Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Where's my stuff?

One of the things we've been looking at for 1.1.7 is how to find your way around the immense selection of props you can put on your set. With just the free base and core packs, there are around 250 individual items, most of which are customisable, tintable and/or scalable in some way. Add to that all the current content packs, and you're somewhere nearer 1900 items, ranging from plants, cars, and lights to buildings, space ships, smoke machines, road markings, gravestones, curtains and beds. (And that's before you start adding in third party mods.)

In the current version, all of your props are shown as little icons in the narrow strip at the bottom of the set workshop view. Depending on the size of your screen, you may be able to see anywhere between 20 and 60 at a time. That can take a long time to scroll through, and it's really annoying when you're just trying to browse around and see what you've got. The filters and tags help a lot, but they're not so good when you just want to see what you've got.

1.1.7 has a completely new catalog interface, which has a whole bunch of new features in addition to better browsing.

  1. The catalog now takes up the whole of the screen so you can see more objects at the same time. This makes browsing quicker and easier.
  2. The lower ribbon now shows you which objects you've already got on your set, so if you want to clone something, it's much faster now.
  3. When you hover over an object, it tells you what content pack it's from. Certainly I've had the experience of building a set, and then someone says "where'd you get that doodad", and for the life of me I can't remember what pack it came from. Now it's simple to say "it's from the Bedroom Blog pack" or whatever. OK, that in itself may not be terribly exciting, but it means we can also do this...
  4. All those greyed out, crossed out icons? They're from packs in our store that you don't yet have. So you want a piano in this scene, but you don't have one? Well, would ya look at that? There's one right here in the Music pack that'll do just perfect. Phew!
So you're probably about to ask, can I buy packs straight from the application without going to the Web site? Sorry, no, not yet. We've been hinting for a while about changes to the marketplace, though, and these are the kind of features we're thinking of for further down the line. You're also maybe wondering whether we're going to go all iTunes and let you buy individual assets on demand. Again, the answer is sorry, no, not yet. We're still a bit locked into the existing AddOn structure. But we do have plans for different ways you can buy Moviestorm content. More on this in a month or two.

However - and this is the bit that will be of most interest to modders - the idea is that you'll be able to see everything in our marketplace from right inside Moviestorm. Not just our own content packs, but packs made by third parties as well. So, if you submit your mods to us, all Moviestorm users will get to see them. This may not make it into the very first version of the modders' marketplace, but the main parts of the infrastructure are now in place to enable us to do this. That's a real opportunity to showcase your work and to put it in front of a lot more people than you'd find through just a Web site. And, in due course, we'll extend this to cover costumes, animations, and so on.

To finish off, let me just point out one small, but hugely important change. The old thumbnails were, let's be honest, a bit of a mess. So we recruited Rhys to spend his summer holidays, for day after tedious day, making new thumbnails of all the props, using a constant angle and lighting, and making it much more obvious what they actually are. Gone are the days of squinting at something and trying to work out if it's meant to be a test tube, a glass giraffe, or an orchid.

So, no devastating new functionality in this bit. It won't enable you to make any movie you couldn't make before. But it should be a lot quicker and easier to do the same things, and you've got a lot more information than you had before.


Evan Ryan said...

This is terrific, Matt. I love the new icons. His time spent was not in vain, not by a long shot imo. Cool to see the chance to view what stuff you don't have yet. Sometimes I don't know what I need until I see it, if that makes any sense. Like, building a shot or a scene around one central item or something like that. :-P

Can't wait to give it a spin!

Matt Kelland said...

Yeah - quite often you can theme something around something you didn't know existed. Frequently when dressing a set I know I need something, but have no idea what until I browse around. Just like real life, really. ;)