The site is turning 3

By  Kitty · Official · 03/2022Back to releases

Hello Stormbounders! No release notes for today (although they’ll be coming soon, don’t worry). Something else on the menu: Stormbound-Kitty is turning 3 years old this week. I would like to take this opportunity to write something a little more personal and reflect a bit.

There is also a FAQ with random stuff about me at the end of this post!

I’m not exactly sure when I began working on Stormbound-Kitty. It also wasn’t called that back then. I know it was some time in March 2019. I have some vague memory of sitting on my parents’ couch during one of my occasional visits; my mom making tea in the kitchen. And as the leaves were brewing, so was my desire to do something with Stormbound’s fantastic artwork.

I’ve been playing for just about a few months at that point. I was still hustling in Platinum (with that deck) and really didn’t know much about the game. But I knew I loved the art. There was something very vibrant about seeing this collection of 100+ images on the Paladin Studios’ website (the former studio behind the game), that I knew I wanted to build a little something with it.

And so the battle simulator was born. It was called “Stormbound battle sim”, didn't have its own domain or didn’t look like a site at all. In fact, it looked like this:

Screenshot of the very first version of the battle simulator, bare of any sort of website header, footer or navigation. It features nothing more than the mobile Stormbound battle background and a raw form on its right to set up units on the board.

This is about that time I joined Discord and got to know some of you, exchanging about the game and generally having a good time. I have fond memories of working with Ayanami on the battle sim as they were using to create puzzles for the community. 😊

Thanks to the community’s very positive response to the battle sim, I’ve kept iterating on the project and rapidly added more tools. A Reddit post dated April 3rd 2019 shows that there was already a card builder and a deck builder. Also by that time the battle sim started looking pretty neat judging from this screenshot I found back:

An improved version of the battle sim showcasing more options, cards in hand, import and export and a refined interface.

End of April, I bought the stormbound-kitty.com domain on a whim, not knowing how to call it but realizing fully that the project was no longer just about the battle simulator.

On July 29th of the same year, I made the code for the project openly available on GitHub, which by that point was already a fully fleshed out website and no longer a series of unconnected tools.

Then fast forward two years later to present day, it also has:

In June 2020, I decided to try my hands at writing a Discord bot to provide some handy features like card information directly in the chat. It was a fun experience because I’ve never worked with the Discord API before.

Over the next few weeks, the bot accumulated more and more commands (about 20 as of writing), a trivia game (which I must say was a blast to write) and was eventually deployed to several servers (such as Emkaem’s).

In spring 2020, Paladin Studios announced they would let the Polish game studio Sheepyard take over the development of the game, and we rapidly got to meet Brzoza, their upbeat and communicative community manager! Brzoza and I got along well from the get go and by July we agreed to publish the patch notes of the very first Sheepyard release on the site.

It was a big deal for me because it meant that baby pet project I was doing on the side for about a year was now officially affiliated with the game — something Paladin Studios wasn’t overly keen on doing so far from my understanding. I also became listed in the credits within the game.

And about a year later, Paweł — the CEO from Sheepyard — offered to compensate me for the work I’m doing on release notes. As mentioned in the FAQ, Sheepyard is only supporting me for patch note publication. Everything else happening on the site is pro-bono work from my end. Work which has ranged from super exciting to a little dull, and oscillating anywhere in between over the years depending on my mood and interest for the game.

In September 2021, Sheepyard immortalized me in the game by creating a card dedicated to me, Sparkly Kitties — something I’m immensely proud of and humbled by.

2
Sparkly Kittiesfeline
Sparkly Kitties

On play, confuse itself then gain 2 speed

epic
2
Level 1
0
2
Sparkly Kittiesfeline
Sparkly Kitties

On play, confuse itself then gain 2 speed

epic
3
Level 2
0
2
Sparkly Kittiesfeline
Sparkly Kitties

On play, confuse itself then gain 2 speed

epic
4
Level 3
0
2
Sparkly Kittiesfeline
Sparkly Kitties

On play, confuse itself then gain 2 speed

epic
5
Level 4
0
2
Sparkly Kittiesfeline
Sparkly Kitties

On play, confuse itself then gain 2 speed

epic
6
Level 5
0

Brzoza and I have been preparing for me retiring from the game for quite some time now. As much as I love Stormbound and its community, I also haven’t played in over 6 months and don’t see myself coming back any time soon.

Over the last few weeks, I have invested a considerable amount of time in creating a content management system for the site so other people can maintain the most of it without needing me. We’ve come a long way, and it’s taking shape quite nicely. For instance, Freeloader is maintaining the Brewed Sages page without my help, and all Discord moderators have editorial rights over the CMS to do content management.

That being said, I’m not leaving tomorrow, and I plan on continuing working with Sheepyard for a little while until they feel comfortable taking over the site entirely (which will take some time considering how big and complex it has become). So nothing will change in the near future.

I’m always open for suggestions when it comes to new features or improvements you’d like to see on the site. I cannot promise I’ll implement everything (sometimes because of complexity, sometimes because of time), but I’m excited to hear your thoughts! ✨

As inadequate as I am with numbers, I actually do like them so I compiled some random stats for y’all if you’re anything like me:

  • The site is about 40,000 lines of code, across short of 1,000 files. This doesn’t include the code for the Discord bot or the content management system. Only the site itself.
  • It has about 1,600 pages at the moment.
  • Outside of peak time (publication of release notes), there are about 10,000 pages viewed a week, so a little short of 50,000 pages viewed a month.
  • Over the last month, there was between 2,500,000 and 3,500,000 cached requests hitting our content delivery network, and over 100Gb of data transferred to your browsers.
  • The site has been deployed 334 times between February 23rd and March 23rd. That’s about 10 deployments a day.
  • The code repository recently passed 6,000 commits. A commit is essentially a code change.

I thought it would be fun to answer some questions, about the game or personal. So I asked people on Discord to shout random questions, and here are the ones I selected.

When do you think was the peak of Stormbound? — ZR

Now, definitely. At least since Sheepyard took over the game. No disrespect to Paladin Studios, but I feel like they got stuck in some sort of a local maxima where the game didn’t really evolve much. I think Sheepyard is doing wonders with the game, despite having to deal with inflexible fundamentals (card levels, progression system, PvP-only, etc.).

At this stage, I believe the game is super nice to get started with. There is a real sense of progression and collecting and leveling cards is very fun. It gets a bit more tedious when reaching high ranks, not because progression no longer exists, but because there are objectively less goals for players to reach.

What was your favorite card per faction during the time you were actively playing Stormbound? — RecklessRush

I was originally a Winter player, so let me start with that. I think it has to be Rockworkers, especially the pre-nerf version with 1 movement. I liked it because it was a somewhat random card, but that remained powerful and interesting even with unlucky RNG.

For the other factions, I’d go with Doctor Mia for Ironclad because she’s just so cute, Witches of the Wild in Shadowfen because how could you not, and I’m not sure because I’ve never ever played Swarm.

For neutral, maybe a little controversial, but I have always liked Westwind Sailors. Unfortunately we’ve seen a lot of better alternatives introduced over the last year or so, but for a while it was not necessarily a bad call in my humble opinion.

When will we see you #1 in HL? — Iceacoma

Definitely never. First of all because I stopped playing Stormbound, but most importantly and I cannot stress that enough because I’m not a good player by any definition of the term. Especially now that I missed so many new cards and the strategy around them. I would get utterly crushed in Heroes League, let alone in top 100. 😅

How has being a Discord mod been for you? In terms of commitment, enjoyment, etc. — ZR

I became a Discord moderator in September 2019 following an offer from Arano, the former lead developer from Paladin Studios. When Sheepyard eventually took over the game, I worked with Brzoza on official communications and thus had less time for moderation. Fortunately we have a good team of great moderators, so I’m not that needed.

Anyway, moderation is interesting because you want to make decisions for the general health of the community, but that sometimes means taking harsh actions and that’s not always fun. Ultimately, you have to think about what’s best for the community as a whole.

What is the biggest problem with Stormbound-Kitty right now? — Player_Null_Name

Excellent question. For a long long time, the problem was that Stormbound-Kitty was running exclusively inside your browser, with no database. I solved that last year by changing the framework (and hosting) for the site.

Then, the problem was that there was no content management system for people to administrate the site. I solved that this year with the introduction of a CMS for Sheepyard and the Discord moderators.

At this stage, I would say the biggest problems are:

  • I am the only person that knows how some parts of the code work. Most of the site should be pretty easy to take over by any experienced web engineer, but some sections like the deck dry-runner or the battle sim are very, very complicated.
  • Not everything is covered with automated tests. There are a lot of them, but some parts of the site are still partially covered or have no tests at all. This is due in part to my own laziness, and to the fact that I’m not paid to work on the site, so I tend to put the limited amount of time I have into building features and doing maintenance rather than writing tests.
  • As of today, I am still the sole maintainer, despite the new content management system. We would ideally need one or two persons to be looking at guides on a monthly basis to update them and improve them. Same for decks, so we maintain a healthy index of competitive decks despite frequent balance patches.

Overall, the site is in good health. What I mean by that is that Sheepyard could hire a web engineer (even as a freelancer) and have them working full time on the site without needing to burn it to the ground and start over. The quality, whether from a user (you) or the next developers, is high and nothing to be ashamed of. :)

What games do you play? — Techprint

At the moment, I don’t play much I must say.

The latest game I bought was Unpacking on Steam. Beautiful little zen game about unpacking the main character’s belongings as she moves from place to place. No goal per se, just a relaxing and immersive experience.

Otherwise, I reinstalled Kingdom Rush to keep myself busy in the plane recently, and I had fun for a few hours.

I’ve played quite a bit of Rush Royale last year, it was pretty neat! I eventually got a little bored though, which is something pretty common for me. I have a short attention span.

What is your favorite type/breed/color of cat? — Zyries

All cats are beautiful in my eyes, I don’t necessarily have a favorite. I had pure-breed cats, European cats, long-haired, short-haired. They’re all lovely. 😻

What is your favorite kind of cheese? — Astro

I have a soft spot for French cheese, particularly the mountain ones that melt well on potatoes. But I like all kinds of cheese honestly, I’m easy going. Feed me cheese and I’ll be happy! 🧀

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? — Subaiku

Probably dark chocolate with chunks, or coffee? If we’re talking trash ice cream, then probably Chocolate Cookie Dough or Peanut Butter Cup from Ben & Jerry’s, but don’t tell my waist line. 🤫

What is your favorite song? — Randomly Drawn Card

Oh, that’s a difficult one! I don’t know if I have a favorite song per se. According to Spotify, the song I listened to the most last year was Retrograde from James Blake. And for this year so far, it has to be the songs from the Witcher, particularly Burn Butcher Burn.

What is your most watched movie or show? — Subaiku

Hard to say. I think it might have been Friends or How I Met Your Mother? I know it’s not golden television but these shows have that friendly upbeat vibes that I needed at some point. I would just let it run in the background without paying attention to it. That was a decent way for me to feel less lonely I guess.

What is your favorite art style for games? — ZR

You know, I’ve never been a huge fan of pixel art, but over the last few years some games like Terraria and Unpacking made me reconsider that position.

Generally, I prefer art styles that don’t attempt to reproduce real life textures and light systems. I have been a long time WoW player despite it being an objectively mediocre game in terms of graphics, and I liked it that way.

Thank you to everyone who’s supported me with the project, either financially or otherwise for the last 3 years. It’s been a fun project, difficult at times, but I don’t regret the investment. Stormbound has an incredible community, and you all should feel proud of be part of it.

Special thanks to Brzoza for his support on Sheepyard’s side and making feel part of the team. Kind thanks to FrozenEarth for having relentlessly maintained the Wiki for years now, without which Stormbound-Kitty wouldn’t be what it is today.