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About this blog

Read about our upcoming additions/improvements to the website and let us know what you think!

Entries in this blog

Gaiiden
I've been keeping notes over the past few months our new article system has been in use and have several tips for both new and current authors to make your content better for people to read and also better for me to work with when it comes to publishing them. All these tips are in addition to the guidelines help article.

On article length

There is no such thing as an article that is too short or too long. The main purpose is to sufficiently explain or talk about some topic related to game development. Articles that are too short are generally incomplete. Articles that are too long are generally full of rambling paragraphs and off-topic discussion. Here's an example of a good "short" article and here's and example of a good "long" article. If you feel your article is too short, then perhaps you should look deeper into the subject of the article and see what more you can talk about. If you feel your article is too long, then perhaps you should go back and edit it to try and identify/remove areas that aren't really important to the reader, or could be referenced out, or were written at 3am last night and make you scratch your head wondering what the hell you were blabbering on about. If you can't do any of those things, your article length, whatever it is, is just fine.

Writing article series

I hate article series. As a publisher, having unfinished article series means constantly having to nag the author for the latest installment after a month or two of no activity. As an author, feeling the pressure from readers (and me!) to finish up an article series you started half a year ago when you actually had time for it is stressful. As a reader, not getting the conclusion of whatever the series was eventually leading up to is disappointing. Please, please, please do not bother starting a series of articles unless you know you can finish them. This ties somewhat back into article length. Some people decide to break their articles up into a series simply so people are not overwhelmed by a huge amount of information in one sitting. If that's the case, then write the whole thing first and then break it down into parts - don't decide from the start it needs to be a series. I'm sorry to be all pessimistic about this but in the many years I've watched content on this site, the number of completed series is miniscule next to the number of uncompleted ones.

Let's look at a possible alternative - instead of saying "I'm going to teach you how to program in OpenGL", try "I'm going to talk about OpenGL programming useful for beginners". This makes your articles loosely connected, and doesn't promise anything. It's more like writing a column than a series. A good example is this article that kicks off a number of articles discussing topics on getting into games through education.

Again if you really feel like your topic deserves a deeply-connected series of articles, take the time to plan it all out, work up rough outlines of each individual article in the series, and even get some kind of writing schedule worked out so you can fit it into your normal work schedule. Despite what I said earlier about writing everything first, I will admit that producing the entire topic in pieces can get the information out faster over a span of time.

Do your own editing

If you want your article to get online as fast as possible, make it easier for me to get it there. My first step in reviewing an article is a quick scan of the content. If I find several spelling/grammar errors within or several things that don't conform to the content guidelines I'm going to assume that a closer look will just reveal even more. I'm not going to spend 15 minutes to an hour editing it when another submission could be quickly approved. If you are a non-native English speaker, try and find a friend who is that can proofread for you. Even if you are a native English speaker, find someone who doesn't mind reading over your articles even if they aren't a technical person. Do not submit your article for publishing the moment you have written the last paragraph. Go to bed, wake up and then go and reread the entire article at least once. I can't tell you how many "of"s should have been "off"s or "its" should have been "it's". Very small and very simple spelling/grammar mistakes can be caught by a simple read through - but they can also be missed. I've done editing passes on articles, published them and then found a new mistake. So let's double up on the editing so I can catch whatever you miss.

I seriously just edited an article that had "impost important" within a sentence. Considering the context I took it to mean "most important". It wasn't even an article with obvious bad spelling/grammar in it either. Maybe an improper autocorrect? Whatever, it's things like this you can catch on another read through. Or two.

Articles are not for help, project updates or announcements

We've had a few submissions that announced a new game, or asked for help doing something, or contained a press release/project update - none of these are appropriate for the articles section. If you have a game announcement or a press release, send it over to Your Announcements. If you have a question about game development, choose the appropriate forum to post it in. You might also want to consider starting a game development journal if you want to talk about your project in any way other than a postmortem.

When to write an article, when to post in your journal

If you have a development journal, know that any content posted therein is rather isolated from the rest of the website. The journal represents sort of your domain on the site and isn't deeply-integrated into the overall content system like the articles are. If you plan an entry that is very "outward-facing" (a postmortem, technical details on implementation of something in your game, etc) you might want to consider posting it as an article instead. Things like new features added to the game, troubles you had debugging some tricky section of your code, etc are entries I call "inward-facing" as they are mainly about you and your project rather than directly applicable to readers (although sometimes somewhat applicable - for example finding a bug in code you feel might be common for others). These types of entries should remain in the journal. You are free to post outward-facing content in both places, of course. Just know that the article version will be the one most-often pointed to from other areas of the website.
[nbsp]
Use of article introductions

Unless you plan to use sub-headings (H2) in your article's introduction, there's really no need to have an "Introduction" heading (H1) at the top. Furthermore, there's no reason to replace "Introduction" with the full title of your article. I've gotten a few articles written outline-style with "I. Introduction" and "II. Some Other Section" and so on - if that's how you want to lay out your article that's fine. I won't mess with it by removing the top heading.

When to use H1

You actually don't need to automatically use H1 for all your article section headings. Both H1 and H2 do the job of creating a distinguished orange text heading to separate your sections, and unless you plan to use sub-sections in your article, you can use H2 for all your headings. You could even use Bold text as headings if you wanted and have no plans to use sub-sections under a H2 section. No, Italics as the only headings for an article isn't a good idea. In general we would prefer you use at least H2 for all headings in an article.

You can edit your articles

A lot of authors seem to forget they are the ones that created the article. In the past, authors submitted content to us in HTML, text or Word format and we published it for them. Any changes they sent to us and we implemented. Now, authors can go and edit their articles themselves to make changes and updates. So once your article is published don't forget to monitor it for comments from readers who may have suggestions on improvements or found mistakes in your text/code. You can keep an eye on articles you write and articles you like by clicking the Follow button at the top of each article. Then, go into your Settings and make sure your Notification options are enabled for resources.

Don't forget about [font='courier new']Teletype Text[/font]

Some people use bold, italics or quotes to identify variable names, functions and code inside a paragraph. All of these are decent ways to identify code within an article (although italics is more commonly associated with mathematics variables) but none of them are good at making a reader instantly understand what they are looking at. If you see something [font='courier new']written like this[/font], any coder will instantly pick up that it's a code statement. It's very simple to go back and highlight a word or sentence in the editor and then use the BBCode drop-down list box to select the teletype text option so you aren't constantly writing out the BBCode yourself, which I agree can be annoying.

Use "No Spacing" in Word when drafting

I'll admit the lack of spell-check in the editor is annoying. Apologies. I'm sure most of you will be drafting up your article outside the editor, like in Microsoft Word or similar editor to take advantage of the spell-checker. If you're not, there's no harm in doing so. The only thing I would recommend is to make sure that every time you press the Enter key you are adding a line break, not a new paragraph. So if your text cursor is automatically jumping down two lines on Enter to create white space between paragraphs, that's bad. Because when you go to copy/paste the text into our editor all the paragraphs will run together. If you added line breaks, all the paragraphs will be pasted properly.

Notating articles for better feedback

I just want to end this entry by reminding you all that I started a discussion about article notation capabilities back in April and if you think this is a feature that would be useful to you as an author, reader or both please let us know! We're working on a lot of stuff right now and priority is simply assigned to what our community wants/needs the most.

Thanks for reading, and if you still have an article sitting around as a draft then I urge you to get around to polishing it off. I look forward also to those of you who have ideas kicking around in your head that still need to get drafted down. Keep the great submissions coming, it's very pleasing for us to be able to output roughly 4x as much content per month as we used to prior to 2010.
Michael Tanczos
First off I am utterly blown away by how the community is coming together to start posting articles. One of my biggest hopes for this approach is that we can really start exposing the very best articles available on the internet in one place. At the end of the day learning is the most important thing for all of us.. and while stackoverflow is great for short answers, there isnt' really a good research counterpart for game developers.

This idea reflects a certain reality that at the end of the day people are going to write about what interests them, and a clinical treatment of a topic with rigid constraints isn't necessarily all that appealing. So my challenge instead is to automate the connection-building between articles.. which given the state of information retrieval is certainly doable without having to invent any new IR algorithms.

The ultimate goal is to really start scouring the Internet for game development resources so commonly scattered across blogs in varying formats and reproduce them in a common article format for everyone to freely use. If we are able to expose all the connections between articles it should make for a nice information archive with some permanence.. unlike some articles that just drop off the net once they close up their wordpress account.

My first tests have involved using Apache Solr to create an article index. Out of the box it's turned out to be quite versatile for this purpose. Over the past few days I did go about getting a little crazy though.. extracting all the document term vectors from the Solr Lucene index and running a cosine similarity check against them exhaustively. I had to write a job that would utilize Amazon's Elastic MapReduce service and turn a problem that was going to take roughly a week to process down to one that would take roughly six hours.

The funny thing is, after doing all that I ended up discovering a feature in Solr that when turned on would meet about 75% of my immediate needs. The next challenge is going to be finding a way to build document clusters.

The approach I'm currently shooting for may involve the community training some sort of learning machine to have an ideal model of articles for a particular subject and then it would work to classify other articles that match up closely. That way if you create a class of documents called "Component Entity Systems" then you would hopefully be able to find all articles that match up.

At the end of the day single well-organized lists of articles can still be very useful if they are well-organized. That is challenging to do automatically..

In my ideal world, as you use the site the site would begin to morph to show you more stuff that matches up with your tastes. Apache Mahout exposes something like that.. but I haven't experimented with it too much yet.
johnhattan

What I'm up to

Forgive the lateness of my reply smile.png

Actually, I'm here to give y'all an update as to what I'm doing regarding gamedev lately. Since the release of the Gamedev Collection series (still available at Amazon, go get them now), I have been doing very little (and by that I mean no) billable work for Gamedev. I was getting pretty burned out by reviewing "version 2.3.00001 of WhateverSoft's latest entry, now with antialiasing", so I decided to just stick with unbilled short-form book reviews. So I'd write just enough book review to be justified by the value of the book. Which means I'd get new books now and then, and Gamedev would get a modicum of free content.

Here's the latest if you haven't noticed (and if our hit-count is any indication, you haven't)

https://www.gamedev.net/page/books/index.html/_/creative/visual-arts-3/blender-master-class-a-hands-on-guide-to-modeling-sculpting-materials-and-rendering-r1469

In the next few weeks, I'll probably start posting these reviews as featured articles rather than featured books in the book section. They'll still be short and funded by the book itself. Book publishers get a plug. Gamedev gets a short article they don't have to pay for. I get a shiny new book. Everybody gets a very small something, and it doesn't take up much of anyone's time so I can get back to more rewarding pursuits like "actually developing games".


Oh, and we're now posting some articles from the Gamedev.net collection books if you don't have the series.

https://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/technical/graphics-programming-and-theory/dynamic-2d-soft-shadows-r3065
Michael Tanczos
In my last post you got a chance to Read about some major changes to our site reputation system in the works . This post will discuss some of the preliminary point breakdowns.

Your goal hopefully is the same as our goal: use this special place that we developers have here to help each other as much as possible. This means starting to adopt a mentality that we all do our best to do what is good for the community.

GameDev.net was created over 10 years ago by a rag tag group of people with the idea that it is the COMMUNITY that can lift each other up, help one another, create articles and share information. The reputation system is going to begin to award members points for different actions on the site and especially those that benefit the community at large.

[font=Arial][background=transparent]As a member you'll be able to earn points for basic site participation activities, for posting helpful replies in the forums, policing the community using moderator actions, and ESPECIALLY for authoring tutorials and helpful blog posts. [/background][/font]




[color=#000000][font=helvetica, arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif][font=Arial][background=transparent]Points are split into 4 categories:[/background][/font][/font][/color]


  • [color=#000000][font=Arial]Scholar - Any up/down votes you receive from posts in the technical, business, or creative forums will be added to the scholar category.[/font][/color]
  • [color=#000000][font=Arial]Moderator - Points given for moderator actions (activities such as submitting moderator reports, voting on content, providing feedback, etc)[/font][/color]
  • [color=#000000][font=Arial]Author - Points given to authors who write articles, get them peer reviewed, get articles favorited, etc. This is where people can pick up a lot of rep points if they get an article granted with a peer-reviewed status[/font][/color]
  • [color=#000000][font=Arial]Participation - Points given for everyday site activities - logging in, up/downvoting others, even signing up![/font][/color]

    [color=#000000][font=helvetica, arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif][font=Arial][background=transparent]These 4 categories will combine to create your overall reputation number on the site.[/background][/font][/font][/color]




    [color=#b22222]Below is a listing of our list of ways to earn reputation. At the moment only those items with an asterisk are active. While this list is by no means final, it should serve as an idea for members as to how reputation can be earned.[/color]

    Some key terminology:

    • Default Amount - this is how many points a member will earn as a result of this action (note that a negative amount can be applied to rescind an original transaction)
    • Max Per Day - this is the maximum number of times this action can be taken for points, it is NOT the number of points you can earn per day
    • Max Amount - this is the maximum number of times this action can be taken for points over the lifetime of your account


      [color=#800000][font=Arial]

      [background=transparent]Participation Points[/background]

      [/font][/color]
      [color=#000000][font=Arial]

      [background=transparent]Rewarded for actions taken around the website in general[/background]

      [/font][/color]

      [table]
      [tr]
      [td]Title[/td]
      [td]Default Amount[/td]
      [td]Max Per Day[/td]
      [td]Max Amount[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Sign up for site *[/td]
      [td]100[/td]
      [td]1[/td]
      [td]1[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Sign up for GDNet+[/td]
      [td]100[/td]
      [td]1[/td]
      [td]1[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Login *[/td]
      [td]1[/td]
      [td]1[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Opt-in to Newsletter[/td]
      [td]50[/td]
      [td]1[/td]
      [td]1[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Post an abusive / spammy message

      If a post of yours is reported to a moderator and a moderator approves the report, you will suffer a point hit for the offending post *note that this is still under consideration

      [/td][td]-20[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [/tr]
      [/table]


      [color=#800000][font=Arial]

      [background=transparent]Moderator Points[/background]

      [/font][/color]
      [color=#000000][font=Arial]

      [background=transparent]Rewarded for actions that involve policing the community or reviewing content[/background]

      [/font][/color]

      [table]
      [tr]
      [td]Title[/td]
      [td]Default Amount[/td]
      [td]Max Per Day[/td]
      [td]Max Amount[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Report Post to Moderator *

      Use the "Report" feature of posts and comments to flag inappropriate items for moderator review


      [/td]
      [td]5[/td]
      [td]100[/td]
      [td]inf0[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Moderator resolves report *[/td]
      [td]10[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Moderator rejects report *

      Moderators review all submitted reports. A report can either be marked "completed" or deleted altogether. Only blatantly false or spammy reports will be deleted.


      [/td]
      [td]-10[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Vote and Comment on Article

      Vote on an un-reviewed article and offer constructive criticism (requires both a vote AND a comment, can only be done once per article)


      [/td]
      [td]5[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [/tr]
      [/table]


      [color=#800000][font=Arial]

      [background=transparent]Scholar Points[/background]

      [/font][/color]
      [color=#000000][font=Arial]

      [background=transparent]Rewarded for actions that work to benefit the knowledge of community members[/background]

      [/font][/color]

      [table]
      [tr]
      [td]Title[/td]
      [td]Default Amount[/td]
      [td]Max Per Day[/td]
      [td]Max Amount[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Legacy Point System Transfer *

      Points transferred from the old reputation system

      [/td]
      [td]1[/td]
      [td]0[/td]
      [td]0[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Your topic is bookmarked *[/td]
      [td]5[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Your post is upvoted/downvoted *

      Additional scholar points are added/removed based off of the reputation of the user doing the rating - the higher their rating, the more they contribute


      [/td]
      [td]1/-1[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Bookmark a topic[/td]
      [td]1[/td]
      [td]50[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Your Reply is Marked as Answer[/td]
      [td]15[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [/tr]
      [/table]


      [color=#800000][font=Arial]

      [background=transparent]Author Points[/background]

      [/font][/color]
      [color=#000000][font=Arial]

      [background=transparent]Rewarded for actions that create content for the community to learn from[/background]

      [/font][/color]

      [table]
      [tr]
      [td]Title[/td]
      [td]Default Amount[/td]
      [td]Max Per Day[/td]
      [td]Max Amount[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Submit a news item

      Send in a news item via the front page Submit News button


      [/td]
      [td]5[/td]
      [td]10[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Submit an article

      Submit a full article for editing


      [/td]
      [td]15[/td]
      [td]5[/td]
      [td] [/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Article Content Approved

      A content moderator has taken a look at your submitted article and approved it for the community to begin viewing


      [/td]
      [td]100[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]News Content approved

      The news item article the user submitted is cleared through the moderation queue


      [/td]
      [td]15[/td]
      [td] [/td]
      [td] [/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Article Granted "Peer Reviewed" Status

      The article you submitted was not only approved for initial publication, but is in good enough form to be considered "Peer Reviewed"


      [/td]
      [td]50[/td]
      [td] [/td]
      [td] [/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Create a journal entry[/td]
      [td]10[/td]
      [td]1[/td]
      [td] [/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Your content is voted up/down

      Additional points are added/removed based off the reputation of the user doing the rating of the user’s article or journal post


      [/td]
      [td]1/-1[/td]
      [td]inf[/td]
      [td] [/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Your content is commented on[/td]
      [td]1[/td]
      [td]25[/td]
      [td] [/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Write a book review[/td]
      [td]15[/td]
      [td]5[/td]
      [td] [/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Submit an IOTD[/td]
      [td]10[/td]
      [td]1[/td]
      [td] [/td]
      [/tr]
      [tr]
      [td]Your IOTD is featured [/td]
      [td]15[/td]
      [td]1[/td]
      [td] [/td]
      [/tr]
      [/table]
Michael Tanczos
Everyone this week got a pretty sizeable ratings boost. Why? Because you guys are all so awesome. One of the core objectives that we as a site set this year was to give our members more of a chance to shine. It's tough as a site to figure out ways to do that, and we've tried to do that sort of thing each week by showing off the developer journal posts from our community members in a summary post called Weekend Reading: Tales from Journal Land . We also have shown top members in each forum on the side of the forum and really tried to localize all the resources related to a topic to the forum itself to make it easier to see what the people within your own little nook of the site are doing.

topmember.JPG

We have some big changes to the site in the works, and we know we can do much better to put so many hardworking members in the spotlight.. so we are starting with some big changes to our reputation system.

For the TL;DR folks out there, here are some links to play around with:

View the reputation of all members by segment, see how you rank (try searching for your own name!)
https://www.gamedev.net/sm/

Individual member reputation profile
http://www.gamedev.n.../33873-apochpiq


Still reading? Great! Here is some backstory on our reputation system for members..

[color=#000000][font=Arial]

[background=transparent]Gamedev.net has employed some form of reputation/rating system for over 10 years now. Pre-2011 we had a lot of success with a rating system that was modeled after the USCF chess rating system. The idea was that a person with higher rating should be considered more experienced than someone with a lower rating. The original system had one member directly rating the helpfulness of another member. What was different between our system and some of the others out there was that how much a member could contribute to another member was not only related to how many points the rating member had, but what the DIFFERENCE between ratings was. [/background]

[/font][/color]

[color=#000000][font=Arial]

[background=transparent]Basically, if I have a rating of 2000 I was able to have a more profound impact when I rate someone who has 1000 points versus when I rate someone at 1900 points.[/background]

[/font][/color] [color=#000000][font=Arial]

[background=transparent]Granted, it takes time for a person to accumulate rating points but in the end if a person is actively participating on the site they should see a higher rating for themselves. [/background]

[/font][/color]

Old Forum Top Member Listing
oldforums.jpg


[color=#000000][font=Arial]

[background=transparent]In migrating to a different forums we adopted the reputation system built into that native forum. Under this system members gained reputation largely by up/down voting particular posts. This was actually one of the more frequent suggestions we received on how to tweak the old system to make it better. While the system itself is fine, one of the problems we often see is a failure to recognize those who take the time to help each other.[/background]

[/font][/color].

GameDev.net will soon be getting a brand new reputation system for all members.



[color=#000000][font=Arial]

[background=transparent]When we came up with the idea behind GameDev.net's new reputation system we decided to take a good hard look at some of the more modern technical resource sites out there and see what they were doing. Now we have been using reputation for years, but a number of sites have expanded well beyond what we were doing.[/background]

[/font][/color]

[color=#000000][font=Arial]

[background=transparent]Reputation is a point value that represents how much the community trusts you and how much you give back to the community. You can accumulate reputation points through answering questions and creating articles/journals. What is cool about reputation is that under this new system the more reputation you earn, the more privileges you'll unlock on GameDev.net.[/background]

[/font][/color]

[color=#000000][font=Arial]

[background=transparent]Originally you could only earn reputation by convincing others that you know what you are talking about, but it is far too easy to contribute and not receive proper recognition. We want that to change. Not only are we doing much more to encourage your fellow members to give you recognition for your contributions, but we are putting you in the driver's seat with a slew of new ways to directly advance your rank within the community. [/background]

[/font][/color]

memberprofile.JPG

[color=#000000][font=Arial]

[background=transparent]As a member you'll be able to earn points for basic site participation activities, for posting helpful replies in the forums, policing the community using moderator actions, and ESPECIALLY for authoring tutorials and helpful blog posts. [/background]

[/font][/color]

[color=#000000][font=Arial]

[background=transparent]Points are split into 4 categories:[/background]

[/font][/color]

  • [color=#000000][font=Arial]

    [background=transparent]Scholar - Any up/down votes you receive from posts in the technical, business, or creative forums will be added to the scholar category.[/background]

    [/font][/color]
  • [color=#000000][font=Arial]

    [background=transparent]Moderator - Points given for moderator actions (activities such as submitting moderator reports, voting on content, providing feedback, etc)[/background]

    [/font][/color]
  • [color=#000000][font=Arial]

    [background=transparent]Author - Points given to authors who write articles, get them peer reviewed, get articles favorited, etc. This is where people can pick up a lot of rep points if they get an article granted with a peer-reviewed status[/background]

    [/font][/color]
  • [color=#000000][font=Arial]

    [background=transparent]Participation - Points given for everyday site activities - logging in, up/downvoting others, even signing up![/background]

    [/font][/color]

    [color=#000000][font=Arial]

    [background=transparent]These 4 categories will combine to create your overall reputation number on the site.[/background]

    [/font][/color]
    [color=#000000][font=Arial]

    [background=transparent] [/background]

    [/font][/color]
    smrep.JPG

    Stay tuned for more information on the new reputation system.. it will include a new Q&A format as well as brand-spanking new way to post articles!
jbadams
Some of you may have noticed our new "Classifieds" system, created to replace the Help Wanted forum (now closed to new posts) and address a number of issues resulting from the use of a simple forum for recruiting. In a moment we'll take a look at some of the features Classifieds offers and the reasons for its implementation, but first we'll take a brief look at the history and problems with the Help Wanted forum.

It's obvious that any online community focused on the creation of any product - and especially one so often requiring multiple disciplines - will find members wanting to band together to help each other create bigger and better products than they would be able to make alone. The obvious solution to this is to set aside a forum specifically recruiting and looking for teams. Enter the Help Wanted forum.

Things initially went fairly well for the Help Wanted forum; ads were posted, the occasional member offered their services to others (although this was much rarer in the early days), and lots of feedback was given to those trying to recruit.

It was all very unstructured and a bit of a mess, but a make-shift solution was found with the introduction of a required template that posts had to follow, ensuring that at least in theory all of the necessary information would be presented in a logical and ordered fashion, and that at least some thought (though still unfortunately often just the minimum to fill out the template) went into projects before a topic was posted. The template was a simple text layout provided in a sticky/pinned topic for people to paste into their new Help Wanted ads, and those who failed to use it were pointed in the direction of the topic and instructed to edit their posts.

Then arose the first big problem with the Help Wanted forum - one that seems to pop up anywhere such a service is offered and sees a lot of use - the feedback started getting nasty, and a large portion of it stopped being constructive. Some members visited Help Wanted purely to poke fun, beginners were regularly chased away from the site, and even projects which may have otherwise seen success went down in flames or were buried in the fast moving forum by pointless project-bashing topics. For a time, replies were simply dis-allowed in the forum - a solution other such forums on other sites have stuck with - and were eventually re-introduced in a more controlled manner via a "feedback" section on the end of the required template, where users could specify what type of feedback they felt they could handle.

After all that, the forum had another large problem resulting from its popularity; there was no ability to easily sort or filter the types of content displayed. Projects offering help, paid, unpaid, beginner and advanced projects were all jumbled together, and unfortunately for a lot of users who were hoping to find a good project to join, the much more numerous unpaid beginner projects vastly out-numbered those offering payment or a higher chance of a successful release.

Introducing Classifieds

The Help Wanted forum is now closed to new posts, and will soon be phased out entirely in favour of our new Classifieds system. The classifieds section unifies the old careers section and Help Wanted forum so that professional, independent and hobbyist positions all appear neatly in the one section of the site. There is a separate section for contractors to advertise their services, and projects are listed in a number of categories. Jobs can be filtered by whether or not they are paid.

The new section also has a simple form to fill out, eliminating the need to paste in and work with a plain text template, and also allowing new ads to be displayed immediately rather than having to await approval.

By leveraging a properly designed system rather than a simple forum, we open up the option of sorting and filtering content as well as easily providing more exposure elsewhere around the site - as an example of this, you might have noticed that recent and featured jobs now appear in a sidebar in the forums. Developer time is also freed up to work on exciting new features for the site rather than simply supporting basic functionality.

In line with the revamped GDNet+ subscription and the new Marketplace feature (which allows content creators to sell their work), the Classifieds system also represents a move towards supporting the continued operation and development of the site based on offering the community valuable services rather than having to rely solely on advertising. Money raised by the site through the Marketplace and Classifieds sections goes directly towards the site's operational costs and towards future developments, whilst offering our community valuable services at very reasonable prices.

Personal not-for-profit projects can be listed at no cost in the "hobbyist projects" section, and we've done our best to provide great value for our very affordable prices for indie ads, with a 45-day listing costing you less than many take-out lunch options!

Initial feedback on the classifieds section has been very positive, and we'd love to hear your thoughts on how we could continue to add more value to this new site feature.
Gaiiden
I want to make everyone aware of a change we made during a recent review of our moderating procedures and policy. We've enabled the option for users to see their warning level - this will appear as a bar beneath your avatar under each forum post you make and also in your profile page. It appears exactly as the moderators see it and it will only appear visible to you when you are logged in.

This warning level is mainly a tool for the moderators to help them track behavior that skirts the boundaries or lightly tests the limits of our posting guidelines. This behavior generally does not warrant a ban or suspension, and in this case you may notice a bump in your warning bar in addition to a PM from the moderator who adjusted your warning level.

Please note that this warning history is taken on a case-by-case basis - you do not need to have a full warning bar for us to consider suspending or banning you from the website.

Warning levels can be adjusted up and down, but they do not fall on their own over time. Please do not ask for your level to be lowered. If your community actions give reason for this to be done, it will.

In addition to seeing your warning level represented as a bar under your avatar, you can click on it to view the notes moderators have left when they increase or decrease your warning level. They can also leave notes without altering your warning level. This ensures that all moderators can be made aware of any past problems when they approach an issue involving a member they have not directly dealt with before. Either way you will also receive a PM from the moderator informing you of this change as it appears the system does not automatically provide such notification.

Again, this warning meter is primarily a moderator tool, however the mods and staff don't see any reason to not make available the comments being entered into your account for other moderators to view and reference when performing their duties. These comments will still be reflected in PMs sent directly to you and quick access to these warning comments can be your reference as well to actions that should not be repeated here on the site.
Gaiiden
Just want to make a quick official update about some of the changes and additions you may have noticed we've made to the moderation team over the past few months.

New Senior Moderators



Community Manager Washu and myself appointed two new moderators to the Senior Mods council - swiftcoder and jbadams. They join both Washu and Sneftel as head of our moderation team. Senior Mods are generally who interface with the Staff the most and help resolve any disputes that occur between moderators as well as setting/enforcing moderator policy.

New Moderators



We value the time each and every moderator here on the site puts in to making this such a great community and we recognize that their availability can change, often drastically, depending on life conditions. At some point a mod won't be able to come by the site often enough to feel they can properly do their job and while we know they will still stop by every now and then, it's time to fill out the ranks a little bit with new mods to help fill in the gaps.

So with that the mods and I put our heads together and evaluated community members to select new moderators. We decided on three - Hodgman, rip-off, and frob.

New Forum Moderators



Not every moderator is in charge of a forum - the majority are just "roving moderators" who are around to handle issues that crop up anywhere. In fact, all mods can moderate across the forums, it's just that "forum moderators" are the go-to mod for issues that pop up in specific forums when a user wants to contact someone, and are also responsible for keeping the forum tidy and any FAQs or such material.

Game Programming - Zahlman had to step down from his duties. swiftcoder stepped up to take over his duties.

APIs and Tools - with swiftcoder shuffling over to Game Programming we assigned Hodgman over here

Mobile and Console Development - Sneftel also announced he needed to take a step back from forum mod duties, and we brought on frob to take over for him

Visual Arts - dbaumgart had to move on from moderation duties and JTippetts volunteered to step up and take over

Once again a thank you to all our moderators, past and present - all 50+ of you!, for the time and effort you put in to helping shape this community.
Gaiiden
Open Tagging vs. Closed Tagging

When we launched the site upgrade and announced that we had a new tagging system, it was also made clear that this system was closed, which meant that we supplied the tags you all could select from. The primary reasoning behind this closed system was to reduce what I call "tag fragmentation", which would eventually make tagging content a useless exercise if left unchecked and unmoderated (read the link for more on this issue). However beneficial it is in the long run though, the closed system does have drawbacks. For one, you simply can't add a new tag for anything that we may have missed considering tag-worthy, which is probably a lot. Another drawback specific to this software was that the tag list drop down did not sort tags alphabetically, which meant finding the tag you wanted to include was a bit difficult.

Fortunately we've added some functionality to the software now that gives us more control over tags being used, and we can now monitor how many uses a particular tag has, indentify and merge similar tags, etc. This means that we can switch to an open tagging system and let you use whatever tags you want for content you post on the forums or in your journals. Well, whatever tags you want within reason. As I said we will be moderating tag usage and will be removing anything like "my first journal entry" - not to mention tags that don't follow our terms of use for language and stuff. Tagging should be relegated to keywords only. Any tags with more than two words will immediately be suspect for removal.

There's still a downside, although we hope to tackle this problem soon - you can't see other tags that have been used while making a post. So unless you've already seen another piece of content tagged in the subject you're posting about you may have to guess at what an appropriate tag name would be - for example "Direct3D" or "D3D"? Eventually we hope to make it so you can find this information easier while posting so your content is immediately included in the larger pool of other tag uses without waiting for us to spot the dupe tag and merge it.

Open Tagging, Closed Prefixes

While we're able to open up the tagging system, we've decided to keep prefixes on a closed system. Prefixes are good ways to let people sort content in a forum topics list faster with just their eyes by picking out the prefixes that are important to them. This ability breaks down rapidly when there are a lot of different prefixes in use.

If you can't find a prefix you feel suits your topic, you are still welcome to use the [] characters at the start of your topic to define your own prefix. If the moderators see it used often they may add it to the prefix list and can easily go back and bulk-add this official prefix to the past threads. We're also working with the individual forum mods to add additional ones we may have missed in the initial building of the prefix selection.

The Purpose of Prefixing

If you're a bit uncertain as to the use of prefixes, the idea is to identify a large amount of similar topics quickly and easily. Older members may recall that we had a couple more forums than what you see in our current index. Merging several of the low-traffic forums with ones of similar nature and greater traffic is a benefit to the lower-traffic forum participants now posting threads that get many more views. However at the same time the participants of both forums now have more topics to wade through to find what they like to read. Enter prefixes. Think of them as forum sub topics. Anyone visiting the API and Tools forum to read up on SDL discussions, for example, can spot them easily with a prefix. Anyone visiting the DirectX and XNA board looking for SlimDX topcis can also spot them easily with prefixes. And so on. This lets us combine many like-minded people in one area but still sort out discussion amongst groups of interest. For this reason we encourage everyone to prefix their topics whenever possible for the benefit of others and yourself in attracting the proper readers to your thread.

Prefix Colors

A quick note on prefix colors - currently they are all the same shade of blue. In a short while, after we nail down the prefixes a bit more, we will start coloring them to make it easier to identify an individual type or group of prefixes in the forum topic listings (for example DirectX prefixes may be varying shades of green, or a single shade of green).

Questions? Concerns? Share them in the comments below!
Michael Tanczos
Note: This post contains images from the next version of our site from areas still under development and are subject to change

In shaping our future we have developed a number of principles that will shape our future direction in a way that will be very positive for the game development community. Over the past year we have implemented a considerable number of changes to secure the longevity of our site and community, and now we're looking to improve what you get out of the site and make it a valuable resource.

The idea behind these five items is to allow us to help each other much easier. Sites like StackOverflow have done a great job with quick questions and answers and the interface is simple to use for people to contribute answers. The forums on our site have long been immensely popular as a way to communicate, and the ease by which people can contribute responses is a huge factor in it's success. Our own developer journals have resulted in the publication of a number of really great articles as well.

LinkSharing.PNG

[size="2"]Above: Sharing resource links with fellow members using a special bookmarklet is quick and easy



[size="5"][size="3"]Lesson learned?
Provide an environment that makes it easy for members to publish information on game development




When we originally made the site back in 1999 were nothing but a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears programmers who wanted nothing more than to provide a cool place where people could share game development information. What a simple concept. Over the years we've heard complaints of us becoming too "corporate" with our look, but the truth is that for anybody running a large web site you have to appeal to both your audience and advertisers. It may have been just us going from a black background to a white one though..

One of the more interesting things we have experienced on this site was seeing how important reputation and recognition really is to our members. Quite honestly, to go and give hours of your time to help others is very selfless and in many cases our members don't quite get the thanks they really deserve for all of their efforts. As we go forward we're going to do a much better job giving credit where it's due.

[size="3"]Lesson learned?
[size="5"]Encourage members to communicate and share information with each other and recognize those who take the time to contribute





The next area we've already spoken about at length in previous blog posts. But when you run a site for 10 years you accumulate cruft.. lots of little odds and ends that really serve as distractions more than anything. We're going to be doing a MAJOR house-cleaning going forward and allowing you to focus on just the topics that you are interested in most while adding new ones where needed.


blogentry-8549-0-16758700-1320818470_thumb.png


So instead of 30 forums you get half that.. and it's going to be extremely easy to access not only forum posts, but everything related to that topic.

We're also going to be combining all the different resources you can use into one area accessible from the very forum you are used to using now. As you can see in the following picture, it is possible to post a new article on the very same page you can post new topics just by clicking a different tab. While this page is still heavily in development, you can begin to get an idea of what we are shooting for here.

Resources.PNG
Note: Resources shown above are for testing purposes only and do not reflect the DirectX and XNA category just yet

[size="3"]Lesson learned?
[size="5"]Allow members to easily find information by providing a very focused number of topic areas





We have a very large base of moderators actively patrolling the community and making sure that our community maintains a high standard of conduct. This has been great and has really worked well to reduce the amount of negative community interaction.

One of the staples of more modern websites though is how much the community is allowed to take ownership of their own identity. Sites like Wikipedia have pushed this idea to the extreme, allowing anyone to contribute to the site for the better good. Being more open makes it extremely easy to publish information, and that's awesome. While complete openness also makes abuse a bigger potential threat, we strongly think that their are more benefits to allowing members to easily publish.

So this next lesson learned ties in with two of the previous lessons. By opening up some moderation responsibilities, community members will have an easier time policing the community and promoting great content. The amount of responsibility you are granted is largely going to be based on your site reputation - which will take on a whole new meaning as our site moves forward.

[size="3"]Lesson learned?
[size="5"]Allow trustworthy members beyond elected moderators to take ownership of information and participate in the moderation process



There is one more core principle we will be working on, and that is to allow employers and team leaders to connect easier with potential employees or contractors. "Help Wanted" continues to be one of our most heavily visited forums, so we're going to greatly expand the number of job listings we make available by tapping into every resource we can find to obtain job listings. We will also make it easy for contractors to post advertisements with high visibility detailing their own needs so others can take advantage of their services.

In summary, these lessons have established our new set of core principles for 2012.. and it's with these items that we will move forward and provide the kind of site that can help you become a better developer.

GameDev.net will:
  1. [size="3"]Provide an environment that makes it easy for members to publish information on game development
  2. [size="3"]Encourage members to communicate and share information with each other and recognize those who take the time to contribute
  3. [size="3"]Allow members to easily find information by providing a very focused number of topic areas
  4. [size="3"]Allow trustworthy members beyond elected moderators to take ownership of information and participate in the moderation process
  5. [size="3"]Allow employers \ team leaders to connect easier with potential employees or contractors
Gaiiden
[size="3"]The Series:
  • Content Revamp Part 1: Developer Journals
  • Content Revamp Part 2: Categories and Forums

    [size="3"]Overview

    The addition of tags to the Invision suite of products is, in our view, one of the more significant steps forward with their latest version of the software. Tagging has proven itself over the years to be a very useful and efficient means of organizing massive amounts of information. In our original system, prior to the advent of tagging in general, we had a list of categories nested several layers deep that was used to sort out articles into specific groups so it was easier to find what you were looking for by drilling down to more and more specific topics. In addition to collapsing this all down into a few high-level categories as I discussed in my previous entry, we can now leverage the tagging system to help you fine tune your search for information.

    [size="3"]Closed Tagging System

    I should say right up front that we're going with a closed tagging system rather than an open system. This means that we will have a predefined list of tags for you to select from, and you will not be able to enter in your own tag names. The reason we are going with a closed system is because the Invision tagging system is still very much in its infancy, and as such the tools they have in place for moderating tags is practically zilch. My main concern in terms of moderation is what I call "tag fragmentation". You can come up with all sorts of different tags to refer to the same subject - for example: DirectX 11 can be referred to as DX11, DirectX11, DirectX 11, D3D11, etc. I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this. If people use multiple tags to refer to the same topic, it essentially "spreads out" that information rather than consolidating it like a tag should. We want you all to be sure that when you click on a "DirectX 11" tag you're getting all the tagged information on our site related to DirectX 11.

    We've polled the moderators as well as other staff to compile a starting list of tags and will be building from there. We will announce an informal method for suggesting new tags directly to us, and hopefully down the road Invision will add the ability within a content piece to submit these suggestions in a more formal fashion. My dream system would be giving you all the freedom to tag things however you want and us having a moderation panel that lets us see how many items of content are being tagged by what words and then merge tags together, much like we can merge forum posts, to consolidate the various tags under one tag. While typing in your tags, you will be given suggestions of already-existing tags to choose from. Are you listening, Invision? ;)

    [size="3"]Tagging/Prefixing Forum Posts

    Tagging in the forums works in two main ways. The common method is to add tags that describe the content of your post. This is done through a drop-down list that will provide you with a list of tags to select from. In case you're worried about getting presented with a huge long list of tags, not to worry. While we will indeed maintain a large global list of defined tags for eventual use in places like journals and articles, each forum can override this huge list with its own select set of tags. This is also so that no one in the OpenGL forum is somehow tempted or able to tag something as "Direct X". The tags selected will appear listed below the topic title on the main forum page and the topic thread page.

    Another option is to select a topic prefix. You see these in the forums already manually created by users like [XNA] or [PAID]. These will be text labels that show up before the topic title in the forum listing and can be colored to match certain prefixes to make it easier to pick out different forum topics. Currently you set these prefixes using the first tag you attach to the thread, meaning this is also a closed system, although you are free to choose your prefix. However some forums may have a predefined selection if prefixes to use rather than allowing you to choose one out of the tag pool, mainly to keep prefix clutter down and make prefixes more easily identifiable. Some forums may also require you to prefix topics, while others may not.

    Both tags and prefixes are clickable and will bring up a search result listing all forum content tagged in a similar manner.

    [size="3"]Tagging Other Content

    Currently only IP.Content, the Invision application running our articles system, is the one lacking tagging support; however Mike Tanczos has written some custom tag code that we will be using until Invision ties IP.Content into their tagging system hopefully sometime next spring.

    Until then, and possibly after depending on how the tagging system in general has evolved, Articles and resources will also have an open tagging system although it will be moderated by me to match up with the predefined tags we have already for the forum system, all other tags will be considered suggestions. Clicking on the tags listed with an article will bring up a list of similarly tagged article content, however from the search page it is one click to run the same search on forum topics, which is why these tags will be moderated to match up.

    Journals will continue, for the present, to have an open tagging system as these tags are currently only used within that individual journal. So when I tag posts as "Weekend Reading" and you click on that tag link it will only bring up posts with that tag in my journal, not from other journals and not from the site in general. IP.Blog, the application behind the journal system, supposedly is tied into the Invision tagging system so this may change rapidly after we update the site and bring onboard any new features Invision has for this application's latest version.

    [size="3"]Tying It All Together... Eventually

    As the tagging system continues to roll out and evolve we will continue to weave it into our site so that tags become the basis for searching and finding specific topics around GameDev.net, with our high-level categories being the initial guide-post towards what you are looking for. With one tag you'll be able to find articles, resources, journal posts and forum topics. I personally am really excited about finally being able to regain some type of real organization to our huge and varied resource database ever since the categories method grew beyond its capacity and usefulness way back in the early 2000's, augmented at that time only by a better search engine thanks to Google. This is an update that has been too long in coming and it's finally almost here!

    [size="3"]Coming Up Next...

    Nope not done yet! Next entry I'll go over the improvements we've made to the way articles are being delivered, as well as helping you to find other content in case what you selected wasn't quite what you were looking for.
Gaiiden
In my last entry, I discussed how we were looking to revamp the Developer Journals section of the website, and in this entry I'm going to talk more about how the new site version will handle article categories and forums.

newmenu.png

[size="3"]Overview

This new menu is another one of the big departures we're making from the original site design, which has through the years always remained pretty much the same in terms of navigating the website. (For some comparison, check out the gallery of past page versions at the bottom of our About Us page) In this new version, we've divvied up the site into 3 main categories: Technical, Creative and Business. You can click on any of the category headers to get a page listing all the forums in that category or jump straight to a specific forum by using the drop-down list. Given how important our forums are, we're making it much easier for you to access them directly.

Another big change we've made is to map our resource categories directly to our forums. You can see this right now if you visit the full category listing of the Articles & Resources section. The heirarchy of resources is much, much flatter than what we originally had. The main reason we couldn't broadly categorize articles in the old site is because it made it harder for people to search for specific topics - with all our categories people had the ability to drill down to a specific subset of articles numbering a dozen or so rather than search through a few dozen or hundred labeled "DirectX".

Now, with the IPS software moving towards supporting tagging of content, we have the option to broadly categorize resources and rely on tags to help people find specific topics within these categories. We've long looked towards tags as a solution to getting our content better organized and accessible and are excited to finally be able to begin putting them to use.

[size="3"]Forum Changes

The forums themselves are also getting reorganized a bit. Often times in the Comments, Suggestions and Ideas forum people will request new forums be created around certain topics and our usual response is to say that we need a substantial amount of traffic about these topics cluttering up a forum before we feel the need to branch it out to a separate forum. Well, the reverse is also true - if a forum stops receiving a decent amount of traffic and posting we're going to shut it down and merge it back into a forum that carries discussion along similar lines. The reason for this is simple - forums thrive when lots of people are participating in the discussion. It's great that we may have a separate forum for people to go to discuss isometric programming, for example, but it's not so great when only a couple of people are actually visiting the forum to weigh in on what's being posted there. It would be much better to just post the topic in the Game Programming forum where a lot more people will see it and respond to it.

So with this in mind we'll be closing, renaming, shuffling and merging some forums. Here's the full list:

"Isometric Land" will be merged into "Game Programming"
"Software Engineering" will be merged into "General Programming"
"Java Development" will be merged into "General Programming" (Topics prefixed with [java])
".NET" will be merged into "General Programming" (Topics prefixed with [.net])
"Hardware discussion" will be removed
"Consoles, PDAs and Cell phones" will be renamed to "Mobile Development"
"Gamedev: The comic / Gamedev: Humour Portal" will be merged into "The Lounge"
"Alternate Game Libraries" and "Scripting Languages and Mods" will be combined to form a new "APIs and Tools" forum
"Web Development" will be merged into "General Programming"
"Everything Unix" will be merged into "General Programming"
"GDNet Marketplace" will be merged into "Comments, Suggestions and Ideas"
"Article Proposals and Requests" will be removed
"Breaking Into the Games Industry" will be renamed to "Breaking In" or something similar (shorter)
"The Business and Law of Game Development" will be renamed to "Business and Law"

And since we are trimming down the forums we decided to also add one: "Production and Management" - which has been requested for some time and is being created also for the purpose of categorizing certain articles which would otherwise end up in "Business and Law".

[size="3"]Coming Up Next...

A lot to take in on the forum-side of things I know. We're hoping streamlining the forums and condensing traffic amongst them will lead to better discussions overall. After a time we may discover the need to break out some new forums - but we'll continue to handle this on a case-by-case basis as they arise.

So next up I'll go into more detail about a feature I mentioned briefly in this entry - tagging.

Gaiiden
Alright folks, last week Mike gave you all a preview of what the new front page will look like. I'm here now to discuss in more detail the way you will be browsing content on GDNet with the latest revision of the website interface. There's a lot to discuss, so I'm breaking this up into multiple journal entries to give you all stuff to digest and react to a little at a time. We're going to start with the Developer Journals and talk about the problems they've had and how we're looking to make them a better source for learning and sharing information.

[size="3"]Overview

First, let me come right out and say that my earlier personal journal post on content handling here at GDNet has been pretty much tossed aside in the months that followed. For one thing, it was still too mired in the old way we used to do things and as I became more familiar with the capabilities of IPS (both current and looking ahead to the version update we're working towards rolling out) I and the rest of the staff realized it really was time to completely throw out the old model and switch fully over to giving the community members the ability to publish their own works.

In fact that's pretty much what has been happening this past year with the Featured Journal spot on the front page and my (almost) weekly Weekend Reading wrap-ups of the more interesting posts coming out of Journal Land. Since we made journals open to all members, everyone has had the freedom to publish whatever their heart's desire - which has pretty much been the thing to do all over the internet for years now (Wordpress, anyone?). At first, some people were a bit afraid that this would open the floodgates to a swath of useless and banal postings. While there have certainly been questionable entries in many journals throughout the past year, the community has for the most part pulled together when necessary to point out flaws after we corrected the problem pointed out in Mike P's journal post (about comment moderation). And that's awesome, because it's not the goal of everyone making journal posts to directly educate others, but to say "here's what I'm doing - what do you think?"

But therein lies an as yet unsolved issue with the journal system that has also made this community moderation and conversation not as effective as we would like. Currently, the journal comments are completely detached from a user's profile and "watch" system. We can't see if you've commented on a journal by visiting your profile, and you can't track which journal posts you've commented on to be notified of any replies. So what we usually end up with is people dropping a comment after reading, moving on and never coming back to continue any sort of real conversation unless 1) the journal is being featured and thus easily re-callable or 2) the person bookmarks the journal themselves to check back for new replies - if they remember. The same goes for journal authors, who get no notifications of replies made to earlier entries they don't look at anymore. This is an issue we are addressing in the site update. I'm hoping it leads to more comments and discussion for journal entries as a whole.

So okay you have this journal, and you can write stuff in it. Whatever you want. That's pretty cool but how do you make sure people see it? Visibility is another issue the journals have had, sequestered away on their own page separate from the rest of the site content (forums and articles/resources). Other than my Weekend Readings and the Featured Journal on the main page, you need to visit the Developer Journals page to see what's new. There are three ways we'll be making it easier for your journal post to be seen, read and discussed upon in the updated website:

Front Page

frontpage.png


We're bringing back the old news stream in the form of "Our News" that will be the first tab loaded when you visit the home page. In this stream we'll be highlighting top stories from the "Around the Web" feed as well as high-rated journal content and new articles added to the resources section. Will the Dailies be making a come back? Perhaps! No, really that's not a tease I honestly don't know at this time.

Forum Page

newforum.png


Check out the image above. On each forum page you'll be able to switch views to see all the latest content relevant to that forum topic, which will include both traditional articles and journal content.

Tagging System

We will be integrating tags into the site a lot more in this revision, and one of the things this will allow us to do is easily identify what journal entries should show up in which forum resource pages. The tagging system will eventually do more than this but that's for a future entry.

[size="3"][size="2"][size="3"]But... I have my own blog...

And that's perfectly okay too! While we would prefer you syndicate your content into a GDNet Journal so it's easier for us to pick up and highlight for the community to see we understand that some people prefer to stay within their own website or blogging software. We will be monitoring external blog feeds as well and can always link to an external blog through an article resource. Problem is that we might not know of you unless you tell us - so [email="dsikora@gamedev.net"]drop me an email[/email] and I will add your blog to our feed reader. [size="3"]

Editorial Oversight


While our members (and the internet in general with regard to external blogs) are welcome to post whatever they want in their journals, there will still be people deciding what entries get added to the forum resource tabs and get featured on the main page. Some will pass via the community review process, others may be plucked out by our Editorial Review Board of moderators each experienced in a particular field of game development. Also, featured journal entries and entries added to the forum resources tab are not exactly the same thing. For example, we will happily feature game project releases and notable updates on the front page, but these are not things we would include in the forum resources tabs.

[size="3"]Coming Up Next...

Did you happen to notice that the top menu in Mike's screenshot last week was a bit... different? Okay, a lot different. Next entry I'll be discussing the new way we're organizing the website and the content herein.

For now, drop a note in the comments on how you feel about the Developer Journals and anything you would want to see changed or added.
Michael Tanczos
We're feverishly working towards completing the next iteration of our site. Our goal is to have it out this quarter. As mentioned in my previous staff entry, we are going to be doing a lot with this site to make GameDev.net a great place to share development information with your fellow members. That is really our goal, first and foremost. We all recognize that we as a community have a tremendous ability to help each other out.

[size="3"]"Recent News" is Gone

Earlier in the year we had this idea that switching our news over to aggregate news sources from across the web would result in better news for everyone. What really happened was that we were all inundated with an unfiltered stream of mostly garbage mixed in with a few gems here and there. To be honest, I could care less if Company X merges with Company Y or if they make a billion dollars in revenues this quarter.. and it seems as though many of you feel the same way.

What was also missing was that personal touch that we used to have when we did our own news dailies. We're taking steps toward an end goal where we can provide you with BOTH the personalized Gamedev.net news generated by our community as well as the news gems that are out there on the net. If we can cut down the posts that are available to just the ones that are worthwhile, then we've done our job.

[size="3"]So what's different?

At this point in time we are still using an aggregated feed from a number of news sources, but we have done a lot of work to help finding what is interesting and important. Earlier this year I implemented a duplicate story checker - which apparently is a lot more difficult than one might realize. What I came up with isn't perfect, but it did start to combine stories that cover a lot of the same stuff. This cut down on the noise quite a bit, but still left boring stories mixed in with the interesting ones.

Our realization was that in this day and age of Google News, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc it should be possible to take the subject of a story and analyze it across the web to figure out whether it is popular or not. That's when we made a major shift to the way that we weight news. If you notice, we don't exactly sort by the number of likes for a post - what we do sort by is a combination of different metrics that are contributed both by our spider researching a story on the internet as well as community interaction with the story. Even if you don't necessarily click "like" we do gain some information by the mere fact that you view a particular story or comment on it. When all is said and done, we use about a half dozen metrics to determine how we should sort top stories.

But we also had another problem. We had this "Most Recent Stories" view that was the unfiltered garbage feed that contained everything.. now that our system is actively using feedback throughout the web and from our community we could begin to easily sift the garbage stories from the good. So "Most Recent Stories" was replaced by a new view of the news: "Top Stories"

[size="3"]Top Stories

News can be viewed a number of ways, but each of those views involves viewing top news over a certain number of days. Well, if news is popular right out of the gate it meant that you could see the same story for a week straight at the top of the page of the 7 day view. Likewise, the 24 hour view just didn't provide good enough stories to be consistently used as our "default" view of the news.

The new "Top Stories" mixes some of the most popular new stories along with some stories that are standing the test of time and still continue to be popular across the web. That way if something major happens and you are away for a few days, you'll still see that news on our frontpage among all the hot new stories.. OR, if you check the frontpage for news daily you'll see a fresh variety of the best of what is out there in game development news.


[size="3"]So.. Frontpage overhaul?

We've finally settled on a design for the frontpage that you will see in the next iteration of the site.. and let me tell you, you're going to be very happy with it. We're cutting away just about everything that you would consider non-essential and providing you with only the most important information in an easy-to-digest format.

In the new frontpage you'll see in a nice tabbed format:
  • GDNet Community News - Our posts, Your Posts, Featured Developer Journals, Staff posts, etc
  • News from Around the Web - Our current "Top Stories" that you see on our homepage now
  • Member Activity - Some of the most recent contributions from our members
    gdnet_sneak_peek.PNG

    We will have a sidebar on the right - but with only four blocks: The GDNet spotlight, IOTD, Careers, and Events

    That's it.. no scrolling to get to news.. it's going to all be there in a nice and compact format.. and it will be designed to load FAST.

    That's all for now. We'll keep you posted as we make new developments. Let me know what you think regarding the evolution of the news and the direction we're heading! Take care everyone and keep helping one another! =)
Michael Tanczos
When you've been around as long as GameDev.net (12+ years) you see a lot of stuff happen around the industry. During that time we moved in different directions as well. This lead us to implement features and resource collections that at this point we no longer consider that important, but have kept around largely because of tradition. This is pure feature bloat. In the quest to do everything well it's easy to end up spreading yourself thin and doing fewer and fewer things particularly well. With a site lifetime as long as ours it was pretty clear that if you want to move forward you need to take a step back and cut down on anything that we either aren't doing well, is obsolete, or isn't clearly related to game development.

We are working on a major revamp of the site both from a software standard as well as from an organizational standpoint. This change was actually in planning before the start of the year prior to putting this new software in place. Our goal at the start of the year was to try and duplicate as much of the existing functionality of the old site as possible. To a large extent we were successful, but we certainly took some bumps and bruises with some areas of the site. Our forums are our heart and soul, no doubt about that. We have one of the most dedicated communities for game development on the net today thanks to all of you.

Even before our launch we had an idea of where we wanted to go for the second half of the year, and we knew the changes were going to be pretty awesome. We were going to revamp this site into something we can all use as a community to begin to collect great tutorials and information all in one place.. and it's going to be simple.

For that reason, we are going with a radical new approach.. something we have never done before. When you look up at the top menu and see "Features", "Community", "Resources" it's easy to get lost where you want to go. From our own standpoint we may love XNA and can eventually find the DirectX and XNA forum, but we're not going to go digging in the other deeply nested categorization schemes in books and articles to find more XNA stuff when Google works just fine.

Our entire site is going to revolve around a substantially smaller set of topics (note that we may tweak these):
  1. Beginners
  2. Game Programming
  3. General Programming
  4. Graphics Programming and Theory
  5. DirectX and XNA
  6. OpenGL
  7. Multiplayer and Network Programming
  8. Artificial Intelligence
  9. Math and Physics
  10. Mobile Development
  11. APIs and Tools
  12. Game Design
  13. Music and Sound
  14. Visual Arts
  15. Breaking into the Games Industry
  16. Business and Law of Game Development

Sixteen topics that cover technical, creative, and business matters.. that's it. Still sound like a lot? Right now we have categorization schemes with hundreds of categories. We even have 35 forums right now that we will look to reduce to match up with those categories. Rest assured, a few of your favorites like the GDNet Lounge, Your Announcements, and Help Wanted will still remain. For specific information associated with forum topics, journals, and articles we are going to rely heavily on tagging.. a new feature introduced into version 3.2 of the IPS software.

Every single topic will be directly accessible from the main menu. This will be the fastest you have ever been able to get at the topics you are interested in. Take a sneak peak at what you'll see when you click on a topic (note that the image below demonstrates a clear work in progress and is subject to change):

gdv6.PNG

If you are looking closely you'll notice that the UI is much cleaner than what is on the current site and there are tabs accessible that will contain resources and member activity. Our goal is to make it as easy to post resources like journals, images, and articles related to a particular topic as it easy to create forum posts. And that's all we're going to share for now. ;)

Version 3.2 of the IPS Community Suite that we use also will come with a ton of great new stuff. Check out some of the images below or take a visit to the IPS Community Suite web site to view a more descriptive list of what was added to the software.

whatsnew_full_forum.jpg
whatsnew_full_ucp.jpg
whatsnew_full_vnc.jpg
whatsnew_tags.jpg
Gaiiden
The GameDev.net Wiki (GDWiki) has not seen a lot of attention from us on staff for a number of reasons, the largest one simply being a lack of resources. This has been the case for quite some months now, even before the switch to the new site. The wiki was originally based off of the Game Programming Wiki (GPWiki), however after GDWiki founder Oluseyi had to move on from active participation in GDNet no one really stepped up to take his place. Once the GPWiki crew realized this they forked the wiki (as was their right in our original agreement) and continued to maintain that wiki separately on their own, while GDWiki continued to operate as well, but without any real oversight.

I recently got back in touch with the GPWiki crew and they were still open to working with us, however they wished to continue to remain independent. Rather than try to find some way to have GDWiki and GPWiki co-exist, we decided to just combine the two since GDWiki was largely based off GPWiki to begin with and no too many edits to GDWiki had been made to make the process unbearable. We're in the end stages of doing that right now and in the next few days the Wiki link here will point straight to GPWiki.

The D3D book hosted on GDWiki is currently unavailable but we will be moving that over to GPWiki as well where it will be accessible again.

I'm really happy that we were able to make this work and that the wiki will now be consolidated and monitored by a team that has been doing so for years already with the start of GPWiki. There have been discussions about getting GDWiki more tightly-integrated with the website moving forward - has this option been lost? Not completely. The GPWiki guys are still open and willing to discuss these things with us and once the merge is complete we'll be continuing these discussions. If you are a wiki user and/or have used either GDWiki or GPWiki and have suggestions/opinions/ideas about how you'd like to see the wiki add value to the site, let us know in the comments. Don't forget it's a two-way street and we would like to leverage the GPWiki as much as we would like to see it continue to grow with new content. So the question isn't just how we can use GPWiki here on GDNet, but how can we get GDNet users interested in contributing to GPWiki?

Thanks goes to GPWiki Admin Karl Walsh for his help getting this whole process going after I got in touch with him. We're looking forward to working more with him and the GPWiki crew!

[size="3"]Note for existing GDWiki users:

The GPWiki crew has migrated accounts in addition to merging content. Here's the full list:

[spoiler]Updated Users with profile pages

User:Acidburnz
User:Ahy1
User:Akiross
User:Allocius.Reikei
User:Almar Joling
User:Asztal
User:Braddabug
User:Captain P
User:Chaosprime
User:Coldacid
User:Crioto
User:Eeyore
User:Egore911
User:Frob
User:GhostManZero
User:GregoryEnglish
User:Jpetrie
User:Kidmosey
User:Lightbringer
User:MMM
User:Machaira
User:MaulingMonkey
User:Me22
User:Neolisk
User:Placidbox
User:Ra
User:Rawr
User:Reddi
User:Seoushi
User:Sharkk
User:Snoolas
User:Spodi
User:Truant
User:Suigintou
User:Superpig
User:Trillian
User:Truant
User:Yamen.dahrouj
User:Zjackoby
User:ZJackoby-Wounded Advocate

Migrated users with edits but no profile

Agwan
Bregma
Code zombie
Derek5432
Draik
Fastcall
Force of will
Gabberkooij
Gasdeveloper
GrimFang4
Gyrthok
Heptagonal
Jason Z
Jhoxley
Mad Hacker
Mehrlin
Moitoius
Nightlet
Nik02
Peacefulshade
PolymorphicPinapple
RedEyedKiller
Richard Geslot
Senemmar
Scan
Shadowisadog
Thefranky
Wolf

Users with edits, but not migrated due to database clashes
(you will need to create a new account on GPWiki)

Acidzombie24
Ezbez
Pro-rsoft[/spoiler]
Gaiiden
Firstly, this is not a post describing how we will solve the rating/reputation system. That is still an ongoing process that will require further discussion internally, with the mods and with the general community. We invite you to continue to leave your thoughts/suggestions and responses to the ongoing discussion taking place in this forum thread. I implore you to take the time to read it fully as a good number of various ideas and reasons have already been presented and you may only need to go around liking certain posts you agree with.

While talk continues about changes to the website, it's also rather important that we find a few dedicated volunteers who would be willing to help us make these changes. We've stated previously on numerous occasions that our reasons for choosing IPB included the ability to remain free of having to maintain a complete set of software ourselves and instead dedicate time to adding features and services to the website. This also meant that we would attempt, as much as possible, to leverage the existing capabilities of the software to our needs. Included here is the post ratings and user reputation system. Obviously the system is designed by IPS to be as generally-applicable as possible as they provide this software to a very wide range of clients.

After a few months of trying out various things with the default system, it's become clear that we're going to need some of our own solutions as well. To enable a client to tweak the various software features to suit their needs, IPS provides a hooks system - other similar ideas would be plugins or extensions that you find for applications and browsers. What this means is we can tweak various aspects of the forum software and still retain the support of changes made to the IPB back-end through various version updates. This is largely preferable to modifications, changes being made to the actual base code of the IPS software that could be rendered completely obsolete and/or overwritten with even a minor version update, thus requiring more maintenance.

It's been evidenced time and again that members here are very dedicated and committed to seeing changes being made for certain things - fortunately for us, this community is also largely made up of talented developers who could, given access and resources, actually implement these changes themselves. If you think that's you, drop me an email at [email="dsikora@gamedev.net"]dsikora@gamedev.net[/email] so I can talk with you directly. Again, this is a call for volunteer developers - which means you will initially not be compensated for your work other than having the warm fuzzy feeling of helping make GDNet a better place and of course a free subscription to GDNet+ for the duration of your volunteer work. However there's no reason why your initial volunteer work can't transition into a more formal working arrangement that involves monetary compensation - I mean hey, it worked for me ;)
Michael Tanczos
We're going to start seeing some of the benefits of switching over to an off-the-shelf forum system very soon. Invision Power Systems, the company that makes our forum software, is currently beta testing the next version of their forum suite right now on their site at http://community.invisionpower.com

Under the hood we actually use IP.Board for our forums, IP.Blog for our journals, IP.Nexus for our subscriptions, IP.Downloads for the Marketplace, and IP.Content for just about everything else (front page, news, resources, dictionary, books, developer events, IOTD, showcase). While I feel somewhat like one of those Apple fanboys when I post this (you know you are one if you drool over every new thing Apple comes out with), Drew thought it would be a good idea to give you guys a heads up.

You can see the interface is much more streamlined and they have gone to great lengths to remove a lot of the cruft that they added with version 3.1. We are most likely seeing this new software integrated into our site sometime Q4 of this year. We need to do this to allow the dust settle on this major revision and give IPS a chance to iron out a lot of the bugs before we throw it onto you guys. We're really looking forward though to new features like tagging and prefixes to help us begin to organize content across our site in a better way than just the strict category format we use now.

Here is the full list of changes:
http://community.invisionpower.com/topic/331533-whats-new-in-ipboard-320-and-related-apps-so-far/

So what do you guys think? Check out their site.
Gaiiden
Over the last two years I have been personally meeting with several people behind various other independently-owned game development websites. Sharing drinks at various conference parties, we've all had many a conversation about ways that we can work together to better serve our audience in mutually beneficial ways. While we here at GameDev.net have always tried to cover game development in general, there's no mistaking the fact that over the years as the industry has grown doing this effectively has become more and more difficult! There are so many fields, so many specializations within these fields - luckily various websites have begun to pop up that have chosen to focus on a specific field or specialization and they are doing a great job of it. Do any spring to the top of your mind? If not, then you may want to check out AIGameDev.com or tech-artists.org to name just two. Through these content partnerships we'll be bringing more to your attention as well.

I'm happy to announce that our first full-fledged content partner is the training website design3. They specialize in creating videos narrated by experienced game developers covering a variety of topics from mobile gaming to various engine software like Unity and UDK. They've been at it now for almost a year and we're loving what they have accomplished so far and plan on doing in the future. While they will occasionally be giving us a glimpse at video content available only to paid members of their site, we will more often be showcasing some of their regular content here on the site to help keep people informed of what they have available. In addition they'll be offering a 10% discount to all GDNet users and we are working on a shared membership program that would bring even greater discounts for GDNet+ members and members of their site looking to purchase a GDNet+ membership here. Finally, we are members of their website affiliate program, and this is the link you should bookmark for visiting their website.

I look forward to announcing additional site partnerships as the year goes on and I'm glad all the conversations and brainstorming I've had with people over the past few years is finally coming to fruition.

In related news, the article archive cleanup is progressing well. I now have four very capable volunteers helping me out and they are doing an excellent job. I shall be really digging in and getting things wrapped up by the end of this month as that is when archive.gamedev.net will be going offline. If you'd still like to help out, I could always use some extra hands! Drop me an email at drew@gamedev.net.

Since I'm still stuck in the archives though publishing will continue to be completely sporadic. By the end of the year with the majority of the site maintenance behind me I hope to be back to at least a month lead time of scheduled articles to be posted 2-3 times a week like I was doing back in 2008 - 2010.

Now go check out the design3 video content we just posted and let us (and them) know what you think!
Michael Tanczos
We dedicated the month of May to "make things better". To that end we are working on things that have been long-standing issues that have been on our TODO list forever. The reason for a lack of recent staff updates has been that bug fixes make for kind of boring news since they really address how features should have been working all along. One of the biggest changes has been the release of the Image of the Day. The IOTD is an awesome way for members to quickly post an image or two of their latest game project and have others bask in all it's awesome glory. Right now though we are in need of a lot more submissions so get over to the IOTD if you have a chance.

View Gallery

The rest of this entry is going to focus on some of my own personal thoughts. We recently had a "GameDev.net Community Challenge" in our forum at https://www.gamedev.net/topic/601519-gamedevnet-community-challenge/ . The contest itself was started by Zer0wolf, one of our GDNet+ members, and took place over a weekend. The theme for this particular contest was "U Cant Touch This". What an awesome concept for a competition and I thought it was great to see such a huge amount of participation. I'd love to see these kind of things done more regularly and perhaps we can find a way to make sure the whole community is aware of the latest contest.

It's also pretty close to summer, which means we have a lot of college students with free time on their hands. We're looking to kick off our own contest starting in early June - and it should be one that gives everyone pretty free reign to just make something that looks awesome and is fun to play. The contest itself will probably be pretty low-key and won't involve a lot of huge sponsors, which should ease some of the pressure on people to feel like they have to be a professional in order to compete.

I'm also personally very interested in talking with those people who have developed art and music assets for their own game projects that are either abandoned or have lived beyond their shelf life. At GameDev.net we need a way to put a lot more reasonably priced game art in the hands of indie developers who don't have huge budgets.. and we especially want to make sure the beginners out there have a way to get started with developing games that doesn't involve illegally ripping assets from other commercial games. If anybody has some thoughts or likes this idea, let me know. I think it would be worthwhile to develop a nice library of work.. and it shouldn't require a huge time commitment from the developers to make their work available.

XNA has been at the top of my mind lately since I'm teaching my students how to develop games with Game Studio 4.0. One of the things I think we also need in a big way at GameDev.net is some dedicated "focused" areas of the site for particular hot topics like XNA. XNA is pretty awesome for the beginner and can still be pretty powerful for those who are experienced and want to quickly get into developing games for the XBox 360. In order for us to start making these smaller communities we're going to definitely need to overhaul the way we deal with articles - because right now our article system makes it incredibly tough to find articles that are archived. But we are working on getting to a point that in June we can begin to transition away from our 8 million nested category system from the old GameDev.net to an approach that uses far fewer categories and relies largely on tagging for content. Then on my end it's just a matter of getting the tools into your hands to make it easy to contribute to a section on XNA and pitch in and add your own links to interesting tutorials you find. Anything that we can do to centralize a set of resources is going to make it easier for people to use our site. It's rough when you have to search around the site to find things or what is even worse is if we have it and you don't realize it and leave.

So in short, May is our setup month. We have a lot of work we are doing internally to transition to our next big overhaul of the site so stay tuned.. things are going to get much better. =)
Gaiiden

Article system update

Over the past week and a half I've been spending the majority of my time going through the archives of articles and making sure they are formatted properly, images are included, source files are attached, that sort of thing. For most of the time I'm simply going in article number order, one after another, but I'm also keeping an eye on issues submitted to the Articles section of the tracker through the Feedback button. See my last update here on the staff blog for things to notify me about - I'll handle them as they come up. I'm currently at article number 660, with several more recent articles done already too as result of issue submissions. At this pace I should have things in the archives back to normal by the end of May and can start focusing on publishing again.

If you would like to help speed things along, I could use help formatting interviews, design and business articles. There are enough of these in the archives that other people doing them would make a good dent in my workload and they are also relatively simple to handle - basically they just need some simple text formatting and spacing, maybe some image replacement. If you're interested, please drop me an email - drew@gamedev.net

I also want to mention that I'm currently down to an iPhone as my main computing device until at least Friday thanks to some unfortunate tech issues with my laptop and new desktop rig, so excuse me for being a bit scarce in the meantime. Yea this was posted from my iPhone. Pretty sweet. Definitely keeps me from rambling too much.

I'm lining up some cool content for May/June as I start getting more time back for publishing. Stay tuned for more on that next month!
Michael Tanczos
We've introduced an old favorite for syntax highlighting code in our forums and journals. In addition to the standard [ code ] tags that exist now, we have introduced a tag that we used to use readily in past versions of GameDev.net. The "new" bbcode tag that is available for use is the [ source ] tag.

The source tag requires an attribute specifying what language you want to use. Available language options are:


Language Tag Argument

ActionScript3 as3, actionscript3
Bash/shell bash, shell
ColdFusion cf, coldfusion
C# c-sharp, csharp
C++ cpp, c
CSS css
Delphi delphi, pas, pascal
Diff diff, patch
Erlang erl, erlang
Groovy groovy
JavaScript js, jscript, javascript
Java java
JavaFX jfx, javafx
Lua lua
Perl perl, pl
PHP php
Plain Text plain, text
PowerShell ps, powershell
Python py, python
Ruby rails, ror, ruby
Scala scala
SQL sql
Visual Basic vb, vbnet
XML xml, xhtml, xslt, html, xhtml


[size="4"]Before:

[ source lang="csharp"] <-- remove space before 'source'

[color="#000000"]using System;
using System.IO;

class Test {
private static void Main() {
for (int i = 0; i < 5000; i++) {
using (TextWriter w = File.CreateText("C:\\tmp\\test\\log" + i + ".txt")) {
string msg = DateTime.Now + ", " + i;
w.WriteLine(msg);
Console.Out.WriteLine(msg);
}
}
Console.In.ReadLine();
}
}

[/color][ /source ]


[size="4"]After:

[source lang="csharp"][color="#000000"]
using System;
using System.IO;

class Test {
private static void Main() {
for (int i = 0; i < 5000; i++) {
using (TextWriter w = File.CreateText("C:\\tmp\\test\\log" + i + ".txt")) {
string msg = DateTime.Now + ", " + i;
w.WriteLine(msg);
Console.Out.WriteLine(msg);
}
}
Console.In.ReadLine();
}
}

[/color][/source]
Michael Tanczos
Last week we launched a pretty huge revision of our news system. In the past our news team has done an amazing job sifting through news and in some cases summarizing what we considered important. We have been actively listening to feedback regarding our news over the past week and have implemented a number of really great suggestions.

One comment that popped up a few times is: "Wait.. this looks like my google reader, why would I want GameDev.net to look like something I already have? That's not what I want." Understood, and certainly a valid point. GameDev.net news is akin to an aggregated RSS news feed owned by the community. For those who don't have their own news aggregator, you can just use ours. ;) Our moderators are still going to vote on news feeds for you to promote the best ones, but you also have that capability as well.

Another common question relates to the size of the "Like" buttons. The simple reason for this implementation comes down to UI design. Increasing the prominence of a UI element increases it's visibility. We want and need you guys to vote up (or down) stories that you think are interesting and cut out the ones that aren't interesting. If we do this together as a community we can start pulling in even more news from non-mainstream sites. With some time this could really be something great.


Here is a list of just a few of the changes we have implemented since last week:
  • Added a duplicate checker that will now take similar stories and start to group them in single articles so you can get a broader view of the same news story in one place
  • Updated the front page view so you see the "Top News in 7 Days" view instead of all the newest news - After one week has passed you're going to see the news rotating pretty consistently - This will give the site a more stable feel and give people time to comment if they want
  • Modified the green thumbs up to be a blue color to match our site look better - Thanks "Servant of the Lord"
  • Dropped the "Read More" link and left the comments link instead so users can comment on individual news items
  • Removed a number of feeds that weren't producing very popular news items
  • Decreased the number of posts that appear on one page from 25 to 15
    Right now we are trying to streamline our site and make it more industry relevant.. so you are going to see a different Gamedev.net as time goes on where content has to be easier to create and moderate. It became pretty clear that making people jump through a lot of hoops to do things like create an article will never yield as good of a result as letting people have their own blogs and just picking out the ones that look good. The rate of journal entries far exceeds the rate of article submissions. This is why you are seeing so many paid articles on the front page - because people are posting journal entries as articles and not submitting other articles. In the past we relied heavily on volunteers to write for the site, but so many easier paths to being a writer have appeared that it's time for us to rethink how we present articles - and we are doing that now. But back to the news..

    Ultimately our hope is to get to a point with news that we can begin to create areas of the site that are much more current in providing information to you. So if we had an XNA "hub" of sorts you'd get XNA related news, articles, etc. from around the net without having to wait for users here to come up with the original content. Then we can use our forums and blogs here as a way for people to locally discuss the content area. The Gamedev.net site should be geared towards your interests - and the site frontpage is going to become that.

    Your comments are greatly appreciated and will help us continue to shape the direction of the site.
Michael Tanczos
One of the things we've always wanted to do at GameDev.net is to have a steady staff of news editors that provide you with the best source of original game development news around. The problem is this would take a lot more resources than we have available. Fortunately there is plenty of good news coverage out there for the games industry and game development, and there's also some obscure places that are excellent sources of information but don't necessarily get the traffic they deserve.

We've decided to tap into that vast news base on the web and have implemented a system that will aggregate and allow you, the community, to select the news you find important. It's our hope that through community collaboration we deliver content that is more relevant and important to you.

What can you do to help us out? When you see a post you like.. click the like button. You'll notice it's [size="4"]very large compared to the other "like" voting mechanisms on our site and that was purposefully done because that is really what we'd like you to do. Size matters in this case, as it shows you that it's something we should all find important. Voting to like a post, or calling a post "Not Interesting", allows us to collect important information that will help ensure news is relevant to the GameDev.net community.

[size="4"]What's new with the news?

  • Users can now vote up / down news in a more obvious way than stars
  • "Liking" a news post is much more emphasize
  • News posts can be ranked by a quality score we composite by using likes, views, and comments to gauge interest
  • News views are unique to each and every user - If you find something
    not interesting it is permanently removed from your frontpage
  • Likewise you can see each post you voted on when you refresh the page
  • Top news in 24 hours, 7 days, and 30 days has been added -
    navigation done via dropdown
  • Paging has been added to go forward/back multiple pages
  • Existing news has been retained and integrated within the stream
  • Faster access - news now is served via a Redis server for quick access to your own personalized view of the news
    [size="4"]Why did we do this?

    GameDev.net by itself provides about 5 news items per week on average. A lot happens every day in the games industry, though, and 5 news items per week doesn't cover it.

    Sites like reddit and digg have demonstrated the power of community collaboration on news content and ensuring relevant information is delivered to users. We've decided to embrace these concepts and move away from trying to produce original news content on a regular basis. Instead, we are aggregating news from around the Internet that should be relevant to you. And if it's not, click "Not interesting" - over time we'll learn what our community finds interesting, and we'll adjust our algorithms from there.


    [size="4"]Where are you going with this?

    This is the first step in creating a GameDev.net that is more relevant to your personal taste. Every person visits the site for a different reason, looks for different types of content, and wants a different experience out of the site. In addition, the game development is an ever-evolving, global industry that we want to be able to quickly adapt to in order to ensure we are providing information and content that is relevant to you, the GameDev.net visitor.

    In the near future we'll be adding even more capabilities that allow you to find the information you want and people you want to engage with. In the meantime, we hope you find that this change in GameDev.net news is ultimately more useful and informative for you.
Gaiiden
This past week I was finally able to start looking into the various problems that exist with our articles after they have been moved over from the old site. One of the main things that has been bugging people is that they aren't quite so easy to find these days. You can no longer run a search on archive.gamedev.net which means you have to rely on the main Google site to find old articles (though a domain search can help). This works most of the time but if you're trying to find an article here on the new site you can run into one of three main problems:

  1. You visit the main Articles & Resources page and try to drill down through categories to find the article(s) listed under a certain category. You quickly realize this is next to impossible.
  2. You try and search for the article in the Resources section and it comes up empty, even though you know that article is supposed to exist here.
  3. You try #2 and actually get results, but those results happen to be an entire article per result, so you can potentially have to scroll through whole articles to view all the search results if the one you are looking for wasn't the first.

Let's have a closer look at these issues:

Problem #1: Correct me if I'm wrong, but most of the time when you want to find an article after a certain topic or title your first instinct is to run a search for it, right? You may consider looking for the category the article(s) would most likely reside under to see what we have available. Then you realize how many categories we have, and there is a chance your topic could fall under multiple ones so you would need to check them all. Then you need to drill down to that category to see the list of articles, possibly page through them if there are a lot in that category... point is it's always easiest just to search. So we're going to do away with deep categorization of articles (as part of a larger, site-wide categorization scheme) and rely solely on the search to let you find all that we have available for a certain topic or title.

Deep categories (like Programming->AI or Programming->Graphics APIs->DirectX) will still exist for resources, which are links to files and websites out there on the internet, and are more commonly found in a listing format (like blog rolls) than through a search.

Problem #2: So if we're going to rely on a search so much we need to fix it right? Right! There are some articles stuck in a sort of search limbo thanks to the way they have been categorized in the system so that when you try to search for them, the system responds with no results, but the article really is there. If you happen to track down its URL in the old system and try bringing it over to the new one you could wind up seeing this page. So you still can't even access it. Ack! Luckily this is an easy fix of moving the article in question out of the offending "general" category it got placed in originally and into a specific one. As they are found they will be brought back into the light of search and accessibility.

Problem #3: Obviously the solution here is to fix the search template, and just as obviously it's an item on the ToDo list. We will most likely leave out any of the article content in the search results, although I guess I understand why they were there in the first place - to let you see what results were actually relevant to you by looking at the resource content - but a lot of our content is just too long for that to be feasible. We will most likely replace it instead with the "teaser" field of text, as its purpose is to summarize the content. Seems much more reasonable (and short!).

Now that we've covered the system, let's have a look at the articles themselves.

Ewww....

So there have been plenty of complaints about the legacy articles having no formatting and one of my tasks is to fix that - mainly by hand unfortunately. The WYSIWIG editor does make this easier thankfully, at least I'm no longer formatting HTML in a text editor while building articles. Not all articles have come across looking this bad, but even in ones where the formatting is simple and thus unaffected by the switchover they can also be missing images. Some of the articles have downloadable files attached, and these were not carried over (one of my recent additions was the ability for article templates to show attached files, but they still need to be added to more articles that are missing them). There are a few that are so long they even get cut off and the article system won't show any additional text - this is a known issue we're working to resolve. Pagination of articles has some bugs in it, and the print version of articles needs some serious formatting work, as currently it just strips styling from the page and dumps it back into your browser as plain text - the entire page.

As you can see from the previous article link though, when things get cleaned up they can look rather nice. Another example of improvement can be seen here, although you may notice close to the end that I'm still trying to get tables to behave properly.

Oh and article comments still seem to be missing, or the comment count is incorrect.

I'm pointing out all these issues so that you know that we're aware of them, and also so that we make sure you're aware of them, and can help us out by notifying us of them when you see them and where - specifically bad content formatting, missing images, missing support files or bad article URLs. Best way of doing that is by using the Feedback tab you see in the lower-left side of your screen. Obviously I'll be getting around to all the articles in due time, but if I see one pop up in the issues tracker I'll hop on it first.

As a bonus though, in my formatting journeys so far I came across the annoying ability of the site to transform b) into an emoticon - and you can't turn them off for articles like you can for forum posts. But wait - how was I able to type b)?? Well I was told you can change the text that triggers emoticons in the system, so I changed it from b) to "cool" (replace quotes with a colons). I'm really sorry that my original "fix" for this issue was "disable emoticon use" and wish I had known about this earlier! :cool:

Now if you'll excuse me, there are a LOT of articles that need my attention...