Tuesday, August 7, 2012

War Room Review


Well after many months of delays, Privateer Press's War Room app was finally released yesterday. I had high hopes for this app, given the high quality of everything else Privateer Press releases. However, I was extremely disappointed in the end result. First off, it's extremely buggy. If I found 5 bugs in the first two minutes I used the app, some of them major ones, then this app was simply not tested properly. Not even close. There are some glaring bugs that prevent use in a majority of situations:
  • jack marshals don't work
  • it only works over Wi-Fi, not 3G/4G
  • purchases made on one device are not showing up others
  • many devices simply won't run the app (the most popular Android devices)
  • cards can't even be purchased on the Kindle Fire
  • some cards (warlocks) simply don't show up in the list, intermittently
  • a lot of the card data is outright incorrect, especially Field Allowances
  • some cards are missing (the Lightning Pods for the Stormwall, for example)
  • many of the buttons do not work the first time you tap them, and instead require you to keep trying several times before they work
  • if you create a new account, and your chosen password doesn't match the verification, it displays your password in plain text
  • there are rumors, though I can't confirm, that your password is transmitted in plain text without encryption each time you login.
  • on many devices, the entire "W" section of the rules reference is not working
  • there is no way to change your account password, except for clicking the "Forgot Password" link. Unfortunately, that link does not work either, as it never sends the reset password email.
In addition to the numerous bugs, which may eventually be fixed, there are design decisions that likely will not be fixed that are problematic:
  • the app requires you to log in each time you run it
  • the faction logos do not display the name of the faction - this is a problem for newbies
  • some card scroll, which not only makes them seem less like real cards, but there is also no indication that there is more text available that you can scroll to see
  • native UI elements are missing, for example you can't simply swipe right/left to delete something on iOS. You can't use the physical back button on Android. The entire UI looks like it was optimized for keyboard/mouse rather than a touch screen. This is because rather than develop a native app for each device, Tinkerhouse Games opted to use the Unity Framework, which was designed for gaming and not this type of app in the first place.
  • This choice of Unity also impacts the quality of fonts, as they are blurry (scaled) in several places.
  • Mercenary contracts and Minion pacts are not supported
  • Theme forces are not validated
  • Lists are not validated for point cost or for valid models
  • UA's can be chosen without the unit, or can be attached to other units
  • Lists are not filtered based on available points left
  • Mercenaries and Minions can be added to factions that they can't work with
  • the device limit is only TWO devices. In order to authorize/deauthorize devices, you have to deauthorize all of them. You can't do it to just one device. Their website shows which devices are currently authorized by a random unique number, so you can't tell which is which.
  • you can't track status in a real game against someone else using the same account. So if I want to play a game against my son, I would have to buy the decks twice. This is ridiculous, as we are using different factions and are not duplicating any cards between us.
And this list is just what I've noticed during a brief use of less than 30 minutes. In the Privateer Press forums, there are many more reported issues. I emailed Tinkerhouse Games asking for a refund, but only received a form email stating they were working on getting the Android version fixed and that they hoped my issues would be fixed soon. I'm not happy with this app, especially given that it costs $60 to get the full deck. Overall, it was developed in a very amateurish fashion. Steer clear.

UPDATE: Thank you to Apple Support, for giving me a full refund less than 30 minutes after I emailed them. My two emails to Tinkerhouse Games, plus several posts on the forums, had no effect.

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