Starting off 2021 with a very interesting release, Bandai Namco releases a new application for mobile platforms. In this post, I will look at the newly released THE iDOLM@STER P Greeting Kit, and at the same time try explaining its features to an English-speaking audience.
From "stranger" to "colleague"
P Greeting Kit is a new application by Bandai Namco that allows you to create your own business cards for THE iDOLM@STER, and facilitates exchanging those between fellow Producers. This way, it builds on top of an established practice, and adds very interesting networking capabilities to it.
The first time the application is opened, you will be greeted with the title screen. From here, you can clear your cache by tapping the gear icon on the top right.
To access the application, you need to be signed in with a Bandai Namco ID, You will also be required to agree to a few legal texts before using the application. After signing in and agreeing, you will be presented with a tutorial which will guide you to create a simple business card based on a template.
The home screen resembles a card holder, so pretty apt skeumorphism there. From here, there are a lot of things you can do. I will explain what those buttons do one by one.
Creating a new card
The application is geared towards both those who are new to image editing, and those who are familiar with it. This is shown with the two modes of creation I'll be explaining later.
To create a new card, you will need to click on the left large button on the bottom. There, you will be presented with four options, the first is to create a new design, the second one is editing an existing design, the third one is clearing a previous saved design, and the final one is to copy an existing design. Note that the design is separate from the card itself; you can create multiple cards out of a design, if you wish.
When selecting the first two options, you will be prompted to select a design slot (the application uses the term canvas). For a new design, you will need to select an empty slot, while for editing an existing design, you will need to select an existing slot.
After selecting a slot, you will need to confirm the slot you're using. Press OK to continue creating or editing.
We Have Templates: Starting from a template
One of the easiest ways to create a card is starting from the preexisting template (the application calls it a "framework"). After selecting a slot and confirming it, you will be brought to the initial creation screen. Here, you will select the template you will use, the idol artwork in the template, and the profile of the card.
First, selecting the template. There are five template categories, Pop, Cool, Standard, Simple, and With Comments. Feel free to choose a template within those categories.
Then, selecting the artwork. You can use artworks with or without background. You can also change the idol shown in the artwork list by pressing the top right button.
When you press the "Change Idol" button, a simple idol browser will appear. You can select your recently selected idols on the left, and try finding the idol you want on the right side. Fortunately though, there is a search functionality by pressing the top right button, then inputting the search term. You can search by kanji, hiragana, or romaji, so that's very neat.
Finally, filling in the profile. This will both fill in the text blanks in the template, and serve as metadata to your card, providing more information. You can fill in things like your Producer name, the idol you're in charge of, title, comment, and game IDs of various iDOLM@STER games. You can either fill it in here, or use a profile you've set up before by pressing the top right button.
After selecting and filling in all three steps, you can create the card with the OK button. After it, you will be presented with the main editor to do any final changes, however, the ones part of the template will be locked and unable to be unlocked. The editor is another beast entirely that I will cover on the next segment on creating a card from scratch.
To complete the process, press the top right button. You will be presented with three options, to save the design and create a card immediately, to save the design without creating a card, and to quit without saving.
When creating a card immediately, you will be able to confirm the details of the card, and name the card. You can return by pressing the left button on the bottom, or create the card by pressing the right button.
After creating the card, it will be visible in the My Cards screen later.
Do It Yourself: Starting from scratch
You can also create a card design from scratch, if you're feeling creative and wants to design it yourself. The editor in this application is pretty flexible in handling designs for a mobile device. After selecting a slot and confirming it, you will be presented with the initial creation screen. Here, you can choose the orientation and the profile of the card.
First, orientation. You can choose to create a landscape card (left option), or a portrait card (right option).
Finally, filling in the profile. You can include the fields in the profile later in the editor, and it also serves as metadata to your card, so it's important to fill this in and change from the default. You can also load a predefined profile by pressing the top right button.
After choosing your orientation and filling in the profile, you will be presented with the editor, where you can add all sorts of things to your card.
The main objects you can added are in the buttons at the bottom. From left to right: idol artwork, general assets, image from gallery, text, and QR Code.
When your press the button for idol artworks, you will be presented with an idol browser like before. You are able to search for your idol here by pressing the top right button and entering the search term. You can also pick recently selected idols on the left.
There are four categories of idol-related artworks. First is the artwork with backgrounds, which is usually the artwork from the first SSR (in the case of the All-Stars, Million Live and Cinderella Girls), first SR (in the case of SideM), or the first P-SSR (in the case of Shiny Colors).
Next is the artwork without backgrounds, which come in both normal and chibi sizes. Have fun with those, I'm not recreating the Mitsumine with the 3 I did when I experimented with the pixivFACTORY collab.
The idol signature comes in two variants, one in a customizable plain color, and another, more game-specific color scheme.
Finally, the idol logos. Those assets are specific to the idol branch, not the idols themselves, so you will see general branch logos appear here too.
The actions you can do with the objects depends on the object you're selecting here. As a rule of thumb, general assets have more free-form options than the idol-specific assets. For example, you cannot change the colors of the idol artwork (no orange Sakuya, sorry), and the resizing operation of idol-specific assets is always proportional (no squished Mitsumine, either).
Navigating around the design can be done with two fingers. Dragging with two fingers moves the view around, while pinching with two fingers zooms in or out the view.
Basic operations you can do on an object is moving, resizing, and rotating the object. To move, simply drag the object around with one finger. To resize, drag the handles on the corners of the object. To rotate, drag the rotate icon on the object around. You can lock each objects by pressing the button with the padlock. This means that you won't be able to move, resize, and rotate the object in any way until you unlock.
The first option is the position. You can fine-tune the position of the objects by pressing the arrow buttons.
Next is the size. For idol-specific assets, the resizing is proportional, and there is a range of possible sizes.
Then, the trimming or cropping. You can crop specific parts of the artwork, so you can only show the head, for example. Note that cropping can cause the size to jank a bit, requiring you to rescale it back to the intended size.
Next is the shadow. There are two tabs here. You can create a shadow of the asset by moving the pointer around to the relative position of the shadow in the first tab.
You can also set the color of the shadow itself by selecting the color you want on the second tab.
For some idol assets, such as signatures, you can change the color with another option.
Another category of assets are the general materials. You can generally transform them more than the idol-specific assets, with one notable exception. The first is general shapes, where there are a variety of shapes available for use.
Next are frames, which are, well, frames you can use in your cards.
Then, the backgrounds. You can choose between various background offered.
Finally, icons. In those categories are general icons such as email, phone, and web, and captions for fields such as Twitter and game IDs.
For the general assets, they are usually more free-form in options. The size option now has two bars, one for height, and one for width. You can also modify the colors for assets.
However, there is one exception to the generally more freeform general assets: the Twitter icon. Yes, the Twitter branding guidelines are in full force here.
The next category is saved images, which allows you to import images on your phone. This is very neat for importing existing cards, self-drawn fanart, and other relevant assets. Make sure you hold the rights to the asset though. Those imported assets are treated as a general asset, so take care to not squish it.
Then, it's text. You can add text into the card. When first creating the text, you will be required to input something first. If you plan to replace it with text from your profile, you can input a placeholder here.
The options for text are just as varied. The first button changes the text itself, while the next button allows you to fill in text with fields from your profile.
The next options are the familiar position, size, and color. Then, it starts getting more interesting as you can select the font. The fonts are predefined in the application, so no importing of fonts here.
After the font is the usual shadow and outline options, then you can select the font style. Font styles are bold, italic, and underline.
After the font style, you can select the texture. This means giving the text a certain image or color pattern in it. It's no WordArt, but it's still interesting.
Finally, you are able to set the spacing between letters in the text. This allows you to make the letters go closer, farther, or even reverse it (by setting the spacing to 0).
Finally, QR codes. This allows your card to be scanned in the application conveniently. As with the Twitter icon, you can only change the position and size of the QR code, as to not interfere with scanning.
On the right side is a button to finish the design process, and various buttons with functions.
From left to right, top to bottom;
- The manual button shows instructions on using the editor in Japanese
- The switch button allows you switch between the front side and the back side of the card
- The order button allows you to position your objects a la Bring to Front and Send to Back functionalities
- The grid button shows and hides the grid, useful for positioning.
- The duplicate button copies the currently selected object
- The delete button deletes the currently selected object.
- The undo button undoes the last action in the editor
- The redo button redoes the actions undid by the undo button.
The buttons when ordering objects are as follows, analogous to some editors:
- Bring to Front
- Bring Forward
- Send Backwards
- Send to Back
After you have finished your design, press the top right button. As with before, you can save the design and create a card, save without creating a card, and quit without saving.
As with creating a card from template, you will be presented with this screen where you can confirm all your details and name your card. You can return if you want to revise it, or finish the process.
After creating your card, you are now ready to exchange it with various people. To access the exchange interface, press the right large button on the bottom. Here, you will be presented with two options, exchanging with nearby Producers / QR codes, and online exchange.
For an encounter in real life
Let's say you met a fellow Producer and want to exchange contacts. This is what the first option is for. The application will use your location to find other Producers nearby. Make sure you're selecting the group of the other person to find them.
If you are unable to utilize location or things are too crowded, you can use the QR code function by pressing the button below the list. You will be presented with an interface where your QR code is shown and you can scan the other person's QR code.
You can also access the QR code scanning interface from the home menu by pressing the leftmost small button on the bottom. This one doesn't show your QR code, however.
For an encounter in the Internet
In the second option, you can search for Producers on the internet. The online lit provides a filtering interface you can use to filter out only those who are a KirikoP, for example. This filtering is shown when first entering the list and can be entered again by pressing the second right-most button.
After filtering, you can select a person who you want to exchange cards with, and then request to exchange.
You can also set your discoverability on the public list. By default, it is private (right option), so your card cannot be searched publicly, even by user ID. By setting it to public (left option), you are able to be searched publicly by user ID, etc.
Managing online exchanges
For online exchanges, there is a request flow, and the other person has to accept the request. To view the status of such requests, and to see exchange requests for you, you can see the list of requests waiting for approval, which can be accessed by pressing the top left button in the home screen.
Managing your cards
For your cards
To see all cards that you have created, you can do so by pressing the second left-most small button on the bottom in the home screen. In this screen, you can see the cards that you have created. By clicking a card, you will be able to manage that specific card.
There are three large buttons above that corresponds to, from left to right:
- Display, this allows to switch the text from the Producer name, card name, and creation date.
- Sorting, this is currently by creation date, both newest and oldest.
- Filtering, currently this is between all cards and favorite cards.
There are also two small buttons on the top right, those are for bulk actions, from left to right:
- Bulk favorite, allows you to mark and unmark multiple cards as favorite. Favorites cannot be deleted unless unmarked as a favorite.
- Bulk delete, allows you to remove multiple cards.
When viewing a specific card, you can preview the card by pressing the "Preview" button next to the small buttons at the top. The small buttons function similarly to the previous screen, only for the specific card being shown, the small star button for favorite, and the trash can button for deleting.
Above the card image, there is a button where you can set the card to be exchanged by default. Next to the card image, you can see the card name and creation date. Below those, there are buttons to see the card ID and the profile attached to it, and below those buttons, you can share the card data either to Twitter, or export them as picture.
When exporting the card data, you are given the option to crop the outer parts of the card, or to retain it.
For the card you've obtained
To see the cards that you've obtained from people, press the second right-most small button on the bottom in the home screen to the colleague card list. The interface here is similar to the ones for your own cards, and you can also click each card to see the detail of that card.
If the cards you obtained have Twitter accounts linked to them as metadata, you are able to quickly go there as a shortcut, by pressing the right-most small button on the bottom in the home screen. After that, select the card whose Twitter you want to visit.
Managing your profile
By pressing the second top right button in the home screen, the one with the person icon, you will be brought to the profile screen. Here, you can see your user ID, see and change your profile icon, and set the defined profiles, so that instead of filling in the details every single time, you can use the data you've set in this screen.
A natural evolution
The thing that interests me so much in this new application is how it builds on top an established practice, and makes it much more interconnected and interactive. For example, the addition of QR code is able to enhance the offline experience by putting extra metadata on the cards themselves, and people can look up those metadata by scanning the QR code in their P Greeting Kit application. While Japan is the origin of the QR code, seeing the potential of it in action is still amazing.
P Greeting Kit also lowers barrier of entry for those who are not experienced with image editors who can use the available templates. Those who are experienced, can use the full editor themselves or simply import their existing card to the application and add connectivity to it. The application also integrates the idol-specific assets in one place too, so you don't have to look that far for the idol's signature, for example.
In short, THE iDOLM@STER P Greeting Kit is a quality-of-life application building on top an established practice, whilst adding value to it with technology, and I am thankful for it.