Itty Bitty Battle Report Release Today

Good morning, commander!

I implemented release code name, “Hastur” today.  Honestly, the changes are fairly minimal.  Mostly backend battle report type stuff.  There’s a minor change to the layout of the battle reports to put tem more in line with other types of content as well as playing with the tools bar.  What do you think of the buttons as opposed to the straight links?

Oh! The main Battle Report page also has new tabs that show all battles, your battles, trending battles, and battles of folks you follow.  I’m going to be adding that to most sections eventually.

Also, I fixed the achievement logic for battle oriented achievements.  Now they trigger when you create a battle so you don’t have to wait for a modification, a new battle or someone to acknowledge the battle.  I also cleaned it up so that it’ll be easier to implement new achievements in the future and that’s a good thing.

Lastly, I made some improvements to the look and feel of the monthly battle champion achievement.  Look for it on July 1st.  It’s more better.

See… Not a terribly interesting release really.  But that brings me to a bit of a chatter about the next release:  “Smaug”.  Smaug’s going to bring in something I’ve been threatening to do for a long time, namely, support for the Privateer Press Steamroller tournament format.  The good news is that the rule set isn’t terribly different from the existing Swiss format that’s the bread and butter of the iToysoldiers Tournament Manager.  When I built the tournament system I tried to think ahead and allow for a modular building block system.  Now I’m calling it the “War Zone Framework” and all the event management stuff is being driven through it.  Seems to be working pretty well.  Anyway.  That’s what I’m working on.

If you have any suggestions for improvements to the site or things you’d like to see I’m all ears!  Drop me a line at rob@itoysoldiers.com or post a comment here.

Army Profiles Get Some Love

Ahoy, Commander!

I just released the oh-so-cleverly titled Release 4.3-rc5 release on iToysoldiers.  I know.  I need better names, right?  I should use really cool code names like other software developers.  Yeah, we’re going to do that starting now!  Henceforth this release is code named, “Stormageddon”.  So, Stormageddon has two major facets.  The first is an attempt to address some of the bugginess when creating and editing content on smart phones and tablets.  Who knew there was a secret number for the font size that triggered zoom?  Anyway, in order to make it a bit easier to manage on a mobile device I’ve set the default editing screen to a “Basic” format.  It’s essentially a text box without any bells or whistles.  It’s great for the down and dirty stuff like responding to discussions, or reporting a battle or simply uploading a photo.

The Advanced screen (there’s a toggle at the bottom of applicable text fields that lets you switch between the two) has all the nifty features like embedding images, cool formatting features and the like.  So if you’re like me, sitting in front of a laptop or desktop all day, you can fiddle with the formatting until it’s just right.  The advanced filter is still a bit wonky on phones – it behaves okay on tablets and I’m going to continue to work at it but this should address most of the issues.  Also, because the javascript isn’t loading up initially (or at least rendering), some of the double posting issues and text replacement bizarreness should be minimized. Let me know if you’re still having issues.  I’m working on getting it better all the time.

And now it’s time to talk about the second facet.  Army Profiles.  So the idea behind Army Profiles on iToysoldiers was to have a place where you could bring all the elements of your army together and kind of show it off/tell its story.  For you 40K players, I pictured a kind of “Index Astartes” article type thing.  The Stormageddon release adds some cool features to make that a reality.

If you start a new Army Profile (http://itoysoldiers.com/node/add/army-profile) and scroll down past the description you’ll see a series of buttons.  Each button describes a “kind” of content block.  There’s headers, notable units, etc.  I look at these as building blocks for building your army profile.  If you zip over to my Dark Eldar profile, The Kabal of the Malfean Dawn, you’ll see what it looks like when you utilize these functions.

Oh! I also added a block on the sidebar that shows all the modelling projects associated with a particular army profile.  Cool, eh?

Anyway, give it a whirl and let me know how it all works for you.  I’m excited to add some more content to my profiles so you can all read more of my sloppy prose.  Feel free to ping me at rob@itoysoldiers.com or on the site at http://itoysoldiers.com or here in the comments if you have any feedback, suggestions, or what I’ve done is driving you batty.

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

I Blame the Game

I’ve been lax on making iToysoldiers better.  There’s a sorta good reason for it.  Two, actually.  The first is every so often I need to step back and let it run without me tweaking stuff to see what breaks.  That and to kind of give me a break from staring at the site.  The second is that I’ve really gotten sucked into a new game.  Well, it’s not new anymore.  The game’s “Stellaris” and it’s absolutely fantastic. I’ve been playing it to death for about a month.  Now that I think about it that’s like 8% of the year and that makes me sad.  I’ve waited too long.

So let me take a moment to kind of talk about some good stuff I’ve taken from my break.  The premise behind Stellaris is that you’re in charge of running a vast galactic empire. It’s from the same guys that made Hearts of Iron.  The depth of this game is amazing! You can pretty much customize everything and run the kind of empire you want, develop ships and military they way you want, name ships and planets and people.  The list goes on and on.  It’s the game I’ve been looking for.

Part of what’s so appealing is that you can “role play” your society.  You can enslave other races, build a scientific power house, anything.  It’s what you can usually only do when you play tabletop games like we do because there’s a flexibility that isn’t usually present in computer games.  And that’s the cool bit: The story of your empire.  I’ve often commented on how we can add more narrative elements to our games – move from World of Tanks to Hearts of Iron.  In other words, put our miniature wargaming battles into the context of a story that makes the battles matter.  I’m not talking about simply whether you win the prize in the league or tournament but whether your stalwart band is able to defend the bunker against vile raiders and thus prevent a loss of supply lines in the campaign.

What miniature games have right now is pretty decent for handling minor battles.  Tree or ladder campaigns are great for stringing together a series of tabletop games to represent a particular engagement or battle.  There’s even a few rule sets that aim to deal with planetary or regional conquest.  What I don’t see a whole ton of, at least in sci-fi/fantasy gaming, is a system to capture the logistical challenges of a large scale campaign.  I’ve found that Victory By Any Means provides a really good starting point for this kind of thing.  It includes rules for all sorts of mechanics for handling logistics, fleet building, movement, combat, politics, etc.  I cringe at the thought of actually running a campaign using the rules though.  Lots to keep track of and without some sort of “manager” it’d be hard for players to keep track of what’s going on unless they’re really close friends who hang out a lot.

But I’m digressing a bit.  I think I need to revisit the Narrative Campaign manager on iToysoldiers and try to make it easier to use.  The stories of our battles are important and you folks deserve a great way to handle running a narrative campaign. If you have any suggestions on improvements for the manager or some thoughts on what’s barred you from using it to date I’d love to hear them.  Computer gamers should NOT be the only folks who can have complex and rich environments in which to battle. I want to help.

Okay.  And now… I’ve been absent and for that I apologize. These breaks are good for me and in turn for you ‘cause I return refreshed and ready to tackle problems.  Thanks for your patience.

Carpe Acies!
Rob

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

League Manager Improvements

Greetings, commander!

Based upon some feedback I’ve received over the course of the current GWTW Warhammer 40K league I’ve made some minor improvements to how battle results are reported.  It’s still done using the “Operations” page of the league but now there’s a handy list of your open matches and four buttons: Win, Loss, Draw, Forfeit. I think this’ll be easier to use from two perspectives: First is that it’s more mobile friendly.  Second, I think it’s a tad more intuitive.  It’ll also be cleaner when I get around to putting the round robin league format into play.

Oh yeah! Speaking of the forfeit button.  There is one now. I kind of overlooked that last release (it was there but it wasn’t visible) and now it is. So if you run into a situation where you can’t play your opponent (and it’s your fault) you can easily click the forfeit button and it’ll process the score cards for you and your opponent.  Neat, eh?

For you Event manager folks, I corrected the missing management page on various types of events. Gotta tell you, this was driving me batty.  I also corrected some of the formatting of bullet lists so that they don’t scootch over to the left quite so far anymore.  Huge win for authoring as well as some other spots where there’s lists (like the panel on club pages where you create new content).

So.  With all that there’s one other major thing on the League Manager that I need to address and that’s what happens when a player submits a battle and they’re recorded as player 2.  Unfortunately, I was using some legacy code from the old league manager and it only required a single player to report their battle and then it would generate everything.  I thought it might be a good idea to have both players report their results.  I was wrong.  What I’m going to do is remove the stupidhead form for reporting battles (because the button is way better) and change the code so that only one player needs to report their battle results and then the battle will be generated and acknowledged.

I’m also going to do some improvements to the messaging system so that when players forfeit or report their battle it’ll message their opponent.

Whew.  Anything else I’m missing in the league manager? Improvements? Suggestions? You can post them in the comments, send me a PM or an email at rob@itoysoldiers.com.  I aim to please.

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

iToysoldiers is pleased to welcome Relic Knights

Greetings, Warmongers! I’m delighted to add the superfun looking “Relic Knights” by Sodapop Miniatures to the fold.  I’ll freely admit that I haven’t had an opportunity to play this game but I’m a huge fan of the whole anime/mecha aesthetic so this game looks fantastic.  Anyway, here’s some flavor text from the game to kind of give you a feel for the game.

The Darkspace Calamity engulfs the universe. Inexorably it devours galaxies whole, their lights extinguished one by one. Only a single galaxy remains, desperately staving off extinction through the might of its heroes.

Relic Knights is a quick and dynamic tabletop strategy battle game that uses finely detailed 30mm scale miniatures to represent your heroes and villains on the battlefield. Relic Knights uses a card-based system to represent esper—the energy which binds the universe. Players draw and use this esper to unleash devastating attacks and cunning counters upon their foes.

You can take a look at the, albeit spare, Relic Knight page.  I can’t wait to see some of these games and models posted.

Carpe Acies!
Rob

What’re You Working On? Modeling Projects Updated

Ahoy, commanders! I just wanted to take a moment and gush about some improvements I made to the Modeling Project system. Here’s a few bullets to cover the biggies:

First: I seriously improved the navigation of the main Modeling Projects page. There’s a link to create a modeling project, a list of the newest projects, the most popular projects and a brief stat summary. You can take a peek at all these at http://itoysoldiers.com/munitions/modeling-projects

Second: There’s a whole bunch of new ways to look for modeling projects.  There’s tabs for all projects, popular projects, your projects, and the projects of folks who you follow.

Third: I added some stats to the modeling project page at http://itoysoldiers.com/munitions/modeling-projects/stats . As always, their kinda pedestrian right now but as more projects get in the system it’ll be easier to see what sort of info is of note.

Fourth: I created a “Current Project” widget that you can put on your blog.  It works great on Blogger, Blogspot, and WordPress.  Probably others as well.  This you can check out at http://itoysoldiers.com/widgets.  If you want to see it in action you can venture over to my (neglected) blog at orias40k.blogspot.ca.  It’s on the right hand side column, the “Current Project” block.

Lastly, When you add an image to the project (either through the “Image Upload” for on the page or in the gallery widget when you edit a project it’ll add it to the project page as well.  Neat, eh?

There’s a few backend things as well but those are the important bits.  If you have any comments, issues, suggestions you know I’m all ears.  In the mean time:

Carpe Acies!
Rob