The Toolkit Backstory: Part 3

As I had mentioned at the end of my last post, things were not faring too well on the Empyre Group front. Empyre Group was closing its doors. I never found out the full reasons behind things, but I do know there was intent to make money wtih the various ventures Empyre Group was putting forward, but they were not panning out. In the wake of this, all of the entities within Empyre Group (City of Gamers Forums, netrep, Deck Studio, RONIN) were given to the various members that worked on them to continue with them as they saw fit. This wasn’t too big of a change, since we were a pretty close knit group already, sharing the tournament card registry and providing support through the forums.

Effectively we had all be doing this in a “hobby” format, donating our free time and resources to the cause, and there comes a point when you need to get off the bus, for whatever reason. djp952, my “Yoda” through this process, was the first. RONIN really had been the flagship program for things, so I was sad to see him go, but didn’t blame him one bit. In the wake of his leaving, he offered up all the code to me to keep RONIN going.  I was honored that he’d consider me for the job and I took it. The netrep/CoG guy was generating the tournament card registry files, so he’d send me updates and I would generate the appropriate libraries and push them out to the respective programs.

Then about 6 months later, daamazing1, another Jedi for the cause, was getting ready to leave the fold too. CoG had already been given off to somebody to maintain (the amazing Digitial Jedi, still going strong with the venture) and I was given the opportunity to take over the netrep site if I wanted. This was a difficult decision for me. On one hand, I was struggling to keep RONIN and Deck Studio up to par with some code changes and some set change. Since both applications were using the exact same data, it made sense to update them to look into a common directory for this information. Not to mention the features updates I wanted to start adding to both programs. I would also need to do web site maintenance on top of this. On the flip side, all three applications had really become a “suite” of sorts and the website was very popular. In addition, netrep was the main source for the data, so I’d have to come up with my own scheme for the data and come up with it fast. So I decided to keep netrep. I could easily keep it running and update things when the need presented.

So here I was, all of the sudden in charge of three major, production grade applications, all using the same data, but in different forms, and I needed to keep them up and running with the latest sets, that seemed to come out about every month. And then the pressure hit. During one of the new set releases, a new monster “subtype” came out called Gemini Monsters. The way the current database was modeled, all this implied was that a new column called “IsGemini” be added to the database structure and you apply the appropriate values. The problem with this was that this also required changes to the structure of the “portable” TCR used by Deck Studio and RONIN. To make matters worse, the object class that stored card data for Deck Studio decks was designed to be “independent” and contain all of that information as well, but as an object attribute. Due to the rigid format of the binary serialization process with custom objects, even adding a simple parameter would break all decks up to this point.

This raised the big red flag that a new database structure needed to be implemented. This also raised the flag that a new deck format was needed to store the decks in. I had brainstormed some really cool ideas with djp952 back in the day about what could be done, and now was the added motiviation to make this happen. I had been fortunate that Gemini monsters weren’t too popular in the game format, but later on, Synchro monsters hit the scene and that made things even worse due to their popularity. As a matter of fact, I’m still in a hole on this one and need to update some images of synchro monsters accordingly.

So that leads us to now, or at least the to October of last year, when the “retooling” started. New database, new deck, new tool names, and while I was at it, I should start expanding into multiple CCGs, since there are duelists out there that play multiple CCGs and having a single app to handle this stuff would be pretty slick.

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