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Subject: Karim's MR conversion to RealmSpeak progress thread... rss

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R.S. Barker
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Greetings,

Work has begun on an update to the RealmSpeak image files which would allow a person to have access to the redesigned Magic Realm collection created by Karim. Obviously, without the work of Karim and the creator's of RealmSpeak there would be no reason for such a project, so I'll start by saying thank you for an incredible redesigned MR and a great software package. Thank you both!!!

Naturally this is a work in progress and I'm open to suggestions and comments from you the BGG community.

*****

Counters

Over the last 10 hours I've been working on an updated counter set and at this point a lot of progress has been made. I'll start with an explanation of the monster counters:

1) I've made a backup of every image I'm updating and simply put it in a secure folder in case I have any issues, then I create the new updated image to replace it.

2) The trick in doing this is that since only one image of each monster is available within RealmSpeak's Monster folder (found at RealmSpeak/Images/Monsters), When you replace the original image with an updated copy, the program re-sizes that new image to fit the three categories of monsters - Small, Medium and Large (where applicable). So I've had to take a happy medium and make some consolations with regards to image size.

In this instance the original bat.gif is 75x66.
The updated image is 139x123

This is the most time consuming part, given it's a matter of re-sizing and saving, open up RS, check the size to see if it's correct then close RS and repeat till satisfied.

IF anyone has a better method of properly sizing these I'll gladly use it.

3) When I re-size Karim's artwork, the numbers on his counters are lost and not needed because RealmSpeak adds it's own information. So, I'm slowly going through and cleaning up each counter leaving only the image and its name.

4) There is not a second side to these monster counters within the game since RS simply changes the information and uses the same counter front.

5) As of right now 7 monsters have been added to the Treasure Card.

I'm including images from my PhotoBucket account because I'm unsure how to include images through BGG at this moment.



*****

Tiles

This was quite easy - I took the original pdf, and simply imported them into PSP 9, edited out the cutting lines, rotated them 30 degrees clockwise to make them match the originals in the RealmSpeak's Tile folder (found at RealmSpeak/Images/Tiles) re-sized them to the same 497x430 size saved a copy of the originals and replaced them.

NOTE:

I've discovered that I can make the images slightly larger (up to 100% larger), and it really pays off with these lovely tiles. I've done some testing with 2x normal tile size and found no slow down or software issues. However, before I would finalize anything of this nature, any information on max tile size vs. software smoothness (i.e. too large would eat ram and slow down the program - something I do not want to happen) would be greatly appreciated.

***Suggestion for RealmSpeak***

One suggestion I'd love to see incorporated into RS is the ability to change the background color from off white to black, given these lighter tiles do have an occasion to have a white line on one side or another (that shows through). this seems to disappear when you zoom in/out but it is something that I'm very knit-picky about.

I really love the way these tiles look, and they do add an updated look that really catches the eye.

Note #2

I still need to update the second side of each tile, but hopefully this will wet your appetite.



*****

Caveat Emptor

I do need to mention this part because I'm sure someone - when the time comes - will not read this and I will be sure to put this in the read me and in bold letters to ensure everyone knows about it:

Once this archive becomes available, anyone whom uses it will not be able to play a game with another player online UNLESS said player(s) also have the same files installed.

My grandest hope is that perhaps someday this package can be added to RealmSpeak proper, but that time is perhaps a long ways off. 8)

*****

I started this project because I wanted to have the ability to play Magic Realm. What better way to accomplish that goal than with Karim's redesigned MR and Realm Speak software. Hopefully there are others here whom want this ability as well.

I'll update this thread as more progress is made.

Cheers and thanks,

R.S.
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Mark W
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Do the new tile clearings match up with the originals?
 
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Can image files alone solve this one? From what I know of Realmspeak and Swing programming, many of the changes to support this new tiles would involve programming changes. Some art changes shape, other changes in functional ways.

The programming changes might not be all that tough, but just changing the art files will probably not be enough.

 
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Mark W
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About a year ago I asked Robin if this could be done. He said:

Quote:
The tiles "could" be replaced, but you'd have to guarantee that
a) the tiles were exactly the same size (this is pretty easy with IrfanView)
b) the clearings are in the exact same locations (this depends on how closely Karim modeled his set to the real thing - I suspect this will be a real problem!!)

The chits are rendered in code, so there is no single place where you could replace graphics. I did it this way for a number of reasons, not the least of which is so that you didn't have to download 50 MB of graphics. Another reason for live rendering, is it gives me the ability to change things dynamically as attributes can change based on game events (ie., Poison adds a sharpness star, Elven Grace changes speed times, Belt of Strength changes letter, etc) Granted, I could still overlay these things, but that creates a whole new set of problems!
 
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R.S. Barker
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Quote:
Do the new tile clearings match up with the originals?


Well, if your talking about having a part Redesigned board matching up with original tiles within Realm Speak OR on the tabletop the answer is they do - but on Karim's version the pathways are narrower. Hence you'll have a wider path narrowing down the newer tile designs.


Quote:
Can image files alone solve this one? From what I know of Realm speak and Swing programming, many of the changes to support this new tiles would involve programming changes. Some art changes shape, other changes in functional ways.

The programming changes might not be all that tough, but just changing the art files will probably not be enough.


So far I've had zero problems switching image files to the newer version. When I load a gamer and play it, all counters line up they are supposed to and a friend came over yesterday and played a quick game on RealmSpeak with the new tiles and everything was correct.

*****

Karim messaged me about my using his archive within Realm Speak. He said, and I quote:

Quote:
I saw you're working on a using of my archive for use on Realm Speak; I understand you're doing it out of enthusiasm, and that I can't possibly stop you; but I would like you to understand why I redesigned the game. I felt that it needed an extra boost so as to be played face to face, as a board game in my opinion should be. Making my redesign available to realm speak would defeat that purpose, since nobody would ever bother print and play ftf.

I am opposed to any distribution of my redesign as a realmspeak package, and to its integration into realmspeak.


Karim,

I could have easily replied in private, but I felt this should be explained in public so that my stand is perfectly clear.

First off, I know of 3 people personally whom have printed out your update and that use it during their gaming sessions. I'm also one whom has done so, and while I like the new look of your set, I'm just as able minded or apt to play the original collection that I bought new when it came out in 1978 and that has been replaced/updated 9 times over the last 31 years.

If I were to make an archive available to the public would it take away from the ideology of printing our your version and playing it face to face?

No, because the 4 people mentioned above play in the same gaming group made up of 19 individuals and we all enjoy playing Magic Realm (and other games) in person. However, for the friend stuck in the middle of a political war over seas in the middle of a desert, that option isn't valid so his only option is Vassal, Cyberboard or Realmspeak - therein lies the conundrum.

All of that aside - the point is that while I respect your decision, I know of one person whom loves your game and can't view the counters clearly anymore because over the last 10 years has become legally blind due to hemorrhaging in his eyes. With his home pc, Realm Speak and thanks to a software package made for visually impaired individuals, he can at least play Magic Realm with me.

Your new counters help him pick up and identify color, which is key for visual stimulation.

You see, in the grand scope of things I don't care if anyone else plays Realm Speak, I don't care if anyone else plays your version of the game or the original. What I do care about is the fact that a dear friend, a brother from a different mother has had some joy put back into his life by playing a simple game.

That said, I will respect your wishes and not make this archive available to the public.

*****

Included below is a finished treasure card with all monsters in place - excluding natives.



Cheers,

R.S.
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R.S. Barker
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Greetings,

One piece of news is I've been contacted by 6 people in regards to the work on this project and what I find interesting is that each has said they really use Realm Speak to learn MR, not for full time play and that BookShelfGames.com has been instrumental in their learning the system.

In my own usage of I too find myself using the tutorials and Realm Speak to learn different techniques, but you just can't substitute the real deal spread out on the table.

****

Even though I've agreed not to release this archive, I feel it would be worthwhile to continue showing my progress perhaps for anyone whom wants to do this or for the people that find this topic of interest.

Major progress on the Combat Chart, with a peak at some of the armor counters - which aren't complete at this time.:



Cheers,

R.S.
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I suppose I should make this an official work log:

*****
Combat Chart

I just took a closer look at Karim's battle chart and the only way I could include such a design was to go in and simply recreate the original Magic Realm chart - found in the Realm Speak\images\combat folder. By doing so, all that would happen is we'd have an updated looking chart set up exactly as the original. Again this comes back to not being able to program in the necessary changes to where the "hot spots' would be on the new chart.

I love Karim's new charts, and I think they may be my favorite part of the new design, however the above image illustrates what steps I've taken to work around the issue.

Tiles

2) What I just discovered was a way to keep the original MR tiles but include all of Karim's in an alternate format. Essentially, if you look in Realm Speak\images\tiles folder you will see extra folders named for different seasons. I simply pasted in all of Karim's normal tiles (magic side still to be added) into the folder named Freshet then started up Realm Speak and chose Freshet as the Optional Season mode at the bottom of the new game screen.

When I started the game the new tiles instantly showed up. So one problem solved.

Treasure/Spell Cards

3) I can not find any way to update the treasure/spell cards within the image files at this time, so that means no updated cards of those types. It looks like they were coded into the game proper.

Monster Counters

The monster counters shown above display their darker changed tactics version.

Unfortunately there is no way to have both a light/dark side using Karim's cards that will give the same color look. The light side could be added in to replace the dark side, but if you start Realm Speak up and choose any of the other types of chit options, you will note it is just the background color that changes. Essentially each image already in the game proper is a simple gif with no background attached, thus making it transparent.

If you look closely at the new chit style those beautiful images aren't included within the image folder either, so I can't use those as a base. What kills me is they have a nice appearance when you right click or they flip in game with nice color banding at the bottom to give you the details you need. Those are the style I was hoping to mimic when adding in Karim's counters but sadly I'm stuck with no hopes of bringing his work to life in the same manner by just editing the existing images available.

Since there is but one side of each counter image - Realm Speak doesn't have the secondary flipped side available, it is a matter of either light or dark to start.

In this instance I'm leaning towards the dark side (insert heavy breathing and "Luke, join me on the dark side" interlude) mostly for my friend whom likes the darker colors and is easier for him to pick up visually. That may or could change.

More to come,

R.S.
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R.S. Barker
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Added a vellum background to the combat chart which makes it stand out visually.




Finished the Den combat table, including the vellum background to complement. Image uploaded is missing 3 text sections in the brown boxes, but it is finished.



Cheers,
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R.S. Barker
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Pre-final collection of natives/weapons/armor within two buildings -showing normal and flipped sides.

I still need to add a small text box for each weapon - to differentiate between a short/broad sword as one example.



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Mike Clarke
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R.S. you've done an amazing job with this....keep us posted. You never know...maybe Karim will have a change of heart!

Also be aware that a few of his tiles line up differently on the enchanted side than in the standard game...although they work if you reorient them according to the icon and/or tile title.

This is true in the case of the Borderlands, the Ruins and two or three others I can't remember right now. Not sure if this will make a difference to your program,
 
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R.S. Barker
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Mike,

Many thanks for the kind words. 8)

I finished adding in all the weapon chits, but because of the size of the gif images they will not have text on them. At this point I believe it's something I'll have to live with.

I'm pleased with the lighter color of the natives so there is a chance I may switch all of the monster counters to a plain transparent gif image to take advantage of the in-game color switch - like what is seen on the normal/flipped image compilation I posted earlier.

My only complaint is the light color of the one set of natives makes the white text very difficult to see, but again I went into this project with the understanding that there were certain limitations I couldn't overcome.

As to the enchanted side I've not added those in yet, but will see what can be done about the issue. Thanks for the information. 8)

More to come...

R.S.
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mikecl wrote:
R.S. you've done an amazing job with this....keep us posted. You never know...maybe Karim will have a change of heart!


Ditto!
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R.S. Barker
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Well after my friend played the game with the new monster tiles it was decided that the lighter flavor of each would indeed work for him. With that thought in mind I went through and finished replacing all of the "dark side" tiles with their normal side.

So included below is an updated and finished view:



Now to the next bit of news:

The following items can't, I repeat cannot be replaced by simply replacing their images within the Realm Speak/Images/ folder because they were programmed into/within Realm Speak itself.

All Chits
All Treasure Cards
All Spell Cards

What could be updated are the character cards and their respective individual counter(s) that represent them while on-board.

However - this is one area where I lean towards the original(s) as being better and worth keeping as they are.

****

What's left to do?

Add in the enchanted side tiles to the freshet folder.

That's it. I wish I could completely add in all new chits, all new treasure and spell cards but without access to the binary/source code that is beyond my capability.

I'll post an enchanted tile side ASAP.

Cheers and thanks for following along,

R.S.
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R.S. Barker
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I'd love to post a screen shot showing the enchanted side within Realm Speak, but I'm embarrassed to admit this, I've never played any character within it that deals with the magic system. *blush*

So unless I'm missing something within the program, I don't have a way to just flip the tiles manually. But the enchanted side has been added to the freshet folder and all my work is done.

Total conversion time : 37 hours - though most of that was editing the tiles and monsters - cleaning them up and making them transparent.

Is it perfect?

Nah, but it does look very nice and make Realm Speak sessions more fun for me and my friend.

Cheers and thanks for following this thread,

R.S.
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'Tis a shame really that this cannot be available. To bring back interest in this game will require an "attack" on 2 fronts. The tactile and the visual. The tactile is the print and play version - that only those who have already played the game will bother to expend the time, energy and cost of doing. The visual - at least nowadays - is provided through a computer. Simply showing the images on BGG will not stimulate renewed interest in Magic Realm. However, I believe that updating RealmSpeak with the new images could. Together, these may spark enough commercial interest to get this orphan reprinted, updated and released again (like Titan)
I am 50 years old - I played the original - I own the original - how many teenagers and players younger than I will be able to say the same thing? So unless it is released into a more "modern" format on a PC platform that younger players can relate to - Magic Realm will remain a niche game. This version of RealmSpeak was created for the same reason as Karim's awesome work - to bring a more modern flavor and renewed interest in a classic. I urge Karim to reconsider....
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Wow - that is simply amazing. Nice work there RS! I'm surprised you were able to get that much to work just changing images, because there is a lot of rendering that happens behind the scenes.

Someone asked the question about the clearings on the tiles lining up. I do have a utility that allows you to edit the clearing locations (and types) on each tile. That's one of the earliest pieces of software I wrote before I got started with RealmSpeak, and was a necessary device for getting that part set up. It's actually shipped with RealmSpeak, but there's no way to launch it without knowing the exact class name...

In any case, once I get version 1.00 out the door, I'm going to start considering how I might make native/monster/weapon/tile editors, so that people can add custom content to the game. No promises though!

In any case, I also wish Karim would reconsider. The new tiles he did are just amazing, and would certainly add a modern flavor to the game.
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Though I respect Karim's position (it is his artwork after all), it is unfortunate for people like me who are new to Magic Realm. I could not afford to buy an OOP copy of Magic Realm, so I spent a month making my own version of Karim's redesign. It was grand fun for me. I do however, also need Realmspeak in my arsenal for two reasons; 1) as a tutorial tool for my own education into the game's mechanics, and 2) as a means to teach others and generate interest in the game so that I can eventually bring everyone to the table to play. That's just the way it is unfortunately. With Realmspeak people have time to learn the game on their own, so that when a group does finally come together at the table, more time is spent on playing than on rereading passages in the rules.

As it stands now, we have to learn with one set of artwork in Realmspeak, and then play with a different set at the table. The process would be more intuitive if Karim's redesign were available to us. I don't have the luxury of owning both versions of the game, and I suspect most new players arising from renewed interest in Magic Realm (which is what Karim intended with his redesign) will also be playing predominately on Karim's redesigned version.

Just my two cents. In any case, thanks for the hard work Karim.
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I agree totally with Limbolance. I think that incorporating the slick graphic redesign into Realm Speak would actually help promote the game in general, and by default also interest in owning/making a copy for playing FTF.

Anybody who doubts the power that graphics can have on a game's popularity should remember AH's Titan. Not only was the game fun, but the monster silhouette's on the counters and the very unique look of the gameboard (which looked far cooler than a simple hex grid, even though that is exactly what it was) were great. They totally contributed to the enjoyment of playing the game. I'll bet you that at least half of the initial interest people showed in Titan was because it looked like it would be cool to play.

I would love to see these graphics available for Realm Speak. And I am sure their inclusion would help promote interest in the game. Please everyone urge Karim to reconsider.
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Outstanding job. And I'm also sad to hear that it won't be available. I started the daunting task of learning the game but it would absolutely enhance my experience when I make the transition.

 
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rob
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(Sorry if this is duplicating opinions but I felt I should add yet another voice)
I have to say that I don't think that an online/electronic version of a boardgame detracts from the physical gaming at all, playing an actual representation cannot really be substituted and it is something that (i would guess) virtually everyone on bgg would never want to do without. I love the tactile and visual aspect of real life components. If anything since the use of computers has become so widespread it has drawn me to the hobby even more as something that is self contained that doesn't require electricity or anything else. I too have found Realmspeak to be an invaluable tool when it comes to a MR in terms of learning the game and if anything it is a useful asset for everyone. I live in a very small area (with 3 dogs and a spouse) and if I want a little dabble in order to practice a bit more with (lets face it) a fairly deep-ruled game it is very useful to me to have the possiblity of a virtual game. It is a real shame that Karim would not want to allow his designs to be used when they have done alot of good for the game.

Anyway respect to all. BGG is probably the only forum I will ever belong to because of peoples creativity, passion and helpfulness.
Nice one.
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For what it's worth, I would like to add my voice to the chorus. I admire Karim's work and the spirit with which he has shared it for free with all of us. I think it would be really great if he would allow his artwork to be included in a new, updated version of Realmspeak!

Btw, I am one of those who has used (and is using) Realmspeak to learn the game so I can teach it to others to play it face to face!
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And yet another voice joins the chorus. For years I have been lurking in the shadows wanting to finally get into MR. I aquired a complete copy of the game maybe 10 years ago but never got a full play out if yet. I played around with Realmspeak a few times as well.

Now I am ready to jump the gun. As my official summer project I will build Karim Redesign copy of the game. Actually, I will go out and buy the necessary materials today. I want to use Realmspeak as a tool to learn the game. Having the same chits and combat board available in the virtual world as on the table would facilitate things tremendously.

I can understand Karims stand and of course it is his work and he has all the rights to do with it what he wants. But I truly feel if promoting the game is the main goal, Realmspeak is the way to go. It is such a valuable tool for new players. It will never replace table play but it might be useful to lure new players into the game.

Anyways - my MR adventure has finally begun!


Kirin
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There is a copy of Magic Realm using Karim's Redesign available for Tabletop simulator. I am sure Karim's didn't authorize it but now that the genie is out of the bottle I see no reason to bar the realmspeak version.

I greatly appreciate the work Karim's did, but once he released his work to the public it became public domain.
 
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ND3G wrote:
I greatly appreciate the work Karim's did, but once he released his work to the public it became public domain.

That's exactly wrong.

License:

Karim Chakroun is the author and copyright holder of the designs in this package and retains copyright and ownership of the designs included in this zipfile, and your license gives you the right to use the images under specific circumstances. You may use this images to build your own copy of a redesigned game for personal use, with no restrictions other than these: (1) you may not redistribute the original files, as is. (2) you may not extract material from the files so as to use it for any other purpose than a printed game. (4) this license is non-transferrable. (4) this license covers "reasonable use" by a single user; if you are intending to use the designs for any other purpose, please contact Karim Chakroun to discuss license or appropriate additional royalty arrangements. If you have any questions, contact Karim Chakroun [...]
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