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Pathfinder Playtest Review, Part 2

Gnome Stew - 26 September 2018 - 5:00am

This is part 2 of my review of the Pathfinder Playtest from Paizo. You can see part 1 here where I cover the first three sections of the book (Overview through Classes). In this part of the review, I’ll comment on the next four sections (Skills through Spells). The next review should cover Advancement and Options, and Playing the Game, which will be a big chunk of the review process since this is the “meat” of the game. Lastly, I’ll finish up with Game Mastering through Appendices.

If you’re interested in reading along with me during the review, you can pick up the free PDF of the playtest rulebook at Paizo’s site:

One note that I forgot to drop into my first review is that I’m making notes as I go through a section, then I do my best to accurately expand on those notes “in media res,” so that I’m giving an accurate depiction of my thoughts as they come to me as I read the text. Certainly, there will be some things that pop up later in the book that may change my mind, but I wanted to be clear that this is not a “I’ve read the whole book and am now making comments.”

Skills  A new concept for Pathfinder is the use of skills in untrained and trained manners. Share1Tweet1+11Reddit1Email

A new concept for Pathfinder is the use of skills in untrained and trained manners. There are some actions a character can take even without being trained in a skills, but the more potent or advanced uses of a skill are reserved for those with training. This is pretty cool. I like this change in the game. In the playtest book, the list of untrained uses feels a little longer than the trained uses do. Perhaps this will be adjusted in the final product. I really hope to see the trained uses for the skills expanded upon.

While the list is shorter in this edition, I’m not going to go into each skill. I’m just going to comment on some of the larger changes. I do like the shorter list of skills, though. They feel more focused and on target for what a modern roleplaying game should be. Having said that, I think each skill needs more actions (more on this later when we get to feats) to make them worthwhile to the game.

Identifying Items/Effects  I’ve always felt it was too easy in Pathfinder to identify items. Share1Tweet1+11Reddit1Email

Something I find interesting is that identifying magic items or magical effects is now a skill check without needing the spells of “detect magic” or “identify.” This takes a full hour per item/effect. I like this change for several reasons. First, I’ve always felt it was too easy in Pathfinder to identify items. In the “old school” versions of D&D, it was exceedingly difficult to identify items. I think this approach strikes a fine balance. Secondly, this skill-based approach aligns more closely with what we read in fantasy literature, which is all about the storytelling. This brings some storytelling back into the game. While I’m on this topic, I also noticed that there are several skills that can be leveraged for identifying magic. These are arcane, nature, occultism, and religion. It’s pretty neat that they applied this use to all of these areas.

Aside: Read Magic

The ability to read magical (or occult or holy) texts is now skill-based. As a matter of fact, the spell “read magic” is no longer in the book. It just takes some time, effort, skill, and a decent die roll to interpret magical writings. Like with identifying magic items/effects, I like this change quite a bit because it more closely aligns our collaborative storytelling efforts with what we read in fantasy novels.

CMB/CMD/Attack Actions

I hadn’t noticed that CMB and CMD weren’t part of the character sheet or character generation process until I got to the athletics skill. Some of the uses of the skill allow for tripping, grappling, shoving, etc. However, instead of the CMB/CMD combination, Paizo has streamlined these actions even more! I’m impressed that they’ve managed to pull this off. Now, it’s a skill check against a saving throw (usually Fortitude or Reflex) to see if the action has the desired effect.

Downtime Skills  This turns downtimes into more fun roleplaying instead of the less fun rollplaying. Share1Tweet1+11Reddit1Email

Crafting, lore, and perform can be used between exploring and adventuring to earn some coin for the characters. The subsystem for earning these coins is consistent, easy to implement, and quick to resolve. By moving some of the crunchy bits into a simpler system, there can be more focus on what goes on with the characters during downtime other than doing the necessary math to figure out how much income someone earns. This turns downtimes into more fun roleplaying instead of the less fun rollplaying.

Lore

It appears that the lore skill is now the combination of knowledge and profession skills from the previous edition. I like this simplification because it helps players pick skills in a faster manner, reduces confusion in the game, and allows for a greater breadth of skill choices to be made. I’m not sure how many times I’ve been asked something along the lines of, “What is profession? What do I use it for? How it is different from craft or knowledge?” Dropping these two skills together under a single entity is a boon.

Society

This skill feels misnamed. I like the actions and activities under it. They make sense. However, this is more of a “streetwise” skill than a “society” skill. Paizo should consider renaming the skill to streetwise.

Feats

(Author note: I’m using “feat” here even though I like the word “talent” better because I think that’s what Paizo has turned them into for this version of Pathfinder. I’ll stick with Paizo’s naming convention to avoid confusion.)

 Of the skill-based feats, there are some pretty cool ones in here. Share1Tweet1+11Reddit1Email

Remember how I said above under the “Skills” header that I wanted more uses for the skills to make them worthwhile? Yeah. I take that back. Now that I’m in the feats section, I see that a vast majority of the feats (all but 20) are there to give skills more oomph. Now I see why characters get so many feats at character creation and as they level up. I was truly concerned that a 1st level character would have a chain of feats that would overpower them out of the gate. It doesn’t appear to be the case.

Again, I’m not going to go into each feat in detail. There just isn’t enough room in a single article to do so. I’ll just say here that there are some really cool feats that allow for both player and GM interactions with the characters’ skills that can drive a story forward (or sideways) in an excellent story-driven manner. It feels to me, as I read through the feats, that Paizo is taking on a bit more “fluff” into their rules and a little less “crunch.” What I mean by this is that Paizo seems to be taking on less of a “tactical simulation of combat” feel that has put some people off and shifting their balance a little toward the story side of things. Don’t get me wrong, Pathfinder still has those crunchy bits for when combat arrives, but that’s not all there is to this game.

Of the 20 “general feats,” only one requires a level higher than first. This gives quite a few options for starting characters, but I’d like to see the list expanded in the final book. While reading through the feats, my gut tells me there is room for growth of options there, but I can’t quite pin down what’s missing. A more thorough analysis than a read-through would probably reveal this to me.

Of the skill-based feats, there are some pretty cool ones in here, and there are quite a few options to customize and make characters special in their own way. No two masters of a single skill will look the same or use that particular skill the same. This intrigues me and piques my interest quite a bit. A friend of mine complained about the number of feats as “too many options,” but I don’t think there’s quite enough here to cause analysis paralysis, to be honest. It’s a good set to work with, and I can see the list being expanded in the final release or in expansion books.

Equipment

Equipment is equipment, right? Well, there are some subtle changes to how equipment is acquired and handled in game that need to be illuminated. Again, I’m not going to go into each bit of armor, each weapon, each piece of gear, etc. here. I’m going to talk about the rules exposed in this section.

Rarity

Items now have a “rarity” attribute. These start with common and range through uncommon to rare and finally land at unique. A color code is used to denote the rarity when an item is listed, which I’m not a big fan of. A single letter (C, U, R, X) inside parentheses after the item name would suffice. There are also folks that are color blind out there, so the red (uncommon) or blue (unique) item listing may be problematic for them. It’s best to stick with black (or dark hued inks) on white (or pale hues) for text, Paizo. I hope someone on the development team sees this and perks up a bit. Also, either I missed uncommon/rare items in the equipment lists, or they’re not present in the playtest book. I couldn’t find anything in the regular equipment other than black text (common items). Having said all this, I do like the potential I see in the rarity of items.

Item Level

When I saw this, I panicked. I thought Paizo was going the way of MMORPGs and stating that characters couldn’t have or use certain items until they were of a certain level. Fortunately, this is not the case. The “item level” listing is a guideline for GMs, so they don’t accidentally hand out something as treasure that might unbalance the game.

Bulk

Instead of weight and strength determining a weight limit for encumbrance or not, Paizo abstracted things away to a degree. Now items have a “bulk” listing, which determines how much stuff a character can carry before slowing down or being forced to drop something. The system looks straightforward and simple enough that I might start using encumbrance again. (I currently “hand wave” encumbrance for my players in Pathfinder, so long as they don’t get crazy with it.) There’s even a page (along with some handy tables) dealing with items made for a creature of different size. It’s pretty easy to figure out the bulk of a small creature trying to use or carry something intended for a large creature.

Item Quality

Items have “levels” like characters skills do. They can be normal, expert, master, or legendary in make. This isn’t even counting the magical weapons. This is a cool expansion on the “masterwork” concept that’s been around since D&D 3.0. The hardness, cost, and bonuses of the item go up as the quality increases. This new feature in the system can be leveraged in “low magic” settings where most sword aren’t be magical, but legendary weapon crafters can produce high quality swords that are +3 without magic. This spawned quite a few setting ideas for me. I really love this shift and addition to the game. Oh, before I forget, there are rules for items of “poor” quality as well. This is an excellent addition for settings like Dark Sun.

Spells

This article is already getting a little long in the tooth, so I’ll try to make this as brief as possible while giving spells the attention they deserve. Like with the other sections, I’m not going to delve into each spell.

Heightened Spells

A caster can choose to prepare a spell at higher spell slots to increase the effects of the spell. Not all spells can be heightened, but many can. The example in the book is that a fireball (3rd level) will do 6d6 damage. If you heighten the spell (by putting in a 4th level slot), it will do 8d6 damage instead. This system provides for greater flexibility in how prepared spellcasters do their thing and plan for the day. It’s subtle, but effective, and I like it. There are also rules for the spontaneous casters to be able to do the same thing, but the rules are subtly different.

Spell Schools and Traits

The typical spell schools we’ve all grown to love and adore are still present in the game. The various spell traits that exist within the Pathfinder playtest book are also outlined and clearly explained. The list of traits is a bit short, though, as I found some spells without explained traits. However, the “good” trait is pretty clear, but it would be best to explain them all for those who are new to Pathfinder or roleplaying.

Rarity of Spells

In the equipment section, I talked about the different rarity of items. A similar system of common, uncommon, and rare exists within the spell lists. Players are restricted from automatically choosing uncommon and rare spells without the GM’s permission. One thing of note here is that Paizo uses a superscript of U or R for uncommon and rare spells instead of the strange color-coding mentioned in the equipment section. I hope that Paizo finds a proper superscript for “Unique” equipment as well and applies the superscript (or some other symbology) to use to alleviate the color blindness issue that some players may have.

Actions in Spellcasting  Each part of casting a spell (material, somatic, and verbal) takes an action. Share1Tweet1+11Reddit1Email

As I mentioned in the first part of this review, each PC gets 3 actions per round. I found an interesting quirk here in the spellcasting section. Each part of casting a spell (material, somatic, and verbal) takes an action. This means that a spell with all three components to cast will consume all three actions of the caster during that round. Something with only somatic and verbal will take two of the three actions, and so on. I had stop and ponder the implications of this for a bit. I can see the game balancing effects of this approach. However, I had to flip the very last page of the book (where the spell sheet is at) and look at it. Having a variable number of actions for different spells requires the proper bookkeeping, memorization, or stopping the game to look things up to figure out how many actions a particular spell consumes. The spell sheet does have an “actions” section with three blanks in it for each spell. This will assist in keeping the game running smoothly if players do the right thing and fill out the sheet with all details as they acquire new spells.

Spell Details

While I’m not going to dig through each spell in the book, I wanted to point out that powers gained from various ancestries, classes, feats, backgrounds, etc. that are spell-like in nature are comingled in the alphabetical list of spells. This can easily lead to confusion because the section is clearly labeled “Spells” in the tabs on the right edge of the page. I would recommend that Paizo take the “Spells” label and change it to “Spells and Powers,” so players new to the game can easily track down the specific section of the book they need to find the details about all of the supernatural things their characters can do.

Also, in the spell details section, Paizo falls back to a colored background for the rarity of spells to indicate uncommon and rare. Again, I’m not a fan of this because it requires rote memorization (or a spot in the GM screen) to translate the rarity of a spell from color to meaning. Sorry to harp on this poor decision by Paizo, but it’s really gotten to me. I’ll step away from the soapbox on this topic.

Conclusion, For Now

Coming into reviewing the Pathfinder playtest, I was hesitant to even pick up the book, but I wanted to give the game a fair shake. So far, I’m liking what I’m seeing. Yes, there are limited choices within the book, but it’s also a “slim” book (for a core Paizo book, at least) at only 428 pages. Compare that against the current edition’s core book size of 575 pages, there’s ample room to expand and grow and improve.

So far, I think I would play this game as a replacement for the current Pathfinder. However, as the saying goes, “The proof’s in the pudding.” So far, I’ve been reading about the “ingredients” of the overall recipe. The next few segments of the book will be telling on how good the actual pudding is going to be.

I’ll roll this part of the review to a close, so I can get to how to mix the ingredients together and make the pudding. You’ll be seeing section 3 of the review here in about two weeks if all goes according to plan. See ya then!

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Entity Explorer

New Drupal Modules - 26 September 2018 - 4:37am

This module provides a single Drupal Console command, namely entity_explorer.

It is a tool for developers to quickly get localized data about entities without resorting to the UI or digging through the database.

Example usage:

Categories: Drupal

drupal_chatbot

New Drupal Modules - 26 September 2018 - 3:56am

This Module helps setup Basic Chat Bot that interacts with Voice based input or Key Input of User. One can enable it in specified block of its Choice, Where as Footer suits the Best. It can be extended further to accumulate as many functionalities possible.Currently this module enables Search by Title, Latest Articles Search, Latest Pages. It is solely compatible with Drupal 8.x. The style of Block display can be changed. As of Now it uses Dialogflow as NLP agent. It is possible to extend it to use any other NLP agent like Alexa. Further instructions in Readme.md file.

Categories: Drupal

Sooper Drupal Themes: 6 Amazing Websites About Learning Drupal You Should Visit

Planet Drupal - 26 September 2018 - 2:47am

Are you interested in building a fully functional Drupal website but don’t know where to start? Or experience time-consuming difficulties in the process of achieving your goals with Drupal? There is no better way to learn and further develop your skills than to follow along with the finest video tutorials provided by experienced members of the Drupal community.

Sooperthemes has put together a list with some of the most useful websites that provide high quality and up-to-date Drupal tutorials.


1. BuildAModule (Free and Premium Tutorials)

BuildAModule has been dedicated to sharing Drupal tutorials to the community for more than four years now. With a rich library of an astonishing 2240 videos, BuildAModule provides an easy way of learning that is suitable for everyone interested in building a Drupal website. People who just started with Drupal and those who already have experience in working with it can find material which best suit their goals and needs. The range of topics covered in BuildAModule tutorials include: 


  • Drupal 8 Site Building, a series of 265 videos aimed to teach the basics of Drupal to people who are complete beginners in the industry, or those who are already familiar with some aspects of Drupal but want to further develop a strong foundation before starting to work on more advanced projects.
  • Setting up a Web Environment with Drupal, a short list of nine videos which will assist and guide you on how to set up a Drupal Web Environment on all platforms (Mac, Windows, Linux).
  • Upgrading to Drupal 8, 87 videos to help you understand the difference between Drupal 7 and Drupal 8, get you ready to migrate your Drupal 7 website to the newest version or help you start a new Drupal 8 project.
  • Front End Development, providing 574 tutorials related to HTML, CSS and JavaScript for people interested in learning the most frequently used tools and techniques related to these technologies.

BuildAModule videos are used by major educational institutes, web development shops and training companies. They are also neatly organized so every step of the process is clearly defined and easy to follow.


2. OSTraining (Free and Premium Tutorials)

Over the past years OSTraining has made a name for themselves by providing a wide range of  tutorials on various open source CMS software projects including Drupal 8. Currently there are 15 Drupal 8 classes available, divided into 4 categories:

  1. Drupal 8 Beginner (level: Beginner)
  2. Drupal 8 Site Management (level: Beginner & Intermediate)
  3. Drupal 8 Design (level: Intermediate & Advanced)
  4. Drupal 8 Development  (level: Advanced)

Depending on your skill level and current knowledge of Drupal 8, you can pick the classes that best fit your objective.

In addition to the premium tutorials on their website, OSTraining has also produced a great YouTube Playlist which consists of 63 Beginner Tutorials that will guide you through the essential Drupal concepts and provide basic knowledge needed in order to start working on your own project.


3. Drupalize (Free and Premium Tutorials)

If you are at least a little bit familiar with Drupal, then you most likely heard about Drupalize.

Drupalize is one of the most active players when it comes to updating their tutorials in order to keep the content up-to-date with the new features that come to Drupal 8. The material provided by them starts all the way from the Basics and Site Building, and moves on to covering more advanced topics such as Management and Strategy.

With the largest collection of Drupal premium learning videos, Drupalize has thousands of tutorials you can choose from. If you are interested in: Learning to Build Drupal Websites, Working with Drupal Themes, Becoming a Drupal Developer, Learning Drupal 8 or in an Introduction to the Drupal CMS - then Drupalized is the right choice for you!

Not sure whether or not it’s worth the investment? Check out their YouTube Playlists made in association with Lullabot, which cover topics such as: Drupal 8 User Guide, Configuration System, or How to Install Drupal for Local Development and see if the content provided by them meets your expectations.
In order to recognize contributors' hard work, Drupalize.me offers a Free Membership to the drupal.org Project Maintainers and those listed in the Drupal 8 MAINTAINERS.txt file.


4. Webwash

Whether you are a beginner or a more advanced user of Drupal, you are going to find interesting, useful and up-to-date content on Webwash.
In addition to the free and premium content offered on their website, Webwash has put together an impressive gallery of high quality tutorials available on their YouTube Channel. While you will find topics like New Media Management Functionality in Drupal 8.6, you will also stumble upon some interesting Live Streams. Also, if you encounter any difficulties or some points are not clear, the creator behind the camera Ivan Zugec is also active in the comments section and more than happy to answer the questions you have.

Last but not least, Webwash also provides premium consultancy for Drupal users who need help in building a website. Before commiting to paying the consultancy fee, you can apply for a 15 minute Free consultation and see whether or not this is the right fit for you.


5. Lynda

Lynda.com has been sharing tutorials for Students, Project Managers, IT and Design Professionals for over 20 years now. Currently a part of LinkedIn, they serve more than 10k organizations worldwide and provide tutorials for anyone working in Business, Design, Marketing, Developer and many other industries.

Lynda has a long list of Drupal related tutorials, touching on topics such as: Drupal 8 Essential Training, Drupal Responsive Design, Create Your First Online Store with Drupal Commerce or Drupal 8 Configuration Management. These tutorials have assisted tens of thousands of people in learning Drupal and helped them achieve their personal and professional goals.


People who want to use Lynda for the first time can apply for a Free Month membership which gives access to all the tutorials available in the library, but most importantly the Drupal 8 ones!


6. Drupal Up

Even though Drupal Up currently has only 351 subscribers on their YouTube Channel, the type of tutorials they provide is impressive and definitely worth taking a look at.

With a new video up and ready every Monday, Drupal Up covers topics like Module Development, Theming, Site Building and General Tips for an easier and better development. You don’t have to be an expert in Drupal in order to follow along with his tutorials, but they are definitely not just for Beginners too! No matter what your level of Drupal knowledge is, you are most likely going to find interesting videos to learn something new from.


Drupal Up also has a gallery of three premium courses on Drupal Module Development, Introduction to Drupal 8 Theming and Introduction to Drupal 8 Views. These courses serve hundreds of happy students whom.


While every single one of these websites brings unique value to the Drupal community and some incredible learning material, we’re curious to hear your opinion on them and which ones have you found to be the most intriguing?

Categories: Drupal

Devel Debug 40x

New Drupal Modules - 26 September 2018 - 2:14am

The Devel Debug 40x module registers an event subscriber that will dump 403 and 404 exceptions through Devel's dumper manager to help you debug unexpected 403 or 404 errors.

Categories: Drupal

CTI Digital: CTI will see you at NWDUG Unconference

Planet Drupal - 26 September 2018 - 2:01am

The Drupal Unconference is coming up in November and we can’t wait! Following the huge success of last year's event, we are once again proud to be Silver Sponsors of this alternative annual conference.

Categories: Drupal

Video Embed Vkontakte

New Drupal Modules - 26 September 2018 - 1:36am

An integration for Vkontakte videos into Video Embed Field.

Categories: Drupal

The Power of Press Releases for Indie Games in 2018… - by Yohann Miniere

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 25 September 2018 - 10:03pm
Writing Press Releases is not an easy exercise even if the format looks simple but this is a powerful tool you have to master!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Kalamuna Blog: BADCamp 2018: Give Your Elected Representative a Piece of Your Mind. Plus, Free Drupal Sessions!

Planet Drupal - 25 September 2018 - 4:52pm
BADCamp 2018: Give Your Elected Representative a Piece of Your Mind. Plus, Free Drupal Sessions! The Kalamuna Team Tue, 09/25/2018 - 16:52

This October, come to our Bay Area Drupal Camp (BADCamp) booth to give your elected representative a piece of your mind. We won’t be holding members of congress captive at the Kalamuna booth (or will we?) but we’ll have plenty of other excitements there to keep you curious. And of course, BADCamp is a celebration of open-source software, so we’ll be giving plenty of Drupal talks.

Categories Conferences Drupal Git Nonprofits Author The Kalamuna Team
Categories: Drupal

Video: A classic postmortem of the trailblazing Ultima Online

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 25 September 2018 - 2:31pm

In this 2018 GDC session, Raph Koster, Starr Long, Richard Garriott de Cayeux (Lord British himself) & Rich Vogel talk about the things that went wrong and right in making and running Ultima Online. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Big Fish Games laying off 15% of staff to focus on 'social casino' and 'casual' games

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 25 September 2018 - 2:10pm

Yup, it's another layoffs story. Word is spreading today that Big Fish Games is cutting roughly 15 percent of its workforce, including a number of executives, to focus on casual & social casino games. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Get a job: Cryptic Studios is hiring a Character Artist for a Magic: The Gathering MMO

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 25 September 2018 - 1:09pm

The ideal candidate understands the aesthetics and technicalities of game-ready character art and can texture, shade, surface, optimize and implement just as well as they can sculpt. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Drawn to Death is closing down its online servers

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 25 September 2018 - 1:00pm

The sketchy brawler created by David Jaffe†™s now defunct studio The Bartlet Jones Supernatural Detective Agency is ending online service in March. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Switch cloud saves are actually stored for 6 months, clarifies Nintendo

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 25 September 2018 - 12:42pm

Nintendo has offered a bit more of an explanation on what happens to the cloud saves of Nintendo Switch Online members should their subscription lapse. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Drupal Association blog: Drupal Business Survey 2018

Planet Drupal - 25 September 2018 - 12:35pm

This blog has been re-posted and edited with permission from OneShoe's blog. The following are results from the 2018 Drupal Business Survey conducted by One Shoe and Exove, in partnership with the Drupal Association.

Drupal Business Survey 2018: hot topics are recruitment, changing Drupal playing field, and shift to Drupal 8

The last couple of months Exove and One Shoe worked closely with the Drupal Association on the global Drupal business survey to assess current trends, adoption of emerging technologies and shifting perspectives on the Drupal landscape. The survey was open during July and August. In these two months 136 Drupal agency leaders and decision makers worldwide were surveyed to learn where the Drupal industry is heading and how the Drupal community can chart their course for Drupal’s success in the years to come.

According to the survey, the Drupal client landscape has been changing with the continuing adoption of Drupal 8. For many of the respondents, the sales pipeline and average deal size has grown – while a number of companies struggle with client acquisition and moving to Drupal 8. The surveyed companies are using various strategies to adapt to the changed situation. As in the previous surveys, the Drupal talent availability is seen as one of the major challenges.

Survey participants were Drupal business leaders from around the world

Most surveyed companies and offices are based in Europe (63 %) followed by 40 % in North America and 7.4 % in Asia. Out of the total responses, most participants of the survey had the role of founder (65.9 %), CEO (50.4 %) CTO (18.5 %) and COO (1.5 %). A little over 30 % of the respondents stated that their company existed for over 14 years, followed by almost 20 % of the companies who’ve existed between 10 - 11 years. 60 % of the companies who filled in the survey have just one office, with 19.3 % two offices.

A little over a half (54.8 %) of the companies stated that they are a digital agency. 14.8 % define their profile as a software company with 10.4 % as a consulting agency.

Almost all (94.8 %) of the respondents said that their company provides web development. A majority of the companies shared that they provide visual design (65.9 %), user experience (68.1 %), system integration (67.4 %) or support (59.3 %). These answers are very similar to the results of last year’s survey.

The workfield of the Drupal agencies has become more industry specific

Drupal companies have clients in diverse industries. More than half (59.3 %) of the respondents reported to have Drupal clients in Charities & Non-Profit organisations. Other industries are Government & Public Administration (54.8 %), Healthcare & Medicine (47.4 %), Arts & Culture (41.5 %) and IT (40.7 %). Based on the responses, it can be stated that Drupal companies are becoming more industry specific. The Drupal Business Survey responses of the last three years show that each year, fewer companies have clients in every industry. The outcome of the surveys show that the industries of Media and Banking & Insurance have had the biggest drop, while Healthcare & Medicine and Consulting have grown the most from the first survey.

Compared to 2016/2017/2018:

Biggest challenges in recruitment, client acquisition and Drupal 8 adoption

The outcome of the survey shows that in the last 12 months the Drupal agencies faced three main challenges, namely recruitment (24 %), client acquisition/pipeline (17 %) and conversion to Drupal 8 (14 %). These three challenges are analysed in the following parts of this article.

Recruitment – a war on Drupal talent

The Drupal agencies wanting to grow, know the importance of Drupal talent. For years, the demand for Drupal talent has exceeded the supply. According to this year’s survey, agency leaders see recruiting new employees as their biggest challenge. That’s nothing new; the lack of developers is a universally known challenge, that applies to not only Drupal developers. According to research from The App Association, there are 223,000 job openings for software developers in the US alone. And in Finland alone there is a shortage of 10 000 developers (source: Code from Finland).

One of the recipients describes their challenge of the last 12 months as:

A war on talent.

But still: the demand for digital services is great and the stakes are high. Agencies simply need manpower to continue to grow their business (59 %): "We hit a productivity ceiling and need to expand if we were ever to have capacity to provide for further growth." The lack of Drupal talent can be a threat for new projects: "We lose out on opportunities because our capacity is too low."

The answers of the surveyed pointed out that scarcity and financial compensation continue to be the main obstacles for attracting employees with experience and/or (highly) skilled in Drupal. A lot of the respondents mention that senior developers are typically very expensive to hire, while junior developers match the budget.

Every year we hear that Drupal agencies can't find talent. What they often mean is that they can't find talent at the rates they are willing to pay.

Most of the Drupal talent is either completely new to Drupal or already skilled and working, requiring a strong incentive to change positions.

However, despite the difficulties, 80 % of the agency leaders did hire new employees in the last year and managed to meet their Drupal talent needs, mostly by actively prospecting and hunting Drupal specialists (51.5 %). According to the respondents, it also seems to be a good strategy to motivate and educate people for Drupal who are not familiar with Drupal before, but are willing to learn: agencies hire graduates/juniors (47 %) or hire experienced developers (35.8 %) and train them in Drupal themselves.

Opportunities in collaborating with education institutes

Respondents advise to collaborate more with education institutes and other organizations to prepare interested and motivated people to become the Drupal experts of tomorrow. As one suggests:

We need further engagement between tertiary institutes and industry to ensure open-source platforms and industry standard development methodologies are taught to address the medium term skills shortage.

One respondent told us they even started their own Academy in collaboration with tech universities.

Changed Drupal playing field brings new challenges

Over the last couple of years, Drupal has undergone major changes. For one, Drupal 8 was released.
Also, Drupal starts to play more and more a role as the backend for headless or decoupled CMSs, Drupal is evolving towards an API-first platform and is competing head to head with proprietary platforms like Sitecore and Adobe Experience Manager.

These changes inevitably impact the Drupal market. It’s therefore no surprise that the second biggest challenge (17 %) for agencies in the last 12 months had to do with generating leads for Drupal focused projects or the acquisition of new and suitable customers. This raises different reactions. It is clear that the changed playing field of Drupal benefits certain companies, while others struggle with the change:

The landscape is changing seismically. We are seeing smaller competitors shrink whilst those delivering enterprise and business critical services are prospering. With Drupal 8 we are winning in many situations where platform decisions are open.

The (other) challenge we've been facing is the perceived lack of interest in Drupal overall, specifically on the commerce side. We've been working hard to educate the market on the viability of open source for commerce using Drupal, but have a lot more work to do to get a foot in the door in that enterprise market.

One of the companies also seemed to notice a slower growth on the Drupal market:

Drupal is facing competition from several directions: WordPress is no longer a blog platform but equals Drupal. Increased demand for static site in combination with cloud CMS-es and developers losing interest in Drupal in favor of .JS and lightweight PHP frameworks.

JS-based frameworks are more in demand and PHP is losing its appeal.

Decoupled: We see a role for Drupal in the decoupled world, however we are still behind on what Drupal should deliver to be an API backend first choice.

Average deal size of Drupal projects increased

It is striking that although the client acquisition seemed to be a major challenge for the respondents, a little over half of the Drupal agencies (51.5 %) saw their Drupal project average deal size increasing, with 36.6 % whose average deal size stayed roughly the same and 12 percent (11.9 %) experienced a decrease. This seems to indicate that Drupal projects are becoming bigger and bigger.

As someone mentioned:

We see larger and larger deals opening up in the Drupal space. The role played by Acquia is significant in the growth of Drupal in the Enterprise space.

We are still seeing growing demand for Drupal, especially among large/ enterprise organisations.

Drupal agencies seize new opportunities

In response to the changes within the Drupal market, some agencies have found new opportunities with Drupal by developing new business models.

The survey results show that 34.1% of the respondents did not change their business model in the last year. However 28.9 % expanded their services beyond building Drupal sites whilst 15.1% of the agencies chose to become more specialized (focus on specific vertical or industry). Main reason to change their business model was to grow their pipeline better/faster (58.2 %), identification of a better business model (51.6 %) or changing market conditions (50.4 %).

On the one hand, there are the Drupal companies who expand their business by offering new services like consultation or strategic work:

We are helping more agency and merchant teams adopt Drupal Commerce specifically for Drupal 8 than ever before. They have a strong desire to do things "the right way", which means they're thinking more strategically long term.

And on the other hand, you have the Drupal agencies who believe that specialization is the answer to keep the pipeline full instead of offering a full-stack service to attract new clients.

More specialized expertise and strategy are valued more than full stacks development services.

But the decision from companies to make a change in the business model has more reasons. The agencies who expanded their services also mentioned that they saw a shift in demand from their clients. In other words, the (Drupal) market has changed and those who adapt, have a good chance of succeeding:

Clients are no longer looking just for software development services. They want the service provider to be deeply involved in the engagement and take responsibility for the business outcomes. They want the vendors to come higher up in the value chain.

Even mid-market business leaders are realizing that digital is more than a website. They are seeking to use digital for new revenue streams or to reduce expenses. We have completely revamped our services to offer high level strategic consulting services that address the people, process and technology that affects our client organizations.

Open source and recommendations help Drupal win in the CMS battle

The competition in the CMS business has become tough, and clients are more aware of the opportunities of different CMSs. This has led to many companies expanding their set of technologies and portfolios, as one of the respondents mentioned:

There's no CMS we can use as a silver bullet.

The survey shows that Drupal has a lot of qualities that clients need and search for in a digital platform. The respondents shared that the fact that Drupal is open source is the main reason for clients for choosing Drupal (67.4 %), followed by 56.3 % who said that Drupal was chosen because of the agencies’ recommendation. Other reason are because clients are already familiar with Drupal (54.8 %), the CMS’s flexibility (49.6 %) or reputation (42.2 %).

The shift to Drupal 8 has been rocky but brought significant benefits to some companies

The third main challenge (14 %) of the Drupal companies was the conversion to Drupal 8. The upgrade from one major version of Drupal to the next (e.g. from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8) asked much effort, a steep learning curve and a difficult upgrade path. Introducing new technology in general – not just Drupal – will always have the risk of facing some sort of a challenge. Whether it’s a delay in introducing new features, unexpected security risks or maybe a more difficult learning curve. One of the agencies stated:

Adopting Drupal 8 and Drupal Commerce 2 [were the biggest challenges]. There was a significant learning curve for our team and many of the modules (including the ones we were in control of) weren't ready to roll out complete commerce solutions to clients we were committed to.

Another company told us:

We have been working with Drupal 8 since beginning of 2016. Since our clients mostly fit in the small business category, we have struggled to push our project budgets high enough to be profitable on Drupal 8 projects, as we were on Drupal 7 projects. It's not easy to say what all the reasons are, but Composer is finicky, major modules weren't ready for the first year or more, security updates are more hassle because of more changes, and the increased bugs and missing features required work-arounds. Against our desires, economics are pushing many projects to Wordpress for its page builders and many plugins. On the bright side, the current Drupal initiatives are exciting!

2018 has brought strong growth but we diversified due to slow adoption in 2016/2017. Drupal can learn from this to prevent the same from happening with the launch of Drupal 9 (more quickly available information / modules).

Dries Buytaert, founder and project lead of Drupal, states: ‘These kind of growing pains are not unfamiliar and one of the key reasons that Drupal has been successful is because we always made big, forward-looking changes. And as a result Drupal is one of very few CMSs that has stayed relevant for 15+ years. We see a way to keep innovating while providing a smooth upgrade path and learning curve from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9.’ Right now, the DA works with united forces to make future Drupal upgrades smoother and much simpler than previous upgrades with faster releases with easy upgrades and a smoother learning curve.

Conclusion

The competition on the digital market is and remains strong. New Drupal talent is needed to ensure response to the demand for Drupal. The major changes that Drupal has undergone in the last few years had an impact on client acquisition and the amount of new Drupal projects for the Drupal agencies.

The outcome of the survey shows that the Drupal business community is resourceful and capable of adapting to the continuous changing market by using different strategies. On the one hand, there are the Drupal companies who become full-stack agencies while others believe that specialization is the answer.

One thing is certain: clients want the best CMS for their company. ‘There’s no CMS we can use as a silver bullet’ one agency told us. And although that might be the case, we can still continue to aim for Drupal to become that silver bullet.

-----

See the 2017 survey results.

For more information, please contact Janne Kalliola (janne@exove.fi) or Michel van Velde (michel.vanvelde@oneshoe.com)

About Exove

Exove delivers digital growth. We help our clients to grow their digital business by designing and building solutions with agile manner, service design methodologies, and open technologies. Our clients include Sanoma, Fiskars, Neste, Informa, Trimble, and Finnlines. We serve also start-up companies, unions and public sector. Exove has offices in Helsinki, Oulu and Tampere, Finland; Tallinn, Estonia; and London, United Kingdom. For more information, please visit www.exove.com.

About One Shoe

One Shoe is an integrated advertising and digital agency with more than 10 years experience in Drupal. With more than 40 specialists, One Shoe combines strategy, UX, design, advertising, web and mobile development to deliver unique results for international clients like DHL, Shell, Sanofi, LeasePlan, MedaPharma and many more. For more information, please visit www.oneshoe.com.

About the Drupal Association

The Drupal Association is dedicated to fostering and supporting the Drupal project, the community and its growth. The Drupal Association helps the Drupal community with funding, infrastructure, education, promotion, distribution and online collaboration at Drupal.org. For more information, please visit drupal.org/association.

Categories: Drupal

OpenID Connect Implicit Flow

New Drupal Modules - 25 September 2018 - 12:03pm

This module integrates Drupal with a third party OpenID Connect provider using the Implicit Flow path for authentication (See: https://openid.net/specs/openid-connect-core-1_0.html#ImplicitFlowAuth)

Features:

Categories: Drupal

Acro Media: Comments, Reviews and Content Moderation Workflows

Planet Drupal - 25 September 2018 - 11:24am

The Urban Hipster Drupal Commerce demo site was built to showcase what Drupal 8 and Commerce related modules can do. While the main focus has been Commerce, recently I started enhancing the content side of the site, mainly the blog. After all, Drupal is a content publishing platform at its core, so why not show how content and commerce can work on the same platform together. In the ecommerce world, that’s actually a pretty big deal!

In this Tech Talk video, I’ll show you how the Drupal core Comments module is used for blog commenting and product reviews. I also go into detail on how you can configure a role based publishing workflow using core’s Workflows and Content Moderation modules.

Comments and reviews

All of the blog posts and products on the demo site use the core Comments module for customer feedback. This allows any level of user (anonymous, authenticated, etc.) to add comments or reviews to these content items. The configuration and permissions for the Comments module controls whether or not the comments need to be approved by an administrator before they appear on the site. When logged in, an administrator who has permissions to manage the comments can use both the frontend interface as well as a backend interface for deleting, approving, editing and finally replying to the comments.

Like any content entity in Drupal, comments are fieldable. This means that you can configure fields to allow for additional functionality for your comments. It’s not covered in this video, but it’s worth mentioning that this is how I was able to get a 5 star review system easily integrated into the product comments.

Content moderation workflows

Drupal core also has a couple modules for letting you define a process for adding specific types of content to your site. The Urban Hipster blog is now setup to be an example for this. 

The first aspect to configure is the workflow. Workflows is where you determine what content will make use of the workflow, the “states” that the content will transition through, and finally the transitions that can happen at any given state. These things all need to be configured first before moving on to permissions.

The second aspect is assigning role based permissions to use the workflow. Permissions for workflows are found in the usual permissions backend page where all other permissions are set. Each workflow transition has a permission attached to it and so you just simply check the role that can perform each transition. You can create new roles if you need to.

View the live example

As mentioned, the Urban Hipster Drupal Commerce is an example of what can be done. Try it out yourself and see what you think. Here are some username/password combinations that will let you check out the workflows in action. The site refreshes every night so you don’t need to worry about breaking anything.

Role based workflow logins:

  • Blog author: blogauthor/blogauthor
  • Blog reviewer: blogreviewer/blogreviewer
  • Blog publisher: blogpublisher/blogpublisher

Administrator login (for viewing the configuration):

  • Administrator: demoadmin/demoadmin
Categories: Drupal

Chocolate Lily: Drupal distributions, blocks, and subthemes

Planet Drupal - 25 September 2018 - 9:31am

In Part 4 of a current series on managing shared configuration for Drupal distributions we looked at needs and options for altering configuration provided by extensions (modules, themes, or the site's installation profile). We covered common needs such as altering user roles to add permissions. But when it comes to altering configuration, blocks are a special case--hence this bonus installment!

When you create a site based on a distribution, there may be a requirement to customize the look and feel. The usual solution is to create a custom subtheme for the site; see the drupal.org documentation on subtheming. That way you can get everything the distribution provides but give the site a custom presentation.

Using a custom theme will work fine for most configuration. But it won't work for configuration that includes the theme itself as a dependency--like blocks.

Categories: Drupal

DrupalCon News: All Welcome at DrupalCon

Planet Drupal - 25 September 2018 - 8:47am

DrupalCon gathers a range of citizens of the Drupal ecosystem to learn, share, and collaborate together. The value of the conference is in the perspectives, energy and diversity of experiences participants share. No matter who you are or where you’re from, you’re invited to participate in DrupalCon

DrupalCon began setting goals to overtly increase diversity starting with DrupalCon Baltimore 2017. This continued in the planning of DrupalCon Nashville 2018, and is a priority for DrupalCon Seattle 2019. 

Categories: Drupal

Welcome to the world, Alphabear 2 - by David Edery

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 25 September 2018 - 8:46am
A couple of years ago, we applied for an SBIR grant to the US Department of Education. Our explicit goal was to create a sequel to Alphabear that would actually be educational, but also competitive in the crowded mobile marketplace.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

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