A downloadable tool for Windows

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Nebulous: What does it do?

Nebulous is a desktop application designed for creatives to help with building fictional universes in a visually pleasing way.

Primary functions allow you to:

  • Create and shape a universe
  • Organize your ideas in a visual medium
  • Navigate your lore with ease through Automatically Highlighted Links between your objects, forming an efficient network
  • Generate a navigable map of object connections with the Nebulograph
  • Export to Text
  • Export to Word: Compile your creations into a Generic or Custom designed book
  • Import from / Export to Excel
  • Generate random names
  • Customize the UI
  • Manage image files with ease

Requirements: .NET 4.5 framework & Windows 8, 10, 11

I initially coded this tool to untangle a complicated personal world building project and it actually turned out to be a great help both visually and conceptually connecting all the murky dots together. Navigating easily through the hyperlink nexus and enjoying images nearby positively fuels your imagination and keeps your inspiration engines running (it is a welcome color palette change after staring blankly into MS Excel for so long…)

Credits for the sample content above: HP Lovecraft & lovecraft.fandom.com


That’s the gist of it!

Nebulous is essentially a desktop application so compared to what is available out there, I would say the main advantages are its offline status (crucial to some), auto-detection of the connectivity map, elegant simplicity and - of course - being COMPLETELY FREE! 

Feel free to ask for new features and if you encounter any bugs don't hesitate to report them, I will try to sort them out and update the software.


If it sounds up to your alley, come on, give it a try! I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of insanities you will craft!



How does it work?

Just fire it up and it is ready to go!


UNIVERSE

  • New: Boom! A new universe to shape.
    • Click on the "Universe" title and name your project
    • Double click to view object details
    • Right click to view remove object menu
    • Objects with images are marked with ⚝
    • Excluded objects are marked with ☥
    • Drag & drop objects to place them into a new category
      • Dragging topmost categories and nesting loops are forbidden
    • Rename categories and update objects within through the right click menu  
    • Shortcuts 
      • New Object | Ctrl + W
      • New Object in Category | Ctrl + click on any object or category
      • Edit Object | Ctrl + E
      • Generate | Ctrl + Enter 
      • Discard object changes | Esc
      • Refresh display | F5


  • Excel Import & Export: Import any written or visual content (as links) into Nebulous or Export the universe you built from scratch
    • How to import
      • The first row of your Excel file contains the properties.
        • Make sure they include Name, Category and Description and Images. The rest is up to your imagination
      • Multiple image links should be given in separate lines (both local and online image resources are alright)
      • Sample worksheet can be downloaded from the Itch.io and Patreon page


  • Word Export: Generates a report of the selected object or a complete book of the category
    • With Custom Word Templates, you can design the export formats to your own liking!
      • Just add bookmarks to a Word template matching the property names in your universe (i.e. Name, Description, Strength, Dexterity, ...) and the contents will be imported on the document.
      • Give it a try with "Iorgal" in Nebulous - Character Sheet Sample (v3.4) universe.
      • Use "_" instead of blank spaces to match with your property names


  • Text Export: Generates a complete report of the universe in the rtf format


OBJECTS

  • New: This is where you shine! Pour out your ideas and build a complex lore. Any number of properties and images can be added. After all, world building thrives on details!
    • 🧠 New property
      • Adds a new property to the object
      • Use the little cross to discard a custom property
      • Must be unique and not any of "Images", "Is Excluded" or "Synonyms"
      • Right click on "Category" TextBox to quickly select from available Categories
      • Type an existing object name in category to create a subcategory
    • 🌢 Synonyms
      • Synonyms will create extra hightlight and link options for a more flexible navigation experience.
      • Make sure you separate your phrases with commas
      • When generated, synonyms are displayed as a tooltip on the object name
    • Exclude
      • Excludes the object name from the hyperlink nexus
      • Trivial keywords can also be added to the Scrap pile in Settings
      • Useful for negligible concepts like town, human, sword...
    • 🎨 New image | 💻
      • Adds selected images from the disk
      • Right click on any image to choose a new column display (⋮⋮⋮) or to remove the image
      • Images can be rearranged by drag-swapping
      • Locally referenced image files should be handled with care when removing, relocating or renaming!
      • ☠ warning sign will be displayed in the infobar for objects with missing images
      • "No image available" fallback image is displayed for inaccessible images (for removed or relocated image files)
    • 🎨 New image | 🌎
      • Adds the linked image from the web (tests internet connectivity)
      • Right click on any image to choose a new column display (⋮⋮⋮) or to remove the image
      • Images can be rearranged by drag-swapping
      • Images subject to permission (i.e. Google Drive) will not be displayed, otherwise it works pretty well (regular websites, Google Photos, Imgur, other free image hosting sites etc.)
      • Linking images from the web instead of local PC resources will allow the user to share the save file across machines without any problems (come on, give it a try with Cthulhu Mythos Sample (v3.4).neb)
      • ☠ warning sign will be displayed in the infobar for objects with missing images
      • "No image available" fallback image is displayed for inaccessible images (no internet connection or the image is removed from the specified link)


  • Generate: Adds the active object to your Universe. Nebulous will then automatically highlight and link the objects in the contents, forming an efficient network. You can easily navigate your lore through these links and the tabs generated!
    • Tabs can be moved around by dragging and closed with a mousewheel (or the middle button) click.
    • Use the arrows to move the properties up (▲) or down (▼)
    • Images can be rearranged by drag-swapping
    • Click on images to toggle zoom
    • Info bar at the bottom displays useful information about the object
      • 🖊 Word count
      • 🎨 Image count
      • 🌙 Exclusion status
      • ⏱ Last edited
    • The following cases are not allowed to avoid infinite recursion loops.
      • If your current library has any of the following form, you will get a loading error

☠ Blank Name or Category

☠ Name = Category

☠ Existing Name & Category combo

☠ Object placed in its own chain

☠ Swapping object identities


  • Edit: Pretty straightdorward, gotta keep tweaking those ideas!


  • Search: Searches through the Universe and its contents, displaying results for both
    • Highlights the searched keyword in the active object contents


  • Inspire: Performs a random image search on Artstation, Pinterest or Deviantart


TOOLS

  • Settings
    • Fonts & Colors: Feel free to play around with fonts and colors to enhance your visual experience. There are also a bunch of predefined color palettes to choose from!
    • Layout: Standard layout includes Name, Category, Description and Image properties. Any custom properties you add here then will be featured by default in New object and Edit object layouts
    • Save images to a new foler: This option is obsolete and now handled through Image recovery
    • Show default tab close button: Classical approach (mousewheel click by default)
    • Display only a single tab: Allows one active object only
    • Scrap pile: Scrap pile contains the list of phrases excluded from the navigation algorithm
      • Dump negligible phrases here to exclude them from the highlight nexus (i.e. more, man, town...)
    • Default: Reverts to default settings
    • Save & Load: For later use or exchanging custom settings with friends


  • Nebulgraph
    • Automatically generates a connectivity graph of the selected object and  aims to visualize the structure of the universe and to inspire new sparks of creativity


      • Simple: Expansion only, 8:4:1 growth
      • Complex: Crosslinking active, 12:4 growth (resource intensive)
      • Double click for object details
      • Ctrl + Double click to graph another object within the network
      • Pan & Zoom
      • Right click to reset
      • F12 to take a snapshot of the graph
      • Various graph layout options are available
      • If present, displays the first image


  • Spellcheck
    • Location adaptive spellchecking is now possible! Although, it might get performance intensive with huge walls of text. Well, it is up to you to activate it!


  • Highlight refined
    • This will highlight objects on which you worked harder, based on a word count of your choosing (between 100 - 1000 words)


  • Order by
    • Name or content based ordering options are available


  • Random names
    • Generates 15 random names. Comes in simple or weird flavors!
      • Simple: 5-15% chance of consecutive consonants or wovels
      • Weird: 15-25% chance of consecutive consonants or wovels (also chance to be slightly longer)
      • Easily reshuffle 


  • Image recovery
    • Identify and restore inaccessible images!
    • This new tool offers high image management flexbility and allows the user to remove or replace missing images individually or collectively.
      • ❌ | Remove image
      • 💻 | Replace with an image from disk
      • 🌎 | Replace with an image from the web
    • 🧪 Gather
      • Gathers all offline images into a new folder
      • Renames the image files in an organized fashion (Name_Category_#)
    • 🔗 Update source
      • Updates all offline image sources with the selected folder (only existing files in the target location will be matched)
      • Recommended if the original image folder is relocated (i.e. to a new PC)



CREDITS

⚝ Thank you kind strangers for all your support!

⚝ Special thanks to Akya!

⚝ Stackoverflow, ~ honestly, can't even imagine coders without this indispensable resource


UI Icons

Icons made by www.freepik.com - Freepik from www.flaticon.com

Icons made by www.flaticon.com/authors/pixel-perfect - Pixel perfect from www.flaticon.com

Icons made by www.flaticon.com/authors/gregor-cresnar - Gregor Cresnar from www.flaticon.com

Icons made by www.flaticon.com/authors/vitaly-gorbachev - Vitaly Gorbachev from www.flaticon.com

Icons made by www.flaticon.com/authors/smashicons - Smashicons from www.flaticon.com

Icons made by www.flaticon.com/authors/photo3idea-studio - photo3idea_studio from www.flaticon.com

Icons made by www.flaticon.com/authors/mangsaabgur - mangsaabguru from www.flaticon.com

Icons made by www.flaticon.com/authors/maxicons - max.icons from www.flaticon.com


Default Fonts

Diavlo, designed by Exljbris (www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/diavlo)

Josefin Sans, designed by Santiago Orozco (fonts.google.com)

Tryst, designed by Philatype (www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/tryst)

Unicode 11.0+ compatibility to resolve all symbols


~ Soydan Yalçın

Nebulous Interactive on Itch.io, Copyright © 2020


You can also find Nebulous on Patreon


StatusReleased
CategoryTool
PlatformsWindows
Rating
Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars
(18)
AuthorNebulousInteractive
TagsCrafting, Creative, development, world-building

Download

Download NowName your own price

Click download now to get access to the following files:

Nebulous v3.4.exe 2 MB
Nebulous Universe Sample (v3.4).neb 33 kB
Cthulhu Mythos Sample (v3.4).neb 81 kB
Nebulous Universe Sample (v3.4).xls 41 kB
Nebulous - Character Sheet Sample (v3.4).docx 15 kB

Development log

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Comments

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(1 edit) (+1)

I just got this tool, but it seems great! I think maybe there should be a dropdown in the category section with presets or something, just to get the ball rolling. Heaven knows once I have to think of what to talk about without any prompts it all just fizzles out!

Small bug, if a synonym is mentioned in the object that it's a synonym of, it creates a link that causes an error.

An error occurred while calling object: System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object. at Nebulous_v3._0.MainWindow.CallObject(NebObject obj)

Ouch, thanks I'll look into it!

I was wondering, is there any way to exclude a link within the text of an article itself? Something like surrounding it with brackets like <this> or something. If not I feel like that would be something very useful to include. Something else that would be useful is a drop down menu of already existing categories when typing in a new category, so you only have to type in the first few letters and don't have to worry about misspelling it.

Also, do you have a Discord server for this program?

(+1)

Hey bees!

When creating or editing an object, if you right click the Category textbox, you may choose from existing categoies.

For the other issue, I suppose we have the "Exclude" and "Scrap pile" options. For objects you do not want to link, you can exclude them by the checkbox, or simply define your arbitrary terms / phrases in settings.

Also, no discord server I'm afraid. Although do not hesitate to come up with suggestions!

(2 edits)

My issue with the current exclude option is that sometimes there are cases when you wanna link to a page in certain contexts but not others. Like how Wikipedia will link to a page the first time it's mentioned in another page but not subsequent mentions. Or like a list where you want every item to be a link but don't want to have casual mentions of list items to link to pages. 

As for suggestions, some sort of tagging system would be amazing since stuff can often technically fit into more than one category and tags would be a good way to handle that. A way of exporting worlds to html or pdf would also be great.

Also I haven't seen the existing categories pop up when I clock on the category textbox. Might be a glitch?

Edit: Oh shit I didn't see the part about needing to right click never mind. 

(+1)

Hm, I'll experiment with the tagging aspect, the universe then can be filtered according to the assigned tags.

Also, for now you could perhaps use the text export > convert to pdf.

Hi! Another suggestion if you don't mind! Would it be possible to implement a way to quickly move objects around in categories, such as by drag and dropping an object into a desired category/object?

It's a bit of a hassle to reclassify objects at the moment if you change a category's name.

You can now drag & drop objects into each other! I had to avoid a few cases but otherwise I think it works quite nicely

Although sometimes it may require an F5 to refresh the display for larger libraries

Great stuff once again, thanks! :)

Great tool, been using it for some time now. Thank you for making it!

A small suggestion, would it be possible to add a feature where you can rightclick a category for example, to automatically make a new object in it? This would make it a bit easier to flesh out categories quickly, so you don't have to enter the category every time you make a new object.

Glad you like it!

Directly right clicking might be a problem (as it is a common misclick), but I think Ctrl+Click could work.  I'll get right on it!

Done!

Great solution! Thank you so much!

Been using this a bit and its pretty good.

Every now and then I'll try to assign an image to an object and it just wont work. I've tried restarting the app and using a different image but I can't get it to work.

Also I've found that when I got to select an image i have to change it so it searches for all files not just the selected ones because the images don't show up otherwise.

Are these known issues or is it just me?

Hey MrSnowman!

Interesting issue... I suspect it has something to do with WPF not notifying the change to the target control, but just to be sure can you please share a descriptive screenshot (especially of the 2nd issue, I'm having trouble pinpointing the cause)?

Hi! sorry for such a late reply, I thought my comment had gone through but i guess not. heres a video of the issues i talked about. i’ll check out the new version of the app when i get home and see if these issues are in the new version or not.


Thanks for the detailed video!

The image file extension issue should now be resolved. It was an interesting issue (*.png does not work whereas *.PNG does...)

Although, I'm not sure about the image not showing up at all, I added a 50 ms delay for image to be loaded, suspecting it might be due to a failure to load in time. I hope it also is fine now.

Thanks for your input, I always appreciate it!

Oh, I think I solved the images-not-showing-up problem as well. Feel free to let me know if anything comes up!

Will do! Thanks

I find I still can't see the edit object tab or search bar. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact ctrl + e doesn't seem to work for whatever reason most of the time.

This is a bug caused by custom Windows skins that aren't part of the default package.

Oh yeah, I feel like I saw that mentioned once. Hopefully it's something that can be fixed on nebulous' end.

You mean on /tg/? That was me.

(+1)

This is quite nice. Easier to use than a tiddlywiki (open source wiki thing), with easier saving and interface.
A bit confusing to at first navigate, but I will be making a tutorial for it! I hope that's ok :>

Perfectly OK! I thought it was intuitive but apparently there is some confusion out there. Perhaps I cannot see the forest for the trees as the author... A tutorial would definetely help others too, I could share a link to it!

It's really confusing to move around and i don't really know what i am doing at all. Can there be a more easy to navigate UI? 

(+1)

the last update is awesome, especially the nebulograph!

Would love a Linux port, maybe consider making it open source so someone else can make a port if you cant

Difficult suggestion: adding a music track or audio files for certain entries.

I have a suggestion for this; locking field visibility with a password. This would allow me to make an entry that says "John Doe is the bartender of The Pub" and a locked category that says "He's working for Bigbad and uses false bounties to send heroes to their deaths". This would allow GMs to distribute the file and not have players come across spoilers.

Sure, they could just export it, but that's a player problem.

This is an interesting idea and sounds easy enough to code. I will consider it, the only problem: the save file is essentially a text file (although a little hard to navigate) and it can be opened in notepad. I could encode the secret fields in some way perhaps... 

no json? 

'{
"DMVisibility" : "visible",
 "GeneralVisibility" : "hidden" 
}'

(+2)

An absolutely wonderful tool for worldbuilders, and a must have for any writer.

It's a direct window to the large world inside your head, and what's more: one you can show other people!
You can add text, images and timelines to organize everything as you please. One of its best features is that you don't need an internet connection to use it or save it so it's very convenient. Also it's a WIP so it will get even better eventually.

Thanks for this, I really needed it.

(+1)

Thank you for the kind review! I am glad it is helpful

As I can't run this yet:

The "Mindmap" hierarchical diagrams are nicely laid out. 

Can anyone say if you can have more "circular" links shown.

 e.g. a node has more than 1 link above it. 

e.g. show that  Romeo is a soldier and Romeo is a Montague and Romeo is engaged to Juliet and Juliet is a Capulet and Capulet clan is in a feud with Montague clan?

You may create the same name under different categories, however it is rather challenging to have one object under multiple categories with the current logic. I suppose "tags" could be implemented, but I need to think about how it would affect the system overall.

Hi, this looks good from this page. However, I can't run the file because VirusTotal reports that Cynet, Malwarebytes and MaxSecure flag v3.0.exe as malicious and Avast cannot confirm it is Ok.

Thanks for your interest!

Avast verifies it for me :) 

I honestly do not know what other malware tools recognize as malicious, the code is quite straightforward... I suppose the "exe" extension has a deserving notoriety.

(1 edit) (+1)

This program is fantastic but I feel like a real idiot right now, I can't seem to create nested object wherein I have a town as the category and then have prominent townsfolk nested under it. I see it's possible in the example world on your patreon but I can't figure it out. Any ideas? 


Edit: Yep, I am an idiot. Naming the category the same name as the nest source will place it in a nest. Good work,  Soydan. This is an amazing tool. Thanks for posting it on /tg/ btw, I'd never have found it otherwise.  

(+1)

I would just like to comment here that this program is amazing! It has become one of my favorite programs to use for creative endeavors. Great work!

(-1)

You know, a similar app could be used as a Character Bible (tracking the look and personality and so-forth of characters, noting all the little decisions made about the characters over the course of the novel-or-whatever) and that would be a really good thing for those of us having trouble tracking our characters in a meaningful way. I haven’t tried this yet, so maybe it can do it as-is…

I just thought you might want an idea for a spin-off app…

I can't see the edit object nor the search functions at all. Please fix.  I opened an account just to say this. Before I forget thanks for the program.

Alakasız olacak ama Türk müsün?

Interestingly, couple of other users experienced the same problem. I will try to pinpoint the issue but honestly, the code is so simple, I do not really understand why the buttons remain hidden.

Also, yeah I suppose

Hey man,

I added keyboard shortcuts for New Object (Ctrl + W) and Edit Object (Ctrl + E). Generate (Ctrl + Enter) and Discard (Esc) were already active. Perhaps, these could help with this issue.

(+1)

I forgot to check itch.io for a time -sorry about that- but yeah it works. You wouldn't believe how happy I am right now. I am better with hotkeys anyways.

I will dedicate my first world to you in honor of your dedication. Yerli ve milli bir world building programımız olması da çok iyi oldu.

(+1)

Hi, thanks for creating and sharing this program! :)

I also want to report a bug. I have tried to import the excel sample, but when I click on that button I get this error:

(I'm using Windows 10 Pro)

(+2)

Hey JJHaggar,

During the import, Nebulous is trying to start the Excel app in the background to get the data. Are you sure that the Office application is properly installed?

If you indeed have Excel installed, it might be related to a permissions issue. Please take a look here.

As the last option,  I could release an x86 version for you. (stackoverflow implies it could be relevant

Thanks!

Soydan

(1 edit) (+1)

Better yet,

I already added Nebulous v3.1 (x86).exe, you may try it out! I hope this solves the problem.

(+1)

Oh, I didn't think that not having Excel installed could be the cause, sorry ^^U

I use LibreOffice, is there any way to use it instead? I tried the new build though, but I got the same error.

Thank you! :)

(+1)

I looked into it and apprently there's a way to import-export xaml bsed info to Libre Office & Open Office and I might indeed try to add the feature later, but don't hold your breath :)

That would be great :D

(+3)

This is a fantastic program!  I've been struggling to find a way to organize all of the ideas I have for my original world, and online resources are usually not what I need (ie. Worldanvil) because they have either too much or too little information.  This should make it significantly easier to keep everything organized, and I'll be sure to update this comment/leave an additional comment after I've used it a bit!