Using Gamepedia for Board Games

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Using Gamepedia for Board Games

Postby boardgamebabylon » Wed Dec 26, 2012 7:51 pm

I'm considering using Gamepedia to catalog and manage loans for our board game library, which we use at our thrice-yearly conventions here in Southern California. Does anyone have experience using Gamepedia to track board game collections, with a focus on loan capabilities and tracking of that activity? So far:

1) I'm glad there is a link to Boardgamegeek.com but I'm disappointed that I cannot scan board games in - even common games are not coming up from their UPC.
2) BGG has unique indicators for every game that can produce bar codes. I'd love access to those but Gamepedia doesn't seem to grab them.
3) Having a hard time finding history details on loans. Am I just missing something?

Thanks!
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Re: Using Gamepedia for Board Games

Postby Conor » Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:45 pm

I'm glad to hear you're trying out Gamepedia and so far like what you see. We only added board game support to Gamepedia with version 5 so the database in Doghouse for boardgames is still growing. (Doghouse is Gamepedia's own online database built exclusively by and for Gamepedia users from around the world.)
As far as I know Boardgamegeek doesn't offer a search by UPC but please point me in the right direction if I'm wrong on this as that would be a great addition to the search.

Regarding the "unique indicators for every game that can produce bar codes" which you mention, can you tell me more about that please? I couldn't find anything on their site about this.
If you manage to do barcode searches on the Boardgamegeek site, could you please send me a few of those UPCs for testing here? I've tried several of our board games but none of the UPCs were found on their site.

To see the borrowed history of an item, go into the "Game" menu > Borrowed History. To see a history of who borrowed what (from your address book), go into the "View" menu > Games borrowed by.
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Re: Using Gamepedia for Board Games

Postby boardgamebabylon » Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:57 pm

Thanks for the details, Connor. I've gone ahead and purchased your terrific little db and put nearly 500 games in already. I design CRM products for the financial services world so I have a little insight into what goes into the process and you've done some excellent things. Responses and additional comments:

1) The unique IDs I referenced may be hidden from the normal api - I only know about them from talking with Aldie (the owner of BGG). I can ask him about exposing them if you could grab them.
2) I'm checking with Aldie about the UPCs. If you are given access to a way to draw them in, is there a way to re-sync my entries with the BGG listings?
3) iSight is pretty cool but I'm missing the setting to allow it to search for the UPC field. It only seems to look in the name field (or maybe elsewhere I am just not noticing). I entered about a dozen UPC fields just to play with it and I haven't had success. We'd love to get this working because we would prefer to use the camera on our Mac to scan games when they get checked in (or out) during our conventions.
4) Would love a Twitter link to broadcast games that were just checked out to our library's twitter feed (especially when people are looking for players)
5) I didn't realize that Doghouse had boardgame information. I figured it was for video games. Why are you building that out when you connect to BGG? Just curious - I'm going to give it a look.
6) Worst problem right now: Search results from BGG are so limited and simultaneously open that I often cannot link an entry with the right game. For example, I can't get Ra to come up at all because the search is so fuzzy that hundreds of irrelevant results are coming up. There is also no sign of relevance in the search - when I try to quick-add Power Grid, I get some fan game with lots of other text in the title rather than an exact match, the most frequently used, or the most likely result.


I'll gladly publicize your game in the board game world with my podcast and through reviews if we can get this working properly. We're off to a great start. Although BGG has their own software in use at their con, I've been trying for years to sort out using it and Aldie hasn't had time to help me get it up and running. I could see Gamepedia easily filling this niche (admittedly, not a huge one).

Thanks - despite all my comments, I'm really loving Gamepedia - including the quick way I can add game, the intuitive tab/return choices and the lovely field editor options.
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Re: Using Gamepedia for Board Games

Postby Conor » Mon Dec 31, 2012 2:38 pm

1) Like Gamepedia all board games at BGG have a unique ID. It's part of the URL for a game. For example Carcassonne would be 822 as can be seen in this URL.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/822/carcassonne

This is exposed in the API as the Object ID. Gamepedia in order to give credit to Board Game Geeks makes the default URL a link to that page. So when you click on the title or open in the menu your taken to the Board Game Geek page.

2) This same URL is used by Gamepedia to make an exact match when possible, so if you already have a URL to Board Game Geek it will know exactly what item to retrieve. For example if you wanted to add Carcassonne because your looking at it on the webpage you could copy the URL above into the URL field (under extras) in an empty entry (command-shift-F) and then click on the gear box at the bottom and select Board Game Geek and it will fill out the details (our see 2b). This also applies to entries you have already added, if you remove some details or some have been added at BGG and you use the gear button it will re-download the details. (There is also an automated version under the menu command Game->Update from...) perfect to use on a selection that has URL to BGG. Otherwise since it's automated it will guess and pick the first result from a search based on title if no exact match is found.

Of course I would love to add the UPC as another option for matching and searching if it's available in the API. As a perfect match is always better than a title search.

2b) I have updated the Gamepedia Beta so that you can simply drag the URL from Safari over to Gamepedia's dock icon or table view and it will search for that Board Game directly and display it in the add window. You can also search for a unique BGG id by prefixing it with a ? e.i. "?822", this is also true of Doghouse (the unique ID there is called dog tag).

3) UPC searches are not as common with games. If there is UPC search available at BGG I'll add that right away. ISBN searches are a given with books and UPC becoming more common with movies, but games are far behind when it comes to such unique product code searches. If Aldie lets you know if there the possibility for a UPC via the API search do let me know.

4) Interesting idea. I've made a note about it. Gamepedia also has a full cocoa plugin API, so if you program or know someone who does, you can integrate that feature right away via a plugin.

5) Doghouse is a user submitted repository like Wikipedia. Although a lot of work it gives us the access to how the search is performed and we can better provide data for our users (the fields mimic those in Gamepedia to store the same data). For example it does UPC searches on board games, so any board game that you submit with a UPC other users will be able to find via the iSight. BGG is all about community, social features and online, Doghouse is solely a database for Pedia users to be used from the program to supplement other searches and fill the gaps.

6) This is a limitation of the BGG API. They do have an exact match but it does not seem to be working yet, so you're left with a broad search options. With the beta version you can drag the URL for the exact board game to Gamepedia if you find it online. Indeed the online search is better than the one provided by the API as it lists "Ra" as the first result. For example I contributed Ra into the Doghouse and now by setting the search to Board Game in Doghouse you will end up with "Ra" when searching for "Ra". Our search algorithm gives exact match on title a high priority so it will always be the first result. But this is easily said and done when the only Board Game with the word Ra is that one. BGG is the best resource as they such a great community and vast information.

Thank you for the kind words. Word of mouth is our strongest marketing as people luckily love our products. So we appreciate all recommendations you give your friends.
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Re: Using Gamepedia for Board Games

Postby boardgamebabylon » Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:12 pm

1. Sorry, I meant the unique bar code. They use it to track their library process. I don't need it - we want to use the real UPCs on the games to check out.
2. Our problem is that we want to scan the bar code to check in and check out games but the iSight only seems to search the name field. That isn't a BGG issue - it should scan the UPC field, shouldn't it? This is the main issue for us right now. If iSight won't search on the UPC field, our bar code scanning isn't much use. Ideally, it would be great if we could use this to enter bar codes into our existing files. We've already added over 600 games from our library but I've only manually entered a handful of bar code numbers.
3. As I said, we don't want to do a UPC search in the BGG database, we want to scan a bar code and have it bring up the matching game in Gamepedia.
4. I'm short on developers but I'll see if I can get someone to try it.
5. Okay.
6. I'll ask Aldie about that one. It seems very odd that it would be so limited. I don't see those issues with open searches on their db.

Thanks again and if we can get the issue in items 2 and 3 solved, we'll be in great shape.
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Re: Using Gamepedia for Board Games

Postby Conor » Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:51 am

Gamepedia will show the game with a UPC if that information is present if the UPC is entered into the filter search field on the top right of the main window. You have to click on the magnifying glass and make sure the search options are set to columns (if UPC column is shown) or all.

This option works with typing and barcode scanners, currently the iSight is only set to trigger an internet search and not the internal search but it's something we might work on in the future. Thank you for the feedback that would be a must have option in Gamepedia when searching and entire check out check in system with iSight integration is actually on or todo list.
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Re: Using Gamepedia for Board Games

Postby boardgamebabylon » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:17 am

Thanks, Conor. Yes, iSight doing the internal search is exactly what we need. I guess we'll struggle through our next game convention by typing names in (it's in a month so I imagine you can't get that in). But we have three big conventions a year so maybe it will be ready in time. That's the only sticking point at the moment. But if you do have time...well...I have some game librarians that will sure love you! ;)

Thanks again!
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Re: Using Gamepedia for Board Games

Postby Conor » Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:49 am

In the meantime you can look for a cheap CueCat or other USB barcode reader to help you scan the barcodes. It will allow you to scan barcode directly into the filter field and achieve the search you want. It will also allow you to scan barcodes into the UPC field for the games when you add them so that you can have that information for searching.

Otherwise you can still search by barcode by typing it out, no need to use names if you want to make a unique match to information you have entered in Gamepedia.
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Re: Using Gamepedia for Board Games

Postby boardgamebabylon » Sat Jan 19, 2013 4:33 pm

Okay, thanks again Conor. I'm ordering a CueCat on Ebay now. I'll be glad to send you a report after our convention, if you'd like to hear how it went.
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Re: Using Gamepedia for Board Games

Postby boardgamebabylon » Thu May 23, 2013 10:30 pm

While I still owe you a write-up on our first convention using Gamepedia for our library software, I'm heading into our second weekend using it for a convention. One key thing I was hoping to do - is there a way to export statistics now and reset them (or separate them by time period). I'd like to report on the most popular and frequently checked-out games but it is hard to do if we just add on to the existing data from the last convention.

We're starting the log tomorrow (Friday, May 24) so if you have guidance before then, it's much appreciated.

Thanks,

BGB
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Re: Using Gamepedia for Board Games

Postby Conor » Fri May 24, 2013 10:33 am

The stats are built from all the information gathered about the borrowing for a game and there no easy reset. If the games were distinct it would be easy to do as the information would be brand new. If I absolutely had to do this I would recommend duplicating the database (to keep the old data around) and then removing the information for borrowing of the database. The database file is located in ~/Library/Application Support/Gamepedia/Database.gamepd.

To remove the information you would need to go directly into the database and with SQL as removing the borrowing history for each game would take a while. That would be done in the program names /Application/Utilities/Terminal by running the following commands:

Code: Select all
sqlite3 ~/Library/Application\ Support/Gamepedia/Database.gamepd
delete from zlententry;
.exit


As you can imagine that removes all the information about the games being checked out. If you wanted to add that information back later for merging you could export it first via SQL. It's getting a little more advance but the command would be:

Code: Select all
sqlite3 ~/Library/Application\ Support/Gamepedia/Database.gamepd
.mode insert
.output previous_checkout.sql
select * from zlententry;


You would maybe be able to add that information back by copying everything that is put into the file "previous_checkout.sql" into the SQL command after the show. The reason I say maybe is I have never tried it and not sure if the database will start a new with unique numbering and then you would end up replacing information from the new show. Although from quick tests it does seem to keep incrementing the number, so it should work.

Sorry to be slightly late, but it's early on the 24th. Maybe you will be able to get that done.
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Re: Using Gamepedia for Board Games

Postby boardgamebabylon » Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:37 pm

Thanks, Conor. I saw your post in time but opted to just hope that I will soon be able to parse the stats by dates. Our conventions run thrice a year and if I could isolate by date, it would be relatively easy to get decent reports on what was checked out at each convention by applying a filter.

The software has been highly successful for us at the conventions and has made us very happy! Thank you for that. The interface is pretty easy (we have to train volunteers each time) so it has worked well for people who only use it for twelve days a year, broken up into three stints.

Some observations:

1) I've previously commented on the need for more filtering on statistics. If we could show checkouts by date, it would be a huge help to us. Obviously, I'd love to slice and dice the data more if I can export it to Excel and it sounds like you added some functionality in this regard with the last release so I need to look at it.
2) Missing UPC codes is tough. We're slowing hand entering UPCs (they aren't available through BGG, which doesn't store UPCs but does have its own unique bar code) but mostly we still search on name. We are looking to create unique bar codes for games where we have multiple copies and we'll paste over the existing bar code.
3) I would love to have more control of the Contacts database. It sometimes finds names and other times it misses them. I need to figure out why. I also wish I could just aim it at the special folder where I filled in names with our convention registration list. It looks only at my whole Contact database, searching my massive list of business and personal contacts. I wish it wouldn't do that because it confuses our staff and we end up with mistakes.
4) Building on that last point, I'd love to give out individual user stats to them so they can see what they played but our volunteers often make mistakes (like entering a person named "MIchael" as "MIke". I'd like to hand-correct this material to fix our db but it doesn't seem you can bring up a single checkout to fix the names on it. Is that true?
5) Our library closes at midnight so the default settings for checkouts work well (due tomorrow, which we say is midnight).
6) Is there a way to attach a warning to a specific borrower? If we wanted to say that this borrower can check out a game overnight or is banned from checkouts? Just an option to pop a warning when that user is selected?
7) Is there a way to denote information on a specific checkout? Reason being - we have Play to Win events sponsored by publishers. Everyone who plays the game during the convention gets a chance to win. We'd love to track the names of the players associated with a play (and we could mark the winner so they can get two entries). Right now, we track the games that are Play to Win with title changes (an alert for each game like the borrower idea above) and we note all the names of the players in the links section of the game (which we'll have to clear for the next con). Any chance we could get a spot to track like this one on each checkout?

Thanks again for listening to all our specific feedback. We are recommending the software around to other game libraries and just hosted a podcast with Boardgamegeek.com owner Scott Alden, informing him about it. My next podcast (Boardgame Babylon) will feature some commentary on the library and some additional material will follow on another show soon. We do really love Gamepedia and would like to spread the word!
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Re: Using Gamepedia for Board Games

Postby Conor » Mon Jun 10, 2013 8:05 am

Glad to hear that Gamepedia is being so useful and user friendly.

1) Since you are a power user you should look at manipulating the data directly. Gamepedia has a number of open export formats, so that you can go to Excel. But even the native database is open and uses the powerful SQL language. It's a bit tricky as there a join but for example you could list all the borrowers for a given date range (These commands are run un the Terminal program. Do backup the database as it's easy to mess up with SQL):
Code: Select all
sqlite3 /Users/fa/Library/Application\ Support/Gamepedia/Database.gamepd
select zName, ztitle from ZLentEntry left outer join zEntry ON ZLentEntry.zentry = zentry.z_pk where zDate > 378737098 AND zDate < 392129098;
.exit

The dates are confusing as they are in seconds since January 1st 2001 (this is how the Mac does it), you can quickly translate a regular date into seconds on this page to use in the function above.

2) An issue with all databases, it's troublesome to get all that information in. Do consider contributing into Doghouse after having nicely curated entries as it will help others find that board game in the future.

3) You can limit the contacts seen by Gamepedia by creating a group in your contacts called "Pedia". If such a group exists then Gamepedia will only load the names in that group.

4) You can bring up a single checkout in the borrowed window under "Game -> Borrowed History..." for the game. Although you would have to fix each game history and not a name across all the games checked out. If you wanted to do that you could use the SQL above:

Code: Select all
sqlite3 /Users/fa/Library/Application\ Support/Gamepedia/Database.gamepd
UPDATE ZLentEntry SET zName 'MIchael' where zName = 'Mike';
.exit

6) Not at the moment, but thank you for the feedback. You could put the borrower on a different group in the Contacts and hence when he does not appear in the autofill, people could check that contacts group to see if the user is on the watch list.

7) I'll look at adding a comments section in a big update to the borrowed history for a checkout so that you can add that information.

Thank you so much for letting people know about Gamepedia we are happy we can help out Mac game players organize themselves. Especially since Gamepedia needs the fan base being the underdog to its more successful cousins Bookpedia and DVDpedia.
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