I believe this is my 2nd or 3th year trying out Syrinscape. I usually get a subscription, try it out, try on a few sessions, and end up having so many issues that I just abandon it. Don’t get me wrong, the music and sounds are amazing – it’s the reason why I keep coming back. But I always have issues with all software stack.
I won’t go into issues with the Syrinscape “classic” as most of the issues have been solved with the Online player.
This is a list of thoughts and feedback I gathered for you. Take them as some ideas to improve upon, and feel free to disagree with me. I’m doing this because I really love the artistic value of Syrinscape, and would like the software and service to improve so more people can appreciate the service you provide.
- Right on the homepage you can see that the website is not properly optimized. If you run the Google Chrome Lighthouse, you’ll see a very poor score. For instance, the “What is Syrinscape?” image is almost 2MiB in size and could be properly resized and compressed to be only 20KiB in size.
- Website is loading images directly from S3. Instead, use a CDN (something like Amazon CloudFront or Cloudflare) to distribute it so you can save considerable money on your S3 monthly bill, and users can get assets downloaded faster
- When a user clicks to login, they land on a page to edit their profile. Why? Land them on a control panel, homepage, or somewhere more useful than giving them the option to change their name every time they login.
- Whenever I mention Syrinscape and ask them to try out the Online player, they always download the wrong software. Why? Because on the homepage there’s a big “download” button pointing to the “classic” version. It would be very helpful to also list the Online player on the Downloads section of the website. Preferably also give them the option to download all alternatives without having to scroll the view, making the information more compact and visual with less written text. One good sign that the Download page is overdue for a new design is the text “NOTE: If you are looking for the BOARDGAME PLAYER, scroll down! It’s at the bottom!”. That should be solved by either collapsing or compacting the information, not by putting a highlighted note expecting users to read.
- Not a big issue, but the “about-syrinscape/“ is the same as the homepage. That’s confusing and might cause issues with crawlers.
- On the “Your Campaigns” page, there are a few usability issues: first, you can’t find the Add Campaign unless you select Fantasy, Sci-fi or Boardgame, which is confusing — it’d be easier if you just showed the Add Campaign button and gave the user the option to pick which type on click, or at least make a greyed out button saying something like “Please pick a campaign type on the top before creating a new campaign”. Also, the button should be on the top, not on the bottom — it’s really hard to find if you don’t know where to look for.
- Still on the “Your Campaigns” tab, it would be great to have a “Add all soundsets” button, so for instance if I search for “avernus" and want to all all Avernus related sound sets to my current campaign, I can do it in a single go.
- The “Syrinscape Online (beta)” organisation is quite confusing. What’s the deal with having a “Control panel” and a “Master interface” as separate pages? It might be just me but I always struggle to remember that the Control panel is where I need to go to invite players, link devices and etc, and the Master Interface is where I control the sound. Maybe it’d be better to have the Control Panel embedded in the Master interface?
- The Control Panel is really confusing and hard to navigate. I appreciate your effort with the collapsible carousel-style vertical bars, but the “Your linked devices” should really be something shown more prominently to users.
- Hiding something as crucial and essential as the Online Player download under Control Panel > Your Linked Devices is a really bad idea. Just move that to the main Downloads page.
- On the bottom of the Control Panel there’s a banner ad for “Epic Games Need Epic Sounds [Try now for free]” linking to downloading the classic version. Why? I’m already a super subscriber and I’m on the Syrinscape Online Player, why I am seeing an ad for the classic version?
It is confusing. I know, it’s a software full of features, and making it more easy to use is a really hard task — I won’t pretend I have an idea on how to make it better. This is, by far, the best software built by Syrinscape in my opinion. I only have a few silly suggestions to it:
- The Global Oneshots, by default, show many sounds unrelated with my campaign, like sound of an automatic weapon. It would be great to click a button in there (like an “edit button”) and be able to hide a few global one shots with the click of a button (like when I uninstall apps from my iPhone: tap and hold, touch to remove, and it’s gone).
- Could we get rid of the “Official D&D” sound on the soundsets?
- If I see the “Property inspector”, to the right of it there’s a blue circle with a “?” in the middle. Hovering and clicking on it does nothing on Google Chrome on macOS.
- It would be helpful to link a few help buttons with embedded YouTube tutorials from Ben, those being super short videos quickly explaining what that thing does (like the Property Inspector) and how to use it.
Syrinscape Online Player:
As opposed to the Master Interface, this is the piece of software I most dislike from Syrinscape. I understand that it is an Unity “game”, and I agree that this is a fantastic idea as it allows you to more easily develop a single software and compile it on multiple platforms. Yet, it seems that there are some very simple changes that could be done in order to make the user experience much better. Here are my thoughts:
- On the initial page as soon as I open it, it simply says “This device is not linked”. For anyone that randomly downloaded it from App Store or Google Play Store, that’s a big put off. Instead, at least show some brief explanation saying that this is intended to be used as an online player to be linked to Syrinscape, and explaining what Syrinscape is. I’d bet you’ll get much better reviews on App Store just by doing so.
- When using the desktop, at least a twice while playing D&D, we had to spend ~30min during the beginning of the sessions having everyone go to the website, find the Online Player download button (as I noted previously, it’s not obvious where it lives), manually reinstall it over the old application, and re-link it with our account. Instead just either make it automatically download and install, or make it faster by presenting a direct link to download the new version from the app and avoid at all costs having users have to re-link their device — it should be already linked.
- At the same time, when re-installing, I had to re-invite my players to my game.
- Some of your banner images are huge spoilers! On the Dungeon of the Dead Three (from Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus), the image shown as the soundset banner is part of the map showing some secret parts! My players while listening to it figured out the similarities between the banner image and the dungeon I was drawing. Please either change those, or to the very least give the DM an option to not show those images to players. Not a huge issue, more like a funny story.
- Once all my players were properly linked and synchronised, at least once I clicked to play some sound and they wouldn’t hear it.
- Some of the sounds were really delayed. I’d click to play a one shot for instance, and one of the players would either not hear any one shot, or hear it very delayed. Internet connection was not an issue.
- A couple of times, one of my player’s Syrinscape simply crashed and exited. Not sure why.
- And finally, the main reason we had to stop using Syrinscape: after some minutes on every single session (maybe 40min, maybe 2 hours), eventually someone would have breaking issues with Syrinscape. By that I mean they would stop hearing sounds entirely. We’d stop the session, have everyone reopen their Syrinscape Online Player, I’d click to change the Syrinscape server on the Master Interface, and I’d click to play various different sounds to test and they would hear a few, but not all. Again, this is all while talking on Discord and connected on FoundryVTT or Tabletop Simulator. Also, I doubt it’d be an issue connecting to one of the Amazon servers you run, so it seems it’s most likely an issue with the client Online players. I’m sorry I don’t have more information to provide you.
- I already mentioned this on another thread, but I’d be paramount to us if there was some kind of debug log so I can send you. Essentially seeing a log saying “Music X failed to play”, “Sound Y played 10 seconds after being requested from the Master interface”, “Can’t download music from server due to Z”. It would allow me to post some info and try to find out what when wrong.
Well, I think that’s all I had. I know it’s a lot, and I appreciate your patience to read. I hope at least one of my notes can be of help to you all. Once again: love your work, and I’m doing this because I care with Syrinscape and I think you deserve a lot more success than you have already. Cheers!