Principia Discordia > RPG Ghetto

Extracting Semantic Data from Classic Modules

(1/2) > >>

I have been learning to use a very cool tool recently:

V.U.E - Visual Understanding Environment [ ]

An open source "Concept Mapping" application that allows you to visually map data. Mostly by hand, as other 'mind mapping' software does, but VUE has some really cool automated tools for importing and extracting data. So, what good is this?

Well, here are the last 10 entries from Justin Alexander's blog (the Alexandrian's RSS feed, to be precise).

I've dropped all 10 "post" nodes onto the map, then the "hexcrawl" category node. Links are formed due to the meta-data. You can even double-click each node to open that post in your browser window.

[ Then I got fancy and called AlchemyAPI and OpenClais on one post, some web2.0 services, to generate new metadata nodes based on the content of the post! As you can see by the nodes with red outlines, this isn't an exact proccess... it seems they tagged 'Hex' as from the Discworld series.. lol.. Anyway, this step isn't applicable to the use-case I'm leading up to. I just wanted a more complex map to show the relationship features possible with visual relationship mapping. ]

So, what then can we really do with this tool?

Well, obviously we can plot "relationship maps" quickly and easily, with nodes for characters and links for one or two-way relationships.

Even better, once we have laid down nodes and links, then given them labels and keyword-metadata (examples: "NPC", "Treasure", etc), we can use the map-search feature to find unique entities quickly or to extract entities onto a new map (say we need all the NPC's from a certain location, simply search your master NPC database-map for that location tag and generate a new map with all the NPCs tagged with that location name).

Even better (did I say that already?) we can add nodes to other nodes in a nested child/parent relationship, and nodes can take a URI/URL reference. This last features means we can link to any file on our computer OR on the web. The child/parent relationship nesting means we can have multiple resources within a parent node to describe different aspects of it (nodes should be "one cocept" per the VUE specs). A simple doubleclick will then open, say.... the NPC's character sheet (once you've made it, save it, and linked it, of course), or a portrait or token image from your computer or the web (with the ability to preview images in the map itself). Or a PDF file. Or an online Wiki entry...

Have I blown your mind a little yet? (Good, Eris hands out gold stars for that... -><-)

How about this: VUE is FREE AND OPEN SOURCE.

Another one? Ok, so I had to introduce you to the tool for you to understand the next part. This is my main use case, currently:

VUE can import spreadsheet data as CSV files (comma-separated-value text files). So, I am current crawling through Hommlet [T1-4] and jotting down every single NPC listed into a GoogleDocs spreadsheet according to the following Keywords. Who says Hommlet has to be boring? It's just the info-overload that kills it. There's a lot of intrigue and skulduggery in Hommlet, all buried in the Map Key... so we need some way of extracting that semantic data (meaning) behind the repetitious Key.

I've listed these Keywords at the top of my spreadsheet, VUE takes the first row as the meta-data categories for each "row-object" which defines an NPC:

Name: [for unnamed characters use Title(key##), examples: Farmer(01), Farmer's Son A(01), Farmer's Son B(01), etc... this will be our Master Key so they have to be unique]
Location: Hommlet [T1-4]
[Key]: [Location key [##] with leading zero, for sublocations use [##] ## format]
Class:  [examples: commoner, Fighter, etc]
[Hit Die]: [examples: ~[0], [2], etc]
Gear: [the npc's equipment]
Loot: [the NPC's carried valuables... NOT the location valuables]
Militia: [militia = a member of hommlet's militia, civilian = not, other = other]
Faction: [so far I have: Old Faith, New Faith, Rufus & Burne, Lareth's Camp, The Temple, Adventurers, Random Encounters ...not all may apply to hommlet]

Once I have this entered into my spreadsheet, I can drop a pic of the Hommlet map into a background layer in VUE and start laying out the NPCs. I can either auto-cluster them by Faction (If I define that relationship as the Key), or by Map Key## (ditto). I can then make a spreadsheet for the location information, import that and drop those nodes (using a different color scheme). Then, I can associate the two datasets, and auto-link NPCs to their locations.

So, is this something that you all would be interesting in seeing in action? Also, what would be some good Column Headers for my NPC roster?
Have I missed any key 0/1e "metadata" which all NPCs usually have? (Besides the 6 stats..I'm not including stats at the moment.)

Example: If I use an "Image" column, and populate it with URI/URLs from the web or my computer (and set the 'image-key' to that field when I import the dataset), VUE will then grab those images automatically! So, I've been considering that on a second pass at the NPCs. I know there are pics of Rufus and Burne floating around out there....

This is a Work-In-Progress, but I've got a "first pass" done. No color coding (yet), but I have bolded the names of the militia members, and hidden young children under their mothers node (to save space).

I really like what I'm getting so far. Here's a WIP image (note that I have Elmo selected, and his metadata is in the Info window):

Hope this was useful, stay tuned to see my results. :cool:


--- Quote from: 'T1-4 Hommlet - 15. The Moneychanger' ---[After specifying about 20-25K in raw coinage, jewels, and bar-metal stock.]

Be sure to keep track of all transactions made. The stock in trade must be correct, for example gems cannot be obtained when Nira has exhausted his supply. He can purchase more from merchants, at market value, every 7-12 days.
--- End quote ---

Ok, ok.

So I'm running T1-4 and at the same time converting it to Earthdawn 3rd Edition on-the-fly, which means translating D&D terms into Earthdawn terms (where all high level characters channel magic to walk their path). My rough scale right now is every 2 D&D 'levels' = +1 Earthdawn 'Circle' for an Adept (similar scale with HD and monsters). Also, I did a simple down-shift on the currency denominations to align with the Earthdawn 'silver' standard (gp becomes sp, etc..).

I ran the first few sessions on 3x5 Notecards and graph paper and dice (and a few map images for the players). Multiple delves into the Moathouse so far, and Lareth's pissed.

I have info overload, man.

And here Gary or Dave is telling me to track each individual cash-in at the moneychanger! (That fits well with the Treasure in GP -> XP idea, really...) And they had multiple adventuring parties crawling around, right?! Man, I'd need to invent my own card catalog system.

So, I finished my first crawl though of the Hommlet map key. I've plucked out the details of 210 individual NPCs! (Wow Gary...) Plus the transient Hommlet population (+1d12 "laboror camp followers" i.e. women and children, and 1d6+1 travellers and merchants at the Inn of the Welcome Wench).

Hammlets total population (before the PCs show up and start upsetting the delicate balance) is roughly 213-229 individuals.

Cool! I'm going to start laying this map out and will have access to over 200 npcs' basic stats and notes on "one page", which I can modify on the fly during game.


This project is coming along quite well, and I want to share the full map/*VUE-Package file when I have it all setup. Here's the thing with that....

As an artist (& a professional), I don't want to distribute the stock Hommlet map (which I have been using for layout and design work with the NPC and location nodes). Sure you can find it in 30 milliseconds on google, but the map from the book is some-one else's art (and unlike the Welcome Wench maps I'm using, they aren't licensed to distribute).

No problem. I'm a CG and 3d game artist. Took me a few days, but I've worked up a replacement Hommlet map of my own style.

You like?

I should have work on the Node layout done later today.

Placid Dingo:
This is so new to me that it's a bit of an overload approaching midnight. But it looks cool, and I'll have to try to look properly when I'm awake.

That's cool. I'm experimenting.

So that took longer than I expected. I had to figure out how to deliver the full resolution maps... I am considering releasing the VUE maps (with the meta-data) and the google Spreadsheet I used to create them. Still working on that part, considering sublocation maps (and considering mapping the dungeoon/Moathouse).

See my Google+ post (public post) if you can't see the preview images.

Background map of Hommlet 2048x2048 (save to disk and unzip):

NPCs by Location map full resolution PDF (best viewed @ 300%):
NPCs by Location map (preview):

NPCs by Faction map full:
NPCs by Faction map (preview):


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version