Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Topps v Quidd - Collectable Trading Cards

When I was a kid I collected Star Wars cards and football stickers.  Now, forty years later I have started again.  and instead of walking around with huge piles of "swapsies" and trading with my mates, it is all on my phone and i can trade with anyone in the world, at any time.  The two main apps are from Topps and Quidd.  Topps have been doing this for decades and were what I collected as a child.  Quidd are the new kids on the block.

I'm not going to go into detail on what each of the apps does.  Instead I will just compare and contrast their features.


While both apps break the cards down into separate sets, Topps displays them all in one long scrolling list, with an index down the side to jump to particular sets.  You can filter it and order it in different ways.  There is a faction thing which I never really understood.
With Quidd each fandom has a section and within that section you have sets of cards.  So you only really see a dozen or so on screen at a time. 
They both do animated cards and holographic cards and most have backs to them.  One neat feature of the Quidd cards is that you can use them in your phones messenger app.  Once activated you can drag them into conversations. 


This is one of the most important features and both apps approach it from different angles.  Both apps have a scrolling notice board of users messages/trades.  In Topps it is purely messages saying what you wish to trade.  Clicking on it starts a trade with that user in which you can trade any cards.  With Quidd, it is one card that a particular user wants to trade.  Clicking on it starts a trade with that user for that card.  Topps trading is a list of steps, what do you want to get, what do you want to trade away, are you sure, and the trade is done.  With Quidd there is one screen with your cards and their cards on it.  You add the cards to get and give in any order and click accept.  Another neat feature of Quidd is that you can see the trades being built.  You could add a card to get and then see the other person take it away. 


Both apps let you build a friends list of other users.  Topps has a half hearted attempt at chat between users.  You can comment on a trade or @them in the message window, but it doesn't really work. In Quidd, you can chat in real time in and outside of a trade.
The downside with Quidd is that they seem to be pushing it more as a social media platform than a trading platform.  There lots of options for making pretty pictures with your cards and stickers and sharing them with other users.  To get to the trading screen you have to click around a bit.


Both apps have a shop.  This is where you get new cards.  Both give you so many credits a day which you can in turn spend on packs of cards.  Different packs cost different prices.  Most have the option of paying in cold hard cash for them as well.  That is where they make their money.  Topps caused an outcry when they introduced crystals, which were their way of making people pay for things.  All the really nice cards can only be brought for crystals. 
One thing that Topps is missing is some sort of exchange.  Lots of people want to trade from one Topps app to another.  You have to do that off-line and hope you are not being scammed.


The Topps star wars app just does star wars.  It does update for each new film that comes out and completing a whole set usually gets you an award card.  These are extra desirable.  Quidd does fandoms.  The main one is Marvel followed by Rick & Morty.  It has some HBO shows and a lot of cartoons.  It does cards, stickers, little 3d toys and gifs.  Its sets are graded easy to difficult.  The harder the set, the rarer or more expensive the cards are.  It has to be said, that if Quidd has two dozen fandoms, only about six are really active. 


Quidd is certainly the smarter and newer app.  It does a lot of things that Topps could only dream about.  the thing with both is that to get the decent cards you have to pay money.  The cards may be rare but if the Topps/Quidd server goes down, they become non existent. 


So, which of these features would I build into NeoCards?  Probably the cards and messages screen from Topps.  More often than not, you want cards from a particular set, not a particular card.  Be good to have the option of both though.  It would also be nice to scroll through all your cards with the option of grouping them by set.  The main trade screen is a good idea, though Quidd does need a bit of streamlining. 
We would do cards, stickers, gifs (and animated cards).  Obviously the cards would be usable as stickers in other apps.  One neat feature would be to trade your virtual card in for a physical card.  Here the virtual one gets destroyed and you get small/medium/large printed one to replace it.
Most sets should come with a pay option from the start.  The main new feature would be an exchange.  If you have a really rare card then why not sell it.  It is going to happen, so you might as well cater for it. 
Finally as the cards live on a blockchain somewhere, they exist even if the site goes down. 

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Issues Part 2

I suppose first stage of a rewrite is to see how much you actually want to rewrite.  There has been a website doing various things for about eight years now.  Those things include

  • RSS stuff
  • WebcomiX app stuff
  • My web comic
  • Corporate web site ;)
  • Personal web site
It also evolved from one project to a solution with about three or four and involved a lot of logging.  

From now on all analytic logging will be done with Google Analytics.  The site is just going to log any errors and stuff like that.  App logging will also be done by Google.  That cuts down on a lot of code.  

The rewrite isn't just going to be porting code over either.  Where I have to add some services to do it properly, I will.  Whats that, a bit of SQL?  Replace that with some EF.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Issues Part 1


The first problem I found was that everything is just SSSSOOOO different.  MVC 4 to 5 was patching a few using statements and recompiling.  .NetCore is completely different.  You can import the code but you will have to rewrite it before you get it working properly.  I think I am going to have to go one area at a time.  There were a few bits where I should have added some services.  There is the new DI use in Constructors.  If I get one area working then hopefully the others should be quicker.


Of course libraries have changed.  I us syndicationFeed quite a lot and that has only just been added.  Caching has changed as well.

Porting MVC5 to ASP.Net Core

So I have this web site.  It has some information in the front and some functionality in the back.  Every now and again I have to upgrade it.  One thing I have learnt is that you don't "upgrade" a M$ website.  Even going form MVC 4 to 5, it was easier to start a new project and just copy everything into it.  Going from MVC5 to .Net core is an even bigger jump.  In these posts I will flag any issues I had and any tips I found for getting round them.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Converting Venture to C#

As I am between jobs, I thought I would set myself a project to work on.  Simplest one I fancied doing was converting my old iOS adventure game library to C#.  The theory being, write it once in .Net Core 1.0 and then use Xamarin forms to port it to Win10, Android and iOS.

So, I have got the basics working.  First task was reading the XML config for the game into some sort of data structure.  This was done by creating classes for each "element" and then using XmlType and XmlAttribute to map it onto the XML.  Then you can use

XmlSerializer deserializer = new XmlSerializer(typeof(GameDetails));
Stream s = GetResourceStream(xmlFileName);
using (TextReader textReader = new StreamReader(s))
     gd = (GameDetails)deserializer.Deserialize(textReader);

to read the xml file into a complete data structure.  Much easier than the iOS way.  Only slight hitch with Core 1.0 is that you have to pass a Stream to the XmlSerializer and not simply the file name.  Also, Core makes it harder to access files as it is multi platform and they all treat files differently.

Next I added NCalc which is a library for evaluating expressions.  So it can take the string "2+2" and return 4 as the answer.

Then i set up some unit tests and used those to get the engine working.  One test to check the XML loaded correctly and another to check the Conditions and Expressions evaluated correctly.  More to test the PageText and Buttons were evaluated correctly.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Upgrading from MVC4 to MVC5

So Googles login in feature broke in the standard MVC4 web app form M$.  The only option seemed to be to upgrade a few things.  In the end I made a new web app project in VS2013 and copied everything into that.  A couple of gotchas though.

  • Google Connect now requires HTTPS to work.  This meant getting a IP address for my web site and getting it signed.  HTTP seems to redirect to HTTPS without any hassle.
  • MVC5 now uses Bootstrap for all its responsive/CSS formatting.  This means you should probably recode your HTML a bit.  It looks much nicer than the old one though.
  • It appears to use new tables for storing its user admin data in.  
It took about a day of copying code and pages over from one solution to the other.  Not bad really.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Mac App Store - an epic fail?

While the iOS app store is a great success, the app store for the Mac looks like a bit of a failure.  If you look at the free/paid charts and see what the most popular apps are you will see what I mean.

Lets start with the free one.  The top 10 apps are

  1. OSX Yosemite
  2. M$ Remote Desktop
  3. Xcode
  4. Unarchiver
  5. Memory Clean
  6. Slack
  7. Bit Defender
  8. Instragram
  9. RAR Extractor
  10. M$ One Note

That is an OS update, two M$ business tools, two zip utilities, Developer tools, a dubious memory cleaner and anti virus.  To begin with it implies most Mac users are business users who do most of their work in a M$ environment.  Zip utilities should really be standard with OSs these days, rather than an add on.  Then there is Xcode.  Does this mean that more people out there are developing new apps (for iOS probably) tun are downloading free apps on the Mac?

Then there are the paid apps.  I won't list them but in at #5 is Final Cut Pro, at £230 and at #8 is Logic Pro X at £150.  How low are sales if a £200 professional video editing app is the fifth most popular app?  we are talking niche market here.  Why would you even launch an app at £0.79 and how many would you need to sell to get to #180 in the paid list?

You can only hope those charts are summarised some how and not actually indicative of weekly or monthly sales figures.