Greetings, commander! I’m deliriously excited to announce the release of iToysoldiers Version 5.0. As befits a major release, there’s just a ridiculous number of new things and improvements. I’m going to try and itemize them all here for your reading enjoyment. Of course the best way to experience all the new stuff is to visit iToysoldiers.com and experience it yourself.
Improved Site Design
Probably the most obvious change is the site layout and theme. I’ve opted to dramatically simplify the menus and various widgets on the page because I got a bit carried away with trying to be clever. The end result is that pretty much everything you might want to see and do can be done from the navigation bar at the top of the page. I’ve also tried to bring all of the features and menus in line with the five major categories of the site. Navigation is hugely improved as a result and I think you’ll find it easier to explore both the features of the site and the exploits of your fellow commanders.
A change that I think you’ll really appreciate is the “Add Content” menu. It’s been broken down into categories so the list of things you can create to show off your miniature armies is a bit less… well… random. Here’s how the categories work out:
Gaming: putting the dice on the table (or planning for it). Battle Reports and Army Lists.
Modelling: Building your models and putting paint to the plastic (or resin, metal, whathaveyou).
Narrative: Telling the story of your armies and their exploits: Narrative campaigns and Army Profiles
Theater: Where, when and with whom you play: Events, tournaments, clubs, and battlefields.
Community: Kind of everything else: Player profiles and leaderboards, Blogs, Galleries, and Forums/Discussions.
There’s a final section – for you technically minded folks – I’m calling Core. It represents backend and UX improvements that really aren’t really player facing. Oddly enough, Core elements, even though they’re not necessarily obvious, you’d hate the site if I didn’t give them some TLC. This is stuff like making sure I’m using the right libraries for various things, author experience, performance things, and the like. Boring, Sydney. Boring.
I’ve put a bit more consistency into the site.
Comments look the same (ish) whether you’re posting on a forum post, a battle report, or an image that someone’s uploaded. Author content blocks look the same on all the various content types.
The activity stream on the front page (for those of you who’re logged in) has been dramatically simplified. I removed that timeline bar from the display so it doesn’t take up valuable space when you’re using your mobile device or tablet to look at the page. I also did some work on the formatting of how items show up on the page so they’re a bit more consistent.
The layout of pages – both for the battles, lists, blogs, etc that you create as well as the pages that list site wide content have (mostly) gotten a bit of attention. The display of content is a bit more consistent across the site.
Image galleries are now formatted in such a way that it’s easier to view them and interact with images (like commenting on them or seeing larger versions).
Maps are back
Once upon a time, iToysoldiers had a number of different map based views. Over time they’ve been disabled – largely ‘cause of technical issues. Well, that’s changed! I have a beautiful new mapping repository and library which makes creating maps easy. Two maps have returned: The battlefield map for battle reports and the battlefield display for players – it shows where a player has engaged in battle. Gotta tell you, I’m excited to add more.
Since I’ve taken all this time to consolidate the site into five major categories, I should probably list improvements the same way, right?
Player battle stats have gotten a major overhaul. Rather than lumping all of your stats together, battle stats are displayed by faction.
Player battle stats also have “raw data” tables that can be manipulated with various filters to allow for more in depth analysis of your battle results.
The battle report pages have gotten a major facelift.
You can now link a battle to an army list entry on the site. You can even create an army list from the battle report screen. It’s totally optional. I’ll be providing real stats for army lists in the near future.
One thing I’ve wanted is a list of my models, by army and unit, with how many I have and how many are completed. Well. It’s there now. You can see an example, mine, here. <insert: http://itoysoldiers.com/user/16/modelling/collection> Fair warning: I don’t have all my models up yet but I’m working on it.
You didn’t think I’d leave your player profile alone whilst bringing everything into a more consolidated look and feel did you? Well, even if you did, I didn’t. Player profiles are now way better because they consolidate your miniature wargaming exploits (and other site activities) into the five major categories. There’s now a tab for gaming, modelling, narrative, theater, and community. When you and others peruse your profile they’ll (and you) will have an easier time drilling down to what’s important to them (or you).
There’s a ridiculous number of backend fixes and improvements. Most of it was removing deprecated stuff that didn’t hold up to the new categorization system. Stuff like that helps improve the performance of the site in general ‘cause there’s no need to reference things that aren’t there anymore. However…
After much internal debate I’ve decided to use UserVoice <insert link> as iToysoldiers Help Portal. The main reason? I really value the “I suggest you…” feature. See, UserVoice is not only a support ticket tracker, it also does an amazing job of helping me prioritize what should come next with iToysoldiers. It’s also one less thing I have to manage and that’s a good thing.
Speaking of which…
So that’s Release 5.0. I’m excited. I think it’s one of the more helpful releases I’ve done. That said, I may have missed some things. I might’ve introduced a bug. It’s even possible that there’s something iToysoldiers doesn’t do that make showing off your miniature wargaming armies easier. That’s why I have the support portal. Let me know! Really. Zip over to http://itoysoldiers.uservoice.com and tell me about what I could be doing better. Of course you could reply here or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org as well. I aim to please. I hope you like the new version of iToysoldiers.
Rob @ iToysoldiers