ID:132228
 
...I still don't know where BYOND is headed. What its goal's are. Who is developing it. How big the team is.

I have been here on and off for seven years, Dan and Tom created BYOND. Dan left or something. Tom stayed. Other than that, everything is just not there. Not much information. No Roadmaps at all. For a technology and game service company, its easy to see why it has not grown by much.

The community is still around the 2,000-4,000 "People Online" at any one time. Its not bad but...Been like this since I got here.

Now all I know is that we are getting Flash support. Or is it moving to Flash only and killing off Dream Seeker? If you kill DS, you are Flash dependent and that is gonna die sooner or later. If im gonna be Flash dependent then why even bother with this? Might aswell just take the extra step and use ActionScript.

I have a question, Tom. How long did it take you and Dan to make BYOND? From concept to release.
...
2DExtremeProductions wrote:
Now all I know is that we are getting Flash support. Or is it moving to Flash only and killing off Dream Seeker? If you kill DS, you are Flash dependent and that is gonna die sooner or later. If im gonna be Flash dependent then why even bother with this? Might aswell just take the extra step and use ActionScript.

I'm at a loss for words regarding the rest of your post, but, there's been no mention of BYOND becoming Flash-dependent...



I wish your 2DExtremeProductions company good luck and good earnings.
Dan conceived of BYOND (then "DUNG") as a multiplayer roguelike game in the beginning of 1995. He consulted with me to take care of some of the design and the front-end mechanics, and we had a graphical version sometime later that year. Then we decided that it would be fun to see what kind of maps other users could make and that became the initial (very limited) DM language, which I remember giving a lecture on sometime in 1997. So I guess from concept to release we're talking about two years, but keep in mind that, although at its core what we had then was functionally the BYOND programs, it was pretty barebones. It was quite literally a builder for roguelike games. Two things have extended this project's life to perpetuity: 1) trying to make it a generic game builder and 2) integrating it with a community. In truth, BYOND could have probably survived without either of these things and been done with years ago.

What people here fail to understand time and time again is that improvements to the BYOND software & website will only have marginal improvements on your games. It is really on you, the designer, to make games that are fundamentally appealing. If you find it impossible to make such a game with BYOND's limitations (be they on the software or community), then you just shouldn't use BYOND: it's as simple as that. While we strive to make even low-level changes to meet feature requests (eg, the recent native pixel movement), it's folly to think that after 15 years the system will change dramatically.

With BYOND, you are getting a toolkit that can produce what I'd call hobbyist-level games that can (and have) get hundreds of players; you also get some level of community exposure that you won't find with other systems. It is up to you to decide if these benefits outweigh the detriments, and IMO, that shouldn't be contingent on the development team or future plans. Rest assured that any game you make with BYOND today will work just fine on modern computers a decade from now.

As far as the Flash goes, we aren't killing off anything (nor is Flash itself dying anytime soon... that is hyperbole). All we've really done is updated the server so that it can operate with a "thin" client. And the Flash client is indeed thin-- maybe 1000 lines of code is all (when you see how little it does, you'll understand). This architecture allows us to port the client to different places as needed, whether that be HTML5, iFad or whatever. If this works well, there's really no reason that either the developer or player has to be aware that the client is even using Flash (or HTML5 etc)-- it is completely transparent. It's all about giving portability, ease of access, and basically better exposure for the games.
In response to Tom (#3)
Tom wrote:
What people here fail to understand time and time again is that improvements to the BYOND software & website will only have marginal improvements on your games. It is really on you, the designer, to make games that are fundamentally appealing. If you find it impossible to make such a game with BYOND's limitations (be they on the software or community), then you just shouldn't use BYOND: it's as simple as that. While we strive to make even low-level changes to meet feature requests (eg, the recent native pixel movement), it's folly to think that after 15 years the system will change dramatically.

I understand wanting to avoid big changes, but it seems like you're overcompensating and tend to avoid change entirely. You don't have to make big changes to BYOND. Currently there's hardly anything on the site to draw in game developers. It would be hugely beneficial to have something on the games page that said "all of these games were made using the BYOND software, click _here_ for more information" and linked a page that would describe - in the level of detail a game developer would care about - what BYOND is capable of.

Most people who use BYOND compare it to Flash or Unity (or Torque2D, though I've never seen that comparison be made), but I'd guess that most game developers who have heard of BYOND but haven't really used it would think it's something like these tools (GameSalad, PlayCrafter, Sploder, etc. - some severely limited game maker where you drag and drop stuff and share your "game" with others). The reason BYOND doesn't have users who use the software to its full potential is probably because developers who could use it effectively are never given a clear representation of what BYOND's potential is.
In response to Tom (#3)
Tom wrote:
It is really on you, the designer, to make games that are fundamentally appealing. If you find it impossible to make such a game with BYOND's limitations (be they on the software or community), then you just shouldn't use BYOND: it's as simple as that.

This couldn't be stressed enough. Developers must take the limitations of the software and hardware they're dealing with into account when designing a game. It's why Wii games always have minimal graphics and simple control schemes, the developers have to take the Wii's strengths and weaknesses into account. BYOND game developers must do the same and custom fit their games for BYOND.

Making a NES-themed MMO? Perfect, BYOND can do that just fine. Making a multiplayer FPS? BYOND isn't what you should be using. You wouldn't try eating soup with a fork, would you? Why treat software any differently? Different tools for different situations.
In response to SuperAntx (#5)
SuperAntx wrote:
Making a multiplayer FPS? BYOND isn't what you should be using. You wouldn't try eating soup with a fork, would you? Why treat software any differently? Different tools for different situations.

I find your profile picture interestingly contrast to what your saying.
In response to Flame Sage (#6)
I'm well aware of that and making Decadence has helped me come to that conclusion. I tried to get away with a little too much and the game suffered as a result. There are a hundred things I'd do differently, but at the end of the day it's all just experience to put towards newer projects.

FPS games on BYOND? Definitely out of the question. Multiplayer action games? Definitely possible.
In response to SuperAntx (#7)
Seems to be a fine game to me. :)

Either way, I honestly think Tom should really sit down and write where BYOND is headed.

There's no reason for developers to put time and energy into something when the engine's creator is silent on certain topics.
In response to SuperAntx (#5)
SuperAntx wrote:
Making a NES-themed MMO? Perfect, BYOND can do that just fine. Making a multiplayer FPS? BYOND isn't what you should be using. You wouldn't try eating soup with a fork, would you? Why treat software any differently? Different tools for different situations.

People make statements like that as if BYOND was full of people asking "how would I use BYOND to make Halo?", but that's not the case. The confusion comes from the large gray area between what BYOND does well and what it doesn't do. Should you use it for action games? realtime strategy? platformers? top-down shooters? sidescrolling shooters? action/adventure games?

There are some things BYOND does well and some things it doesn't do well. To complicate things even more, there are lots of things that BYOND is capable of but many people believe it to not be capable of. There are also lots of things that BYOND could do well with just a little bit of work.
In response to Forum_account (#9)
That's more or less the point I was making, but you're right about people not knowing where BYOND's strengths and weaknesses lie.

The gray area deals almost exclusively with pixel movement and advanced icon procedures. It all works offline just fine, but since one of BYOND's main selling points is its online functionality it's easy to see how people would assume all that stuff works online as well. The truth is altering the tick_lag should probably disable online play just because of how unreliable it is.

No, I'm not actually suggesting that it does that, what I mean is pixel movement (and its associated lowered tick_lag) just does not work online. This is a fact. Internet connection speeds fluctuate too rapidly and BYOND's client/server model cannot handle high latency gracefully.
2DExtremeProductions wrote:
...I still don't know where BYOND is headed. What its goal's are. Who is developing it. How big the team is.

If you were around more or even read the forums you would know who is developing it.

I have been here on and off for seven years, Dan and Tom created BYOND. Dan left or something. Tom stayed. Other than that, everything is just not there. Not much information. No Roadmaps at all. For a technology and game service company, its easy to see why it has not grown by much.

There have been several changes, you need to pay attention to the updates section of the forum.

The community is still around the 2,000-4,000 "People Online" at any one time. Its not bad but...Been like this since I got here.

I usually see at least 6000+ people on at any given time.

If you're not going to read the forums or stay caught up with what's going on don't ask these questions and don't make BYOND look like it's not going anywhere. I've been around here for a long time and it has changed a lot. I like what they have done with it. BYOND needs developers that are more dedicated to making a decent game rather than a lot making mediocre games. There are some great games out there on BYOND and many good developers.

I feel as though the better someone gets at programming the less they care to make games because they feel they are superior. This is not always the case. I'd go into more depth on my opinion but I'm not the best when it comes to explaining my thoughts or other things.
In response to Zaltron (#11)
It's partly related to your post Zaltron, so I'll reply here with this:
The Dunning-Kruger effect is a thought process in which lesser skilled people feel they're "too good" for, or at something, while more talented people often don't feel special or anything different because they view everyone as being as talented as them.

It seems a lot of BYOND follows this, in some shape or form at times.
2DExtremeProductions wrote:
The community is still around the 2,000-4,000 "People Online" at any one time. Its not bad but...Been like this since I got here.


Seem to remember back in 2001 there would be around 100 - 500 players online.

IMO BYOND has grown immensely and the features have grown, you have to remember its no as robust as C++ or another programming languages, YOU as a person/human/alien should be respectful that someone has come along and give you something fun, something that does change (although slow sometimes) & a great community.

Although a lot of people have disagreed on Toms moves for BYOND, you must remember Tom & Dan or (DanTom) made this pretty much for free since introducing the members features.

Either move on to another program language or make a library which will try and remove some of these limitations ...

DM somewhat paved the way to PHP for myself...
In response to Flame Sage (#8)
As a general rule, people put time and energy into their own projects, using the tools they see fit for the case. I don't particularly choose one framework over another at work on the basis of things the developer says are in future plans, I choose them based on their current strengths and weaknesses, because those actually exist and don't change on a whim. Which essentially Forum_Account's point.
In response to Forum_account (#4)
Forum_account wrote:
Tom wrote:
What people here fail to understand time and time again is that improvements to the BYOND software & website will only have marginal improvements on your games. It is really on you, the designer, to make games that are fundamentally appealing. If you find it impossible to make such a game with BYOND's limitations (be they on the software or community), then you just shouldn't use BYOND: it's as simple as that. While we strive to make even low-level changes to meet feature requests (eg, the recent native pixel movement), it's folly to think that after 15 years the system will change dramatically.

I understand wanting to avoid big changes, but it seems like you're overcompensating and tend to avoid change entirely. You don't have to make big changes to BYOND. Currently there's hardly anything on the site to draw in game developers. It would be hugely beneficial to have something on the games page that said "all of these games were made using the BYOND software, click _here_ for more information" and linked a page that would describe - in the level of detail a game developer would care about - what BYOND is capable of.

Most people who use BYOND compare it to Flash or Unity (or Torque2D, though I've never seen that comparison be made), but I'd guess that most game developers who have heard of BYOND but haven't really used it would think it's something like these tools (GameSalad, PlayCrafter, Sploder, etc. - some severely limited game maker where you drag and drop stuff and share your "game" with others). The reason BYOND doesn't have users who use the software to its full potential is probably because developers who could use it effectively are never given a clear representation of what BYOND's potential is.

Exactly.

Instead of BYOND evolving it seems like everything is just being sticked together. It took 2-3 years to make BYOND. Its 2011, Wouldn't a rewrite fix most of the "issues" already? Add more capabilities? Make this new thin client the norm, etc...

And, get on the website. There is nothing about BYOND capabilities. "Its easy", "Its multiplayer", "Its free"...

In the end, what are you? You want someone to make some unique game, but the software is pretty much hidden. You are hidden, Tom. If you want your "expectations" and "dreams" to be met Tom, maybe you should put more into showing what Dream Maker can do. Technology companies, SHOW what the technology can do.

There have been changes and updates, where can I see them in action? Go to the About BYOND page, tell me...What in **** name does "Does things no other game maker can" even mean? Am I expected just to trust you or something?


Do you understand what Im saying?

In response to 2DExtremeProductions (#15)
2DExtremeProductions wrote:
Instead of BYOND evolving it seems like everything is just being sticked together. It took 2-3 years to make BYOND. Its 2011, Wouldn't a rewrite fix most of the "issues" already? Add more capabilities? Make this new thin client the norm, etc...

I cannot stress enough how naive this point of view is. It did not take 2-3 years to "make" BYOND. It took 2-3 years to make a basic roguelike builder that is nothing like the current software. While it's true that the features over the past decade are nowhere near as dramatic as those in the first few years, that's the case with ANY software. You can peruse through years of release notes to see that the software has steadily evolved, with the majority of changes being fixes for stability. This is a tremendously complicated program and fixing bugs takes time. When you rewrite something from scratch, you throw that all out the window. While it's a very appealing idea on paper-- and god knows there are some fundamental things that I'd love to change about the system-- a rewrite is just not in the plans for now, with no funding, limited manpower, and, heck I'll say it, motivation.

And, get on the website. There is nothing about BYOND capabilities. "Its easy", "Its multiplayer", "Its free"...

We've gone through many iterations of the site and have tried to refine this to something that appeals to both demographics (players and gamers). There is a link to the start page in various places (including the header when you aren't logged in). From there, developers should eventually reach a link summary page that has some helpful material. Forum_account (I think?) wrote up something a while back that was catered towards more experienced developers trying out BYOND, and I think it would fit nicely here (I offered to post it but he wanted to refine it and I think it got lost from there). Honestly, I don't give this stuff a lot of weight because IMO the target audience has a very limited attention span and asking them to read more than a few paragraphs is a lot. But it doesn't hurt.

That all said, we are in the middle of yet another site revamp that tries to simplify and centralize our materials. Everything will be more-or-less forum driven and our top users can highlight useful content. Hopefully that will help with the documentation. We do have years of good material but sometimes it is not all that easy to locate.

Don't take this the wrong way, but I feel like the current generation has too much of an expectation for all the legwork to be done for them. All it takes for any developer to see what BYOND is is to download the software and browse the guide and/or work through a tutorial (such as A Step BYOND). This is exactly the process I use when learning any software. I don't really expect people to discover BYOND by virtue of looking for a way to create games, but rather by playing a BYOND game and realizing that they too can make that. Perhaps we haven't made that connection clear enough. That's possible, but honestly, I think it's more that the games themselves aren't getting exposure on their own, thus keeping our community somewhat inbred. That, or the games just aren't appealing.
In response to SuperAntx (#10)
SuperAntx wrote:
pixel movement (and its associated lowered tick_lag) just does not work online. This is a fact. Internet connection speeds fluctuate too rapidly and BYOND's client/server model cannot handle high latency gracefully.

I've played and enjoyed action games made with BYOND that use framerates above 10 fps, so what you're saying can't be entirely correct. That's what makes this a gray area - there are some multiplayer action games that would work on BYOND and some that wouldn't. These things are true:

1. You can't say that all multiplayer action games would work on BYOND just because one multiplayer action game worked.

2. You can't say that no multiplayer action games would work on BYOND just because one multiplayer action game didn't work.

3. Multiplayer action games have to be handled on a case-by-case basis. Deal with actual multiplayer games that exist and can be tested, instead of dealing with theoretical ideas about what BYOND might possibly not be capable of supporting.

Some games are more sensitive to latency and networking issues than others. This is something all multiplayer games have to deal with. Other games can work around some of these issues by shifting responsibilities to the client. Because BYOND game developers cannot control the client this isn't an option. However, there's still the opportunity to change the game to be less sensitive to latency in the first place.

For instance, it'd be a bad idea to make a multiplayer online reflex test game where you crank world.fps up to 1000 to measure each player's reflexes to the nearest millisecond. A game like this would be completely ruined by latency (though this would be true whether the game was made with BYOND or not). You just have to find a way to make gameplay that isn't ruined by networking issues. In this case, you could make the game be run locally and report scores to a central server to determine the winner, instead of using a client-server setup.
In response to Tom (#16)
Tom wrote:
2DExtremeProductions wrote:
And, get on the website. There is nothing about BYOND capabilities. "Its easy", "Its multiplayer", "Its free"...

We've gone through many iterations of the site and have tried to refine this to something that appeals to both demographics (players and gamers). There is a link to the start page in various places (including the header when you aren't logged in). From there, developers should eventually reach a link summary page that has some helpful material. Forum_account (I think?) wrote up something a while back that was catered towards more experienced developers trying out BYOND, and I think it would fit nicely here (I offered to post it but he wanted to refine it and I think it got lost from there).

The problem is that BYOND is a game playing site first and a game development site second. It should be the other way around. The website should make it incredibly clear that BYOND is for game development and only show games as a way of saying "here are examples of what it can do". Even then, I'd be careful, because if people look at the games page for an example of what it can do they'll think it's for making RP chatrooms.

Take a look at this website: http://www.garagegames.com/products/torque-2d

Honestly, I don't give this stuff a lot of weight because IMO the target audience has a very limited attention span and asking them to read more than a few paragraphs is a lot. But it doesn't hurt.

If you assume your target audience has a severely limited attention span and you design the site to cater to that, don't be surprised that after 15 years the community is primarily dopey kids with short attention spans. You asked for it!

If you want to attract decent game developers looking for a powerful tool they can use to make a serious game (as serious as hobby games get, at least), then there's nothing wrong with having multiple paragraphs. Those kinds of people will want pages and pages of information so they can better understand what BYOND is about, what it can do, and if it's the right fit for them. Because the website doesn't explain this, you don't attract the type of developer you want because it's unlikely that they'll assume BYOND is the right tool for them.
In response to Forum_account (#18)
I actually wasn't going to program in DM originally, though was curious of it. This was a few weeks after joining BYOND. However, I later did become more interested in the language that I decided to learn it. My original plan was to head off to C++ (even since 2001/2002), but that took a while.

One thing I do like about BYOND is the ability to easily release multiplayer games without having to deal with packets themselves (as that can take quite a bit of work to get it working properly). Could say even being on BYOND for almost 8 years and dealing with C++ for about 7 year(though would've been 9 if I did it earlier), I still find DM relatively useful. Heck, some of the projects I'm working on now wouldn't been as possible when I first joined without impressive upgrades.

I even released a new version of "Classic Tron BYOND Edition" (Fangame of course) utilizing capabilities provided by newer versions of BYOND. As the earlier versions utilized BYOND 3.5 capabilities, the latest one utilizes capabilities provided by much later BYOND 4.0 versions. I could even make mention of the original BYOND port of "Text City Simulator" being released just before the start of the BYOND 3.5 Era.

While I have plans to make a game in C++, I also still plan to make games that use DM. For that, you're doing a good job Tom as well as your current staff (programmers, moderators, and various others).
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