inCombat 4e: Open Beta

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A couple weeks ago I starting coding up a combat manager for DMs, and after a couple weekend's worth of play-testing, it looks like it's ready for an open beta. The Flash and AIR versions of inCombat 4e can both be found at:

http://laughterforever.com/inCombat/

This app came about originally from my desire to stop wasting so much paper and note cards during games. Combine that with the fact that I found most tracking programs to either be too simplistic or too bloated, and call me Goldilocks, but I wanted something just right.

Major features:
  • Tracks initiative and conditions of all NPCs and PCs
  • Tracks marks, ongoing effects, HP, and readied/held actions
  • Displays condition descriptions for easy learning/recollection
  • Displays saving throw reminders for any current player conditions
  • Ability to schedule generic reminders to take place in X number of rounds
  • Ability to provide an URL for each character, ideal for linking out to the creature's compendium entry
  • Ability to view character URL either in a browser or in-app (AIR only)
  • Ability to save individual characters as well as entire encounters
  • Ability to load characters and encounters from saved files (AIR version only due to technical limitations of Flash)
  • Flash interface for universal access
  • AIR application for use with no internet connection, also with advanced features such as in-app browsing and loading of saved files


Feel free to take a look and provide any feedback with regards to any bugs that you might find or any usability suggestions. About the only thing that isn't included right now is tracking of temporary HP since I'm still working on a good way to handle that. Otherwise, have fun, guys. Hopefully someone finds it useful...
That's nice. Definitely going to have to watch this one.

Thoughts after a quick glance:
Ability to add temp HP would be nice.
Promote/Demote doesn't seem to be working.

Ah, I see you know about the temp HP... ah, well... the Promote/Demote thing doesn't seem to be working.

Edit; Aw, I'm sad to see the AIR application is a dull gray. Any chance of getting that blue back, or even just changing the color? Not exactly a huge issue, but... ;)
Hey, that could be very useful. I know what you mean about other program's utility, I think I'll take this one for a spin this weekend. Thanks!
Looks quite useful, kinda wish I could see defense vaules when not selecting, as well as passive skill values for each PC, but I can make do without those.
Pssst, when does the iPhone app come out? For us, that's the only PC like item that ever sees the game table, and for now, all we use is the calculator for faster math.

Looks very nice.

"The turning of the tide always begins with one soldier's decision to head back into the fray"

That's really nice - very clean and simple, and quick.

The only feature request I'd make is to automate the application/termination of conditions, but that requires a few more steps (specifically, you'd need to know who imposed the condition, when it expires, and have saving throws in there or something).

Given that "automating" condition expiration is a bit of a pain (this I know), the reminder thing is a very elegant way to avoid extra fiddly steps.
Promote/Demote doesn't seem to be working

Yup, looks like you're right. I'll get that fixed up tonight probably. Oh, just so I'm sure that we're talking about the same thing: you know that you can only promote/demote within the same init value, right? If you have 3 people all with an init of 5 then you can promote and demote between those 3 people, but you can't, say, promote one of them to an init value of 6. For that you use the "Reset Init" button.

Aw, I'm sad to see the AIR application is a dull gray. Any chance of getting that blue back, or even just changing the color? Not exactly a huge issue, but... ;)

Hah. The colors are the defaults as Flex Builder sets them. I haven't quite decided what the final look will be yet.

Looks quite useful, kinda wish I could see defense vaules when not selecting, as well as passive skill values for each PC, but I can make do without those.

Nod. It's a problem of space. I'm thinking about reducing the width of the effects descriptor text area so that I can expand the char info pane. Anyone have an opinion on this?

Pssst, when does the iPhone app come out? For us, that's the only PC like item that ever sees the game table, and for now, all we use is the calculator for faster math.

Most likely never, or at least until they bring Flash to the iPhone. I'm not a big fan of shoe-horning lots of data into little spaces anyway. None of this is a slight to the iPhone (which I love) but I just don't think it's suited to this scope of functionality/data. Sorry.

The only feature request I'd make is to automate the application/termination of conditions, but that requires a few more steps (specifically, you'd need to know who imposed the condition, when it expires, and have saving throws in there or something).

Given that "automating" condition expiration is a bit of a pain (this I know), the reminder thing is a very elegant way to avoid extra fiddly steps.

Yeah, originally my DM and I talked about something like that. The problem is that there's so many different ways and times that a condition can clear. In the end we settled on the reminder form with the caveat that you can't clear a condition that was set during your own round. We couldn't think of a circumstance where that would be possible, so in it went. The general reminders functionality partially came about because of this too. "In 2 rounds Lou Gehrig's disease causes {char} to..."
Yeah, originally my DM and I talked about something like that. The problem is that there's so many different ways and times that a condition can clear. In the end we settled on the reminder form with the caveat that you can't clear a condition that was set during your own round. We couldn't think of a circumstance where that would be possible, so in it went. The general reminders functionality partially came about because of this too. "In 2 rounds Lou Gehrig's disease causes {char} to..."

I wrote scripts for MapTool that track the addition/expiration of conditions during play, and IIRC, I had to set up 8 different times when something can end (if you make #8 "special", a catch-all for "not one of the other timings"), and 40+ different conditions (including ongoing damage, temporary resistance/vulnerability, and bonuses to attack and defense, and not including "this and this, save ends both").

It was nontrivial. I wish I'd thought of the reminder thing, honestly.
I already like the hp and init tracker portion of this. What I didn't understand (since I haven't run a game yet) is what is the ready action and use acction buttons really for?

Could someone provide and example of it's use?
I already like the hp and init tracker portion of this. What I didn't understand (since I haven't run a game yet) is what is the ready action and use acction buttons really for?

Could someone provide and example of it's use?

It automatically handles the re-ordering of the player's initiative when they use their action. The DM would click either button when the player says they're holding/readying and then if the player actually uses that action then the DM clicks the "Use" button. If the action isn't used, then it just goes away like normal.
What is the compendium Url used for? Is that to specifcy what feat or power you are trying to use or what?
What is the compendium Url used for? Is that to specifcy what feat or power you are trying to use or what?

Technically you can put any URL in there that you want, but I figure most people will use it for linking out to the compendium. When you're adding a creature to the encounter, you can link out to its entry in the compendium so you pull up all its stats and powers easily.
Have you considered having it work with the Iplay4e website? It appears to read the actual character builder files which have the powers in them.

Or maybe read the character builder files yourself to import a few stats? Eventually when the monster builder is ready those files could be available as well.

Anyway I'm like what you have come up with so far as it will now replace the spreadsheet I was planning on using to manage combat. The exporting and reimporting of characters will help plus I could pre set some of the encounters ahead of time and import them when the party came up to that point.

I'm also trying the offline version so let me know if there are some updates so I can try them as well.
Looks interesting.

Suggestion: run the defenses
AC Fort
Ref Will

Using normal english L-R, T-B processing, it's really disconcerting to go across the row saying "Init", "AC", "Where the heck did my cursor go?".

Or put the four defenses on a separate line or column.
I must be missing something really obvious, but I just cannot find any offline downloadable version of this. Is there something special I need to do or just a link i'm not seeing, or did I gloss over some instructions somewhere, or what?
Click that link, then at the bottom of the page it will say "Want to load saved files or run the app when not connected to the internet? Click here to download the Adobe AIR version of inCombat 4e! "
I've downloaded this on two separate machines and had difficutly with the second one. First off I needed to install Adobe AIR. Secondly I couldn't see the link to download until I told the program to run in full screen mode. The second machine was my laptop and it was probably a resolution issue that prevented me from seeing the link at the bottem. Going to full screen fixed that.
I've downloaded this on two separate machines and had difficutly with the second one. First off I needed to install Adobe AIR. Secondly I couldn't see the link to download until I told the program to run in full screen mode. The second machine was my laptop and it was probably a resolution issue that prevented me from seeing the link at the bottem. Going to full screen fixed that.

Yeah, looks like the html isn't putting up a scrollbar when the browser window height is smaller than the flash app. An easy fix, though.

Regarding having to install AIR, though, while it's a minor annoyance it's actually good in the long run. It means that using Flex I can simultaneously publish the app for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Heck, the thing's even coded such that the two versions use the same code, so if I fix a bug it automatically flows to both apps. Portability is good.
I didn't mean my comment on having to install AIR as a critique as much as making sure someone understood it was needed.
okay yeah, the link was so far down I couldn't see it because I swear there wasn't a scroll bar yesterday, but it's there now. Ive got everything working. Apparently I already had AIR. Thanks.
The temporary hit points are simple to add. First each character/monster should have three variables: current hp, max hp, and temp hp. Then you create a method/function that adds temp hp. Then you create another method/function that modifies hp. Something like modifyHP(int amount). I don't know anything about AIR, but I'm sure you can figure it out. Inside that method/function you simply take the hp off from the temp hp first until it hits zero, then take it from the hp.
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Just a quick post letting everyone know I've finally gotten some time to update the apps. People using the AIR version will have to grab the latest .air file off of the web site in order to get the updates.

Changes:

  • Fixed several bugs in Promote/Demote
  • Swapped the position of the Fortitude and Reflex input boxes for usability
  • Changed the Reset Initiative form so it applies when hitting the "Enter" key
How do you use the air version?
The temporary hit points are simple to add. First each character/monster should have three variables: current hp, max hp, and temp hp. Then you create a method/function that adds temp hp. Then you create another method/function that modifies hp. Something like modifyHP(int amount). I don't know anything about AIR, but I'm sure you can figure it out. Inside that method/function you simply take the hp off from the temp hp first until it hits zero, then take it from the hp.

Temp HPs don't work like that though. From the PHB, page 293:

TEMPORARY HIT POINTS
  • Not Real Hit Points: Temporary hit points aren’t real hit points. They’re a layer of insulation that attacks have to get through before they start doing damage to you. Don’t add temporary hit points to your current hit points (if your current hit points are 0, you still have 0 when you receive temporary hit points). Keep track of them as a separate pool of hit points.
  • Don’t Count toward Maximum: Temporary hit points don’t count when you compare your current hit points to your maximum hit points, when you determine whether you’re bloodied, or for other effects that depend on your current hit points.
  • Lose Temporary Hit Points First: When you take damage, subtract it from your temporary hit points. If you take more damage than your temporary hit
    points, extra damage reduces your current hit points.
  • Don’t Add Together: If you get temporary hit points from different sources, use the higher value as your temporary hit point total instead of adding the values together.
  • Last until You Rest: Your temporary hit points last until they’re reduced to 0 by damage or until you take a rest.

Per the 1st and 2nd items, you don't just simply add the temp HPs to your current value. That's actually good, because otherwise it would mess with a *lot* of app behavior, but it raises the issue of how and where to display the temp HPs. Per the 4th item, you have to track both the current temp HP value and the amount that were initially added in order to prevent stacking. Lastly, what's the best UI to handle adding the temp HPs in the first place? The apps are already button-heavy, so I don't really want to add a "+Temp HP" button, but if that's what it comes down to...

Right now I'm mulling around two different options. The first is modifying the HP column renderer to that when the player has any temp HPs it displays "X+Y/Z" instead of "X/Z". The second is just not addressing temp HPs at all. They're really something for the player to keep track of, not the DM.

*Shrug* Anyone want to chime in with their opinion?
How do you use the air version?

If you've got a high enough version of Flash installed I think the installer installs the AIR runtime automatically before installing the AIR app. Otherwise you can head to http://get.adobe.com/air/ in order to grab the runtime and then just run the inCombat.air file.
Looking at the app, it looks like the simplest way to handle TempHP (if you want to handle it) is just a button to set the temp HP. I've never programmed in this environment, but handling stacking is easy enough - you just take the larger of current or new temp HP (made even easier because, IIRC, there are no circumstances any more when Temp HP stack, since the Battlerager fighter got updated).

In any case, it is a player issue, so it's not that urgent - if the players are keeping track, they'll tell you what to change.

Now, one item I noticed: if you reduce a character to 0 HP, the condition it receives is "Bloodied." My suggestion would be that at 0HP, it reports the condition "Dying" / "Dead", based on whether it's a PC or NPC (or maybe just "Dying/Dead", and the players/gm can decide which is appropriate).
Now, one item I noticed: if you reduce a character to 0 HP, the condition it receives is "Bloodied." My suggestion would be that at 0HP, it reports the condition "Dying" / "Dead", based on whether it's a PC or NPC (or maybe just "Dying/Dead", and the players/gm can decide which is appropriate).

???

Dead characters are stricken out in the character list. NPCs die at 0 HP and PCs die at their negative bloodied value. The red "Bloodied" text in the character pane is technically correct since the character is technically bloodied AND dead, but I'll admit most of us usually don't think of it that way. If it's confusing to the user, then I'll change it though.
???

Dead characters are stricken out in the character list. NPCs die at 0 HP and PCs die at their negative bloodied value. The red "Bloodied" text in the character pane is technically correct since the character is technically bloodied AND dead, but I'll admit most of us usually don't think of it that way. If it's confusing to the user, then I'll change it though.

Wasn't saying you were wrong or anything, just something I noticed. As you say, it was stricken from the character list; and yes, you're technically bloodied (but you're also Dying, IIRC - that's a condition you get at 0HP if you're a PC).

Just a comment, though.
Wasn't saying you were wrong or anything, just something I noticed. As you say, it was stricken from the character list; and yes, you're technically bloodied (but you're also Dying, IIRC - that's a condition you get at 0HP if you're a PC).

Just a comment, though.

Re-reading your original comment, I get what you're saying now. You're suggesting the red text be changed. I was thinking you were saying there was no indication that the char is dead, so it confused me a little. Yours is a good suggestion though, I'm going to add that in.

It's funny though, I get the impression in this thread that people think I'm arguing with them. I hope I'm not giving off that vibe, I'm not really one of those "my way or the highway" guys.
I just downloaded the new AIR version of this. I did notice that the version is also verion .9 but it still allowed me to update over it

I'm assuming I'm using the new version since I noticed if I bring PC to zero hit points they are shown as dying.
Temp HPs don't work like that though. From the PHB, page 293:



Per the 1st and 2nd items, you don't just simply add the temp HPs to your current value. That's actually good, because otherwise it would mess with a *lot* of app behavior, but it raises the issue of how and where to display the temp HPs. Per the 4th item, you have to track both the current temp HP value and the amount that were initially added in order to prevent stacking. Lastly, what's the best UI to handle adding the temp HPs in the first place? The apps are already button-heavy, so I don't really want to add a "+Temp HP" button, but if that's what it comes down to...

Right now I'm mulling around two different options. The first is modifying the HP column renderer to that when the player has any temp HPs it displays "X+Y/Z" instead of "X/Z". The second is just not addressing temp HPs at all. They're really something for the player to keep track of, not the DM.

*Shrug* Anyone want to chime in with their opinion?

Actually I didn't contradict anything you said, so I have no clue why you even posted the list. The part about keeping the max temp hp value is not accurate. If you get 10 temp hp, and then get hit for 7 that puts your temp hp down to 3. Then you get another effect that has 5 temp hp. Guess what 5 is greater than 3 so you get 5 temp hp.

Taken in this light it is simple to implement using an extra box, and just have the amount taken from the box. Kind of like your hp box.
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Ended up having more free time that I thought I would today, so v.92 is available on the site. Sorry I forgot to flag the last update as v.91 before building the .air file, but this one is flagged correctly.

v.92 changes:
  • Added tracking of temporary HP, displayed in "X+Y/Z" format
  • Modified alert boxes shown when importing encounters and clearing any existing characters
  • Modified behavior and text of health condition shown in the character info pane
  • Modified restrictions on several text input boxes
Actually I didn't contradict anything you said, so I have no clue why you even posted the list.

Well, my point was supposed to be that the UI was the more troublesome part, but I guess I didn't make it that well. You're right that the actual tracking of temp HP is and always was going to be simple, in fact I gave it a count and it's 6 lines of code. Making a tool's UI look and behave like it wasn't written by an engineer is always the harder part for most coders. In Flex, where it handles a lot of UI stuff for you, the temp HP UI and it's behavior ended up being 24 lines. If this thing was written in some other languages I can guarantee that the UI would be 50-75 LOC. Thinking about it, I could have shoe-horned something in with as little as 4 UI lines, but it wouldn't have been something to be proud of.

Either way, it's done now, so yay.
Several Suggestions:

1) You really do not need to have the Name, Initiative and Hit Points displaying Twice. I would suggest that instead of having it seperatly showing only when selected, make each initiative line display all the information you need like so:

Init | Name | HP (including temp with a simple plus sign (ie. 22+3)) | AC | Fort | Ref | Will

The only think character stat wise you need to show in the character tab are their name (so you know who you selected) and the HP change/entry box.

2) The Effects info block is HUGE, a character is not going to have very many effects on him at one time, and even if he does, a little bit of scrolling doesn't cause any harm. Make that pane about a third of the current hight and about 80% of the current width. Also rename it Conditions, since that is what it is showing.

3) Move the selectable conditions and the Ongoing damage block above the new Conditions Info Block and you just saved yourself a wad of space.

4) Shorten the name box to approximately where the AC info box ends; that's plenty of space to ensure you have the right character selected.

5) Delete all buttons and info/entry boxes including the HP ones and except the name box and recreate as below (or just move/create them as explained):

Below the Name have 4 buttons: Hit (damage), Heal, Set (to easily update HP after a rest), Temp (to set temporary HP)
Below those 4 buttons have: An entry box and a "Set Init" Button.
(The entry box being tied to all 5 buttons listed above)

Below that have the remaining buttons in order downwards:

Promote
Demote
Delay Turn (which is what it's actually called and how it should work too)
Take Turn
Ready Action
Use Action

6) Create an Undo function.

7) Add the ability to Edit Character stats so you don't have to recreate them every time your characters level up or get a stat boosting item.

8) Instead of an arrow to indicate who's turn it currently is, have the line highlighted, (perhaps in green? since blue is 'currently selected') to once again save space.

Hmm, that's all I can think of for now.

Hope this helps at all, I use VCC (http://www.exnebula.org/en/vcc) at the moment, but it still doesn't quite do what I want it too. Yours has the potential to be more useful to me for various reasons.
I am the God of Dragons! Hail Wizards and it's mighty awesomeness for finally addressing some of the issues we had with the old forums and website! It's about damn time this place got an overhaul! Wahoo!
updated while posting hence some additional thoughts:

Temp should clear upon hitting STOP (since they do not stay after encounters)
A button to clear all Conditions would be nice.

Something I noticed:

Prone is locked in when unconcious, this is however not always the case. You can be unconcious and non-prone.

I'm sure I'll have more thoughts...
I am the God of Dragons! Hail Wizards and it's mighty awesomeness for finally addressing some of the issues we had with the old forums and website! It's about damn time this place got an overhaul! Wahoo!
Several Suggestions: ...

Great comments, thanks. I'll send you a PM with a detailed response on some of this since I don't want to flood the thread...
cool!

BTW, I just re-read my post and it strikes me as a little arrogant... this is not intended.. I wrote it at like 2am last night! haha!

They're all just suggestion, this is by all means your project after all!
I am the God of Dragons! Hail Wizards and it's mighty awesomeness for finally addressing some of the issues we had with the old forums and website! It's about damn time this place got an overhaul! Wahoo!
2 thoughts after using the Air version:

- Is there anyway to load multiple compendium entries at once? Right now it displays the last one loaded in all windows.

- Can you make it so I can edit characters after I've put them in?
- Is there anyway to load multiple compendium entries at once? Right now it displays the last one loaded in all windows.

It's supposed to work the way you want, so looks like it's bugged right now. I'll get it fixed.

- Can you make it so I can edit characters after I've put them in?

Hah. I just told Tiamat in a PM that if one more person asked then I'd add this in.
Is there a way that you can edit characters? :D

I was going to ask for that until I saw the other guy ask for it. Grant it I could go edit the character file but if there is a way to do it within the program even better.

Ok now for something that popped up on me. Perhaps this is just how it will work but let me explain what happened.

I was creating a example encounter and was making up damage, healing etc. but testing out the program by going through several rounds until said mob was dead.

I kept clicking on the mob in order to then add damage to him then clicking on the next button to go to the next party member. The program then moves to the next character correctly but in my hurry I accidently added damage to the player instead of the mob.

I'm not sure if I was using the program correctly or not.
It would be very nice if the program could get the stats from the character builder files as the iplay4e program.