Game & developer listingsWe've changed the way games & developer resources are organized. Most noticeably, we're now restricting listings to hub entries created by BYOND Members. You may think we did this to increase Membership signups-- and certainly every new Membership helps us out-- but that is not the case. Rather, we needed a way to control submissions so that the system would not subject to spamming. A while ago, we made the observation that almost every highly ranked or halfway decent hub entry was, in fact, already operated by a Member and this is just leveraging that fact into a useful system. Keep in mind that non-Members can continue to create hub entries and advertise them on their own. This change simply reflects what games & resources are listed on the front page and search engine.
Hub statusJust because a hub is Member-owned does not automatically make it listable. With a lower-volume of submissions, we can now apply some degree of quality control. As a Member, you choose when to submit your hub entry. At that time, we will review it and assign a status:
- Featured: A quality, original, fairly polished game or library. Such entries are given high priority in the listings and will appear at the top of search results. They are also promoted on the banners within the site and given access to the BYOND subscription system. Featured games must use completely ORIGINAL intellectual property.
- Listed: An otherwise decent entry-- a playable original game or a quality fangame. Listed hubs show up in searches and in the index. We've tried to be fairly lenient with acceptance of such entries for the time being, with the hope that with more quality submissions we will be able to be more strict with what is promoted.
- Incomplete: A game that isn't playable or a resource that doesn't work or demonstrate anything useful. Fangames are also included here by default if their quality is suspect. Incomplete hubs are not put in the index or in the search, but they can be resubmitted with adjustments. We may provide a mode to list such entries (not be default) if it turns out to be necessary.
- Rejected: An entry that has little or no merit, either through a complete lack of content, a community standards violation (such as pornography), or theft of another user's work. While fangames are tolerated on BYOND, they must minimally use original coding and resources unless given explicit permission. Rejected entries may not be resubmitted and are subject to deletion. Users submitting multiple rejected entries will be put on probation resulting in a loss of submission privileges to a possible BYOND ban.
Sort modesYou can now sort games by date, which is a nice way to see newer games. Currently, the listing uses the date when the entry was listed or featured (so generally the time of submission). In the future, we will probably provide a means to update this date when the game is updated.
The other sort modes are the same as in the last incarnation of the site-- a "popular" sort, which is based off the #BYOND Members who list a game in their favorites, and a #players sort. Featured games are listed ahead of all other results in the popular sort, as well as at the top of each page of results in the other two sort modes. For example, the first page of the date sort returns the most twenty recent games; any featured games within that twenty are listed> first.
Blog posts within listingsWe no longer expect users to submit posts to the various BYOND guilds in order to highlight them (although that is still an option). Instead, we can pick & choose such posts from within the Community pages and display them on the appropriate game or developer front page. We hope that this system improves the developer listing in particular, as it should now have a much larger influx of content.
TagsInstead of using guilds or channels to categorize games, we simply, upon listing, give them tags (which allows games to share multiple categories). Note that the "we" in this and all previous tasks is, besides BYOND Staff, a group of users familiar with the games. Eventually we'd like to generalize this to include the entire community through some kind of rating system, but let's keep it simple for the first iteration here.
Hub changesWe've made some aesthetic changes to the hub, along with a few functional ones. The main one is the "overview" page, which groups some useful elements such as the description, live games, and comments into a single listing. We actually used to do it somewhat this way but changed to a tab format due to lack of available space. This is a compromise that we think gives the best of both worlds.
You can see the #fans of your game (that is, people who've favorited it), along with other useful info, along the gray top-bar of the overview page. The "related" tab shows more information, including a list of popular sites that favorite the hub entry (more on sites below).
One thing you may note missing from hub entries is the reviews. We've moved these below the description-- in the "More Info" box-- with a caveat: only certain information is presented. Reviews must be made by the hub author (or helper) or be approved via the aforementioned blog listing (eg: if someone posts a really good review of a game to the front page, we'll highlight it and it'll make it both onto the game's hub AND the games front page). And in this model, a review needn't even be a review; it can simply be an informative update posted by the author. The post editor reflects this change by providing a field for the hub entry and nixing the old review system.
Member site changesAs part of the new organization, we've largely moved away from using the sites/guilds to categorize games. In fact, in this new release, sites & guilds are the same thing (most users were using them interchangably anyway). Rather than "join" a guild, you simply "follow" the site, becoming a "fan". The site owner has the option to assign privileges to any fans, or even to non-fans. For security reasons, by default new fans cannot have extended privileges (such as "manage site"), but the site owner can assign them manually.
One nice consequence of this is that non-members can now effectively join sites by following them. Your site members (er, fans) will go up! You can see the fan-count on the new secondary menu-bar of the site pages.
We've removed the ability to submit games to sites. Our statistics showed that this was not often used for any value and only confused the interface. Instead, we recommend that users advertise their games to sites through discussion, which will hopefully promote interaction.
In my long (too long) time with this project, we've done a number of major site updates. If we're doing our jobs right, each iteration should be an improvement on the last. We really have tried to address the many issues people have raised. Feel free to critique/complain here, but please be constructive. Enjoy!