Keywords: website
Reposted from the BYOND Developer Announcements forum, now that I can!


We've been developing this new BYOND website for quite some time, and it's been running pretty smoothly. We had the grandiose plan to surprise everyone this afternoon by taking the old site down for a few minutes and swapping this new and improved version in its place. Ten minutes, tops, right? Bzzzt.

Needless to say, we ran into a few problems and had to put in the extra hours to mostly resolve them (thanks especially to head guru Mike H. for infusing some sanity into the whole operation). Things appear to be reasonably stable now, but I won't be shocked if the site experiences further problems for a few days, particularly during peak hours. It is a work-in-progress. In the end, I expect this new site to be both faster and easier to use, but it may take a few tries to get us there.

Aside from stability issues, we'll also be addressing some of color/layout considerations. We've given these things a lot of thought, realizing that we can't possibly satisfy everyone. While I like the overall scheme, I acknowledge that some of the components are a bit high-contrast and we'll see if we can come to a reasonable compromise there.


The guiding principles behind the development of the new website were "consistency" and "simplicity". We wanted the various elements of our site-- from the games to the developers to the community-- to be bound by a unified layout. We've attempted to make navigation logical for the user-- rather than have developer materials all over the place, for instance, we've consolidated them under the developer guild. Ditto for help/support, and so on. Finally, we've greatly reduced the content on the site. When given the choice of preserving an unused or unknown element or quietly eliminating it, we've opted for the latter (in spades!)

Overall, I'm very pleased with the effort. Aesthetically, I think the site looks really good-- much thanks to TheMonkeyDidIt for doing numerous mockups and graphics to arrive at our final design. Lummox JR has been masterful in both building the site off Ron & Mike's original work and (more impressively) putting up with my constant demands and often surly attitude. I really should pay him more than circus peanuts.

Here are a few of the major features/changes in the new site:

* unified "BYOND Members" style menubar on every page in the site.

* some Google ads on "official" pages. Note: I have been adamantly opposed to ads forever, but I must admit that over the course of testing I've found these quite nonoffensive and in some cases interesting. If our sponsors appeal to you, please pay them a visit.

* game banners. Oldbies might remember these from circa 2003. LJR fondly recollected them and I said "go to town!" Banners are circulated based on a clever algorithm that looks at diverse guilds, so you don't just see 1000 DBZ banners.

* account, hub, and site/member settings are all merged now into one convenient place. The options are better organized and more manageable (owners of the larger guilds should especially appreciate this).

* blurred the distinction between "site" and "guild". Basically, we found that a lot of people were calling their personal sites as guilds because they wanted to have a forum, so we just made those member/rank features accessible to all sites and have done away with the "guild" branding. If you want your site to be used as a genre-organizer (like the official guilds), there's a new toggle for that.

* new "home" page that let's you see friend, game, and (eventually) forum updates, as well as some other stuff. Why check your member page, you already know what you posted!

* non-members get a few more perks, including a barebones blog site (with fixed layout and no files, no guild joining, ads on the pages, and some other stuff).

* new, simplified css for members pages, as well as a more pleasing default page. The main reason I mention this is that you might have to update your site css if you use certain color schemes, since a few default colors have changed.

* simplified the membership-purchase page (which was generalized from the largely unused commerce system). Also added a more convenient credit-card payment that doesn't have to visibly route through paypal. Bumped up memberships to $18/year to account for kickbacks (see below).

* new referral program and soon-to-be developer profit-sharing program; read the links on the sidebar. I'm especially excited about the profit-sharing.

* no more "channels". I realize there is a minor loss of functionality here but I'm certain we can replace it with other aspects of the site, such as a new language feature that will let you know who is subscribed to your site (more on this below).

* temporarily nixed the developer merchant program (where we process a game/library/demo sale and update your subscriber list) for those of you who've activated it for your site. We just haven't gotten around to implementing the UI for this, and didn't consider it a priority due to the dearth of sales. As before, you can still manually do sales and update your subscriber list (who will all be assigned the corresponding BYOND Passport). On related note, the plan is to shortly replace the CheckPassport() call with a new IsSubscribed() call that can be used to check subscribers to games AND members to guilds.


That's it for now. Our priorities now are stability, speed, and usability. Feel free to make comments, complaints, suggestions, and (most importantly) detailed bug reports. We might even read them.
As long as you keep ads away from member pages, no one will find concern with them.

The site is slower than before, it takes a few seconds to load a page and there's the usual CSS conflict with IE6 (such as the rounded edges not appearing). Otherwise, the layout is cool, yo.

The main page at looks better than before.

All you scrubs that dislike the new layout will get used to it.
We're working on the speed issues. In theory, this site should be faster because of some internal optimizations. The developer forum may be a little slower for the time being.
A lot of people are complaining about the website, which is to be expected since people love to complain. However, I think it looks great. The only thing I'm not a fan of right now is the gradient effect in the background. However, I'll just get used to it.

edit: I forgot to mention that it's a really good thing that you added the download-able games area. A lot of those games go unnoticed because they aren't hosted publicly.
It looks awesome guys
My only gripes are thus: I disagree with the move to rounded edges (nothing wrong with flat corners; they may be faster to render, I think they look better---especially when the rounded corners become sharp, as in my own blog---and they may be more cross-browser compatible), and I don't care much for having comments on the blog post page. Other than those (and they really aren't very big issues), I like it! :)
I have been waiting for YEARS for you to put some adsense on your members page.

Good decision Tom!
Really, the only thing I dislike (aside from the connection but that's something you can't control much of) is the header... I mean, it totally does not go with the rest of the site (that and it looks bland <_<)
I have a suggestion for the developer profit sharing program. I really should think that you have to submit your game to the program. In that way, you wouldn't waste a lot of money on people that have left BYOND. [Abra is one example]

It would also make sure that rips and etc do not get money, for they didn't put any hard work or effort into it at all. I'm sure a few seconds logging into a game could prove this, and then you could have a 'flag for review' feature, if a game somehow got past the reviewers. In order to prevent people abusing 'flag for review', if they abuse it, just remove the option for them with your BYOND association thing. Perhaps make it so if a person submits a rip too many times, they won't be able to submit anything for a good few months, so they learn.
Please add some way to set up an individual layout for the site, or different layouts. Orange on blue is absolutely terrible, and it kind of makes me want to tear my eyes out.
I fully agree that rips should not be eligable for profit sharing. You want to pay people to bring content to byond which is admirable, but dont create incentives for rips, thats something we need to avoid. You can streamline this with some indication next to the hub that it is in fact Byond sanctioned and in the profit sharing program, to add some more antirip appeal. If you need help determining what is a rip or not in the anime guild for instance get SSGX to help, and if he is too busy he can hire some mods.
I also agree that fan games should not be allowed to be allowed fan sharing, which is anime guild included, of course. You're making money on an intellectual property not owned by you or given the 'go ahead' for you, so that's pretty illegal. It's in the same league as subscribing, I would think, giving them money for their anime game.

BYOND would be in a lot of legal troubles if they started endorsing anime games. It's out of the question.
I haven't looked at the site as thoroughly as I probably should. I don't really have a lot of good things to say mostly because I'm not a huge fan of change, I liked the old developer section layout, and I haven't explored most of the new features yet. But some things that especially bother me:

1. I don't like that some of the changes you've made to the members CSS will have a notable change on the old layouts. Considering the rounded edges don't render correctly on most of the sites which have modified CSS, I think this change may have been a bad idea.

2. Displaying the commentary on the blog post page may have been an improvement, but several of the custom CSS designs weren't counting on that, and some of them have ruined comment sections now. I don't know if the format of the blog page could be redone to fix this or not, but its annoying.

3. I know Lummox gave me a reason for it, but I'm not a huge fan of the guild games pages being taken back to the main layout. Probably because I was happy with the layout I'd just put together for BYOND Casual, but also because it makes the guild sites feel less consistent while they're going back and forth from guild layout to BYOND layout.

And I mentioned it before to you, but it feels like a lot of the new layout is wasted space. Actually it feels like it was designed for or by people with huge resolutions, and for the rest of us, all the meaningful content is crowded to the right side of the screen.

The developer profit sharing stuff has me a little worried too. At the moment, it sounds like whoever has the most popular game will make the most money - and assuming there's worthwhile amounts of money to be made, anime fan games is starting to sound like the way to go.

If I had no preference and I just wanted to make money, the choice between a quality casual/strategy game which will have players once in a while for a few minutes/hours at a time, or a cheap anime rip which will have dozens of players all day long, I think the choice would be pretty easy to make.

Along with that, something in the new layout seems to radiate the intense desire to not come here anymore. Maybe its some subliminal messaging gone wrong... Or quite possibly its the orange, since the old player's section gave me a similar feeling, but I always had the developer and member's sections to flee to!
I'm sorry you don't like the site. We'll work on some of the color & layout issues once things are more stable. The priority right now is keeping it running at more than a snail's pace. Something has gone horribly wrong.

Everytime we've released an update, we've gotten complaints. I think people generally get used to something and then hate to see it change. For this update, I was looking not so much at existing users, who already know how things work, but rather newer users. I polled many people and the consensus was the our old site was very confusing. It had many disjointed components and nothing to bind them together. You may have liked the developer section but how much of that did you really use? It was basically the forum and then a bunch of outdated links (including the worthless front-page).

Further, we're trying to make a bit of a business out of this and on half the pages you wouldn't even know how to send us money if you wanted too!

I think this new site has a much better feel and with some touchups will improve BYOND a great deal. But time will tell.

I happen to like the new layout. It seems to be aiding in moving around the site, and makes me feel moreso part of a community then a 'gamers site' or something. Surprised to many people hate the blue and orange, considering they are 'complimentary colors'. Maybe a skin selection for users who don't want that. Or options for tints and shades of the current colors. I don't know. I like it though.
I second the "not having a problem" with the colors. The only issue with me is the left side boxes; I don't care much for the goldenrod/amber combination. Other than that, and the site crashing every other minute, I don't have any complaints(and I'm sure both will be fixed somehow). In fact, I kind of like the ads(unless they get put on members pages, then I'm against it) helping to fund the site, as well as the developer fund/referral program.
I'm having a bit of a problem, well when I click on the "Publish Game" link it sends me to a page where is says "404 Not Found" ... This means it prevents me from adding new hubs or deleting old ones. (Just decided to add on)
I made another effort to explain some of the reasons for things, but the server at my post for the second time in two days and I'm getting a bit tired of that.

At the moment, I'm wondering whether resolution has something to do with whether people like this layout or not. To me, it seems rather cramped with a lot of wasted space and the orange bar seems rather overwhelming. However, I can easily imagine how someone with a higher resolution would have more space and a smaller orange bar, thus eliminating those problems.

[Edit] I did a quick test, and this site is much easier to view with a larger resolution than my 1024x768. I pity anyone who uses 800x600, but statistically that's pretty rare now. however, my resolution is statistically the most common - and for me, this resolution hurts my eyes. There is simply too much orange.

When the resolution is larger, the orange bar shrinks. Thus I assume the width of the orange bar is making this site and eye sore at some resolutions.

Feel free to disagree with me.
GemStar wrote:
I'm having a bit of a problem, well when I click on the "Publish Game" link it sends me to a page where is says "404 Not Found" ... This means it prevents me from adding new hubs or deleting old ones. (Just decided to add on)

I'm not seeing the link you're referring to, GemStar. Which page do you see the link on, and what is its exact title? Also, if you have a copy of the URL it's giving you that would help.
I think everything looks great, Good job guys.
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