Following on from last month's update, this month has been a stable continuation in all aspects. More code has been split out towards an open source future, more of the data pipeline has been fleshed out, and more visualisations are being introduced.
The (now on-hold) Wiki platform did a lot of the initial work for the new maps. And with the recent progress in datamining Xenoblade 2, having all relevant locations in place may not take too long.
What kind of things are possible? I'll be able to show some of those once there's more data to work with.
I've looked into ways to get more community engagement on FrontierNav. One thing I mentioned before was the ability to create and import text-based guides. It's simple and a pretty useful way to dump information. So I'll be implementing this using the work I already did on the Wiki. It'll be a gradual roll out to reduce any moderation burdens it may lay on me.
So turns out all the Wiki work wasn't a huge waste of time, it just had to be broken down into smaller features!
When I first built FrontierNav, it was only a map for Xenoblade X. I didn't plan to make it anything bigger, so a lot of it was very ad-hoc. But over the months and years it's been growing slowly into something a lot more dynamic.
A lot of the conversations I've had about FrontierNav can get a bit difficult. Right now when people land on FrontierNav, it's not very obvious what it provides. And that's expected, since it provides what I felt like making at some point in time. But at the same time, I have a long-term goal for FrontierNav which I fail to describe succinctly.
So, here's the shortest description I can think of:
FrontierNav is a data management and visualisation platform for video games.
Is that too generic? Maybe. Is it realistic? I mean, sure the tooling isn't there yet, but it's getting there. Each new piece of functionality is a step towards that goal.
This month I'll implement the Text Guides interface hoping to capture the Pastebin audience and get to work on the Spreadsheet interface to capture the Google Sheets audience.
Once Xenoblade 2's map data is available, I'll focus on getting the maps ready for players to use. In addition, I'll link it up with the Affinity Charts to make completion a lot more streamlined. So for example, "Kill 5 enemies" clicks through to a map of where those enemies are.
At some point, likely not this month, I want to try out releasing a Dat version of the web app. Though experimental and not really popular, it seems ideal for FrontierNav and it would be a neat proof of concept.
Previously, FrontierNav only had one visualisation: a map. With the new Affinity Charts for Xenoblade 2, I've been looking into various approaches to present the same information along side different visualisations.
For example, showing both the Affinity Charts, and allowing users to navigate to the map while retaining their view of the "entity" they're looking like, like the Affinity Reward or the Enemy requirement.
There are a few candidate ideas I'll be fleshing out a bit.
One's a windowing system like any Operating System with the visualisation as a background.
Another is a "bubble" system, kind of like Facebook's Android app and Samsung's Touchwiz window system.
More raw data has been coming out for Xenoblade 2, so I've started writing a parser to transform it into a compatible format for FrontierNav.
Keeping track of all of this work and keeping it organised has been a bit of a pain. I'll be organising frontiernav-data to be a bit more, well, organised.
Due to the number of moving parts and complexity of the project, open sourcing it as-is isn't as worthwhile. With the lack of documentation it'll be difficult for anyone to contribute or make use of it.
So, to get the web client into a state that can be open sourced, I've been splitting out bits into their own project. A mono-repo approach has worked well for this as it means I don't need to juggle multiple Git repos and branching dependencies.
I'll be continue to work on the things outlined above. There's a lot to do but I'm getting a better idea of where to take FrontierNav by doing it.
Having to play new games, enjoy the first playthrough, then figure out their intricacies while also extracting data and building new features in a timely manner is really difficult.
Once Xenoblade 2's data is imported and guides are stable, I'm thinking of moving onto more classic games. The main reason being that all the data is already available and I can use them as an opportunity to build FrontierNav into a state where it's a lot easier to add new, recent games.
What games? There's quite a few. I've had an itch to replay Golden Sun Books 1 & 2 recently.
January's been a productive month. Behind the scenes, I've continued to move the application towards a more pluggable approach. It's going to be a slow process as I work on other features like new game guides and improve the user experience.
Xenoblade 2's data is fed through a spreadsheet which makes it much more easier to edit. The process is still a work in progress but I've got a good idea of where to take it. Once it's ready, I'll be moving the other games from the previous JSON-based approach to this new one.
I didn't make a release post about "Spoiler Gates" since it's pretty simple. The app can now show/hide spoilers based on the user's preference. This won't mean much for existing guides, but I can take it into considering for new guides.
I've released a simple guide to each Blade's favourite pouch items. Take a look.
While it's a simple guide, there have been major changes in the background to move the data pipeline from JSON documents to a Google Spreadsheet. Once this process has been streamlined a bit more, it should provided an easier way for others to contribute data.
You can now see game events in FrontierNav. Currently the only ones implemented are the Global Nemesis events which are retrieved from Miiverse.
The biggest feature here is that you can subscribe to these events to get notifications on your phone, tablet or computer. So you don't need to keep looking, the app will tell you when something's changed!
Revamped the Settings page into multiple pages for each section: Profile, Preferences and Subscriptions.
Game pages have been redesigned and now have search. The plan here is to better support the new multi-game, multi-guide user flows.
Users aren't just restricted to one game and one guide now (i.e. Xenoblade X and Maps). In the near future, I could add a completely different interactive guide like an interactive Pokemon Sun/Moon Type Chart.
The possibilities are endless! Though, restricted by my free time >_>