It was actually like that during testing but it got very cluttered feeling according to Tom.
Haha, we did that for one of our earlier iterations and the users we queried were somewhat divided. My opinion was that it added much needed color but kind of made the page look too cartoony (removing animated images would help); Lummox JR, on the other hand, liked it more than the current one. I hadn't even considered the reason you would prefer it, though. We can always try it out and take a poll here.
In response to Airjoe (#95)
Airjoe wrote:
So make up your mind. Are the key, hub, and subscription systems some of BYOND's most useful features, or does it make sense to skip them entirely?

BYOND's greatest strength is its ability to rapidly develop a game, publish it, then get some players. Aside from that BYOND is behind almost everything in terms of performance and features. Getting a simple sidescroller to run at 60fps (with screen tearing) already takes sizable chunk of CPU, adding effects and AI on top of that can be quite taxing. Game Maker for example has a feature where you can take a blank image, scribble some lines on it, then import it as a map object and have your scribbles act as solid surfaces you can collide with in-game. This takes about 15 seconds to do and has virtually no impact on CPU usage.

Comparing those $40 features to BYOND's $25/year features which can be easily cut out, which sounds better? If you weren't already a BYOND developer, which would you use?

Tom wrote:
It's true that people can gain subscribers by advertising off BYOND-- and I've been telling people to do that from day 1. However, that doesn't mean that the hub isn't worth something. IMO, there's a lot of value in being able to put up a game and get some feedback without having to do the legwork. Whether that value is worth $24/year or whatever is your decision.

For $0 you could throw up a Tumblr blog or a Wordpress blog and get just as much feedback. In some ways either one of those might be better since players wouldn't have to register an account in order to contact you, they could just do so via email/twitter. At that point you wouldn't be dealing with the BYOND community, but rather a new community formed around your game.

If we can't make money through Memberships, we'll have to look to other ways to sustain ourselves. The web/Flash client presents opportunities of doing so (for instance, we could charge a fee for offsite distribution of games, or enforce a sub cut for such things). In my mind, I'd prefer to give developers and players as much as possible and not have to put these kinds of restrictions in-- but that model only works if we can get a certain volume of users contributing the bare minimum (what I'd call a BYOND Membership) to keep us going.

The Flash client would make a great "pro" feature. Rather than doing anything invasive like sticking ads in it I think a simple watermark would do the trick. A watermark would push the BYOND brand while giving serious developers an incentive to pay for the software they're using. Once the client goes off-site the watermark goes along with it!

You could probably do the same thing with the big blue splash screen we see right now. It would be really nice to get rid of that thing when booting up a game.
In response to Tom (#101)
Tom wrote:
Haha, we did that for one of our earlier iterations and the users we queried were somewhat divided. My opinion was that it added much needed color but kind of made the page look too cartoony (removing animated images would help); Lummox JR, on the other hand, liked it more than the current one. I hadn't even considered the reason you would prefer it, though. We can always try it out and take a poll here.

I imagine the images were floating in mid air like the names do. Making the column borders go all the way down from the titles at the top would probably make the images look better, since each box would be visibly divided and look less like a cluttered mess. And with the right padding for each box, things would look nice.

Speaking of padding, there's like no padding at the bottom of these posts, and in a couple other places as well (like the box around this text box I'm replying from). No padding looks really bad.

Also, I mentioned it before, but the background of these posts should be a lighter version of the title background color so you know it's the post's background and not the background behind the post. Same goes for the background of the game listing (but with different colored borders). Using low saturated colors will make things not look cartoony. The light blue you're using right now is a good choice, but use more shades of that color. Let different shades of a color divide things up (but still keep different colored borders).

A lot of stuff feels like it's just floating on the page. Like when you click somebody's name and it brings up the send message window and such. The popup itself is fancy and all, but the inside of it is just a white box with random links to places floating around. There's no structure or design or layout.

Overall things are good, it's just minor things here and there. They really stick out to me because I'm a layout/design/interface-aholic.
We will likely have to pursue "pro" software upgrades if we can't make enough with the donation/Membership model. Certainly the Flash will provide opportunities. Although if we are talking from a business POV, it makes more sense to target players over developers, or else raise the fee for deployment of an add-free / off-site Flash game beyond the trivial amounts we currently charge for Membership.

But I don't really want to get into that. We will do our best to keep the system as free and widespread as possible because, at its core, BYOND is catered to hobbyists who are mostly in it for fun rather than profit.

What I do want to address is this idea of the BYOND community being a negative for your game distribution. Logistically, I disagree that its easier or better for most developers to use a blog or off-site over the hub. That takes more groundwork to establish an audience. Some of our more popular games do have an off-site presence, but it's not like it happened overnight. A hub gets you immediate playtesters and for most developers that is useful.

But, more importantly, we need to work to make this more beneficial by improving the community (the impetus for this site). As an example, if you make an Anime game right now, there's no better place to advertise it than on BYOND because we have so many users looking for that sort of thing. Imagine if that were the case in general-- that would be win/win because you would get more users and our distribution platform would gain more value.

I hope more people can think positively about the community and look at it as a good thing, or at least a potentially good thing. We're doing our best at least make our public presence (obviously we can't control the in-game interactions) a good one so that new developers and players can get the help and encouragement they need to stay in the community and themselves hopefully contribute one day.

In response to Aaiko (#103)
Aaiko wrote:
Overall things are good, it's just minor things here and there. They really stick out to me because I'm a layout/design/interface-aholic.

If you want to mockup some designs, we could always play with them. It's a lot easier for me to see these things visually. We went with a somewhat minimalist approach as a lowest-common denominator. Now personally, my favorite color scheme was the bold blue/orange thing we had two updates ago, but I know that wasn't the majority opinion.

In response to Tom (#105)
Tom wrote:
If you want to mockup some designs, we could always play with them. It's a lot easier for me to see these things visually. We went with a somewhat minimalist approach as a lowest-common denominator. Now personally, my favorite color scheme was the bold blue/orange thing we had two updates ago, but I know that wasn't the majority opinion.

I think if done right, you can use any color you want and still avoid the cartoony feel the old site had.

But, I'll go ahead and design some stuff.


In response to SuperAntx (#102)
SuperAntx wrote:
Airjoe wrote:
So make up your mind. Are the key, hub, and subscription systems some of BYOND's most useful features, or does it make sense to skip them entirely?

BYOND's greatest strength is its ability to rapidly develop a game, publish it, then get some players.

The development is free, the getting players is free, all you have to do is publish it yourself on a website, of which there are plenty of free ones. Maybe Tom and company will even allow you to link to your own website on these forums, wouldn't that be swell!

Aside from that BYOND is behind almost everything in terms of performance and features. Getting a simple sidescroller to run at 60fps (with screen tearing) already takes sizable chunk of CPU, adding effects and AI on top of that can be quite taxing. Game Maker for example has a feature where you can take a blank image, scribble some lines on it, then import it as a map object and have your scribbles act as solid surfaces you can collide with in-game. This takes about 15 seconds to do and has virtually no impact on CPU usage.

It's funny you compare using a platformer, because as far as GameMaker goes, that's what their community calls a simple game. Try making Nestalgia in GameMaker though, and let me know how that goes. Here is a perfect on topic thread. "Unless you've been using Game Maker for over a year, I would seriously recommend trying something much smaller, like a platformer." Check out this tutorial for writing a multiplayer game in GameMaker. You don't have to deal with any application layer data transmission with BYOND, never mind transport layer protocols. Oh, also, with BYOND, multiplayer is free, and so simple that you literally don't have to do anything to make it work.

mob/verb/Say(T as text){world<<"[usr]: [T]";}


Boom, chat program!

If your goal is to create a fast single player platform game, then yeah, GameMaker is probably your best bet.


Comparing those $40 features to BYOND's $25/year features which can be easily cut out, which sounds better? If you weren't already a BYOND developer, which would you use?

The $25/year features we've discussed aren't necessary? You are simultaneously arguing that BYOND is now less attractive because of optional membership fees, but that the benefits of that membership are not valuable.

For $0 you could throw up a Tumblr blog or a Wordpress blog and get just as much feedback. In some ways either one of those might be better since players wouldn't have to register an account in order to contact you, they could just do so via email/twitter.

If your $0 Tumblr blog is just as effective, then don't compare GameMaker's cost to BYOND's cost, you compare GameMaker's cost to BYOND's free.
Neblim wrote:
Tom wrote:
We will likely have to pursue "pro" software upgrades if we can't make enough with the donation/Membership model.

Ok, NOW I'm starting to worry.

If it was a choice between paying extra for pro status, and being forced to funnel players through BYOND.com or BYOND splash screens, advertisements etc., I'd choose the pro status every time.
In response to Airjoe (#107)
Airjoe wrote:
It's funny you compare using a platformer, because as far as GameMaker goes, that's what their community calls a simple game. Try making Nestalgia in GameMaker though, and let me know how that goes.

It was just an example, one which came to mind after messing around with Game Maker for only a few hours. There's free software out there tailored towards making an MMO's, you could definitely make a NEStalgia clone if you wanted but I'm not sure of the effort required and I'm not desperate enough to do so for the sake of proving a point. Would a shooter be a better example? You could certainly make a shooter look a lot more flashy with Game Maker than you could with BYOND.

Though, all that is besides the point and getting off topic. The crux of the argument is if you're going to spend a little more time to avoid paying for BYOND, why not put in just a bit more effort to leave your game looking better and running better with something besides BYOND?

Your posts are getting a little venomous so I feel I must clarify I'm not being critical of BYOND, I'm just trying to be a realist here. If BYOND is changing its business model and getting serious then we really need to consider these things and prepare for the future as best we can.
Neblim wrote:
if Byond ever shut down, I want some assurance I can independently use the software.

I can promise you that much. In fact, you don't need my promise because the current build of BYOND can produce multiplayer games that anyone can play, and there's nothing we can do to stop that.

I would prefer not to put any restrictions on future versions of the software too (that's what the "pro" would mean). That's why I'm really hoping that this relatively innocuous membership model pays off. Or maybe our site will get enough traffic where ads will work better, even though I hate ads. Point being, I'm doing the best I can to make the software into freeware, so that everyone can get the benefit of the best user experience. Maybe it doesn't seem this way, but I actually do care about our users (specifically in encouraging hobbyist game developers) more than I do about getting rich.
Neblim wrote:
What is the official % for subscription costs now anyway? I don't mind a small cut for Byond, but 20-30% tells me I should cut Byond out entirely if I want to survive.

It is $1 + 10%. That might go up with the Flash (where we actually have some control over usage, as opposed to DS). It depends how well we're doing at the time. Or we may go with a model where we just work with certain successful games for a higher cut.

I started working on some stuff to show what I mean by adding color. It's still a work in progress, and while the colors might not be the right ones, it does show that minor things can have a major impact.

http://iccusion.com/byond/

Lots of graphics are missing, but I'll get them copied over and do more work on it. The main things changed so far are the post colors and the centered author name and picture.
In response to Aaiko (#112)
Pretty nice! Although color choices are always going to be subjective. I do like that you added contrast.
That'll stop my eyes from bleeding!
In response to Tom (#111)
Tom wrote:
It is $1 + 10%. That might go up with the Flash (where we actually have some control over usage, as opposed to DS). It depends how well we're doing at the time. Or we may go with a model where we just work with certain successful games for a higher cut.

If you ever do change the fee you must absolutely add in support for microtransactions first. Many BYOND games are (or try to be) freemium with the bread and butter of that business model being sales for things other than the game itself. Right now we're only able to have a single catch-all subscription tied to a hub entry, we can't do things like charge for DLC and other in-game content.

Since developers are now paying for their hub entries it would make sense to upgrade them in order to better service developers.

Aaiko wrote:
I started working on some stuff to show what I mean by adding color. It's still a work in progress, and while the colors might not be the right ones, it does show that minor things can have a major impact.

http://iccusion.com/byond/

That's way better than the current layout, good job. I could see using #F6AC3A as the post header for unread posts, but read posts should probably change to #BAC3C7.
In response to Devourer Of Souls (#62)
Devourer Of Souls wrote:
One thing I'm curious about is why the forum link from the hub info was removed. I understand that hubs feature a discussion tab now, and the feature/bug tracker is very useful, but I'd still appreciate the option to point people to my own forum instead.

They probably figured it was easy enough to just put that on the main page of your hub. (And an outside link to the forums would make the built-in forums seem a little out of place, I suppose.)

Devourer Of Souls wrote:
EDIT: I also can't seem to moderate the forums' posts, which seems like it'd be sort of necessary.

That seems like a pretty big problem. Maybe it's a bug?
Is it just me, or is it failing to color unread posts?
That was one of the features I really enjoyed about BYOND's old forums.
The first time you visit a topic since you last checked it, the new posts since last time would have a yellow border.
Is it still supposed to be that way, or is there some sort of bug?
In response to Complex Robot (#117)
Complex Robot wrote:
Is it just me, or is it failing to color unread posts?
That was one of the features I really enjoyed about BYOND's old forums.
The first time you visit a topic since you last checked it, the new posts since last time would have a yellow border.
Is it still supposed to be that way, or is there some sort of bug?

If you look at the page numbers at the bottom, pages with unread posts on them show as a different color. As for the individual posts, I see no difference between a post I have not read and a post that I have.
I'd like to point out to the people freaking out about BYOND upping their subscription rates and whatnot that it's entirely possible to replace BYOND's hub with your own methods. You can do your own stuff in world/New and world/Del, and they were kind enough to also allow us to override client/CheckPassport. The reason you don't do this is because BYOND provides its own security that is undoubtedly better than most people here could roll out, and that's part of what you pay for.
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