Category Archives: Dev Rambling

New Player Profiles: Kilgrave is going to be Legendary

I’m working on the Kilgrave release.  There’s really two pieces to it: A better “Home Page” for folks and updated player pages.  I know…  They don’t seem related but they kinda are in my mind.  At least that’s what I tell myself.

Anyway… I’m really excited to show off the new player profiles.  As iToysoldiers has grown and there’s more kinds of things to show off about your miniature wargaming exploits I’m finding that I’m having to revamp a bunch of things.  That’s not bad, per se…  I’ve learned a bunch building this site and as I come back to various things I can make ’em better.  The profiles are no exception.

So what you’re going to be looking for is a player profile that captures all your deeds.  There’s going to be lists of media (images and the like), achievements, campaign badges, lists of your army…  Essentially I want to capture all the bits that show off your wargaming prowess.  I want the profile page to be the page you use to say, “Hey! I play wargames.  Here’s what I’ve done.”

Now that’s harder than you might expect.  So, there’s site specific stuff like your renown, level, battle score and the like.  And then there’s the content you’ve contributed.  What’s that all going to look like.  Well, that’s what I’m thinking about now.  So, internal iToysoldiers metrics will have a lower priority on the screen than images and content.  I find it sad that iTS achievements and campaign badges are not the defacto standard for war gaming accomplishments but I think I’ll live.

I’m hoping to have Kilgrave ready for release early next week but I keep finding things to tweak.  Bare with me, commander!  I’ve got your six.

Carpe Acies!
Rob @ iToysoldiers

Planning the “Kilgrave” release

Ahoy, commander!

Well, Release “Smaug” is rapidly approaching completion and it’s time to give some thought to what the next release’ll have in it.  I’ve code named it Kilgrave.  Why?  Well…  Kilgrave was kind of a narcissist and since I plan on giving some love to the Player Profiles I thought it kind of appropriate.

So here’s the things I want to address with the Kilgrave release:

  1. Update the look of the player profiles so they’re a bit more consistent with the site layout.  They’re not bad right now but there’s some whacky layout decisions I made early on that need to be addressed.
  2. Probably the most important bit: Player battle stats need to be revamped and get similar treatment to the factions.
  3. Introduce stats for other types of content.  Maybe not quite so indepth but at least enough to give you an idea where you’re at.
  4. I’d like to introduce a site wide battle rating system based on acknowledged battles.  This may or may not make it in.
  5. I’d like to introduce “privacy/notification” settings so you can control what sort of email is sent to you by the iTS system.

And now for some additional stuff that needs to be addressed:

  1. Any bugs that show up from Smaug (although these may end up as Hot fix releases depending upon their severity).
  2. A revamp of the home page for folks who aren’t registered.
  3. Finish the migration from Mailchimp.
  4. Start the migration from UserVoice.

Those last two, Mailchimp and UserVoice…  I mean to comment on that and I will.  Promise.  The short version: I want to reduce the number of “channels” I have out in the world.  It’s too hard for you, my valued member, to manage the interactions with iToysoldiers if I’m using third party platforms.  They’re really slick and I’m going to lose a bit of functionality (purely on the back end of things) but I think the trade off of having yours truly as the owner of all elements of iToysoldiers will help with piece of mind.  I hope so at any rate.

Anyway, that’s what’s planned for Kilgrave.  If you have any input on what you’d like to see on your player profiles I’d love to hear about it.  Drop me a line at rob@itoysoldiers.com and I’ll take a gander.

Carpe Acies!
Rob

Double Post Double Post

Greetings, commander!

I know that the double posting (usually of comments, but other things too) has been a thorn in everyone’s side.  Well, not everyone.  I think it’s mostly folks on mobile devices – especially iOS devices ’cause Safari encourages double clicking of links to make them work.  Well, it’s been driving me batty as well.  The good news is that I think (this time I’m a bit more confident) that I have a solution and it’ll be released with Smaug.  yay!

So I was doing some searching on what’s causing the problem and I found this post: https://www.drupal.org/node/107358.  It’s pretty hilarious.  The participants spend an awful lot of posts “proving” the issue.  As it turns out it’s a function of clicking the submit button after the server has received the comment but before it returns a response.  Something that’s a common occurance when we’re using cell data rather than wi-fi (which is where I tend to test things so I hadn’t been able to duplicate it).  Thankfully, my development server is slow slow slow so after reading how to duplicate I did so.

Then I found a really slick module that disables the submit button for a couple of seconds (I’ll need to play with it to get the right amount of time) so that the server can return a response and thus double posts will be eliminated.  How cool is that?

Anyway, I’m always trying to get stuff working better for you and if you run into any issues at all or have something you’d like to see on the site then by all means, please drop me  a note at rob@itoysoldiers.com and I’ll take a look at it.  I aim to please, after all.

Carpe Acies!
Rob

Oh Gods! So much to do!

I thought I’d share what my “get off your hiney and work on iToysoldiers” task list looks like.  I use Yodiz to track all the feature requests and bugs that need to be worked on.  This is a screenshot of what I’m working on for the Smaug release.

What I'm working on right now.
What I’m working on right now.

Smaug is going to have support for Steamroller tournaments and some improvements to the tournament system in general.

Right now I’m struggling with what sort of stats to show when a tourney or league is completed.  Right now I have faction distribution (how many players fielded each army) and average battle score for each faction.  More would be better, me thinks but I don’t have a really large base of data to play with.

I think something that’ll help will be a new idea: Competitive stats that span events.  So for each game system there’d be some stats around how each faction does across all the competitive events (in this case it’d be tournaments and leagues).  I think that might not be a bad thing ’cause a single event of 8-20 players doesn’t have enough data points to really show cool stuff.

Any thoughts on what sort of stats you’d like to see? I’m all ears (well, eyes).

Carpe Acies!
Rob

Three is the Magic Number

Well how did this happen? iToysoldiers is now three years old.  I’m pretty pleased with that. I mean, who’d’ve thunk that a crazy little website I originally created to track battle stats would still be kicking after three years.  I’d like to thank you for being part of iToysoldiers and helping me make it into the tool for chronicling the glory of our armies that it is today.  Honest. I couldn’t have done this without all the input, suggestions, bug reports, and content you guys are creating.  Thank you! Continue reading Three is the Magic Number

One Thing to Rule Them All

Hey! It being the auspicious third year anniversary of iToysoldiers and all that, I was wondering if I could borrow a bit of your time.  You see, I’d like to know the “One Thing” I can do to improve iToysoldiers for you.  I’d also like to kind of gauge how you’re feeling about the site in general. To that end, I present to you the “One Thing 2016 Survey”.  If you’d be so kind as to give the question, “What’s one thing Rob can do to improve iToysoldiers?” some thought and then complete this survey I’d really appreciate it.  You have no idea how much this helps me.  You don’t HAVE to give me your email but sometimes it’s helpful to get some clarification on your ideas. Continue reading One Thing to Rule Them All

An Embarrassment of Quirks

I use iToysoldiers, whilst not as much as I probably should, an awful lot to chronicle the glories of my very own miniature war gaming armies.  My Dark Eldar Kabal is on there.  My blood soaked World Eaters army is on there. Some of the other random things I work on are on there.  But most of the time I do it in front of my computer and it works pretty well all things considered. However, whilst preparing for and attending Astronomi-con Toronto 2016 I made a couple of horrifying discoveries.

The first of these is that the Army Profiles do NOT help in crafting a compilation of fluff and pictures to assist in making a really slick looking army list with named characters, fiction, and pictures.  Not even a little bit.  Now I knew this, academically, but as I was trying to put my list together I realized just how much I’d love to have something to help me out with that – some sort of repository that holds all sorts of tidbits about my army in one convenient place.  Alas, I don’t have one.  But I will!

So, on my priority list is to revamp the army profiles in such a way as to make them useful for that sort of thing. I’ve always envisioned that the profiles would kind of be like those old White Dwarf Index Astartes articles and that’s what I’m going to work on.  Now if you don’t know what Index Astartes articles are (‘cause you’re a 40K whippersnapper or you don’t play Warhammer 40K) the short version is that they were a summary of the history, origins, major battles, and doctrines of a particular flavour of Space Marine.  Now the good news is that the concept is equally appropriate to any game and since I aim to be game agnostic I’ll be making sure that it’s not too sci-fi oriented.

The second big issue is reporting battles when you’re on a mobile device.  Gods it sucks.  Too many drop downs, the image widget isn’t terribly friendly and since it’s asking for so much stuff there is a lot of scrolling to go through. I wasn’t happy with it at all.

ugly battle report form
This drove me crazy and I’m probably more tolerant of issues than most on the site.

To that end, I’m going to be revamping the “Quick Battle” form that you’ll find on the home page (if you’re logged into the site) which will allow you to submit battle report results for your favorite miniature war game in a much more streamlined fashion.  I’m going to use auto lookup for the armies (rather than the kind of kludgy multi-dropdown thing) and add a few more fields to capture the most common fields.  I’ll also send you an email with the link to the battle so when you get home (or you’re using a larger device, or you have more time to fight with the larger form) you can go in and add more meta.

Lastly. For those of you who’ve chatted with me in person you know I struggle with explaining how cool iToysoldiers is (or more accurately, how cool I think it is). I’m not a sales guy.  I’m not a marketing guy. I’m not terribly charismatic or gifted with patter. I also spend an awful lot of time all by myself so I’m kind of out of practice when it comes to conversing with people.  Whilst I was trying to pimp iToysoldiers at Astronomi-con I found it hard to really explain iToysoldiers.  Alas, I didn’t have anything to really “show” what it does ‘cause it’s a bit sprawly.

With that in mind, in addition to making the army profiles more better – which I think will help a lot (i.e. “Hey! Here’s my army,” says I. “Damn. That’s cool!” says them. “I can help you do that,” says I. “Yes, please,” says them) but I’m going to prioritize something that’s been on my mind for a while and that is revamping the player profile pages.  They’re old.  I haven’t touched them in a long time and I’ve learned a lot. So they’re going to a) get a face lift and b) get the stats treatment that Armies did not too long ago.

So that, from an iToysoldiers perspective, is what I took away from the tourney I went to last weekend. Because I need better tools for me I will make better tools for you. Now, this is just my list of things I want done.  Suggestions? Comments? I aim to please.  Let me know.  Send an email to rob@itoysoldiers.com, send me a PM on the site, leave a comment, whatever.  I’m all ears.

Carpe Acies!
Rob

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

Greetings, warmongers! So one of the things that I’ve really kinda done a less than stellar job with is introducing you fine folks to the wondrous possibilities of the site. This is something that I’m working on rectifying. The first step to that is a brand spanking new set of intro emails to kind of walk you through all the primary features of the site. Starting now, all new folks who register for iToysoldiers will get these welcome emails.

Now I recognize that you’re probably saying, “Rob, that’s good and all but it doesn’t really help me. I’ve already signed up and I got your sub par activation email that was out of date and really didn’t help me at all to get started”. And you’d be right if I hadn’t thought of that already.

So. If you’d like to receive the super cool intro emails in your very own inbox all you have to do is complete the form below and click, “Submit”. It’ll start the ball rolling. I could probably have done something fancy like prepopulating the form or something but since it really doesn’t need to be pimped again I figured this’d be okay. I hope it is. Anyway, here’s the form:

Get the Intro Emails

Oh! Last thing. Once you’ve gone through the emails (it’s about five days) please let me know what you think. Did I miss anything? I’d appreciate it.

Carpe Acies!
Rob

This Week on iToysoldiers

Hey! I’ve done some serious work on iToysoldiers this week:

1. The gallery and battle results sections are pretty much solid. Since this is the most commonly used features that’s a good thing. You can record any battle you’ve ever played, show of your miniatures or battle photos, and get stats and achievements for it!

2. The Stats page is well on it’s way. http://itoysoldiers.com/stats

3. I’ve added some cooler art for some of the achievements. http://itoysoldiers.com/achievements/leaderboard

4. I’ve started on some of the other features to support event calendars for clubs and stores and special events.

5. I’ve cleaned up some of the behavior behind the scenes so it’s harder to spam the site (but not post stuff) and some other things.

Let me know your thoughts. I aim to please.

What’s new on May 31st

Whew. Busy day.

1. Looks like I’ve thwarted the spammers. They haven’t posted any bogus content in over 24 hours. Woot.

2. The navigation menu is a bit easier to use.

3. New stats on almost every element of the site: users, armies, systems.

4. I added a “Tags” field to the galleries so you can better describe the gallery and group ’em.

5. I added the ability to paste images from your clipboard (depending upon your browser) and from a remote URL (you know, like flickr).

6. Some other backend stuff.

It’s coming along and I’m a happy web developer.