Looking for recent history Re: GW website

I am trying to piece together some information that is proving much harder to come by than I thought it would. Games workshops website undergoes relatively minor iterative changes over time, at least over the last 10 years or so now as the format has been largely static. One of the new things that was introduced on their website when browsing their miniatures is the 360° rotatable previews that the majority of their models now have.

I am trying to figure out when GW introduced the 360° previews. At the moment everything that has been updated in the last few years only uses 12 frames of rotation, so one image every 30°. At least that is still the current format. Some of their older content, and I believe some of the first miniatures to receive this treatment, used 48 frames for the rotation, which works out to one image every 7.5°.

The closest I can find in terms of a timeline is ~2018, as the current lineup for the daughters of Khaine miniatures have the 360° rotation and the Blackstone Fortress miniatures that came out that same year (and luckily can still be found on the GW) also has the rotation previews. Both of these sets use the 48 frame rotation. I have not made an exhaustive search through the companies catalogue at this point but this is a bit of digital archeology.

I’m trying to build up a database of these 360° previews but only having written the script to pull down the content recently I am restricted to content that currently exist on the company’s website. Before I go struggling through the way back machine or inflicting further torture on my self I want to know how far back in time I should extend my search. Warhammer Quest Silver Tower or any of the other expansions up until the current offerings do not have these rotatable previews - at least that is what I am led to believe if my 2018 cut off date is accurate.

If anyone has any recollections or helpful information it would be greatly appreciated!!!

Your mad forge father,
~Nicodemus

3 Likes

Ask “the painting phase” YouTube channel. They will know the answer for sure

2 Likes

Ahhhh, Peachy and the gang, great idea! I’ll give it a go. I may not be cool enough to garner a response from them :wink:

1 Like

This is exactly the kind of thing I would know, but unfortunately my archiving tendencies only began within the last year or two.

It’s an interesting question, are you just trying to make an archive of them all?

2 Likes

Perhaps not everything, but definitely the content I’m interested in personally. Blackstone Fortress, Cursed City, Necromunda. Plus any of the miniatures that can be used in classic Warhammer Quest. My server that I setup to automate our WHQ games currently generates Monster cards and pulls static images from a database. I planned ahead and setup the primary image format as .gif, which allows for transparencies as well as animations. I’m taking the .jpg rotation frames and converting them into animated .gif images that only do the rotation once and then stop back on the first frame. Right now the page is set to periodically refresh, so when it does that it’ll replay the rotation for each model, which seems to not be too overboard as continuous rotation is too distracting.

Anyway, so yeah… more madness from my forge :wink:

5 Likes

I’m going to preface my follow-up here by stating something that not everyone will be on board with. I view the content on the GW website as a hobby resource. Just like the rules, painting guides, example artwork, etc. Their current multimedia catalogue of their miniatures are ALSO a resource for the hobby community, albeit one they do not want the community to use. Part of this has to do with trying to stop 3rd party sellers from using their images to sell models, but this is all just silliness. It’s already fairly common for homebrew add-ons to popular GW boardgames to grab GW photos of characters and put them on stat cards, etc. In my case I’m interested in their 360-degree rotations and I am very much crossing over into the hyper-modern era where the lines between digital content, multimedia, and analog miniature gaming is all intersecting. GW needs help to see where this can go/is going…

So, if anyone is interested in going through the pain of doing this themselves with a similar Luddite-level of coding skill/ability as myself here’s how I’m going about doing it (note that all of the website scrapers I’ve tried DO NOT WORK for this, even if you disable checking or following the rules in GWs server’s robots.txt rules):

I search through the GW catalogue for 360-degree animations I’m interested in. When the preview thumbnail loads and shows the little circle over top of the image with the “360” in it I right click and select “copy image address”. That gets you the first image in the series. It will be something like one of two formats:
https://www.games-workshop.com/resources/catalog/product/threeSixty/99120201098_WCSpireTyrants4360/01.jpg
or
https://www.games-workshop.com/resources/catalog/product/threeSixty/60010299035_WCHeartOfGhurHornsOfHashutOTT1360/01-01.jpg

Note that one of these ends in 01.jpg, the other ends in 01-01.jpg.
The script I have setup grabs the filename and looks for the “01-” prefix, if it’s there it downloads all 01-01.jpg through 01-12.jpg images. … INTERESTING ASIDE: GW has multiple viewing angles for these that aren’t used. You can preview these elevated inclination views by going to 02-01.jpg through 02-12.jpg, 03-01.jpg through 03-12.jpg, up to 04-01.jpg through 04-12.jpg. The 04- series is handy if you want a better view of the base from almost top-down… but I digress.
If the filename does not have the prefix then there are 48 images to download and the script grabs 01.jpg through to 48.jpg. Contrary to my initial assumption about the format changing, some of the recent models have the 01-01.jpg format and within the same set are other models with the 01.jpg format. Not sure what dictates getting one treatment vs the other… but for sure the older sets are exclusively 01.jpg with 48 images exclusively, with no mixing of the lower-frame rate for the rotation.

OK, so we have a script that differentiates filenames in the URL and downloads either 12 or 48 images. The script also strips out the preceding part of the URL and makes a local directory named “60010299035_WCHeartOfGhurHornsOfHashutOTT1360”, for example and puts all the images for that URL within it.

I should hasten to add that if you just right click on the preview thumbnail and select “Save Image As…” that the default behaviour of the GW servers is to serve you are .webp format image. I hate webp, just a pain to have to convert everything. Even if it looks like you downloaded the image you want on your Windows, etc machine, go look at the image. Either you won’t have an image viewer that lets you look at it or the colour pallete tones are are shifted. You can get extensions for Chrome, etc that let you right-click and select an option to save the webp image as a jpg, but that’s too much work! Anyway, GWs server is using .jpg images, but if you ask for an image they serve you the webp version, which I can only surmise is intended to complicate things, no help.

OK, so the script works pretty good at downloading all of the .jpg images… Unless you want anything from Forge World’s website. Why oh why their servers are different I truly do not know… but when you connect the script will fail with error 403 (forbidden). If you grab the output from FW it’s actually trying to detect something on the user-end and gives the message that it’s ‘checking the browser’… BS, it’s to obfuscate and cause problems for the kind of thing we’re doing.

Luckily FW uses the same directory structure and image format as the GW site, so images are either 01.jpg (with 48 images for rotation) or 01-01.jpg (with 12 frames of rotation and multiple viewing angles). For FW I have a separate script that requires an extra couple of steps. My FW script still accepts the URL:
https://www.forgeworld.co.uk/resources/catalog/product/threeSixty/99850599101_NECSquatClaimJumperOTT1360/01-01.jpg
or
https://www.forgeworld.co.uk/resources/catalog/product/threeSixty/99850599101_NECSquatClaimJumperSPIN1360/01.jpg
and then generates an html file on my local drive that is just a list of hypertext links to each of the images to be downloaded. Instead of right-clicking each link and saving each one as an image, next we need a browser add-on to grab all of the hypertext links at once. I’m doing this in Chrome and to do this we’re going to get the extension “Simple mass downloader”

With the extension instealled and running there’s an extra box at the bottom of the screen where you’ll have to give it the name for the local directory to store the current download in, otherwise it’ll end up overwriting your downloads since the filenames are all the same. In my case I just keep the same format I’m already using from the URL “99850599101_NECSquatClaimJumperSPIN1360”.

FINALLY, the real challenge comes when trying to find these little rotating previews for content that’s discontinued on the GW or FW websites. The Wayback Machine (https://web.archive.org/) is your best friend here… really the only way you’re going to find out where those files are stored - because they ARE still stored on GWs servers, there’s just no active page anymore that links to them!! So far I have two ways of doing this, one is to just do a Google search for what I’m looking for, e.g. “Blackstone Fortress Escalation”, but you’ll get lots of on-line sellers who sold out years ago, it’s better to add “review” to your search terms, or perhaps even try searching sites that regularly review these products (Spikey Bits, etc). What you want is a webpage with a dead link to the actual item back when it was for sale. That’s the link you’ll try pasting into the Wayback Machine. If you’re up for a little more work after exhausting the Google search you can try searching for portions of the URL on the Wayback Machine, and here it’s useful to know how GW formats their URL, which takes into account where in the world you are so they know what they have available to sell to you. For example, I’m an English speaker in Canada, so my GW URLs always have en-CA in them, so when I search their current Boxed Games for Warhammer Quest and look at the Blackstone Fortress URL I get: “https://www.games-workshop.com/en-CA/Warhammer-Quest-Blackstone-Fortress-2018-eng”.

OK? Now we have to cast around a bit with the Wayback Machine and try a few things, it’s ALSO helpful to know that GW didn’t always format their URLs quite the same way. So if I search the Wayback Machine and I don’t get any hits for:
https://www.games-workshop.com/en-CA/Warhammer-Quest-Blackstone-Fortress-2018-eng
I can try instead searching for a fragment:
https://www.games-workshop.com/en-CA/Warhammer-Quest
and it will show me a list of all the saved content that starts with that stub… but wait, there’s MORE. What if some of the stuff I’m looking for STILL isn’t listed, well there’s a few quick things we can do… some content a few years ago had dropped “Warhammer-Quest-” from the URL, so searching for:
https://www.games-workshop.com/en-CA/Blackstone-Fortress
can work… ALSO, if you’re still not getting anywhere change the location and/or language. So en-AU, en-US, en-EU, en-NZ, en-JP, etc. etc.

With this combination of searches I’ve managed to find almost ALL of the Blackstone Fortress content that’s been gone from GWs site for 3+ years now and have downloaded most of the missing content I thought was lost to the warp.

So if you’re a massive nerd like me - happy scraping, and don’t feel bad about it. This is digital archaeology and preservation of a pretty cool little hobby resource. - Just imagine my little 1" OLED viewscreens within my Necromunda terrain showing a green tinted zoom-in of the face of a Hanger-on model, rotating 360-degrees with the words “WANTED” in the foreground… or who knows what else :wink:
~N

[Edit]: P.S. I can code in C/C++, Perl, Python, and a few others, but I prefer not to most of the time unless I’m getting paid. The scripts I used for the above were generated in Python by ChatGPT. It’s F***ING God-awful, but it gets you 90%-ish of the way there and then you have to fix all of the stupid BS that the AI put in that’s just asinine. Honestly, it’s like having a smart 8-year-old that can code, except their attention span is non-existent and you have to watch over their shoulder because they’re going to take the lazy way out, or forget what the conditions are that you just told them, or they’ll do something completely stupid that has no explanation at all, and if you’re not just a little bit skilled you’ll miss the AI’s mistakes. It’s like supervising students on a programming project, except none of the students give a shit if it works, they’re just putting in their time :wink:

3 Likes

60010299019_AoSWarcry4360_275

It’ll take a little work to process these. The source images for this one figure alone weighs in at ~10MB (48 frames * ~220 kB). Each frame is 800x800 px, 96 DPI resolution, 8-bits/channel. I’ve resized this down to 275x275 px and it is just under 1MB. With a bit of manual work in photoshop I can convert the white background to cyan or something easier to set as the transparency (since some of the body has pure white colour).

2 Likes

This is really cool, incredible work!

1 Like

I’ve located Silver Tower via the Wayback Machine and scraped all the data, all of which still resides on GW’s current servers. The cool thing is that Silver Tower came out in 2016 and has the 360-degree previews. I was also able to find the Eversor Assassin models from 2015 with the 360 rotation animations on the Wayback Machine, but no 360 animations for Dark Vengeance, which was a major 40K release back in 2014. So I guess we have a bit of a better estimate for when the animations started.

This being said, some of the models that were released for Silver Tower hero expansions in 2016/2017 had 360 animations, except for the models that were released pre-Silver Tower, those are just static images, like the Dark Elf Sorceress (which as of 2023 still has no rotation animation and just uses the original static pic)

Here’s the Tenebral Shard character (2016 Silver Tower release), still on GW’s servers, but cannot be found by searching GW’s site.

Since my first post I’ve now downloaded 1.7GB of these animations: All of Blackstone Fortress & expansions, all of Silver Tower & expansions, Shadows over Hammerhal, all of Cursed City and the “expansions” (read: current stand-alone models that have to be bought separately), as well as ALL of the Necromunda models from both Games Workshop and Forge World’s websites… time to take a break now :wink:

~N

1 Like

Alright my little droogies - No sooner had we started carrying on, real horrorshow like, with the downloads and archiving content, and Games Workshop gives us a kick in the yarbles. They’ve consolidated Games-Workshop.com and ForgeWorld.co.uk into a single site: www.warhammer.com

The new site is quite a spectacle. Very showy. I’m just not a fan of the new look. There’s always complaints when a company as large as GW changes anything and people are going to complain no matter what. Just the fact that it’s different is going to be enough for folks to cry foul.

Trigger warning: I don’t like the new site and will have some complaints, so please consider yourselves warned if you don’t like complaints anything you read from here on out is self-inflicted. With that said… off we pop!

Just in case you’re not sure how much space we’re talking about where when I show screen captures… I’m viewing this on a decent sized desktop display, not a phone:

So, the new site has major breaking changes with the 360-degree rotating images - they’re not correctly linked at all presently, the underlying URLs to these images is not even findable on the current page as the content server running in the background is not finding the images and instead serves up a place-holder image that the site administrators haven’t fixed (yet?).

The breaking change that has put a temporary halt to my 360-degree rotation backups was really just the tipping point. Yes, I have been inconvenienced, I realize this is petty, but then I sat back and took in the rest of the current site. I feel like GW is relying on existing shoppers to just figure out how to navigate through to get items in the cart and move on. I don’t believe the current site is organized for anyone’s convenience except perhaps users browsing from their phone - GW would have their traffic information and know demographics of device type, operating system, web browser and version, etc. So maybe they’re seeing 75% of their customers are browsing from their cell phones and have chosen to optimize for that? There is of course the factor that websites are readily designed to serve webpages optimized for desktop or mobile viewing, but I don’t think we’re seeing much optimization of the site for desktop viewing or shopping experience at the moment.

Here are a few examples to make my point regarding poor site design - my two screen captures from above, where I have blocked off the areas that contain irrelevant content.:

On the first screen - I could not care less about the videos showcasing various aspects of the hobby. I’m here for the miniatures, so on that first page of my desktop PC display I’m only interested in a very tiny area of the screen: [ SHOP ]
Scrolling down tot he next section there’s some content that may or may not be of interest. I do not like an overly cluttered viewing experience and simplicity is key for the user experience, but there is an overabundance of wasted space on the screen - highlighted in magenta. Of the viewable pixels within the display window (1936x1048px desktop) of that second area when I scroll down, a full 57.3% is the display space is wasted space that isn’t going to be clicked on and is not “content”. YIKES.

How does this compare you ask, O my brothers, to the mobile device display, or the old GW website?

Current GW website on mobile display (iPhone, using Safari):

Old GW website on 1936x1048px desktop:

To get into product on the new site on a mobile device there’s a large number of full-screen menus that contain very little information and have a lot of wasted space. Not to mention, this new menu system is terribly inefficient as the user loses access to any other branches in the menu hierarchy - if you want to choose a different army or a different gaming system entirely you can’t see it when you’re several steps in, and there’s no way to know how many steps you need to go back to be able to branch off elsewhere. LOTS of wasted clicking/tapping. The old site still had some wasted space along the left and right borders, but look at all the content links - the product menu on the left lets me see all of my choices, and I can jump to other game systems quickly with top menu!

I’m a fan of both fantasy and Necromunda. So what happened today when I went looking for Necromunda content? I started on the new website… there’s a Shop link, the “Start here” doesn’t seem to do anything … a few small links at the top for community (the blog), the subscription service (barf), paints and events… let’s go looking for Necromunda… OH WAIT… when I clicked “Start here” I didn’t think anything happened because of the huge spectacle of the video that keeps running in the background of the page, but if I scroll down I can see there’s information about the hobby as well as the 40K and fantasy lines of models. No LotR, no Necromunda, etc. OK, starting over… reload the page and scroll down…

You know - the old site I could click “Boxed Games” at the top of any screen on the GW site and go into Necromunda, Warhammer Quest, etc… but I’m not seeing it… I’m still scrolling down… screen after screen… Necromunda… Necromunda…

Damn. All the way to the bottom… OK… scrolling baaaaack uuuup. “Shop by Setting”, found it:

I’m clicking the arrows… clicking. What the heck. 40K… fantasy… LotR/Middle Earth… Horus Heresy (to me that’s still basically 40K but a grab at a different pocket of the customer)… wait, it just loops between these.

Oh for Pete’s sake! OK, let’s go back to the top and just go straight into the “Shop” section then and do it manually… Sadly, Forge World’s website now forwards to this site as well so there’s no help there anymore. Everything is lumped in together. At least I can still find the FW models. Bingo:

Sure, the products are easy to see, but with the size screen I have I don’t need them this large. In my 90s with cataracts I’ll still be able to see this from across the room. There’s just so much white space, and I have no quick-access header or left-side menu to navigate away. Only scrolling or the [Back] button. They had made good design choices before… now it’s looking like the level of navigation ease from my first eshop site I made for the bike shop I worked at back in the 90s!

So let’s go look at our buddy, the Beastmaster with Millisaurs:

Yes, that’s what I was looking for. I think the neighbours can see what’s on my screen from where they are, it’s so large. Of the parts of the screen that are actually useful, there’s a LOT of wasted real estate again:

59% of the screen is wasted or irrelevant content. There aren’t even any useful site navigation options anywhere to be seen. I’m also being generous here suggesting this absurdly large image is “relevant”, it’s definitely the model I was after, but it doesn’t need to take up so much of the screen… of the 41% area of the screen that’s actually potentially useful to a user looking for this model, 35.2% of the pixels in the browser window is this image!! The alternate thumbnail images along the far right are beyond absurdly small and are almost too small to even relay what is being shown.

And here we come to the broken links. You can see 3 dark images in the thumbnails on the right side of the above image. What are they? Toilet paper unfurling from a roll? Mushrooms? Those were the positions (in thumbnail order) of where the 360-degree rotations where… let’s click one.

HOLY HANNA!! What have I done!!! It’s even larger than the last image. You can see which thumbnail I clicked on because it’s highlighted with yellow line on the right side. So, it seems the 360 images aren’t working. I’ve confirmed that NONE of the 360 rotations are available for any model at present. And this 40K servo skull is taking up so much space on the screen I’m just annoyed now. Let’s navigate away and click one of the other thumbnails while we think…

WTF!! Another one?? But the thumbnail I clicked (shown in yellow again) suggested the picture exists. Let’s go back to the first picture we know DID work…

UGH, make it stop!!! There aren’t even any navigation options on the site to get me out of here. Time for some [ALT]-[left cursor] action because I grew up going long periods without a mouse… life was rough.

And we’re out… O brothers, that reminded me of my early days playing Warhammer Quest. Sometimes it felt like we’d never get out of the dungeon and back to relative safety, although I still feel like the GW website is somehow going to find a way of ensuring that my legs are broken or else I’m going to end up with a mangy dog following me from now on.

So, what happened there? Well, it seems that GW has (and likely HAD) a separate application that was serving up the content and generating the webpages somewhat dynamically. This isn’t uncommon. Previously, when a thumbnail for the 360-degree rotation was clicked it would send the first frame of the image to the display window. That image was hosted on games-workshop.com with a somewhat convoluted URL:
https://www.games-workshop.com/resources/catalog/product/threeSixty/60010299035_WCHeartOfGhurHornsOfHashutOTT1360/01-01.jpg

The site isn’t finding these resources anymore (it IS finding the other thumbnail images) and the servo skull is just the default images that has been chosen for the warhammer.com site to display if an image link is broken. If you try putting in any of those links to the 360-degree images, such as the one above you get sent to maintenance.games-workshop.com and will see the following page:

So, is the party over for snagging these interesting resources? Not likely. At some point I fully expect the 360 rotations will return. I reported this problem a week ago when the site went live and was told it was being passed on. In the interim the Way Back Machine is still a viable option, it just takes some effort to locate all of the base URLs to use for searching (slightly more difficult that GWs site has been revamped so I can’t just work off existing URL structures).

Anyway, disappointing experience on the GW site. Definitely a step backward in terms of functionality and efficiency, problems with missing images notwithstanding. After searching this evening it looks like I’m in good company, so I’ll add my high pitched whine to the chorus :wink:

~N

2 Likes

One more, very small update to the previous thread and the on-going issues with a new website for such a large company… and I almost hesitate to even mention it, but mention it I will:

If I enter any of the old URLs for the 360 animations, replacing the new warhammer.com domain name for the old games-workshop.com domain for something like warhammer.com/resources/catalog/product/threeSixty/99120201098_WCSpireTyrants4360/01.jpg
which might be a reasonable idea in the event that the new site largely mirrors the structure and contents of the old website, we get the following page from the new server:

Interestingly, if the file is not located the server could return Error 404, which means the file or resource could not be found at that address, or the server could return Error 500, which corresponds to a server error. The two are not the same, although it is possible to setup a server to return Error 500 when a file cannot be found, it would be an odd choice and I would possibly even argue that it represents poor error trapping from the perspective of the one experiencing the error unless it really is a server error (maybe the webserver genuinely doesn’t have permissions to access that part of the file system, or something more serious). Anyway, in the words of actor Rachel Zegler: Weird, weird.

It’s a fun little picture though.

And once again, harkening back to the days of when I first started making websites in the 90s and started experimenting with javascript, what sort of action would we give to the [BACK TO WARHAMMER.COM] button, do you think, oh my faithful droogs? Maybe make it a hypertext reference to www.warhammer.com I hear some of you say? What’s that? Oh, most of you are saying that. … OH all of you are saying that… yes, that makes the most sense. If this was my website and someone got this error I would want their traffic to stay on my site, for sure. Interesting that I didn’t have any votes for linking to the browser’s history and performing a history.back() function. It’s certainly not odd that none of you suggested it. What if this happened because someone followed a link from an external site? Surely such a large corporation would want to keep traffic on the site even if they got an error, as they came to the company looking for something! I wouldn’t want the only recourse be to potentially divert traffic back to where it came from if it wasn’t from my domain… Nevertheless, this is the action… returning me from whence I came, which was off-site.

Again, weird. Weird.
~N

2 Likes

Invoking @Pyroven seems apposite here

360 rotations are working again on the site, but implementation is slightly different. Weirdly, the rotation is now opposite to the left/right mouse motion from the old site (I imagine grabbing the front face of the model and pulling left or right, so the new site has the model rotate in the wrong direction, requiring imagining that you’re grabbing the back of the model and rotating). The site also converts the source .jpg images into the f***ing awful .webp format. Yeah, I get that it’s supposed to be faster, but this is such a small drop in the bucket to target, especially when the source data is already in a lossy jpg format but the whole rest of the site is bloated beyond belief.

~N

1 Like