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Where did June go?

6 Jul

It’s been over a month since I posted anything here.  Let me catch you up on what I’ve been working on.

Last night I submitted my 5th app to the App Store: Old School Treasure Generator.  The name is a mouthful, but it does what you’d expect if you’re a user of Old School DM.  Enter the treasure codes from the Monster Manual listing, tap Go and you get a randomly generated treasure hoard.  It’s a simple, one-screen iPhone app.  This started off as a new feature for the Old School DM app, but decided to release it as a stand-alone app for now.  It’s free, so don’t complain too much that it doesn’t generate the values for each gem and piece of jewelry (yet) and roll the random magic items for you.  It’s exceedingly unlikely that I’ll ever add the random magic item generator–primarily for copyright reasons, but also because it would be a PITA to enter all the necessary data.  And besides rolling magic items is fun and (at least in my experience) requires quite a few “thumb-on-the-scale” non-random adjustments by the DM.  Look for this app in the App Store next weekend.

I’ve also been working on two other apps: Old School DM and a new app I’m calling 3″ x 5″.

Old School DM is being updated to work properly on the iPad.  This will be added to the existing version as an update (although I’m sure you all would have been thrilled to buy the app again for the “HD” version like some companies offer, right?).  No ETA on this yet.

The new app (should have been my 5th app, but it will be my 6th since the treasure one was quick and easy), is a spin-off of Hex Map Pro.  Instead of tokens on a hex board, it has 3×5 cards on a table top.  Personally, I like to brainstorm and organize my thoughts on index cards, and since the Hex Map app was (I thought) 90% of an index card sorting app already I decided to create a new app.  Then I started to get clever, excited, greedy, grandiose, or something and added extra features.  It turns out that determining which arbitrarily rotated rectangle is “close” to which other rectangles is non-trivial.  In any case, it’s probably a couple weeks away from being ready for release as a 99c app.  It’ll be competing with plenty of free somewhat similar apps (note taking/to-do/brainstorming) apps and some paid ones, so I have no idea how well it will do.

Once that gets released, it’ll be time to show Old School DM some love and get a new version of that out.  Then back to Hex Map or perhaps a quickie 1st edition AD&D character generator.  That would be another free app to serve as a “gateway drug” for Old School DM and/or Hex Map Pro.  I implemented the logic for that app in Perl a few years ago, so it should be fairly easy to turn it into an iPhone app.  Famous last words of course.

1.1 out; 1.1.1 coming soon

17 May

Hex Map Pro 1.1 was approved today (a week after being submitted, just like every other time).

I’m working on a help/support page which you can find here.  Too bad one of the minor bugs in 1.1 is that the link to the support site doesn’t actually work on the iPhone (and I forgot to add the link to the iPad version).  D’oh.

While I waited for 1.1 to past muster with the lovely and talented App Store app screeners, I found a few non-showstopper bugs.  These have all been stomped out, and I’m submitting Hex Map Pro 1.1.1 tonight.

Fixed with 1.1.1:

  • Fixed the Support link on iPhone; added link on iPad.
  • Fixed the font not always updating correctly in the token control panel.
  • Fixed the background color of the “prior position” “ghost token” when a custom color is used.
  • Fixed a long standing bug where deleting a token selects the oldest token instead of the one created just before the one deleted.
  • Deleted three slow-loading background images that I was using for debugging and weren’t intended for inclusion.
  • Maybe one or two other things that I’ve forgotten.

New features:

  • A new token shape: rectangular!  (hey it’s a bug-fix release what do you want?)

Look for Hex Map Pro 1.1.1 this time next week (unless I hear reports of other bugs that I need to fix and thereby restart the one-week app approval clock.

And for you patient Old School DM users, good news: the updates to make it work natively on the iPad are well under way.  This app has my attention now after Hex Map Pro monopolizing my spare time for the past few months.

Demo rough cut

15 May

I need to edit it and add a voice track, but here’s a sneak peek of Hex Map Pro 1.1.

This is the iPad version (in landscape mode).  It starts in Safari with a Google search for “cathedral hex map.”  I find a cool map and add it to my Photo library.  Then I switch to Hex Map Pro and import the picture and demonstrate how to line up the hex printed on the image with the game board hex.

Hex Map Pro demo rough cut

I’m new to this video stuff (including how to embed it into a posting here), so bear with me.

And some screen shots:

More about Hex Map Pro 1.1

10 May

Hex Map Pro 1.1 is in the hands of the App Store reviewers now.  As I said yesterday, I expect it will be released to the store next Friday.  My daughter helped me work out some final UI glitches last night (and add an “Easter egg”).

What made it into this release?  The new feature is the ability to import your own background image for a board.  Implementing this in a (hopefully) user friendly and fairly intuitive way required quite a few other changes.

  1. Hex Map Pro is no longer a “one-screen” app.  Now when it starts up you arrive at a landing page that gives you big friendly buttons for: return to your last board; open a different board; import an image; and create a new board.  (The iPhone version includes a 5th button taking to a page on this site that I haven’t created yet; for no good reason the iPad version doesn’t include that link–I’ll fix that in 1.1.1.)
  2. When you create a new board you can either get a standard one (the way it has always worked, or you can have it based on an image you’ve imported.  The size of the board will, in the latter case, be based on the size of the image.  Really big image –> really big board.  Small image –> normal sized board with the image in the upper left corner.
  3. When you’re interacting with a game board (the normal screen you’re used to), there are a few changes.  First, I got rid of the Add/+ button to create new board.  You have to go Home and create a new board.
  4. In place of the Add button is an Info button.  Tapping that brings up a view that shows you the name of the board (editable), the current font (tap to cycle through a few different options), and some other mundane stuff.
  5. The “control panels” (the thing at the bottom and the game token editor for the iPad version) are now more swipe-able.  You can close and open them with a swipe of your finger instead of a tap to the small close icon.  On the iPad version, you can make the game token control panel small and simpler by swiping up to make it shrink.
  6. I fiddled with the min and max zoom parameters and the size of the default map to address the complaint that you couldn’t zoom out to see the whole board.  I hope these new values are an improvement.  The problem/risk is that zooming out all the way uses more memory and causes the device to work harder.  So redrawing can take longer and in a worst case scenario, the app can quit unexpectedly.  It’s been stable in my testing, but I imagine both will be more of an issue with iPod touches and earlier model iPhones.  Do let me know if you experience crashes, so I can improve stability.

I think that’s everything.  Before the app is in your hands I hope to post some video tutorials about how to use the new import option.  I think it’s intuitive, but perhaps only after you’ve watched someone do it.  Importing a picture is easy; lining up the hex or square grid that the app provides with a corresponding grid included in the picture is the tricky part.  It’s still not hard, but given that you have to adjust the magnification of the picture and the location of the picture, it’s an iterative process.

Ok, enough about this.  You’ll see it soon enough, and then you can remind me that what you really want is to be able to draw on the map, have better, most custom game tokens, “fog of war,” export/print, saved sets of token, and lots of other cool stuff that I want too. 🙂


10 May

Wow, this second release of Hex Map Pro has taken a lot longer than I expected.  The good news is that it’s done and after a little more testing should be submitted for approval by Apple tonight.  If my past experience is any guide it’ll be released to the world one week later.  So, fingers crossed, Hex Map Pro 1.1 will show up as an available update next Friday.  Lots of little changes, and one big one: you can import your own images (or images you randomly download from the Internet as the case may be) as backgrounds for your game boards.

More later after I get the testing and submitting done…

Progress Report

7 Apr

Haven’t had much time to work on the apps over the past few weeks, but have made progress nonetheless.  I have the fundamentals worked out for allowing the user to import their own images to use as backgrounds for Hex Map Pro.    The hard part is working out a simple intuitive interface.  The problem is I have no idea what type of images you might try to import, so I don’t know the outer limit for various parameters: size of the image and scale.  Are you likely to need to zoom way in since you’re using teeny graph paper and need room for the tokens to fit in the square or zoom out?  For example we have maps of this scale (link near the top) and this scale  (link just above the image at the bottom).  The latter requires zooming down to 40% size to get the squares to line up the former requires zooming in.

Any advice (besides “just account for both and get it done already”)?


19 Mar

I’ve got another version of Hex Map submitted to the App Store (1.1.2, not to be confused with 1.1.1 that was just released a few days ago).  It fixes one or two minor things (the link on the help page points to the wrong app in the app store, oops).  It also adds one cool new feature and one probably ho-hum one that turned out to be a lot more work than I anticipated.  Now when you have two or more game pieces/tokens centered on the same spot they each get a little red number circle so you can tell you have a stack.  (It look a lot or work to get that to show up in just the right place on the token depending on the size and shape.)  I also added a third style of grid that I call “rotated hex.”  If, for some reason you want the east-west axis to have the straight line rather than north-south, now you can.  That was a pain in the butt.  Back to my geometry/trig scribbles to make sure the hexes drew right and the tokens centered right.  As I said, that has been submitted to the App Store so look for it in about a week, unless I find a bug in which case I’ll resubmit and the 1-week clock will start over.  (I’ve heard people complain about the Apple App Store approval process, but in my experience over the past year, they have published my app pretty much exactly 5 business days after I submit it each time.)

I have my first update to Hex Map Pro well under way.  I’ve added the two features mentioned above of course, and I’m trying to decide what else to add in this first minor update.  I’m playing around with allowing you to pick any color for the token color, but if I run into any snags I’ll ditch that for now.  The next release won’t include any Earth-shaking new features.  Those take time to implement and test.  Expect some cool stuff later in April, but the next release will be simple stuff.

Someone posted a comment on the App Store (5 stars, yay and thanks) that puzzles me, so maybe you can help.  The comment says that the chess board is no longer aligned right.  For both versions of the app, on both iPhone/iPod touch and iPad, they seem to be just fine.  If someone can reproduce what the comment is referring to, please let me know so I can fix it.

No news on the Old School DM front I’m afraid.  I will get back to it, but I’ve been swamped with the Hex Map/Hex Map Pro work lately (to say nothing of my day job).