ID:26924
 
Okay, not as sexy as getting to dream up features for member pages, but bear with me. I've been lured back to BYOND to work on various aspects of the system; documentation will be a big part of it. We want to make the BYOND software as user-friendly as possible, and also the BYOND website, both the player and developer sections. I thought I'd do a little informal surveying to see what you all thought could use some revamping. Here are some questions, which you can answer directly or just use for inspiration.

First, go back to that time when you were new to BYOND...

1. What were you looking for when you came to BYOND?

2. What were your first frustrations?

3. How did you learn how to program (or to use the Dream Seeker)?

Moving into the present...

4. What advice would you give to someone who was new to BYOND today? (This advice could be about anything.)

5. Have you had friends who tried BYOND, but didn't continue with it? Why did they drop out?

6. Have you had friends you tried to introduce to BYOND, but they decided not to download/use it? Why not?

7. What new documentation do you think would be useful, if any?

8. What do YOU think about the layout of the website, both the "play" and "develop" sides? What would you change to make it easier and more useful for players and developers, new and old?

9. Anything else?
1. I was linked to here from another website (Dragon Warrior-ish) that was advertising a BYOND game made by one of the site's members.

2. That your site's navigation is bugged in firefox (you have to click the bar then press the down arrow- see for yourself: clicky.

3. I used your tutorials, Zilal- I still maintain they're the best source out there for the total beginner. It's just a pitty they're hidden away on your site, they definitely need more publicity. Some people think your tutorials are too chatty, but you need a stepping stone from english to programming before you can tackle the DM guide. Going off-topic here, but the byond.com site desperately needs a "new to programming? click this!" bit. Preferably on the games side, because most beginners won't always think of clicking "developers".


4. Hey, read this tutorial...

5. Yeah, a couple. 3 friends actually. Mostly they weren't geeks, so they didn't really get into it, the whole programming thing.

6. The friends I introduced to it at least gave it a shot, aside from a few. They were know-it-all university students who already programmed in VB and PHP a bit so they were trying to act all high-and-mighty about DM.

7. Your tutorial, again, cannot stress that enough.

8. The bug reporting section of the forum desperately needs to be on the game side of the site too. Players often want to report bugs too (there're loads more players than us developers, so I bet they come across some pretty rare ones) but they have no where to go.
ELATION MADE A HELPFUL POST

SECURE THE APOCALYPSE!
It's just a pitty they're hidden away on your site, they definitely need more publicity.

http://www.byond.com/developer/?page=Start


1. What were you looking for when you came to BYOND?

I was heavily into EverQuest, and their miserable quest infrastructure at the time made me feel I could do better, so I was looking for a tool to create a mini-MMOG.


2. What were your first frustrations?

Opening up DreamSeeker and having no clue what to do next to get to games. This may be better these days, now that there's a hub and a hub page and all that.

Tangent on that: When I didn't know what to do, I typed into the DUNG text bar, "I am a software professional and I have no idea what to do!"

Years later, Dan was looking through old logs, and mentioned to me, "Some poor guy typed in 'I am a software professional and I have no idea what to do!' -- I'm sure glad you got further than that guy!"


3. How did you learn how to program (or to use the Dream Seeker)?

Using the Taste of DUNG demo (which is now Step BYOND) along with the reference. The Blue Book didn't exist then. I was already a programmer using object-oriented languages, so it was pretty easy once I understood the var syntax (that confused me for a bit).


4. What advice would you give to someone who was new to BYOND today?

For a programmer, it would be to start small and incremental, and to build up a group of people willing to play your game as you develop it. You need the encouragement, and it makes a huge difference if people are playing the game as you develop it, versus developing in private and then springing it on the world.

For a player, it would be to find the guild(s) closest to your own interest and use them to get to the quality games.


5. Have you had friends who tried BYOND, but didn't continue with it? Why did they drop out?

Yes. They were hardcore gamer adults, and the system at the time just wasn't interesting for them, both in what kinds of games were available and what kinds of games they could create.

BYOND can do vastly more now than then, so hopefully we can overcome this.


7. What new documentation do you think would be useful, if any?

I think our existing demos need to be revised to look more sexy and professional. A Step BYOND was long in the tooth last century!

Also, we need some tutorials that cover large icon handling (at least how it will be handled in 3.5++ and later).


8. What do YOU think about the layout of the website, both the "play" and "develop" sides?

I think they're brilliant, and the people who worked on them should win awards. But maybe others will have more to say...:)


9. Anything else?

Glad you are back and active! Can't wait to see the results.
1. What were you looking for when you came to BYOND?

A fun DBZ game.

2. What were your first frustrations?

Not finding one.

3. How did you learn how to program (or to use the Dream Seeker)?

Various tutorials, including yours. And of course F1 in DM.

4. What advice would you give to someone who was new to BYOND today? (This advice could be about anything.)

Avoid Chat progams.

5. Have you had friends who tried BYOND, but didn't continue with it? Why did they drop out?

Yes. Too many kids.

6. Have you had friends you tried to introduce to BYOND, but they decided not to download/use it? Why not?

Yes, not into 2D games.

7. What new documentation do you think would be useful, if any?

DM Guide needs to be completely rewritten for dumb people.

8. What do YOU think about the layout of the website, both the "play" and "develop" sides? What would you change to make it easier and more useful for players and developers, new and old?


Both are good for me.
1. What were you looking for when you came to BYOND?

Dragonball games, to be completely honest. Then again, I was 10-11.


2. What were your first frustrations?
There was too damn many of them, and I couldnt keep a savefile on any.


3. How did you learn how to program (or to use the Dream Seeker)?

I started with VB then moved on to DM.


Moving into the present...

4. What advice would you give to someone who was new to BYOND today? (This advice could be about anything.)

Don't venture in to the unpublished section until you have experienced the published byond games, or you might get a bad feel for this place.


5. Have you had friends who tried BYOND, but didn't continue with it? Why did they drop out?

BYOND has the worst registration system ever. You should be able to register inside of games, people already dont like downloading stuff, nevermind having to register on the site too.

6. Have you had friends you tried to introduce to BYOND, but they decided not to download/use it? Why not?
Same as above

7. What new documentation do you think would be useful, if any?

More beginner tutorials, more libraries in general.

8. What do YOU think about the layout of the website, both the "play" and "develop" sides? What would you change to make it easier and more useful for players and developers, new and old?

I think the developer.byond.com should contain the info on the front page developer thingy too, I didn't even know that info was there until I heard in this thread. People have a tendancy just to goto the main area.
http://www.byond.com/developer/?page=Start

Wow, this exists? Cool. Excellent. :)

Years later, Dan was looking through old logs

They... they log commands!?
Deadron wrote:
I think our existing demos need to be revised to look more sexy and professional. A Step BYOND was long in the tooth last century!

I'd be happy to help with icons for that, if you'd like.
1. What were you looking for when you came to BYOND?
At the time I signed up for Byond I was still in high school and watched a lot of Dragonball Z. I instantly began looking online for any dragonball fan games, in which I found a lot of them to from a program called RPG Maker 95 or something... Well, I wasn't into those turnbased games, so I continued my search and found a game called Dragonball Epic Online. It was a game created by a guy named Manifacae and was really interesting, although, and I could be wrong about this, I believe it was closed beta testing maybe? I dunno, but somehow I ended up meeting a guy name Ebonshadow and I really got into his game called DBZ Spar. It was really fun and I enjoyed myself.

2. What were your first frustrations?
Hmm, I'm not sure if I really had any real frustrations.

3. How did you learn how to program (or to use the Dream Seeker)?
I started programming in Pascal during highschool, then I taught myself C/C++ and Java before graduating high school and going to college. From there I began doing a lot of OpenGL and DirectX development while messing with the DM language on the side. DM has always been really interesting to me and I've always wanted to make something with it. It's not really hard to get things working once you understood the syntax and basic programming principles.

Moving into the present...

4. What advice would you give to someone who was new to BYOND today? (This advice could be about anything.)
Look at the DM Guide and the Help for guidance! They really have all you need to know about how to program using the BYOND language. Also, practice practice practice! It's good to go on the forums and ask questions once in a while, but if all you're doing is asking questions and never figuring things out on your own then you'll never get anywhere.

5. Have you had friends who tried BYOND, but didn't continue with it? Why did they drop out?
No. I have encouraged some people to learn the language, but I'm not sure if they actually tried it out or not.

6. Have you had friends you tried to introduce to BYOND, but they decided not to download/use it? Why not?
Yea... although I'm not sure why. I believe the interface of BYOND and the games on the Top ranked games list may have turned them off.

7. What new documentation do you think would be useful, if any?
Hmm..., not sure. So far I've seen a lot of useful stuff already documented. Perhaps documentation on tips to make your code more effecient. Or a document on Extreme Programming principles since it seems that people really like to work on code in teams.

8. What do YOU think about the layout of the website, both the "play" and "develop" sides? What would you change to make it easier and more useful for players and developers, new and old?
I actually really like the webpage layout. I wouldn't change a thing! =)

9. Anything else?
I really haven't been a huge player on BYOND, but I have been here for a while, checking the forums, popping up here and there. I'm really glad I can help support and be a part of this community. Thanks guys!
1. What were you looking for when you came to BYOND?
- I was looking for a place where I could simply put, create an online game.
2. What were your first frustrations?
- I was new to the site, and didn't even see anywhere to learn the language, I tried to jump straight into Dream Maker, and got lost in the map editor. I quit BYOND, dumped it, and then a year later, returned, found the DM Guide, and registered my first key.
3. How did you learn how to program (or to use the Dream Seeker)?
This is kind of fuzzy, I remember reading the DM Guide little by little, and then looking at demos, modifying them, and learning how they worked.

Moving into the present...

4. What advice would you give to someone who was new to BYOND today? (This advice could be about anything.)
Don't rip sources, read the DM Guide, and write up sniplits and use them as a building block to learn.
5. Have you had friends who tried BYOND, but didn't continue with it? Why did they drop out?
Yes, They played it for a while, never really wanting to learn the language, and I guess they just quit because there wern't any good games that they liked.
6. Have you had friends you tried to introduce to BYOND, but they decided not to download/use it? Why not?
Yeah, I believe they were just lazy. :)
7. What new documentation do you think would be useful, if any?
Screenshots showing you the different aspects of the Dream Maker, and having it interactive, may-be a step-by-step introduction to the Dream Maker?
8. What do YOU think about the layout of the website, both the "play" and "develop" sides? What would you change to make it easier and more useful for players and developers, new and old?
I personally, loved the old layout. I hate the point that we have to seperate the gaming community from the developer community. I realize they both have different goals and such, but just because of that, we seperate it.
Go and look at the developer forum, and then go look at the games forum, theres a HUGE difference in maturity.

9. Anything else?
I really know you guys will shoot this idea down, but, theres no point in making games, if RSC extractors are around (and considered legal), I realize theres nothing to STOP this, but just wanted to point out, theres no point in making a game (or, it's a motivation killer) if all of theese rips are around.
TheMonkeyDidIt: I'd be happy to help with icons for that, if you'd like.

That would be most excellent!

Probably we need to refresh the whole damn thing. Since I've been the "maintainer" of Step BYOND, I'd be happy to work with you on it.

It doesn't look like your email is listed -- if you email me at ron@deadron.com with "BYOND" in the subject, we can talk about what we should do...
1. Programmer and programming.

2. DM and the community.

3. By practice and help. (I mostly used the old one, and my friend figured out the new one and told me.)

4. Run away home, child.

5. No.

6. Yes, and because it bored them.

7. A guide that got you started with DM. Basic formulas, if()s and elses.

8. More DM functions. I've often been frustrated by someone telling me my idea cannot be implemented into a BYOND game.

9. No.
Ry4n wrote:
7. What new documentation do you think would be useful, if any?

DM Guide needs to be completely rewritten for dumb people.

Dream Maker Coding for Really Stupid, Loud, and Obnoxious People
maybe a guide on configuring your router for hosting.
1. What were you looking for when you came to BYOND?

A man that I was crazy about because of his creation on RPG Maker 2000, The Chimera Report. I think his internet handle was Jon or Dude or Guy. It was something really generic.
[EDIT]: Hey look, I found it! Click Here!

I kind of got into the development suite after I couldn't find the person, because it was superior to RPG Maker 2000 in that it could support higher quality sprites and that it had built in multi-user support. The whole language thing was way over my head at the time (I was 12 around then), so I kind of got into the gamer side of what BYOND offered before actually learning how to program in DM a year or two later.

2. What were your first frustrations?

Learning how to program, since I was moving up from RPG Maker 2000 to BYOND.
At least RPG Maker 2000 gave me the logic I needed for programming.

3. How did you learn how to program (or to use the Dream Seeker)?

Halcyon222 learned the language and created Antlion Troopers with me, him doing the main base/engine while I didn't know how to program. I vigorously looked through the code, teaching myself the syntax and his style of coding. Though I kind of branched off and created my own style, the way Antlion Troopers was programmed still affects me today (Not like I go back and look through the source code for the game though. It's pretty ugly).

4. What advice would you give to someone who was new to BYOND today? (This advice could be about anything.)

Don't be a tard. Don't be an asshole. Be nice to everyone and don't ask stupid questions, and mostly everyone (except for trolls) will be nice back to you.

5. Have you had friends who tried BYOND, but didn't continue with it? Why did they drop out?

Yep, they said it sucked balls. :P
Probably the graphics and the average quality of games on the site (Which is embarrasingly low).

6. Have you had friends you tried to introduce to BYOND, but they decided not to download/use it? Why not?

Read #5

7. What new documentation do you think would be useful, if any?

Not too sure. Don't know.

8. What do YOU think about the layout of the website, both the "play" and "develop" sides? What would you change to make it easier and more useful for players and developers, new and old?

I think both of them are fine. Might want to revamp the games side though, to match up with the guilds.

9. Anything else?

Nope
1. What were you looking for when you came to BYOND?

To be honest, I wanted a "free game maker." I hadn't been introduced to the idea of programming languages, and assumed that people merely used game makers to make games. There would be a PlayStation game maker, computer game maker, etc. When I happened upon BYOND, it was for an entirely different reason, but I only stayed because it fed my primary desire. To go ahead and fill in the blank, the other reason that brought me to BYOND was that, due to my bi-weekly Internet access, I was unable to participate in any of those online anime RPGs, which mostly involved being in IRC or would involve e-mail communications: I could only respond to e-mail every 2 weeks! I saw a search result for something like a "free online live DBZ RPG" and went straight to it. The game was no longer up, but the link to BYOND worked. I stayed, and immediately drew to the developer side (as well as playing some Zeta, but that didn't last as most of my play-time was offline, and savefiles were server-side; if you do the math, all of my characters' stats would be lost by the time I went to play online).

2. What were your first frustrations?

Well, limited access to the Internet was surely something frustrating, but I'd been used to it. Another thing was that my own lack of knowledge caused a bad inhibition to my learning, what with my inability to describe what I wanted, so my developmental progress slowed a bit. As an example, in ID:144096, I asked how to make "Zeta icons." Everyone assumed I had intentions to rip DragonBall Zeta, but the fact was that the graphics in that game seemed to me as though they were made through an entirely different program than DreamMaker; I would try to make graphics and they would seem flat and blocky, whereas the graphics in Zeta seemed to fit a fair amount of detail in the small space (eyes, hair shapes, body definitions, what-have-you). If only I still had some of my initial attempts at graphics. =D

3. How did you learn how to program (or to use the Dream Seeker)?

Using Dream Seeker to play games actually took at least an hour to figure out, if I recall. I remember having to use the browser tab or the Hub tab within the client to access the "Join" and "Download" links on the site; trying to do so from the browser didn't work at all. That perplexed me for a bit, but I eventually caught on. Incidentally, I don't believe that problem exists for new users today.

Learning to program was more or less a straightforward matter. As soon as I came to BYOND I had two goals: play Zeta and learn how to make games. So, as I played Zeta, I downloaded a couple of demos (http://developer.byond.com/hub/Dantom.YourFirstWorld and http://developer.byond.com/hub/Deadron.StepBYOND), and browsed my way into the DM Guide. Eventually, my dad's girlfriend had to use the phone and I had to get off the dial-up connection, so I had to stop reading the DM Guide after a chapter or so, and so I continued learning offline with the demos after signing off. I also recall staying up way past my bed-time to toy around in Dream Maker, and getting caught during the night, sent to bed, and then getting up another half-hour later to be back on the PC. =)

Lucky me, I was fortunate to have downloaded Step BYOND. It usefully prodded me to continually access DM's internal Reference, which became the mainstay of my learning environment. I recall putting the BYOND setup files on a floppy disk to take over to my junk PC at my mom's house (she's always had custody) that didn't have Internet access, and I would continue learning there offline. I read the DM Reference topics like they were some kind of tutorial.

Moving into the present...

4. What advice would you give to someone who was new to BYOND today? (This advice could be about anything.)

Those two demos I mentioned above, use them. DM's internal Reference, treat it like a holy book. The forums, be specific and use comprehensible English.

5. Have you had friends who tried BYOND, but didn't continue with it? Why did they drop out?

I actually found out recently that a friend in my programming class had tried BYOND not too long ago. He played Seika, but stopped with BYOND after being banned from Seika.

6. Have you had friends you tried to introduce to BYOND, but they decided not to download/use it? Why not?

Hm, I only ever tried to introduce one of my personal friends to BYOND, and he didn't join merely because he's not a gamer and has no interest in game development. =/

7. What new documentation do you think would be useful, if any?

In a lot of IDEs, the program tends to open with a "Tip" until you disable the feature. I think this could be very useful with DreamMaker. For example, the first tip someone sees could be something to the effect of, "Did you know that Dream Maker has a built-in language Reference? Press F1 to view ...," possibly with a friendly or attractive graphic, which would help point new developers to some great starting points. Some helpful concepts might be: Using the DM Guide/Reference, Programming Etiquette, Common Graphics Concepts (like shading and whatever---recall my "Zeta icons" post above)

8. What do YOU think about the layout of the website, both the "play" and "develop" sides? What would you change to make it easier and more useful for players and developers, new and old?

One thing I think about the Developer side: I really like the color scheme; if anything is done to the layout, preserve the Developer color scheme! I never did like the bright orange, but that's me. I also don't like black backgrounds on websites, though back when I first joined BYOND (when BYOND was guilty of the black BG), that was actually my favorite style. Layout-wise, no opinion.

9. Anything else?

Negative.

Flame Sage wrote:
theres no point in making games, if RSC extractors are around (and considered legal)

Eh, ┬┐qué? The RSC extractors merely extract resources: graphics and the like; the code remains yours. By your logic, there would not be a point in making games at all; people have been reverse-engineering the graphical compressions of other major games for years now, and have managed to extract the graphics to all kinds of games (last I checked, what's-his-face is now working on FFXII). Just because I have all of the graphics to FFXII (I don't, it's hypothetical) doesn't mean that there was no point in the game being made; the game is built upon more than just graphics.
1. The ability to make more powerful games than RPG-maker offered me... well I got it.

2. Icons... I could code PASSABLY but I had NO experience with making icons, and BYOND's unusual icon size made it nearly impossible to get new icons. I had to make my own.

3. I used the DM guide and also the Chatters program where all the developers used to hang out and give programming advice. With these two I got enough info to get by.

4. Probably that coding a game is not a simple little project you can finish in a week. A good game can take months or even years to finish and unless you're willing to put the effort in to make one, then stick to playing the games.

5. One or two, but only because Dream Seeker's interface is pretty confusing to a new player, what with the little buttons by the chat bar that appear to have no meaning at first and then magically change inside some games XD

6. Not really.

7. Some explanation of how the review system works... cause really people wait months or years *cough cough* and they don't even know if they have been reviewed or ignored or anything.

8. The layout is ok really, most of what I would like changed refer to non-aesthetic aspects of BYOND.

9. I mentioned this elsewhere, but the ability for hosts to use a BYOND broswer-based form to modify their online games would be VERY VERY HANDY. It would mean hosts wouldn't have total control of the players' games and that the owners could have their own custom ban lists and ACTUAL control over their own games.
Deadron wrote:
Also, we need some tutorials that cover large icon handling (at least how it will be handled in 3.5++ and later).

I wouldn't mind writing a byondscape article on it.
1. What were you looking for when you came to BYOND?

I found byond from SilkWizards Dragon Warrior game

2. What were your first frustrations?

Hosting.

3. How did you learn how to program (or to use the Dream Seeker)?


I learned from buying the DM guide, the forum and byondscape.


4. What advice would you give to someone who was new to BYOND today? (This advice could be about anything.)

Check out the published games before unpublished.

5. Have you had friends who tried BYOND, but didn't continue with it? Why did they drop out?

I tried to get 2 kids I know who programmed in other langauges, they thought it wasnt powerful enough.

6. Have you had friends you tried to introduce to BYOND, but they decided not to download/use it? Why not?

They didn't mind.


7. What new documentation do you think would be useful, if any?

A lot of BYONDScape pages are very useful. I would have enver learned bitflags without Unknown Persons tutorials.

8. What do YOU think about the layout of the website, both the "play" and "develop" sides? What would you change to make it easier and more useful for players and developers, new and old?


I like them how they are
Deadron wrote:
It doesn't look like your email is listed -- if you email me at ron@deadron.com with "BYOND" in the subject, we can talk about what we should do...

I sent ya an email, Deadron!
I think you've missed a previous one I sent ya about the screenshots, so you may wanna check your spam.


1. What were you looking for when you came to BYOND?

A way to make games. I saw a link from the f13 forums (a more wretched hive of scum and...yadda yadda), and decided to check it out.

2. What were your first frustrations?

They came late. I knew it was 2d only so that wasn't a problem. I knew some C and OOP so I made the transfer fairly smoothly, I think. Ummmm...I suppose the main frustrations were that Dan had gone off and didn't comment his code very well. There seemed only little hope of serious updates. Look how wrong I was!

3. How did you learn how to program (or to use the Dream Seeker)?

Well, programming ASM and C and C++ with a small attempt at COBOL and Pascal verrry early on.
Dream Seeker wasn't really a problem, I read the (general) help file and played around with it. Read the forums, more yadda.

Moving into the present...

Nooooo! the past is warm and fuzzy when you've got a hazy memory like mine!

4. What advice would you give to someone who was new to BYOND today? (This advice could be about anything.)

Know what you're getting into. There are some serious limitations that, if you're ambition is to create a huge game with 3d graphics and a stand alone executable, start elsewhere. If, however, you like limitations (as I do, they make you creative) and would be happy creating a 'boutique' MMO (as some of those high-falootin' interlectuals call 'em) then come here, and make it.
The program really hits a sweet spot between C++ (I've said that 3 times now, I've got to stop reading posts by LilMain) or other powerful 'low-level' programming systems and the RPG makers (click some sprites and make a level...oh, you wanted a different game than the other people...).

5. Have you had friends who tried BYOND, but didn't continue with it? Why did they drop out?

Sadly, I have no friends. Actually, I do, just none so interested in video games.

6. Have you had friends you tried to introduce to BYOND, but they decided not to download/use it? Why not?

No, IT'S ALL MINE!!
(I haven't spread the word. See #5)

7. What new documentation do you think would be useful, if any?

More formal links to FAQs, tutorials, etc.
I know they're there, but, if you could somehow have a hand come out of the monitor to grab the new programmer's face and pluck an eyeball to directly face the links, that might work.

8. What do YOU think about the layout of the website, both the "play" and "develop" sides? What would you change to make it easier and more useful for players and developers, new and old?

I think they're fine. But, I've been here a while, and I'm jaded.

9. Anything else?

Not....yet....
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