This is a very tricky question to answer right now, because the front-end (GUI) is not finished. In fact, the front-end is generally the last piece of the puzzle. In my last post I described a little bit about the engine, the back-end of JMB that provides all of the building blocks for the front-end to use and configure. And that’s what has been the most time consuming so far: making sure that all of the features everyone wants (within rules and reason) are available.
So about the front-end. One of the things we are working toward is for third parties to be able to create their own front-end to Joe Multiboxer. At first, there will probably only be one front-end, and it will have all of the features ISBoxer provides. But the plan is to provide an open source base front-end, and allow others to adapt it if they so desire. They will still be limited to the building blocks the engine provides as far as in-game functionality, but for example there might be an official front-end that is designed specifically for World of Warcraft, with a WoW Addon and other WoW-specific features that ISBoxer currently has. And there might be a different front-end designed specifically for EverQuest, Lord of the Rings Online, and so on, which would each provide features and information that is specific to the game. Most people tend to only play one game, so we think game-specific front-ends will really help improve the experience for most people.
Yes, we will still have a generic front-end (or you can even use ISBoxer as your front-end if you like). And we are making it as beautiful and easy to use as possible. Gone are the days of the clunky, cluttered ISBoxer interface. A number of options are moving from their original place, or removed entirely. For example, there’s options in Character Sets in ISBoxer that tell it a little bit about how the game behaves, specifically whether the game ignores input in the background (“Make game believe it is foreground”) and whether the game is going to reposition the window (“Prevent game from repositioning windows”). But if your Character Set happens to include different games, these options aren’t necessarily correct for both games. These options will instead relate to the game itself, and not to your entire team. For game-specific front-ends, these options will not even need to be available at all; more likely, they will be automatically set behind the scenes. We will also have some options placed in “Advanced settings” panels that will usually be collapsed.
Another major difference from ISBoxer is the way you navigate through the content in our Joe Multiboxer front-end. With ISBoxer, there’s a tree at the top used to select the thing you’re editing (context), then a tree at the bottom left with all of the editable sections of that thing, and then finally in the bottom right there’s settings. If you’re editing your Character Set and want to edit a Key Map from those assigned to the set, you have to pick it from the top pane instead of just quickly moving to it from the Character Set. With JMB, you will navigate more like your web browser — you can click to go straight to the Key Map, and then you can use a Back button to go right back to your Team. I’ll get to the difference between a JMB “Team” and an ISBoxer “Character Set” in a future post, but yes they are mostly the same thing, and yes Team is much better.
The new engine also makes it more convenient to assign hotkeys that use alternative input devices. With ISBoxer, if you are using a nonstandard device like a Logitech G15 Keyboard, the extra buttons can’t be detected in the hotkey detection box — they have to be manually selected from a drop-down box containing all of the buttons it knows you have (and many you don’t have). When assigning hotkeys with Joe Multiboxer, the detection box will work with any buttons, from nearly any input device. We also plan to support other types of controls, such as joysticks, but this support may not be available initially. That means that Logitech G13 users will not need to run the Logitech Profiler at all, even for assigning behavior to the joystick!
As far as the gameplay appearance, the in-game GUI will look radically different from ISBoxer’s in-game GUI. It will probably include some level of control over what is currently active, e.g. a list of Key Maps and a way to turn them on or off through the GUI. There will probably also be a simple way to add a key to broadcast or such while you’re playing, but not a complex configuration interface like the front-end.
Finally on the subject, window layouts will have new capabilities. One of the most common complaints from people that switch to ISBoxer from WinEQ 2 (our older multiboxing software) is that they don’t have the level of control over the behavior of individual windows that they had with WinEQ 2. It’s much, much easier to set it up with ISBoxer, but ISBoxer window layouts that involve position swaps can’t easily have multiple “main” areas – say, one on each monitor (note: it’s possible to do this by using Window Style Actions in a Mapped Key, but it’s not something a new ISBoxer user would want to dive into). JMB will allow more complex window layouts, and different front-ends will be able to provide different ways of configuring them. So if you have something different in mind for how your windows should look and move around than is available with ISBoxer, it should be easier to set up with Joe Multiboxer.
That’s it for now. Keep the questions coming!