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Mage Hand/Unlimited

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MagisterAcerbus, Aug 19, 2016.

  1. MagisterAcerbus

    MagisterAcerbus New Member

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    This might be the wrong place to post this, but is this concept still a thing? I was part of the kickstarter however long ago it happened but its hard to find information on it when they changed the name to Mage Hand because... well all the search results return Mage Hand Spell results >< In all the updates though, I just see things about d20Pro. Have they been combined?
     
  2. owlbear

    owlbear Administrator
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    Hi! I'm the guy doing the updates and all the rest of it. Mage Hand is still a thing, but since the kickstarter was for the D20PRO Unlimited features -- I've moved our focus entirely back to working on that goal. Trying to build Mage Hand from the ground up is a longer task than the timeline folks would have waited.

    Backers will get access to Mage Hand as part of their on-going support however. And... well, we may have a really good opportunity to build out the team in the next month. We've been approached by some folks who are keenly interested in furthering our VTT endeavours -- both in Java and in C# (Unity).

    As to have their powers combined, well, yes and no. I've asked our Mage Hand team to focus on how to access game data from D20PRO as a host. The concept is to provide a player client which can run natively on mobile and support advanced features like 3d visualizations. This is extremely early work and has zero timeline attributed. We're primarily in the research this thing phase of that push.

    In my perfect world, the plan is to do a slow roll from D20PRO to Mage Hand with D20PRO received all of the Kickstarter Features in the process.

    I hinted at some of this in my KS update tonight. And as we complete the evaluation of work and time, I'll post more details about our plan going forward.

    FYI, you should have a full D20PRO license as part of the Kickstarter, depending on backer level.
     
  3. MagisterAcerbus

    MagisterAcerbus New Member

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    Oh! I see, I didn't realize that Mage Hand and D20 Unlimited were separate things, I though it was just a rename. So its going, theoretically, from D20 Pro to Unlimited to Mage Hand?
     
  4. KainPen

    KainPen Member

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    I think Mage hand is the engine Base program in which all tools can be run, kind of like unreal engine is used to make games like Bio Shock and Batman Arkham City. They all run off that Engine, not just the unreal torment games. D20pro Unlimited is going to be game option inside of Mage Hand. Mage hand will be able to run more then just D20 Bases games. Mage Hand is basically the new Engine will be able to run more then just d20 based games. Instead of the old one D20pro which is really only limited to d20 based games, yeah you can run others game but none of the automation can really be used. or at least that what I think it supposed to be I am sure Owl Bear will come back with a more defining answer..
     
  5. owlbear

    owlbear Administrator
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    That's close to the concept and matches the original intent with Mage Hand. let me try to unravel this mess a bit further.

    Mage Hand is a Virtual Tabletop being written from the ground up using Unity3d and is designed to be backward compatible with D20PRO content.

    D20PRO is a Virtual Tabletop which is and was originally written in Java. As the original product in this line, D20PRO contains all of the design and logic which is being used to build Mage Hand.

    Originally, the intent was to build out a base system which would accept plugins to run Rules and Game logic. D20PRO was originally deemed too "legacy" to support this architecture shift. As a result we started the nBoard/Mage Hand/etc. product builds in Java... Names should not have been batted around quite so readily, however, they were and thus a web of confusion about products and identities.

    So, anyway, here's as clean a timeline as I can offer to help unravel this proper like:

    • Kickstarter Launches for D20PRO Unlimited. The intent advertised in the KS was to extend the Java code base of D20PRO to provide a wide set of options for Unlimited Monsters, Unlimited Grids, Unlimited <insert thing>, etc.
    • [D20PRO Unlimited] Initial work was going fine, then the team proposed to management that the work was going to be unstable and we should shift to a new code base -- JavaFX or Unity3d. In hindsight, we should have put this question to the community, both KS and here; water under the bridge.
    • JavaFX won out due to the current team being Java focused and our Unity team being focused on contract work to pay the bills -- thus was born nBoard.
    • [nBoard] this work proceeded from fall the first year of the KS to the end of April (PAX East). The Demo we provided at PAX was sound enough that we were able to run several quality examples -- however, the solution had zero networking -- ugh.
    • There was a kerfuffle between management and the team working on the project which lead to a month and a half of downtime. Work continued, but the team had a specific direction in mind and the management another. When the dust settled, we were focused on taking the work from nBoard and rolling it into a D20PRO base intended to grant quicker access to our network and data set stacks from the existing works. The next big deadline was GenCon.
    • [Mage Hand] At GenCon we rolled out the re-branded JavaFX solution under the Mage Hand monicker. This was used to run our 3rd installment of the Crawl and saw nearly 300 players play successful sessions using this system. However, it still had no networking AND had zero backward compatibility with D20PRO content -- sigh.
    • [Mage Hand] The remainder of the summer was spent with the team working on advancing toward the network and compatibility goals while the management was looking at alternative ways to meet everyone's KS needs. Enter Fantasy Grounds.
    • In the late summer and early fall, Fantasy Grounds put an unofficial offer in on D20PRO and the team. For all sorts of reasons this deal fell flat. Out of professional respect, I'm not going to expound on that any further. Needless to say, during the negotiations phase which took about a month, progress was slower than otherwise planned.
    • After the deal fell through, the original D20PRO team had to break up. This was primarily due to personal and financial concerns. Additionally, there was rumbling from the team that the intended changes couldn't be done in the current code base and the network model work for nBoard/Mage Hand/JavaFX thing was going to take far too long and wasn't viable for various reasons. As with any game design/programming studio, we collectively took a long internal look and said, wait a tick, if we don't have Java devs, and the rest of us are Unity devs, then why aren't we building MHU (Mage Hand for Unity) as our focus!?
    • [MHU] So the announcement went out to the community explaining the situation and bringing everyone up to speed. However, we still had to support our existing community ('cause we love you all!) and so we hired a contract team to help maintain existing D20PRO.
    • [MHU] Well... as fate would have it, MHU was going to take a terribly long time to build from scratch despite the early demos and technology proofs. Meanwhile the contractor said, you know... I can do these things you want done.
    • So investigations were made, plans were formed, budgets were laid out and the result was a reverse back to the original plan of "I want all of this, in there." (Vin Diesel in XXX). Since the beginning of this year (2016) we've been working hard to bring all the KS goals to life in the existing D20PRO engine. The result is a sound product with years of history and support (and less brand confusion).
    • With 3.6.x we've been slowing rolling out the Unlimited features even if they're not 100% obvious. Shadowcasting launched first with a hybrid polygon/ray cast solution. Unlimited Creatures is in there, just not function from a user stand point yet because it's tightly integrated into the Rules API work -- i.e. it keeps getting minor updates would would break campaigns which were using features if we let you have access to them before they're fully stabilized.
    • Next on our plate for release is the Feature Library and Enhanced Template Engine. This is the user facing API access library which grants GUI based access to building out custom events, rules, and effects. We have some secret work for this which I'm dying to talk about but promised I wouldn't until we've got the visual components implemented -- but I really, really! want too!
    • 3.6.8 will brings a version of D20PRO live which is using a plugin solutions for rules management, auto-updates campaigns to the new creature format (stable parts) and preps everyone for acceptance of a plugin architecture for rules.
    • The next step after 3.6.8 is to bring all of the hidden parts into the open allowing for user facing access to the Feature Library through the new GUI; Access to Rules API for coders and eventually a Rules Builder GUI which will let users visually create Rulesets.
    All of this is in tandem with work on digging into the JavaFX code from nBoard/Mage Hand to bring back work from there into D20PRO such as player view pop-out window from the GM client -- Host a local game for friends without running two instances of D20PRO, or as a GM, open a Player view showing you what a specific player sees.

    Additionally, we're working on some network tools to provide cloud support for Network Discovery, Match Making, TeamSpeak services (VOIP), and even an Altspace area (although that's somewhat lower on the list at the moment even though I really want to do it now...).

    Oh, and the Crawl IV (GenCon 2016's Crawl for Charity event) had all of its maps created using our very own Map Maker HTML5 program which is part of the network tools we're planning to roll out.

    And all of that? That's why I don't sleep much anymore.

    In summary, the kickstarter has been a serious kick in the crotch but also fantastic in it's range of discovery, development and direction. A winding path, yes. A path with an end in sight, absolutely!

    And as a final tease -- which we have absolutely zero ETA on -- our Unity team is investigating how to receive D20PRO player data natively in Unity. If they can pull that off, then we'll be able to build the first part of Mage Hand as the provider for the Mobile Access requirement with a huge amount of extra kick. In the Kickstarter, Mobile Character Sheets is the extent of the requirement. We've already built the JSON exporters into D20PRO (try pressing 'Z' when you're not in a chat context). This is live now, but disabled as we don't have the renderer attached to it yet.

    Okay. I'm probably far enough into all this now that it's getting confusing again. So, what is D20PRO and what is Mage Hand?

    D20PRO is the current product, written in java, who's getting all the attention and development to meet the kickstarter goals.
    Mage Hand is the next project/product, written in Unity3d, who will be built on top of and in conjunction with D20PRO to provide additional functions above and beyond those of D20PRO.

    - Owlbear.
     
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  6. Whirlingdervish

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    I am glad you did not merge with FG the ecosystem needs more competition not less. Thank you for giving us a break down of the activities leading to this point.
     
  7. owlbear

    owlbear Administrator
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    No problem. Figure getting this into a public post means I don't have to type it out all over again as well ;)
     
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  8. RenScotson

    RenScotson New Member

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  9. Krilion_GD

    Krilion_GD Production/Community Manager
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  10. Krilion_GD

    Krilion_GD Production/Community Manager
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