Spawning Tool: big features, backend changes, product decisions

The past few days have been very productive for me on Spawning Tool on several fronts. Not only did I work through several features, I made some important backend changes. Consequently, I have also thought on future development, product, and business concerns that I think might be of interest to the community.

Let’s start with the backend changes. First, Graylin updated sc2reader to 0.6.0, which brought 2 important changes for Spawning Tool: support for patch 2.0.10 replays and support for GameHeart replays. See my last post for what GameHeart parsing entailed. Importantly, this brought in ASUS ROG Summer 2013 replays and corrected data from various otherĀ replays. Second, I migrated from a mysql to a postgres database tonight. This change won’t impact end-users much (other than some load times), but it makes me feel better about the data integrity.

Next up are the new features. First, you can now view counts on the abilities casted in a game so you can see that Protoss players typically use Psionic Storm about 2.67 times a game, whereas they can expect 1.72 EMPs and 1.37 Snipes against them. The data is pretty rough when summarized from so many replays like this, but hopefully more specific queries will yield more interesting results.

You can also specify times to capture particular counts, so you can see that on average, 12.32 SCVs are built in the first 5 minutes of a game. You can now also filter replays by the date played so you can be sure to only consider the latest and greatest replays from your favorite players.

So all of these changes have me looking forward at the direction of Spawning Tool. Over the past few months, I have been talking a lot with ChanmanV, who has provided product direction for Spawning Tool. The current feature set represents what we consider a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for showing what basic statistics we can pull out of replays. It’s been a strange road, but Spawning Tool today is far more developed than I imagined when I first sat down pulling an all-nighter to just build something. I originally envisioned it as a proof of concept and technical achievement for the community to get excited about. Today, it’s a product when potential value, and I need to re-evaluate it in that context.

The primary change is that the Spawning Tool site is no longer open source. It was originally open source because it was supposed to be a demonstration for the community, and I hoped to pick up collaborators along the way. Well, I didn’t find many collaborators (though I’m still open to it; email me if you’re interested!), and between forums, code contributions, and the still open source spawningtool parser, I hope I’m doing enough. There are lots of great reasons to open source things, but today, the site doesn’t quite fit.

The other aspect is that I need to start looking forward towards a business plan. Before I scare you off, know this: I intend for Spawning Tool to always be free for public, individual use. The big picture goal of the site is to make quantitative thinking pervasive in the StarCraft community, and I don’t want to change that. I thankfully have a day job that I really like, and this is something that I’m doing for fun and for the community on the side. Given that, there are server and development costs to cover. That’s currently trivial (~$30/month), but those will increase with scale. I’m thinking on a lot of different ideas, so let me know if you have any thoughts on it. Hopefully we can get bigger, commercial entities interested and have them throw us some change, but nothing is locked down.

As usual, leave a comment or email me ( if you have any thoughts. And if you’re here for my StarCraft strategy content, I’m working on updating my Protoss strategy guide right now. I had forgotten how much cheese you get from Zerg in real laddering, like this 8 Pool. I’ll try cater the content to this type of play.

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