View Full Version : Alternate backgrounds...

November 11th, 2005, 10:35
After playing with the default wooden background for a while, I decided that the background would be a good thing to use to set the mood I wanted for a particular session.

An example of this over here (http://www.angelfire.com/falcon/discontinuii/FG/index2.html).

I had typed out a rather large post to explain the process of doing this, but fickle m$ XP decided to hiccup, and I lost it. As I'm still a little irate over it, I'm not in the mood to type it again tonight, but I will sometime soon (probably tomorrow) if there is anyone who is interested. If you can't wait for me to check the forums to post, shoot me an email at heliopolix AT gmail DOT com



November 11th, 2005, 11:07
Ohhh, nice. I'd be interested on doing this.

I don't suppost you can change it on the fly?


Prince Bertram
November 11th, 2005, 14:29
I decided that the background would be a good thing to use to set the mood I wanted for a particular session.

I don't suppost you can change it on the fly?
Neat idea heliopolix - after looking at your example and thinking about richvalle’s comment - perhaps this could be integrated as a feature similar to (or as part of) the “Lighting” effects feature? Perhaps call it "Environment" instead of Lighting?

Similar to using background music or sound effects – another thing I hope FG will support some day :wink: – letting the GM change the background to an appropriate image could really help the mood – as that nifty desert image background clearly demonstrates!

Possible other examples:

• Leaves and trees when in the forest or jungle
• Seascapes when along the shore or at sea
• Village buildings and scenes setting the backdrop when in town
• Dark and foreboding blocks of stones when in a dungeon or stalactites and stalagmites when in a cave

I say, let’s make this an official “feature request" 8)

-Prince Bertram

November 11th, 2005, 18:39
I agree. Only problem I see is that the image files could be very large, so do we preload these? Or the system loads all of them in the background?

Does a change on the DMs side reflect on the players side (or do you have to manually change it on each local system)?

November 11th, 2005, 19:24
Load them on login like you do the rulesets/shared tokens.

The background changes on all the players systems when the dm changes his.

One problem... not everyone's sytems will be at the same resolution.


November 11th, 2005, 20:16
One problem... not everyone's sytems will be at the same resolution.

The application must already have something to dynamically resize images (GD/Imagemagick?). Maybe the same could be used for these images?

November 11th, 2005, 21:43
OK... heres the low-down on how this is done.

The background is changed on the GM's Server, and is distributed down to the players when they connect. It is important to note that this change is one made to the ruleset, not the campaign. I'll start with identifying the files and commands that set up the default wooden background. In the \FG\data\textures folder, there is a file named wood1.png. This is the default background. It is loaded by the base.xml file in your \FG\rulesets\YourRuleset\ folder when FG starts up. The specific line in base.xml that accomplishes this is <desktopimage file="data\textures\wood1.png" />. Since this is loaded as FG starts, it is unfortunately not changeable on the fly, athought perhaps this is something that the dev's can implement in the future. Now, on to an explanation of how to customise it for your game.

First, select an image. Google Images (http://www.google.com/imghp?hl=en&tab=wi&q=) is what I use to find lots of fantasy-based pictures. When selecting an image, it helps to know how FG will display it. FG runs natively at 1024x768, so any image needs to be at least that big, otherwise, funky things happen (more on that later). If you or some of your players run FG in Full Screen Mode at higher resolutions, ie 1280x1024 or 1600x1200, you will need larger images to work properly, or same funkyness. You can choose an image that is smaller than the needed resolution, and scale it up so that it is big enough, but the more you scale it up, the worse it will look, so I generally wont use a base image smaller than 800x600. Ok, so you have a nifty pic you want to use, but it isnt big enough, well not to worry, on to step 2....

Second, you will need to edit your pic so that it fits nicely in FG. You can use any of the numerous photo-manipulation programs out there, <ShamelessPlug>I personally use The Gimp (http://www.gimp.org/). Its pretty robust, has a great community to help you learn it, and, best of all, its free as in beer.</ShamelessPlug> Anyways, one you have the image opened in Gimp, use the Image > Scale Image option to size the pic to the right size. You will need to click on the 'chain' locking the Heigh and Width boxes to adjust them separately, then hit the Scale Image button to finish the change. Of note - FG has that row of hotkeys along the bottom that take up approx 33 pixels, so you can actually scale your image to be shorter, ie 1024x735. I personally run in 1280x1024, so all of my images are scaled up to 1280x991. Then save your image. FG's default background is in PNG format, but JPG works just as well. I haven't tried using BMP, but you probably don't want to use that anyway - huge file size at the resolutions we're using. Note: If you do scale your image larger than the FG window, ie using 1600x1200 when only running in 1024x768, it's not a big deal. FG will just use the appropriate amount of picture, starting from the top left. The only sitation where this might be a problem is if there is something that you want seen that is on the bottom or far right of the picture that isn't being shown. In that case, just size the image down correctly so that it does appear. Okay, now you have an editied image, time to put it to work.

Third, you need to put the image somewhere where FG can locate it. The \FG\data\textures folder is the default location, although that is arbitrary, because you can point to any location on your hard drive. I use it just to keep things uncluttered. Note: If you are going to be giving your ruleset to others, and want a custom background, it might be a good idea to make a 'background' folder in the ruleset folder and place it there, just to make it easier for them to install. This is only if you are actually giving them the ruleset - FG handles everything automatically between client-server. Once you have the image placed, go to the \FG\rulesets folder, open up the ruleset for the campaign you want to change, and open up the base.xml file with notepad, or some other editor. change the line <desktopimage file="data\textures\wood1.png" /> to the name of your file. If you didn't place it in the \FG\data\textures folder, then you will need to change that as well. And that's all there is too it. You can now open FG and check out your new background.

Now, onto that 'funky' stuff I mentioned earlier. If your image is too small, FG will not stretch it out so it fits. Instead, it will just tile it, repeating to the right and down as many times as neccessary to fill the screen. I'm sure someone noticed that wood1.png is a lot smaller than even 1025x768. well, it is, but FG tiles it across your background, and no-one is the wiser. This works fine and all with wood1, but just try it with a landscape, for example. Rather than having a nice landscape that spans the background, you get it tiled across the screen, like some tourist's scrapbook. Unless that's the mood you're going for, you'll need to manipulate the pic so that it does tile nicely. There is a link here (http://www.angelfire.com/falcon/discontinuii/FG/index3.html) of two images, the base one, and an editied one. You can try them both in FG, but you notice that the base one has visible lines where the tiling occurs, and the seamless one blends much better. How to do it? Simply open the pic with The Gimp, and use Filter > Map > Make Seamless to do it. I have had success doing this with wood, rocks, dirt, grass, etc, but it looks kinda silly to do it to a landscape. I did once use a landscape, though I used it to show what the characters were seeing before the went through the "mysterious portal". Again, this is where your creative imagination as a GM comes into play.

Now, since most of the images that I have used come from Google Images, and aren't my own artwork, I won't be posting the modified versions I've made here, although if you just can't get the hang of it, I'd be glad to help you directy, so just send me a PM or an email, and I'll see what I can do. Perhaps some of our more artistically-inclined members can make some images we can share here.

I hope this tutorial was helpful, and I look forward to seeing what else the community comes up with.


November 12th, 2005, 00:44
Thx alot Heliopolix, I have been on the lookout for that since the beginning.

November 12th, 2005, 05:52
I think it would be really nice to have the desktop reflect the ruleset.

D20 normal might stay the wood one we're used to.

D20 modern might be updated

Other rule sets would have the option of custom backgrounds. Cthulu might be green and vaguely scary etc.....

It would have a function for me if I could visually associate memories of maps etc... from the game with a theme used by the DM.


The Velvet Souljah
February 9th, 2006, 18:17
Thanks for this. I know this is an old thread but I couldn't figure out how to do this and your instructions worked for me right away. Thanks!