Posted in EpicTable Development on July 16, 2013 at 11:57 pm
EpicTable 1.1 is nearing the point where I’ll start letting people get their hands on it. I’ve been very reluctant to break anyone’s game night, so I’ve held on to this release, probably longer than I should have—certainly longer than I did with the beta releases. At this point, there are a few things that need to be put back together—changing technology on the tabletop/map area meant changing lots of little things, like how I handle right-clicks, how rich text is edited, etc.
With Gen Con right around the corner (mid-August), my goal is to get EpicTable 1.1 out there as the currently released version, and thereafter, start giving you guys some 1.2 and 2.0 preview content. If you’re at Gen Con this year, ask about the features we’re not selling yet. (We don’t typically demo features that aren’t in the shipping product, because we don’t want someone feeling like they got a bait-and-switch, but if you’re in-the-know and you want to see what’s still in the lab, let us know.) Once 1.1 is out and I’m back from Gen Con, I’ll do a better job of giving you previews of what’s coming up.
Speaking of what’s coming up:
EpicTable 1.1 is full of goodness. I’ve been working on it so long I sometimes forget how much there is to love about it. There are a few of new features, and a lot of what’s there just works better. EpicTable 1.1 will be a free upgrade.
EpicTable 1.2 will be the beginning of the long-awaited vision features. Several things about the technology shift in 1.1 will make (parts of) vision in 1.2 cleaner. I want to get this one in the hands of some existing EpicTable customers and let you help me make it better before springing it on the world. I know several of you have been waiting. I’ll be sending out more details on this after Gen Con; i.e., probably in September. (EpicTable Box Set customers: here’s where your “VIP pass” will come into play–you’ll be the first to get your hands on some of the 1.1 and 2.0 features.) EpicTable 1.2 will be a free upgrade.
EpicTable 2.0: Lots of things are vying for priority. This is going to be a fun one. I’m going to try beta testing 2.0 features with some of you 1.x folks, and I’m going to try not to let vision consume me, so that there’s some 2.0 work going before too, too long.
Posted in EpicTable Development on May 5, 2013 at 7:05 pm
I’m sitting in front of the computer, and my 5-year-old daughter, Elaina, calls over, “Daddy, aren’t you supposed to be fixing that drawing?”
(She’s talking about an issue with resizing EpicTable 1.1 character tokens that I showed her earlier.)
“Well, why aren’t you focusing on it?”
“Because I’m returning an email, ” I said with an amused smile.
“But you’re supposed to be focusing on fixing that drawing.”
(laughing) “I know, but this is a customer email.”
“But you’re supposed to be focusing, Daddy.”
Okay, admittedly, EpicTable 1.1 has turned into a larger project than I’d planned, but I want to know which one of you has resorted to paying my daughter to hound me about it.
Posted in EpicTable Development on April 13, 2013 at 12:19 pm
I did some EpicTable 1.1 testing last night with part of my Friday night gaming group. It’s looking much better than last week. But what would one of my status updates be without a weird looking bug to show you? This one, I call the “Player Horde”.
I’d like to tell you that I just have lots and lots of friends named “Scot” and “chris”. Sadly, that’s not the case (for who could ever have too many friends named Scot or Chris?). It’s far more likely that there’s a bug in my participant tracking. If I were to guess, I’d say that the New and Improved Participant Tracker and the Old and Somewhat Inattentive Participant Tracker are furiously reacting to each other’s notifications, each engaged in an existential struggle, trying to be the guy in the know:
“Hey, did you hear Scot just joined?”
“Yeah—I was just going to tell you that. Chris joined too.”
“I knew that, oh and I hear Chris—”
“Before for you go on, I need to tell you: Scot and Chris just joined.”
“Sure, but did you know Scot joined too?”
I’ll get in there tonight after the kids go to bed and break that up.
Where does EpicTable 1.1 stand?
At this point, everything that I expect to work does work. There are just a couple things that need to be re-implemented in the new technology, and they’re fairly low risk things:
- Context (right-click) menus for objects on the map/tabletop.
- Grid drawing
- Snap and size to grid
A lot of this is already done outside of the view and it’s just a matter of reflecting it appropriately in the new view.
There are some things that I’ve been improving or adding opportunistically while I have certain parts of the code open. I really want to talk about a couple new things, but I don’t want to force myself into releasing them if they end up taking too long. I’ll put together a whole “What’s New in 1.1” to make sure I wring every drop of appreciation I can out of the work I’ve put into this release.
Posted in EpicTable Development on April 10, 2013 at 9:12 pm
I haven’t had a bug this interesting since the multiplying coins of 2009.
I was working on EpicTable 1.1 tonight, modifying the dice tray and the way dragging is handled. I have this neat little routine that creates a cursor from an object you’re dragging and the existing cursor. I use then when you start dragging an object, and ordinarily, I reset it to normal when you stop dragging. Here’s what happened when I neglected to reset it.
What you’re seeing there in the red circle is a custom cursor. It’s the result of dragging a d12, then a d20, a d4, a d6, and finally, a d8. It should look like a d8 with the little cursor arrow. Instead, it’s a d8 with a little d6, with a little d4, and so on, as long as you keep dragging dice. Not very functional or intuitive, as cursors go, but kind of interesting.
Speaking of version 1.1, expect it soon. I’m trying to get a build ready for a second internal test this weekend.
Posted in EpicTable Development, Screenshots on March 7, 2013 at 3:27 am
Long ago, a very wise artist/designer/musician, in between trying to coerce me into implementing playing cards, entered a feature request for drop shadows. I had them for some types of notes, but under the old technology I was using, it was just to difficult/time-consuming to implement drop shadows for everything. Now, though, with the new tech going into EpicTable 1.1 for other reasons, drop shadows are quick enough to implement that I can make good on this long-standing promise to “look into it”.
They do add a little spiffiness…. Notice that they’re not limited to rectangular objects like the 1.0 shadows.
It’s less obvious, but borders are at work here as well. The dark grey border around the image of the girl is EpicTable’s doing. Essentially, as I add the 1.0 objects to the 1.1 tabletop, I’m hooking up the Format tab, which in 1.0 is active only for text fields. This gives you access to borders and shadows and other visual tweaks to the objects on the tabletop.
Don’t worry—I’ll get on to more important stuff, like cards and vision/fog-of-war, but as I’m hooking things back up, it doesn’t take that long to add some consistency and polish that 1.0 was lacking.
Posted in EpicTable Development, Screenshots on March 4, 2013 at 2:00 am
EpicTable has had notecards for a long time. But they’ve always been very plain. The text fields in EpicTable 1.0 are all kinds of fancy, but that’s not the case for the other objects in this weird trio made up of notecards, rich text notes, and text fields.
They’re distinct partly because they’re used differently and partly because they were implemented at different times. The downside of their being distinct is that when I made text objects super cool, I couldn’t easily do that for rich text notes and notecards. Now, in the technology overhaul tabletops are getting for 1.1, I have to change these objects anyway. While I’m doing that, I’m taking the opportunity to unify these concepts. From a code perspective, these are all going to be the same thing. That’s good for you, because it means that all these note-like objects will get the same treatment that text fields have in 1.0. As you can see here, notecards get a significant boost in functionality as a result.
There will still be some out-of-the box presets for notecards vs. text fields, for instance, but you’ll have a lot of customizability, and you’ll be able to save your creations. So, if you love mint green notecards, you may applaud now.
Posted in EpicTable Development on February 10, 2013 at 2:42 am
Posted in EpicTable Development on February 5, 2013 at 10:31 pm
I’ve been hard at work on the next version of EpicTable. This will end up being called 1.1 and it’ll be a free update for existing EpicTable users. It’s not done yet, and it’s turned out to be larger in scope than I’d planned, but I’m really excited by some of the improvements–particularly with respect to tabletops and maps. There are several bug fixes, but it’s the major change to the way tabletops and maps are handled that has me most excited.
Here’s a screencast, where I’ll give you a preview of some of what’s coming in 1.1.
You can view it in-page, below, or see the full-sized version on Screencast.com.
Posted in EpicTable Development on December 2, 2012 at 12:33 am
It’s been a busy Fall. I don’t normally talk about what I’m about to update until it’s ready, but it’s close….
I’m in the testing stages on a couple bugfixes for automated error reports that you folks have sent in. (Thanks.) I’ve also done a substantial amount of work on the way zooming and scrolling is handled–especially when you’re drawing. As anyone who’s spent time with the drawing tools in EpicTable knows, you can’t zoom and scroll while drawing…which is kind of sad. The model I had in my head was: “Here–let me sketch this out quick–okay, back to the action.” Of course, that’s not how it worked out. People stayed in draw mode, wanted to zoom and scroll around in draw mode, and badness ensued. Addressing that was surprisingly difficult, but it’s done, minus some testing and polishing. I’m also hoping to throw in a couple surprises, but we’ll see how the next couple nights go.
Again, thank you guys for sending the automated error reports, creating support tickets, or pulling me into your games. I can only address what I know about. I have a really puzzling resource retrieval issue that I’m looking at tonight. I’d really like to get a fix for that in this release, but if it looks like it’s going to take much longer, I’ll finish testing what I’ve got and post an update. Stay tuned!
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:
- Bugs with existing features
- Small enhancements to the way an existing feature works to make it better (e.g., many have requested smaller dice in the chat window)
- 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)
- 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.