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Ixis.co.uk - Thoughts: Last Month in Drupal - April 2018

Planet Drupal - 9 May 2018 - 6:00am
April provided plenty of news and updates in the Drupal world and here we take a look at all the best bits from the previous month.
Categories: Drupal

Virtual reality technology opens new doors of (spatial) perception

Virtual Reality - Science Daily - 9 May 2018 - 5:20am
Locating and discriminating sound sources is extremely complex because the brain must process spatial information from many, sometimes conflicting, cues. Using virtual reality and other immersive technologies, researchers can use new methods to investigate how we make sense of the word with sound.
Categories: Virtual Reality

Tales From The Loop — Review

Gnome Stew - 9 May 2018 - 5:15am

When I was a kid, I saw the movie Goonies and wanted to be those kids more than anything; out adventuring with my childhood friends. When I watched Stranger Things, I was pulled right back into my childhood and relived the idea of adventuring kids. And I am not alone in this. Recently there has been a rise in the kids on bikes genre of games, where early teens are solving mysteries. It is a genre that is picking up steam, as it resonates with older gamers who wax nostalgic, as well as younger gamers for whom those years are there or just past. Today, I am going to review one such entry in this genre, and one of the most icon ones in this emerging genre: Tales From The Loop.

Note – My first draft of this article was more objective and clinical, where I was going to do a full objective review of the game. But I LOVE this game, so this is going to be a review of the game via my own love letter about why this game is awesome. So let me get my walkman on, my Def Leppard cassette loaded and a can of New Coke poured, and then I can tell why you should be playing this game.

Disclaimer

I received a PDF and hardcopy of this book for the review from the publisher.

Claimer… is that even a word?

I am running a Tales From The Loop campaign for my home group, and have played 6 or so sessions of the game, making me familiar with the mechanics and material. I also own the Tales From the Loop art book as well.

What Is Tales From The Loop?

My first exposure to Tales From the Loop came from the Kickstarter from by artist and creator Simon Stalenhag. Stalenhag created these amazing illustrations depicting life in a part of Sweden, located near a particle accelerator knows as The Loop. In this world, technology had made some significant leaps and by the 1980’s there were robots and a maglev ships. The island where the Loop is located is this fantastic mix of the 1980’s (VCR’s, cassette tapes, and bulky computers) mixed with mad science (mind switching, rogue robots, and the occasional dinosaur). In that backdrop, Simon painted what life for typical kids would be like: climbing on weird discarded devices, taking over a robot, wandering through scrap yards of discarded experiments. Stalenhag’s art style is evocative and nostalgic, blending the fantastic and childhood in a way that you can’t help but be drawn into.

And if the art was all we got, it would have been enough inspiration to kick off hacks of games everywhere, but instead, Free League Publishing published the Tales of the Loop RPG, using the Year Zero Game Engine.

What is this Game About?

In TFL, you play children between the ages of 10 to 15 years old. You solve mysteries. These mysteries are often science fiction in nature, due to the Loop, a massive particle accelerator that is nearby. The Loop and the company who runs it, has created numerous technological marvels and created an equal number of anomalies. The Adults are useless when it comes helping out, so you and your friends have to solve the mystery on your own. In the backdrop of your mystery solving, you have the normal trials and tribulations of children of that age, bullies, tests, crushes, etc.

What I Love About This Game

The rest of this article is going to be what I consider to be the highlights of this book. Overall this book executes wonderfully. The rules of the game support what this game is about, and there is ample material in the book to support a GM who is running this game. Though a Swedish pronunciation guide could have helped a tad…

That aside, let me show off some of the things I love about this game.

Principles Of The Loop

I am a big fan of Powered by the Apocalypse games (of which this game is not), in part, because they give the GM a set of principles to inform the GM what the game is about, and how it should run. Tales has followed suit, and included 6 principles for GMs to keep in mind when running the game.

They are:

  1. Your hometown is full of strange and fantastic things.
  2. Everyday life is dull and unforgiving.
  3. Adults are out of reach and out of touch.
  4. The land of the Loop is dangerous but Kids will not die.
  5. The game is played scene by scene.
  6. The world is described collaboratively.

Each one is then expanded upon with examples and ideas.

 For me as a GM, I started reading the rulebook and when I encountered this section, I actually yelled out into my empty living room. 

For me as a GM, I started reading the rulebook and when I encountered this section, I actually yelled out into my empty living room. While I have played enough games over the years to be able to extract this information from the book, having it laid out for me, clearly, made it clear what my job as a GM was, and what this game was going to be about.

Setting

Here we are standing on the shoulders of giants. This book is full of Stalenhag’s art, and its used thoughtfully through the book. These images are all evocative and do a lot to convey this strange version of the 80’s. The text then builds off of that. There is a whole chapter dedicated to the history of the setting as well as the geography of the loop. The default location for the game is in Sweden in the Malaren islands. The text conveys things about life in the 80’s (for you young folks), life in Sweden in the 80s (for those of us who did not grow up there), the geography of the islands, and a full history of the Loop and the state agency who controls it, Riksenergi.

If you are looking to play in the US, the game also comes with a second setting, set in Nevada, where the US loop is located. There is a chapter dedicated to this setting as well, and it covers all the same things as the Swedish one.

These setting chapters really help ground you in the setting of the game. While I was around in the 80’s, there were just enough differences between my American experience and the Swedish experience that it was helpful to read what life was like there for kids. Again, a pronunciation guide would have helped with the town names and NPC names, but we fumbled through it just fine without.

Kids

This game is about kids and there is a chapter dedicated to making your kid for the game. Overall character generation is pretty simple…in a good way. There are 4 stats and 12 skills. With a few other mechanical choices that need to be made.

There are eight archetypes in the game, that come out similar to a Powered by the Apocalypse playbook. They are: Bookworm, Computer Geek, Hick, Jock, Popular Kid, Rocker, Troublemaker, and the Weirdo. They are iconic and easy to get into. My players had no problem picking from the list nor making unique characters from the questions each archetype presents.

One of my favorite things in this section, while not mechanical, but genre enforcing, was for each character to name their favorite song. It’s a nice touch, and a way to help connect the characters to the time period.

Core Mechanic

The core mechanic to Tales from the Loop is a straight-forward d6 dice pool. In the game, when the characters face Trouble, a challenge, they will generate a pool of d6’s based on a Stat and a Skill. Normally a success is a single 6 (there are cases where it may be 2 or 3 if things are difficult), and multiple 6’s allow the character to pick Bonus Effects, based on the Skill used. These Bonus Effects have a bit of the pick list feel that you get in a Powered by the Apocalypse game.

If you fail to generate any 6’s on your roll, you have some avenues to try again, before the action fails. You can spend a point of Luck, which lets you re-roll any dice that were not 6’s. You can also Push your roll. In this case, you take a Condition and then can re-roll any dice that were not 6’s. Finally, you can invoke your Pride (something that you are known for, e.g being the smartest kid in school), and get an automatic success.

If through those options you still fail to generate any successes then the action failed. The GM, in a similar way to Powered By the Apocalypse games, will decide what will happen. There is some good advice in the section of the rules for how to do this while not causing the mystery to stall out, which is often a pitfall in other skill-based games.

During the course of play, there is a bit of a resource management aspect to the game. In order to solve the mystery you need successes, and in order to do that you are at times burning luck, or Pushing rolls and taking Conditions. Those Conditions, of which there are 5, have consequences, the four minor ones incur a -1 die to each roll, and the last has you automatically failing. Three of the conditions are emotional and two are physical. Players will want to manage these resources during the course of a session.

Luck points are recovered with each session, but Conditions require you to have a scene with the character’s Anchor (an adult) and let them take of the character. And this is one of the great parts of the game. Over time, characters will take Conditions, either through Pushing or by failing rolls. This then drives them into dramatic scenes with adults. Which in turns refreshes them and allows them to continue to investigate.

There is no formal combat mechanic. Any kind of “fight” the kids get in is handled with the same trouble mechanic, using existing skills, and can result in taking a condition for damage.

Finally, there is the Extended Trouble, which is like a montage action, where the players need to amass a total number of successes against a difficulty. Each picks an action they will take in the Extended Trouble and then rolls. If they are close to the number they can also burn some Conditions to make it a success. This mechanic is best employed at the end of the mystery, but I have also used it in times when the characters have any kind of elaborate plan they want to enact.

 The mechanics are light enough that the focus is going to reside on the mystery but interesting enough that when someone picks up dice, you are going to want to see how it turns out. 

Overall the mechanics of the game are easy to understand, and your players will pick them up quickly. The mechanics are flexible enough to cover any situation that comes up in the game, and the Extended Action is a great way to quickly resolve a group action. The mechanics are light enough that the focus is going to reside on the mystery but interesting enough that when someone picks up dice, you are going to want to see how it turns out.

Mysteries

This game is about mysteries, and it delivers them in three ways…

The first way is that there is a chapter dedicated to Mysteries and it provides a nice formula for creating your own mysteries in the game. There are phases for each part of the mystery, and each one is given an explanation and examples. In addition, the book gives you several flow charts for how clues can be found and how they lead to the showdown at the end of the mystery. If you have never written a mystery before, this chapter is a great starting point. Even if you have written mysteries, the formula and advice in this chapter are solid. This chapter is gold and will ensure that GMs who are not familiar with mysteries can write their own material for the game.

Next up… The Mystery Landscape. This chapter is a mystery sandbox. It contains locations and people found throughout the islands and the plots and mysteries they are involved in (if you are playing the US loop, they tell you the equivalent names and locations for every entry). Each entry contains what is going on as well as hooks for how to involve the players and a countdown of what will happen as this progresses. In addition, in the character chapter, the archetypes have a section that allows players to pick a few connections into the NPCs of the Mystery Landscape. You could run a campaign of Tales from the Loop from this chapter alone.

But wait! There’s more! The end of the book contains 4 more chapters, each one their own complete mystery. The four mysteries are tied together and take place during the four seasons of the year. Each one is written using the formula from the Mystery chapter. They are easy to follow, they contain tips on how to keep the mystery flowing, and contain sketches of all the major NPCs. Honestly, I rarely use published material when I run games, but I have run the first two mysteries and they are great, and I will run the third one after a few more sessions. Each one has the right weirdness of the setting and stakes to make it something kids would investigate.

The Book

The book is an 8.5” x 11” hardcover that is 191 pages. The book (and the PDF) have a thematic layout, that is also clean, and easy to read. It is a full-color interior, and the inside front cover is a map of the Swedish Loop and the inside back cover is a map of the US Loop. There is both an easy to use table of contents as well as an index.

The book pages have a nice heavy weight paper with a matte finish to them. The book is full of Stalenhag’s artwork, gracing every few pages, and often spanning pages. There are black and white drawings for the character types and the NPCs. In addition, there are floor plan maps in the Mysteries showing key locations.

The book is easy to read and is organized well, making the ability to find information, during a session, easy. One tip, there are four pages in the Trouble Chapter that contain all the Bonus Effects for all the skills. Print out a few copies of these pages and put them on your table. They are the most referenced pages in the game, by the players and GM. Having a few copies to pass around will keep people from going into the book after each check.

Where To Find

You can find Tales from the Loop on the Modiphius website and on DriveThuRPG.

Next Up

Our reviews of Tales from the Loop are not done. Coming soon, I will be reviewing Our Friends The Machines & Other Mysteries, the first supplement for Tales From The Loop. But first I am going to run the title adventure so that I can tell you more about it…

In the meantime, if you have any questions about Tales from the Loop, leave them in the comments below, and I will do my best to get to them all.

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Semi-Procedural World Generation and Rendering in Edge Of Eternity (Part I) - by ZELER-MAURY Jeremy

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 9 May 2018 - 4:51am
How we created a GPU based semi-procedural terrain and vegetation system with Unity to fit the need of our openworld game
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Coffee Crisis: Why This Pittsburgh Alien-Brew Wants a Shot of PC, Xbox One. - by Sean Braganza

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 9 May 2018 - 4:48am
A quick overview of the features that sets Coffee Crisis' PC and Xbox One ports apart from the original Sega Genesis/Mega Drive editions.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Lullabot: Drupal JavaScript Initiative: The Road to a Modern Administration UI

Planet Drupal - 9 May 2018 - 4:19am

It's now been over 10 years since Drupal started shipping jQuery as part of core, and although a lot of Drupal's JavaScript has evolved since then it's still based on the premise of progressive enhancement of server-side generated pages. Meanwhile, developing sites with JavaScript has made huge strides thanks to popular rendering frameworks such as React, Angular, and Vue. With some of the web's largest sites relying on client-side only JavaScript, and search engines able to effectively crawl them, it's no longer imperative that a site provides fallback for no JavaScript, particularly for specialised uses such as editorial tasks in a content management system.

At DrupalCon Vienna, the core JavaScript team members decided to adopt a more modern approach to using JavaScript in Drupal to build administrative interfaces, with efforts centred around the React framework from Facebook. To try this out, we decided to build a prototype of the Database Logging page in React, and integrate it into Drupal.

Why Not Vue or Angular?

We chose React because of its popularity, stability, and maturity. Many client projects built with Drupal have successfully leveraged the model of annotating Drupal templates with Angular or Vue directives for quite some time now, but we were wary of building something so tightly coupled with the Drupal rendering monolith. We're very aligned with the API-first initiative and hope that through this work we can create something which is reusable with other projects such as Vue or Angular. The choice of library which renders HTML to the browser is the easiest part of the work ahead, with the hard problems being on the bridge between Drupal and the front-end framework.

What We Learned From The Prototype undefined

As we anticipated, rendering something in React was the easy part— our early challenges arose as we realized there were several missing exposed APIs from Drupal, which we addressed with help from the API-first initiative. Having completed this, we identified a number of major disadvantages to our approach:

  • Although we were creating a component library that could be re-used, essentially we were embedding individual JavaScript applications into different pages of a Drupal theme
  • Our legacy JavaScript was mixed in on the page alongside the new things we were building
  • The build process we currently have for JavaScript can be frustrating to work with because Drupal doesn't have a hard dependency on Node.js (and this is unlikely to change for the time being)
  • A developer coming from the JavaScript ecosystem would find it very unfamiliar

The last point in particular touches on one of the biggest tensions that we need to resolve with this initiative. We don't want to force Drupal's PHP developers also to have to know the ins-and-outs of the JavaScript ecosystem to build module administration forms, but we also don't want developers coming from the world of JavaScript—with promises of "We use React now, so this will be familiar to you!"—to then have to learn PHP and Drupal's internals as well. Having discussed this at length during our weekly initiative meetings, we decided to build an administration interface that is completely separate from Drupal itself, and would only consume it's APIs (aka decoupled). The application would also attempt to generate administration forms for some configuration scenarios.

Hello, world!

We began building our decoupled administration application based on the Create React App starter-kit from Facebook. This is an extremely popular project that handles a lot of the complexities of modern JavaScript tooling and creates a very familiar starting point for developers from the JavaScript ecosystem. So far we haven't needed to eject from this project, and we're enjoying not having to maintain our Webpack configurations, so fingers crossed we can continue with this approach indefinitely.

The first page we decided to build in our new application was the user permissions screen so we could experiment with editing configuration entities. One of the challenges we faced in the implementation of this was the inability to get a list of all possible permissions, as the data we had available from Drupal's API only gave us permissions which had been enabled. We created an Admin UI Support module to start providing us with these missing APIs, with the intention to contribute these endpoints back to Drupal once we have stable implementations.

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We chose to use GitHub as our primary development platform for this initiative, again because we wanted to be in a place familiar to as many developers as possible, as well as to use a set of workflows and tools that are common across the greatest number of open source projects and communities. Using GitHub and CircleCI, we've created an automated build process which allows Drupal developers to import and try out the project with Composer, without requiring them to install and run a build process with Node.js. Over the long-term, we would love to keep this project on GitHub and have it live as a Composer dependency, however, there are logistical questions around that which we'll need to work through in conjunction with the core team.

A New Design

Having got the architectural foundations in place for our application, we then turned to the team working on redesigning the admin UI to collaborate more closely. One of the features we had already built into our application was the ability to fall-back to a regular Drupal theme if the user tried to access a route that hadn't been implemented yet. Using this feature, and trying to keep in mind realistic timelines for launching a fully decoupled admin theme, the team decided that our current path forward will involve several parallel efforts:

  • Create new designs for a refreshed Seven-like theme
  • Adapt the new designs to a regular Drupal theme, so the fallback isn't jarring for the user
  • Build sections of the administration interface in the new React application as designs become available, hopefully starting with the content modeling UI
undefined Hard Problems

We still have a lot of issues to discuss around how the administration application will interact with Drupal, how extensible it can be, and what the developer experience will be like for both module authors and front-end developers. Some of the major questions we're trying to answer are:

  • How and what is a Drupal module able to do to extend the administration UI
  • We're not looking to deprecate the current Drupal theming system, so how can modules indicate which "mode" they support
  • If a module wants to provide its own React component, do we want to include this in our compiled JavaScript bundle, and if so how do we build it when Drupal has no requirement to include Node.js
  • How can modules provide routes in the administration UI, or should they become auto-generated
  • How do we handle and integrate site building tools such as Views, or do we replace this with the ability to swap in custom React components
Forms

How we're going to handle forms has been a big point of discussion, as currently Drupal tightly couples a form's schema, data, validation, and UI. Initially, we took a lot of inspiration from Mozilla's react-jsonschema-form project, which builds HTML forms from JSON schema and separated out these concepts. Nevertheless, a major issue we found with this was it still required a lot of form creation and handling to happen in Drupal code, instead of creating good API endpoints for the data we want to fetch and manipulate.

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The approach we're currently looking at is auto-generating forms from configuration entities and allowing a module to provide a custom React component if it wants to do something more complex than what auto-generation would provide. Here's a working (unstyled!) example of the site information form, which has been auto-generated from an API endpoint.

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We're now looking to augment configuration entities with metadata to optionally guide the form display. (For example, whether a group of options should be a select dropdown or radio buttons.

Try It Out and Get Involved

We have a Composer project available if you want to check out our progress and try the administration interface out (no previous Drupal installation required!). If you're looking to get involved we have weekly meetings in Slack, a number of issues on GitHub, our initiative plan on drupal.org, and lots of API work. You can also join us in-person at our next sprint at Frontend United in June.

A very special thank you to my initiative co-coordinators Matt Grill and Angie Byron, as well as Daniel Wehner, Ted Bowman, Alex Pott, Cristina Chumillas, Lauri Eskola, the API-First initiative, and all our other contributors for everyone's stellar work on this initiative so far!

⬅️✌️➡️  

Categories: Drupal

OPTASY: Reservoir or Decoupling Drupal Made Easy for Anyone: Non-Drupal Developers and Editors

Planet Drupal - 9 May 2018 - 12:55am
Reservoir or Decoupling Drupal Made Easy for Anyone: Non-Drupal Developers and Editors admin Wed, 05/09/2018 - 07:55

Here's how the ideal decoupling Drupal scenario looks like:

Stripping Drupal to its essential role, that of a robust and flexible content repository, with no Drupal expertise needed. Then using it to back your front-end with; one that you'd be free to build by leveraging any modern (JavaScript) technology of your choice.

… a Drupal back-end content store that would still preserve all its content editing and managing functionalities, needless to add.

Luckily, this is no longer “daydreaming”. Not since Reservoir, the headless Drupal distribution, has been available. 

Here are some of its “promises” or well-known challenges, if you prefer, that this distribution's geared at solving:
 

Categories: Drupal

Business of Gaming Retail: Delegating Tasks

RPGNet - 9 May 2018 - 12:00am
A Key to FLGS Growth
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Valuebound: E-Commerce Solutions and Third-Party Integration Options within Drupal Ecosystem

Planet Drupal - 8 May 2018 - 9:45pm

Drupal has several options and solutions to develop different types of websites including e-commerce portals. Drupalers have redefined the way e-commerce sites used to operate by developing a range of plugins and modules for high-end security, tailored web content, third-party integration, and other utilities. These modules primarily aim at enhancing end users experience, providing a user-friendly interface, flexibility, and reliability.

There are several e-commerce options within Drupal along with options to integrate third-party APIs, which I’ll discuss in a later section. Let’s first discuss the options…

Categories: Drupal

PreviousNext: Making your Drupal 8 kernel tests fail when there is an exception during cron

Planet Drupal - 8 May 2018 - 7:39pm

Several times in the past I've been caught out by Drupal's cron handler silently catching exceptions during tests.

Your test fails, and there is no clue as to why.

Read on to find out how to shine some light on this, by making your kernel tests fail on any exception during cron.

by Lee Rowlands / 9 May 2018

If you're running cron during a kernel test and expecting something to happen, but it doesn't - it can be hard to debug why.

Ordinarily an uncaught exception during a test will cause PHPUnit to fail, and you can pinpoint the issue.

However, if you're running cron in the test this may not be the case.

This is because, by default Drupal's cron handler catches all exceptions and silently logs them. This is colloquially known as Pokemon exception handling.

The act of logging an exception is not enough to fail a test.

So your test skips the exception and carries on, failing in other ways unexpectedly.

This is exacerbated by the fact that PHP Unit throws an exception for warnings. So the slightest issue in your code will cause it to halt execution. In an ordinary scenario, this exception causes the test to fail. But the pokemon catch block in the Cron class prevents that, and your test continues in a weird state.

This is the code in question in the cron handler

<?php try { $queue_worker->processItem($item->data); $queue->deleteItem($item); } // ... catch (\Exception $e) { // In case of any other kind of exception, log it and leave the item // in the queue to be processed again later. watchdog_exception('cron', $e); }

So how do you make this fail your test? In the end, it's quite simple.

Firstly, you make your test a logger and use the handy trait to do the bulk of the work.

You only need to implement the log method, as the trait takes care of handling all other methods.

In this case, watchdog_exception logs exceptions as RfcLogLevel::ERROR. The log levels are integers, from most severe to least severe. So in this implementation we tell PHP Unit to fail the test with any messages logged where the severity is ERROR or worse.

use \Drupal\KernelTests\KernelTestBase; use Psr\Log\LoggerInterface; use Drupal\Core\Logger\RfcLoggerTrait; use Drupal\Core\Logger\RfcLogLevel; class MyTest extends KernelTestBase implements LoggerInterface { use RfcLoggerTrait; /**    * {@inheritdoc}    */   public function log($level, $message, array $context = []) {     if ($level <= RfcLogLevel::ERROR) {       $this->fail(strtr($message, $context));     }   } }

Then in your setUp method, you register your test as a logger.

$this->container->get('logger.factory')->addLogger($this);

And that's it - now any errors that are logged will cause the test to fail.

If you think we should do this by default, please comment on this core issue.

Tagged Drupal 8, Drupal Development, Drupal testing, PSR-3
Categories: Drupal

Jagex lays plans to shut down its decade-old game portal FunOrb

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 8 May 2018 - 4:37pm

British game dev Jagex announced plans today to shut down its longstanding online game portal FunOrb, citing the increasing difficulties of providing its library of browser games in a playable state. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

core::2050 Sci-Fi RPG Up On Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 8 May 2018 - 2:00pm
Hacking computer system. Laser rifles. Flying cars. Elves. Monks. Bards. You usually see the first trio mixed together, but not so often with the last three. code::2050 looks to change that. The core::2050 book for the game is a setting book and set of rules to bring 5th edition to a cyberpunk dystopian world. The […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Palantir: Retheming Palantir.net for Our Audience

Planet Drupal - 8 May 2018 - 1:47pm
Retheming Palantir.net for Our Audience brandt Tue, 05/08/2018 - 15:47 Alex Brandt May 8, 2018

The new www.palantir.net is a decoupled instance of Drupal 8 that allows us greater flexibility to feature content that is most relevant to our site visitors.

When we first migrated our website (https://www.palantir.net) from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 in the summer of 2016, it was an exciting time for our marketing team. From an editorial perspective, Drupal 8 is a much easier to use interface than D7, and it instantly allowed us greater flexibility with our content.

However, even though we now had a more flexible site, we still felt like the digital experience for our audience missed a few marks. We quickly established a list of goals for phase two of the redesign, and these goals were related to both the overall digital experience and internal business goals.

The Overall Digital Experience

With the next iteration of our site, we wanted to focus on making the site more intuitive for visitors and also surface content in a way that was most beneficial to them. Would future clients prefer to filter case studies by service category or industry? What were visitors hoping or expecting to find on the homepage? What kind of information about Palantir were potential new hires trying to find?

These questions informed the following goals for the site:

  • To be simple and easy to use by having meaningful (and working) filters, allowing users to filter by industry, and curating collections around topics that most interest our audience.
  • To inspire applicants by demonstrating solid work, showcasing our cultural story, and making it easy to find career information.
  • To tell the story of Palantir with crisper messaging, improved visuals, and better storytelling throughout via weaving client testimonials with staff stories and case studies.
  • To be future forward by creating a visual theme with a timeless solution.
Business Goals

We also had a few items we wanted to address that related to our overall business goals. Our website is an important sales and marketing tool for us, and we wanted to make sure it was doing its job. We needed the new site to:

  • Showcase our work better by making it more prominent, showing more visuals and making our visuals more consistent.
  • Capture leads and bring in more business by making it easy for people to contact us no matter where they are on the site, and by simplifying newsletter sign-up.
  • Elevate the Palantir brand by creating a newly themed site that in itself is a demonstration of our design and development skill, showcasing our work in a superior way, and talking more intelligently — but concisely — about ourselves, our work, and our services.
The Process

Just like we recommend for our clients, we began our process with a Discovery phase. One of our web strategists, Michelle Jackson, completed a competitive analysis to inform next steps. A few of the things she evaluated were:

  • What are our peers doing right?
  • What are the current industry standards?
  • What are agencies that we aspire to emulate doing?

The results from this analysis helped us prioritize our wishlist of future site features. We then handed off this wishlist to the designer on the project, Carl Martens. Carl worked through the design phase which included creating wireframes, moving things into a prototype, and then building out the new theme in partnership with Ken Rickard, who completed all of the development. The design was done using our standard process: we built in a modular way using site components, and then compiled them into a living style guide. Particular attention was paid to typographic details, use of color, and how to most effectively use images.

Another design problem we needed to solve was one common to all companies that list their team members: what do you do when a new employee joins the team, and you don’t have a photo for them that matches the others? Even our photographer (who only does our headshots once per year) said, “all my clients have this problem. Let me know when you figure it out!” We thought of several options on how to fix this, and ended up with the chalkboard solution. It allows us to inject some personality into our page while not distracting from the other headshots by having it be a headshot in a different style or lighting.

We decided it was best to do a decoupled instance for this site. More details about the technical implementation of the decoupled Drupal instance can be found in Ken's upcoming blog post.

New Features and Integrations

The latest version of www.palantir.net has an abundance of new features that allow us to weave storytelling throughout the site.

Searchable Homepage

Our previous homepage had much of the important content buried beneath the fold. To fix this, we wanted to turn our homepage into a hub where site visitors could search for content that was relevant to them, no matter where that content lived on the site. The new homepage can filter all of our content by both topic and industry, and helps surface the most relevant pieces of content for our audience. The new homepage also features a collapsible side navigation, so you can see more relevant content at one time.

Topic-Based Collection Pages

Tying into the goals of our searchable homepage, we curated new collection pages based on topics we thought our audience would search for most (which include Planning, Business Strategy, Security, Design & UX, Development, Governance, Content Strategy and Accessibility). That way when someone asks, “what do you do for accessibility?” we can send them directly to a curated page that shows blog posts and case studies specific to that topic. These collection pages can be found at the bottom of our services page.

 

Culture and Careers Content

With the next iteration of the site, we wanted to make sure we were catering to the audience who might be interested in working for us in the future. We achieved this by showcasing all of the great things about working at Palantir, and on these pages we included more images to help show rather than tell that information. Our new Culture and Careers page houses much of the information a potential new Palantiri might look for, including what we think are the key elements of our culture. It also links to our Benefits page which outlines the many perks of working for Palantir, and to our current openings.

Case Studies That Tell a Story

Some of the most important pieces of content on our site are our case studies. It is vital as an agency to be able to showcase our work and capabilities dynamically. The old version of our case studies were extremely text-heavy and did not feature nearly enough visual representation of the process or final product of each project.

The new format of our new case studies are broken into different chunks of content, with the ability to show each bit of information in a way that fits what is being communicated. We can then weave each of these pieces together into one comprehensive, dynamic storyline. By breaking the case studies into smaller, more visual pieces, they are much easier to scan too. We still have to update some of our older case studies, so this is still a work in progress.

 

Updated Services Page

One would think a services page would be the first page to be refined on a business’ site, but somehow our previous services page was a complete afterthought. Buried in the footer, it was a glorified bulleted list. This page was a high priority for us to fix, because we wanted to make sure potential clients could find information about what services we provide. The new services page is easy to find in the main site navigation, and in addition to the afore-mentioned collections, it also features information about our partnerships.

Hubspot Integration

Hubspot is a new sales and marketing tool for us that we have been implementing since the beginning of the year. It helps us track new project opportunities on the sales side, and it also houses all of our marketing tools. One of the new Hubspot tools that we have implemented on our new site is called a lead flow. Lead flows are abbreviated contact forms that we can choose to display on specific pages, granting our site visitors a quick way to subscribe to our email newsletter.

Always Evolving

In true agile fashion, we had an MVP with the goal of launching by DrupalCon Nashville, but we plan to keep iterating and improving the site in the coming months. So, what do we have planned next?

  • New photos for new staff
  • Video that reiterates the Palantir story
  • A timeline of the history of Palantir
  • Listing of awards and press mentions (Great Place to Work, Clutch.co, etc.)
  • Rewriting and adding more case studies
Accessibility

Of course, we also want to make sure our site is accessible. In addition to baking accessibility into our process along the way, we use a tool provided by our partner, Siteimprove, to scan our site and determine if it meets accessibility standards. Siteimprove is a great tool because it flags both quality assurance items (like misspellings and broken links) as well as accessibility requirements (like those provided by WCAG and AA). We use the reports provided by Siteimprove to continuously clean up our content and ensure an enjoyable digital experience for all users.

Tell Us What You Think

So far we’ve had one client tell us this: “The redesign clearly marks a maturation and growth of Palantir. If progressing towards a more serious, trustworthy, and refined company was the goal, I think you nailed it.” We sure hope so!

We’d love to hear what you think about the new site. Share your thoughts on Twitter (@palantir) or by reaching out through our contact form.

Design Development Drupal Site Building Strategy
Categories: Drupal

OSTraining: How to Build User Profiles With Fields in Drupal 8

Planet Drupal - 8 May 2018 - 1:26pm

By default, a Drupal 8 user account collects only very basic information about the user. 

And, most of that information is not visible to visitors or other users on the site.

Fortunately, Drupal makes it easy to modify and expand this profile so that people can add useful information about themselves such as their real name (versus a username), address, employer, URLs, biography, and more.

Categories: Drupal

OSTraining: How to Manage User and Role Permissions in Drupal 8

Planet Drupal - 8 May 2018 - 1:23pm

This tutorial is all about managing uses on your Drupal 8 site.

I'll show you how to control who can do what on your site:

  • Who can create, delete, and edit content?
  • Who can upload modules and themes?
  • Who can modify menus and blocks?

You also see how to make user accounts more interesting. You do this by allowing users to add more information about them. 

Categories: Drupal

Azimuth Coming to Kickstarter Tomorrow

Tabletop Gaming News - 8 May 2018 - 1:00pm
Come sail away. Come sail away. Come sail away with me, lads! Sailing away is what you’ll be doing in Azimuth. Though it’s not all sand, sun, and sea. You wake up adrift with very little in the way of supplies and even less idea of exactly where you are. This isn’t a 3-hour tour, […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Man sentenced to prison over 2010 World of Warcraft DDoS attack

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 8 May 2018 - 12:11pm

A federal court has sentenced Calin Mateias to a year in federal prison over a distributed denial-of-service attack he launched against World of Warcraft servers in 2010. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Blue Orange Holding Cooperative Games Giveaway

Tabletop Gaming News - 8 May 2018 - 12:00pm
Who doesn’t like getting things for free? Nobody. Who doesn’t love having some games with friends? Well, on this page, hopefully nobody. Blue Orange is putting those two together with their Cooperative Games Giveaway they’re holding now. Go put your name in the hat and you could walk away with some great cooperative titles. From […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Free-to-play game Loadout ending service in wake of GDPR regulation

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 8 May 2018 - 11:19am

The dev says that the coming GDPR guidelines in the EU delivered one of the final blows the game, noting that it simply isn't able to update Loadout in a way that would make it GDPR compliant. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Podcast Radio

Tabletop Gaming News - 8 May 2018 - 11:00am
Monday is gone and Tuesday is here. Hopefully, the start of your week wasn’t so bad. We’ve got all sorts of stuff going on around here in preparation for this weekend. But, before we get there, we must make sure you’ve got some podcasts to listen to. On the dial today we have: Man Battlestations […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

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