In the interest of greater transparency and interaction between us, the BYOND developers, and you, the BYOND community, here is a preview of some of our current projects. We will attempt to make these updates and public testing of new features a regular thing as we enter this new year and b(e)yond. Please provide feedback!
None of this is possible without the continual support of BYOND Members. Many thanks to those of you who've contributed over the years. For those that haven't, bah humbug! But seriously, if the software has any value to you, please consider joining up. While Membership adds a few side perks, its main purpose is keeping this project alive.
Website changes are typically the most polarizing because everyone has their own personal aesthetic. That said, we have received a lot of negative feedback over the current site and are attempting to correct it by moving to a more mainstream layout and color scheme. These changes are not set in stone (I personally would like to add more color to glitz it up), but hopefully you can see the general idea.
The biggest changes to the new site are actually functional ones:
- Hub entries (games and resources) are organized by tags instead of categories/guilds.
- Good original games are bumped in the listings through a special "featured" designation. To promote originality, fan-based games cannot be featured, but they can be listed.
- To cull out the "rip" problem plaguing BYOND, only Members are allowed to submit their hub entries for search & listing, and those in turn must be approved.
- Developer content is aggregated from both the public blog posts and submitted hubs, greatly increasing the activity and usability of "developer central".
- The site engine is optimized to improve search and caching; hopefully this should allow for greater scalability and alleviate the site downtimes.
We'll provide more details as we work through the release process. Note that we are NOT eliminating long-time site elements such as sites, guilds, hub entries, or fangames! We are simply refactoring how these are used.
We began development of a web-based pager program over a year ago, but ultimately halted the project due to various browser issues. Fortunately, technology moves quickly and modern browsers no longer have these problems. The idea is to be able to easily locate and track games and friends from the site and to merge much of the functionality currently shared between the software and site. For instance, we currently provide half a dozen different ways for two users to communicate, but none as obvious as a "personal message". With this development, you'll be able to initiate conversations through the site, and the interface will be identical to the software pager since they will use a common browser window.
The prototype above is nowhere near completion as it is quite outdated. The final version will be smaller, cleaner, and more streamlined. It will essentially replace the "home" page of the current site.
Our most exciting development is a port of the BYOND client to Flash. This has a lot of potential, from the obvious of an easier "click & play" experience to integration with Facebook and other social networks.
We chose Flash because it is ubiquitous and most stable of the various platforms. While HTML 5 is most likely the future, the networking support isn't available enough to warrant the investment at this time. However, since a large part of the work is server-side, we should be able to re-port to other systems as they become more mainstream. BYOND on an iPad!
At this point in time, we have the map and basic i/o working. Both DreamSeeker and the Flash client can connect to the same server... pretty neat stuff! Once this is more refined, we'll put it into public beta. For the first iteration at least, we'll require existing games to use a simplified (possibly pre-defined) Flash interface to work. Whether we shoot for 100% skin compatibility or a different, map-based system is an open question.
We'd like to get all of these projects at least into a public testing state within the next few months. It is difficult to give a concrete timeline as we try to give priority to bug reports (which can often take days or even weeks to resolve) while also not ignoring user-requests (which admittedly have gotten lost in the shuffle... we'll do our best to give better feedback on those). With the aforementioned goal of greater transparency, we can at least promise to do a better job keeping you updated. We can definitely surpass the three blog posts (this inclusive) from 2010, sheesh!