Bigger playing area, part 2

I’m back! Thanks to all the commenters, who wrote nice words about me being alive πŸ˜‰

I promissed something new and cool, so without further delay, here it is:
OCTGN 2 has an infinite table.

I am sure you have all been frustrated about the unusable areas around the table of OCTGN 1. I know I have. The root of this problem is named “aspect ratio”. It describes the ratio between the width and the height of a rectangle. The problem is that our play areas don’t all have the same aspect ratio. For many reasons: you may not use the same screen resolution as I do, or you don’t play fullscreen, or you have larger fonts (which takes more space on the left of your screen), and so on.

OCTGN 1.x solves the problem by using a “virtual resolution”, which everyone agrees to use. If this virtual resolution doesn’t fit your screen, you end up having some wasted, unusable screen space.

For 2.0, we really wanted to be able to use the full screen. So we (meaning I, Wishpers and Morant) thought about it for a long time. And we found no satisfying solution to this problem. Quite the opposite: we got convinced that there was no way to use the same table full screen on any aspect ratio, without introducing some bad side-effects. And so the idea was abandonned, and I kept “gray” areas in OCTGN 2.

Until today. I took a new spin on the table, which solves this problem and has other benefits. I made the table unbounded, or in other words: infinite. First consequence: since it has no limits, it always fills your screen. Problem solved.

But there are other benefits: what is the best card size on the table for a given game ? There’s no good answer to this one. First it depends on the number of players. You obviously need more space for 8 players than for 2. Second, it depends on how your game goes. It’s nice to have big cards on screen. But if your game goes out of control, and you don’t have any more room to play cards, it gets awkward. It fondly remember one game I played against Fork during last year’s Invitational. The game got stuck, and we were accumulating cards on the table. So much, we started to stack them by creature type.

The unlimited table solves this in a very nice way: start your game with big splashy cards on the screen. If the game lasts and you need more room: simply zoom out. The cards get a bit smaller, but you have plenty of space left to play new ones.

The controls are, for now, quite simple: you can pan the table by holding the left mouse button, and you can zoom in and out with the wheel. I’m already thinking that being able to “zoom out to fit all cards” and “zoom into a user-drawn rectangle” would be very simple to add, and quite nice to use. But they are “nice to have” rather than “mandatory”, so I keep focused on the core functionnalities, and I’ll add those for a later release, e.g. 2.1.

This new table introduces one new problem, though: what if someone plays cards, which are not in view of his opponent ? The view would get adjusted so that the opponent sees the move. It zooms out and pans auto-magically. So that you understand what’s happening, it doesn’t change position while you’re blinking. The transition is smoothly animated from one view to the other. The effect is very cool, and you never loose sight of your cards.

I await your comments on this new idea. Did I go overboard with this one ?

jods

Infinite table

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11 Comments on “Bigger playing area, part 2”

  1. david Says:

    great solution, well done. πŸ™‚

  2. John Says:

    This is a nice feature, Its important with a bigger playing area.

    The default size of the playing area in the 1.x (1152×864) is a very good playing area. The cards may be a little small, but its more important with a bigger playing area. I think that it would be a good default size for 2.x too.

    Im really looking forward to a release of 2.x
    the WinFX GUI looks great, and the new features with bigger playing area and the transparant zoomed card looks great too!

    How many % of 2.0 is completed? Is a release date set for the beta?

  3. jods Says:

    @John:
    How many % of 2.0 is completed ? Is a release date set for the beta ?

    It’s hard to answer precisely how much of 2.0 is completed. However, there aren’t many major missing features, although I have tons of other awesome ideas. But I probably will do a slick 2.0 release, and keep all the “nice” stuff for some later versions, e.g. 2.1. That way, people can start to play with OCTGN 2 earlier.

    The real time factor is how much time I’m gonna spend coding. And this is a very variable factor. If I’m coding like crazy I could have a beta by the end of october. But I know this is just impossible, so I more reasonably hope that I’ll have a beta by the end of the year, or early next year. On the other hand, sometimes I just don’t code at all (yes, I have a real life, too), which would postpone 2.0 till… later. πŸ˜‰

    I would love to have a more definitive answer, but I’m doing this for free during my spare time, so please understand that my philosophy about it is: it will be ready when it is.
    Hopefully you’ll stay with me till then πŸ˜‰

  4. John Says:

    It would be fun to have the 2.0 release of OCTGN with all of these new cool features but I understand that it would take some time to finish it.
    I think that your idΓ©a to release a slick 2.0 version with the basics is better to start with. Its great to get it out to the people early and also for you to get feedback for 2.0 version and the upcoming features.

    Keep up the good work! Thanks!

  5. viparas Says:

    This is a great feature I think. I look forward to playing without the someone in the game getting the strange dead areas 1.0 is stuck with. (My friend uses a wide screen resolution and it causes no end of trouble for us)

    Another suggestion. What about the option for automatic state saving of the game? An issue I have seen many times, both in my group and in others, is that 3 or 4 people will be playing a game, which will take a great deal of time due to the nature of multiplayer games, and someone’s net connection will crap out, or something else along those lines. Then when they try to rejoin, they aren’t matched with their cards as they had been when they lost the connection, or the connection that is lost will have been the player who is running the server. If the option to have the game save state every 5-10 seconds was available, then everyone could reconnect, and load the most recent save state, resulting in a lost turn or two, rather then a lost player.

  6. viparas Says:

    Wow, that first paragraph was typo-tastic. My bad πŸ˜›

  7. Fork Says:

    Jods said: “It fondly remember one game I played against Fork during last year’s Invitational. The game got stuck, and we were accumulating cards on the table. So much, we started to stack them by creature type.”

    Some nostalgia: Could it be this game? http://img432.imageshack.us/img432/1972/jodsinvitationallt1.jpg

  8. Discord Says:

    Infinite table size?

    Two thumbs up from the DISCORD team. I have a feeling that OCTGN 1.0 will only fit the smallest of games with the DISCORD CCG.

    Looks like we’ll be going live in early Jan as well, so I just need to keep bugging you about card text and counters. πŸ™‚ You know they’re useful for certain other games as well. πŸ˜‰

    Keep up the great work!

  9. eyerouge Says:

    Slightly off topic: Will there be a player setable grid amd snap-to-grid for the cards?

  10. jods Says:

    @viparas
    Due to some complicated trade-off between security, simplicity and performances, the disconnection problem is a hard one. I really want to solve it, though. I suppose this should be the topic of a future post, although I’m not too sure about how I’m gonna manage this issue.

    @eyerouge
    That’s something I want. But as many similar features, it’s not strictly required to play, so I’m probably going to delay this for a 2.1


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