All posts by Rob@iToysoldiers

Don’t I feel kinda silly

Ahoy, commander! Well, as it turns out the iToysoldiers Help Portal hasn’t been working in like… well… ever.  Kinda explains why the Bug Hunt has been kind of quiet.  Anyway, I fixed it by trashing the old system and bringing in a new one.  I still need to put the knowledge base back in there but you can now submit bugs and feature requests with impunity.

Oh! And because of this, I’m going to extend the Bug Hunt until May 31st.  Feel free to let me know what’s wrong with the Help Portal as well since it’s kind of new and hasn’t really gotten a thorough shake down.  Not at all like the previous version.

Carpe Acies!
Rob

Narrative Campaign Manager: Some ideas

Ahoy, Commander! So it’s been a really really long time since I visited the Narrative Campaign Manager on the site. I think the first iteration of it was pretty neat.  It allowed folks to create narrative campaigns that could be played over and over again. These campaigns could be organized in a linear fashion or using a node system (like planets or battlefields).  Players could pick which faction they wanted to be part of and have their games count toward the over all results of the campaign.

A couple of folks jumped on board and created and/or ran their narrative campaigns using iToysoldiers.  That made me happy.  However, it wasn’t without noticing that there were some things that weren’t quite there.  And so, I present to you: A List of things I want to add to the iToysoldiers Narrative Campaign Manager.

Special Rules

Either manually or based on rules, I want the campaign organizer to be able to define special rules that are enabled against certain conditions or phases of the campaign.  Something like, “Phase 1: Faction: +1 to reserve rolls during this phase”.  These special rules would show up on the campaign instance.

Solo Campaigns

Getting buy in from other players to commit to a long term campaign is hard.  What’s easier is defining a narrative around the games you play against whoever happens to be around.

Global Campaigns

Along the same line as solo campaigns, the Narrative Campaign Manager should be able to handle players anywhere.  Think of the Eye of Terror campaign that Games Workshop ran or the various WWII campaigns run by Warlord.  Essentially, anyone can sign up and report battles against the event.  Those battles would then help craft the story line as it continues.

Just In Time Narrative

This one will be harder but I think it’d be cool.  So the first time a narrative campaign is run it would update the “core” entry on iToysoldiers.  The idea being that you can create a narrative campaign as you go and then it’ll save it for other people.

I wander back and forth on this one though.  See, one of the reasons that I built the Narrative Campaign Manager the way I did was to prevent folks from losing interest and abandoning campaigns.  If the campaign is written and ready to go before it even starts it’s much more likely to be played to completion.  On the other hand, it could be said that playing the games the first time around define the story line of the campaign.  Still working on this one.

Anyway, that’s what’s in my head for future Narrative Campaign work. I have a bit of stuff ahead of this on the pipeline but I’ll get around to it.

Carpe Acies!
Rob @ iToysoldiers.com

What’s In the Pipeline at iToysoldiers

Ahoy, Commander!

So I just wanted to let you know about what’s currently being worked on for iToysoldiers right now. I have a release scheduled for next week that’ll include the following:

Achievements

  1. I’m redesigning the look and feel of the Achievement pages. They’ll be cleaner and it’ll be much easier to see who’s earned a given achievement.
  2. I’m fixing the “bulk award” achievement rule so that it doesn’t generate quite so much email. This is a little thing ’cause it’s not often that I introduce a whole bunch of achievements.
  3. I’m going through and fixing some of the older achievements to use better code.

General Stuff

  1. In an effort to make navigation a bit easier I’m totally revamping the left nav menu.  Rather than being clever with titles like, “Order of Battle” I’m going to be using the categories of Gaming, Narrative, and Modelling for the major features.  Theater will still be events.  Think, “Where, when, and who to play” and Gazetteer will be collapsed into Community.
  2. General bug fixes that probably won’t really be noticed.

Bug Hunt 2017

Oh, and don’t forget that Bug Hunt 2017 is running right now. If you have any bugs, feature requests, or comments, do not hesitate to zip over to the iToysoldiers Help Portal and submit them.  You’ll be entered for a chance to win $25 at your favorite game store.

Carpe Acies!
Rob @ iToysoldiers

Reading Now: Warlord, Fury of the God Machine

Ahoy, commander! So I figured I’d start sharing with you the stuff I’m reading. Some of it is going to be tech related (not much though since I do most of that on the Internet) but most of it will be sci-fi and fantasy and horror ’cause I love to read fluffy stuff.  Anyway. Right now I’m reading, Warlord, Fury of the God Machine by David Annendale.  Granted, I’m not terribly far into it but so far it’s not too shabby.  Likely, once I’m done I’ll write a full review but right now… too early.

The Narrative is Important

One of the things I really dig about the Warhammer 40K universe is the depth of the fiction surrounding the game. There’s not that many universes in the miniature wargaming hobby that can claim to have such a developed back story – at least science fiction and fantasy ones.  Clearly, the historical ones have a pretty decent repository of content if you want to dive deeper into the world but fictional ones? Not so much, really.

And that’s one of the things I really look for in a game.  I like the stories and the fluff and the narrative.  Not being a writer myself, I have to rely upon the efforts of others. Games Workshop has done a really good job providing folks with lots and lots of content associated with their games.  Kudos to them!

One of the things I’m trying to do with iToysoldiers is to help folks make the narrative elements of their games more available, more structured.  It’s always a work in progress but I love the narrative bit so much.

Anyway, feel free to read along with me! Pick up the Warlord, so far it’s pretty slick.

banner link to Warlord, Fury of the God Machine
Click here to buy Warlord, Fury of the God Machine

Carpe Acies!
Rob @ iToysoldiers

Bug Hunt 2017

Ahoy, commander! It’s a little bit later than usual, but the 2017 Bug Hunt begins today! What’s the Bug Hunt? Well, as with any software product, iToysoldiers probably has a few quirks that are driving you mad. You may also have an idea for a new feature. Well, this event is intended to encourage you to tell me about both! Anyone who reports a bug or a feature request on the iToysoldiers Help Portal will be entered into a drawing for a $25 CDN gift certificate for either the store or online vendor of their choice.

The Rules

Bugs reported between now and April 30th at 23:59 will count as an entry.

The winner will be contacted during the first week of May.

Only bugs or feature requests reported on the iToysoldiers Help Portal count as an entry.

Each unique entry from an individual counts as an entry into the drawing so even if someone else reports the same bug you’ll still get credit for reporting it – unless that duplicate is from you.

Only valid bug or feature requests count as an entry.  In other words, the entry has to be something related to iToysoldiers and how it works (or should work).

A bug or feature request does not need to be accepted to be counted (i.e. your bug may be “works as designed” or it could be a feature request that isn’t in line with iToysoldiers).

iToysoldiers reserves the right to consider a report as “not really related” and cancel the submission.

You do not have to be registered on iToysoldiers in order to report bugs (although it’d probably make sense if you were).

And there you have it! Good luck!  I really value the Bug Hunt because it gives me a bunch of feedback that I don’t usually get. So go ahead and get started now at the iToysoldiers Help Portal.

Carpe Acies!
Rob @ iToysoldiers

Achievements for Modelling Projects are Live!

Greetings, Commander! I’m delighted to announce that as of right now, iToysoldiers has begun awarding achievements for your work on painting up your miniatures! There’s a new category of achievements, aptly titled, “Modelling” that shows off who’s been doing the most work on their armies.

Right now there’s three new achievements:

  • Modeller: for submitting a modelling project.
  • Requisition: a leveled achievement for aquiring models.
  • Uniform Regulation: another leveled achievement for completing ’em.

You should get on earning some of these by tracking your modelling on iToysoldiers.

Oh, and this new release also fixed about 53 bugs that’ve been sitting around and bothering me. Granted, you probably won’t notice the bulk of the work on these since they’re largely back end type stuff but every little bit works to make iToysoldiers faster, better, and more stable. Yay me!

Of course there’s always more to do and I’m sure I continue to miss stuff (or there’s something I haven’t even considered) so if you want to make a feature request or report a bug feel free to do so at the iToysoldiers Help Portal.  In the meantime:

Carpe Acies!
Rob @ iToysoldiers

Three Keys to a Successful War Gaming League

Greetings, commander! Today we’re going to talk about leagues.  Specifically we’re talking about store or club sponsored leagues (the most common in our world of miniature war gaming).  What we’re going to talk about is the three key things to running a successful league. Guess what? It’s got nothing to do with what restrictions you put on army lists or anything like that. They’re about the management of the league and really keeping your players informed of the overall state of the event in a timely fashion.

I know.  Yawnsville, right? Well, these things aren’t terribly sexy but when I was looking around at various leagues, campaigns, and the like I found a whole lot of failed events and they all failed because they just petered out. Players lost interest.  Updates stopped happening. Results weren’t updated. It can be hard to run a league all by yourself – especially when you’ve got other things clamouring for your attention.

So here is an outline of three keys to running a successful miniature war gaming league. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing Warhammer 40K, Warmachine/Hordes, Flames of War, X-Wing or whatever because these things aren’t tied to the game rule set.  Oh! And I’m also going to elaborate on how using iToysoldiers as a league manager can help with these things.  Cool, eh? So without further ado… The list:

Stick to the schedule

It’s been said that punctuality is the politeness of kings and in the case of a war gaming league it’s totally true. This is the biggie.  If you let everything else go you must keep the league running on time. Post round results and new matches at the very beginning of each round on a regular schedule. Post the results of individual battles as soon as humanly possible.

The cool thing is that if you’re using iToysoldiers to manage your league we handle all that for you. Each round starts exactly on time. Match results show up as soon as the players enter them. Pairings are generated and players are notified within nano seconds of the new round beginning. The best bit? It’s all automated. Once the league has started you don’t have to do anything and it’ll just keep running – on time.

Sometimes you have to be the bad guy

This is a tough one – especially for a store sponsored league. You certainly don’t want to alienate players by enforcing rules in a draconian fashion. But sometimes you have to. If players don’t get their battle in during the designated time you might be tempted to give them an extension. Don’t. There’s other folks who’re waiting for their matches and extending a round can frustrate other folks. Yeah, the players asking for an extension may be annoyed but… so will everyone else who’re waiting for the next round. There’s really no way to win when you have to be the bad guy because someone’s going to be unhappy but if you’re consistent in your application of the league’s rules then at least you can say, “Hey! Them’s the rules.  Sorry”.

Using iToysoldiers for your league manager is a pretty easy way to get around (some of) this. Let us be the bad guy. All the math, matches, and scheduling is handled by the site so you don’t have to be the bad guy. You can just blame us. We’ve got thick skins.

Don’t mess up the math

Nothing’s worse than one of your players coming up to you after the league and pointing out that you made a math mistake that changes the results. You have to make sure that you’re being complete and accurate as you enter in player results, calculating victory conditions, and ranking players appropriately. One little mistake can bring all sorts of pain.

Thankfully, iToysoldiers has this covered too. Our league manager does all the calculations, tie breakers, pairings, and all that for you so you don’t have to spend any time worrying about it – let alone actually having to enter in the data since the players handle that bit.  Computers are really good at handling math related tasks and iToysoldiers has been running leagues for quite some time now.

Do you have some other thoughts on running a successful league?  I’d love to hear about ‘em.  Feel free to comment away.

Carpe Acies!
Rob @ iToysoldiers

What’s in the pipeline at iToysoldiers

So here’s what I’m working on right now:

Achievements for modelling projects

That’s right! You’re going to be able to earn achievements for your model collection.  That’s great news for folks who’re on iToysoldiers to pimp their painting studio or aren’t really all that interested in the battle achievements (or you’re like me and you love playing but you suck something fierce).

BUG BUG BUG Fixes

So on the backend there’s a whack of niggly little issues.  I’m working my way through ’em.  If you could only see my GIT commit log.  It’s shocking that iTS even works.  *snicker.

iToysoldiers now supports EVERY miniature wargame

Ahoy, Commander!

iToysoldiers is pleased to announce our latest release, 4.5-rc4 which, amongst a handful of other things, brings support for EVERY SINGLE MINIATURE GAME AND ARMY IN THE WORLD! Yep. It’s now possible to add your own armies or factions so you don’t have to wait for the iToysoldiers team to update when a new rule set is released or if we haven’t gotten around to adding your favorite game. How __ing cool is that?

So now, when you report a battle, start a modelling project, or show off your army profile you can enter whatever you want as the army or faction.  I’m totally excited about the possibilities here.

Now. There’s some caveats and quid pro quos here.  Game Systems will still need to be entered in by the iToysoldiers staff and we’re going to make an effort to go through the new factions and see if we can associate them with games but if you want to make sure that your favorite game is truly supported on iToysoldiers all you have to do is zip over to the “Request New Game Support” page and tell us about the game. We’ll get it in as soon as we can.

Now that I’ve gotten that bit of gushing out of the way, here’s some other stuff that’s in the release:

The interface for submitting and editing battles and army lists have been revamped to make them easier to use.  There’s now a series of tabs that group types of input together and all of the required fields are on the very first tab.  No more scrolling through lots of stuff you don’t care about to submit your battles and army lists.

Corrected a whole whack of errors on the League manager. I’m still not 100% sure why the last release failed me so badly but it should all be working now.

Corrected the issue where battle reports weren’t being truly updated on creation. Your opponent wasn’t getting the meta data when you created a battle and that messed up stats for both of you. Also updated all the affected battle reports.

Cleaned up a bunch of backend stuff. Nothing to see here.

So that’s the latest release! If you run into any issues or have some suggestions, I’d love to hear about them.  Zip over to the iToysoldiers Help Portal and let me know what’s on your mind.

Carpe Acies!
Rob @ iToysoldiers

Oh, Gods! Reversion Control!

Ugh.  So as I continue to work on various Event management pieces I’m finding that I’m breaking existing functionality! WTH! Aaaack!  Curses!

So for the next little bit I’m going to be remediating that.  I’m gonna have to pull the leagues and tournaments into the Event content type just so that I have consistency.  This is not what I wanted to work on this week (or two).

Damn.