Lately we've made a few more changes to the hub and how games are found and managed. Some of these changes you might not have noticed yet. Others have been easier to find.
Medals, scores, and comments
First, some changes were made to the medal system. You may have noticed that some games used to display medals and scores but no longer do. We found that some entries were ill-advisedly using the medal system without having first set up a hub password. Because this was wide open to abuse, it was decided that the best thing would be to hide medals and scores on those entries until the authors could make the change to use a password for security.
Along with that, medals now have two new features. When you edit your game's hub entry, you have the option of changing how the list of available medals is arranged--this is strictly for aesthetic purposes. You also can flag a medal as a "spoiler", which means it will be hidden from view except for people who have already earned it. This can be used for special "secret" medals as well as anything that could potentially give away vital plot info that might spoil surprises for new players. These ideas have been on the drawing board for a little while, and we're pleased to be able to bring them to you.
Comments on hub entries have changed too. We found out through trial and error that leaving the system wide open was just opening the door to way too much spam. The solution to that was one that has worked well on a lot of other fronts: game comments are now only available for BYOND Members, and the game's author and helpers.
Recommendations are also a fairly new feature we added recently. If you've visited any games lately you've probably seen that some are saying they're recommended for you. This system is still in fairly early stages and may need refinement down the road, but we're hoping the data will improve as time goes on. As part of this, the list of related games ("Players also like...") has changed a little too.
If you click the "Why?" link on a recommended game, you'll see which games had the most influence on the pick. If you think a game shouldn't be influencing your recommendations, just click the "Don't use this for recommendations" link and it will no longer be a factor. The "Not interested" link also tells the system to avoid recommending that particular game in the future.
New main page for games
Recently we overhauled our front page for finding games. The old page was fine, but while it gave a good sampling of available games it didn't give any information about them. Now several of the games show an expanded listing including their description, and even some screenshots. Recommended games get first priority in the new listing, so you're more likely to find something right off the bat that would actually interest you. Developers take note: Using screenshots will make your game look really good on this page.
Also the games page now features a list of medals, when available, recently earned by BYOND Members for games in that category. This is a great way for Members to get their accomplishments noticed.
Published, unpublished, and available
Another change with hub entries is this new concept of "published" and "unpublished". You may have noticed these, along with this new notion of "available" games, when searching for games. We've been around the block with those terms a few times before, so here's a quick explanation of what they mean:
- Available games are either downloadable, or currently live. In a few places this concept is stretched a little to include any games that were live within the last day or so.
- Published games are generally BYOND favorites (a favorite in one of our banner guilds), or are in at least one Member's top 10 favorite games.
- Unpublished games are everything else.
Our admins have the ability to push a game into the published list if it really belongs there--like I did the other day with Flick's Chinese Checkers. They can also mark a game as unpublished, like for instance if it is a rip, so we can encourage quality original games. Bear in mind it's still possible to find unpublished games, they just don't show up as easily.
One other new thing you'll see on games is related to this. If a game has earned published status but it hasn't yet been evaluated to see if it's original or not, our Members can cast a vote on whether the game is a rip (and if so, of which game) or not. Our admins have the ability to see the results of the voting--but not who voted, since it's anonymous--and can decide to keep a game in the published section or remove it. This voting will only appear on eligible entries, so if you don't see it, it means votes aren't even being considered yet.
BYOND users have been requesting something to deal with rips for a long time, so we're hoping this is one step we can take toward helping everyone with that. It is not feasible for us to police rips, but with a task force of volunteers to look over the voting we're hoping that we can make some headway. This system is only possible because the number of entries eligible for voting is relatively small. I would like to stress, though, that it is experimental. We have no idea what to expect in terms of results.
Among our latest changes, you can now use files up to 20K in size for your BYOND Member avatar or for hub entry icons, up from the previous limits of 6K and 10K. The same goes for medal images as well.
Avatars also display on hub pages now, when you look at a list of who's logged into a game. It's a nice way of making the page more colorful, and also giving the Members who've supported us a way of expressing themselves better.
We hope to continue adding more features just like these to improve the overall look of the site and the user experience, and to encourage more people to become BYOND Members to help keep everything going.