A friend of mine in my local club passed on a link to Pile of Potential, a new site dedicated to helping keep your hobby organized. Which, given I just moved which has made me directly confront how much hobby stuff I’ve got right now, plus following on the heels of the holidays, is something I’m keenly interested in.
So what is it, and how does it work?
Pile of Potential (which I’m going to call PoP from here on out) is a website that lets you curate your hobby activities by project, and then within that, detail each project at the unit-by-unit level with varying pieces of granularity, helping you track your progress visually by little red or green boxes as things are completed, and also a couple project-wide metrics, like how many points or models out of your total you’ve gotten to so far.
For example, here’s a screen shot of a simple 1000-point Zone Mortalis “Talons of the Emperor” force, which I rigged together mostly because this is something I have in various stages of completion.
I’ve enabled most of the potential check boxes for things – for example, I enabled “Points” because for a force like this there’s a really large disconnect between the models painted and the points painted because of some exceptionally expensive Custodian Guard models. I also checked “Purchased” as one step along the road. While I’m not a big “Purchases count as progress” guy (sorry Independent Characters), it’s a useful tool to keep track of for two reasons in this case:
- Forge World’s inventory is flickering in and out of availability constantly right now with the COVID-19 lockdowns, their usual supply issues, etc., so “I bought a thing” is a non-trivial challenge that you may want to be able to keep track of.
- Having once legitimately just out and out lost an Arvus Lighter for like 6 months, it’s probably useful to be able to go “No, I definitely bought that, it was not a fever dream, do not reorder it.”
The second of those is especially true with things like slow burn Horus Heresy projects.
The nice part of this is you can also scale it down pretty easily. For example, let’s take a look at my Bastion Sigma-2-7 project (a post on this is coming soon), which is essentially a “40K Maginot Line” terrain piece. This is 3D printed, and terrain, so it has way fewer steps to it:
All I need is Built (Printed + Gluing Stuff Together), Sprayed and Painted. That’s it – so that’s all I have.
Like something like GitHub, you can designate projects as Private (only for you) or Public (so other people can see). Each project has a URL and a search function that works okay (in that I got it to work fine for users, but projects less so), and what you see publicly is, well, the uneditable project progress report:
Sharing probably isn’t necessary, but I could see it being popular with hobby progress challenge types, accountability groups, or commissioned painters who want to spend less time answering “So…how’s it going?” emails. Also like GitHub, deleting a project is a two-step process that involves affirmatively typing something in instead of just clicking buttons, which is a good thing.
The problems I’ve had so far are minor. There’s a weird alignment glitch with the search bar when used in Safari, and as mentioned previously, the search function for projects doesn’t seem to be doing particularly well at the moment, though the user one goes swimmingly. The main problem I have is that the authentication system they’re using is Twitch, and well…I’d prefer there be other options. Logging in with a Google or Apple account is considerably more central to my identity than Twitch, which I forget exists for months at a time.
There are also some glitches on mobile (at least on iOS) – it’s hard to get the unit entries to appear (it’s not clear if it’s loading slowly, waiting for me to tap something, or just buggy), and when they do, they appear with the Delete Project button in between the project settings and the unit entries, which seems like it could be the source of some considerable frustration down the line. I do like though that it’s built around a proper website, rather than going the “app” route (no Reddit, I will read your website on my web browser like God and Tim Berners-Lee intended). My phone is a graveyard of apps that are supposed to help my hobby and just don’t, because I don’t do a lot of serious thinking and organizing on my phone.
But these seem like early development issues that are fully addressable.
PoP is definitely defined by a particular organizational paradigm – not dissimilar to Kanban boards, etc. that are immensely popular, or the index card based “Wall of Madness” I use to organize my lab. I think when it comes down to it it has to be. Not tying yourself to any scheme just dilutes an organization tool down to “I dunno, a whiteboard and some markers, figure it out”. If the style works for you – great. It does mean you have to organize your actual pile of potential along project lines – there’s not a good way to really represent “I just wanted to paint Morathi because she’s amazing”, save for having a project that is, itself, not a project, but a holding pen for projectless models. Which one could easily do, and just accept that the completion metrics are weird and don’t mean much.
Overall, I like it. I think it’s got…potential. But the test for all such things is does it actually get used in the long term? And for that…well, the easiest thing to do is probably to follow my projects at https://pileofpotential.com/VarianceHammer and see. I’m hopeful – though fair warning, with the vaccine rollout going the way it’s going, I’m very possibly in for another many months of “Ah yes, I faintly remember what hobbying was like…”
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