Tuesday, 11 April 2017

So I totally missed this when it was announced...

So as the title says, I totally missed this announcement when it came out.


Its very hard to find at the moment on their website, but its HERE. Its also only currently available for Windows. OBS has no FAQ up for it at all, so there is a bit of stumbling around. As it sits in its current configuration, this little (33 MB installer, ~60 GB or so for the app itself) app has a ton of potential. Its not without its problems though. I found this on last Friday night (8 Apr 17) and have messing with it ever since. This is all based on the current version available at the time (1.0.15)

First, the install itself goes fairly quickly, no issues with that. The first window that pops up prompts you to enter a key. Helpfully +DriveThruRPG included a link to where to find your key...in your account settings on the DriveThru website. You can set such things as the drive/folder where you want to store the information, and the number of simultaneous downloads you want to allow (1,2,3, and 5).

The image below shows the default screen maximized (it always starts minimized for me).

There is a ton of wasted space on that screen. Another thing, every time the program starts it always defaults to displaying your oldest OBS purchases at the top. You have the choice (on the top left) of selecting to view your entire library or just your downloaded ones. No difference in those two tabs other than what the names of the tabs imply.

Next is the "Search". At this point it is fairly functional. Start typing in there and the app starts making suggestions out of your library. You can filter the search results using the first three column headings (Title, Publisher, Rule System). Incidentally, at this point in the apps development those are the only three filters you can use on the entire library.

On the right you have the standard "Setting" and "About" buttons and do what you expect them to do. The settings button brings up essentially a rehash of the window with the settings you choose on installation.

Below those are the "Refresh Library" and "Sync Library" buttons. When you first install, the two buttons do essentially the same thing. They import your library from ALL the OBS websites. Hit either for the first time and the app will sit there for a few minutes while it checks your downloaded files against what is in your library (or libraries). Then it will begin to download, and again it starts with the first stuff you ordered. It also downloads every single file for everyone of your purchases. Be aware it also downloads any products you may have archived on OBS as well.

The one thing about this that irritates me, in the app's product listing you will quite often see multiple files, some of them marked with a little red flag saying "Old". You don't see those files listed in the library on OBS, why do you need to see them in the app. I like the fact that this means the app is checking to make sure you have the most up to date file. To me, though, that is something that doesn't need to be seen.

Now, I am not sure if the app will ignore these files on further syncing if you hit the little red X icon that appears beside them. I haven't checked that out yet (mostly because I just thought of it :facepalm:)

One thing I do like about the download/sync process, it automatically sorts your library into folders based on the publisher.

Now this sorting is awesome if the publisher only released on file per product. Not so much if there are multiple files for each product...like this Heroic Maps folder.

This app could really use the ability to have customizable folder/sub folder structure, say two or three levels deep. I only need one sub folder level, but there are people out there that may want to sort theirs in a wierd or wonderful way.

I first used it on my laptop (A10-9600P, 8GB Ram and a 1 TB HDD) while workable, it was very painful to work with. If opened another window on top of the app or minimized it, when I went back to the app I would have just a blank white window. Either the coding of the app is poorly optimized, optimized for Intel processors, or that laptop doesn't have the guts to sync my library in a timely manner (it hasn't finished yet and has been going since the 2nd reinstall Friday night)

I installed in no my desktop (i7-2700K, 32 GB ram, using a 2 TB WD Green HDD for this storage) last night and started to sync my library. My desktop is still synching, albeit after a few app restarts for other reasons. Right now my DriveThru folder is telling me this.

The app is telling that I still have around 1500 files to download...

When you are downloading these images show what you will see.

Note, in the bottom left of the larger image where it tells you how many remaining files are in the download queue. I have noticed for me that this app is noticeably faster at downloading individual files.

If you happen to get the red exclamation point "Error" button, just hit the red X beside it and it will clear the file for re-download as it is. You WILL get these errors. I had a stretch of 64 files in a row that were bad downloads. To restart them you have to restart the app, or hit one of the buttons in the upper right. I am thinking this is something else that should happen behind the scenes, or at least a setting to automatically dump and restart bad downloads.

I haven't seen a pattern to these errors, but they are annoying. It took three tries to get the 8Cities Adventure Guide from +Just Insert Imagination. Once your initial sync is finished, you'll have to go through your library in the app and get rid of all the bad downloads. I am not 100% sure if they clear when you quit the app. I have also experienced a couple of times where I had a corrupt file that I couldn't use even though the app reported a valid download.

As I said at the beginning this app has a ton of potential. I have no idea how large the DriveThruRPG dev team is for this, but they do have a fair amount of work ahead of them.

Whether the potential it has outnumber the flaws (or my opinion of those flaws) is up the user, but for now I am going to keep working with it.

Currently, I'd give it a 2.5/5 on its sheer potential, but there is a lot of room for the dev team to work with it. I do think that this will become a pretty valuable tool for me even in its current form. You have full use of your downloaded library outside the app. YMMV.

As always, comments and abuse are welcome.