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e-book readers - the Future of roleplaying?
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Red_Rob
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Joined: 17 Jul 2009
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:51 pm    Post subject: e-book readers - the Future of roleplaying? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Given that roleplaying games rely heavily on large numbers of cumbersome books, how will e-book readers affect the hobby? I've read several posts recently mentioning how one of the arguments against sourcebooks is that people are already carrying around a metric tonne of core books. At some point its just not feasible to carry any more dead tree to games with you.

However, as e-book readers become cheaper and more widespread, for the size of a single book you'll soon be able to carry your entire collection around.

How do people think this will affect book sales, pdf sales, and the hobby in general? Will pdf sales become more highly valued than the almost give-away status they hold at the moment? Will sourcebooks become more widely accepted? Will back pain specialists lose a sizable proportion of their roleplaying customers?
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Fuchs
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I already buy PDfs whenever possible, so I only have to carry my laptop around. My notes are in electronic form anyway.
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Juton
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The current generation is very comfortable to read, it's like reading paper. Unfortunately the screens are small, the readers are expensive and they are slow to turn pages. I think in 3 years or so they'll get to to the point where they are easily accessible and they'll be a paradigm shift. They will definitely be used for splat book or core books that you reference infrequently but I'm not sure they'll ever totally replace paper PHBs. That is if companies price them significantly lower than their paper version, if they charge the same it could take decades for things to change.
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

E-Book readers are targeted at dumbfucks with to much money

For $300 I can get a perfectly good brand-new netbook which will not only be able to read everything available for Kindle and Nook, but also all of Project Gutenburg, all of the Baen free library, and more I haven't even gone looking for yet. Plus the netbook also has a bigger screen, better resolution, more colors, more text-to-voice options and a situationally faster net connection, while having more options to safeguard my end-user rights than a Kindle / Nook. Plus it also lets me post to the Gaming Den, plays music, anime, Lost Episodes, lets me play MMORPGs and look at Porn while chatting with my gamer buddies.

If the addiitonal battery life and supposedly "booklike" advantages of E-Ink are big enough to you to give up all that in a device, I submit that you probably want an actual book - which never runs out of batteries and is infinitely more "booklike" than an e-reader will be.
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Nicklance
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

My DM uses a tablet pc for gaming. Flip it facing up, load up a grid and play on the surface. Switch tabs for pdfs.

But now with a netbook, he can use the tablet solely for grids and soundtracks and the netbook for his own notes and pdfs.

His PHB used to be bristling with post-it tabs for bookmarking, and with foxit reader he just bookmarks manually on the same pdf.

I think he's quite efficient at what he did.
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Korwin
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Josh_Kablack wrote:

all of the Baen free library,


That one you can read on an eBook reader too.
(I didnt try it, but since the reader can read txt-files I suppose I could read Project Gutenberg too.)

I used to read on my Palm, but since he got disfunctional...
and with over 300 books at Bean (that I own) I bought an dedicated ebook-Reader...


That said, at the moment I wouldnt recommend - at this time - an eBook-Reader for RPG material.
I tried an PDF on my Sony reader, and it was
  • slow
  • some pages where pictures, so I couldnt change the letters size
  • navigatin (finding something) was bad (no chapters, index)
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Red_Rob
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Josh_Kablack wrote:
E-Book readers are targeted at dumbfucks with to much money.


People used to say the same about Mobile Phones, or Digital cameras. As technology marches on and things get smaller, cheaper and better I think we'll see more and more of e-book readers. I see it like MP3 players - once MP3 players were affordable noone wanted to carry around buky CD's just to listen to music on the move. I can see a time when carying a load of books around will be like carrying an armful of CD's - people will wonder whats the point.

Now, whether an e-book reader will ever be a better deal than a netbook is an interesting question. In order to comfortably read a printed page your screen has to be at least a minimum size to avoid too much scrolling, so I can't see ebook readers getting much smaller than netbooks. Theoretically something the same size as a netbook but with much more limited functionality should be cheaper, but so far thats not been the case. However, if e-book reader prices dropped to, say $75 with a readable screen and multi-format capability I think I'd look at getting one.
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Starmaker
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I have an e-book, and it's awesome. There's no way I could use a netbook on the subway, and even if I could, e-ink is much, much better than LCD when it comes to casual reading.

That being said, e-books suck for purposes of reference. Bookmarking and note-taking capabilities, where available, are still not good. They are overpriced, too, but then, most mobile devices are (a phone for $1000? WTF?)

Also: DRM on books is offensive.
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shadzar
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Red_Rob wrote:
Josh_Kablack wrote:
E-Book readers are targeted at dumbfucks with to much money.


People used to say the same about Mobile Phones, or Digital cameras. As technology marches on and things get smaller, cheaper and better I think we'll see more and more of e-book readers.
The problem is where are mobile phones now? Where can you just get a simple phone for a decent price since analog has been left just for ham radios and CBs.

Phones today do too much shit are are an annoyance rather than an aid. You don't always need a camera everywhere you go, nor to take pictures of everything you see. They said computers themselves were a fad that wouldn't last, and those too are getting stupid and targeted at dumbfucks, same as today's phones and e-readers.

The biggest problem is the company trying to tell you what you want, and this is all they offer, so you have to take it. That was the problem with telephone deregulation. Innovation came, but at what cost and for who? How many people are happy with their iPhone apps getting deleted because Apple doesn't like it, or books getting deleted because Kindle/Amazon fucked up.

In this day and age I still prefer something I pay for to be tangible. You want to give me a digital version free with purchase fine, please and thank you. You expect me to pay for something without anything tangible that lets me be responsible for it and up to some moron that doesn't know or care what they are doing to fuck it up...forget it!

If an e-reader was something like the page version they have now with removable media and without internet, i would be more likely to use them.

I never liked EQ and MMOs where you buy something that you can't use without paying an extra fee for, or needing some adapter (internet and service to the game) for.

I will freely exchange ideas and thoughts, but when I pull out money, you better be putting something in my hand. And when money becomes the thing it should have been where the government controls all transactions with a Fed bank card and no longer prints it, then i will likely just fade off this earth. Cause I am a tangible person. I don't read on the toilet, but I might want to anywhere else, and prefer the way a paper page will fold to the contour of my stomach to lie down and read, rather than a plastic sheet stab into it. Also you fall asleep on the paper product and likely to be sore and lost the paper product, you fall asleep on something with glass, and you might not wake up at all!

They will have to have LOTS of changes and that includes internet overcharging schemes, before i would use ANY e-reader other than my desktop/laptop computer. I like uni-taskers, but this type of one is too proprietary like a song form Pepsi that requires the software to play it versus just an MP3 that is cross platform compatible. Also they would have to function on solar and have screen that worked outside in the sun so I could use it where I wanted.

I dont rent shit and it has to be something worth the upfront ost, and provide function that will lat as long as it does without outside interference form anyone else. And I need access to it when I want to use it without restrictions on a device like maybe at a hospital or airline or whatever.

I can get all that from a book, otherwise if I want to use an electronic device, I already own one that can do much more that just display PDFs or whatever format exists for these so called e-books, which always was a stupid name, and should call them properly digital FILES!

So in regards to books v e-books, "there is a sucker born every minute", and "a fool and his money are soon parted".
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Murtak
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Josh_Kablack wrote:
E-Book readers are targeted at dumbfucks with to much money

For $300 I can get a perfectly good brand-new netbook[snip]
If the addiitonal battery life and supposedly "booklike" advantages of E-Ink are big enough to you to give up all that in a device, I submit that you probably want an actual book - which never runs out of batteries and is infinitely more "booklike" than an e-reader will be.

You can not replace an e-ink display with a normal display. You can not lug around a thousand books on your travels. Currently, if you want to read comfortably and transport a couple ten thousand pages worth of material, your only choice is an e-book reader.

Of course that is not a big market segment. But now add a longer run time, free access to wikipedia and google maps and suddenly the deal looks nice even to me, and it will look even better in a couple of years.
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Parthenon
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

@shadzar: Theres a big difference between mobile phones vs phone boxes and books vs ebooks. Mobile phones allow you to make calls from most places allowing you to do more with little to no cost, whereas ebooks are merely lighter and much less cumbersome, at the cost of lots of physical interaction and being able to look at multiple books at once. And you still have the option to buy phones for less than £10 and use pay as you go to cost less than £5 per month.

If you could borrow ebooks from a library then I'd be very tempted to get one, but as it is it's too much initial outlay for not enough benefit.

I don't think it'll replace books for RPGs since with books you can compare different books or quickly flip back and forth between pages to try to decide on things whereas that is much more difficult with ebook readers.

Also, since people are willing to pay for artwork (see Pathfinder or Exalted) they will probably prefer to have paper since it will have higher definition and be clearer.
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shadzar
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Parthenon wrote:
@shadzar: Theres a big difference between mobile phones vs phone boxes and books vs ebooks. Mobile phones allow you to make calls from most places allowing you to do more with little to no cost, whereas ebooks are merely lighter and much less cumbersome, at the cost of lots of physical interaction and being able to look at multiple books at once. And you still have the option to buy phones for less than £10 and use pay as you go to cost less than £5 per month.
Have no idea anymore what the L is or if it exists to convert...

The problem is that everything on the same lines means people who want to use a phone, might not be able to because 500 people around them are texting, sending photos, going to webpages, etc and you end up with "We're sorry, all circuits are busy right now, please try your call again later."

This goes for the books too, since they have to have similar connections to be able to download and the company to access them.

You are paying $300 for a single function computer. You get nothing to use on it not can make anything yourself, so have to pay extra to be able to use it. That right there means no matter how many books it can carry, if you want to read anything you have to buy it extra. $300+ for one book?

Here is the problem that happened in the last 3 decades in regards to technology. As things are new they must have the cost for the newness of them. After a while and more people get them prices could drop substantially as the thing became a household item. I remember a calculator costing $100 about 30 year ago. It was the same as a basic calculator, with big buttons and had to be plugged in. Now you can get them that do the same thing plus some on a watch for $1, Office Depot has the same simple calculator and maybe even solar powered as well as battery for a few dollars.

The functions still exist for this unitasker and the price came down greatly.

Computers did this for a while where the price for a core system was around $2000. Now you can get a complete computer for about $500. Same for laptops. For that extra $200 more the laptop does a hell of a lot more than an e-reader, plus you can use much more media with it than just books.

Now back to phones. While my bag phone and the huge brick and my Nokia 100 may never work again due to being analog, they should. Each cost about $100 plus service at the time, and since prices for phones should have gone down. The problem is prices have gone up. Those older analog phones that take much more airspace to use costed about $200 with no service. How much are the phones today? Something like $500 because all the kiddy toys they have added to them? They are now basically Gameboys, with the ability to make a phone call somewhere hidden in it. I had a phone with Tetris on it and Breakout. I would prefer to get my actual Gameboy out to play either of those games. I want a single function phone, that works best as a phone, and shouldn't have to pay a high price after 40 years of technological development for it. Well I can get the non-flip crap type phone that just makes calls at a department store for about $20. But nobody will hook it up to their service plans because they want you to have all that other crap or pay for it when you don't want it. So you have to by cards with minutes that expire. Food expires, time shouldn't for a phone. You bought it, you should be able to use it.

Now with liking unitaskers so much why am I against e-readers? Well while i want a unitasker phone is I just want the right tool for the right job. I don't care how advanced the camera is, I don't want some tiny as screen to try to work on. Gameboy screen was always too small for me, or I would have long ago bought a pocket TV and carried it with me to watch. When it comes to an e-reader, the problem becomes what it is trying to do and replace as a unitasker. Its a computer with network capability with missing functions.There are computers about the same size as an e-reader that let you do much more with the books. Somewhere someone mentioned taking notes or highlighting. I never do with with real books to damage the book, but I put in plenty of bookmarks for various things. With electronic files I would highlight the hell of of things. I have something that lets me highlight and write on webpages so the next time I view them the page is still highlighters and have my notes written on it. You cannot do that with an e-book.

So while the phones have more crap on them to seem to let you do more, which is just a way to get data charges form you form the phone companies, the e-readers, lack a lot of functions of the real book.

They are real cute towards the Star Trek Databank where you can look anything up at anytime, but they just don't service a function that is totally useful yet. The tech has to offer something worth the price, other than just a bunch of books that may or may not be there the next time you look. I wouldn't want them to change my edition of a book when a publisher puts a new one out, if I am reading and like the 2nd edition "printing". They might as well be burning books at that rate...

It is a novel idea for e-readers, but they have a long way to go and need to figure out what function they are trying to do like with phones. Then they need to find a price point to get it to mass market, not just high-dollar people, which will mean steadily lowering prices, not keeping then stagnant by adding more crap that people don't need or want in them.
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
However, if e-book reader prices dropped to, say $75 with a readable screen and multi-format capability I think I'd look at getting one.


Agreed, I'm not opposed in principle to E-Book readers. I am however skeptical as to how the current functionality justifies the current pricing when compared to similar options.

Quote:

There's no way I could use a netbook on the subway


Me neither, because like most of America (that isn't NYC or the Bay Area) our local subways go just about nowhere - but I suspect your point isn't about the merits of socialized transportation options.

I also suspect that your point has little relevance to the traditional table top gaming experience.

But I have no fucking clue what exactly your point is?


Quote:
You can not replace an e-ink display with a normal display


Please explain to someone who has not had hands on experience how E-Ink compensates for smaller screen size, fewer pixels and fewer color options when compared to traditional display options?

Quote:

You can not lug around a thousand books on your travels


If this comes up often for you, I can only speculate that airport waits must be really bad nowadays.
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Starmaker
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Josh_Kablack wrote:
E-Book readers are targeted at dumbfucks with to much money

For $300 I can get a perfectly good brand-new netbook...

Josh_Kablack wrote:
Agreed, I'm not opposed in principle to E-Book readers. I am however skeptical as to how the current functionality justifies the current pricing when compared to similar options.
Quote:
There's no way I could use a netbook on the subway

Me neither, because like most of America (that isn't NYC or the Bay Area) our local subways go just about nowhere - but I suspect your point isn't about the merits of socialized transportation options.

I also suspect that your point has little relevance to the traditional table top gaming experience.

But I have no fucking clue what exactly your point is?

My point: an e-book reader is awesome for reading and a reasonable thing to buy. It is a niche product, and the niche is "people who can't read text from a computer screen and don't want to print it", not "dumbfucks with too much money" (see: iPhone).

Josh_Kablack wrote:
Please explain to someone who has not had hands on experience how E-Ink compensates for smaller screen size, fewer pixels and fewer color options when compared to traditional display options?

It's meant to display text. It has higher dpi (Acer One: 135, a 6-inch reader: 166, a 5-inch reader: 200) and grayscale, and that's all that's needed to display fonts pretty like they are in print, without noticeable pixellization. It doesn't emit light and is thus easier on the eyes. Screens being small is not a problem for the same reason that newspaper columns are narrow: it's not convenient to read long lines of text. Plus, small screen is a huge advantage in portability.

The primary design goal of e-readers is to be better than paper books, and they mostly are. Sure, they suck for purposes of research or gaming, so what?
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Murtak
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Josh_Kablack wrote:
Quote:
You can not replace an e-ink display with a normal display

Please explain to someone who has not had hands on experience how E-Ink compensates for smaller screen size, fewer pixels and fewer color options when compared to traditional display options?

Most netbooks (the OLPC being the only exception I am aware of) use a standard LCD display, that is to say the shine a light through the display into your eyes. That means the display is hard to read at certain angles, in many lighting conditions and especially in changing conditions.

E-ink is a reflective display, so you do need an external light source, but you should be fine reading it from an angle and you can still make out what is on your screen even in direct sunlight or when sitting in a train and shadows are flickering over your screen.


Josh_Kablack wrote:
Quote:
You can not lug around a thousand books on your travels

If this comes up often for you, I can only speculate that airport waits must be really bad nowadays.

Please attempt to read what I said before you quote me. I said an e-book reader makes no sense for me. The original post proposes to use an e-book reader to not have to lug around RPG books. Your comment is bullshit no matter what you are replying to.


Anyways:
E-book reader pros (Kindle compared to a netbook):
- Still readable in direct sunlight/shifting light/over someone's shoulder.
- More Portable.
- Longer battery life.
- Direct access to online book shops.
- Free wireless access.

E-book reader cons:
- More Expensive.
- Can not connect to arbitrary websites / perform arbitrary programs.
- No color.

How does this not look like a reasonable deal to a lot of people? As far as I know the people at amazon are working on allowing you access to your own e-Mail account (you currently have to reroute through amazon), wikipedia already works worldwide, maps already work in the US and you don't have to pay at all after the initial purchase. That by itself is a huge deal. Worldwide access to wikipedia and google maps? Wow. 2 weeks of continuous reading on a single charge? That's amazing. The price will come down, color will happen. You will probably be stuck with limited choices in what to do with your reader unless you are willing to give up the free wireless access though. But still, the Kindle already looks amazing to me and it and other readers will only continue to get better and better (and cheaper).

As for using it for RPG sourcebooks - sure, you can do that. But so can a netbook, and the extra weight will not be noticeable, compared to a stack of sourcebooks. And since you will probably be gaming indoors the display is not an issue. On-the-fly ordering of a sourcebook might be nice though.
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Prak
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 7:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Barnes and Noble (and then a few others) dropped their ereader prices about a month ago, and the Nook, at least, has 3G, no plan necessary, for an extra $50 on one model, and both models have a web browser in beta now.
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Lago PARANOIA
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

TTRPG's biggest, number-one problem is getting enough people together to game. If you could make it so that people could regularly play their D&D once or two hours every other day or so whenever you get the chance, it would help D&D like whoa.

I envision that the future of TTRPGs will have the traditional 'gather ye around the dinner table and listen' setup be a special event, like getting the people together to watch Monday Night Football. Most hours spent gaming will be on whatever device has the following criteria:


  • Has a long battery life. Anything less than 16 hours running at full brightness is not going to cut the mustard.
  • Has Internet capabilities.
  • Has a microphone. And also has a good keyboard function for long strings of words.
  • Lets you zoom through .pdfs quickly and competently. This probably means having a touchscreen laptop.
  • Lets you use memory cards and whatnot to export data.
  • Is fast enough to run current-generation software without a hiccup.
  • Second most importantly, has a TTRPG company or whoever to release software that has a good electronic tabletop program. I haven't seen any program so far that's anything more than mediocre.
  • Most importantly, has a 'must have' price so that everyone wants to get one. I'd say something in the 100-200 dollar price range. This one is the least sure of I'm going to happen, because people seem reluctant to release computers that go for under $200.


So far, the thing that's the closest to meeting all of this criteria is Josh's netbook. Give it 4 or 5 years and we could have a device that meets everything on my list.

Of course, if D&D's response to the electronic age proves anything people will whine that the Internet and computers are 'killing' traditional RPGs and will happily let gaming die out to stroke their own grognard egos. Rather than realizing that they have an opportunity on their hands to revive TTRPGs to a never-before seen extent. But you know how fucktarded grognards are. Bored
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Josh Kablack wrote:
Your freedom to make rulings up on the fly is in direct conflict with my freedom to interact with an internally consistent narrative. Your freedom to run/play a game without needing to understand a complex rule system is in direct conflict with my freedom to play a character whose abilities and flaws function as I intended within that ruleset. Your freedom to add and change rules in the middle of the game is in direct conflict with my ability to understand that rules system before I decided whether or not to join your game.

In short, your entire post is dismissive of not merely my intelligence, but my agency. And I don't mean agency as a player within one of your games, I mean my agency as a person. You do not want me to be informed when I make the fundamental decisions of deciding whether to join your game or buying your rules system.
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Count Arioch the 28th
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I was told that e-readers could only read "special" files that you have to buy from the company that sold you the device in the first place. And that it wouldn't read any existing pdf files you might already have.
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Sadly this is probably all hype

But I'll be happy if it just pushes TTRPG ready devices towards a lower price point.
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Korwin
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Count Arioch the 28th wrote:
I was told that e-readers could only read "special" files that you have to buy from the company that sold you the device in the first place. And that it wouldn't read any existing pdf files you might already have.


That may be correct for some reader, I dont know.

My old reader (Sony) could read many Formats. (pdf, txt, epub)
My new Kindle DX* can read PDF's** and the Mobi format. (+ Kindles own format)

* And the screen is big enough finally.

** Sadly the Kindle cant use the bookmarks from the PDF (the Sony could use them...)

For RPG-books on the reader, its doable. But if you are not simply reading page after page, but search something its painflully slow.
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Crissa
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Kindles search slow because their software is a bit iffy and their interface... Could be better.

Their screen precludes the need for long battery life, touch screen, brightness, microphone; however.

-Crissa
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8one6
NPC


Joined: 12 May 2010
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I would love it if the game systems that I enjoy put out epub editions of their books. No graphics, correctly formatted tables, cross referenced and hyper-linked to make searching easier.
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TOZ
Duke


Joined: 29 Oct 2008
Posts: 1149

PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I can speak from experience that being able to bring only my iPad to the game has been much more pleasant than lugging my books around. Thanks to my *cough*perfectlylegalboughtandpaidforpdfs I can have whatever book I need to reference on hand. The real nice part is how I've taken to putting campaign notes and statblocks on it instead of having to write it all down.
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MfA
Knight-Baron


Joined: 17 Jan 2009
Posts: 578

PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I was going to say that if you had enough money to pay for an iPad you should throw some money the publisher's way ... then I realised you probably play 3e and WotC refuses to take your money.
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TOZ
Duke


Joined: 29 Oct 2008
Posts: 1149

PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Would you like a pic of my gaming shelves? Sick
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