ALPHA v0.5 is live - GM-Notes & Sharing
Alpha 5 Update
With a little delay (apologies for that!) we have released the new ALPHA version (v 0.5) introducing our first build of the GM-Notes system as well as the new browse & share function for your maps.
IMPORTANT! As always: Make sure that you clear your cache once before you test the new features. For this one it is especially important to do so, since we have changed some things in our caching mechanics.
We have finally implemented our first developers version of the GM-Notes.
What a journey! A lot of design and user-experience changes made us rework this part more than just a few times. We knew, that this tool needs to be practical, or it wouldn’t be used at all. In our initial concept (the one that we also pitched to you in our Kickstarter video) we intended to build the GM-Notes as a drag-and-drop container system, where you can add each component of your map as an editable container. We soon realized that this approach would be as far from user friendly (or efficient) as it could be.
Writing can be an even more creative process than drawing a map. Writing needs to be a constant flow between the ideas that take form in your head and the act of bringing them to paper. You don’t want to stop & click every minute to change container elements, or drag stuff around your screen. You just want to think and type.
So we re-worked our initial concept. We asked GMs how they would describe their process of writing a GM-notes document and the answer was almost every time the same:
Step one - Spill out every idea, that is flying around in your head. Just get it to paper. Sit down and hack it into the next best writing tool that is available.
Step two - organize your ideas, create headlines, chapters, hooks - things to make your chaotic text document somewhat organized.
Step three - Styling. Once your happy with the structure, you start to add some colors here, some highlights there. Stuff that helps you find important things in your notes at first glance, but often also just some designs to make your notes look cool.
Step four - Re-work ideas, add new ideas, delete others. From that point on, your notes are a living document - they change, get new paragraphs added, get re-structured and are never really considered 100% done.
It was important for us to understand how this process works, because we want DUNGEONFOG to be a practical tool that really helps in that phase of creation.
Today, we have finally reached a state, where we can show what we have been cooking for so long. It’s still at an early stage, but I think it gives you a good idea of where we are going with the notes in the upcoming months.
What can you do with the current GM-Notes version?
When you create a map, you can switch to GM-Notes at any time - whenever creativity kicks in. You can switch back and forth between your map and your notes anytime, so you have both at hand while you’re planning your adventures.
Clicking/Selecting a paragraph, section or word will bring up the toolbar and we have started with some rudimentary styling tools:
- Basic Styling like bold, italic, alignement and so forth.
- Inline Styling to create highlights (like Dangers, Boons or Dice-Rolls, etc.)
- Paragraph-Styling to create Read-Aloud, GM-Info, or Scenery blocks
- Add & Style Tables
- Print notes - this is a very rudamentary print option using the print features provided by your browser.
We have implemented our first two basic features for the dynamic content:
- Add dynamic map image
- Add dynamic room image
All images are generated out of the map you have drawn and update, whenever you go back to your map and edit them.
We wanted to preview how this whole dynamic notes part is working, so we decided to start with dynamically generated room images. Please understand that this is just a small preview of the functionality that we are currently working on. Once we are further down the road, you will not only place an image of the selected room, but also an editable description of its components and more stuff that helps you to describe rooms or plan encounters.
Creating all those dynamic images is pretty intense on ressources, so our current GM-Notes build is not yet the fastest steed in the stables, when it comes to generating these images. We are aware of that and are working on improvements.
Let’s start to share with the community!
I have been impatiently waiting for this!
From today on, you can share maps that you have created with the DUNGEONFOG community (ALPHAs for now).
Once you are satisfied with your map and you want to share it, you can set the map to “public”. Everyone will then see your map and can create a copy of it for himself.
IMPORTANT: To generate a preview image of your map, you need to open your map once and save it, otherwise you will see a placeholder image.
For the author of the map
- You have to set a map to public to share it.
- Shared maps remain fully editable to you.
- Be aware that changes to the map will also change the state of the public map.
For the subscribers
- Shared maps are fully editable once you clone them into your account.
- You can take them and re-work them to fit your needs.
- It’s your own clone of the map - so you can’t break anything in the original.
- A cloned map CAN NOT be set public again - we want to pay tribute to the original author of the map. You can’t take someones map, change one tiny thing and share it as your own map again.
You can now also share your maps on social media. We have not restricted this just to your own maps, but all maps that are set to public. You like a map - even it is not your own (–yet)? Pay a tribute to the author and share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
We will be out of office from December 23rd to January 3rd - I will have an eye on the forums, but everyone is out of town, so bare with us if bugfixes might take longer than usual.
I want to give you an outlook on the upcoming tasks and updates for the new year:
The rule of thumb for us is “Create basic versions of all cornerstones, them improve them bit by bit”
Things we need to catch up on:
- New props - I appollogize that the SciFi props didn’t make it into this update, but we had so many things on the table, that I decided to postpone them a bit.
- Improved Editor - Due to the GM-Notes our editor has not received enough attention in the past two month. We will catch up on that and improve handling, interface and features (room templates incoming!).
- New Servers - our new servers are slowly coming to life and we will spent the holiday season to finish working on them before we switch to our new infrastructure.
- Improved prop and texture libraries - loading the editor takes ages on opening at the moment and we urgently need to improve that, so we will add a proper library mechanic to the editor.
- User Content - Working on upload mechanics and user content will be one of our next big goals for the new year, so you soon will be able to upload your own props and textures, as well as images for your GM-notes.
- Map-Viewer: Around February we will start working on the map-viewer, so you can use maps directly for your games.
- New Props & Flavor Packs for all included settings. Toni will start working on them in January and we will add them bit by bit once our new libraries are live.
- Soundscapes - Rei is already working on the soundscape mechanics, but since we need a working viewer first, this will be dependent on the release of the first viewer version.
Once we have established the core mechanics for our four cornerstones (editor, notes, player & platform) we will start adding the stretchgoals. This will be something that we treat apart from a planned time-table since a lot of them are things, that might just fit into a work package that we are addressing at that time.
We are planning to bring one update to ALPHA v0.5 in January, before we then move on to the closed BETA in February - I will post dates as soon as I have them.
Have fun testing the new features and don't forget to share your maps with this awesome community! I wish you a happy Christmas and a perfect start to a successful new year and don't forget to let your dice roll!
Till, Thomas and Herbert