EpicTable 1.0: The Beginning of Something New

Posted in EpicTable Development, EpicTable News on July 29, 2012 at 11:34 pm

At long last, EpicTable is ready to cross the line from beta product to released.  Note that I don’t call this a finish line.  It’s a milestone, but it’s not the end–not by a long shot.  There’s a lot I still want to do with EpicTable.  There are features which didn’t make the 1.0 cut, and there are brand new features that I can’t wait to get started on.  So rest assured, EpicTable is going to continue to evolve, expanding in some areas and deepening in others.  There’s plenty left to do.

I want to thank all the beta testers. Your forum posts and emails have made EpicTable so much better than it would have been without you.

What Does the End of the Beta Mean?

As you know, EpicTable is a commercial product.  Instead of getting into a big philosophical discussion about why it’s commercial and not free, let me just say, it’s commercial but its pricing and licensing scheme are meant to be friendly to the typical gaming group.  You can read more about that in the [forthcoming] article about EpicTable’s "Kitchen Table License Model".  I hope many of you will make the transition from beta users to licensed users.  To those that don’t, you have my thanks for your participation in the beta.   I’ve endeavored to give you a gentle off-ramp, so you have time to move your game.

Transition from Beta to 1.0 Release

  • The beta won’t expire until September 1st. 
  • After September 1st, your EpicTable beta license will convert to a 30-day evaluation license. 
  • You’re welcome to use the beta right up to the end, if you like.
  • The beta will no longer be officially supported, and all new work will be on the 1.0 product
  • You can’t have a group mixed, with some running the beta and some running the released product.  However, there’s no reason to do that, due to the Kitchen Table License Model.
  • Your games from the beta will load just fine in the released product.

What About Features That Didn’t Make It Into 1.0?

The short answer is that I’m continuing to work on them.  I’ll continue to take feature requests through the support site and discuss features there and in the forum.   There’s nothing that’s been cut from the product—just things that slipped over the 1.0 line.  Foremost among those is TrueVision.

So, what’s up with TrueVision?

For those unfamiliar with TrueVision, that’s EpicTable vision and lighting model.  There are many reasons why it’s not in 1.0, and they all kind of boil down to my making decisions based on ensuring that EpicTable fulfills its mission to enable you to play any game you want, online, without hassles and technical issues.  On a couple of occasions, that’s meant spending time on an area that I’d not planned on, rather than work on TrueVision.   With that said, I think we’re arriving at a point where EpicTable can absorb a large new feature like TrueVision, and I know the need is there.

I’ve felt the pain of getting by without it—I  was grinding my teeth while running a Pathfinder adventure in an old monastery that just screamed to be run in TrueVision.  Not only did I have to live without the feature, but I had to live with the irony that it’s the very first thing I worked on when I started EpicTable.  I could swear, if I looked hard enough at the screen, that I could see the dormant code there, desperately wanting to help me out.   You see, TrueVision is actually sort of in there—that’s the salt in the wound.  Of all the big new features on the EpicTable drawing board, TrueVision is the one with the most code behind it.  Some of you have even seen a demo of it at our Gen Con booth.  It works…but it’s incomplete, and putting it in would send a release-killing ripple through the product right now.  Not so much due to the fact that it’s incomplete, but because so many people have been waiting for it that I expect the feedback and enhancement requests from this one feature to be at a volume similar to that of the 1.0 beta.  

So, TrueVision’s not in 1.0.  It was a bitter pill for me to swallow, even though, as early as last Gen Con (August) I was making uncomfortable noises whenever I talked about TrueVision and its chances for 1.0.  The feature’s not dead.  I’m giving myself the time to handle TrueVision right.  I have a lot of time and thought invested in TrueVision, and I won’t let it just drop off the list. 

What about my feature requests?

Life remains startlingly similar in the post-1.0 world.  I’ll still be enhancing the product.   In general, I think about the support requests as falling into these buckets:

  1. Bugs with existing features 
  2. Small enhancements to the way an existing feature works to make it better  (e.g., many have requested smaller dice in the chat window)
  3. Extensions to existing features  (e.g., new dice roller options, or new object types to put on the tabletops and maps or new things you can do with them)
  4. Totally new features  (e.g., TrueVision, character sheets, combat trackers)

My plan is to release periodic updates at a similar or slightly lower frequency than the beta builds to address bugs and small enhancements.   Larger things will be targeted at larger releases.   Honestly, I’m trying to walk a line between giving you more information and inadvertently misleading you about when a feature will emerge.  The last thing I want is for someone to buy EpicTable for “tomorrow’s feature” and then tomorrow never comes.   I’ll be working on a roadmap, and I’ll share that when it’s ready.  What you might see on that roadmap, in addition to some idea of where features stand relative to each other, is some insight into…the “EpicTable value system”, for lack of a better word.  That is, how features are weighed against expressed values of EpicTable.  That will help you judge how close a feature is… or such is my hope.

Where/When Can I Get EpicTable 1.0?

Here. Soon. Very soon. And at Gen Con next month.  We’re doing a bit of a site redesign and getting the e-commerce site setup. As soon as it’s ready, we’ll flip the switch. I hope you’re as wow’d when you see the new design as I was. (Thanks, Brennen.) Seriously—it looks so nice, I almost bought EpicTable!  All kidding aside, those who have seen our Gen Con booth or been involved in the beta know that the site branding is out of sync with the rest of the product branding. I just didn’t have the heart to deepen the rift with more of the new product branding entering the scene, in the form of the e-commerce site, CD jacket art, the box set…. Oh—did I say “box set”? Hmm…. Maybe I should talk about that in a bit.

In Closing, Thanks

Whether or not you follow EpicTable from beta into released product, thank you.  Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback, for discussing it in the forum, for telling me what’s important to you.  EpicTable is a different product than the one that was in my head back in (I hardly want to say it) December of 2007, when I first introduced EpicTable to the community.  I cringe when I think about how long we’ve been talking about EpicTable, but it’s a much better product as a result of all that discussion.  In response to your feedback, I’ve released 21 builds since the start of the beta, over half of those since last August.  At one point, I knew personally everyone who’d used EpicTable. Now, close to 1,000 people have used EpicTable, and the usage continues to climb month after month.   To those who have lent your time and talent and support to EpicTable: Thank you all for helping to turn EpicTable into a reality.

— John

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