“When 900 years old, you reach… Look as good, you will not.”
Okay, so Fliptheforce.com might not have been 900 years old, but it was certainly starting to show its age. When we first decided to launch the site back in August of 2013, we hired a developer who was young, full of great ideas, and very talented. We cannot stress enough great things about this particular developer, but as time went on and more users frequented the website, we discovered new hiccups and errors that would require more and more effort to change.
Part of this was the developer’s coding, other parts were what we were requiring out of the code. Fliptheforce.com was built from the ground up, with nothing but our vision and the help of the developer. The deckbuilder, in particular, is a labor of love that requires constant nurturing and maintenance. There are new things added to Star Wars LCG with almost every cycle, which can add new tasks to our backend quite frequently. Sometimes these are easy fixes, sometimes not.
After the success of the fundraiser this past fall, we decided that we would move forward on redesigning the website, from the ground up. We began going over every nook and cranny, looking for things we could improve and ways in which the site could function better. Many of you found the same issues as us (occasional slow loading speeds, deckbuilder and database errors, etc). The database errors were something being caused by our backend. For editing and logistics, we are able to effectively template each card that releases into the site. Our backend is very…’plug and play’, which allows us to simply select predetermine possibilities with ease. However, we’ve discovered that some of those entries are not generating correctly in the database. This issue has been remedied, and going forward there should be very little error throughout search and deckbuilder functions.
We had decided that the best way to kick off the New Year was with an overhaul of the largest issues of the site. We hired a new developer (the original developer took one of those full-time job things that keep most people too busy for outside work) and had a deadline set of January 15th. Most of you, we’re certain, will remember that on an episode of The Living Force Cast I addressed an upcoming surprise and to be watchful of the site. Two weeks past the deadline, and as most of you noticed, no surprise was in sight.
The developer we hired in January worked very slowly on the site and eventually decided to take a full-time job during the middle of our site’s project. He continually lied to us about new deadlines, assured us the site would be fixed within a few days time, and after going sixteen days past deadline (we tried very hard to give him the benefit of the doubt on his projected completion dates) we finally had to part ways. While frustrating that so much time was wasted (effectively 32 days), it was actually more frustrating that this meant a new developer needed to be found and instructed on how the site and game function. This is a bit of a daunting task, as most developers have never heard of Star Wars LCG nor objective sets (which can pose lots of problems for development).
In early February, we hired a new developer to take on the redesign project – however with a few new caveats. After looking over the site and its code, our current developer suggested an entire site redesign, built from the ground up. It ultimately cost us more than twice our initial redesign budget, but we were sold on the idea of making Fliptheforce.com that much better.
Other articles will go into more detail regarding changes and how the site will function going forward, but for this article we’ll leave you with a few samples/ideas of what to expect differently around these parts:
Responsive Web Design – what this means is that Fliptheforce.com will now respond to the type of device and browser you are using to view it, whether it’s Chrome, Safari, mobile, or tablet. The site will slightly change appearance, based on your device, to give you the best version possible for whatever type of device you are using to access it (it should be noted that the deckbuilder is still a unique snowflake, and might function slightly differently)
Card Search and Filters – previously, users would have to click on an ‘advanced tab’ in order to see as many different search filters as we could possibly allow. The new card search is designed for a more streamlined approach, allowing users to simply add additional filters while still providing a large base of standard search filters. We’ve also streamlined the appearance of how the search results will be displayed, giving the user full and easy control over how to view results.
Deckbuilder – this area of the site saw the most work and the least amount of change. The deckbuilder has been redesigned with a new, elegant card search on the left (while keeping the advanced search due to code restrictions). These new search options are intended to help users search effortlessly throughout the database of SWLCG, without having to use the card search. We’ve also streamlined the layout a bit to give users full access to all other areas of the site. Another major change was a redesign to the stats/reports option for your deck. We’ve simplified the results a bit, changing the way they are displayed to help put focus on the important details you want. Even the Random Hand and Objective option have been tweaked a bit to conform to the new site standards.
PDF – it has finally returned! Users who create decklists within the deckbuilder have always been able to save their lists as OCTGN lists. But going forward, users will now be able to save their decklists in PDF format, which can then be printed to take to any future events. No longer will you need to fill out decklists by hand!
There were some major announces with Flip the Force this week, so please make sure to check out our other articles for the full breakdown on the changes. For ease, click here to read about new Staff members and what to expect going forward, and click here for a video on how some of the new features work!