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

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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 12 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 13 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 14 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 15 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 16 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 17 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 18 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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