Despite of my inactivity with bringing features and fixes, Auraxis Control Center has kept growing and it is reaching now 1500 active users. Most of the new user are PS4 users that want a away to access their stats, friends and outfit mates from their phones.
I am very pleasantly surprised with the interest of the users to get new features and fixes. I have received several emails of users saying how they like the app and what features they would like to see in the future. Most of this features are not feasible(specially with regards of PS2<->PSN integration) but there is still room for improvement in the app.
This release contains mostly bug fixes and small UI changes that should not affect be very noticeable for most people. One important change was the new ACRA endpoint and it backend. For the last few months ACC has been using ACRA to report crashes but the endpoint use to upload the reports was broken. Thankfully on the client side the only change was a new URL but this change will allow me to fix crashes as soon as they are reported.
To receive and manage crash reports I decided to build my own sollution. By using Google App Engine and Java I developed Bug Maniac. Currently I have an API to upload, browse and delete reports. I also have a simple HTML page that I am working to to access the reports much easier.
I deployed the project over this last weekend and I already fixed a few crashes that some people were experiencing. I am planning on working on this project on the side until it is fully working and nice to use.
This post is two weeks too late but Auraxis Control Center just hit version 3 this last month. I decided to bump up the version number since this release included some major work such as namespaces, localization, new panels and better crash reporting.
The upgrade was very smooth despite of the radical changes. I decided to spend two weeks for testing and it seemed that I caught all major cases(except for one crash that affected few people). The number of users went up again even without me advertising the new features, which means that there is still a healthy amount of people looking for PS2 apps.
After the initial release I got couple crash reports, but the information I got from the Play Store was very limited and so I decided to reintroduce ACRA into the app. This time I took a different approach, instead of doing the lazy way of using email intents, I deployed a simple Google AppEngine app that stores logs. I used the ACRA functionality to POST crash logs in JSON format so I can simply post it to my own url. This ended up been much easier and better for the user since they do not need to do anything. The only thing that I lost is the ability for them to send messages, but I think that the fact that I can get crash logs in almost real-time makes up for that fact.
Apart from that I added Spanish as a language and now I am also adding German. Those will have to be the two languages I support unless I can get better translations for the strings I have.
Overall I think this was a very successful update, and at a good time too since the PS4 launch of Planetside is getting near.
The last few months have been really slow for Auraxis Control Center. Most of the features that I wanted were there and I have not getting any bug reports, and with the jobs and Youtube projects I had to push coding down the priority list. But lots of changes were coming and I decided it was time to get back into action.
With the change from Sony Online Entertainment to Day Break Game, their backend had to migrate from http://census.soe.com to http://census.daybreakgames.com and all the API calls had to be moved to new API endpoint. The API also added new namespaces for PS4 data, both EU and US data. Some other changes that were in the pipeline involve general improvements in some rough edges here and there(more on this can be found here: https://github.com/cesarramirez/auraxiscontrolcenter/issues)
Another aspect that was important for me to support was multiple languages. English is the dominant language in the Planetside 2 community but there is still a big number of other languages. The statistics showed that the most used languages are English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Russian. The DBG census supports English, Spanish, German, Italian, French and Turkish so I am planning on at least supporting the first five for Auraxis Control Center.
For adding this new features I needed to implement some changes to the code that would break some assumptions to how things were done before. Previously, the URL requests were made using my own API to generate URLS, but this could get complicated and sometimes I ended up just hard-coding the URL. Now with the new set of namespace I had to add some UI elements to let the user select the namespace to use. Some other changes had to go to the database schema so that the namespace would be saved for all profiles and outfits so they could be retrieved later too.
For adding support for multiple languages I had to clean some URLs that had the language hard-coded, as well as condense several Name classes into one. Some strings also needed to be externalized, which was not a big deal, but now I am in the process of getting all the right strings for all multiple languages. Currently I have a doc open to the public where people can contribute to get the strings translated.
I have tested the Spanish translation and all the strings seem to be ready and the Census API also provides the correct values. The namespace support is 99% ready, currently just in the process of doing the last tests. If things keep going well, I should release a new version in the middle of May.
The LibGDX tutorial I had in mind never really happened but I that does not mean I have not done anything with Libgdx. I have been using it periodically to stay up-to-date but I dont have any plans in mind to use it for a game or app.
I also have been working with Alicia to get a Youtube channel. We just started and we are trying to get ideas on what to focus and how we should do things. The current plan is for her to have a Let'sPlay channel with some other personal anecdotes while I will be doing videos, mostly about Planetside 2.
I am planning on starting to work on a game that has been in my mind for the past four years. Since 2010 I have been on-and-off working on a TBS game very similar to Advanced Wars for Android. Since then I have started multiple projects that were related to certain parts of the development process but I never got to really finish any of them. Or at least finish them to a point that I felt comfortable with them. I did a good tech demo using AndEngine back in 2010 but due to limited time and knowledge I had to stop development. Between 2011 and 2012 I worked on MechTactics, a game engine that handled the network back-end of a multiplayer TBS as well as the game logic. This is the project that I feel came out the best, as I got to achieve the goals that I set for the project. But because of work, research and school, I did not have enought time to work on this sort of side projects. Between 2013 and now I still managed to squeeze some small projects, couple python games and a small java project that I did for school.
I found LibGdx last year and I worked on some simple demos. LibGDX is definetly more complex than AndEngine but it is also way more powerfull and also cross-compatible with OSX, Web and Dektop. I will document here my development process, remember I am just starting and learning with LibGDX, so this is not going to be a tutorial.