mercredi 24 septembre 2014

Introducing Clubs

When we created Brothers In Games, we wanted to have on our devices the tools we need as gamers. Several years ago, I moved far away. Unknown town, unknown people, but I had several armies with me and I didn't want to see them stay on the shelves. I was lucky to find a club back then. But I also discovered several others around me I wasn't aware of. Today, we want to make things easier for you. We want to help you find clubs around you so you can meet new gamers. And we also want to help clubs to be found by new players. So, we are introducing the club management.

We believe that this will be a useful feature for many. But to be useful, we need your help. We are not aware of all the gaming clubs around the world. Or at least near you. This is why we need you to add your club to Brothers In Games.

The club management feature is currently in development, but we decided to release the basic feature so you can access the club creation form. Along with the club management, we also added accounts to the app. Logging in Brothers In Games is not mandatory, but you may not access to all the features. The features that will require to log in the app are those who share data.

A club is such data. When you submit a club, your are associated as the club contact. Currently you can just add a club, in one of the next updates it will be, of course, possible to edit the data, a feature only available for the club creators. Don't worry, of course we'll think about a way to promote other users as administrators or pass the ownership.

As a simple gamer, you will just be able to search for clubs. Currently, the results are provided the most basic way. It is a simple list from which you can locate the club meeting place on a map. We plan new updates, most certainly next friday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday so this view will be improved.

Finally, this update asks for two new permissions:

  • Precise location: your current location is used to fill the search form so you do not have to. We may use your location for other forms or to provide you local data. We try to respect your device usage and privacy as much as we can so the location uses the passive position which means that we drain the minimum battery, but the location may not be accurate.
  • Find accounts on the device: the app look for your Google accounts and collects the e-mail addresses so you can choose one from that list as a e-mail associated to your account. Doing so, rather than letting you enter a e-mail address, does have several benefits. First, you do not have to type. Second, we are certain that you entered a real e-mail address without mistakes. You can't have an error so we do not have to deal with any e-mail modification feature for now. Third, as this is one of your address, we do not have to bother you with a verification e-mail and you can use the features immediately. this address is associated to your account, we may send you e-mails if needed (such as to retrieve your password) but it will never be shown or sent to anyone.
So, we started a huge improvement there. The accounts will allow us to have more sharable features and clubs management will provide a great feature to find new opponents. If you want to add your club so it may be found by gamers, update now and set the data. If you are a simple gamer, you may skip this one, but stay tuned for the next updates.

vendredi 4 avril 2014

A better calendar integration.

The last update of Brothers In Games will ask you for a new privilege: read access to your calendar. This is an essential privilege if I want to inform you if you have added the event to your calendar and to launch the correct action. The action icon have also been modified for this purpose.

Now, when you open the tournament detail view, the calendar action icon will display an add to calendar icon.

Tournament display with the add to calendar icon.

If you tap it, you'll see the form to add a new event to your calendar. Keep in mind that this form is provided by your calendar app, Brothers In Games does not have the privilege to add, edit or delete an event. This action is delegated to your native app or anyone you would choose.

Once the event is added to your calendar, the tournament detail view will display a view event icon.

Tournament display with the view event icon.

If you tap this icon, the app will open the event detail on your calendar app. As this is the native calendar app (or the one you prefer), you can edit or delete the event.

As Brothers In Games does not have the write to your calendar privilege, it is impossible for the app to be informed of the addition of the event to your calendar. So, to display the correct icon and launch the right action, the app will check your calendar for the displayed event. If the event exists in your calendar, the view action is shown, otherwise, it is the add event action.

But to work properly, the app must figure out if the event found is the right one. So, the app is looking for events with the same start and end date and time and with the same name. So, if you edit the event in your calendar and change the name or the start or end, the app will consider that the event does not exist in your calendar.

I think that this is the good balance to allow the association of the events and allow some edition but don't bother with confirmations. If you disagree, please, let me know in the comments.

Another update comes from the recent post of Cyril Mottier on Google+. I don't spend too much time on animations for now, but I am aware that some users will not figure out that those icons may be actions. This little animation may be a good trick to draw the attention on them. Once again, let me know what you think about the feature.

jeudi 3 avril 2014

Tournament display update

The last update of Brothers In Games focus on an improvement of the tournaments layout.

Aside of the visual evolution, there are some technical modifications in this update. The most important happen at the first launch of this version. The app requires some additional data to work properly, so, the app need some time to process those at the first launch. This is not the most user-friendly, but it works.

Action icons

The action icons in the previous version.

To be honest, I was not satisfied with the previous icons location in the action bar. First, I consider that the action should be close to the information. Second, those actions should have the same importance so they should all be displayed equally. Located on the Action Bar, on small screen devices, some may be hidden. Finally, as I try to use the system icons, I think that the Web and Map icons are confusing.

Current global layout on a small screen device.

So, now those icons are located next to the information they are concerned with. As another benefit, I think that this way, it is easier to find the kind of information you may be looking for.

Added share and add to calendar

From any tournament details view, you can now share that tournament and add it to your calendar. Both features are exactly the same as those in Brothers In Games T3. So currently, the app does not require any privilege to access your calendar as the event is created trough the calendar app. Unfortunately, this mean that there is no check of your availability or for any duplicate. This will certainly change in the futur.

Up to date tournament information

The tournament details view now displays some real time information. Or at least, as fresh as they are on the remote datasource. Those information are the tournament status and the seats left. Both of them are collected when you view the tournament details and are not cached locally.

Are those features will be added to Brothers In Games T3 ?

In short: yes for some of them. I plan to redesign Brothers In Games T3 so it will be closer to the tournaments view in Brothers In Games. But for now, my main focus is on the features in Brothers In Games so don't expect this kind of upgrade for Brothers In Games T3 soon.

jeudi 27 mars 2014

More tournament details

A new update of Brothers In Games is available with an improvement of the tournament details. I have added the information about the tournament charge, location, date and time of the event.

Tournament details on a Nexus 7

Once again, remember that currently the tournament information is gathered from TableTop Tournaments and is available in the organiser language, here in french.

New actions

A set of actions is also available on this screen in the action bar. The display may vary depending on your device. If an action is not shown as an icon, it is in the menu on the right.

Available actions shown with an expanded menu on a Nexus 7

The actions available are:

  • View on a map, will locate the even on your favorite map app.
  • View details on the web page. This will open your browser on the webpage added in the tournament informations.
  • Add to calendar. Currently, this action is disabled and will be available soon.
  • Delete the tournament. This one is, I think, obvious.
Feel free to say in the comments what you think about those actions and their location.

Bug Correction

Unfortunately, this update revealed a bug in the data transfer. if you open the tournament details on a tournament you have already added as favorite, you'll see that the location title is missing.

Tournament details on a Nexus 4 with the missing location title.

This is due to a bug in the Brothers In Games T3 app. It have been fixed in the version published today, so please, update to version 1.8.1. Once you'll update the app, it is supposed to clean the cached tournaments to refresh the data and include that information. If you still encounter the problem, go to the app information and force the clean of the data. Unfortunately, this action will not add the tournament title in your favorite tournaments, so if the tournament is still in the futur, delete and import it again. Otherwise, an update feature is planed, you'll be able to change it yourself from that feature.

New updates are planned shortly, keep an eye on your notifications. 

mardi 25 mars 2014

First peek on the tournament details

Due to some other priorities, I couldn't work as fast as I wished on Brothers In Games. However, I couldn't leave you with just a list of the tournaments you could have added as favorites. So, I released an update with the first set of details.

Tournament details for the Preview 6 of BIG.

As you can see from the screen capture above, the detail view currently displays some basic informations. The description is from TableTop Tournaments, so it is in the language of the event organiser (here, in french). From there, you can jump to the web page for more details.

In the next days, I will add the location information (I have to work on the layout) and of course, you'll be able to locate the tournament on a map just as with Brothers In Games T3.

I also plan to provide an add to calendar feature, but it is a little bit tricky as I want you to be informed if the event is already in your calendar or not.

Keep an eye on your update notifications ;)

mardi 18 mars 2014

First step to a tournaments companion

I am currently publishing an update for Brothers In Games and Brothers In Games T3. Both of them should be available as soon as Google will spread them trough their servers. Those updates introduce the new tournaments management feature.

Brothers In Games T3 is designed as a tournaments discovery app. By design, the app does give you a list of the upcoming tournaments registered on TableTop Tournaments, but it is not designed to mark some of them as favorites or give you a quick-access to them. So, the features like the map location are meant to help you decide if you are interested in a tournament. The only way the app may help you to keep track of the tournament is by registering the tournament as an event in your calendar.

Dealing with favorite tournaments like events is the minimum we can do. As a gamer, I want to attach more informations to such an event. I want to plan some things (like what army will I play ? Did I painted it ? ) and maybe record informations such my ranking.

This features are meant to be in Brothers In Games. If you already use the app, you can already keep a track of simple games. This feature was a preview for the bigger one, the tournaments.

Adding those features is time consuming, but I decided to publish the apps with the minimal feature so you can have a look to what the app will be able. I also plan to continuously the new features rather than a big update.

So starting with the version 1.8 of Brothers In Games T3, you can register a tournament as a favorite. This feature is for now in the Share menu as you can see on the picture on the right. Once you'll have selected that option, the app will gather all the information about the tournament and send it to the Brothers In Games app. Of course, the system will check first if the app is available and if not, will suggest you to get it from the Play Store.

The tournament will be automatically added to your tournaments list in the Brothers In Games app unless it is considered as a duplicate.

With this first update, Brothers In Games simply lists your favorite tournaments so you can start adding the tournaments you want to keep a track of. For now, you can only register tournaments from the Brothers In Games T3 app, you'll be able to add your own when I'll finish the form :)

Keep an eye on the next updates.

mardi 25 février 2014

Ending February with TableTop Tournaments and Alkemy

After the release of the Brothers In Games T³ app, I've spent some time tuning it. The current version 1.7 is still a list-only app but every item does have all the main features you can expect. You can see the main information about every tournament, locate it on a map, share it with your friends trough e-mail, text message or any social network, and you can register the event in your calendar. If you want to access the original informations, you can of course open your browser on the original web page.

You can download Brothers In Games  from Google Play.

While working on this app, the main Brothers In Games app was of course left aside. Don't worry, I'm getting back on it right after...

... some Alkemy update. Alkemy is a game which is currently provided in France. After some difficulties, the licence is now back on tracks as some items are available on their brand new store. So it is time to update the Alkemy app with the new profiles. Be aware that those profiles will be updated for a french version first and that update will be Android 4.0+ only.

You can download Brothers In Games Alkemy from Google Play.

samedi 1 février 2014

Brothers in Games T³ improved

A new release of Brothers In Games T³ is available on Google Play.

Brothers in Games T³ is a personal initiative not affiliated with TableTop Tournaments. But since the last update, I've got access to the T³ API, so you can get more from this app.

To highlight this partnership, the layout have been updated to the colors from TableTop Tournaments website. Feel free to post in the comments what you think about it.
The tablet layout of BIG T³

The app does now also display a summary of the tournaments. I do have access to additional information such as the description, but that does require more space to be displayed nicely. This is why I started to evolve the app so it will also display the details of the tournaments. That will come later.

Using the RSS feeds, I was only able to access to the 50 next tournaments depending on the feed used. The API does not have any limit, it is possible to access any tournament registered in T³ database. But the purpose of Brothers in Games T³ will remain to display the futur tournaments. So, the app will still load the next tournaments. In this update, the app will load the next two months tournaments list.

There was other restrictions using the RSS feeds, and the main one was the location of the collected tournaments. I was displaying your local tournaments. The API does not have that limit. In consequence, the filtering need to be redesigned and unfortunately, the existing one became buggy. I decided to disable it for now, but it is a top priority for the next update.

Finally, trough the API, I finally have access to the tournament location address and not only the city. The map location is now accurate and you can use it to precisely locate the tournament venue.

You can update your app now or download it from Google Play.

If you are using the app from a tablet, you have noticed that I have replaced the country manes by their flags. Those icons are designed by Alain Jollat.

mercredi 15 janvier 2014

Just added some color

This was so obvious. I was looking for a nice way to add color in the game and brother item so you can see if you where victorious or not, but wasn't satisfied. Well, I think that highlighting the reason is good enough.

So, this is the color code: if you see green, you won. If you see red, you lost. White is a draw.

On the Games view, the color is on the name of the opponent.

On the Brothers view, the color is on the informations about the last game you've played and concerns only that game.

You can update your app to get this improvement, or get the app from Google Play.

mardi 14 janvier 2014

Brother in Games v2 Preview

There was a long time since the last update of Brothers in Games. The recent release of BIG T3 is part of a general redesign. I wanted to keep the features available before touching the core app.

Brothers in Games have also been rebooted. First, it is now a Android 4-only app. Sorry for the users of old devices (in the Android way :/ ) but when the decision was made, most of the users where using a Jelly Bean or above version of Android.

This allows me to avoid all the mess about compatibility and provide the last features offered by Android.

A preview app

The evolution of Brothers in Games in its V2 is still at a preview stage. The purpose of this release is to let you discover the new features and be able to provide some feedback.

BIG main view features.

Table Top Tournaments viewer

The Table Top Tournament overview is now part of a dedicated app. I have previously explained the motivations. You still have a button to access to this feature, if you haven't installed the app, it invite you to get it from the Play Store. If you have installed the app, it will open it.

Brothers in Games main feature

Brothers in Games will focus on the people you've played with, so you can easily plan your next games. The main feature is to keep track of the games you've played. As a non-dedicated app, Brother in Games will remember those informations:
New game form.

  • Game type. This can be a Game System such as Warmachine, Warhammer Battle, but not only. If you want to keep track of your chess or tennis records, it is up to you.
  • Date. Of course you want to remember when you've played that game.
  • Opponent. This is who you've played with.
  • Result. Once again, as a general purpose app, this field will only remember if you lost, win or ended in a draw. I think that the most important idea is to keep track if you win or loose against a single opponent. The draw by itself will mean anything else.
  • Notes. I know that those basic data are not enough for most of us. This field is meant to keep track of any other information.

Getting your opponent from your contacts

Your opponents are people, not just names. You may want to call them for another game. So, you want to record their name, phone number, e-mail address... On a device, the best place to keep this kind of information is in your contact app among your other contacts. I think that this is the best rather than duplicate the informations. The feature is not available yet because I am not decided bout where to set the action, but from an opponent, you'll be able to open its contact informations on the native app so you'll can contact him the way you want.

Privacy concern

Of course, with all those apps with bad behavior, you are concerned about the privacy of your data. This is the behavior of Brothers In Games when you want to add a opponent:
  • When you click on the add opponent button, the app will ask your native contact app to display a list of contacts so you can choose one. This list is displayed by your native contact app, Brothers In Games is not aware of who is displayed.
  • When you select a contact, the native app will sent Brothers In Games a contact ID. That is how it works on Android.
  • Brothers in Games will then query your contacts for the contact with that ID, but not for all the informations about this contact. The only data Brother In Games is asking for is a contact ID and a name (those are 3 fields: first name, last name and a Display Name which is a kind of formatting in Android).
  • Brothers in Games will store in its database those 4 fields (contact ID, first name, last name and Display Name) and does not access any other information.
Your contact informations stored in the database are left on your device and are not sent to us in any way.

Games and Brothers display

Brothers in Games displays 2 main informations: the list of your games, where you can add a new game, and a list of your Brothers. The list of your Brothers is build from the data of your games. For now, it is a convenient way to see who you have played with and what was the last game and when.

A sample of the My Brothers view.

The My Games view lists all the games you've played. This is a simple listing displaying the basic information of your game. The details will be displayed on a detailed view which is still not available.

Sample view of my games

Missing features

As I stated, this is a first preview. There are a lot of feature missing. For now and for this preview, all the data you are providing are not displayed. The game result and the notes are still missing. Don't worry, they are stored and will be displayed in the next update.

As you can add a game, you can't edit or delete it. This feature belongs in a selection or detailed view which is still not activated. So is the contact access.

I wanted to publish this preview soon enough so you can see the purpose of this app. You can update it now or get it from Google Play. The missing features will be added soon. In the meantime, you can review the app on Google Play of follow the Google+ page.