A Grand Journey For a Better User Experience

Well… In my constant attempt to fulfill the mantra, “I aim to please” I’ve discovered that I might’ve made iToysoldiers a bit too… how to say it… complex.  There’s too many choices – especially for creating events and the like.  And what’s worse is that the underlying code doesn’t handle modifications to those events terribly well.

And so Ragnorak comes to the rescue!  The plan is to collapse all events/calendar items/etc into a single content type.  The first phase of Ragnorak is to revamp the look and feel of the events.  I’m also hoping to deprecate the “Special Event” content type which leaves only Tournaments, Leagues, and Narrative campaigns as choices if you’re entering an event.  Phase two of Ragnorak is to collapse leagues and tournaments into the Event type.

The idea here is that there’ll be one way to enter events (and in darkness bind them) rather than having to choose from multiple types of content.  Narrative campaigns will still be a special case but I really need to go back and address them.  Right now they kind of suck.

I’m pretty enthusiastic about the new features.  But now’s your chance…  If you have any suggestions about how iToysoldiers handles events I’d be happy to hear about it.  Post your comments here.

Carpe Acies!
Rob @ iToysoldiers

The Chosen jQuery Library is amazing!

So I stumbled across the coolest thing ever!  Okay.  Maybe not the coolest thing ever but it’s pretty slick and I have to say it’s going to make some of the UI issues you’ve been experiencing go away.

It’s the Chosen jQuery library (which you can find here: https://harvesthq.github.io/chosen/).  Essentially it does magic things to select boxes on forms and makes ’em WAY easier to deal with.

I’m currently playing around with it on the good ol’ dev server and I have to say, I’m pleased with the results.  It even works pretty well on a mobile device.  Now…  I guess that is to say that it doesn’t modify the interface that iOS throws on top of select fields and that’s actually brilliant.

Oh, I think you’re going to like the results, my friends.

Carpe Acies!

Ragnorak has begun: Better events for miniature wargaming

So one of the things I put into iToysoldiers pretty early on was a calendar/event listing thing so folks could post all the different places/times where we could go and play with our miniature armies.  I built it largely ’cause one of the things that I find to be terribly frustrating is that there’s no really good place to go and find a listing of all the miniature wargaming events going on – in a particular area or otherwise.  Usually, to find if there was a tournament going on during a particular weekend I’d have to sift through a whole lot of different store web pages and then sift through the events to see if there were any I was interested in. Time consuming to be sure.

Now, looking back at what I built for iTS I see it has some serious issues.  The first being that (as one of the first features I added) the functionality is pretty minimal.  It’s also not abundently obvious that ANYONE can post an event.  Also.  The pages are really ugly.

The Ragnorak release is intended to address the issues with the Event pages, calendars, etc.

So the first thing I had to do was rebuild the pages so that all the info packed into them would be easy to absorb.  I find that my sense of style isn’t ideal so I “borrow” design elements from sites that either I like or that I think do a good job handling the layout of the content type.  And so, here’s a screenshot of what the event pages are probably going to look like:

Event Page Screenshot
A screenshot of what the event pages will likely look like.

I’m pretty pleased.  This layout gives me a lot of places to fiddle with different kinds of displays and blocks but still presents all the relevant details right there in front of you.  The right hand block drops beneath the text description on a mobile device, FYI.

Right now I’m planning on leveraging this layout for the main pages of any kind of event: including War Zones (tournament and league manager) as well as Narrative Campaign instances.  I mean, it makes sense since those kinds of content already have a management and operations page to offload the mechanics bits.  Let’s just use the “main” page to display the event details.  Yeah.  I like that idea.


Eternal Minis : Show off Your Modelling Projects

*sigh.  I’m not one to pimp possible competitors but Eternal Minis has a really slick site for showing off your miniatures.  If you have some free time, after you’ve updated your modelling projects on iToysoldiers, I’d definitely recommend posting them to Eternal Minis as well.

Oh!  And as a side note…  We’re in convo about sharing data between sites so hopefully you won’t have to post twice which I know is a pain in the keister!

Rob @ iToysoldiers

Concept: Global, Build: Local

iToysoldiers is all about tools to help the miniature wargaming community.  Right now it’s mostly about how folks can share the exploits of their armies but I have grand plans.  One of the things I’m doing is building tools to support my local community in the Greater Windsor, Ontario area.  Why?  Well, the stuff that they need to thrive is likely the same sort of stuff that other communities need.

Now that does generate a wee bit of an issue.  The Windsor crew tends to think of iToysoldiers as their playground – and I’m all over that.  But the intent behind iTS is so much more.  I want it to become a community of gamers that transcends regional boundaries and yet supports the local scene.  I know…  that’s hard.  But I think I can do it.  What I’m discovering I need, in order to address a global audience, is some sort of way to filter out content to only show what’s really important to a particular player.

My first step into this realm is part of the Ragnorak release, which deals with events/leagues/tournaments/ect.  I’m going to try and start suggesting events that a person might be interested in and I’m going to utilize the geo location info to do so.

Baby steps.

Rob @ iToysoldiers.

Wanted: Co-founder who’s good at business stuff

Hey, commander!

So iToysoldiers is pretty well established to some extent.  And I’m delighted with how well it’s been received.  But I’d like to take it to the “next level” and for that I need someone who’s good at marketing and promotion and all that.

I’m looking for a co-founder to help me with the promotional stuff.  I’m pretty good at coding but as a one man shop I don’t have the time to really go and promote the site.  I think it could be awesome if only more folks were aware.  Can you help?  Do you want to? Are you enthusiastic about miniature wargaming? Do you want to promote tools that help wargamers chronicle the glory of their armies?  If so… Let me know and we’ll talk.

Send me an email at rob@itoysoldiers.com and we can chat about what being a co-founder might mean.

Carpe Acies!

Kilgrave mK III Released

Greetings, commander!

iToysoldiers is super pleased to announce that Kilgrave mK III was successfully released today.  It’s the last mK I have planned for Kilgrave and whilst there’s always more work to be done, the player profiles, player stats, and dashboard are in a pretty good state, me thinks.  Of course, as always, if you run into a bug, have a suggestion, or want something new, feel free to bounce over to http://help.itoysoldiers.com and submit a ticket or send me an email at rob@itoysoldiers.com.

Anywho, Here’s a list of the new stuff in Kilgrave mK III.

New Features

The Dashboard has been totally redesigned.  Lots of new features and panels.  Older – useless ones – have been removed or relocated into the Stats display.  You can check out your dashboard by logging into iToysoldiers and visiting your Dashboard.

Modelling project statistics are now live! Granted, they’re a bit pedestrian at this point but I’m confident that as more folks use the feature it’ll become clear as to what sort of stats are particularly valuable.  Any way.  They’re located on the Stats panel of your profile.

The iToysoldiers Help Portal has gotten a major facelift.  It’s now responsive! And it has a calendar to give you a kind of history/view of what sort of things are happening in the background at iToysoldiers.  The good news is that it runs on a separate server so if iToysoldiers is having an issue you can still access the help portal.  I’m currently working on improving the knowledge base. Give it a look see and tell me what you think (or report some of those troublesome bugs you’ve been experiencing).

Bug Fixes

I disabled the “Status” submission form until it generates something that can actually be acted upon.  It was a cool idea but it suffered from not really having been implemented properly.

I fixed the “Action” bar at the top of the home page to include the Stream, Quick Battle Reports, New Lists, and New Models.  I also addressed the stupid big white bar between the stream and the buttons.

Improvements to some of the page metadata so that search engines will have an easier time indexing them.  More views to your stupendous content, my friend.

I closed the hole that allowed anonymous people to comment on certain content.  No more “phantom” New Comment emails.  (Yeah, they were able to comment but those comments didn’t show up.  Fixed!)

I THINK I’ve fixed the annoying behavior on iOS devices that forced you to click a link twice to make it work.  Some links – especially those with tooltips may still require a second click because that’s how iOS works (first click displays the tooltip, second click activates the link).  Anyway, I think I’ve reduced some of the annoyance there.

I fixed the private message icon on the player profile page so now when you click it you’ll actually be brought to the PM page.  Sorry ’bout that one.

Anyway.  That’s new and improved! Let me know if there’s anything else I can address, improve, fix, or otherwise make iToysoldiers a better site.  In the meantime:

Carpe Acies!