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October 13, 2011 / sguergachi

Update to Blog

As some may have noticed I have updated the blog website.

Its a little better looking

It has more info

It showcases a new Aurora Logo

Hopefully you find the changes useful

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3 Comments

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  1. Fenris / Nov 9 2011 12:07 am

    Ok, so… I tested your launcher. Windows 7 x64, java 32 & 64 bit (both installed). And the program partially works. Many bugs and missing options.
    Im not trying to criticize it, but to do a constructive review.

    When I run the program, it brings me to the welcome screen, then I press ‘enter’ (or start) and I got to the ‘home’ menu (dashboard). From that point I can go to ‘Profile’ (Gamer Profile), ‘Games’ (Game Library) and ‘Options’ (Settings & Options. Aurora .Net is not yet active).
    ‘Options’ its pretty simple, and still not sure what it refers to ( 1- Options for Aurora front end, or 2- To allow modifiying options for each game. A pop up label on hover on top of each option would be nice.
    The ‘profile’ section, doesnt show much, as I have not played anything yet. But I believe I have found a bug. If you press ‘enter’ a few times, part of the screen scrolls up so you cannot see the ‘go back’, ‘minimize’ and ‘close’ buttons. Not being able to go back to home menu with your mouse, nor with ‘backspace’, ‘enter’ or ‘escape’ keys, and finally needing to close the window through the task manager.
    When I get to ‘Games’ I get a nice list (I like the work you have done here) with some of my games. Problems here. Some of those games… I have, but some of the others have nothing to do with what I’ve got. They all show a yellow ‘star’ at the top left corner (im guessing the ‘star’ indicates that this game is one of my favorites, which is nice). And If I select one of the games, a red glowing rectangle surrounds the cover, a red “X” appears at the top right corner and three icons appear at the botton of the cover. A blue ‘star’ (to activate the star in the left top corner as a favorite), a green ‘triangle’ (to play the game I pressume, although it does nothing when I click it on any of the games. And finally, a pink ‘balloon’, that Im guessing it shows you a description of the game or lets you edit the settings of that game. Only the blue star works.

    There are 5 more options in that page:

    – A big green glowing triangle, pointing to the right. That lets you move through your library. It works. (and another triangle appears to the left as you move throught the library and it works too.)
    – A green rectangle button that reads “Add Game” and it does nothing.
    – Two Zoom buttons ‘-‘ & ‘+’. They do Nothing.
    – And a Magnifier with “Type Some Thing to Search” in the box where you type the name of the game. It partially works. It works if you type the whole name of the game, but if it is a long name (Ex: Age of Empires III Gold Edition) typing just “Age” shows nothing.

    I understand its an Alpha build and it seems nice for what I have seen but needs a lot of work.

    Now, if you pardon my language, I’m kind of a “Categorizing whore” and I have used any software in the market (freeware, trials, anything) for organizing everything. From books, to games, to movies, music, etc. Some good examples could be “Ant Manager”, XBMC, Mediaportal, Medios, XBNE, Collectorz (sofware for movies and games, trial), W7 Game manager, etc.
    And I would like to give you some ideas, you might not like them and Im ok if you dont care about them, but it could be nice If you could implement them.

    – Allow the game manager to go from fullscreen to a window mode (its easy to move it arround when dealing with other windows, and even better if you have 2 monitors).

    – Let the user mount PC Game ISOs if he/she needs to. Its not that hard, just a box with the full path and name of the ISO file, and the path of the virtual CD program (Daemon Tools, Virtual CloneDrive, etc) and another box with the parameters. Or just one box with both. I have a Toshiba M-200 (and it doesnt come with DVD) and I have 2 PCs, and none of them have Floppy disk nor DVD. What I have bought is an external DVD Recorder, about 40 games and 6 external hard drives of 500GB, 1TB and 2TB. For me its easier to have isos on those hard drives instead of DVDs up and down. So mounting files would be nice.

    – Make the program so It can download game details, icons, covers and screenshots to separate files.

    – Make the program save game details, icons, covers, etc on the iso folder, AND/OR, a ‘details’ folder inside of the game installation folder, a caché folder AND/OR the database file or folder. This way, the user would have backups in case of system crash. Trust me XBMC does it that way and its excellent.

    – Let the user choose from any of those options, wether he just wants all that data only in the database, or wants it in the caché folders, iso folder, or in all of them.

    – Have two Icons for “read game details” and “edit game details” (in “read game details” page you can have, gamespot score or other website’s score, publisher, year, version, language, etc. In “edit game details” page you could have just the path of the executable, path to choose the cover, path to choose the screenshot, path for the iso file, tickbox to choose where to read details and images from database or files on the ISO folder, etc Or two tabs, one with the details I just told you and the other tab with the “read game details”).

    – Allow the game laucher to change view styles, from wall, to details, to icons, to … whatever. Check XBMC or Mediaportal moving pictures to see how they display movies.

    – Make one of the view styles a grid, so the user can edit the whole database altogether or one by one but in list manner. Its very convenient!

    – Let the search box find games with partial matches.

    – Make the online data autosearch come from scrappers written in separate files, so the users can help you out writing their own scrappers. It would be cool if all the “game launchers” would use the same scrappers. So people could choose the software based on how they like the UI and options rather than from how many pages can scrape data and how it does it!

    – Make a Language folder and put an “english.lng” file with all the texts for the launcher to work in english, so users can write their own “french.lng”, “spanish.lng”, “rusian.lng” etc files and collaborate with you for other languages. And let the launcher read and select (from a dropdown box) the language name written before the “.lng” extension. (The file can be called differently if you feel like it).

    – It could be cool if you could leave a box for “savegame and settings” so your launcher could be compatible with programs like “gamesave managar” (and others, there are 3 or 4 AFAIK) that helps people to save their game settings, profiles and savegames. And the user could restore his savegames right away.

    – Of course, integration with Fraps, Ati tray tools game profiles, “game name” config/setup executables, etc, would be very nice. And any openess for user to changes your launcher to add those options if you dont feel like it, would be greatly appreciate it.

    There are more things but not that I can remember now. I hope these Ideas could be usefull to you, and if you dont like them as they are, I hope at least they give you a fresh view for other ideas/concepts you might have.

    Thanks for reading, and sorry for such a long message.

    PD: Last couple of things; Make names simpler (like “gamer profile” => “Profile”) its cleaner, eats less space on screen and helps the user to navigate. Only long names when there are many options and the shorter name could be confusing.
    Your website its nice, simple, tidy and with a nice combination of colors. But, although I love dark themes when I make web pages, it is a bit anoying for the user that browses other pages at the same time. If you dont believe me, open a “full white” google search webpage and look at it straigh away after reading this whole message and check if you feel unconfortable with the sudden change.
    Once again, thanks for reading.

  2. Fenris / Nov 9 2011 12:09 am

    Sorry, my email before was wrong. It starts with “v” instead of “b”. Sorryyy!!

  3. exilor / Nov 15 2011 7:26 pm

    I sent you an e-mail, I dont know if you got it, but here was my response (copy paste):

    Thank You.

    I just read your comment like 5 times now, and I enjoyed reading every part of your criticisms. Believe it or not but you are the first person to provide feedback on my app since I started working on it.

    In this reply I will be making comments and answering every single suggestion, so I retroactively apologize for the long post 😉

    Before I start, I wanted to express how much it means to me to actually have someone use the app I have been working on in my free time for the past year. I am grateful for the time you spent writing the feedback which will 100% have an effect on how I move on in this awesome project.

    so here we go—

    – Allow the game manager to go from fullscreen to a window mode (its easy to move it arround when dealing with other windows, and even better if you have 2 monitors).

    I have thought a lot about this before starting out work on this project believe it or not and have made it a distinctive choice to make the app permanently full screen for many reasons. The GUI of the app was designed and built to be used only in full screen, and I can’t imagine it being very functional even if I allowed that option in the app. The real reason I have made this app full screen was because the end goal of the app was to be THE ONLY APP you need for ALL of your gaming needs, I want it to be an Immersive experience where once you click on the App Icon on your desktop you enter Gaming Mode, and everything that has to do with gaming is done in this app, when you are done with the app you return to your simple desktop and resume your work. I know it’s very ambitious but I know it can be done, it just requires passion and hard work. Passion has always allowed me to make things happen and I am prepared to work towards the completion of this app.

    I do however plan on looking at the prospect of making a mini mode for Aurora where the app acts as a widget that does the basic tasks of the full Manager, like Launch games ect. This will however be in a future version of the app.

    – Let the user mount PC Game ISOs if he/she needs to. Its not that hard, just a box with the full path and name of the ISO file, and the path of the virtual CD program (Daemon Tools, Virtual CloneDrive, etc) and another box with the parameters. Or just one box with both. I have a Toshiba M-200 (and it doesnt come with DVD) and I have 2 PCs, and none of them have Floppy disk nor DVD. What I have bought is an external DVD Recorder, about 40 games and 6 external hard drives of 500GB, 1TB and 2TB. For me its easier to have isos on those hard drives instead of DVDs up and down. So mounting files would be nice.

    My Goal for Aurora is to emulate the Console (Xbox Dashboard) Experience on the PC and make it 10 times better by harnessing the much faster and flexible powers the PC brings to gamers. Being able to automatically recognize DVDs and launch games or ISOs would obviously have to be part of that vision but is not the number one goal I want to achieve with the 1.0 release of Aurora. Right now It Needs to have the basics down right, it needs a good foundation, and that takes time. When you build a house the foundation takes the longest time, the rest is easy. After 1.0 I plan on iterating and releasing improvements with more features much faster than I am now. But to answer your question: based on the foundation I am developing, Aurora will surprisingly allow for custom “APPS” to be coded in Java and loaded as a Dashboard Item (each item in the dashboard is actually a separate module or an app) . However this will not be part of the supported features of 1.0

    – Make the program so It can download game details, icons, covers and screenshots to separate files.

    I am working very hard on this actually. For example the icons you saw in the Game Library are actually downloaded from a server I personally manage containing over 2500 beautiful game icons made by an Australian guy. I will be adding Game details by using an online database called http://thegamesdb.net/ which has an API and all sorts of screenshots and info which can be downloaded. Unfortunately as much as it hurts me I won’t have time to learn how to interface with the APIs and make it work for 1.0. That will very likely come in the 2.0 release of Aurora which will be part of the Aurora NET feature.

    I want you to know that if I could I would work on this full time and do as much as I can in as little time as possible. But please realize I am one university student that it, I am looking for people to help me get 1.0 done as fast as possible so I can move on to better and cooler stuff but that will take time.

    – Make the program save game details, icons, covers, etc on the iso folder, AND/OR, a ‘details’ folder inside of the game installation folder, a caché folder AND/OR the database file or folder. This way, the user would have backups in case of system crash. Trust me XBMC does it that way and its excellent.

    Saving your personal info will be implemented in 1.0, in fact if you navigate to your MyDocuments you should notice an Aurora Data folder which WILL contain a database of all your games, preferences/settings and Gamer Profile data

    – Let the user choose from any of those options, wether he just wants all that data only in the database, or wants it in the caché folders, iso folder, or in all of them.

    Doing something like this will confuse some gamers because I am confused at what your suggestion means, If this really matters could you please explain what you mean? What is wrong with simply making the default Database location the My Document folder in Windows and allowing the user to be able to Change the location of that folder in the app?

    – Have two Icons for “read game details” and “edit game details” (in “read game details” page you can have, gamespot score or other website’s score, publisher, year, version, language, etc. In “edit game details” page you could have just the path of the executable, path to choose the cover, path to choose the screenshot, path for the iso file, tickbox to choose where to read details and images from database or files on the ISO folder, etc Or two tabs, one with the details I just told you and the other tab with the “read game details”).

    Again this would make things complicated. Right now I plan on having one Icon for Editing/Viewing info on each game. You will be able to change the location of the “.exe” file for the game and the type of game (RPG,FPS ect). No need to change the cover this is will be supported with the database of game covers I will be supporting and updating frequently. I have to think about screenshots though, It might be a good idea to allow the user to load a screenshot to be displayed in the background whenever they select it like XBMC but if you take a look at http://thegamesdb.net/ they do have a lot of screenshots with precise resolutions. So I will more likely implement the screenshots by using the database again instead of allowing the user to load a screenshot. The first reason is because the user would be required to load a screenshot with a precise resolution and if they don’t have that resolution they will be frustrated and unhappy, and I want people to be happy when they use my app 😉
    Next reason I won’t allow users to load their icons ect is because I know gamers are lazy and for this app to be a revolution it has to JUST WORK, no need to go on Google Images and search for a cover, then go back to the app to load it then find it in the file browser then go back to Google for a screenshot and repeat, I Hate It. The app will do all of this stuff magically in the background and all you have to do is tell the app WHAT your game is called and WHERE the executable file is, it will do the rest by its self. +1 for Happy user ; )

    – Allow the game laucher to change view styles, from wall, to details, to icons, to … whatever. Check XBMC or Mediaportal moving pictures to see how they display movies.

    I am aware of the different views other media managers have, unfortunately based on the time I have spent building the current views from ground up customized for Aurora means I won’t be planning on making any other views for 1.0 maybe in the future but trust me I had to learn a lot and work for a long time to get these basic views to work now.

    – Make one of the view styles a grid, so the user can edit the whole database altogether or one by one but in list manner. Its very convenient!

    The Database containing all of the Games and Info from the app will be Flat, meaning the database will essentially be an editable text file which will load any edits as long as it follows the predefined formas.

    – Let the search box find games with partial matches.

    This is actually the next feature I am working on if you read my previous post (https://auroramanager.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/development-diary-11/) I talk about working on Predictive Search which should be coming as soon as I have free time 😉 Its almost done it just has a few bugs that need work before I can release it but as soon as that is done you should see the Update in Sourceforge.

    – Make the online data autosearch come from scrappers written in separate files, so the users can help you out writing their own scrappers. It would be cool if all the “game launchers” would use the same scrappers. So people could choose the software based on how they like the UI and options rather than from how many pages can scrape data and how it does it!

    I assume you are referring to the scrappers XBMC uses to get online info, if so than it wont be nessisary to make any scrapper files since the online database which contains the game info http://thegamesdb.net/ is being edited and is editable by anyone, meaning if you were to go and add a screenshot to the Website then it could be accessed by Aurora as soon as their database is updated, much better than scrapper files in my opinion.

    – Make a Language folder and put an “english.lng” file with all the texts for the launcher to work in english, so users can write their own “french.lng”, “spanish.lng”, “rusian.lng” etc files and collaborate with you for other languages. And let the launcher read and select (from a dropdown box) the language name written before the “.lng” extension. (The file can be called differently if you feel like it).

    This is interesting, because I had never expected my app to be used by people who are not native English speakers. Funny enough the stats say that most of the download are from outside north America and a lot are from Spain for some reason. So I guess I have to deal with the language issue. I am embarrassed to say I hardcoded the text and neglected to think about supporting more than one language. I will definitely support this and spend the time recoding Aurora to support multiple languages for a 1.5 release which will be the Make It Better release of Aurora to fix and plug any holes 1.0 leaves open.

    – It could be cool if you could leave a box for “savegame and settings” so your launcher could be compatible with programs like “gamesave managar” (and others, there are 3 or 4 AFAIK) that helps people to save their game settings, profiles and savegames. And the user could restore his savegames right away.

    I have also been looking at this recently, I was thinking about integrating an open source game save manager into Aurora, but they are all crap, in fact a lot of the tools to manage PC games are disgusting to be honest, which Is why I am spending time making this Application a reality, its mostly because I need this app and I know lots of PC gamers would just beg to use something like this too. It’s a crusade against bad PC gaming apps. I checked out GameSave Manager and I hate it, its completely and utterly confusing the second I open it. I might understand it better if I have time to learn how to use it, but its always a bad sign if a user has to LEARN how to use a program that is supposed to HELP you. Am I right? Please tell me what you think if you reply because this has been bugging me for quite a while, why do we accept mediocre applications like this? All these applications look and work like crap, why? Gamers want to have fun, I think having fun in games and in the tools they use to AMPLIFY their gaming experience should also in a sense be FUN.

    – Of course, integration with Fraps, Ati tray tools game profiles, “game name” config/setup executables, etc, would be very nice. And any openess for user to changes your launcher to add those options if you dont feel like it, would be greatly appreciate it.

    Again this will take time, it’s important to focus on actually finishing the important part of the program before doing anything else. I will be open to suggestions as soon as 1.0 final is released after that we can talk again about what needs to be added and removed.

    There are more things but not that I can remember now. I hope these Ideas could be usefull to you, and if you dont like them as they are, I hope at least they give you a fresh view for other ideas/concepts you might have.

    This has been great, and has helped a lot. I know you are probably disappointed by the amount of rejections I have left you with but I hope I have given a sufficient explanation as to why I can’t or won’t.

    Thanks for reading, and sorry for such a long message.

    Long Message = You Spend Time =You Care = I Like You 😉

    PD: Last couple of things; Make names simpler (like “gamer profile” => “Profile”) its cleaner, eats less space on screen and helps the user to navigate. Only long names when there are many options and the shorter name could be confusing.

    Very good suggestion, I will be doing that actually. Thanks!

    Your website its nice, simple, tidy and with a nice combination of colors. But, although I love dark themes when I make web pages, it is a bit anoying for the user that browses other pages at the same time. If you dont believe me, open a “full white” google search webpage and look at it straigh away after reading this whole message and check if you feel unconfortable with the sudden change.

    Again another good remark. The only reason I made the website dark was because the App was dark, and the reason the app is dark is because it is supposed to be an Immersive experience, like being out in space with nothing but your games around you. That immersive reason obviously does not work for websites, but It would also be slightly confusing if the page was any other color because it does not follow the App theme. Anyways it’s not as dark as I could have made it 😉

    Once again, thanks for reading.

    ————————–

    Thank You for writing

    I really enjoyed writing this e-mail, I was originally going to post it on the website but turns out that would have made things a little cluttered.

    I appreciate each remark as it has helped me reassure myself on the direction I want this app to take.
    If you are interested I can keep you posted on updates and allow you to be an advisor to help me make decisions that may affect how app will work.

    If you have any other questions or criticisms (which I hope you do) fell free to e-mail me

    Thanks again!


    Sammy Guergachii

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