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AstroSynthesis v2.0 (UPGRADE)
by Douglas B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/21/2006 00:00:00
NBOS has taken a good product and made it even better.
The capacities of the software have grown over time and in response to comments made by gamers like myself.

The improvements to Fractal World Explorer as also of great worth.
The adding of the atmosphere function is artistically cool and useful for gaming ambiance.


LIKED: You can input more astronomical data for your stars now.
Before, with the prior version, I was left with no place to input data I had computed for my star systems and worlds which would make them more like real stars and planets.

DISLIKED: There is a major NEED for a manual for this and also Fractal Mapper.
Something like ProFantasy's Tome of Ultimate Mapping is desperately needed.
It needs to be a book that one can choose to buy either/both an eBook version of or/and a hard copy.
Explanations of capacities of this and other NBOS software either in the NBOS forums or via e-Mail are well-intentioned, but not always intelliable and/or of use.

A feeling that there is just more that can be done with this software is my second and last complaint.
I just cannot get the words out coherantly to explain this feeling other than I am looking forward to where NBOS takes v.3 in a few years.

Here is a suggestion more than a complaint:
contact WizKids and get the rights to make a BattleTech Universe data file.
That would radically improve the usefulness of this software for me and probably many other BattleTech Universe enthusiasts.
Other companies, that are doing things like unto this, are letting the tail wag the dog and are getting no where fast.
This software would be the best platform out there to work such a BattleTech Universe data file on.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
AstroSynthesis v2.0 (UPGRADE)
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Fractal Mapper 7.0
by Gary L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/26/2006 00:00:00
This program suited my needs and is not to difficult to use. It is worth what I paid for it.


LIKED: the ability to measure distances and to create your own symbols

DISLIKED: no scale measure for items placed. Difficult to align items

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fractal Mapper 7.0
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Symbol Pack 1: Campaign World (for Fractal Mapper)
by Gary L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/26/2006 00:00:00
I was disappointed in the selection of symbols as well as the lack of variety of the symbols


LIKED: the differant catagories of symbols

DISLIKED: the lack of variance in the symbols

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Symbol Pack 1: Campaign World (for Fractal Mapper)
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ScreenMonkey v1.5
by Russell C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/19/2006 00:00:00
ScreenMonkey is a piece of software designed to allow you to use traditional pen and paper RPGs online. There are a number of these packages about, some free and some commercial. ScreenMonkey is not tied to any particular system and you can (in theory at least) potentially use it with any RPG system.

ScreenMonkey has two main advantages over the competition. It?s 'keep it simple' approach and the fact that only the GM needs the software installed - players simply use their favourite web browser to connect to the game. This is a brilliant idea that really distinguishes it from the rest of the field and this feature, together with its general ease of setup and use are its main selling points, however...

The downside of this simple approach is that the package seriously lacks some features; especially for a piece of software that costs over $30. In fact it is also lacking some very basic utility and in places is 'clunky' enough to be a real headache for the GM - not unworkable or 'buggy', just clunky and clumsy in the way it does certain things. Some critical features (like stats) can't be modified despite it's claim to be extendable and to be honest it feels a little ?pre-alpha? in places.

There also doesn't seem to be a lot of development by nbos at the moment - although this may change now that FM 7.0 and AS 2.0 are finished. This is a real shame because at its core this is a wonderful piece of 'kit'. There is a small but dedicated band of users out there pretty much single handedly dragging this piece of software into the realms of true usability, but when a company doesn't seem to want to support or promote their own product you have to wonder...

You can certainly modify this package yourself to meet you own needs, but to do this you will need a good knowledge of VBScript and HTML. The online documentation is a little sparse though it does its job, but the more technical material assumes you have a good working knowledge of the above two disciplines - there is no beginners guide to modifying ScreenMonkey provided.

Ultimately I would suggest that you try the free 'lite' version before you buy. If it works for your specific needs then the full version is definitely worth getting. If not then don't expect much more in the way of features or utility from the commercial version of ScreenMonkey 1.5 - unless you have a good knowledge of VBScript and HTML.

With a little love and attention this can become a 'stonking' piece of software. Save your money and wait for version 2 (or 3) - I don't know if there will be a version 2 or 3, but if there is you may have a piece of software that both lives up to its true potential (and its price tag). I wouldn't want to see this become bloated or over developed, I like its K.I.S.S., cut-down approach, but it does need to be easier and better organised for GMs to use and modify.




LIKED: Simple to use, easy to set up and if your needs are modest should work brilliantly, especially if your VB and HTML is good.

DISLIKED: Undernourished, a little clunky and a bit pricey for something that is generally lacking some very basic features.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Disappointed


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ScreenMonkey v1.5
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AstroSynthesis v2.0
by nadin b. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2006 00:00:00
This is a great program. In fact it is used in game design for Future Nexus, for this is THE tool used to design systems that will work in the game setting. Hard Sci Fi requires this. Moreover, it will be used to develop worlds for short fiction as well that has nothing to do with Role Playing Games

Nadin Abbott
President Deist Games
www.deistgames.com


LIKED: Ease of use

DISLIKED: Custom colors would be nice but that is just bells and whistles

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
AstroSynthesis v2.0
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Fractal Mapper 7.0
by Mark H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/21/2006 00:00:00
First off, let me say that I picked up FM expecting a fairly simple alternative to the larger competition from Profantasy-- which I've used before and liked, but would require me to buy a lot of expansion sets to be able to create everything I required as a GM-- and in this single package, I was pleasantly surprised by Fractal Mapper's power, customizability and ease of use.

Fractal Mapper is a very easy product to learn. Without even accessing the help or reading through, you can create a viable, realistic landmass in a single button click, and with a very simple readthrough of the tutorials you can make a variety of map types, including caverns, cities and dungeons. FM now utilizes JPG, BMP and PNG import and export, so you can bring in a scanned drawing as a background and draw over it to make a functional FM map. It has all the essential industry standards of mapping software for Windows, including the ability to use installed True Type fonts (rather than a selection of packaged postscripts or the like), a huge amount of layers to separate, freeze and hide-- useful for GM or other information you don't want displayed on an exported map, rotation and scaling of essentially anything you put on the map, and other fairly standard vector drawing tools. Mapping icons require pre-loading into a 15-slot area on the left-hand side for easiest access, which can be a little of a pain if you're doing an overland map where you know you'll be using a variety of different icons... but that's a small and not even really noticeable problem and doesn't largely interrupt your workflow.

FM has three areas I can see where it really shines. The first is its namesake. Creating fractal coastlines, roads, or land masses (especially useful for islands) is a simple process, and the fractal factor allows you to tell the program how much randomness you'd like in almost any object you place, even after you've placed it. The second is FM's scripting support. NBOS has included a scripting language that can allow you to customize FM's abilities to simplify what would ordinarily be tedious workloads on a large map. The best examples of such are in their expansion set for FM, which includes things like building and forest fills. Although I'm by no means a scripter, I can see the usefulness and power available in including a scripting language. I'd highly suggest picking up the Campaign Expansion for Fractal Mapper at the same time, however, since it gives FM some extra scripts and icons that I've found to be indispensible.

The third area is the Scenario Builder that is packaged up in the FM program. BY right clicking on any icon, text, or shape you place, you can include information on it. In the case of cities for overland maps, FM has a city custom tool that automatically (using the scripting language) includes basic random information that you can modify, including town rulers, city rumors, adventure hooks and the like. The help files also give suggestions on how to modify the scripts to include your own information quickly and easily. The end result is that once you've put all your information together, the Scenario Builder will compile all the information for your map in a simple, easy to read and illustrated HTML file, which can have all the information detailed, or just what you want to show your players. This is what really sold me on the product. It turned the drudgery of opening up Word and cross-checking back and forth to detail my dungeon into a simple case of packaging everything up with my map.



LIKED: The ease of use, first and foremost. FM didn't require a huge learning curve for me to be able to be creative, and while I still have to think some things out ("let's see, do I need to put this on the population layer or the cities layer if I'm going to want to see it with the player's map?") I can put the focus back where it belongs... on my campaign, not on the degree in science I'd need to create maps for my players. Most people with mapping experience will probably learn the basics of FM with one walkthrough of the included tutorial PDF.

The help system (from what I gathered, this was a problem in earlier builds of the program) is fairly complete this time around. Most often, I've found what help I've needed quickly and easily, without the need for checking around the web for 3rd party support.

The Scenario Builder and Scripting make Fractal Mapper a lot more useful and customizable than most mapping programs I've used. NBOS also packages up links to their home site, where you can upload and download maps other FM creators have made, and see how they've done things.


DISLIKED: The lack of expansion products is a pretty serious drawback, in my opinion. You CAN make your own symbols, save them and use them in future maps, and if you're technically inclined, you can almost certainly create your own scripts. But the one thing that makes FM lacking at the moment is the fact that there are very few expansion symbol sets in native Fractal Mapper format, nor are there any current packages of scripts besides what is available in the Campaign Expansion set. That particular one that NBOS software puts out fills a huge gap, but prospective buyers should know right off they may need to learn to create/import to have a huge selection of mapping icons.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fractal Mapper 7.0
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Fractal Mapper 7.0
by Clay M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/07/2006 00:00:00
It's awesome! The worlds you can create are unbelievable! And (in the bitmap format) you can download maps you've created with other mapping programs! A dream come true! And you can view your maps as a globe. Ten out of ten for this product!


LIKED: Everything!

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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AstroSynthesis v2.0 (UPGRADE)
by David W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/29/2006 00:00:00
OK, I'm happy to clear my previous comments. NBOS fixed the problem and e-mailed the link to the new .exe so now my former files load well.

It's good to see them take their customers seriously and fix it like this. I'm finding the new features to work quite well





LIKED: I like the new options for visuals and extra data for realism

DISLIKED: One minor quibble... the surface maps don't transfer over from 1.1... you need to manually "browse" and find them. But for me this is nothing serious

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied

[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
AstroSynthesis v2.0 (UPGRADE)
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AstroSynthesis v2.0 (UPGRADE)
by Aaron W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/29/2006 00:00:00
I purchased Astrosynthesis 1.0 for my son's Battlefleet Gothic/War Hammer 40K campaign we are creating. I wanted an accurate, realistic, SIMPLE interface that wouldn't have my Astrophysics professor shaking his head in disgust. I had numerous problems that I wanted to have fixed such as off-axis planets and moons with retrograde orbits. I was in the process of writing a program that would add all of this info I wanted into the notes section of each object (think thousands of objects and add different things based on the object type). Fleets and ships weren't even thought of. So for a "Realtime" battlemap it wasn't very flexible. In spite of all those problems, it was and is still THE BEST software package on the market period.
NBOS listened to some of my requests though. They fixed these problems and added flags (Picture the US flag over a system) to identify what systems belonged to what politcal group. They made the system diagrams realistic with eccentric orbits AND an animation feature so you can watch the planets zoom around the star. Open up some of their sample maps to see what I mean. They even improved the samples by adding all of the planets to the Sol system INCLUDING the ISS and the moon as well as the newly discovered planetiods Xena and two others!
They also made things customizable and extensible so I can add fields for multiple weapon systems (which I will need to do) and they allow you to decide what fields are available and their acceptable data types to associate with each one. In short, I don't think I will need to write that program any more. As stated by the previous post, you need to download a new executable. I couldn't open anything and crashed with an out of memory error. After the switch, everything worked and I imported my old V1 sector file.
If this is what they can do in a year, I can't wait for version 3!






LIKED: They made a lot of changes I asked for and they made a lot of changes I didn't ask for, but REALLY like (the flag idea is awesome!) As a fellow programmer, I am very impressed by what they have been able to accomplish in such a short time.

DISLIKED: This software doesn't work straight out of the box (download). Go to here to get the correct executable: http://www.nbos.com/support/support.htm
I haven't had any other problems and I haven't found anything I don't like so far.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied

[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Fractal Mapper 7.0
by Charles B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/08/2006 00:00:00
Fractal mapper 7.0 is a good solid mapping program. While I would actually like to see a mapping program that is more like the mapper in the Warcraft 2 campaign editor (but able to make maps on a larger scale) Fractal Mapper is quite good.


LIKED: I liked the fractalization, it made it easier to make coast lines look natural.

DISLIKED: The map symbols included with Fractal mapper are lacking somewhat, CC2 symbols blow Fractal mapper symbols out of the water. Shoot for the quality of symbols that CC2 has and Fractal Mapper may actually be a much more user friendly and likeable mapper.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fractal Mapper 7.0
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Fractal Mapper 7.0
by rik h. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/06/2006 00:00:00
Good product, basically much cheaper and simpler version of campaign cartographer and fractal terrain.If you wanted more for your world look at terragen, or world builder, or for the ultimate.... mojoworld .org, bloody dear though!

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Fractal Mapper 7.0
by William S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/27/2005 00:00:00
This is a lighter product than Campaign Cartographer, and easy to learn & use. I use this, CC-Pro & Dunjinni. I like the value of this product, and hope they come out with more art packs. This can make nice modern/sci-fi maps too.


LIKED: Ease of use & price.

DISLIKED: Want more art for modern urban settings.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Symbol Pack 1: Campaign World (for Fractal Mapper)
by William S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/27/2005 00:00:00
Nice art for making pretty maps. This allows you make some very nice "campaign level" maps with a great ease.



LIKED: The trees & buildings look cool.

DISLIKED: Not enough fantasy buildings for varied "evil" or "ruined" sites.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Symbol Pack 1: Campaign World (for Fractal Mapper)
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Fractal Mapper 7.0
by Game M. B. G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/16/2005 00:00:00
Fractal Mapper 7 is a good mapper for games. It has plenty of features and was (when I purchased it) more than $10 less than Campaign Cartographer. I use both programs and I can say without hesitation that either one will get the job done as a gaming mapper. Although the interface for Fractal Mapper can be a bit clicky, the features over shadow any interface short comings. The program is solid and well worth the $25.20 I paid. The discount was a big reason I purchased. I will NOT pay package price for a download. No matter what the sellers say it IS cheaper for them to sell downloads and they should pass on the savings.


LIKED: The features delivered what I needed. I was creating in no time. I used the well written help file when I got stuck. Buy with confidence(if it was bad I would say). Fractal Mapper 7 is a good mapping tool for gaming.

DISLIKED: Nothing really. The interface needs some hot keys and context menus. This product is pretty solid.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fractal Mapper 7.0
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ScreenMonkey v1.5
by Game M. B. G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/16/2005 00:00:00
Screen Monkey delivers. It's simple to use and the only person who needs the software is the host of the game. Players can use any browser. Some features require IE and I use IE, but it is NOT needed to make this program work. I like it. I use it. I recommend it if you want to have a map, players and chat in an online game.

Yes it IS usable with a two monitor set. If you want to use the GM screen feature to send a different view to the players at a table top game, make sure that your setup has the capability to send a DIFFERENT view than what YOU see to the second monitor. This is especially important to check if you are using a laptop. Many laptops have what is called CLONED output which means the second (external) monitor is a clone (the same view) of the laptop screen.





QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Satisfied

[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ScreenMonkey v1.5
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