Keywords: software, website
With the major website changes mostly behind us, we've had an opportunity to focus on some smaller things and get back to the software itself.

BYOND Version 480

BYOND version 480 is fairly stable and worth downloading if you haven't already. It is a bug-fix release, focusing on dozens of issues that were reported during the website hiatus. Consult the release notes for more information. We haven't yet released it on the hub ("you've got updates!") because we want to be absolutely sure it doesn't break anything. We'll likely do one more intermediate release prior to our next "official" version.

Featured Games

One thing you may have noticed today is the emphasis on "featured" games front and center of the main Games pages.

While this is certainly a visible site change, it is more of a philosophical one. We are trying to promote the "best of BYOND" via well-defined gaming standards. While these games may overlap the popular ones (as rated by the community and displayed directly below), they often will not: and that is where the value lies, in encouraging people to try quality games that, for whatever reason, may be neglected. If you would like to promote a game (whether it be your own or something you've had fun playing), read the aforementioned standards and apply to the forum. If you'd like to help review games, this site is a good place to start.

Site Optimization

Last week we began what will be a long-term optimization on the servers hosting our site. We started with the basic question: "Our machines our pretty powerful, our traffic isn't enormous... why isn't our site loading more quickly?" This is not so important now as it is for the future, when we migrate the pager and many of the games (via Flash) over to the website. So far we've made some pretty significant optimizations; while they seem to pass the "eyeball" test for speed, we'll have a better idea in a few weeks once our numbers really come in. The reason to mention it here-- aside from justifying the many hours spent on the project :) -- is to inform you of the change so that if anything seems funky with the site, you'll know to report it. Hopefully also things will be a lot faster down the road.

Flash Testing

We got back to work on the members/BYOND?command=view_post&post=106285#flash>Flash project by resuming testing with existing games. The exciting news here is that we're working with Silk Games to see how well NEStalgia runs in our current Flash stuff. So far: Houston, we have a problem! But that's to be expected, as it is early, yet.

Aside from its sudden spike in popularity, NEStalgia is an excellent test subject for the Flash because it is primarily map-based, and the GUI is the part that is least fleshed-out thus far. Should this work out-- and I am very optimistic that it will-- we will have the option of individually porting the GUIs of other popular games before finishing the more ambitious project of a full BYOND 4.0 Flash client.

Exciting stuff :-)

We recompiled and switched the majority of the NEStalgia servers over to BYOND 480 today and haven't had any problems so far. I concur that anyone who has been holding out ought to give it a shot.
They were functionally testing it several months ago, when they "officially" announced it. That doesn't mean its coming anytime soon, but we can hope. =P
Would we need Adobe flash to make BYOND games? cause if you do then I gonna miss BYOND Game Making =(.
Excited to hear that work has already started on the Flash project. Definitely looking forward to that, especially since my phone has Flash.
Flash? I know I'm probably one of the very few who would have this complaint, but I run a very weak computer, and it tends to lag most flash games (especially if I'm running them in a browser). Will we still be able to run the games the old way if you switch to flash?
Yes, the Flash is supplementary and will be more limited than DreamSeeker (mainly in that it is only a client, so it doesn't work for single-player games).
Man 5.0 won't too far down the road hmmm?
I'm interested to see what you guys do with that empty space on the top now where featured games used to be. It feels like something's missing, I have to imagine you have a plan for it.
It's supposed to show ads but maybe you have those disabled.
Oh, I see. Yes I do.
Uh, but Flash is a bit slow as far as internet multiplayer gaming is concerned. I mean yes, its portability is one of its major benefits, but BYOND itself isn't exactly fast (one of the tradeoffs to its ease of use) as it is, so I would be seriously concerned about any further speed drops as a result of using a Flash based client for playing BYOND games.

Of course, I realize that as computers continue to improve that this will be less of a problem, and being able to access BYOND from any Flash capable device sounds like it would really help BYOND's popularity grow, so it would be great if the Flash client works out. But I'm a bit worried about any speed issues that might result.
Our client has a low-enough default refresh (10 FPS) that Flash should be able to easily handle, even on the most outdated machines. It works fine in our tests thus far.
Lithely wrote:
Of course, I realize that as computers continue to improve that this will be less of a problem

Today's computers are more than capable of running a simple 2D application, that shouldn't even be an issue. The problems with BYOND's performance stem from the software itself, not from computers being incapable of processing it. Commercial game engines run several times faster, processing much more complex information, but still manage to outperform BYOND in almost all cases.
Cool! I didn't mean to come off as pessimistic or anything, I just had my reservations about how speedy a Flash based BYOND client would be, but it sounds like my doubts were unfounded.
I can't wait to get my hands on that flash client.

If you need an independent tester who'll do nothing but screw around with it (reporting any bugs found, of course), give us a buzz. ;)
Site Optimization

If you load this page in Firefox using the Firebug add-on and the Net tab open, you'll see that there's a total of THIRTY-NINE INDIVIDUAL REQUESTS being sent back and forth before the page can be generated. That is an absurd number, and reducing it (by combining features that should obviously be combined) will drastically improve performance.
Yes, we've used Firebug to analyze site-performance. The majority of those requests are actually asynchronous google + facebook loads; although it would be good to test without those to see if they have an effect on performance. The other requests are mainly cached images for the headbar, side-gradient, etc.

The preliminary analysis shows that the majority of our lag is server-side, due to the way we cache (or at times fail to cache) data. We've made some strides here but I believe that the best improvements are yet to come because there is really no reason that most of our information can't be completely cached.
Couldn't they achieve this with adobe alchemy, or is this a fresh interpreter or something.
Also, This could make for huge facebook game potential, and not forgetting cellphones, and chrome webstore, and every other venue where flash works.
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