Prepare for GAME.minder 2.6

The next major version of GAME.minder has been approved by Apple and we expect to release it sometime this week. We figured this was a good time to share with you what we’ve been working on for the last 6 months or so and what it means for GAME.minder moving forward.

Back that end up

We’ve fielded tons of really great requests in the 2 years that GAME.minder has existed. Chief among them has been the ability to track dates in different regions around the world. The majority of big titles are released worldwide on the same day (or close to it) but smaller games and region-specific games weren’t very well supported on the original GAME.minder. This was an architectural limitation, baked into the lowest levels of the backend system.

For a “next-generation” GAME.minder, we felt that we needed to go back to the beginning and rethink how we were going to track video game releases. Video games, and their release cycles, are very different from other media like movies or books. How do we classify a game release? What are its defining characteristics? What makes something a “platform” or “console” vs a “store” or “distribution channel”?

The culmination of our answers to these questions and more is the brand spanking new backend that is going to power GAME.minder in the years to come. We realized we could rebuild it, we had the technology! The new system is powerful, smart, robust and expandable. But our most important goal was to keep GAME.minder’s core feature as simple to use as ever. You want to track when games are coming out, first and foremost, and that isn’t going anywhere.

So what can the new backend do that the old one can’t? It starts with how games are stored. The most important item in GAME.minder until now has been “the release”. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 on Xbox 360 was a different thing than Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 on PS3 and both were one and only one thing. This meant each one could have its own release date (good!) but only one release date (bad!). To remedy this in the best way possible, we’ve made the most important thing “The Game”.

The GAME is the thing

Let’s look at a theoretical example, and let’s call it “Ringworld”. Ringworld is coming out for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii as well as PC. It will be released in the US and EU but the EU release is delayed by 2 weeks. It will be available on disc for the consoles but boxed or via steam on the PC.

Under the old system, you would have to find “The Release” that you are looking for. Each possible combination above would be its own release for a total of 10 (4 boxed US, 4 boxed EU versions plus 2 digital versions). That may not seem all that bad but imagine something like FIFA. The FIFA series is yearly, released on just about everything with a screen (10 different platforms tracked in GAME.minder), and in just about every region. Scrolling through 40-60 releases would be pretty annoying.

As you may have gathered from the examples, once GAME.minder 2.6 for iOS, GAME.minder for Android and GAMEminder.com are released to the public, you will no longer be tracking releases, but games. Just find the game you want and set a RE.minder - no need to search for the right release. 

“BUT WAIT!” You may be thinking. “I’m only ever going to play PS3 games in North America, why on earth would I want to set a reminder for all those other platforms, and regions?" In the immortal words of Douglas Adams - DON’T PANIC. If you’re the kind of gamer that is very specific, you can set your preferences to only show you what you want, just like the current system. But what is NOT like the current system (and this is the bit we’re really proud of), you can override these prefs on a per game basis.

Maybe you typically play PS3 and Xbox games in Europe but for some reason, you want to see what’s going on with the Wii U version of one specific game. Just tap “Edit RE.minder” and turn Wii U back on. Are you moving from London to Ohio? Just change your region. Have you shifted all your buying from discs to Steam? We can now track those separately as different distribution methods. It’s pretty slick.

This is only the beginning 

Is it starting to become clear why it took us more than 6 months to put this together? It’s not a small thing. And yet, you might have noticed that despite all my yammering about the backend, the app is only called 2.6. “But Jeremy” you say, “Surely this qualifies as version 3?”

Not even close.

We’re planning to take GAME.minder to some pretty cool places over the next year, but before we could even start on that, we needed a good foundation. The new Apps represent almost literally the bare minimum we needed to change on the front end to work with the major changes in how things are working behind the scenes. But I’m only scratching the surface of what is going to be possible now. You might have noticed I used the word “expandable” up the page a bit (more than a bit I guess). Well I’m not going to spill the beans just yet, but know that when we do get to 3.0, we think you’re gonna love it as much as we do.

GAME.minder is dead. Long live GAME.minder! 

Watch GAMEminderReport.com and the GAME.minder Twitter and Facebook pages over the next two weeks to see when the switchover is gonna happen. Unfortunately, given this massive change, it’s gonna be an abrupt changeover (we tried to avoid it, but the changes are just too extensive).

When we’re ready to launch, we’ll let everyone know. We will then take the old system down, bring the new system up and you’ll need to get the updated client for iOS or Android. If you are already using the most up to date client (more than 90% of you are!), and you have created your GAMEminder.com account, you should be right as rain. The next morning, you will wake up in the glorious future of GAME.minder.

Thank you for using GAME.minder and for all your feedback. Our growth in 2012 has been truly amazing and we just know that 2013 is going to be even better! Have a happy Thanksgiving (if you are in the US) and as always -

DON'T FORGET TO PLAY

Posted on November 28, 2012 and filed under Blog.