I finally got around to getting housecon.net ready for beta testers. At this point anyone can pop over there and sign up for an account, but only approved beta testers can host new conventions. The site won’t look like much if you don’t host a convention or get invited to one, so if you really want a tour of what the site can do, check out this video tutorial I created:
I need to create some more materials to post on the site itself to give folks a basic understanding of how the thing works. But in the short term, the above video should suffice. If anyone has any suggestions on how to improve the site in any way, please do drop me a line.
For beta testers, please be aware that the site is not on its final production host. It may occasionally be down as I push updates. If you get weird errors and the site doesn’t appear to be working at all, please wait a minute or two and try again, it’s likely just because I’m working on the site. If that doesn’t work, let me know.
And for those who are interested in using the site, here’s a quick off the cuff road map of features I’m hoping to add in the near future:
Right now once you accept an invite to a convention, you immediately have full access to submit games and register as a player. I’d like to break this apart into a virtual badge system. The idea would be that accepting the invite just lets you see the convention info — to participate, you have to buy a badge.
Yeah, I said buy a badge. I want to enable convention hosts to sell badges for real money. I basically already do this for HelgaCon – you don’t get access until you send me a check for $100. I’m not trying to make money, I just need to cover the expenses of hosting the event – specifically the rental fee of the house and the cost of food. I suspect most folks running these kind of things will be in a similar boat.
Also, I’d like to use this as a method for tacking on a little service fee. I’m not expecting to get rich off this site, but I would like to at least be able to cover the hosting costs of running it. If I make a few dollars on the side, that would also be a nice incentive to maintain it and keep adding features.
I’m looking into services like Braintree Marketplace and Stripe Connect to handle the financials. If any of my readers have any experience with this kind of stuff, I’d love to hear your opinions.
Custom Game Fields
A very common request I’ve heard already is to have a separate field when submitting games for the system being used. Right now I ask people to just add text about it to the description. I think that works fine since the number of games is small and I expect all attendees to read the descriptions of all the games. But, who am I to ignore requests of my users? A good software developer knows that how you intended your software to work is far less important than how the users are actually using it. And while I’m at it, I might as well just make it possible for hosts to add any number of arbitrary extra data fields to their games for the most flexibility.
You know, it would be nice to have the site hosted on a robust, scalable server, with a process for pushing updates that doesn’t bring the whole thing down for a couple minutes. It’s not high on my list right now, but definitely something that’s got to be done before I remove that “beta” tag from the header.
That’s all that’s in my head right now, besides the obvious of adding more help text, documentation, etc. Please do keep in mind that it’s just me in my spare time making this site, so new features may come online fairly slowly. But also I’ve been using this thing myself for over 10 years now, so the core scheduling feature should be pretty robust.
If you want in on the beta, go register on the site and then let me know. You can post here, or use the support tab of the site itself, or DM me on Twitter or Facebook. I’d love to see a few early adopters try out the site and start getting some real user feedback. Thanks everyone!