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Game store itch releases a brand new client, plus a small interview

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Game store itch.io are doing some fantastic things and so it's time to highlight it a bit. They just released a massive overhaul to their open source client!

Here's how the new and improved client looks, pretty slick right? It's blazingly fast too, from clicking the itch application button to actually logging in took around 2-3 seconds. When you want to just play your game, that's the kind of speed you want to enable you to quickly get going.

I spoke to the developer of the itch client, Amos Wenger, to have a chat about what's new and improved plus a few other things.

GOL: Why did the itch app need a redesign? What does the new version solve that was wrong in the previous version?

AW: "The redesign is only the tip of a very large iceberg! I would say that v25 is "a proper re-engineering" of the app.

We originally released the app to power Overland First Access. Our command-line upload and patching tool, butler, was released around the same time.

Since then, we've been adding features left and right - and with organic growth, codebases tend to get messy. At over two million downloads (updates included, deb/rpm/AUR downloads excluded), it was pretty obvious that the itch app was here to stay, so I decided to bite the bullet and clean up the foundations of the app.

It didn't start out as a complete rewrite, but I ended up replacing almost everything that matters. In previous versions, almost everything was written in TypeScript (the interface, but also querying the itch.io API, storing it locally for offline use, extracting games, configuring and launching them, and so on).

In the new version, all core responsibilities have been shifted over to butler, which is now running as a daemon (although it starts and stops with the app).

This changes a lot of things. Since concerns are properly separated (and often split into their own project), it's easier to test individual parts of the app - giving us a more reliable product overall.

In fact, when developing new features, I often just use a command-line butlerd client! This also opens up new possibilities, like developing completely different interfaces that have the same solid install/update/launch engine - and can even share game libraries.

Thanks to this and other changes, the app starts up faster, uses less memory, and needs less disk for itself and for installing games. I'm going to be releasing a series of postmortem articles that go over the architecture changes in-depth in the next few weeks.

Finally, there's a whole new installer - the itch app is now distributed directly on itch.io, patched with the same technology any other itch.io game is. That means that the Linux version of the app is finally self-updating, just like the Windows & macOS builds."

GOL: Could you list some benefits of developers putting their games on itch.io?

AW: "There's a bunch of good reasons! Launching on itch.io first gives developers a smaller but friendlier audience to test their game. You can design your page however you like it and manage your community the way you want.

After launch, it's easy to maintain the game up-to-date by adding butler to your deployment workflow, and you can run your own sales and bundles. The percentage of sales that goes toward supporting itch.io is up to you - it defaults to 10%, but you can adjust it to anything you want.

Ultimately though, I think the best reason to support itch.io (by publishing and buying games there) is because it's unique. We're a small team working remotely, and from the beginning we've set out to provide creators with the best tools to let them distribute their content, whether it's paid or free.

We've stayed away from ads, investor money, and buyouts. All this was made possible because of fans supporting creators no matter where they publish, and creators entrusting us with their games, comics and more in the first place."

GOL: Why should developers use the itch app? We know the benefit for users, keeping their games easily up to date, but why should developers use it?

AW: "I think it's important for developers to make sure their game runs fine in the app.

In the coming months, we'll be integrating the website and the app more closely. It'll still be possible to download games directly from the website, but the app will be presented as the first and best option, just because it's so much easier for users.

It's also the easiest way for developers to test API integration. It's minimal for the time being, but expect some news on that front in the near future :)"

GOL: What are your plans for the future of the itch app, what do you hope to achieve with it?

AW: "Now that the big refactor is over, there's a ton of stuff I want to do. I mentioned we'll be developing our API, I'm sure you can imagine what's in store there - but I'm also excited about other projects like capsule, which should make it even easier to share cool gems you find on itch.io.

I'm also looking forward to see more bigger games that fully embrace itch.io. We already have more than people realize, but now that itch v25 is out, we feel even more confident in supporting them. The ball's in your court, developers!"

 

I would like to thank Amos Wenger for having a chat with me today, always nice to learn more about what other interesting game stores are doing. Truthfully, I didn't even realise their collection of some bigger titles had grown as large as it has. There's some real gems to be found there and I do hope more developers look to itch, as having all your eggs in one basket isn't the best of ideas.

I especially like how they host game jams, where developers come together to create all sorts of unique game ideas. A lot of them end up getting taken further into development too.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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30 comments
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TheSHEEEP 12 September 2018 at 7:15 am UTC
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When I try the installer on Ubuntu 18.04, I get this:
2018/09/12 10:12:51 App name specified at build time: itch
2018/09/12 10:12:51 Locale:  C
panic: runtime error: slice bounds out of range

goroutine 1 [running]:
main.main()
/builds/itchio/itch-setup/src/github.com/itchio/itch-setup/main.go:129 +0x109d


Doesn't really inspire trust ;)
Wish they just had a .deb package.

On the other hand, my issue got acknowledged in minutes. Not bad.

Edit:
And not even two hours later, it is already fixed. Not bad, at all.


Last edited by TheSHEEEP at 12 September 2018 at 8:18 am UTC
fasterthanlime 12 September 2018 at 8:04 am UTC
ProfessorKaos64Kinda lame you can't download the installer script separately. If I click Linux on the download page on my Chromebook, it takes me back to the main download page for the app, and download now says "no downloads found for your OS".

https://itch.io/app

Edit: Entering "https://nuts.itch.zone/download/linux" seems to work. The installer is a GUI, so you can't invoke it via the CLI without a display..

Please open an issue at https://github.com/itchio/itch/issues with your user-agent! I'm not sure how it would behave on a Chromebook, I don't have one around for testing
Doc Angelo 12 September 2018 at 8:48 am UTC
I think it would be a good idea if self-updating can be switched off. I'd rather have the package manager update the software and the Debian maintainers checking each new release before uploading the package.
buenaventura 12 September 2018 at 11:15 am UTC
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YAY! Awesome, itch was always kinda sluggish for me, will happily try this out! Also, I will buy Dicey Dungeons because that just looks great on your screenshot there
Nezchan 12 September 2018 at 12:34 pm UTC
Holy crap, I install and after entering my email and pass I have to go through FOUR captchas. That's a bit excessive.

Actually I went through seven because I had a typo when I entered my email. So three captchas the first time and four the next. I would say one is unnecessary and two is too much. This many is ridiculous.
tuubi 12 September 2018 at 1:06 pm UTC
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KelsHoly crap, I install and after entering my email and pass I have to go through FOUR captchas. That's a bit excessive.

Actually I went through seven because I had a typo when I entered my email. So three captchas the first time and four the next. I would say one is unnecessary and two is too much. This many is ridiculous.
Funny. I got none at all.
buenaventura 12 September 2018 at 1:32 pm UTC
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KelsHoly crap, I install and after entering my email and pass I have to go through FOUR captchas. That's a bit excessive.

Actually I went through seven because I had a typo when I entered my email. So three captchas the first time and four the next. I would say one is unnecessary and two is too much. This many is ridiculous.

You should have a word with that guy who wouldnt test a game for a dev because he had to sign up on a web page Seriously, perhaps you spend to much time setting up botnets and spamming, that might get you on a blacklist ;)

SERIOUSLY tho, OK.
Nanobang 12 September 2018 at 1:45 pm UTC
I think this,this is the Itch client I've been waiting for all these years!

First off, the default font is like an newly-tattooed, overweight girl in a beauty pageant: large, lovely, and legible. I still can't customize the font size, but pff, it can be read, and that's what writing's all about.

Additionally, I can point it to where I keep my itch.io games (on a data drive) and completely remove it from my ~/.config.

Lastly, the dark interface remains dark on all pages. It used to be dark on the home page, but turn eye wrenchingly bright white on the "Explore" pages. Is this simply because the itch client is using my GTK theme? (Materia Dark ftw!) If not, although I adore this deep dark delectable look, I hope they'll FUCKIN' AY it's about time!!

Hell, now I might actually start playing the games I have from itch.io. XD


Last edited by Nanobang at 12 September 2018 at 1:47 pm UTC
Furor 12 September 2018 at 1:53 pm UTC
I had to reinstall all the itch.io games and apps again, as the new version didn't recognize the previous installed ones. At least now I have an icon in the system tray.
tuubi 12 September 2018 at 2:38 pm UTC
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FurorI had to reinstall all the itch.io games and apps again, as the new version didn't recognize the previous installed ones.
The install folder naming seems to have changed, and even renaming the old folders doesn't seem to be enough. Not a big problem for me, aside from having to do some manual cleanup.

FurorAt least now I have an icon in the system tray.
I had a nice icon in the system tray with the old version as well. I'm not a big fan of the new red square actually.
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