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Traveler
21-12-2008, 04:00 PM
Dear members & visitors of PGD,

It probably is no news to you that PGD is having a very quiet period. News appears very infrequent, member posts are counted on a weekly basis instead of daily, banners showing events that took place a long time ago and in general less and less people appear to visit PGD.
Now, we've had some slow times before, usually around summertime where people were enjoying the sun instead of spending time behind their computers. But that would usually pick up around september/oktober again. That however, hasn't really happened yet. We trust this situation will still only be temporary and that things will start to pick up again in 2009.

To that end, we've decided to do a redesign of PGD. The current one has been around nearly 4 years and while it is still functional and doing its job, we believe it is time to give PDG a new set of clothes, and at the same time fix a number of technical issues some of you have been experiencing.

Below we have already compiled a short of list things we want to address.
- create a new graphical design, something simpler and smaller (both in size, as well as bandwidth requirement),
- replace the current front page,
- update the forums with new software,
- replace the library and article sections.

But, we imagine that you have some ideas as well. What we want from you is to share those ideas on how to make PGD better. What do we have to do to make you more active again? What do we have to change to make PGD in the coming years better than it was ever before?

Plan is to begin these modifications January 2009, so make sure your ideas are made public by then.

Thanks,

PGD Staff

Brainer
21-12-2008, 05:36 PM
It's only my personal opinion, but you could add a donation button. Everyone could donate and then you could organize contests with super prizes to win.

A good option would be to establish a project (since it's a site dedicated to game development, it could be fx. a 3D engine) where everyone gathered here could contribute. I'm pretty sure that could be attractive.

I'd also move to some other forum engine. phpBB is cool, but there are better around. Even though they're paid, if you follow the first idea, some people may actually donate to help.

Also, if you need anyone to help you make this website better, I'm eager to help. :)

That's all from me.

noeska
21-12-2008, 07:38 PM
Could you make the new layout better to navigate? I did not even realize there was an library and article selection. Maybe i visited it in the past, but i am not sure. Maybe add an wiki for the articles. E.g. take a look on the delphigl site (german delphi opengl board).

chronozphere
22-12-2008, 09:13 AM
I totally agree with you. It has been very quiet here for a long time. I even started to think that PGD was dying a slow death.

I really like the idea of giving PGD a fresh look. It would sure attract attention. However, it is more important to update the software and squash some bugs that have been around for quite awhile (broken tables etc...)

Are we going to have multiple themes on the new PGD site? I use subSilver which is not the default theme. One thing i notice is that the navigation works completely different. Maybe it's better to make one theme (one way to navigate) and let the user decide what kind of font/color settings to use.

I really like this idea. Since it's quite, less people will be annoyed by any possible "under construction" signs on the pages. :) However, to increase PGD's popularity it is absolutely neccesary to organize another compo (but that's a whole other topic) ;)

P.S: I would also like to help with the site, but i don't have much time because of my exams, my engine, my other hobbies etc... :)

Traveler
22-12-2008, 03:14 PM
New forum software is a possibility we're looking into. PhpBB still is a major player and I understand that version 3 has many improvements over the older versions. If we are to choose a different one, I'd like it to at least have similar functionality and the option to transfer all current data.

Details like multiple themes have not been discussed yet. I personally want to aim for a reasonably quick implementation, where the focus is on creating better navigation and usability and not to spend a lot of time on a unique forum theme, like we have done in the past.

Mirage
22-12-2008, 04:51 PM
What do we have to do to make you more active again? What do we have to change to make PGD in the coming years better than it was ever before?

1. Replace forum software because PHPBB is NOT good. IMHO it is the reason of the situation. I suggest SMF (http://www.simplemachines.org/) and will install it if needed. Not sure about transferring current data but it can live in old PHP BB form at worst.
2. Let people using Google to find the site. Currently the site and forums steel not indexed by Google.
3. A contest is a good way to promote the site. It's sad that there was no annual competition in 2008. I think Embarcadero would donate a couple of Delphi licenses for prizes.

LP
22-12-2008, 06:07 PM
The slow times may be attributed to the end of year, with a lot of deadlines coming and people occupied.

For the updated forum software, it's been long suggested to use vBulletin (http://www.vbulletin.com) or Invision Board (http://www.invisionpower.com/community/board/index.html). Both come with tools to convert your existing PhpBB database to the new board, so all threads, posts and users remain intact.

For that matter, vBulletin has an add-on vbAdvanced (http://www.vbadvanced.com/), which allows you to put the front page in the same skin as the forum, customize the front-page and show news posts.

Yes, the above forums are not free, but with donations (I'm in, by the way) I believe you can acquire the permanent license without much hassle.

As a forum user myself, I try to stay away from PhpBB and SMF based forums as much as possible. Switching from PhpBB to SMF is like selling your soul to the devil, then transferring it from one devil to another. :P

Come on, is it so difficult gathering $80 for PGD forum software?

NecroDOME
22-12-2008, 07:51 PM
I think we should have some compo's (with or without prizes). Those where usually the busy times.

Chesso
23-12-2008, 05:35 AM
I think life just becomes busier for all of us, all year round really.

I actually like the site the way it is, it would be difficult to improve in my opinion, although some bug fixing, feature adding/changing and optimizations are always welcome.

If you have the experience, you could try create your own custom forums from scratch to do what you want it to, and save on the bandwidth and bloat as well.

And well now you have one more member back to being active :P.

Traveler
23-12-2008, 11:23 AM
Thanks for the comments so far.

I see a lot of you are referring to competitions or special 'projects' in which we all can participate. I support that notion and even agree that it may result in greater activity. It is something we might look into when things have settled after the redesign. Mind you that such events do not necessarily have to be organized by staff members. If you feel you're up to organizing a (mini) competition by all means go ahead.
For instance, there once was a special team known as the DGDev Team who worked on several games. One of them being Horroween. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7UhJQ0-NW0)

Ñuño Martínez
23-12-2008, 02:41 PM
I want to propose a repository of projects. I mean a list of projects created by the users, similar than Allegro.cc Depot. Allegro.cc offers also space to upload files but I think it's not necessary, just a link to the author's website or to mega-upload-like should be enough.

A template for a project: Name of the project Category (arcade, strategy, adventure, tool, library, ...) Author Brief description, license, version, etc. List with two or four screenshots link to project's website Link to download (i.e. from project's website) I'm sure this will increase interest for the site and Pascal/Delphi, and will help to amateur and beginers to publicity its creations.

On the index page you can put a list with the latest additions and updates (and a RSS too, of course). A way to add reviews by the users would be great too.

Here you have an example from Allegro.cc (http://www.allegro.cc/depot/TETRISQueen).

noeska
23-12-2008, 04:13 PM
yes that would be nice.

Chesso
23-12-2008, 10:23 PM
Some serious user submitted articles too perhaps, updated ones I mean.

UnDelphiX seems to still be updated here and there, and GlScene apparently is updated quite often etc.

Some basic tutorials and ones that focus on changes in the packages too.

De-Panther
24-12-2008, 05:32 AM
As a forum admin in another site, I can give you some little advices.

Arange events to gather some audiance(some people suggested contest before me, Maybe a meeting in real world could be helpful, we can meet in GDC or another special event for game developers)

Make noise! Make games! publish the site and the games!
People don't know that you can make modern games with pascal.

More discussions!
not just technical stuff. Some thinking together, some get to know eachother.
discussions about game design, about the world industry.
I guess for some of the people here it's not just an hobby. they can give tips for beginers.


But all of those discussions - the admins need to open, atleast at the begining.
Currently the forums are too much technical. and thats why I think people don't feel comfortable to write about new projects or ideas.



Also, google. as other people told before, add the site to google index.
And make quick link for the list of games in pascal - it can be very usefull.

Brainer
24-12-2008, 06:52 AM
:arrow:About the repository idea
I like the idea of the repository of files, but I don't think it should be available to everyone, because people would register here just to get some space for their projects and that's all - they wouldn't be active on the forum at all. It should be available only to regular members. And to avoid new users replying to posts from the Middle Ages, we should have moderators (correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there are any here now).
:arrow:About the meetings idea
Meetings are a cool idea, but well, let's say it, it's expensive. What'd you say to have an IRC channel instead where we could talk everyday? IRC channels aren't paid and most of teams over the Internet have them (e.g. http://www.zombiepanic.org).
:arrow:About the articles idea
Yes, it's a very good idea. I bet everyone has something he'd like to share with others. ;) Some Wiki would be good for that.

Also, we could introduce rank points. What does that mean? Well, every user gains points if they write a post or an article. Let's say it's 0.2 point/post and 0.5 point/article. Then, at the end of a year admins would give a present for the most active user. And again, to avoid spammers there should be moderators active here.

Ok, enough rants. :)

Chesso
24-12-2008, 08:47 AM
It's not so much a matter of sharing information at this point, as opposed to receiving it.

There isn't enough base/straight up from start to finish tutorials/articles.

UnDelphiX for example (seen as I have already used it previously), most material I am aware of is quite outdated and made for like D6 and 7, were nearly up to 2009, or 2007 at the very least, even I do not use D7 anymore.

That and despite it not being on the edge of it all, is still updated quite a bit and even some biggish changes from what most articles depict.

De-Panther
24-12-2008, 01:28 PM
It's not so much a matter of sharing information at this point, as opposed to receiving it.

There isn't enough base/straight up from start to finish tutorials/articles.

UnDelphiX for example (seen as I have already used it previously), most material I am aware of is quite outdated and made for like D6 and 7, were nearly up to 2009, or 2007 at the very least, even I do not use D7 anymore.

That and despite it not being on the edge of it all, is still updated quite a bit and even some biggish changes from what most articles depict.

It's not the only unit for pascal.
Thers some new\still updateing units, like KAMBI VRMLENGINE, Andorra, and the one used for tower diffence.
But I don't see lots of commercial games made with pascal lately, It's just simpler to find C++ prgoramers to make games

NecroDOME
24-12-2008, 03:41 PM
I like the idea of a repository/showcase on this site. We have a showcase delphigamer.com, but still new people don't know about this. It would be good to have a link 'games' on top that links to a PGD showcase site, not some 3rd party site (sorry, I have nothing against delphigamer.com, but its the idea of not leaving the site to view games made in pascal).

Also some people (including me) have an account on www.greatgamesexperiment.com, this can also be used as extra on a showcase page.

Meetings in real life?? I like the idea, but everyone is far, far away from each other, dunno if that gonna work..., but maybe worth a try

Traveler
24-12-2008, 04:58 PM
Thanks again for the replies. It's good to see the discussion is starting to get off the ground. I like the repository idea a lot. Sort of like a portfolio system where people can add information about their projects or perhaps even files.

With all these ideas popping up, I was actually hoping to see savage appear here as well, so he could share his views on the matter. He is currently on a short trip to Spain, and while he mentioned he would be able to come online, I now think it's a bit more difficult than he originally thought. ;)

AthenaOfDelphi
25-12-2008, 05:48 PM
I would suggest using a paid for forum package... and I would also suggest (based on my own personal experience) that you use the default template that comes with it. Add on a portal.... as Lifepower has suggested, vBulletin + vBadvanced = a very nice forum and portal setup that can be customised quite easily.

The reason I suggest out of the box templates is maintenance... thats one reason PGD has suffered, because of the heavy customisation... makes maintenance a bit of a nightmare. Sticking with the out of the box template makes your life easy as you don't have to worry about making your templates work with the latest versions.

As for the library articles... can we ditch the current system and move to wiki based system? Something like mediawiki or dokuwiki?

Just my thoughts.


ps. Merry Christmas

arthurprs
25-12-2008, 08:08 PM
:arrow: new site, this one is buggy and "old", a smf or phpbb3 forums are free and works fine

:arrow: warm things up, weekly articles about programming for example (community contributed) ex: "make your game run on same speed on all computers", "how to make nice looking effects", etc.. etc..

Ñuño Martínez
28-12-2008, 11:17 AM
About the repository idea, I'll insist I think it's not necessary the files hosted at PGD. There are a lot of free hosting sites, as SourceForge, Megaupload, etcetera to do this work, and a lot of us have our own web site as well. I think also is a good idea to allow only regular users for this service, but then PGD will need some moderators to be aware of "trolls", people who post only to gain the access to the repository.

savage
04-01-2009, 11:41 PM
Hi Guys,
thanks for everyone's comments. Traveller and I hope to sit down and talk about the future direction of PGD in the next few days or so.

I agree that the current site is starting to creak at the seams, so an update is required. Currently my ISP provider uses CPanel and Fantastico as their server software installation tool. At the moment, Fantastico supports phpBB and SMF as bulletin boards. I can easily install an instance of SMF if others think this is a better alternative to phpBB. I have never used SMF, so am not in a position to say anthing about it.

Continue to provide your ideas for the future site.

Chesso
04-01-2009, 11:53 PM
I don't know what you can really do regarding the site and forum aesthetics.

I mean really there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, the way it is?

We just need more people, active people and most of all content.

I mean if you can find a more effecient forum software (or do a custom from scratch job) that looks and works like this site/forum then it'd be great.

Traveler
05-01-2009, 08:06 AM
Actually, there are quite a few problems. Next to the occasional (forum)errors, the main page could benefit from a lot of changes.

In any event, keep in mind that when we change to the new forum, the current look and style will not come back. There will probably be a default style and maybe a custom style, but not one that is custom made for PGD, like we currently have.

Also, I see a lot of you mention more articles/content. IMO, that really is something that should come from the community in general. PGD can provide space to place the articles (and as part of the planned changes, better accessibility) or people to proofread what you've written.

Chesso
05-01-2009, 08:49 AM
Yes a system for users to contribute to would be great, I have intergrated such a thing into an old website of mine before.

You might already have something.... I am actually not sure LOL!

WILL
06-01-2009, 10:32 PM
Hey Alex and Dom, just wanted to wish you guys luck on the new site idea. I'll miss this old site, but I knew it would eventually get replaced by something newer and better for the community.

I think the idea of using a wiki-like article system (but moderated and restorative) might have more success than the overly complicated one it has now. If you do get it up and going please feel free to transfer over my own articles to the new site. I've not given up on my series either so if you copy those over I'll gladly continue it as I have time. I'm in school now, little to no time for it currently.

I'm hoping for great things for you guys, don't forget to take advantage of previous contacts and media mediums such as member sites and of course the great people at Dev-Mag. :) They have been wonderful in publicizing PGD.

Traveler
09-01-2009, 09:15 AM
Here's an update about the current situation.

While we understand that vBulletin is probably the better choice of all three options (next to phpbb, smf), we also have to take the price into account. 140 euro may not seem like a lot of money, for a site such as PGD which currenty has inactivity issues we cant really be sure if its worth it on the long term. So for the moment we're going to focus on either phpbb and SMF, where the latter has our preference. We already have set up a test site to see what its capabilities are regarding a portal and wiki extension.

That said, vbulletin is not completely out of the picture. In the end it only is a cost issue. If enough people are willing to make a donation we can still take that route. I've set up a poll here (http://www.pascalgamedevelopment.com/viewtopic.php?p=44989#44989), where people can submit if they are willing to make a donation, or alternatively choose to go with whatever forums software we decide upon.

Chesso
09-01-2009, 10:04 AM
To my knowledge phpBB has massive support and a massive amount of add-ons and extensions, it is "probably" the easiest to go with and customize.

I tried smf once and it was immediately (visually) way too overloaded and confusing looking.

Although I personally I create generally everything from scratch myself, including forums, I don't have "all" the fancy features but I have mostly what I need :).

If going from scratch is not realistic, I guess I would suggest phpBB, although there are other alternatives I cannot recall the name of, off the top of my head. I tried quite a few locally using WAMP but ended up opting for a from scratch job to get the most out of my bandwidth and have good website intergration etc.

I am sure what ever you guys decide will be great. I mean it does not need to be fancy right? Just clean, functional and easy to read (seen as most of what were doing here is well reading and writing lol).

DarkBow
12-01-2009, 10:25 AM
I must say I really love the idea of a user-contributed wiki. Actually, the repository may be implemented through a wiki, using templates and links to user websites for more information.

I also agree having some sort of advanced search a la Google would be great. Anyone thought about categorization? Using word tags for articles could improve searching.

Just my 2 cents :)

jdarling
12-01-2009, 05:28 PM
I have to say that I installed SMF for PGD 07 and was impressed with how easy it was to setup. The down side is, much like phpBB, its so common that a lot of trolling scripts have been developed for it and I get a LOT of spam messages that I have to sift before I can accept anything to the board.

Dom, don't know what your paying for hosting now, but I recently moved all of our clients to MOSSO and have had nothing but great experiences thus far.

On the articles side of things, there are some really good Wiki's out there and the tech has come a long way over the past few years. In fact some of the best ones I've found use FCKEditor to implement a WYSIWYG editor that would make something like an articles section much easier to contribute to.

Compo's are a great idea (as always) and I miss not having the yearly PGD to look forward to and plan for :(. An idea might be to have a "user contests" section that allows privileged users to create competitions, setup prizes, and ect using PGD as the hosting ground. Setup a basic framework that allows users to start, monitor, and complete the compos so you don't have to.

PS: I'm not dead yet, just overworked and underpaid.

Huehnerschaender
13-01-2009, 11:28 AM
PS: I'm not dead yet, just overworked and underpaid.

ME TOO!! :D

Ñuño Martínez
06-02-2009, 08:55 AM
I know, I know, you're working on it but I'm anxious. :fuzzy:

Do you have news? Did you decide something? Do you need help or something?

Traveler
06-02-2009, 03:43 PM
:D

At this point I can't yet share much info. We are making progress though. It's too early to give any real estimates, but stay tuned for a big announcement before the end of this month.