We've made a few small changes to the site in regards to the appearance, layout, and functionality. This is just something we have to do from time to time to keep things interesting! Hopefully these changes aren't too objectionable-- it is a work in progress!
The most obvious site change is the removal of the ads and fund-o-meter. The fund-o-meter is dead! Long live the fund-o-meter! Well, not really, but we did move it off to a less-obtrusive sidebox. We still need your help! Please consider kicking in any spare change to support a good cause. And to those of you who have contributed in the past, thank you so much! You have enabled us to extend this project far beyond its natural technological lifespan!
Among the functional changes, users can now self-tag and self-publish their games and resources without relying on the moderation team for approval. This is self-explanatory within the hub editor. For listing a game, the options are "published", "unpublished/fangame", and "private". Published games are prioritized in search over unpublished ones, and private ones won't be displayed to outside users on the search, game listings, or author page. FYI, the primary reason for this special "unpublished" status is that Fangames are such a popular genre and would dwarf out the original game listings if promoted in the same space; so please abide by this "honor code"-- it will have no real bearing on your results, and any games found abusing this will be delisted.
Games and resources now use (roughly) the same popularity algorithm between the site and pager, and you can search through both published and unpublished works. We have used some heuristics to automatically transfer the publication status between the old system and new-- all previously "listed" games will be "published" now, and most active (played or downloadable) games will be "unpublished"; the remainder will be "private", but this can be overriden by the author if desired.
The game hub pages now have an inline box for usage of the webclient, when such compatible servers are hosted. Eventually, we expect this to be _the_ way to play multiplayer BYOND games, but for now they are the minority. As such, this featured is labeled as a "beta" and can be toggled off.
Finally, users now have the option to deactivate their account (accessible via the account settings). This makes the profile inaccessible and hides the account from all fan and friend lists. The email is required to re-activate the account, which will reinstate all of the information. Accounts with over two years inactivity have been, and will continue to be automatically deactivated. Eventually we may recycle some of the truly inactive accounts (that is, those without any site activity at all) so that users may pilfer their highly sought after names!
At this point, we are going to go full-throttle to stabilize the webclient so that users can start to use it for production code. We've been alerted to a number of bugs and performance issues and it will be the priority from here on out to address these. Once the client is reasonably stable, we will work to provide a standalone option (embedding the client & server together in a cross-platform-supported executable) that can be launched from within the pager or on its own.
While there are many advantages to using a webclient, including more expansive user interfaces and cross-platform support, the most significant one is probably the ability to use it to promote games. There are many gaming networks for more popular than BYOND, and, with the webclient, you should be able to push your games onto any number of them. Or, alternatively, you can go the "self-made" route and embed your game right onto your own website. We hope people get into the mindset of thinking about their games "beyond BYOND". And by integrating subscriptions, you can help us out while helping yourself!
Long term, regardless of how BYOND does as a business, we want to ensure that the software lives on. Rest assured to both current and prospective developers: under no scenario will your games be inaccessible with or without BYOND. Should the day come when we close the doors here, we will do everything in our ability to gracefully transfer your BYOND-based user accounts to a system you control. Furthermore, we would fully open-source the software so that people could continue developing it long after we're gone! Open-sourcing is actually something we're eventually planning regardless, since we recognize that there are many capable people here who would like to get under the hood and improve the tools; it's just a bit complicated in our case due to the interconnected nature of the software and hub.
The point is that we recognize the difference between BYOND "the software" and BYOND "the community" and we want people to be able to use the engine to develop their games just as they would any other piece of software, without factoring in the pros and cons of having an attached social network and account system. While we do rely on some aspects of the hub-- specifically, the ads that play when people play games-- we realize that developers here want to completely control their own creations and userbase, and we will do everything we can to make this possible even if it means sacrificing some potential income and traffic. On the flip side, we hope you also recognize that this is a symbiotic relationship, and by using the hub infrastructure here (ads and subscriptions), you benefit BYOND, allowing us to continue to improve the tools over time.
Thanks for the continued support!