Thursday, September 20, 2012

Battle Chronicler ... some thoughts

Full field of battle from recent Garden Wars game
I have had some time to experiment with the Battle Chronicler system.

The software was designed for use by Warhammer 40K fans, with some tools brought in for role-playing.  It is certainly dominated by the Warhammer concepts.

My first impressions were of how good this might be for detailing ongoing tabletop games and possibly for use in running such games over the web via email and such-like.

The potential for the email games is still valid, however I have pushed the software out to some rather large limits.

In chronicling the recent Garden Wars game, I was using a map 30 feet by 24 feet, this would be about 8 times larger surface area than was intended for use by this software.

Once I figured out how to enter the troops, which was a bit of a learning curve, then I was able to see what a good tool this program could be.  Most certainly as a PBEM system support there is merit for the program.

Difficulties that I encountered:

1) system hog, the program demanded massive amounts of my system's active memory.  So much so that I found I could only get it to work properly by shutting down my computer first, then disconnecting it from the internet and once restarting keeping all other programs off.  This may be a by-product of the massive map, though even in the smaller early tests I did see a significant 'lag' in the re-draw of the map when moving about it using the scroll function.

2)  terrain generation limitations - again this is likely from the WH40K issue that the program was meant for.  I will either have to design or find a geo-hex system for the program in order to use it for the tabletops that I like to set up

3) only simple data for the units with no way to update the units - technical information like morale status or other notes that are specific to a game system - again simply not part of WH40K - but I could see the value for RPG use.

In the end, my normal, smaller tabletop games I can get pictures of the whole table and have no critical need to use the program to 'tell the tale' of those battles.  I do have need for it in such large things as the Garden Wars, yet found the lag, and other program difficulties frustrating my efforts rather then helping them.

For the purpose the program was meant for I suppose it is good.

For my use in generating more battle reports for the minis games?  Not so much.

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