Chat, the Annual & Tweaking the PGD Site
by, 20-08-2011 at 10:12 PM (3438 Views)
It's been some time, but I've finally gotten around to writing a new blog about what's going on in the community. First off, we are discussing options for an AJAX-based Chat system for the site which will allow us to integrate with vBulletin's existing database of site members. This will allow Pascal programmers and game programmers that use Pascal or Object Pascal to have a place that they can hang out and chat with other like-minded programmers and discuss code and other things in their native programming language. The use of Ajax and HTML is primarily because nearly all web browsers support these technologies on all platforms so it would allow for the greatest accessibility for all our site members.
Imagine having your iPad sitting beside you on your desk with PGD's AJAX Chat open while you are working on your own project on your computer screen. You can see where having a web-based solution for a PGD Chat room would come in handy. Further rather than having an IRC-based interface, we have direct control over such things as security and user accounts and management. Further having IRC would mean that we would also be at the whim of a public IRC server which can vary in up-time and accessibility for our users. These issues kill the desire to use IRC as a protocol for a chat service for PGD members.
Later on we could even create an iOS or Android app that will be more efficient with the Ajax Chat software and be more dynamic, but at least we have options for the future.
Tweaking the Site
I've also been tweaking the CMS system of the site to add missing things on the Tutorials, Video Tutorials and Interview sections. An Interviews section was added and it's first interview was with Embarcadero Technologies with David I. on their side, gathering responses and information to answer our questions. There was some good information there that might not have been read elsewhere, but there is still much left to be asked and answered, so there will be a second part to the interview coming later this year. Looking forward to what we will learn then.
I've also added an experimental Recent Activity section to the CMS which I'm hoping will help infrequent visitors to PGD catch up on what's been going on lately on the site. I'm mostly playing with existing widget features of vBulletin's CMS system to see what I can get out of it. Feel free to view this section and give feedback or make comments, but as it's only experimental so it may disappear eventually, so please don't get too attached.
PGD Annual 2011
I'm pushing forward towards the actual theme of the big competition that will start this November. I'm pretty set on the month, just need to work out the exact date and length of the competition. I have several themes in mind, taken from a rather large list of ideas for both Challenges and Annuals, however what I choose has to be complex enough to allow for creativity of an Annual sized competition, yet not too complicated that it would restrict new people to the PGD Annual competition event.
I am also looking at shuffling up the format of the PGD Annual again. I know I tinker a lot don't I? Well hopefully you'll think with good reason. I was thinking about the awards that we usually give out each competition event in which we award the 'Best Graphics', 'Best Audio', 'Most Innovative' and the 'Jan Horn Award' for the most promising newcomer. Well some of these things are given to games that have only a 3-4 month time-frame of development. How much of a test of their ability to perform in these categories is it when you have to pick and choose on what gets done in a short period of development? I feel that to award the creators of a game in a category for excellence, the developers should at least be given a chance to pursue these achievement in a realistic time-frame of development. More so there are games that are released to the commercial market which don't get to participate in such awards simply for being created outside of the PGD Annual competition. So that feels a little off to me.
So here is what I'm proposing for the next PGD Annual. We'll hold the competition as per usual, pick a theme and set a number of months to do it, then award the top 3 winners as we always have with prizes and love. Then we'll have a separate part of the even where any Pascal game developer can nominate their game for the yearly awards that hasn't won in a previous year. What does this mean? You can submit your game for the PGD Annual excellence awards as many years in a row as you wish, but once you win, your game is no longer eligible for awards since it already has won once. There may also be a clause that development on the game (for say a commercial release game) must have occured within the last 3 years or so. Should we start including a straight awards portion to the PGD Annual, further details will be ironed out later on.
Student category, as much as I would have loved to put one in, doesn't seem to have an overly huge calling. However, this doesn't mean that students can't take part in the main competition as it is, and always be, open to everyone.