Posted in EpicTable Development on October 30, 2010 at 5:57 pm
Last Sunday, Brennen and I took Alpha 10 for a spin. We verified that the dire problems of Alpha 9 were fixed, tried out a new self-extracting installer in development.
The self-extracting installer was something I did as a break from other things, and it’s complete in Alpha 11. I only spent on hour or two on it, but it’s really motivating to me to do “finish work” like this. The gist is that the setup.exe and MSI are bundled into a single, self-extracting executable, so there’s no wondering which file to run, unzipping to temporary directories, or anything like that. Not 100% necessary, but consistent with the ease of use goals of EpicTable.
The Dire Problems, as you might recall, were the Ever-Changing Background and some weirdnesses with rich text notes. Both have been eliminated. You still get backgrounds, now you just don’t get them every two seconds. Rich text notes no longer cause mysterious “drag and drop registration errors”.
We did find a couple things of interest. Brennen was having scrolling problems that I couldn’t duplicate for the life of me. He uses a laptop with rather less screen real estate than I’d imagined, and runs at a lower resolution than I do, so we spent some time trying to get my secondary monitor setup to mimic his. I still wasn’t able to duplicate the problem that night, but later, I found I could duplicate it on my own laptop, so…something about laptops is more nuanced than just screen size and resolution. That’s what I’m working on now. At least now that I’ve been able to duplicate it, the bug can’t hide for long.
Running at this resolution has really made me thankful that there’s so much ability to customize the layout in EpicTable. (I need to record a video of that….)
Alpha 11, targeted for this week, will have fixes for these two issues from Alpha 10, a fix to character portrait and handout sharing, and the finished self-extracting installer. There are probably some other things I’m forgetting, but I need to leave something for the Alpha 11 post.
Posted in EpicTable Development on October 3, 2010 at 4:17 pm
EpicTable Alpha-9 is a good example of why I’m releasing alphas (almost) weekly to my gaming group to stabilize things before giving the rest of you a beta.
I was pretty excited about Alpha-9. It had a lot of improvements and fixes–things you can work around but would never want to release. Everything was working really well in my testing–though granted, the alpha releases get very little–and I was looking forward to wowing my group. Our Monday game night rolled around and BAM! Three really nasty things hit us that didn’t occur in my own lab.
First, rich text notes, when sent over the network, resulted in a scary looking message about “drag and drop registration failure”. Hmm…. Second, Bryan found that he could crash Brennen’s EpicTable by editing a note at the same time Brennen did. Fun. These two were both relatively easy fixes and were due to the same cause. You developers out there are probably guessing that this was caused by simultaneous access to the note by the GUI and the incoming change notification, and you’d be right. It was a little more nuanced than that, but in essence, that’s what happened, and that’s fixed.
The third and final nail in the coffin of this build: The Miraculous, Ever-changing Background. If you changed the background of the tabletop, you kept changing it. Forever. And everyone told everyone else about the background change. Forever. Okay, so I’m not entirely incompetent. I had mechanisms in place that were supposed to prevent that. They…um…just didn’t. (I deleted my long-winded explanation of what was really going on, and instead, put that in my bug database. If you’re interested, let me know.)
So, why am I going on about the tragic Alpha-9 release? It’s to illustrate the distinction I’m making between alpha and beta, and to help explain why the alpha is closed and I’m making the beta contingent on the alpha’s stabilizing. The Alpha-9 problems were difficult to reproduce in my environment but outright killed our Monday gaming session. I know how tough it is to keep a gaming group going, and I don’t want give you a evening-killing bug. I’m sure there will be issues that come up with the beta, and I know you guys will be helpful and gracious as we work through them together, but I’m going to be respectful of your gaming time and do what I can to prevent evening-killers like Alpha-9 getting into the beta.