices and found that quality to be very low -- elements that were really downplayed in the real version suddenly came dramatically to the fore in the scanned version.

As a sidenote -- do you have quality scans of the backs of the supply decks yet? I'm in need of those to move forward on a number of my projects and my cousin/partner-in-crime has been sidelined with some family issues.
 
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Rick Bateman
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christophermrau wrote:

In any event, I have not scanned in all of the cards. There are over 600 of them after all. What I have done is updated the spreadsheet originally posted by gwek. The spreadsheet contains all of the textual information found in the game (i.e. all of the crew, gear, upgrades, navigation, misbehaves, ect.) You can find that here.


Hey, that's pretty good! Certainly better than how I expect it would've turned out if I had done it.

christophermrau wrote:

That being said, I have received feedback from some friends that maybe I should shift gears and focus more on simply setting up the graphical game elements and back off of the core logic. That would greatly simplify game set-up and obviously reduce the physical footprint of the game.


That's how I would be doing it if I had the chutzpah to pursue something like this. Rules enforcement can be nice in some ways, but the major problem with it is that it disallows variants and customization (something which seems quite popular among fans of this game). If you just put the raw images in a layered graphics application without any actual programming, then the user can play the game however they see fit instead of being restricted to the official rules.

I sure wish something like this was official. I probably wouldn't pay another fifty bucks for it, but if there were some way for people who already got the game to confirm their ownership and then pay a little extra for a digital copy, I'd totally be up for that. As a solo player, it would be so much nicer to be able to just play a few turns and hit Save, instead of having to set the whole thing up and play through the whole game all at once.
 
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Bill Saunders
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I'd love to have those scans. I've been toying with the idea of printing the board on resized sticker pages, and putting them on a magnetic marker board. I figure, since we all end up walking around while we play, anyway, we could just hang the board, mount the pieces on magnets, and hang in on a wall like a star chart. Then, the table would have much more room on it for all the cards and everything...just a thought.
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Christopher Rau
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gwek wrote:
Chris, I'm curious how the quality of your scans are. My cousin and I tried multiple scans of Crew cards on different devices and found that quality to be very low -- elements that were really downplayed in the real version suddenly came dramatically to the fore in the scanned version.

As a sidenote -- do you have quality scans of the backs of the supply decks yet? I'm in need of those to move forward on a number of my projects and my cousin/partner-in-crime has been sidelined with some family issues.


George,
I struggled a bit with the scan quality, especially while scanning the game board. If you take a look at it, you will notice it is actually aesthetically designed to look low-rez. Everything is diffuse and there are few sharp lines. The same with the ship cards.

That's the thing about cameras and scanners, they do not have a brain to filter and smooth the important elements. They just see what is actually there.
I do have a few ideas:
1. Scan at at least 300dpi
2. Save the original file in an uncompressed, lossless format (.bmp).
3. Keep trying, hehe

In the end, I think it will take some digital editing, pulling out the major design elements, and re-constructing the graphics for the application. The other thing I considered is contacting Gale Force 9 and asking for their digital files. But, I'm pretty sure I know the answer to that one.

Finally, I have not scanned the backs of the supply decks yet. But, I will see what I can do and let you know how it turns out.

Keep Flying....
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Christopher Rau
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phideaux1 wrote:
I'd love to have those scans. I've been toying with the idea of printing the board on resized sticker pages, and putting them on a magnetic marker board. I figure, since we all end up walking around while we play, anyway, we could just hang the board, mount the pieces on magnets, and hang in on a wall like a star chart. Then, the table would have much more room on it for all the cards and everything...just a thought.


That is a great idea! One of my co-workers/players mentioned the magnet idea as well; putting magnets on the ships and making the game board magnetic. Plus, I get OCD about my fuel tokens staying in place. I think there may be something too this. Could you imagine playing Travel Firefly during a road trip in the car with a bunch of magnetic boards and pieces? Hmmm....
 
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Rick Bateman
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christophermrau wrote:
phideaux1 wrote:
I'd love to have those scans. I've been toying with the idea of printing the board on resized sticker pages, and putting them on a magnetic marker board. I figure, since we all end up walking around while we play, anyway, we could just hang the board, mount the pieces on magnets, and hang in on a wall like a star chart. Then, the table would have much more room on it for all the cards and everything...just a thought.


That is a great idea! One of my co-workers/players mentioned the magnet idea as well; putting magnets on the ships and making the game board magnetic. Plus, I get OCD about my fuel tokens staying in place. I think there may be something too this. Could you imagine playing Travel Firefly during a road trip in the car with a bunch of magnetic boards and pieces? Hmmm....


As far as keeping fuel tokens in place, it might actually make it worse if there were magnets attached, especially if you didn't make sure all the magnetic poles were consistent throughout all the tokens.
 
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Rick Bateman
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gwek wrote:
Chris, I'm curious how the quality of your scans are. My cousin and I tried multiple scans of Crew cards on different devices and found that quality to be very low -- elements that were really downplayed in the real version suddenly came dramatically to the fore in the scanned version.

I did a test scan of the Leader cards to try it out, and it seemed to come out fine for me.

Are do I just have low standards? Is this any different from what you've been getting?
 
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Christopher Rau
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OK, so I tinkered with the cards and you are absolutely correct. The scans are REALLY NOISY. But, Photoshop to the rescue. I played with the noise filters and applied some blur and it seemed to come out OK. What do you think?:



Personally I think the edges are still pretty messy. I'll see what I can do with that. But, it is only really obvious at higher magnifications. I think the the working sizes will look pretty good.
 
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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I don't see any mention here of how people who don't own the game will reimburse the copyright holders for using their intellectual property. Seems to me the people who designed the game in the first place deserve to be paid for their efforts.
 
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Paul K.
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Sphere wrote:
I don't see any mention here of how people who don't own the game will reimburse the copyright holders for using their intellectual property. Seems to me the people who designed the game in the first place deserve to be paid for their efforts.


I fully agree with you that GF9 should be compensated. I would note that it appears (to me) that everyone in this thread already own a physical copy of the game, and are digitizing it for their own personal use with no intent of distribution.
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Rick Bateman
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Sphere wrote:
I don't see any mention here of how people who don't own the game will reimburse the copyright holders for using their intellectual property. Seems to me the people who designed the game in the first place deserve to be paid for their efforts.


Who said anything about giving this to people who don't own the game?
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Hi - im currently working on this at the moment in unreal 4 as a way to learn the software - going quite well. modelled the board sectors, and im gonna scan the models in later (maybe model them myself havent decided yet - im a game designer)

I decided i wasnt going to scan the cards in since it isnt needed - making an interactable inventory system and running totals seems easier to me.
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dj sabor
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Sphere wrote:
I don't see any mention here of how people who don't own the game will reimburse the copyright holders for using their intellectual property. Seems to me the people who designed the game in the first place deserve to be paid for their efforts.


I always love the overzealous copyright police who try interfere with people doing what they will with their own personal copies of the game they purchased.
 
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Ian Cooper
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christophermrau wrote:
OK, so I tinkered with the cards and you are absolutely correct. The scans are REALLY NOISY. But, Photoshop to the rescue. I played with the noise filters and applied some blur and it seemed to come out OK...


So far I've found the best method is to scan at 600dpi, then, in Photoshop) do a gaussian blur filter at 2 pixels (this gets rid of noise, but not so much that you start to lose detail), then an auto smart fix improves the contrast and sharpens the image back up again.
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Rick Bateman
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Do you have any ideas for how to get the cards looking nice and straight after you scan them? I've scanned in all my supply cards, but rotating any of the ones there were a little crooked, and removing the borders (white space) by hand, seems like it will be an extremely tedious process.
 
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Ian Cooper
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Yeah, getting the cards straight and making them print well is very time-consuming. My printer comes with an auto-straighten feature, which works well most of the time. But I still have to straighten them sometimes in Photoshop.

The biggest time-waster is getting the borders right - I've spent countless hours with Photoshop's Clone Stamp tool. Basically, this is why I stay away from projects involving editing more than a few cards.

My biggest annoyance is resizing - for some reason my printer scans everything at about 95% of the original size.
 
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George Krubski
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We actually took photos of the cards rather than scans. Creates it's own problems, but solves some too.
 
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