Plans for RetroX v3: Theme support
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about why other frontends are so popular while they are only “front-ends”. Don’t take me wrong, I know that they have a lot of work behind, but I honestly think that RetroX is way ahead of most Android frontends in terms of ease of use and features. Only that it seems that this is not enough.
Watching videos in YouTube I find a lot of reviews of RetroPie / Emulation Station and some reviews of other frontends for Android presented as “the best”. Sometimes I write to the authors of those videos and they have never heard of RetroX before.
I have come to the conclusion that a lot of people is attracted by visuals, and I remember the old days of Linux when a lot of people wanted to install it just to have “The 3D cube”. So their rationale is to be attracted first and then try to figure out how to make it work, and probably it doesn’t matter how hard it could be, they just want to have what they saw. (It happened a lot with Linux circa 2004). The approach of RetroX has been the oposite, give the best technology to make the process easier, but if people is not attracted first, they will never get to that point.
Personally I prefer a clean view, soft colors, smooth fonts, but that’s me! Other people clearly prefer more “joyful” views. I’ve received some comments about this from several people (Allan Mcdonald, Lee Conduit and others) but I was too focused in other priorities that I didn’t worry much about it. I should add that one of my reasons to say “no” is that I thought I would spend a lot of time finding the appropiate colors, icons, background etc. Time that I prefer to focus on new features.
But now I opened my mind about it.
I will add a new “view/layout” to RetroX to make it themeable by anyone. This will allow other people to use their own skills and tastes to create their own realization of how RetroX should look. I’ll keep the current modes and will add a new “themeable” mode. From what I’ve seen in EmulationStation with a few elements people can create really beautiful themes, so I think that this will take RetroX to new unexplored grounds.
Why not before? May be I wasn’t aware of how communities can add their own views of what is best. Yes, I’m a bit of a dictator in RetroX but this new theme system will compensate my lack of graphical skills. I can provide the foundations and anyone interested will be able to build over it, something that was brought back to my mind after opening the source code of the RetroX libraries.
The above post was published in the RetroManiaUK group on Facebook, on Aprils 1st, but it is not an April fools joke. A few days ago I started to work on this feature, and it is looking good!