Feature Request: Tokens with Art

I’ll quickly complement you on creating something that was greatly needed in the community.

In regards to tokens with art…that would be nice I guess, it runs similar in line with textures as stated. To me something like that is needed (both features) simply for clarifications sake. It doesn’t have to be tokens, but at least some way other than basic color to be more specific about map tokens and fill.

Maybe it’s just my players but I find I’m constantly reminding them what token is what. The work you have done with the auto sorting of labels is a great feature…but I still find labels constantly getting in the way and being in the wrong place during the tighter explorations and combat, so I feel that, while essential and helpful, I need a different tool in the tool box for our monkey brains to grok on.

In a similar vain the texture would be nice…if only to indicate some additional things like stairs. Or to differentiate between mud and a tree, grass and a tree…I might change my mind with a bit more play (on the texture subject).

I think “labels getting in the way” is a problem that can be addressed further. I’m very hesitant to add a second feature that is trying to do the exact same thing labelling is trying to do. My worry is in the vein of “why have two tools that work sorta poorly when you could have one that works really well.”

I have a plan to address these kinds of map features. I think my plans around “labeled areas” will be able to solve this. Though I’m not sure if I’ve made a forum post about this tentatively-planned feature yet, or if I’ve just talked about it on Discord.

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Valid point, I think that’s probably the proper line of thinking in this regard, if you already have some ideas down that line.

Maybe just basic letters with the option to identify people by name with the option to change the color of each letter, that would give plenty of options for characters to identify themselves without taking 10 hours to decide on a picture.

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It’s a tempting idea and one that’s come up before.

I think it would be less damaging in terms of “the painted duck effect”, but I’m not quite sure I understand the problems its trying to solve.

One person did mention awhile ago that they’d like to mark “special” tokens via a symbol on the token body itself. I’m not quite sure what the criteria for specialness is though (my guess is the big bad boss?).

I’ve also heard requests to use them to track status effects.

What problem are you hoping this would address?

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One thing I don’t see mentioned here and that seems to fit with Shmeppy’s design: Generic tokens. There was a recent Reddit Post with 4 tokens in different variants that was intended to cover all possible use cases (look for the reply by the original poster with the details of the icon language used).

There is also Sly Flourish’ generic monster tokens PDF which I feel look a bit better but aren’t as comprehensive as the language in the previous post.

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In in-person play I have multiple sets of d6s. Then if there are like 3 goblins, i’ll use the red d6s and turn them so they are numbered, 1, 2, and 3. Then the towns people may be the green d6s. Players have to protect them. This helps people identify who theyre attacking/protecting. Also it lets me indicate which baddies/goodies are taking action.

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When I try and figure out whether to implement a particular feature. I tend to focus on the problem being addressed rather than the specifics of the feature itself.

For this feature, one problem that (some version of) this feature could attack is “I want a more immersive experience.” I talk to that in my first post in this thread and it’s generally a problem I’m willing to let lie and not attack directly.

So my question for those of you who are interested in this feature (or some variant of it): what problem are you trying to solve?

Disclaimer: I have not actually used Shmeppy in a game yet (I discovered it yesterday). So this is based on theory, but in my professional life I design visualizations, so I’m familiar with the problem space.

Problem that I would want this to solve: Rapid ingestion of map state.

I expect the current colored markers + labels to be slightly slow to interpret, and thus be a distraction during play. It is possible that people will so fully learn the colors that it won’t work that way - but my gut instinct says that a set of icons will be quicker/more intuitive to interpret than a set of colored circles. Colored circles also have clear problems for color-blind people.

While I’m not necessarily interested in art (I fully agree with the minimalistic design principal), there is some difficulty surrounding the cluttering of text tags on tokens in tight situations. If you have a group of player characters with their named tokens, or a tight cluster of enemies, it results in a bit of visual clutter. I think one solution that doesn’t compromise the design (In my eyes, solely as a user) would be the ability to number tokens.

I’ve provided a map below and snipped out a section of it for a mock of this concept. In our game, we abbreviate the names of mooks/enemies, and use full names for specific players/NPCs. In this example, M would stand for Monk, G for guard, and there is a named NPC with them at the table.

This isn’t a direct feature request or anything, but I am curious about your stance on the concept of numbered tokens.

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I’ve thought about making it so that when a token label could fit within a token, it renders on top of it like this. I think the interface would be a little weird, especially while editing the label, but it could help the label clutter for a decently common situation.

I haven’t given dev time to improving the label clutter in awhile, and this is just one possible solution to that problem, so I’m not sure whether it’s the best one/a good one to do.

In theory, it seems reasonable though. And is certainly a solution I plan to explore a bit when I turn my gaze to token labels again.

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My personal take on this discussion is that adding image imports is unnecessary, but adding some form of on-the-token identification could be extremely useful. I’ve run three sessions so far in Shmeppy, and their only complaint about tokens was “Why do we need to have our character name on them when we could just have a symbol?”. They don’t want to have to read their name to figure out which is theirs, and they are notoriously bad at remembering their assigned colour. I think a small library of basic shapes and symbols could help with the clutter of names and this problem. Nothing too complex, maybe an X, a crescent shape, a star, or other simplistic symbols that wouldn’t wreck the look of the tool. I would argue that this goes right to the core of basic “this is a whiteboard that i slapped onto my kitchen table” gameplay: we never used words, we used buttons, dice, pencil sharpeners or in one memorable game, a blueberry. There may be some drawbacks to ease of use with this, but I feel as if it follows the original guidelines of Shmeppy.

The absence of art is a crucial attraction of Shmeppy. Many VTTs allow for (require) detailed artistic work to craft basic maps. The maps usually require the import gorgeous full-colour artwork. The endpoint of this is an expensive, time-consuming map that can divert us from our imagination. Words + Shmeppy allow for a balance between creativity and game organization. Being image and rule agnostic will enable us to use our imaginations and not pocketbooks to build stories. Eventually, each group will develop its own image language.

Shmeppy is the art.

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I’m personally opposed to uploading token art for the same reasons John noted. My thoughts are that the only level of token differentiation I’d want is:

  • Color
  • Shape (circle, square, triangles of different orientations, pawn silhouette, and star perhaps)
  • A single letter/number printed on it, maybe two.

This would let me be able to tell my players that the White Pawns are all skeletons, then label them 1, 2, 3, 4 so it’s clear which one has been hurt for both my tracking and my players’ understanding of what’s been hurt. That’d be suuuuuper useful.

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The main problem I see with tokens numbered in that way is that at the scale most people are looking at their maps, this makes numbers harder to read, especially when you’re getting into double digits.

As for creating this, the shift-drag gesture isn’t used for tokens yet (just alt-shift-drag to delete them). So you could drag a rectangle that then gets filled with numbered tokens.
And if we want to avoid the in-token numbering, maybe after the end of the drag the final token has the name text field token active, which when confirmed applies this name plus a subsequent number to all the tokens. So shift+drag 3 x 3 rectangle -> 9 tokens appear, last has a text box -> enter “skeleton” -> labels “skeleton 1” to “skeleton 9” get applied.

Forgetting which color is theirs seems just as likely as forgetting which shape is theirs, and you could always use Emoji/any other unicode character in the label if you really wanted to avoid text.

Screen Shot 2020-08-17 at 1.55.32 PM

Making it easier to remember which token is which is a reason to add more differentiators to tokens, but it doesn’t seem like the problem would be improved all-that-substantially by adding shapes.

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Variety in token shapes and having the ability to put a letter/number or two inside the token would be perfect for me as well, to make it easier to distinguish groups (usually players from monsters) and to identify individuals within groups. I dislike the labels because of the visual clutter they create. This would mirror the way we do it in meatspace, where we typically put dice and basic meeples or pawns on a battle mat.

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I like the idea of being able to get a label inside a token somehow. I think that would neatly solve a number of open thoughts about how to further differentiate tokens to show different things. Simple, but having a letter or unicode emoji inside rather than as a “speech bubble” as it is currently could really open up a lot of opportunities.

Good point regarding ‘visual clutter’, cutting down flow of information to avoid overload is important. ‘Simpler’ levels of information (shape, colour, even emoji to some extent) is to prefer above more complex info like text. Now both these levels could be combined selectively, shapes/colours/simple symbol can be combined with text (like names etc), let tool-tips or similar appear upon hoovering of mouse pointer. Food for thought.