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Re: [pcgen-xml] [Frugal] Converting the PCGen Data Files (WAS Re: (unknown))

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  • Tir Gwaith
    Just to throw a wrench in, because I think there will NEVER be an non-engine specific format, truely.... Your example IS engine specific....
    Message 1 of 28 , Jun 30 6:12 PM
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      Just to throw a wrench in, because I think there will NEVER be an 'non-engine specific' format, truely....
       
      Your example IS engine specific....  <fighter_bonus>No</fighter_bonus> in and of itself is engine specific...  Types of feats that are choosable as class adjuncts are many, and not just "Fighter."
       
      There is no "neutral" version, just the perception of one.  As a data monkey, I've learned to challenge what my assumptions are, since publishers will always find new and interesting ways of looking at the game.  And there won't ever be a stable version, because new rules will always be written. 
       
      I don't see the point in striving to make things separate from the interpretor.  To me that is like designing a language without taking the listener into account.
       
      Tir Gwaith
      LST Chimp
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: andargor
      Sent: Tuesday, June 29, 2004 9:12 PM
      Subject: [pcgen-xml] [Frugal] Converting the PCGen Data Files (WAS Re: (unknown))

      Just before I forget, I have been trying to craft an XSLT to convert
      your XML dump of the PCGen data files into a more "neutral" version,
      that doesn't have any engine-specific stuff.

      Would it be a lot of trouble for you to make an export that doesn't
      have the nitty-gritty logic stuff in it or specific naming
      conventions? Like, for example:

      <feat id="Alertness">
      <name>Alertness</name>
      <type>General</type>
      <fighter_bonus>No</fighter_bonus>
      <multiple>No</multiple>
      <stack>No</stack>
      <prerequisite/>
      <grant>
        <bonus>
         <skill>
          <name>Listen</name>
          <value>2</value>
          <type>Unnamed</type>
         </skill>
        </bonus>
        <bonus>
         <skill>
          <name>Spot</name>
          <value>2</value>
          <type>Unnamed</type>
         </skill>
        </bonus>
      </grant>
      </feat>

      The reason I am asking is I think it would be great for data monkeys
      to have an easy format for data entry without depending on the current
      version of the engine, or for any particular engine for that matter.

      For example, I could take this XML snippet and associate a piece of
      code with it (say, "Alertness.js") which does the logic stuff. I can
      modify the XML very easily with XSLT to fit my engine, and you could
      do the same for yours.

      This way, we have a stable neutral representation of the publisher data...

      I would really like to have raw data to input into my engine for some
      more tests. If it's not too much trouble for you, it would avoid me
      having to reinvent your wheel... :)

      Andargor
    • Frugal
      ... I think that a neutral version of the data can be farily easily created. The problem the D20 is not the data, but the
      Message 2 of 28 , Jul 1, 2004
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        <quote who="Tir Gwaith">
        > There is no "neutral" version, just the perception of one. As a data
        > monkey, I've learned to challenge what my assumptions are, since
        > publishers will always find new and interesting ways of looking at the
        > game. And there won't ever be a stable version, because new rules will
        > always be written.

        I think that a 'neutral' version of the data can be farily easily created.
        The problem the D20 is not the data, but the manipulation of the data.
        Every time a company brings out a new rule the way the data is to be
        manipulated needs to be changed. As you stated the problem is not the
        data, but the extra rules that are always added.

        As I see it encoding the rules can be done in 3 ways:
        - The PCGen way: every thing is hard coded into the program, new rules
        mean new code
        - Put the rules in the data: As well as encoding the data, also encode a
        scripting language to manipulate the data.
        - Plugins: New rules get encoded as plugins that are loaded into the
        program as needed. So a dataset would contain data and a list of plugins
        that are required to manipulate the data.

        --
        regards,
        Frugal
        -OS Chimp
      • Frugal
        I have a certain set of requirements for a truely generic system. These ... I have a rough requirements document I keep adding to as I
        Message 3 of 28 , Jul 1, 2004
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          <quote who="Frugal">
          I have a certain set of requirements for a truely generic system. These
          > include (but are not limited to):
          >
          > - Support Core 3.0 characters
          > - Support Core 3.5 characters
          > - Support Epic Characters
          > - Support Exclusive Skills (i.e. the complicated calculations
          > for maxRanks)
          > - Support Gestalt Characters (in many forms: Take highest of 2+ values;
          > take sum of 2+ values; take mean of 2+ values);
          > - Support Adding a race and class level at the same time (i.e. in our
          > campaign the DM has decided that the player with the Astral Deva
          > character gets a different XP progression, but goes up a level of
          > Deva and a level of cleric at the same time).
          > - Support floating point variables (i.e. Monk/Rogue BAB of 3.75/3.75
          > would give a BAB of floor(3.75+3.75)=7 rather than
          > floor(3.75)+floor(3.75)=6 )

          I have a rough requirements document I keep adding to as I experiment. I
          currently have 89 requirements and growing ;O)

          --
          regards,
          Frugal
          -OS Chimp
        • David Finch
          ... Could you not move to making more of the rules coded into loadable javascript?
          Message 4 of 28 , Jul 1, 2004
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            Frugal wrote:
            > As I see it encoding the rules can be done in 3 ways:
            > - The PCGen way: every thing is hard coded into the program, new rules
            > mean new code
            > - Put the rules in the data: As well as encoding the data, also encode a
            > scripting language to manipulate the data.
            > - Plugins: New rules get encoded as plugins that are loaded into the
            > program as needed. So a dataset would contain data and a list of plugins
            > that are required to manipulate the data.

            Could you not move to making more of the rules coded into loadable javascript?
          • Frugal
            ... That was option 2 ;O) -- regards, Frugal -OS Chimp
            Message 5 of 28 , Jul 1, 2004
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              <quote who="David Finch">
              > Frugal wrote:
              >> As I see it encoding the rules can be done in 3 ways:
              >> - The PCGen way: every thing is hard coded into the program, new rules
              >> mean new code
              >> - Put the rules in the data: As well as encoding the data, also encode
              >> a
              >> scripting language to manipulate the data.
              >> - Plugins: New rules get encoded as plugins that are loaded into the
              >> program as needed. So a dataset would contain data and a list of
              >> plugins
              >> that are required to manipulate the data.
              >
              > Could you not move to making more of the rules coded into loadable
              > javascript?

              That was option 2 ;O)

              --
              regards,
              Frugal
              -OS Chimp
            • David Finch
              ... True. I kind of thought you meant adding some small scriptlets into tags. This would add to the completity. My vision of how it should work is a bit more
              Message 6 of 28 , Jul 1, 2004
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                Frugal wrote:

                > <quote who="David Finch">
                >
                >>Frugal wrote:
                >>
                >>>As I see it encoding the rules can be done in 3 ways:
                >>> - The PCGen way: every thing is hard coded into the program, new rules
                >>> mean new code
                >>> - Put the rules in the data: As well as encoding the data, also encode
                >>>a
                >>> scripting language to manipulate the data.
                >>> - Plugins: New rules get encoded as plugins that are loaded into the
                >>> program as needed. So a dataset would contain data and a list of
                >>>plugins
                >>> that are required to manipulate the data.
                >>
                >>Could you not move to making more of the rules coded into loadable
                >>javascript?
                > That was option 2 ;O)

                True. I kind of thought you meant adding some small 'scriptlets' into tags.
                This would add to the completity.

                My vision of how it should work is a bit more radical. Remove all the
                character creation specific code from the program all together. Change the
                LST/XML tags and java code with Javascript functions which are loaded to
                do the work. This has the disadvatage that they are harder for
                non-programmers but it would make modifications and updates simpler. (may
                be a simpler type could be made for the non-programers).

                To make this work there would be a fix data model of the character, this
                would enforce only stuff like: there are N abilities, they must have a Name
                and a Score and a Mod etc. Extra fields can be dynamically added but the
                Display part of the app, would need specific Java(script) to display them
                (for example see Mozilla). XML would be used only for the Character Sheet
                data all other data would be in the Javascript files.
              • Frugal
                ... Have a look at the work andargor had been doing: http://www.andargor.com/files/panther-demo.zip -- regards, Frugal -OS Chimp
                Message 7 of 28 , Jul 1, 2004
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                  <quote who="David Finch">
                  > My vision of how it should work is a bit more radical. Remove all the
                  > character creation specific code from the program all together. Change the
                  > LST/XML tags and java code with Javascript functions which are loaded to
                  > do the work. This has the disadvatage that they are harder for
                  > non-programmers but it would make modifications and updates simpler. (may
                  > be a simpler type could be made for the non-programers).

                  Have a look at the work andargor had been doing:

                  http://www.andargor.com/files/panther-demo.zip

                  --
                  regards,
                  Frugal
                  -OS Chimp
                • David Finch
                  ... Very intresting, did this go any further or was it just a tech demo?
                  Message 8 of 28 , Jul 1, 2004
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                    Frugal wrote:
                    > Have a look at the work andargor had been doing:
                    > http://www.andargor.com/files/panther-demo.zip

                    Very intresting, did this go any further or was it just a tech demo?
                  • Frugal
                    ... It is curently a tech demo in that this is as far as he has developed it over a couple of weeks. Like all of the tech demos there
                    Message 9 of 28 , Jul 1, 2004
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                      <quote who="David Finch">
                      > Frugal wrote:
                      >> Have a look at the work andargor had been doing:
                      >> http://www.andargor.com/files/panther-demo.zip
                      >
                      > Very intresting, did this go any further or was it just a tech demo?

                      It is curently a tech demo in that this is as far as he has developed it
                      over a couple of weeks.

                      Like all of the tech demos there is a huge difference between handling the
                      basics and handling the more complicated stuff ( I know that I keep
                      hitting problems doing some of the more esoteric things).

                      --
                      regards,
                      Frugal
                      -OS Chimp
                    • andargor
                      ... non-engine specific format, truely.... ... No in and of itself is engine specific... Types of feats that are choosable as
                      Message 10 of 28 , Jul 4, 2004
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                        --- In pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com, "Tir Gwaith"
                        <thoron-tir-gwaith@l...> wrote:
                        > Just to throw a wrench in, because I think there will NEVER be an
                        'non-engine specific' format, truely....
                        >
                        > Your example IS engine specific....
                        <fighter_bonus>No</fighter_bonus> in and of itself is engine
                        specific... Types of feats that are choosable as class adjuncts are
                        many, and not just "Fighter."
                        >
                        > There is no "neutral" version, just the perception of one. As a
                        data monkey, I've learned to challenge what my assumptions are, since
                        publishers will always find new and interesting ways of looking at the
                        game. And there won't ever be a stable version, because new rules
                        will always be written.
                        >
                        > I don't see the point in striving to make things separate from the
                        interpretor. To me that is like designing a language without taking
                        the listener into account.
                        >
                        > Tir Gwaith
                        > LST Chimp

                        Nice wrench. :)

                        I don't want ot discuss semantics, but the example I gave is not
                        specific to any engine. For example, I do not plan to use the
                        fighter_bonus tag in my program and I doubt Frugal or PCGen will ever
                        use it.

                        The point is to use XML for what it is intended for: tagging data,
                        nothing more, nothing less. It is a machine readable version of
                        publisher data, that's all.

                        fighter_bonus gets transformed into engine specific tags:
                        <bonus><type>Fighter</type></bonus> or <bonus id="Alterness"
                        type="fighter.bonus"> or even TYPE:General.Fighter if you want to
                        regenerate LST. You use XSLT to do that.

                        The marvelous thing is that you only coded the publisher data once.
                        All you have to do is maintain a transform (XSLT). Ain't that sweet?

                        Andargor
                      • andargor
                        ... handling the ... Yes, it s only a demo as I m experimenting with the various options Frugal described for the logic and rules portion of the problem. I
                        Message 11 of 28 , Jul 4, 2004
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                          --- In pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com, "Frugal" <frugal@p...> wrote:
                          >
                          > <quote who="David Finch">
                          > > Frugal wrote:
                          > >> Have a look at the work andargor had been doing:
                          > >> http://www.andargor.com/files/panther-demo.zip
                          > >
                          > > Very intresting, did this go any further or was it just a tech demo?
                          >
                          > It is curently a tech demo in that this is as far as he has developed it
                          > over a couple of weeks.
                          >
                          > Like all of the tech demos there is a huge difference between
                          handling the
                          > basics and handling the more complicated stuff ( I know that I keep
                          > hitting problems doing some of the more esoteric things).
                          >
                          > --
                          > regards,
                          > Frugal
                          > -OS Chimp

                          Yes, it's only a demo as I'm experimenting with the various options
                          Frugal described for the "logic" and "rules" portion of the problem.

                          I tend to favor "option 3":

                          - use a neutral version of the base data which isn't egine specific
                          (enter data once, use many times)
                          - Transform data into an engine specific format (Frugal's, mine,
                          Engine XYZ) using XSLT
                          - Have scriptlets that hook in to provide the rules aspect (I use the
                          term "scriptlets" to denote small bits of code in the engine's
                          preferred language: javascript, python, perl, whatever)

                          The reason that I like this approach is that you don't have to agree
                          on a very specific format for the neutral base data. It can be very
                          loose, like I described. As well, option 2 is still too close to
                          engine specific code, since everyone would have to agree on a language
                          and an API.

                          On the maintenance side, as publisher data is released you don't need
                          developer-grade people to code in loose XML. There are a lot of people
                          out there that are willing to help but that don't know LST,
                          javascript, etc. So their task would be to enter the base data using
                          guidelines. Sure a schema or DTD could be used, but we would have to
                          agree on it, which is no mean task.

                          The rules or logic portion would be then the responsibility of the
                          developer-grade people for each engine. You distribute the workload,
                          and you remove the engine dependency from the base data if an engine
                          gets updated.

                          My general philosophy is that we should minimize the requirements for
                          standards, since that is what has stopped XML projects in the past.
                          Everyone has his/her own view of how the XML data should be
                          structured, and arguments. Let's just get something that can be
                          machine readable and reused out there. The "small steps" theory.

                          Frugal, is it possible for you to do a "neutral" dump as I described
                          if it's not too much trouble? It would allow me to demonstrate what I
                          mean. I could even craft an XSLT that would format the neutral data
                          into one compatible with your engine (as much as possible). It would
                          be much appreciated :)

                          If you don't have the time, could you upload your LST parser so I can
                          fiddle with it?

                          Andargor
                        • Paul M. Lambert
                          ... I ve been reading this discussion and I d like to make sure I understand what you mean, andargor. Tell me what below matches your thoughts and what
                          Message 12 of 28 , Jul 4, 2004
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                            On Sun, 04 Jul 2004, andargor wrote:

                            > Nice wrench. :)
                            >
                            > I don't want ot discuss semantics, but the example I gave is not
                            > specific to any engine. For example, I do not plan to use the
                            > fighter_bonus tag in my program and I doubt Frugal or PCGen will ever
                            > use it.
                            >
                            > The point is to use XML for what it is intended for: tagging data,
                            > nothing more, nothing less. It is a machine readable version of
                            > publisher data, that's all.
                            >
                            > fighter_bonus gets transformed into engine specific tags:
                            > <bonus><type>Fighter</type></bonus> or <bonus id="Alterness"
                            > type="fighter.bonus"> or even TYPE:General.Fighter if you want to
                            > regenerate LST. You use XSLT to do that.
                            >
                            > The marvelous thing is that you only coded the publisher data once.
                            > All you have to do is maintain a transform (XSLT). Ain't that sweet?
                            >
                            > Andargor

                            I've been reading this discussion and I'd like to make sure I understand
                            what you mean, andargor.

                            Tell me what below matches your thoughts and what doesn't, so we can get
                            on the same page. Then I'll be able to tell if I actually agree with
                            you. :-)

                            As I see it your "data neutral" format idea could be re-expressed as a
                            high level pseudo language. This language could then be converted into
                            a given engine's native format (LST, PCGEN-XML--whatever that is,
                            "plambertgen", whatever) if someone writes such a converter. And then the
                            engine can handle that data as it sees fit.

                            I see this to mean that the data neutral format would allow tag
                            (re-)definitions, so, for example, <figher_bonus> could be a tag
                            used in one data file, and it might be definied in coarser game
                            terms in another. This would allow "libraries" of definitions for
                            a given game system or rule set that would allow easy mapping to
                            specific engines in the converters.

                            I'm trying to think of a concrete example. Perhaps something like:

                            <str>7</str>

                            in a character definition for a 3.5 SRD character. And in the
                            library data file for 3.5 SRD, you might have:

                            <character>
                            ...
                            <attribute>
                            <name>Strength</name>
                            <abbr>STR</abbr>
                            <tag>str</tag>
                            <description>Physical strength and prowess</description>
                            ...
                            </attribute>
                            ...
                            </character>

                            These are extremely rough non-scaling examples, of course, and not
                            necessarily how I actually suggest doing attributes, but anyway...

                            A converter then might take that information and turn it into LST data.
                            The converter would know the limits of its target format. For example,
                            if it's not possible to actually change/rename/add attributes in LST
                            format, it would basically know to ignore the attribute definitions and
                            use the ones inherent to the engine. If another were used, it could
                            generate a warning or error.

                            A converter might even have full internal knowledge of a given "library"
                            as well, if it was a good choice for the coder/engine/etc. For example,
                            an engine extremely specific to a certain game rule set (maybe an SRD3.5
                            only web character repository, or whatever) could ignore the library
                            entirely, since the author would know what was and wasn't defined in
                            there.

                            This would mean the libraries and the converters could be maintained by
                            people with strong such skills, while the casual user who just wants to
                            say "I'd like to add a Bow of Tumultuous Angst to my equipment lists;
                            it's a Long Bow that gives +2/+4 only to Chaotic Neutral wielders."
                            could do it with dirt-simple, straightforward tags. Still valid XML, but
                            really simple tags whose inner workings are defined elsewhere, out of
                            sight.

                            However, if they want it to give the wielder +1 to hit for each pound of
                            bat guano they're carrying, they'll need to dig deeper. But simple
                            things will be easy and complex things will be possible. Right?

                            Please let me know where I misunderstand.

                            --plambert
                          • andargor
                            Answers inline. ... (snip) ... then the ... You sure think ahead :) Actually, what I propose is more basic: just convert publisher data into a machine readable
                            Message 13 of 28 , Jul 4, 2004
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                              Answers inline.

                              --- In pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com, "Paul M. Lambert" <plambert@p...> wrote:
                              (snip)
                              > As I see it your "data neutral" format idea could be re-expressed as a
                              > high level pseudo language. This language could then be converted into
                              > a given engine's native format (LST, PCGEN-XML--whatever that is,
                              > "plambertgen", whatever) if someone writes such a converter. And
                              then the
                              > engine can handle that data as it sees fit.
                              >
                              > I see this to mean that the data neutral format would allow tag
                              > (re-)definitions, so, for example, <figher_bonus> could be a tag
                              > used in one data file, and it might be definied in coarser game
                              > terms in another. This would allow "libraries" of definitions for
                              > a given game system or rule set that would allow easy mapping to
                              > specific engines in the converters.


                              You sure think ahead :)

                              Actually, what I propose is more basic: just convert publisher data
                              into a machine readable format with a minimum of context (i.e. XML
                              tags) so that it can be manipulated. Your library concept could then
                              be implemented, if you wish to do so. First things first :)

                              (snip)
                              > This would mean the libraries and the converters could be maintained by
                              > people with strong such skills, while the casual user who just wants to
                              > say "I'd like to add a Bow of Tumultuous Angst to my equipment lists;
                              > it's a Long Bow that gives +2/+4 only to Chaotic Neutral wielders."
                              > could do it with dirt-simple, straightforward tags. Still valid
                              XML, but
                              > really simple tags whose inner workings are defined elsewhere, out of
                              > sight.


                              Yes, the general idea is to leverage the large quantity of people that
                              have the willingess to help but not necessarily the coding skills.
                              They could describe that bow very simply, and fill in the logic
                              portion as a description. Someone with coding skills could then craft
                              an engine specific XSLT and translate the logic into engine-specific
                              "scriptlets" for a particular tool.

                              Andargor
                            • Frugal
                              ... The LST parser is already up on the groups file section: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pcgen-xml/files/sample_source-20031216.tgz As
                              Message 14 of 28 , Jul 5, 2004
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                                <quote who="andargor">

                                > Frugal, is it possible for you to do a "neutral" dump as I described
                                > if it's not too much trouble? It would allow me to demonstrate what I
                                > mean. I could even craft an XSLT that would format the neutral data
                                > into one compatible with your engine (as much as possible). It would
                                > be much appreciated :)
                                >
                                > If you don't have the time, could you upload your LST parser so I can
                                > fiddle with it?

                                The LST parser is already up on the groups file section:

                                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pcgen-xml/files/sample_source-20031216.tgz

                                As the date indicates this has not been worked on since the middle of
                                december. Be warned: "here be kludges".

                                Feel free to do with it as you will, There should be a GPL header at the
                                top of each file ;O)

                                --
                                regards,
                                Frugal
                                -OS Chimp
                              • David Finch
                                ... A first good step would be that the data had been input. If the logic has been typed in english then at least when the conversion to PCgen format is done
                                Message 15 of 28 , Jul 5, 2004
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                                  andargor wrote:
                                  > Yes, the general idea is to leverage the large quantity of people that
                                  > have the willingess to help but not necessarily the coding skills.
                                  > They could describe that bow very simply, and fill in the logic
                                  > portion as a description. Someone with coding skills could then craft
                                  > an engine specific XSLT and translate the logic into engine-specific
                                  > "scriptlets" for a particular tool.

                                  A first good step would be that the data had been input. If the logic has
                                  been typed in english then at least when the conversion to PCgen format is
                                  done someone can go though at 'specialise it' to PCgen format. This has the
                                  added advatage that someone can check that the english logic matches the
                                  real programming logic.
                                • andargor
                                  ... 20031216.tgz ... of ... at the ... Yikes! There be kludges :) Well, I had to craft an Ant build.xml, and it seems to compile properly... What version of
                                  Message 16 of 28 , Jul 6, 2004
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                                    --- In pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com, "Frugal" <frugal@p...> wrote:
                                    >
                                    > The LST parser is already up on the groups file section:
                                    >
                                    > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pcgen-xml/files/sample_source-
                                    20031216.tgz
                                    >
                                    > As the date indicates this has not been worked on since the middle
                                    of
                                    > december. Be warned: "here be kludges".
                                    >
                                    > Feel free to do with it as you will, There should be a GPL header
                                    at the
                                    > top of each file ;O)
                                    >
                                    > --
                                    > regards,
                                    > Frugal
                                    > -OS Chimp

                                    Yikes! There be kludges :)

                                    Well, I had to craft an Ant build.xml, and it seems to compile
                                    properly...

                                    What version of the data files were you using? The parser is croaking
                                    on several of the 5.7.2 ones.

                                    Andargor
                                  • Frugal
                                    ... Oh, yeah, oops. I was using Eclipse and it managed all of the building for me ;O) ... I was using the CVS data as of the date of the
                                    Message 17 of 28 , Jul 6, 2004
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                                      <quote who="andargor">
                                      > --- In pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com, "Frugal" <frugal@p...> wrote:
                                      >>
                                      >> The LST parser is already up on the groups file section:
                                      >>
                                      >> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pcgen-xml/files/sample_source-
                                      > 20031216.tgz
                                      >>
                                      >> As the date indicates this has not been worked on since the middle
                                      > of
                                      >> december. Be warned: "here be kludges".
                                      >>
                                      >> Feel free to do with it as you will, There should be a GPL header
                                      > at the
                                      >> top of each file ;O)
                                      >
                                      > Yikes! There be kludges :)
                                      >
                                      > Well, I had to craft an Ant build.xml, and it seems to compile
                                      > properly...

                                      Oh, yeah, oops. I was using Eclipse and it managed all of the building for
                                      me ;O)

                                      > What version of the data files were you using? The parser is croaking
                                      > on several of the 5.7.2 ones.

                                      I was using the CVS data as of the date of the archive. So any new tags
                                      will fail.

                                      IT would be so nice if every time someone messed around with a data tag
                                      they were forced to increment the LST version number. It would make data
                                      management a lot easier if you could state which version of LST syntax
                                      your LST files were.

                                      --
                                      regards,
                                      Frugal
                                      -OS Chimp
                                    • andargor
                                      ... tag ... data ... syntax ... Or if the data were in XML and the rule logic described somewhere for PCGen, the LST could be regenerated with each new version
                                      Message 18 of 28 , Jul 6, 2004
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                                        --- In pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com, "Frugal" <frugal@p...> wrote:
                                        >
                                        > IT would be so nice if every time someone messed around with a data
                                        tag
                                        > they were forced to increment the LST version number. It would make
                                        data
                                        > management a lot easier if you could state which version of LST
                                        syntax
                                        > your LST files were.
                                        >
                                        > --
                                        > regards,
                                        > Frugal
                                        > -OS Chimp

                                        Or if the data were in XML and the rule logic described somewhere for
                                        PCGen, the LST could be regenerated with each new version ;)

                                        Andargor
                                      • Mark Coletti
                                        On Thu, 1 Jul 2004 08:55:51 +0100 (BST), Frugal ... It was put the rules in the data that did it for me. What you re talking about is really a knowledge
                                        Message 19 of 28 , Jul 14, 2004
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                                          On Thu, 1 Jul 2004 08:55:51 +0100 (BST), Frugal
                                          <frugal@...> wrote:
                                          >
                                          > <quote who="Tir Gwaith">
                                          > > There is no "neutral" version, just the perception of one. [...] there won't
                                          > > ever be a stable version, because new rules will
                                          > > always be written.

                                          > I think that a 'neutral' version of the data can be farily easily created.
                                          > The problem the D20 is not the data, but the manipulation of the data.
                                          > Every time a company brings out a new rule the way the data is to be
                                          > manipulated needs to be changed. As you stated the problem is not the
                                          > data, but the extra rules that are always added.

                                          > As I see it encoding the rules can be done in 3 ways:
                                          > - The PCGen way: every thing is hard coded into the program, new rules
                                          > mean new code
                                          > - Put the rules in the data: As well as encoding the data, also encode a
                                          > scripting language to manipulate the data.
                                          > - Plugins: New rules get encoded as plugins that are loaded into the
                                          > program as needed. So a dataset would contain data and a list of plugins
                                          > that are required to manipulate the data.

                                          It was "put the rules in the data" that did it for me. What you're
                                          talking about is really a knowledge base; which makes sense in that
                                          PCGen *is* essentially an expert system that relies on a
                                          knowledge-base containing rules for various d20 based gaming systems.
                                          The problem is that most of the knowledge is either hard-coded in Java
                                          or in LST files, and most of the "inferencing" for the huge cloud of
                                          rules is also hard-coded. (Think IF-THEN and SWITCH statements as a
                                          crude sort of linear, data-driven 'inferencing'.)

                                          JESS is a free, open-source, expert system implemented in Java. I can
                                          easily see where most of the PCGen "knowledge-base" currently spread
                                          among Java and LST files could be rolled into a knowledge-base
                                          containing explicit rules. Specific systems would just add new
                                          knowledge-bases that contain fresh sets of rules (including some that
                                          may remove or modify existing ones).

                                          A JESS (or similar system) based PCGen system would be inherently
                                          smaller since the brunt of the inferencing will be left to the
                                          inference engine, and the rules would be explicitly codified as, well,
                                          rules. You could also set up the knowledge-base such that you can
                                          generate explanations. One thing about the d20 systems is that
                                          they're very complex once you consider all the different rules and
                                          their respective interactions. If, say, a character has an 18 AC, it
                                          might be nice to know *how* and *why* it's currently 18. All the
                                          rules that trigger AC mods could contribute to explanatory text. "AC
                                          base 10, +2 for Dexterity, +3 for ring of nimbleness, +3 to <mumble>
                                          spell effect."

                                          Of course this is all pie-in-the-sky ramblings implementing JESS in
                                          PCGen would entail quite a bit of work. (Um, I think.) But, what the
                                          hell, it makes for a pleasant gedankenexperiment. %-)

                                          More info:

                                          http://web.njit.edu/all_topics/Prog_Lang_Docs/html/jess51/

                                          Cheers!

                                          MAC
                                          --
                                          I'm taking reality in small doses to build immunity.
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