In response to Tom (#139)
Tom wrote:
I'm not following you. The top-5 guilds are essentially games that have been pre-approved already, so they are a logical seed for a listing. We still have to figure out what we want to do with fangames, so we may want to move those Anime listings to another section or delist them completely (which would make the initial listings somewhat useless for the current community but would set a better precedent for the future).

What you're suggesting sounds almost exactly how guilds work now, except instead of guilds, it will just be the entire hub.
If I go to BYOND RPG right now, it shows me all the games that have been approved by that guild. Other games may have hubs, but they won't be displayed there. Isn't this exactly what you're suggesting the entire hub be converted into? Also, I'm not sure about the other guilds, but I think the anime guild has a membership requirement to submit games. So, it all sounds about the same to me, just turning BYOND into one giant guild...

Also, there seem to be some bugs with searching inside the guild listing o.O unless going to the all games listing is intentional?
In response to Falacy (#140)
Falacy wrote:
If I go to BYOND RPG right now, it shows me all the games that have been approved by that guild. Other games may have hubs, but they won't be displayed there. Isn't this exactly what you're suggesting the entire hub be converted into? Also, I'm not sure about the other guilds, but the anime one has a requirement that you have to be a member to submit games. So, it all sounds about the same to me, just turning BYOND into one giant guild...

Right, this is a not so much a technical change as a change in policy. Currently we have different groups handling different genres, but since some of those genres get little traffic, the communities (and submissions) aren't always maintained. For instance, Foomer constructed a nice site to organize single-player games (which we can pull into the initial listing), but since he has left, submissions there no longer work. Also, the submission system is currently fairly clunky (forcing you to join a guild to list your game as well as not clarifying the distinction between a "top 5" guild and others). This new idea just simplifies the process.

For categorization, the plan is to have the moderator set keywords on the entry when it is approved, and then present a "tag cloud" in the listing. Truthfully, I think the only genre line people in BYOND really care about is fangame vs non-fangame (or maybe even Anime vs non-Anime), so basing the site around categories was a mistake in the first place.
In response to Tom (#141)
Tom wrote:
Truthfully, I think the only genre line people in BYOND really care about is fangame vs non-fangame (or maybe even Anime vs non-Anime)

or rip vs non-rip =P
In response to Falacy (#142)
Falacy wrote:
Tom wrote:
Truthfully, I think the only genre line people in BYOND really care about is fangame vs non-fangame (or maybe even Anime vs non-Anime)

or rip vs non-rip =P

This has to be the longest-standing phantom issue on BYOND, egged on by loud voices and sheep-mentality.

It is a problem that exists within certain parts of the community, all of which are extreme minorities - And thus totally unrelated to getting new players and developers.

It seems to me the major issues are ways to properly highlight quality games, ways to attract quality developers and ways to get players into games as fast as possible.

What happens when some of those quality games happen to be in your 'rip segment'? Or when solid developers who might later be helpful elsewhere are stuck in one part of the community? And was the entire point of this not to combine, getting away from segregated areas? Do you honestly think players who have no idea what BYOND is, care that you've 'carefully pruned the games list from rips'? No - They care about finding and subsequently playing games that look fun/interesting.

Seems like a witch-hunt to me, causing lost focus on the core issues and features that want to be promoted. If you're convinced its an issue, try looking into creating some persona's, abstract scenarios and concrete scenarios to underline(or undermine, as I suspect) your findings. I can recommend David Benyon's 'Designing Interactive Systems (SE)'. While it only has a brief chapter dealing with 'web 2.0', social spaces like Facebook, Twitter etc. the findings within the rest of the book may be very useful for you for quick-and-cheap ways to do analysis on the website and BYOND itself. For example, heuristic analysis (Jacob Nielsen, 1994), although the book only briefly touches on it I'm sure Nielsen's paper is available in some form.

On a positive note, member-only listings seems quite sensible. If the majority of your contributing games are from members anyway, then you stand to lose very little and gain a much more manageable list of games. And to be perfectly frank, the developers who complain that $18 is a deal-breaking issue for them, are most likely not the ones producing anything for you anyhow. Real advertisement of this kind costs tens of times more than that, and anybody who has tried to release something or intends to already knows this. Additionally, the more exclusive it is, the more those $18 also buy you as a developer. Additionally-additionally, this also might have the unintended side-effect of letting some games produce solid websites if that helped their ranking. Solid websites make BYOND look better by letting them link back to BYOND in return for say, an improved ranking (I'm not sure if thats a good idea, mind, but its worth considering along the same lines as screenshots/videos). Its also a big bullet-point to be advertising membership as providing. The advertisement space alone is more than enough to justify the $18, everything else would just be a nice bonus.
In response to Tom (#141)
Tom wrote:
For categorization, the plan is to have the moderator set keywords on the entry when it is approved, and then present a "tag cloud" in the listing.

Oh man, I've been waiting for something like this for a while now. The person submitting the game should have the option of filling out his own tags. That way the moderator doesn't always have to come up with them all and can just approve/deny as they see fit.

Tags are much more flexible and easier to search for than the current system. Just make sure "swap map" turns up the same results as "swapmaps."
In response to SuperAntx (#144)
SuperAntx wrote:
Tags are much more flexible and easier to search for than the current system. Just make sure "swap map" turns up the same results as "swapmaps."

If you try the new search in the header, you'll find that works properly now. Lummox JR did a great job refining the engine so it picks up on these kind of subtleties.
In response to Tom (#141)
Tom wrote:
"so basing the site around categories was a mistake in the first place."


I don't think it was necessarily a mistake to separate the site into segments. Obviously you're saying that in retrospect because I remember when it was first split, we all supported the decision because we thought it would allow new programmers to see the diverse types of games they could make and defer them from seeing the clumps of rips before seeing the other quality games.

Unfortunately, after the separation, quality of games never really came. I've been gone for a while, so as an older member looking back at the games since I left, I've noticed there haven't been many quality games. This unpredictable oversight, caused potential developers instead of easily seeing quality games made with an easy-to-use language to see a mess of a website that seems fractured and the majority of games and players to be found in the BYOND anime section.

If potential developers are looking for a community to design their dream game and instead see a site that seems to only cater to fan games, they might look elsewhere.

I think you need to look at the site from a objective point of view. Maybe ask friends/family members of moderators to look at the site and see what their first impression of BYOND and site. First impressions carry the most weight when forming a new attitude about something you've never seen before. I remember there were a few mock-designs floating around Chatters/Chat a few years ago that seemed to be more modern that I think were shot down because you (or someone else on the staff) didn't see the need to change the site.

Currently, everyone on the staff is a programmer and truthfully, as Falacy hinted (although bluntly) in a post somewhere, they probably don't play any games. But that doesn't seem to be as big of a problem as he made it out to be, because as other people have noted, BYOND is around ~10x more popular than it was 5 years ago. Obviously you're doing something right. But you need to consider where are the quality games? Where are the quality developers? We have the players, and as they say, if you build it they will come.

The underlying problem is they aren't being built. The site caters to already established games. All of the popular games, are games that have been around for while. Looking at the popular games (http://www.byond.com/games/?guild=all&sort=pop), the top 10 games are all made in 2007 or before. Obviously this could also be looked at that since they are so old, they have a strong following, but these games were popular right when they were created.

A new developer obviously will want to have a popular game, but when he sees all of the popular games (most of them having 20 people or more on at a time) mostly being in anime games, he might think twice about this site.


On a side note since you seem to be open to suggestions right now, why not have an option for members to purchase advertising space the website. When you click "games" Instead of that big ad on the top why not have it be a rotating space for members' games separate from the $18 member fee. I think I remember Lummox or you mentioning how you're making pennies from the ads and are trying to rework them, instead keep advertisements in-house.

I know this post was pretty long, hope you appreciate my insight as a member who has been here for a long time, gone away, and come back again. Also, this is coming from a guy who has been designing an anime game for years, so I'm not biased against anime. I'm just letting you know how it seems.


EDIT:

Quick note I forgot to mention. I really like the idea of bringing the forums back together. It shows unity amongst the community. On the front page of the forum index, you can list the big-5 guild's forum index's. Or I'm not sure if it would be possibly list their sub-sections too.
In response to Alathon (#143)
Alathon wrote:
On a positive note, member-only listings seems quite sensible. If the majority of your contributing games are from members anyway, then you stand to lose very little and gain a much more manageable list of games. And to be perfectly frank, the developers who complain that $18 is a deal-breaking issue for them, are most likely not the ones producing anything for you anyhow. Real advertisement of this kind costs tens of times more than that, and anybody who has tried to release something or intends to already knows this. Additionally, the more exclusive it is, the more those $18 also buy you as a developer. Additionally-additionally, this also might have the unintended side-effect of letting some games produce solid websites if that helped their ranking. Solid websites make BYOND look better by letting them link back to BYOND in return for say, an improved ranking (I'm not sure if thats a good idea, mind, but its worth considering along the same lines as screenshots/videos). Its also a big bullet-point to be advertising membership as providing. The advertisement space alone is more than enough to justify the $18, everything else would just be a nice bonus.

We're not going to be talking about serious developers coming along from no where, a lot of the audience is going to continue to be kids who will have to run off and ask mommy for her credit card, or be stuck pager/forum spamming to try and get people to play their game. If you look at what is also probably BYOND's closest competitor (Game Maker) $25 gets you the full version of the software. You can make games and list/share them for free. Does listing a BYOND game currently justify $18 a year right now, not really in my opinion.

And also what is the fallback plan if someone comes along and basically puts up a secondary hub that isn't essentially pay to list? There will definitely be a market there for game/server listing for people who don't have a membership. That would definitely put a damper on bringing in new memberships for listing purposes.
In response to Tom (#139)
Tom wrote:
We still have to figure out what we want to do with fangames

Anime games aren't the only fangames. I'm currently making a fangame, and I'd rather not be discriminated for it as long as it's a decent game. As I said earlier, fangames are a huge part of any gaming community. The oldbies that complain about them need to suck it up and deal with it.
In response to Xioden (#147)
Xioden wrote:
We're not going to be talking about serious developers coming along from no where, a lot of the audience is going to continue to be kids who will have to run off and ask mommy for her credit card, or be stuck pager/forum spamming to try and get people to play their game.

If they resort to that kind of method, that means they'll get desperate enough to eventually ask their parents for the subscription and call it a day. This is not a bad thing. It's not like spam is difficult to deal with anyway.

If you look at what is also probably BYOND's closest competitor (Game Maker) $25 gets you the full version of the software. You can make games and list/share them for free. Does listing a BYOND game currently justify $18 a year right now, not really in my opinion.

You get your publicly listed hub.
You get your search-able hub.
You get your advertisement on the left of the page.
You get your file space to store game files.
You get your blog to discuss development news (with RSS feed).
You get your forums (personal guild forums?) for discussion.
You don't have to pay for the software and get the same starting chances as everyone else.

Does Game Maker give you all of that?

And also what is the fallback plan if someone comes along and basically puts up a secondary hub that isn't essentially pay to list? There will definitely be a market there for game/server listing for people who don't have a membership.

Celebrate? The only people who will resort to a secondary hub are developers desperate for attention or "rippers" desperate to get their "game" noticed. Either way, it's not important to us at all.

Most likely such a project in the end would end up faltering and be poorly maintained (if maintained at all). Resulting in exactly what people have been complaining about here all this time: "There's too many rips! =(" So it's no big deal to us at all.

That would definitely put a damper on bringing in new memberships for listing purposes.

Nope. If would at best, cease some of the whining from non-members demanding their "rip" be shown the same respect as everyone else who's worked so very hard at producing a decent game.

(Note: I'm not saying all non-members are "rippers". Unfortunately, a great deal of members appear to be "rippers", somehow they seem to have more money than they know what to do with.)
In response to Tiberath (#149)
Tiberath wrote:
Xioden wrote:
We're not going to be talking about serious developers coming along from no where, a lot of the audience is going to continue to be kids who will have to run off and ask mommy for her credit card, or be stuck pager/forum spamming to try and get people to play their game.

If they resort to that kind of method, that means they'll get desperate enough to eventually ask their parents for the subscription and call it a day. This is not a bad thing. It's not like spam is difficult to deal with anyway.

No, they'll just go somewhere else where they can do the same without the hassle.
If you look at what is also probably BYOND's closest competitor (Game Maker) $25 gets you the full version of the software. You can make games and list/share them for free. Does listing a BYOND game currently justify $18 a year right now, not really in my opinion.

You get your publicly listed hub. Yes
You get your search-able hub. Yes
You get your advertisement on the left of the page. Sortof (it's smack dab in the center of the page)
You get your file space to store game files. Yes
You get your blog to discuss development news (with RSS feed). No
You get your forums (personal guild forums?) for discussion. No
You don't have to pay for the software and get the same starting chances as everyone else. No

Does Game Maker give you all of that?

Pretty much, and for what it doesn't, you can link them back to a game page which between blogs, and such, is readily available, and free. The features that are locked in the free client, are pretty much advanced features that BYOND doesn't have either (particles/emitters, 3D support, etc.). So basically all they lose out on, is a blog, and a forum, and they end up with a game that isn't tied to third-party software.


And also what is the fallback plan if someone comes along and basically puts up a secondary hub that isn't essentially pay to list? There will definitely be a market there for game/server listing for people who don't have a membership.

Celebrate? The only people who will resort to a secondary hub are developers desperate for attention or "rippers" desperate to get their "game" noticed. Either way, it's not important to us at all.

But you're making one very big assumption, that any other site site would just be a cesspool for the "kiddies" with their rips. Seriously, what would BYOND do if it was identical, offered more features, and was free? But then it isn't important to you anyway, so nevermind.
Most likely such a project in the end would end up faltering and be poorly maintained (if maintained at all). Resulting in exactly what people have been complaining about here all this time: "There's too many rips! =(" So it's no big deal to us at all.

Again, No.
That would definitely put a damper on bringing in new memberships for listing purposes.

Nope. If would at best, cease some of the whining from non-members demanding their "rip" be shown the same respect as everyone else who's worked so very hard at producing a decent game.

(Note: I'm not saying all non-members are "rippers". Unfortunately, a great deal of members appear to be "rippers", somehow they seem to have more money than they know what to do with.)

It's the same stubborn attitude that has created problems in the past. Cleaning things up and getting rid of the "bad taste" that the whole "rip" situation has had on BYOND is a good thing, and a step in the right direction. Simultaneously further restricting things, isn't going to draw more people in.


To draw in serious developers, there needs to be a market. Restricting things further isn't going to expand the currently small market that BYOND actually has. If someone is looking for a language to develop a game in, they aren't going to go to the little obscure BYOND site for the handful that aren't here just for anime rips. They'll stick with the ways they can reach a large audience, Flash, XNA, etc. Or they'll go all out and do a "proper" (for lack of better word) program using some C/Java/etc. Language.
I just skimmed over many of the posts, as it would be a very lengthy read otherwise.

For the issue of false keywords, perhaps the solution is to make the search engine more powerful. Search Title, Search Description, options for example. Then it really doesn't matter what they put in the description if people search by title, and if people start adding keywords into their titles then they'll just make their game difficult to find, it could always have a character limit as well.

Another solution is to compare the title to the description, apply the search term and see how relevant both are. Then after both relevancy checks, and an averaging of relevancy, chances are 'Pokemon' games will appear long before 'Dragonball Z' games regardless of description tricks.

This all sounds ideal on paper, but I'm not a major programmer. It'd take a real programmer to formulate rules that make better sense than I.

As for hubs and revenue, simple. BYOND Member hubs get a shiny gold box and appear before non-BYOND member hubs. You still have free hubs but you give more incentive to become a BYOND member. Everyone wins.
In response to Xioden (#150)
Xioden wrote:
They'll stick with the ways they can reach a large audience, Flash, XNA, etc. Or they'll go all out and do a "proper" (for lack of better word) program using some C/Java/etc. Language.

You haven't heard of the features currently in development? [link] where Tom clearly states: "at least until the Flash client works"

Which means any program created in BYOND, that has a dedicated host, will be playable via flash embedding inside websites. There fore, that very same audience we will soon be able to reach.

Like it or not, BYOND needs money. And one of the largest money drains on BYOND is the server hosting the BYOND Hub. If the hub isn't limited in anyway, it'll continue to cost more money than it brings in.
In response to Tiberath (#152)
Tiberath wrote:
Like it or not, BYOND needs money. And one of the largest money drains on BYOND is the server hosting the BYOND Hub. If the hub isn't limited in anyway, it'll continue to cost more money than it brings in.

Yeah, when you put it that way it seems BYOND's best course of action would be to fold hub pages into a Member's only perk. It makes more sense in the long run since it would generate some revenue and clean up the hub listing. It's killing two birds with one stone while catching the attention of new developers since the yard looks better without all those damn stones in it.
In response to Tiberath (#152)
Tiberath wrote:
And one of the largest money drains on BYOND is the server hosting the BYOND Hub.

Oh, do you happen to have figures? I would have thought that maintaining Tom and Lummox JR would far out-scale the cost for a web appearance.


Tiberath wrote:
If the hub isn't limited in anyway, it'll continue to cost more money than it brings in.

Are you talking about the amount of hub pages when you're speaking of 'limited'? If so, I'm not sure that the additional database entry and the bit storage they need should cause serious resource drain?
In response to Fugsnarf (#148)
I suspect it's not the oldbies complaining, funnily enough, nor do I suspect we have to "figure out what we want to do" with fangames.

I'd be interested to see a proper quantitative review of new user thoughts on the website, to see if this "Oh no too many Anime games" thing is a real issue, or if people are just falsely presuming so because they have no better explanations.
In response to SuperAntx (#153)
Tiberath's assessment of costs seems wrong, but the benefits still stand. The website will turn over memberships better as you note, SuperAntx, and non-members (making up something like 80 - 90% of users) will be a little more careful about shelling out a hub before they really needed it, due to the need to member-up first.

As for a previous comment about alternative hubs being an issue, they aren't. You won't be actively losing memberships compared to the status-quo if that happens, and the foot-fall difference on advertising revenues will probably also not be very upsetting. All the while, some non-members will still be converting for the benefit of "doing it right", negating that advertising revenue loss, and then some.
In response to Schnitzelnagler (#154)
Schnitzelnagler wrote:
Oh, do you happen to have figures? I would have thought that maintaining Tom and Lummox JR would far out-scale the cost for a web appearance.

Actually, yes I do. Here and here. You can do the working out.

And without a web appearance, there is no BYOND to speak of. So maintaining them is impossible. While their wages may be higher, the website itself ranks #1 on the importance scale, as without it, there's nothing to generate them an income.
In response to Stevenw9 (#151)


As far as HUBs go, why not try setting it up so that only member HUBs show up be default, but add a new search option that shows non-member HUBs too? I'm not sure if there would be any major issue with this, but it would give the game listings cleaner results, and add another reason to purchase a membership.

It isn't possible to do a mass wipe of all the HUBs, is it? I'm asking because there does end up being a renovation on everything, it would be nice to clean up all the old HUBs.
In response to Kumorii (#158)
All those games are Zeta/Nbotls or idk rips. That's why they adding Pokemon/Bleach/Naruto, etc. They're telling that they used a rip source.

Now Serious.

Yes, it's really stupid.
Only Members/Ex-Members HUBs should be displayed. Also Kumorii Hubs cleaning is a pretty good idea.
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