Strategic Primer: Character Management

(On Wednesdays I write about my strategy game, Strategic Primer, including summaries of recent activity in the current campaign, the history of the game itself, and technical challenges I’ve encountered in designing and implementing the game.)

Until I find or implement a permanent, more ideal solution to the problem of representing units’ capabilities, I am using PCGen, a program designed for managing tabletop role-playing game characters, to generate and keep track of the players’ workers and other units. As my earlier post makes clear, this will hardly do for units made up of multiple people, but for managing workers and soldiers it is at least passable, for now.

The challenge I’m facing now (and, unlike most technical challenges I’ve talked about on this blog, this is simple enough to overcome, just rather time-consuming) is that the default data in PCGen is far from ideal for my needs. For instance, it begins with the System Reference Document produced by Wizards of the Coast, which pulls in a great deal of data I don’t need … and the biggest problem so far is that the number of “characters” I’m dealing with at once tends to hang the program for a while sometimes.

The solution is to write my own data set, removing the vast number of extraneous elements and adding details that the default data can’t give me. As I mentioned above, this looks to be merely a matter of time. But if one of my readers is very adept at manipulating PCGen “LST files” and would be willing to help me learn the intricacies of the process, I’d be very much obliged.

(And I should note to my players that once they have a sufficient chain of command in place that they’re no longer concerned with which individual workers or soldiers are doing what, I’ll probably let them see the exact stats of their “people” rather than creating such descriptions myself.)


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