Building a Better NeonMob

(Joe @ NeonMob) #1


It’s been awhile since the team here at NeonMob reached out to you with an update and some insight into what we’re working on. We’ve been reading through your comments and digested a lot of valuable feedback over the past few months. And, as you may have noticed, we’ve already started making a few big changes.

First things first, we want to address the recent issues involving collectors not receiving daily free packs. This has been our number one priority and the full team has been diligently working to reduce these and other bugs. We released a number of complex features over the past several months, and with that came a host of complex bugs. We are keeping a close watch on pack distribution, have added logs to confirm packs have been received, and have implemented safeguards to prevent this from happening in the future.

RECENT UPDATES: Let’s back up a bit to cover the features we’ve introduced over the past few months…

Hourly freebies and Streaks: We wanted to reward collectors that visit multiple times per day and return day after day. By adding hourly freebies and streaks, collectors can now claim up to 27 free packs per day. Though we never expected the majority of you to aim for the max, on-average, collectors are claiming 14 free packs per day. For those collectors that can’t log in as frequently, we are exploring new ways to reward their loyalty, too.

Discarding: This long-awaited feature was introduced for testing last month. Now you finally have a way to get rid of that untradable card that you (and everyone else) has 16 copies of. Over the past month we’ve been collecting data on discards, and we plan to optimize point values in the next couple weeks. Thanks for your patience while we work on this. Balancing points takes time, and it’s important we get it right.

UP NEXT: We have a long pipeline of new features in the works, and after reading through your feedback, we’ve decided focus on fine-tuning our existing features before introducing any major changes.

For the next several months, you’ll be seeing a lot of changes on NM meant to make things a bit more “user-friendly” for you. We’ve received a lot of great feedback, and three topics continued to bubble to the surface: improved trading, more ways to filter and sort collections, and an overall improvement of the native iOS app.

Trading: Trading is the core social element of NM, and we want to make this feature as enjoyable as possible. The plan is to significantly improve the system over several months. But you will be starting to see changes very soon. In the next publish, the Owners and Seekers buttons are being combined into a single “Trade” button. With this change, we will be slightly modifying the method of how trade partners are selected and prioritized. The change is intentionally minimal, as it’s meant more of a test. Trade has come up quite a bit as a topic of discussion, and we encourage any and all feedback.

Sorting & Filtering: Expect to see additional sorting and filtering options across NeonMob. I’ll create a separate post with additional info in the near future, but we plan to add the ability to filter and sort your full collection, prioritize series to collect, and better select a successful trading partner. Favoriting sets, adding cards to a wishlist, and possibly “locking” completed sets are being considered, as well.

iOS features: The iOS app needs a bit of TLC. Increasing comparable functionality is something we’ve been planning for a while. We are prioritizing features based on your feedback… so keep it coming!

Performance: Not as flashy but definitely important, the team is spending a fair amount of time on performance optimization, so both web and iOS run more quickly and smoothly.

IN THE WORKS: In addition to our priorities above, here are a couple headlines for what we have in the works…

Points: Points will become a much more important component in the NM ecosystem. Expect to see new ways to both earn and spend points.

Discards: If you thought your discards were gone for good, think again. They’ll be back!

Milestones: Milestones available on iOS. New types of milestones including daily achievements and competitive challenges to earn points.

Creator Incentives: New ways for creators to promote their series and gain insight into their sales performance.

Happy collecting!

The NeonMob Team

Want a better NeonMob? Tell us how!
(Joe @ NeonMob) #2

(Loimprevisto) #3

I love the new ideas, thanks for keeping us in the loop!

NeonMob is still fairly painful to use on Android, are their any plans to release an android app or further optimize the website for mobile?

(Joe @ NeonMob) #4

Web optimization yes; Android app is unfortunately not in the immediate plans.

(GreenSpleen) #5

Music to my ears! Thank you for the insight and I cannot wait to see some new changes for the better on NM. Both the app and site will be awesome. Super excited!

(Naud van Dalen) #6

There are a few things that have to change about trading.

  1. Only show users who need a card of the same rarity that we have duplicates of. Right now it takes way too much time to check every user. Sometimes only 1 percent of users are valid trade partners.
  2. Make the user select a minimum trader grade. This is less important because we can just ignore users with low trader grades, but it’s still handy. Maybe just sort the list from highest to lowest trader grade after first only selecting valid trade partners. That way people get a list of a few users with a trader grade of B instead of an empty list when selecting a minimum trader grade of A(-) when there are a very small amount of valid trade partners.
  3. Automatically select “2+”, “Unowned” and the same rarity as the card you chose, because this will show the cards you want to trade.

This will take maybe a few days in total. I made a little webpage that does the first 2 points when you press a bookmarklet. That took me less than 15 hours to make. That includes the code for displaying the list with styles, which already exists on NeonMob. For NeonMob it would just be checking for validity. It’s just a local webpage to help me find trade partners much easier. It often checks multiple pages and comes up with less than 10 users. Imagine having to do all of this yourself… :confounded: Every time you press “Back to owners” it loads page 1 again and you have to scroll down multiple pages every time if you made it that far. You can’t open a trade in another tab like you used to be able to do. That was much faster because you could open a few possible trades and then check them afterwards.

(Shawn) #7

Thanks for the feedback, naud!

I’ve added your suggestions to discuss with the team.

The filtering and sorting revision includes extensive focus on trading. Collectors will be able to sort users by trader grade, recency of collecting, and filter out suboptimal trade partners.

In addition, collectors will be able to favorite sets and add wanted cards to a wish list. We are also discussing the ability to “lock” sets that collectors don’t want to appear as available to trade. Locking is still a ways off, but we want to make trading as effortless and fun as possible.

Keep an eye out on the forums. I’ll be working with Joe to release a few sneak peeks of upcoming features, so we can get your preemptive feedback. :slight_smile:

(Shawn) #8

Just to add more context to what Joe said: for now, we want to improve core functionality of the native iOS app. I want the app to have as much functionality as web (for collectors. Creator function will be web only for the foreseeable future).

With that said, I don’t want to leave Android ignored. We will continue to improve responsive web until we have the capacity to start on a native Android app.

(Naud van Dalen) #9

You could start by not displaying the activity feed by default on smartphones because it slows down the page a lot and uses about 50 MB of data the first time it’s loaded. On PC it does not matter that much, but on smartphones bandwidth costs money. For this reason I don’t use NeonMob when I’m outside. I only open packs at home and at work.

You could make it load when users reach the bottom of the screen (like is done with additional pages), but people often scroll downwards to see what’s there and don’t want to be surprised by the sudden lag. I think the best way is to make a button to show the activity feed on mobile. Most of the time I don’t need to look at the activities, so it only slows the rest of the page down. A button for optionally loading activities would be better than always loading 50 images (or more if there are trades, which have 2 images side by side). Smartphones are not as fast as computers, so loading the activity feed is slower than on PC.

Maybe load only 10 activities at a time instead of 50 to keep the data usage low and the site responsive. Although that would require longer loading if you want to see more activities, because you would need to load 5 times as many pages to get the same amount of activities. Getting the data of 10 instead of 50 activities does not make it load much faster, because most of the time is spent waiting for the data to travel between the server and the browser. Most of the time saved is by not having to load all those images. It loads faster if the images are cached, but smartphones have very small storage, which many people clear cache a lot to make space, so they would be wasting a lot of data on the activity feed anyway if they use NeonMob on 3G/4G.

Loading a new page often slows the page down a lot. Especially when it loads multiple pages at the same time by mistake because there is no cooldown period for loading new pages. This also causes a wrong order when an older page is finished loading before a newer page.

Images are bigger than the displayed size.
For example. The image below is 576 × 812 pixels, but gets displayed as 300 × 423 pixels. On the left is the image on NeonMob and on the right is the full size image opened in paint.

The image is 3.7 times as big as necessary. The image is 153 kb and when shrinking it to 300 x 423 pixels in paint, it became 54 kb. The medium image is 46 kb and is 278 × 392 pixels, which is slightly too small for the activity feed, but when changing it from large to medium I saw absolutely no difference in quality in the activity feed.

I would rather have an image that’s slightly too small than an image that’s almost 4 times too big, especially on mobile, since those screens are small and have a high pixel density and bandwidth is more important than a slightly better looking image. Best case scenario is increasing the medium size a little and using medium size images in the activity feed. That reduces the bandwidth used by almost 4 times. Although that would require changing thousands of images, which is not ideal. The medium images look just as good when shrunk down in the activity feed anyway.

I reloaded the home page a few times to see how long it takes to load and how much bandwidth it uses.

This is without caching

This is with caching

The first time you load the page, it uses a lot of bandwidth. This is also true for set pages where there are different activity feeds. I would not want to use 50 MB per page when browsing NeonMob on a smartphone with a mobile connection. :stuck_out_tongue: I have 4 GB per month, which is 136,5 MB per day. That’s not even enough for 3 different pages of NeonMob per day. I also have to clear the cache sometimes because my phone is almost full, so that would mean the full bandwidth usage every day. Good thing I have my wifi at home and a computer at work. :stuck_out_tongue:

(Jgiraffe) #10

Hi I’ve just been collecting for 8 days now but I have some suggestions for optimizing trading.
Firstly the feature I feel would be the most helpful is to click a button and immediately see what sets you and the intended tradee have in common. It takes ages to scroll through some of the established collectors’ lists of sets just to find out out if they have anything I actually want. That being said it is still faster to scroll than to look at my list of desired sets, type in a name, and repeat. If you could create this simple matching filter it would make everyone’s trading much more streamlined.

I really like the idea of favoriting/wishlisting sets as long as they would be easily accessible in the trading window, as well as being able to see what your trading partner’s favorites are as well.

I like what Naud suggested about filtering traders by rarity available but I think this should be a toggle-able
filter because I personally like to get a bunch of lower rarities for my higher rarity cards.

Love the site so far, and I appreciate you guys listening to the community. Cheers!

(Tabiyume) #11

Being able to see mutual sets immediately would make trading infinitely better. When the trade list comes up, it’d be nice to be able to choose the sorting categories. Also, I find going through lists and lists to be ultimately disappointed very tiring. This is a larger change but it’s just an idea: a feature that lets us put up a card we seek in one box and card/s we’re willing to give in another, and then we get suggestions for possible collectors to trade with.
It’s mainly the trading part that is inefficient in neonmob. Otherwise, I’m really happy about the service.

(Tabiyume) #12

One more thing, though. I wish there were searchable categories for “Free Packs available”, “Paid Packs available”, etc. so we’d be able to explore and know about older series that are still in print. Right now I can’t find many series I wanna collect in the categories, and the ones I do are often out of print or going to be very soon. So just being able to filter them out would be super convenient.

(Joe @ NeonMob) #13

I am actually in the middle of revising all the categories to remove out of print sets, include recently released sets, and re-categorize some of our older exclusive sets … been a slog but hoping to have that all finished beginning of September.

The search / filtering suggestions are very good, I will pass them along to the team.

Joe @ NeonMob

(Naud van Dalen) #14

A filter for the completion percentage would also be nice. That automatically makes it possible to see all your completed sets, although it would need a separate option, because if people want to see sets they have almost completed at the top, they don’t want to scroll through all their completed sets. :stuck_out_tongue:

Also a check for paid packs only, because many people have no intention of buying packs, so paid packs only is equal to out of print for them.

Maybe a print number option, in order to see sets with a 1000, 2000, 4000 etc. common print count (the rest is all based on that number). Although with the unlimited sets, that’s doesn’t really work anymore. It could work if there was also an option to see old and/or new sets.

(Tabiyume) #15

Thank you, and good luck on the sorting!

(Nick Barrett) #16

I am so interested in what this means. Can you expand on it?

(Joe @ NeonMob) #17

We will have details in the very near future, but the basics are that we will reintroduce discards to the community for collection. Shawn is still working out the functionality and how reintroduction will work for all series (exclusives, limited editions, out of print, currently active, et al) … but we will break it all down when we are able to launch that feature.

(Nick Barrett) #18

Just discards? Or is there a chance that any prints from accounts that have been deleted?

(Tabiyume) #19

That’s super cool!

(JB) #20

This may be silly, but something I miss is being able to “pick a pack” to open.

Back in the day, we used to get a screen with 4 packs and we had to pick one to open, or if we bought packs, we could buy as many as we wanted at a time. When buying packs, you could open them all, or save them for later (or even trade them).

While I get why we shouldn’t (and now can’t) horde packs, I still would love the option to pick a pack - or buy more than 1 at a time. I felt the site lost a little of its charm when that went away.

Also, can we have the “flip all” button on the desktop version? I would love to click it and just watch my prints pop up!