You may have caught some of the hints bouncing around our social media accounts lately that something pretty big is about to land. What you may not have known however, is that over the few past months, the GameSparks team have been shrouded in secrecy, working away on a series of momentous platform-wide updates referred to as nothing more than ‘Project Glados’.
Now, the silence is broken. The entire team are proud to announce a new and exciting era for the GameSparks platform – today our newly enhanced platform, Portal2, is available through our public BETA release!
Portal2 represents two deliberate and complementary leaps of enhancement over the existing GameSparks portal:
- Re-architecting the Portal. The original GameSparks portal was built as a traditional single Java MVC application. Since its launch, more and more functionality has been added and several key limitations had begun to show with this technical model. You can learn about the reasoning and motivations that drove this re-architecting, plus the technical details of how it was implemented in this post by our CTO, Gabriel Page.
- Redesigning the User Interface. Portal2 introduces a redesigned user interface, delivering smoother workflows and enhanced configurability, as well as a whole host of functional and feature upgrades for building out and fine-tuning the server-side features of your games.
You can explore Portal2 for yourself at portal2.gamesparks.net. But before you jump in, here’s a rundown of the new updates and introductions that can be found in Portal2.
Portal2 User Interface
Portal2’s UI delivers more responsive and streamlined workflows, as well as enhanced configurability all wrapped up in a cleaner and fresher look and feel.
Highlights of the new UI design are also listed below:
- Game Creation – The game creation screen has been streamlined using a 3-stage set up wizard.
- Feature and Integration Selection – You can now select just those platform features and 3rd party integrations you want for your game, removing any unnecessary clutter from your workspace.
- Main Navigation – The main portal navigation is preserved and the left-hand navigation consciously echoes the original portal.
- Design Principles
- Single Page Design – A “single-page” UI design schema has been adopted across the portal with a common page layout, resulting in smoother workflows when performing your configuration tasks.
- Consistency of User Experience – Standardized visual cues and affordances have been adopted, like red buttons for destructive actions, green for create actions, all contributing to a more intuitive interactive experience.
- Customizable Themes – You can quickly switch between a Dark or Light UI theme to suit your working preference.
- Enhanced Segmentation – This key feature now presents much more strongly and clearly within configuration objects across the UI, making it much more accessible and easier to understand.
- Game Management – The Game Overview page has been pulled out from the Configurator workspace and re-worked to give improved workflows for all your game management tasks.
- Experiments – This extremely powerful feature has been promoted to its own top-level area and the main workflow unpacked into an intuitive configuration wizard.
- NoSQL Browser – Users can now open multiple Mongo DB Collections tabs to query and work with several Collections at the same time.
Portal2 Dark Theme
Portal2 Functional Changes
As well as making vast improvements to visual design and user workflows, Portal2 also affords various functional upgrades, including the addition of multiple new features. Here’s just a taster of some of the functional changes from the original portal:
- Player Credentials can now be edited for Admin Requests, meaning Admin Requests can now be activated for this type of Credential.
LogEventRequests and LogChallengeEventRequests:
- Toggle All has been removed and that function is now carried by the main Request toggling all the secondary requests.
- From Game Overview, you now have the ability to select what Platform Features and Integrations you want for a Game, removing any unnecessary clutter from your workspace.
- New Firebase Cloud Messaging is now supported in the portal, allowing push notifications to be sent to Android and iOS devices. With Firebase, players will receive these notifications even if a game is backgrounded on their device.
- You can now select which Credential you want to use when working in the Test Harness.
- New Bitbucket integration for importing Cloud Code has been added.
- The Cloud Code History Tool works in similar way to the old portal but with an important difference:
- When a Snapshot is selected in the Base drop-down, no initial filtering is done to remove any “No-Cloud-Code-Difference” Snapshots from the Compare To drop-down.
- While Segmentation itself has not functionally changed, configuring it is more straightforward.
- New capability to Segment individual fields directly.
- The way the naming reference for Running Totals is built up has been changed to help clarify just which Running Total it is.
- There’s been some general REST API improvements and you can check out the documentation for these here.
API Stream Analytics
- We’ve added a new API Stream Analytics page, which you can use to make direct queries against the current requests and message API calls stream and then display your query results into three chart formats. This saves you having to first create a chart to carry and deploy the query.
- The pre-built Player, Leaderboard, and Script Log management screens are no longer imported into the Manage section by default for each new game. However, you can now quickly import these from the Screens Library, as and when you need them for your game management.
- The Import/Export for Screens, Snippets, and Queries has been removed. Instead, you can now copy a saved Screen Snapshot directly to another game.
Experiments and Charts
- You can now build a query for an Experiment or Chart using types that are not currently being used in the runtime server.
Portal2 Test Harness
We Need You!
GameSparks Portal2 seeks to improve usability and streamline workflows, enabling you to build and maintain all of the server-side features of your games more rapidly than ever before. Whilst in an open BETA period, we encourage you all to provide as much feedback as possible to ensure we can continue to save our users time and talent by providing a comprehensive, easy to use toolset. To provide feedback, simply select the feedback option in your profile menu located in the top right-and corner of the portal (see image below for more details).
Whilst Portal2 is available through open BETA, the original Portal will remain available for use. However, please note that as of this point, the first Portal is moving into a retirement phase in which updates will no longer be made. Eventually, this will be replaced entirely by Portal2. A confirmed date to step down the original GameSparks Portal will be announced in the coming weeks.