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 A new round of Forum Revamps!

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moopli
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PostSubject: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:48 am

For the past few days I've been working my newfound admin-magic on the forum; updating important posts, fixing some layout stuff, and making moderator names purple. Clearly, there is more that can be done, like archiving, rearranging subforums, revamping the visual theme, or making moderator names pink.

Here are some ideas of mine, and then I'll open the floor to ideas from everybody!

  • I spent a couple hours working on a new temporary theme for the forums; a standard clean light blue, still has the background, has a bunch of similar buttons, and also has smaller, nicer thread and forum [url=imgur.com/a/McLA2/layout/horizontal]icons[/url]. If I can figure out how to temporarily deploy the theme live without destroying the current theme, then I'll put it out on a test run for a few days and see what people think.
  • As part of our continuous efforts to make the forums more useful, I've been thinking about how we could organize the forums to make feature development more smooth. The basic idea is, we'd have some system (I suggested using several subforums) that moves ideas for game features from an initial discussion phase; through modelling (ie, mathematical modelling) and prototyping, to turn the idea into a system that specified sensibly and completely enough to code.
    Now, this doesn't actually need a massive forum rearrangement; I'm thinking that coming up with a game-design methodology and devblogging about it; and then sticking to it, would be enough, but you never know.

Anyway, I have to pee, so now it's time for your thoughts!
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Oliveriver
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Thu Nov 27, 2014 3:34 pm

The icons look good, but the discontinuity between different fonts, styles and sizes is somewhat jarring. The sharp corners of the A and T compared to a less angular exclamation mark and more detailed padlock symbol are particular problems, but should be easily overcome if the font is standardised.

The quick links sidebar now has a more relevant set of links than before, but the formatting's annoying - in my opinion it would be better to separate each to its own line, and possibly reorder them.

Could you give a preview of the colour scheme you've been trialing, even something as simple as a few boxes on top of each other?

Some other changes could be: removing the marquee scrolling text, removing the latest devblog from the sidebar and perhaps replacing it with a link in the quick links box to the devblog subforum, reformatting the Facebook plugin in some way on the Portal, and removing the top search/share/notifications bar. All of these are to save space and de-clutter. Once everything looks cleaner, it might be safe to start adding things rather than taking things away, but the mods have a lot more insight into what can and can't be done than us peasants.

Whatever happens, it's probably worth keeping in mind what noted YouTuber Quill18 said about his experience with the old forum: http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/y53nm/spores_wasted_potential/c5sjecb
Admittedly we now have a (soon to be updated) website which should serve as Thrive's default front page instead, but some of his comments are still relevant two years later, and we potentially lost out on a great deal of support from a large YouTuber and his fanbase through ineffective design.

Semi-interesting tidbit: I originally found Thrive through what was likely the same YouTube comment Quill18 followed, but luckily for the future of the game's soundtrack I went to ModDB first.

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moopli
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Thu Nov 27, 2014 4:01 pm

Ninja'd edit:


So, it turns out we have a prototyping forum that we hardly use. I also have some more thoughts about forum organization: We have gameplay-discussion topics organized by subject matter (ie, by stages, and by editors, that sort of thing), while within each subject-matter-group, there are all sorts of discussion at varying levels of technicality. So another way you can see what I'm suggesting is to split by level of technicality first, and by subject matter within as it becomes necessary. And I also realized that Nick's pushed for something like this before, what with emphasis on making GDDs and all; so this can also be considered an extension of that idea -- make ideas, turn those ideas into GDD, turn the GDD into implementable spec, turn the spec into code.

In terms of implementing this scheme, I imagine we would:

  1. Archive the vast majority of what's in the Design forum.
  2. Make some new subforums for different levels of technical detail. We probably only need two, one for plain discussion and another for technical discussion (yes, I know we have another subforum for Technical Discussion, but it was too out-of-the-way to be useful).
  3. Move all the design topics that are currently active out of the archive and into the Plain Discussion forum.
  4. Move discussion from Plain to Technical as appropriate (for example, a bunch of the currently-active threads would probably fit in technical without any (or with a little) pruning/condensing/other editing); maybe by locking the thread and starting a new one in Technical (and opening another thread in Plain for followup), maybe by moving the thread (and again opening another for followup). Well figure it out.


Response:
Well, I'm no graphic artist, but that doesn't make your critique any less pertinent. Good ideas on marquee, devblog, and Quick Links. For the Quick Links, I was just trying to compress it's space, but you're right in that it just looks cluttered. Sadly, I don't think I can do anything about the top bar. On the portal, yeah the facebook box could go, and so could the chat.

Luckily for me, all I've ever seen is this green scheme, so maybe I'm mistaken on how bad it is -- it does seem like most complaints are from a while before, so the colour scheme might not need changing at all. However, one thing I do want to fix is the background of code/spoiler/quote blocks. I'm thinking they should go to a paler green instead of darker. The scheme I've been fiddling with is subsilver3, with some images replaced with more thrivey ones -- colours are unchanged, so you could look it up.
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tjwhale
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Thu Nov 27, 2014 4:13 pm

For my 2 cents the most important thing is the front page of the website. People hear about thrive and google it and end up there and we have about 6 seconds to convince them it's worth something.

By the time they end up on the development forum it's clear they are already interested and so it's less critical to have it super great. Though I agree the better we can have it the easier it will be to attract people.

I like what you're saying moopli, two subforums sounds good.
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moopli
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Thu Nov 27, 2014 4:36 pm

So I've been fiddling with mod colors again; because purple isn't actually that great (still better then cyan though, ugh). How's a less eyeburny blue?
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Madero
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:02 pm

moopli wrote:
How's a less eyeburny blue?
I prefer purple but, hey, blue isn't that bad.
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Atrox
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:15 pm

Blue happens to be my favorite color so I approve!
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TheRabiesGuineaPig
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Sat Dec 13, 2014 12:47 pm

I have a suggestion. Anyone in the 'developer' usergroup should have the title 'developer' under their name instead of 'newcomer' or 'learner' (I'm not really sure what 'learner' is supposed to mean as a title). Mods, admins, team leads and whatnot should still have their respective titles. Also, whats the situation of the different team usergroups? They have been pretty redundant for a while...
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MitochondriaBox
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Sat Dec 13, 2014 1:59 pm

TheRabiesGuineaPig wrote:
I have a suggestion. Anyone in the 'developer' usergroup should have the title 'developer' under their name instead of 'newcomer' or 'learner' (I'm not really sure what 'learner' is supposed to mean as a title). Mods, admins, team leads and whatnot should still have their respective titles. Also, whats the situation of the different team usergroups? They have been pretty redundant for a while...

I assume it's just a matter of how many posts we've made. When I reached 100 posts, I got put in the Learner group. I guess it means that the person's getting the ropes of what Thrive's about.

Not sure what to say about the usergroups other than the fact they distinguish people. There don't seem to be proper "teams" from what I know, since the ball hasn't gotten rolling yet. When interest gets kindled again ("Oh, hey, they're doing stuff!"), the extra experience coming in'll make the usergroups more important, since there'll be more stuff getting done by these different people.
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TheRabiesGuineaPig
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Sun Dec 14, 2014 8:16 am

Fair enough, MitoBox (can I call you that?). I just thought it was a bit impractical setting up these usergroups if they aren't going to be used in the near future.

Since Moopli is going to be making some changes, I might as well bring up a design point. Spot the design flaw in this:

At first glance, it looks like Crovea is renouncing. Which, obviously, he is not. This is the main problem with the current recent posts setup. It looks like the most recent poster made the OP. What I suggest is something like this:

And now an even fancier version. The [aA+] will expand the box to show a preview of the message:
Bit of a page stretch:
 
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moopli
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Mon Dec 15, 2014 3:27 pm

Great idea, that bugs me too. 'Fraid I don't see a way I can do that, though:


About the automatic ranks assigned to people based on post count -- I can easily change those, if we come up with some ideas on more useful names for those. They're currently:

Each number is the lower cutoff for the rank assignment, so I think I'll bump down all those numbers somewhat.


Last edited by moopli on Mon Dec 15, 2014 3:28 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fixed second image link)
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TheRabiesGuineaPig
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Wed Dec 17, 2014 4:51 am

Maybe it should go something like this:
Developers:
-New developer 0
-Developer 100
-Experienced developer 200
-Senior developer 500
-Expert senior developer 1000

Members:
-Newly evolved 0
-Adapted 100
-Multicellular 200
-Top of the food chain 500
-Sentient 1000
-Thriving species 2000
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moopli
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Thu Dec 25, 2014 12:20 am

http://help.forumotion.com/t71484-add-multi-themes-to-your-forum

I'll see if I can try getting this set up sometime between all the other things I'm up to (like finishing that dang GUI).
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NickTheNick
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Thu Dec 25, 2014 2:45 am

Excellent find. If you need any help with that I'm able.

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Oliveriver
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Fri May 08, 2015 4:01 pm

Just for the sake of formality, here's a link to the new community forums, which aim to separate developer and fan discussion more than in the past:

http://thrivegame.freeforums.net/

For anybody who wants to know, we're also working on moving this dev forum elsewhere anyway. The likely candidate is Discourse, but I can't really say anything else right now as nothing's been settled on.

Anyway, if you want to discuss Thrive as a fan instead of a developer (thus removing any remaining fan discussion here), now you know where to go.

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Oliveriver
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Mon May 18, 2015 4:00 pm

And on the opposite end of the spectrum, here's what we've got so far for the new developer discussion forum:

http://forum.revolutionarygamesstudio.com/

I've recreated a few of the main stickied posts here, starting with the almighty Read Before Posting thread:

http://forum.revolutionarygamesstudio.com/t/important-read-before-posting/50/1

Here's a more detailed explanation of current progress:

http://forum.revolutionarygamesstudio.com/t/setting-up-the-forum/49/1

Right now it's invite only, and we plan to keep it that way for the foreseeable future as a replacement for the application system here. There'll be a page on the website where people can fill out a contact form with their email, username and personal summary (basically just like applications now), then if accepted they'll be sent an email invitation.

When this will all be finished (or whether we actually decide to move away from this forum at all) is still unknown. I'm entering a pretty busy period, and I know Nick and Moopli have similar problems.

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MitochondriaBox
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Tue May 19, 2015 6:35 pm

So, first this forum, then a subreddit, then a fan forum, and finally a separate developer forum...

I am confuse. What's goin' on 'ere?
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PostSubject: Re: A new round of Forum Revamps!   Wed May 20, 2015 11:32 am

In fact it's even more confusing than that - the team leads also discuss things on Slack, an IRC-type thing. Recently most useful discussion has been happening there, which isn't good for an open-source team since it's not publicly viewable, there are only a few people on it, and older messages get deleted, preventing any sort of archives.

We would return to this forum, but it's not particularly user friendly, and the application system in place, though mostly effective, still lets in the odd bit of off-topic talk (not that we don't have that in Slack, it's just it's organised into a separate area so doesn't interfere). If the new dev forum isn't much better after a bit of testing, we'll try and move more discussion back here from Slack.

The subreddit has definitely been useful for fans, but not everybody wants to use it (see: this). A dedicated fan forum which doesn't use a third party location like Reddit should help drive fan discussion there instead of whichever dev forum we decide on.

From what we've seen of the forum host we're testing (Discourse), it has an IRC feel to it, which should create better ease of use. Previously when a new programmer's arrived, it's often been the case that they've been added to the Slack group just because they can have real-time conversations when setting up all the code-related stuff. While even Discourse won't enable that much interaction, it should be better than here. More public development there should mean more people will be interested in helping out. The application system'll require a re-haul as Discourse is invite-only, but it shouldn't be much of a problem. The only difference will be applications not being public, potentially attracting more people (or not - who knows?).

In summary: public dev talk, more fan talk but separated from dev talk.

At least, that's the plan.

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