Sunday, 31 July 2016

BattleScribe 2.0 is Coming

I wanted to give everyone a heads up and get some feedback. It’s a bit of a long post, so hold on to your hats! Please have a read through and let me know what you think - good or bad. You can leave your comments on Reddit.

BattleScribe 2.0 is an (almost) complete re-write of the app, and has been my main focus for the last year or so. The target for the first release is to have all the same features (Pro or otherwise) as before - so there won’t be any big new features right away. That said, the user interface on mobile has had a huge facelift and looks much nicer now.

The main changes are “under the hood”, along with a huge overhaul of the data file format and editing tools. This should make the lives of data authors much easier, leading to better data files for us all. The re-write of the app also leaves it in a much better state going forward, making it much easier for me to build upon with new features and updates in future.

Suffice to say, this has been a huge effort. BattleScribe’s core systems have been completely rebuilt to enable a brighter future for the app and it’s ecosystem for years to come. If you’d like to give it a go, you can find the Alpha version here:

Now the hard part. BattleScribe 2.0 is going to be a “new” app, separate from the old one, and will require you to pay again to unlock Pro features on all the various platforms. This update truly deserves the “2.0” name though. It really is a completely new beast. Of course this brings with it some issues.
  1. Existing Pro users who’ve already paid for the old version may well be upset, particularly if they only recently bought the previous Pro version. And justifiably so - I completely understand why you might feel this way. 
  2. Some time in the future, there will likely be BattleScribe 3.0 (followed by 4.0 and so on), which would again require a new purchase. And we will have to go through all of this again. Essentially there is some amount of uncertainty about how long your purchase will last (at least going forward). 
So the plan right now is to move to a “Pro Pass” model for BattleScribe, where you would pay to unlock the Pro features for a certain period of time. Your pass/time remaining would be associated with an account you create on the BattleScribe website.

Don’t panic! Let me clarify and lay out my thoughts on how this would work.
  1. The “Pro Pass” for one year would be priced a little lower than the cost of the Pro app right now. You would also have the option to purchase passes for different lengths of time (1 month? 10 years? etc). 
  2. I should be able to implement a system where existing Pro users who have bought the old version of the app will get their first year pass for free or at a heavy discount ($1 for example). 
  3. It removes the uncertainty about when/if a new version is coming. The app will just continue to be updated and you will always have access to it. You can purchase a Pro Pass as and when you want to, and the app will just revert to the free version when your Pass runs out. 
  4. With an account, it would be possible to extend your Pass across platforms - Android, iOS and Desktop. This opens the option to have a “Bundle Pass” that unlocks Pro on all of your devices/systems. 
Essentially, BattleScribe’s development is an ongoing process that never really ends. Any veteran BattleScribe users will know how much has changed and improved over the years! And it will continue to do so as I work on introducing new features and improvements over time. I feel that a time-based system for purchasing BattleScribe Pro would better reflect this continuing work.

What about this “account” business? I guess some of you might be uncertain about this, and to be honest I was very uneasy about the idea at first too. So let me explain.

Firstly, BattleScribe would use a “login with Google” (or Facebook or other trusted third party) system that I’m sure you’ve seen before. BattleScribe would only have access to your email address and name (so you can be contacted in case of a problem - it would never be shared with anyone else, ever). This is just a way of confirming that you are who you say you are so that BattleScribe can securely look up the Passes you have purchased.

An account brings some big benefits.
  1. The passes would be stored in the BattleScribe database, outside of Google’s and Apple’s (restrictive) store systems. This gives a huge amount of flexibility over how they can managed. For example it allows me to extend passes or gift them to people. 
  2. Passes could be shared between all the devices and computers you are logged in on. This means that you could buy a pass that unlocks pro on all your devices at once (for example). 
  3. It opens up a lot of options for future BattleScribe apps/sites that may come along. I don’t know what those are yet! But being able to bring your data with you between apps is very powerful. 
OK I’m done now! Here are some questions.
  1. What do you think about having an “account”? 
  2. Would you buy BattleScribe Pro on a yearly basis? Are you an existing Pro user? Or someone who was thinking about buying Pro? Does this change things? 
  3. Do you buy “consumable” in-app-purchases in other apps? For example currency in-game-currency?