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TheToxicRadio's Review of IcyGamma's AfterBlock 
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Post TheToxicRadio's Review of IcyGamma's AfterBlock
[b][size=200]This review is officially null and void. A new review will be written at an indefinite time.[/size]
[/b]

AfterBlock is a Blockland utility designed and developed by IcyGamma. It was released less than four hours ago at the time of this post. To the most thorough extent my patience will allow I have tested each aspect of the program and have individually reviewed each of the program's applications as well as several other aspects of the program itself. At the end of my review is a summary and final score. Use them as a TL;DR if you haven't tried out the program yourself, but if you have I strongly encourage you to read the full review. Note that the events of my testing are not in chronological order.

[size=150][b]Full Review[/b][/size]

[b]Starting AfterBlock for the First Time[/b]

Upon running AfterBlock.exe for the first time, I was greeted by a largely monochrome window welcoming me to the program. After providing the program with my username and BL_ID, I had to manually select my Blockland folder because I have it installed to C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Desktop instead of C:\Program Files. For some reason before it prompted me to do this it assumed that I had Blockland v16. I launched this setup screen a second time with a separate installation of the program and found that the program does not restrict what you can put into the BL_ID field. I was able to put a mix of letters and numbers in and the program accepted it without any objections. Using that second installation would be likely to cause problems.

[b]The Main Menu[/b]

After the setup completed and I manually restarted at the program's behest (which I found to be highly arbitrary), I was looking at the main menu. Strangely, this main menu has an inordinate expanse of empty space. Almost everything is placed in the bottom half of the window, with the upper half having absolutely nothing in it. It's difficult to tell if this is a design flaw or room for future expansion. My username, a clock and two very small buttons occupied the very top of the window. Mousing over these ambiguous unlabelled buttons revealed via text box that they shrink and minimize the program. Another ambiguous unlabelled button is completely invisible: the X button. Only by mousing over the very top right corner of the window is the button revealed. This could leave the less computer-savvy dumbfounded as to how they're meant to properly close the program.

[b]The Mascot System and Updater[/b]

After looking through the available mascots and their semi-humorous descriptions, I chose Flush535 because his avatar looked best. For no apparent reason, after choosing my mascot, exiting and re-opening the program, choosing another mascot and clicking on an app, upon leaving the app my original mascot was restored. To see what would happen I clicked the update button. Instead of telling me that I have the latest version, it gave me an invalid API key error telling me to contact the developer. It then proceeded to perform another arbitrary restart. After the restart the updater button broke until I manually restarted the program.

[b]Block Factory[/b]

The preview function of Block Factory is extremely limited. It is only possible to see 25x21 studs of brick, a major inconvenience for creating baseplate-sized bricks. The program reasonlessly forces you to specify the length of the brick before the width or height, yielding an error if you try to do otherwise. Instead of putting a value directly into the white field where the value is displayed, a separate button must be pressed to open up a new window where the value is put in. As with the setup screen, there is no restriction upon what can be entered into the value fields. It is also impossible to create a flat brick or a brick that isn't a certain amount of 1x1s high because the program measures height in 1x1 bricks instead of 1x1F studs. Attempting to export the brick to .blb gave me an error yelling at me to specify the brick category, a step which wasn't clearly defined at all. Exporting after categorizing the brick gave me another error asking for a brick name, also another step that wasn't clearly defined. After a successful export to an unidentified directory (which I found during packaging), I went to package my brick, leading to the next section of this review.

[b]3Step[/b]

After providing information for my brick's description.txt, the program yelled at me for not specifying an add-on type when I tried to proceed to the next step, yet another step not clearly defined. Selecting the Brick category consistently gives a warning message insisting that I name my add-on the same thing I named my brick export. There is also no category button for Gamemode add-ons or a button for a custom category. The default name for new add-ons to be packaged contains an apostrophe and spaces, characters not accepted by Blockland's add-on system. Proceeding to the next step, I clicked the Add File button. I found that it is impossible to add multiple files to a package at once, so if one were to use 3Step to package a large add-on with many files, it would take many extremely tedious clickings of the Add File button. It is also impossible to add whole folders to a package. Instead of just showing the file's name in the list, successfully adding a file always yields an obnoxious celebratory message claiming that the addition of the file was successful. In the final step, packaging and attempting to save an add-on to a directory where an add-on of the same name exists yields no overwrite confirmation warning.

[b]IRC[/b]

When I first used the IRC app, I chose to connect to the AfterBlock channel. For some reason it took over ten seconds to connect, and typing in the chat dialogue before connecting yielded error messages. Closing the window and attemprting to connect to the RTB channel broke the app completely.

[b]Name Generator[/b]

Using the Word Mixer function of the name generator yielded many interesting names, such as NotebookJedi and FairyWhore to name two of about sixteen names I saved. The Word Maker yields only uninteresting and abstract fantasy-like names. The application seems to employ a very limited word database, and both functions tend to use part of one name in another name generated immediately afterward, as in this fictional example:

NotebookFairy > CakeFairy > CakePaper

[b]The Clan Plan[/b]

The mere premise of The Clan Plan is a highly corrupted one, and the functionality of its actual implementation is also crippled. The Clan Plan has a reasonless limit of 20 members, and none of the buttons used to add/delete users and modify their Servers Attended count are labelled. One button is completely useless. An older clan might gain a new member who hasn't attended one of their 200 servers hosted before the new member's registration, forcing the member's attendance count to be Critical. The guide to clan creation contained in The Clan Plan is somewhat biased, and except for the Clan Thread section it seems to be completely written from IcyGamma's clan leadership experiences and presents absolutely no evidence to verify any of its claims.

[b]Knaz Cookie[/b]

The backstory of Knaz Cookie is extremely lacking in relevance to the game itself. Other than what's written in the Brief section, nothing more about the plot is revealed and the story never advances. All the unlockable items of clothing seem to have ridiculously high prices, and when playing the game cookies and all other objects spawn so sporadically that it's possible to wait thirty seconds for anything to fall again. Until overtime is achieved and a larger picture of the clock is revealed, it's impossible to discern that the falling clocks are actually clocks. When overtime is reached the game goes on for far too long, and the game itself presents such little actual challenge that it's possible to sustain overtime indefinitely and collect cookies and clocks as long as you desire while easily avoiding spam and burnt cookies. I also have no doubt that you can never actually attend Badspot's party, making the entire game rather pointless.

[b]Event Cookbook[/b]

The Event Cookbook is completely broken. Upon opening the application it freezes, and none of the side buttons function.

[b]Rate Blocklanders[/b]

The Rate Blocklanders app, while mainly functional, is highly problematic. Rating a Blocklander you have rated in the past twelve hours brings you to the corresponding error page with no way to return to the homepage except by quitting the app. The app does not remember your login information, and when a user appears whose avatar is an animated .gif, AfterBlock's ceases responding and the .gif is improperly played back very slowly. Occasionally a user will fail to load and rating the X in a box that appears brings you to the "You have already rated this Blocklander in the past 12 hours" page.

[size=150][b]Summary[/b][/size]

A good but poorly executed concept which resulted in a bug-riddled, user-unfriendly, overly monochrome novelty and novelty only program not worth the hype.

[b]Score: 3/10[/b]


Last edited by TheToxicRadio on Tue, February 1st, 2011, 07:53, edited 3 times in total.



Tue, February 1st, 2011, 04:55
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Post Re: TheToxicRadio's Review of IcyGamma's AfterBlock
Thanks for the review.
Some things I think need straightening though.

[quote="TheToxicRadio"]
it gave me an invalid API key error telling me to contact the developer. It then proceeded to perform another arbitrary restart. After the restart the updater button broke until I manually restarted the program.
[/quote]

None of those are bugs. MDU updater is not something I can change, its a service provided by a 3rd party. The update package has been disabled (since there is no update yet) so it will reject the API key.
AfterBlock MUST quit and restart after checking updates, because it is dangerous to update files that are in use, especially if its patching the main EXE.

As for the updater app refusing to relaunch, its disabled because you just ran an update. But I'll remove that since it doesn't really stop you from doing anything dangerous.

[quote="TheToxicRadio"]
It is also impossible to create a flat brick or a brick that isn't a certain amount of 1x1s high because the program measures height in 1x1 bricks instead of 1x1F studs.
[/quote]

This is intentional, since most people don't grasp the concept of an input of three being equal to one brick in height value. You can create a flat brick by specifying it as -1, as it says when you chose a brick height. You probably just missed it.


[quote="TheToxicRadio"]
Attempting to export the brick to .blb gave me an error yelling at me to specify the brick category, a step which wasn't clearly defined at all. Exporting after categorizing the brick gave me another error asking for a brick name, also another step that wasn't clearly defined. [/quote]

You write about this in a negative sense. Its a barrier stopping people from trying to create a brick without inserting important values such as a brick category, which is one of the few mandatory things you need to include. A bit of an idiot proof. When you aren't intending to create a brick, you might oversee it though, as you did.

[quote="TheToxicRadio"]
It is also impossible to add whole folders to a package[/quote]

That is quite an interesting observation, I never really thought about that. I will address this.

[quote="TheToxicRadio"]
When I first used the IRC app, I chose to connect to the AfterBlock channel. For some reason it took over ten seconds to connect[/quote]

That app is literally just a floating webpage, any bugs you have in it are the result of the CentralChat service or your ISP.

[quote="TheToxicRadio"]
The Clan Plan has a reasonless limit of 20 members, and none of the buttons used to add/delete users and modify their Servers Attended count are labelled. One button is completely useless. An older clan might gain a new member who hasn't attended one of their 200 servers hosted before the new member's registration, forcing the member's attendance count to be Critical. [/quote]

The Clan Plan has a limit of 20 players because its a small window and there is only so much content I can put into it. A scroll feature is not a priority since few clans have over 20 members. Even iEvent has 19 members, and that is a long established clan.

All the buttons are explained to the right side. The grey'd out buttons are only there to keep in flow with the design of the app.

Adding a new member would cause a critical status indeed, this may be re-approach later and I will take it into consideration.


[quote="TheToxicRadio"]
The Event Cookbook is completely broken. Upon opening the application it freezes, and none of the side buttons function.[/quote]

Its a software error, likely to do with your Internet Explorer installation. Its specific to you.

This is a bit angry. You have used some pretty strong language such as "yelling" to describe a simple message that stops you from doing something wrong. Two things you listed need to be addressed. But many of the issues you claim are the result of a "bug-riddle" application are errors caused by you or problems specific to your computer.

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Tue, February 1st, 2011, 05:40
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Post Re: TheToxicRadio's Review of IcyGamma's AfterBlock
[quote="IcyGamma"][quote="TheToxicRadio"]
it gave me an invalid API key error telling me to contact the developer. It then proceeded to perform another arbitrary restart. After the restart the updater button broke until I manually restarted the program.
[/quote]

None of those are bugs. MDU updater is not something I can change, its a service provided by a 3rd party. The update package has been disabled (since there is no update yet) so it will reject the API key.
AfterBlock MUST quit and restart after checking updates, because it is dangerous to update files that are in use, especially if its patching the main EXE.

As for the updater app refusing to relaunch, its disabled because you just ran an update. But I'll remove that since it doesn't really stop you from doing anything dangerous.

[quote="TheToxicRadio"]
It is also impossible to create a flat brick or a brick that isn't a certain amount of 1x1s high because the program measures height in 1x1 bricks instead of 1x1F studs.
[/quote]

This is intentional, since most people don't grasp the concept of an input of three being equal to one brick in height value. You can create a flat brick by specifying it as -1, as it says when you chose a brick height. You probably just missed it.

[quote="TheToxicRadio"]
The Event Cookbook is completely broken. Upon opening the application it freezes, and none of the side buttons function.[/quote]

Its a software error, likely to do with your Internet Explorer installation. Its specific to you.

[quote="TheToxicRadio"]
When I first used the IRC app, I chose to connect to the AfterBlock channel. For some reason it took over ten seconds to connect[/quote]

That app is literally just a floating webpage, any bugs you have in it are the result of the CentralChat service or your ISP.
[/quote]
Now it all makes sense. Thanks for the explanation.

[quote="IcyGamma"][quote="TheToxicRadio"]
Attempting to export the brick to .blb gave me an error yelling at me to specify the brick category, a step which wasn't clearly defined at all. Exporting after categorizing the brick gave me another error asking for a brick name, also another step that wasn't clearly defined. [/quote]

You write about this in a negative sense. Its a barrier stopping people from trying to create a brick without inserting important values such as a brick category, which is one of the few mandatory things you need to include. A bit of an idiot proof. When you aren't intending to create a brick, you might oversee it though, as you did.[/quote]
I don't know why I used the word yelling, but the negative sentiment is present because your idiot proofing is backwards. You should be told to set the brick name and category before being allowed to define the brick's dimensions instead of being told to set those properties after you set the dimensions and oversee buttons for naming and categorizing. Instead of blaming me for oversight you should be blaming yourself for making it too easy to oversee.

[quote="IcyGamma"][quote="TheToxicRadio"]
and none of the buttons used to add/delete users and modify their Servers Attended count are labelled. One button is completely useless.[/quote]

All the buttons are explained to the right side.[/quote]
Oops. I think I oversaw that because of how small the explanation's text size is. Could you consider enlarging it?

Will you improve Knaz Cookie and fix being able to input characters other than numbers into fields where only numbers should go? Could a scroll bar be added to the Clan Plan if there is demand for it?


Tue, February 1st, 2011, 07:48
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Post Re: TheToxicRadio's Review of IcyGamma's AfterBlock
Knaz Cookie is just a simple arcade game of catch and collect. I'm sorry there isn't a ful-filling side story, but its just a fun game to kill time for server loads. I've had a lot of positive response specifically for this app, just because its fun and addicting. I'd like to add some more power-ups, but I am not really sure a side story is particularly important. Its only there so you can make sense of using cookies and buying clothes. :cm:

I plan to release a guide as well for people who need help with AfterBlock. The close button was meant to be discrete and hidden, but as you wrote above it is just causing people to angrily force quit the program in confusion.

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Last edited by IcyGamma on Tue, February 1st, 2011, 08:28, edited 1 time in total.



Tue, February 1st, 2011, 08:26
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Post Re: TheToxicRadio's Review of IcyGamma's AfterBlock
(The text below is everything that jumped through my mind while I was writing this. It can be a little bit confusing.)

I need to tell you, developer to a developer, that you should [b][u][i]NEVER[/i][/u][/b] blame your lack of compatibility on 3rd part programs/libraries when an error occurs. You should handle their error with greatest care and display a proper message. Even though, you also tell that you should close the program before you update. Then why do you have an updatebutton within your program?

I on the other hand typed in my BL_ID, and then I couldn't proceed. I tried numbers, characters and both. None was accepted.

Taking away the ability to make proper bricks (x2f anyone?) is a big mistake. You should instead add an advanced feature where more advanced users can make a brick any size(Except above 64, because that's the BL limit(256 high I assume too)).

Btw, I bet this is made in GameMaker, because GameMaker is the worst choice to create utility programs like this. GameMaker is for games. And even that is it not good at if you don't know how to use it.

And why do the program need BOTH OpenGL and DirectX?

Finally... This is a smart idea, but there's several issues you should look through. Releasing a program without checking if it works with a 3rd part is a bad idea.

And please, take this as good hints of how you can improve not the program, but yourself as a developer.

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Tue, February 1st, 2011, 08:28
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Post Re: TheToxicRadio's Review of IcyGamma's AfterBlock
[quote="McTwist"]
I need to tell you, developer to a developer, that you should [b][u][i]NEVER[/i][/u][/b] blame your lack of compatibility on 3rd part programs/libraries when an error occurs.[/quote]

I don't think you understand. Its not a bug, its not an error, its a function of the updater which I have no control of beyond launching it and changing the logo externally.

The update button inside the program makes sense, nobody should have to open their program files and search for the update application. Either way, AfterBlock needs to be closed to update. Period.

The programming language is GML, but thats irrelevant. It serves its job fine. Any issues you think there are with the program are design based. The only limit Game Maker really has in this case is speed.

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Tue, February 1st, 2011, 08:31
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Post Re: TheToxicRadio's Review of IcyGamma's AfterBlock
[quote="IcyGamma"]I don't think you understand. Its not a bug, its not an error, its a function of the updater which I have no control of beyond launching it and changing the logo externally. [/quote]
Which is why you shouldn't call it within the program. Instead, open up the program folder and hence them to open the update program. Even though, if GameMaker is so good, then make it open up the updater, get the error codes it returns, if there is none, then close the program and continue launch the updater without worrying about the program being used.

[quote="IcyGamma"]The programming language is GML, but thats irrelevant. It serves its job fine. Any issues you think there are with the program are design based. The only limit Game Maker really has in this case is speed.[/quote]
Of course. But how big is your knowledge in the subject? Currently, I'd say it's small, because I know that GML is more capable to change the program than you've done now. Yours is just default setting, and therefor the messageboxes looks like crap and is in the way. Also, I know that GML can read in the registry, searching for BL related content and therefor find where the installation location is. Of course people should be able to change that if they wanted to.

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Tue, February 1st, 2011, 08:47
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Post Re: TheToxicRadio's Review of IcyGamma's AfterBlock
[quote="McTwist"]
Even though, if GameMaker is so good, then make it open up the updater, get the error codes it returns[/quote]
[quote="IcyGamma"]
I don't think you understand. Its not a bug, its not an error[/quote]

--

[quote="IcyGamma"]Yours is just default setting, and therefor the messageboxes looks like crap and is in the way. Also, I know that GML can read in the registry, searching for BL related content and therefor find where the installation location is. Of course people should be able to change that if they wanted to.[/quote]

My decision to use re-skinned message boxes and avoid tampering with peoples registries (as Game Maker is dropping support for such features) makes my knowledge of GML small? Right. I can see where this is going.

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Tue, February 1st, 2011, 10:06
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Post Re: TheToxicRadio's Review of IcyGamma's AfterBlock
Excuse me for being a jerk. I was trying to give you some constructive criticism, but it seems I got only critic back. To stop this leading into an another flamewar, forgive me for not being specific and stating that you had no proper knowledge about the full power of GameMaker.

Still, to correct what I meant in previous posts; I meant that when calling a program from an another program it halts the caller while the callee is doing its tasks. When it's done, mostly it returns a status code(This is where I wrote error code) which tells you if something went wrong or if everything went alright. Some programs can even be called in such a way that the caller continues with its tasks and the callee begins with its.

From that to messageboxes; What I was trying to write was that if you made own boxes, or even only controls, you would have no need for the messageboxes that only takes up space(It's a bit annoying that it tells what you just wrote) and would also give you additional controls to validate, for example, an ID to be only numeric.

Moving on, this program have something to give, but you are not there yet. Keep up the good work and try to listen to criticism. It's valuable information that helps you develop the program to the best.
Remember: What you think is best, could be worst for others. Think like a gameprogrammer making a game. He chooses which buttons is for what action. He thinks the setup is brilliant, but when someone else plays it, he throws it away because the controls is not what he expected.

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Tue, February 1st, 2011, 15:05
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Post Re: TheToxicRadio's Review of IcyGamma's AfterBlock
The [color=#008000]IRC[/color] is interesting. (At least to me.)

And the event cookbook. Love it.

I get an error when packaging an add on, though. May need to update.


Mon, March 7th, 2011, 23:50
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