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The Raven
Magician


Joined: 13 Oct 2000
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2004 12:16 am   

[Bug] Shape Creation
 
When I create a new shape, a variety of odd bugs occur. To recreate:

Click on the Shape Tool down arrow, New Shape.

Give it a name... say, Test1.

Now click the 'New Shape' button on the bottom left to design the shape. You are shown the blank shape. Make an edit or two, click the green 'Ok' button (I assume that's what it is), and close the window.

Hmm. Odd. You are now looking at a blank shape window. The name 'Test1' is gone. Close this window. A blank entry is listed on the Palatte. Click on the Palette, and goto Rooms, then return to the Shapes... now there are TWO new blank entries.

Something is quite seriously messed up with the seemingly simple task of adding a new shape.
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Zugg
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Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2004 3:33 am   
 
You are selecting "New Shape" twice.

Just click the Shape Tool down arrow and select New Shape and give it a name (Test1). Then it will automatically open the shape editor with a blank shape. You don't need to select New Shape again. Add some objects, click the green button and close the window.

Also, there is a question as to what you are creating a shape for. If you are trying to create a new shape for a room, you should go to the Palette, select Rooms, then add a new room type to the palette (give it a name). Then right-click on the new room type and select Edit Shape.

The Shape Tool you are using is for one-time shapes that you just want to drop on the map and not associate with any room. It's just background graphics basically.

I must admit that usually I create the shapes first in the Palette tab and then just select them and draw them using the Shape Tool.
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The Raven
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Joined: 13 Oct 2000
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2004 10:17 pm   
 
Actually, no, I'm not. I don't double click superfluously. Unless some part of that process is flawed. Perhaps you could explain what step in there I create a new shape, or what I should do instead if I want to make a new shape?

And I was under the assumption that the purpose of 'shapes' was something that I would make a library of to use in various places. I mean, why would I want to make a room with a certain shape, and then be unable to reuse that shape somewhere else, or with a different type of room? So I create a bunch of shapes, and assign those shapes to rooms as needed.

Frequently, a normal room will have different shapes. For example, I have a 'street' room. I don't want to make StreetNS, StreetEW, StreetIntersectionNSEW, StreetIntersectionNSE, blah blah blah... pointless. But I do make all those SHAPES, and assign it to the street rooms as needed.

I believe a strong lack in the program currently is the inability to share shapes between different portions of the program. Why do I have to save a shape the my hard drive before I can use it in another object?

However, I'm not trying to change your design paradigm. Development for program is dead, I'm just trying to see if obvious bugs can be closed.
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The Raven
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Joined: 13 Oct 2000
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2004 11:28 pm   
 
Ahh, I see where the confusion lies. In my initial instructions, I said "Now click the 'New Shape' button on the bottom left to design the shape." That button is actually called [Edit Shape]. Obviously my subconcious realized what was not obvious from the user interface.

What should happen is [Edit Shape] should be disabled, or should not create a new shape AGAIN, when you are already creating a shape. That is a pointless action. Honestly, I'm a bit perplexed why creating a new shape takes you to that properties window at all. It should take you right from choosing a name, to editing the shape, and AFTER you are done with the shape perhaps it should goto the properties page.
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Zugg
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Joined: 25 Sep 2000
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2004 5:10 am   
 
Let's see if I can help with some of the confusion.

The first thing to understand is that "shapes" are used for all sorts of things in zMapper. For example, a "room" can have a shape, an "exit" can have a shape used for drawing "doors", and you can add "graphic objects" directly to the map that have a shape.

All of these "shapes" are edited using the shape editor.

The graphical "objects" that can be placed directly on the map can either be a "shape" or a "bitmap". So, the "Shape Tool" is actually the graphical object tool and is used for creating either a shape or bitmap that you want to place directly on the map.

This all becomes a bit clearer if you go to the Palettes Tab. There is a pulldown menu in the Palettes tab that says "Rooms". Select that menu and you'll see that you can display Rooms, Exits, Styles, and Images. The "Images" is the collection of both "shapes" and "bitmaps" stored in the map. These images can be used for rooms, exits, or graphical objects. So, the Palette shows the entire collection of images defined in the map so far.

To make things even more confusing, rooms can have two shapes or bitmaps. One shape is associated with the "room type", and another can be assigned directly to the room by right-clicking the room and selecting the Room Image menu.

I must admit that the way I normally define a new room type is to select the "Rooms" from the Palette tab. Then click the New button in the Palette tab. Name the room, then click the Edit Shape button in the room properties to change the shape. To create a new "graphic object" I go to the "Images" menu in the Palette tab, click the New button, then click the Edit Shape button.

I finally tried your original instructions and reproduce the bug you mentioned. The Shape Tool/New Shape menu option seems to be a total mess. I'll put that on the bug list and it will likely get fixed soon since it's pretty bad the way it works right now.

Until the new version, try using the Palette menu instead of using any of the "New" options in the toolbars. The toolbar menus are really new and obviously still very buggy.

I also haven't played with the Librarian in a while, and you are right, it's also messed up. You are supposed to be able to drag/drop shapes from the zMapper palette into the librarian, and back again. But the drag/drop doesn't seem to be working.

The underlying database *does* support using a single shape for multiple room types, exits, and graphical objects (the Images palette is basically a dump of the underlying Shapes table in the database). So, the trick/problem is getting the user interface set up to make this easy.

In the initial design, I didn't make it easy to share shapes because I was afraid of someone deleting a shape the was used by multiple room definitions. In the meantime, the user interface got kludgy. It started with the Palettes, and the toolbars have been "addons"

I can't promise when this will be fixed. As I mentioned, given the very small number of people using zMapper, it just can't be a high priority right now. I know it's a catch-22 and if it worked better, more people might buy it. But I've been working on it a lot for the past year and it's just a never-ending project. But once the mail client gets into a beta cycle, I'll be able to work on other projects during the time that I'm waiting for bug reports to come in on the mail program.
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The Raven
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Joined: 13 Oct 2000
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2004 10:02 pm   
 
Zugg recalled:
quote:
In the initial design, I didn't make it easy to share shapes because I was afraid of someone deleting a shape the was used by multiple room definitions.
I think sharing shapes should be the default, with a relatively easy option to 'clone' a shape to keep it separate. When you choose to delete a shape, the dialog could list all the objects that use it, and ask you if you're really sure you want to delete it... or just delete it if no objects use it and no instances of it are on the map.

Just a thought, and thanks for looking into fixing the bug. I'll try using the Palette instead.

I do think that you don't have more users BECAUSE of the interface, and lack of documentation. You have a couple tutorials, but you gloss over significant chunks of the step-by-step process... 'creating these shapes took only 10 minutes'... yeah, for you. But for us, it is taking a lot longer, and we don't know why because you didn't go through your process of HOW you make those shapes.

Just a thought. I'll try to make a bunch of well written bug reports/suggestions, so that when you do have time you can just go down the list.
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Zugg
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Joined: 25 Sep 2000
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2004 7:57 pm   
 
It's certainly possible that some people are not using zMapper because of this, but I don't think it's a lot. From my long experience with zMUD, when people are actually *interested* in a program, then notify me when there are problems (like you have done in this case). Most don't just ignore the interface and give up without at least sending me an email. The fact that I'm not even getting email on this, and feedback like yours is sent many months after the program was released with the problem shows me that there just aren't even enough people interested in the concept of the program.

For years zMUD has issues with it's interface, scripting, lack of documentation, etc. That didn't stop it from selling and being successful, and I certainly got *lots* of feedback on it. With zMapper I feel like I'm the only one even trying to use it given how little feedback I get. And since I only use zMapper when I need to create new maps for zExplorer, I'm not using it enough myself to fully debug it, and certainly don't have enough dedicated beta testers. All of these problems contribute to the program quality being less than I'd like.

But it's the general lack of emails on zMapper with suggestions and bug reports, along with the sales that are 1/10th of what they need to be to make the program worth my time to work on right now that are the biggest factors.
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Talahaski
Enchanter


Joined: 10 Oct 2000
Posts: 656
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2004 9:50 pm   
 
Zugg,

just to comment, one of the reason I think many people have not bugged you for too much from zmapper is that it is still a beta. People do not expect a lot from a beta and are willing to let minor issues slip by with the assumption that its still a work in progress and the assumption that you know you still need to make a lot of fixes to make things more user friendly.

In addition, your announcement prior to a full product release, that you are going to put zmapper at the bottom of your list, was a clear sign for zmapper users to accept zmapper as it is and not expect anything more.

In resepect of sales, I certainly can understand why a lot of people are not willing to purchase zmapper at this time. How many people do you know who are willing to purchase a beta product? My guess is the main people who had bought zmapper so far are mainly existing beta testers of zmud. Since existing zmud beta tesers already have a feel of working with your beta products.

I've bought a few copies of zmapper, hoping to support it because I feel its a great product, but I have experiece and trust in using beta software from you. I certainly would not purchase beta software from anybody else.

Perhaps as a suggestion, you should just clean up a few quick items in zmapper and release it as production. See what happens with sales when its no longer a beta version. In addition, you could throw up a banner or two on sites like topmudsite with the zmapper logo and a announcement of its first non-beta release. Reset the 30 day trial so people can retry it.

Seems like a minimal investment to test if the product is truely a failure or if its just the beta status.
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mr_kent
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Joined: 10 Oct 2000
Posts: 698

PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2004 10:33 pm   
 
quote:
Originally posted by Talahaski
Perhaps as a suggestion, you should just clean up a few quick items in zmapper and release it as production. See what happens with sales when its no longer a beta version. In addition, you could throw up a banner or two on sites like topmudsite with the zmapper logo and a announcement of its first non-beta release. Reset the 30 day trial so people can retry it.

Seems like a minimal investment to test if the product is truely a failure or if its just the beta status.



One more possible reason for low sales volume is this:

While I know how and why I use zMapper and therefore a teeny portion —as a zMud plugin— of what it is capable of, I can't explain to anybody else what it is!

When I was introduced to mudding, telnet was what I was told to use. After mudding for a couple months I heard talk about ‘a client’ and how it made mudding much better. I searched then downloaded CRT and Gmud among others before finding a link to zMud. I knew by that time what a telnet/mud client was and therefore how to evaluate the relative value of each one.

As far as I can tell, zMapper does or could fill various needs and roles for different people, but I know of no peer applications/genres to compare it to — certainly nothing as easily understood as the term ‘mud client’ is to today's mudders.

Given: this lack of definibility, the steep learning curve in creating something worthwhile, the reasons given by Talahaski, and the fact that most of us have downloaded utilities only to have them sit in some neglected directory for a year before discovering them again while looking for more hard disk space and then wondering exactly what it was supposed to do and if it's crucial;
I can understand why zMapper isn't rushing off the shelves.

I agree with Talahaski that zMapper development might have been stopped too soon. A Public Release version probably won't generate sales just because it it non-beta, but if just a couple of people use it to do something that enhances their mudding, AD&D, RPG experience and share their work so other people can at least give it a trial, it could be a winner.

Other than the examples created by Zugg and shown on the features page, what has been done that impresses people?
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2004 9:51 am   
 
Beta status never hurt zMUD. Nor did it hurt AC Explorer or zExplorer. So, that's not it. And while I agree that the recent announcement will nearly kill zMapper sales, that doesn't explain why sales were so low for the entire past year. In fact, I announced last year that I was going to focus last year on zMapper and zExplorer, and I did. I spent more than half the year on both mapping projects and they really improved. Sales went down, not up.

I think it's more like what mr_kent said...nobody really knows what it can do. The people who were bugging me to add icons and shapes and stuff to zMUD maps clearly were the minority, or else they were just to cheap to buy zMapper. The range of stuff zMapper can do is quite large and very hard to market.

But keep in mind that I didn't make this decision lightly. I worked hard on zMapper this past year and got it to the point where it worked well for enhancing zMUD maps, and for making zExplorer maps (which is my main use personally). I also put a lot of work into making it easier to create D&D dungeon maps, as the sample Sunless Citadel map showed. Sure, of course it would need a lot more work to be a public version and a high-selling product. But with 100 sales in a YEAR, it was nowhere even close to being a viable product when I need to run a business. Once I've got something else bringing in sales (like the email client), then I can affort to work on "fun" projects like this. But 100 sales in an entire year is about 1/10th of what I need to even consider it as a business product, and it has been running for 2 years now at that low rate.

According to my estimates based upon current sales of zMapper, zExplorer, and zMUD, if I continued to work on zMapper for another year, zMUD sales would drop below the critical point and I'd be out of business. So, I waited as long as I could before I abandoned it for now in favor of a project that has a better chance of selling. Hopefully I didn't wait too long.

What it really comes down to is that zMapper is a niche of a niche. It only appeals to the hard-core MUD player who really wants to tweak their map. I've never marketed zMapper outside of the MUD community, and it certainly cannot yet compete with commercial D&D mapping programs. As a niche-of-a-niche, I should have expected these low sales.
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