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stimarco

GDNet Trump Cards: adding gameplay to the GDNet forums.

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stimarco brings up a good point about the growing prevelance of widescreen displays. Another point I'll bring up is the dwindling use of heavy CRTs, leading to a wider adoption of LCDs, both wide and standard format, which are often rotatable -- that is to say, that they support both landscape and portrait orientations.

I've noticed a growing trend, particularly among programmers and other's who work primarily with text, to prefer the portrait orientation to maximize the number of lines of text they can view at once.

Perhaps landscape and portrait themes would be in order? I imagine these both being available to standard member accounts, defaulting to landscape, and the only difference would be a friendlier layout for their screen orientation of choice. More advanced themes/theming would remain the domain of GDnet+ members.

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Quote:
Original post by stimarco
In any case, the idea is to make something different. Half the fun of a game is the joy of discovery! If we tell everyone what everything means up front, where's the fun?


I strongly disagree with the idea that the forums should be turned into a "game". A separate GDNet game of some kind would be great, to be sure, but the forums are a technical resource. They're there for people who want to get shit done.

I have nothing against the merit-badge things being funny, or even frivolous. References to gaming or RPGs would be great. We can all use some more levity. But the instant they become an inside joke at the expense of new people who don't understand the workings of the community, we have destroyed one of our greatest assets.

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Remember guys, you've gotta catch 'em all. Or collect 'em. Or whatever.
I want sweet ass badges made by Salsa. They can be just like the smilies, but represent different stuff.

While the website is totally unrelated, checkout fool.com and go to the CAPs section. Click on any user name. For the lazy, here is an example. See how they have badges? Each of those badges means something to the community. Some are derived from community votes, others are not. Stuff like "5+ helpful pitches" can easily be translated to our forums as "5+ helpful responses". And then their can be fun stuff, like "100 Rating club", "200 rating club" -- etc. This would completely remove the ratings and only change then you went passed the 100s thresh-hold.

Anyway, that is how I envision it...

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Quote:
Original post by ApochPiQ
Quote:
Original post by stimarco
In any case, the idea is to make something different. Half the fun of a game is the joy of discovery! If we tell everyone what everything means up front, where's the fun?


I strongly disagree with the idea that the forums should be turned into a "game". A separate GDNet game of some kind would be great, to be sure, but the forums are a technical resource. They're there for people who want to get shit done.


None of the proposals would prevent you from posting or reading said posts. I'm just talking about the stuff that sits around the edges of each post. The 'game' concept makes sense given that this is, after all, a games development site.

While C++ and Photoshop discussions are great if you're a programmer or artist, there's currently nothing on GDNet which provides the game design equivalent of IOTD. I'd like to change that and adding an element of gameplay to the site itself seems an obvious solution.

Quote:

I have nothing against the merit-badge things being funny, or even frivolous. References to gaming or RPGs would be great. We can all use some more levity. But the instant they become an inside joke at the expense of new people who don't understand the workings of the community, we have destroyed one of our greatest assets.


Humans like to Belong to a group. Tribalism is everywhere and there's always going to be an element of this to any community, regardless of whether it's online or offline. Since it's going to happen anyway, why not leverage this fact and take advantage of its synergistic qualities to... to...

...what? I used "leverage" and "synergistic" in the same sentence?

Really?

Oh no! Oh bollocks! No! Not again! Nurse! NURSE! Quick! The pills! Hurry!

(gulp)

Ahhh! Bliss. (Ooh! Nice shoes!)

Sorry, where was I?

Ah yes: the idea is to take advantage of the natural tendency for people to build totems and use that urge for GDNet's good. Tooltips are trivial to add and it also gives our artists an outlet for graphic design skills too. Not to mention that writers will enjoy inventing good rationales for some of the, er, weirder ones.

And that, ladies and gentlement, is my story. And I intend to stick to it.

Regards,

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I'm bitching about implementation details, not the concept as a whole. Like I (repeatedly) said, I don't have any objection at all to funny little badges and the associated psychological factors.

I'm not worried about people being unable to read posts. I'm frankly not even really sure where that came from, although it's quite likely that I just expressed my point poorly.


Let me offer an example:


ApochPiQ
Steenking Badges:



This is shit. I don't know what the Cult of Bulgy Eyes is, I don't know why I should care, and I don't even know if it's good or bad. What's +3 got to do with it? Why is this poster "venerated"?

This is the kind of thing that can be great entertainment for regulars and community veterans. But, ultimately, it's harmful to outsiders, and forces you to learn the rules of the game before you can comprehend what's going on.

This implementation is bad, and I'm firmly against it.



Now, here's a very subtly different version:


ApochPiQ
Credentials:



I've removed the "game" lingo; a newcomer doesn't have to understand "steenking badges". That's one less barrier to comprehension of what all this stuff means. (Note that I'm not against having some kind of funny or relevant term here; but it needs to at least indicate what exactly the series of icons is meant to convey. It should be something I comprehend immediately the first time I read it. For the record, The Motley Fool's "lucky charms" term fails this test, at least in my mind. I'm not demanding something as dry and boring as "credentials" - but it should at least not require me to try and shift my mindset into "the game" if I don't even know what the "game" is.)

The badge is still there - same graphic even - but the rollover immediately describes the exact meaning of the image, and I don't need to understand the "game" (whatever the game is) to understand the significance. Any person who stumbles across my post should immediately understand the badge. Someone coming across the first version has to go learn "the rules", which is a waste of their time.


Now, in my ideal dream world, that badge would also be a link to a page that shows the most commonly issued badges (some "secret" or "special" ones would of course still be cool and add some fun to the whole thing).

Even better, this page will show "progressive" badges, where each different badge denotes a different degree of some characteristic:

The Venerated Order of Skeptical Bastards
+1 skeptic. This person has been noted for having a generally skeptical attitude, and will often demand proof of extraordinary or questionable claims.

+2 skeptic. This person will doubt most things and demands a high standard of proof. They're probably also grumpy.

+3 skeptic. Psychotic bastard. Doesn't even believe he exists. Beware, this person will probably say lots of angry and hurtful things.



The user profile should provide added detail. For example, "this person is a +2 skeptic, with 236 points in his Skepticism Skill. At 300 points, he will be promoted to +3 skeptic. [nifty progress bar graphic]" Maybe the profile even has some kind of graphical "avatar" that shows me being all grumpy and stuff.


The game, and all of its entertainment, geeky in-jokes, RPG references, and so on, is still preserved. It still exists and is easily and cleanly accessible for those who care and want to play. For the newcomer, it's easy to see that the game is going on, but also very easy to ignore, by virtue of the fact that the badges are small and visually minor elements of the page. This retains focus on post content which I believe would be important especially in the technical forums, for those who are new and/or don't care about the game for whatever reason.

I find this preferable to the "slap some graphics beside every post" concept for several reasons:

  • It avoids duplication. If I care about how many Skepticism points someone has, I can click their profile and look. I don't need, or want, to see it next to every single one of their posts.

  • It minimizes interference, as I've covered already.

  • The relevant information - that I'm skeptical and grouchy - is immediately available in a way that is significant and trivial to understand for everyone. This does not in any way lessen the subtext or entertainment of the game going on under the surface, but it does remove a barrier to entry and a nuisance for those uninitiated in the game or who would prefer to ignore it.

  • As has been noted before in discussions of GDNet's forum layout, sidebars impose a mandatory minimum height on every post. I find this distasteful, wasteful, and generally uninspired. The sidebar-block idiom of online forums is far too widely perpetuated in my crotchety, whiny old opinion, and I'd like to see it die.



I hope that clarifies my position somewhat [smile]

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I was working on a mockup, but Paint.NET crashed and now I'm not in the mood. (I was already in a fairly foul mood.)

Nothing - I repeat, nothing - will go to either side of user posts. Besides mandating a minimum post area height, it also wastes a tremendous amount of screen real estate with the user post exceeds that height. Badges will go in the header, on the second row. "Report this post to a Moderator" and "Link" will move to be next to "Edit" and "Quote"; "PM" and "Journal" will move underneath the poster name, on the left of the second row. "User rating" and "Rate this user" will move to the right of the second row, underneath the post tools.

Badges will go in the middle of the second row.

Constraining the space this way ensures that we do not experience graphical proliferations that distract from post content. We'd probably make badges themeable (themes are going to be big in the next site redesign), so all you artsy types will have something to play with. Badges will be slightly larger than icon sized, with tool tip text providing their full names. The user profile will list earned badges, and include their full meaning. Additionally, a section of the forum FAQ (which will be revamped; the current version is a mess) will be dedicated to explaining all available badges.

Some badges may be forum-specific, and which user badges appear on a post may be partially determined by which forum the post is in. No stat bars. No lengthy text in post headers ("Report this post to a Moderator" is going to be shortened to "Report", and the current user rating may be turned into the link to rate the user up/down; hover text can provide a lengthier explanation).

Just consolidating the good ideas I've read so far.

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