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Surprise! New home theater alpha coming out soon...


Jason Carr
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So I've been working frantically on a home theater solution, since that's clearly the most wanted feature from the community voting. I am starting out extremely simple, and an alpha is coming soon. Still, I'm looking for some guidance/direction from the community. Keep in mind this is extremely early in the development, the final product may look completely different. That said, I expect the initial alpha to be fairly similar. I'm looking for everyone's thoughts and suggestions on these screenshots. Untitled-4.jpg Untitled-3.jpg Untitled-5.jpg Platforms.jpg Platforms2.jpg
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Currently, where I'm at, I need to figure out an interface that lets users launch or configure the app, as well as all the additional applications, and view all of the images. I'm torn between making use of the space below the image and the details for menu items, or using a popup of sorts. But the goal for the alpha is this: a list of platforms on the main screen, that takes you to a list of your games on the next, with the ability to launch them, configure them, run additional applications, or view the images. Thoughts?
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Ok so I am excited about this feature and I will drop some suggestions: A "grid navigation system" where you can browse your games, emulators, multimedia, options via icons. These icons can be fully customizable (maybe premium, and some default options for free users). Things like: adding an image to the icon, text, size, etc. The navigation can be in a hierarchy fashion. I will put an example: Lets say there is an icon in the main window called "Games", you click on it and then it leaves you at the Platform section: In this section you will have multiple icons, each one representing a platform, these icons can be customized. If you click on any icon, the game collection of the platform that you selected, will appear in a grid fashion with where you can play any game by doing click. Something like this maybe: http://i.imgur.com/8kkCumP.png Also I don't mind if Jason takes some inspiration from Steam Big Picture mode for some elements of the GUI, there are some nice elements there. If I come up with more ideas I will drop them. I don't know if what I am suggesting is possible, maybe the engine of LaunchBox don't support those features but these are only thoughts.
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Maddoc1007 said Will this addition be part of Launchbox or a seperate launcher, if part of Launchbox have to say it does look fantastic and will it also have the feature for films music or just games?
Hi Maddoc, it will be a separate EXE, but you'll be able to switch back and forth between the LaunchBox desktop and the home theater view. At least for the first however many versions, the home theater view will be read only (you'll have to edit games in desktop mode, sans for simple things like favorites, maybe). Unfortunately films, music, and other types of media will have to wait for a long while yet.
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@CliveBarker, the nested screen icon thing you describe is certainly possible. For the alpha I'm modeling something closer to Emulation Station, but it certainly doesn't have to end up like that. There's a lot I don't like about Steam Big Picture mode, but I do like the grid of games in your screenshot, and the fluid interface is nice, for sure.
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Maddoc1007 said Another way to do it would be develop both side by side, keep adding features to present Launchbox and call the alpha Launchbox pro, then time will tell which one is favoured most and give you a lot more breathing room in the development of them.
That is somewhat the plan, though the home theater view will be part of the premium version. I'm also trying to come up with what to name it other than "home theater view" or "home theater mode". Though I don't really want to call it pro, because that's not really what it is, being so far behind the development of the desktop version.
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Jason Carr said @CliveBarker, the nested screen icon thing you describe is certainly possible. For the alpha I'm modeling something closer to Emulation Station, but it certainly doesn't have to end up like that. There's a lot I don't like about Steam Big Picture mode, but I do like the grid of games in your screenshot, and the fluid interface is nice, for sure.
I have never used emulation station, but yeah, you can do some kind of hybrid between Emulation Station, Big Picture, and of course your own and community ideas! I love that you will be able to switch back and forth between theater mode and normal LaunchBox, I was going to suggest that. I am eager to test it, I will wait for it.
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OK, so since this is still in very early development, I will start small and won't bother you with different views and such just yet. I think you should utilise the spare space you have on the screen just a little. For the game details view, I think you should add some screenshots at the bottom. I also think you should build in, from the start, a way to easily navigate to different letters. So a small quick find menu that can either pop in from the edge or always be there (your choice) like in the example below. mockup_1_no_logo.jpg As for viewing the other images (and videos eventually) I think a menu at the opposite side may be your best route. (See example below) mockup_1_menu.jpg For the platforms view, you should include a recently played list, so users can quickly get to the games they are currently playing. It still looked a little basic, so allowing the user to add the platform and developer logos makes it look a little more professional. (I understand laws would prohibit you from packaging the logos with LB) mockup_1_platforms.jpg That's all for now.
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Terrific surprise, Jason. Being a fan of nested systems such as Windoze Explorer, I was going to suggest that games be nested inside systems (because I hate having to always click "back," and because it's just easier to see the organization). I'm loving bd000's workups, too; the sliding right pane and bottom screen caps are solid ideas, and they look great..
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Lookin' awesome, Jason! But you're causing me to spend too much time with LaunchBox ('cause it's gettin' so cool), instead of going though my boxes of useless antiques. Laugh Clive and bd000, your ideas are pretty damn good, too. I'm glad I purchased the Premium version, and am looking forward to all these slick, new features!
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Wow, awesome mockups bd. This is exactly why I came to you guys for ideas. I hit a wall, but the wall is coming down. :) I'm gonna at least try running with every idea you have here, bd. Except I probably won't try and tackle the letters on the left right away. We'll see how it all goes. Of course, I'm more than interested in any other ideas as well, from anyone.
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Been a pretty productive night tonight. :) After experimenting with the menu items on the right, it ended up working a lot better with them on the left, simply hiding the list of games. Which I think makes the most sense anyways, as we're drilling into a particular game. I'm excited though; I think it's looking really nice...and you can actually use it to play your games now! ;) If we're really lucky, I might have the first alpha ready in the next few days. Untitled-1.jpg
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Looking good Jason Smile I am very excited to try the alpha. As for other ideas, how about sorting and/or filters? I would also like to see playlists or gamelists. For example, I could create a GameList for my son containing all the Mario games we have. How about automatically playing game music when viewing a game? Add the random game feature? This wall you have hit, is it regarding aesthetics or features?
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I like what I see, and I definitely like the ideas you're getting. I think the letter navigation sidebar is a key component that could put you ahead of the competition here... I really hate the way XBMC and essentially every similar "Big Picture Mode" type of program handles navigation; the letter bar would certainly fix things. (And bd000's suggestion of music is great). The one thing I'm thinking about is more on the function side than the display, because I think you've got this display setting down (I mean, I have ideas for other display modes, but I don't know if you're looking for those...) I think some kind of local profile system would be nice for families... So the Parent Profile would be able to designate "Well, my kid can only play games up through the T rating" and lock the child's profile to those games (and excluding all unrated and rated pending games). That's the only suggestion I have, really. The only cosmetic suggestion I have, and it goes along with the whole "family use" thought, is to put the ESRB rating tag in the upper right corner. I know that information is in the data on the side, but I feel like it should be a little more visible. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MjkLB2zlJDE/VVdsh4-y7PI/AAAAAAAAJlA/vk3tWzZ2jGc/s1600/launchboxcouchrating.png As an alternative thought, you could put an icon there that designates how many players the game supports (and whether it supports local play or online play). I don't know if the current databases have that information, but maybe it could be considered in the future. Edit: Right now all the images you've shared use games with traditional tower box art. How does the program react to games which have front art that is wider than it is tall? (Like N64 and SNES games..)
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