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The Road Ahead

Posted by Gaiiden, in GDNet 17 January 2011 · 454 views

Welcome to the second week of the new GameDev.net :)

It appears I've done a fairly decent job this last week staying on top of everything and keeping you all informed, and I aim to continue doing so in the weeks and months to come as myself and the team continue to work on improving the website - both in terms of what we have planned and what you want to see happen to existing content/features. As before, I encourage everyone to keep all discussion about the website in this Lounge thread.

I've been really happy with the turn-around on behalf of the community in both accepting the change we've thrust upon you and helping us to work out various issues that have cropped up around the site since re-launch. There is still plenty of work being done on the GDNet Dark Theme, and other users like frob are working on their own custom CSS styling to improve the visual layout of the website. User benryves has been busy with work-arounds for problems relating to screen dimensions and lack of forum favorites. Site member px has a GreaseMonkey script that removes the duplicate behavior of sending you to the last unread post in a topic from the "View Latest Content" page.

It's great seeing all these things and I ask that anyone doing their own thing to improve the website please share it with everyone. We will most likely work your ideas into the site itself so everyone can benefit as well.

I also want to use this top space to point out an issue that benryves noticed with old deleted journal posts showing up as published here on the new website. I'm not sure if there's anything we can do about it now post-import, but if there is we'll let you all know.

Also, be reminded that site developers are using the IP Board status update feature to log minor changes to the website as they happen. These include things that won't be immediately apparent to you, but are good to know, so be sure to check in often for the latest:

Dave Astle (myopic rhino)
Kevin Hawkins (khawk)
Mike Tanczos

Okay now let's move on to some updates.

Still Waiting on IOTD?

Understandably there's still a large contingent of people still waiting for the Image of the Day to return to active duty on the main page. Well, the good news as I said in my last entry is that the IOTD is coming back. The bad news is that we're still waiting in Invision to release the huge update to their gallery software that we'll be leveraging with the IOTD as well as member albums and such as well. To get an idea of the upgrade scope, head on over to the IPS Gallery page and check out the features compared to what we have right now. So we apologize again but there will continue to be a delay in getting the IOTD operational.

IRC Chat Ownership Change

There's been some mixed-signals recently in what we are doing with the IRC chat channel. Last night we decided that it was best for us to step away from actively monitoring it and leave it to the community there to manage. Channel owner and creator John Hattan will be stepping down and be replaced by channel member Zao as head op. Co-ownership will also fall to members Richard "superpig" Fine and Josh Petrie. The channel will still be accessible via the chat applet on the website, and the wording there will be modified to include details on how to contact the channel ops for support on any issues. We still see the chat channel as a valuable resource for developers, and given that the majority of the staff really never frequent the channel anymore we feel that it is better managed by those who have an active presence there.

GDNet+ Member Webspace

This is one of the things I'm exciting to announce that we will be bringing back. Ever since the old site was hacked in 2007 (during GDC, no less), we've been forced to put in place security measures that included closing off FTP access to user's webspace - which left everyone with a pretty horrid web interface to upload and manage files with. Richard is currently in the process of re-establishing this feature and it will be available in the coming week. In the short-term, we will have simple FTP access to a private folder and in there will be the files you had stored on our old website for you to access once again. The service will expand of course, but that's for a future entry - most likely one I'll have Richard author.

For now though you can get the basic details over at Richard's journal.

Repositioning the Feedback Tab

As unfortunate as it was that the Feedback tab caused problems in addition to allowing easy reporting of site issues, in the end I feel it served its purpose wonderfully. Over this first week of launch we got almost 800 feedback submissions, of which only about 2.5% were "Get this fucking feedback button out of my face!!" (okay I made that number up but it was small, if prevalent). Currently however the rate of submissions has dwindled down to a trickle, which happened sooner than I expected and is hopefully a result of me keeping everyone informed like this. So the upside is that we feel comfortable moving the tab down to the bottom of the screen and inline with the page content so it is no longer floating over content on smaller-resolution screens. I was suggesting removal of it entirely, but Richard made a good point in that it automatically files the page the user is reporting from - so I would still suggest using it if you need to.

Update on the Resolution Issue

Speaking of smaller resolutions, people under 1280 width may still be experiencing a few issues with the site layout. Since Mike spent the majority of the week dealing with server load balancing issues, not much was accomplished on this front. Again, for the immediate short-term there is benryves's workaround if you are able to apply it. What we have planned, however, is that on resolutions between 1024 and 1280 certain style elements will collapse to allow content to fit in properly (for example the logo will just be the "G" without any text to fit in the Leaderboard ad). If you happen to be operating below 1024 (which we highly doubt given the default resolution of the majority of netbooks is 1024) the page style will collapse to 1024 specs and then simply scroll left and right. Hopefully this will all be rolled out this week.

Server Status, Content Updates and Topic Read Tracking

Speaking of server load, hopefully you all out there haven't noticed any maintenance messages or site slowdowns with the last 72 hours. We've still got some minor tweaking to do, but by and large things seem to be humming along very well both in terms of CPU and DB load. Our support teams over at Storm and IPS have both been extremely helpful in getting things balanced out - this is the infrastructure support I was talking about us lacking previously and it's a great thing to have in increased capacity now. Again, we're still monitoring and tweaking so there's still a chance you could catch us in the middle of some brief few minutes of downtime, but by and large service should remain steady.

There have been several issues submitted in regards to your content not showing up in the "My Content" pages or either "View Latest Content" or "Active Content" for quite some time. We're still looking into these specific issues, but in general you should expect that anything you post will be delayed by 15 minutes at the most, as that is the time span between re-indexes of the tables for that data. On the upside, delivery of searches and viewing pages that list a lot of content like the "View Latest Content" page are lightning-fast.

The unfortunate news I have to deliver is that there's currently no feasible way for us to enable a feature known as "Topic Read Tracking". This would allow us to keep tabs on which topics you have clicked on or "Read" so that when you return to the forums at a later time, you can see which topics have new posts since you last left via the icons on the left and use the orange "Go to first unread" button to jump to where you left off in the conversation. For a community of our size (as I read this there are 1077 active forum users including myself) the DB query load to do this would be tremendous and we have heard from other large communities that this is the case for them as well. In order for you to experience this functionality a little manual labor is required in that you click the "(Mark this forum as read)" link on the right side of the forum title bar after you are done looking through threads in that forum. This will reset your read status so that when you return you are presented with the latest updates.

We are aware that a lot of people jump straight into topics from pages like "Active Content" and "View Latest Content" so we will need to enable a way for you to mark a post as read from within the topic page rather than making it necessary to go out of the topic to the forum to mark that topic (and any others) read with the rest of the forum.

The Road Ahead

While we still have a lot of site features to roll out, the majority of our focus in the coming 2-3 weeks will be ironing out what bugs we have open. Currently that number stands at 100 open issues. As we begin to whittle those down we will also be convening as a group to go over the many, many suggestions we have open as well and deciding whether to plan on implementing them or not. In most cases (both bugs and suggestions) there will be a discussion taking place, so I once again encourage all users to keep track of your submitted issues so we can talk to you about them. For everyone else, I would recommend treating the Problem Tracker as another type of forum you can frequent - everyone can reply to an issue there, so while this Lounge thread is open for general discussion, you would be better off searching for the specific issue you are having within the Problem Tracker and leaving your comments there. It will be much more visible to us and easier to act upon.

Once again, the comments section of this journal is appropriate for leaving site feedback as well as the previously oft-mentioned Lounge thread and Problem Tracker.

Keep up the good work!
Thanks for the continued updates. The site is a rockin'!
Thanks for taking the time to keep us informed.
I am actually enjoying the Web 2.0 face of the site now. It's a lot easier to moderate, as well as just post. Obviously still interested in seeing the Dark Theme developed further and a couple of minor bugs ironed out. Keep up the good work ;)
Love the changes so far! The old design was really starting to get to me. On to the future! Posted Image

We are aware that a lot of people jump straight into topics from pages like "Active Content" and "View Latest Content" so we will need to enable a way for you to mark a post as read from within the topic page rather than making it necessary to go out of the topic to the forum to mark that topic (and any others) read with the rest of the forum.

There's a link at the bottom of virtually every single page that says "Mark board as read"

There's a link at the bottom of virtually every single page that says "Mark board as read"

Yes, and that will mark the entire board as read - not just the topic you are in, nor just the forum you are in. This would lose your last "read" place in any other threads you go to after wards.

With a topic read link you can update your place in that particular topic and then when you visit the next one you can still use the orange "Go to last unread" button.

Do not click on the "Mark board as read" if you've already done this once or you want to globally reset your read position in all threads.
- Will we get an option to view more than just 6 news items on front page?

- Will IOTD be above Careers and -pointless- 'Events this week" or is it detined to go down the list despite being one unique feature of Gamedev only?

- Journal and Spotlight sections should move to right column under IOTD if possible. These are nice but most of us come to Gamedev for news and IOTD, I suspect.

Also, zooming page (thanks to small text font and no option to increase text size present on sites like Gamezebo) on Opera still breaks the top.. err.. "Headlines with Thumbnails" section.


Keep up the good work though. :D

Good job on the new site, I really like the new design.

I was just browsing the forums and noticed that the NeHe Productions board has a completely different color scheme, but still looks to be utilizing the IPS system. Is this a completely different theme? Could it be enabled for the rest of the site? With all the talk of the dark theme, some users might prefer it.

NeHe gets its own branding as it is really its own company hosted by us. If people want the dark theme it's readily available to them via the dropdown on the bottom of the forum pages. But it will not become the default site theme