Author Topic: The Fall Of Homepage Of Usher (or AGS Site Revival and other stories)  (Read 5383 times)

I like the new pixeled yet featherlight look. Well done, WRK!
« Last Edit: 23 Aug 2016, 04:32 by Amy »

Darth Mandarb

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I don't dislike the new mock-up.

My problems with it are:
  • It is very boiler plate (looks like literally thousands of sites out there right now using this exact layout/design).  While this isn't really a "bad" thing (the layout/design works, that's why so many use it) I think AGS deserves better than a copy/paste from Wrap Bootstrap or templateMonster (et al).
  • I don't think this layout/design, while fully functional, is really representative of a "game" making engine (especially one of AGS's history and reputation).  It, to me, looks more formal and less "fun" and "whimsical"
When I helped with the last redesign (and the one before that was my design too) I had... what's the word again??  Oh, yeah... free-time.  Sadly I have no extra time to devote here and, if I'm being 100% honest, after the debacle that was the last redesign I'm not really sure I even want to get involved this time.

I'm not really sure a redesign is needed right now anyway.

selmiak

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I totally <3 WRK's pixel art for the different topics the landing page has to address. I also like the clean and broad style but I don't like these new ever long scrolling pages. So refering to WRK's design I'd just cut the page off after DL AGS and before play games, add the 'Play games' to the pixelart icons and add (at least) 3 more iconic links to the games (covered with publish & play already?), the forums and the wiki or some general helps pages collection that then links to the wiki and some more tutorials and the technical help forums.
The grey bottom part is cool and would probably fit to the bottom of every page. Yeah, I prefer more pages with less content over ALL the content on one huge scrolling page without direct links to specific relevant topics/pages.
The collection of AGS characters is lovely, wouldn't know where to put them beside the landing page. But then it would also be cool if some AGS characters would be featured in the pixelart icons. Or the guy doing this stuff in all the icons needs a name... like... deevee loper :-D

Snarky

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And so it begins... (nod)

I think selmiak makes good points, and I note that they sound a lot like the input that led to the current design. (If you apply the suggestions, we're content-wise pretty much back to what we already have, just with a different skin and without the direct forum/blog links.)

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I don't have much to add apart from I think that mock up looks amazing, great job! very professional looking (nod)

selmiak

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absolutely!  :-D
The current pages are more or less sufficient in number and content, but the presentation could be nicer. Could, not should. I like the current design, but I also like what WRK did...

LimpingFish

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The collection of AGS characters is lovely, wouldn't know where to put them beside the landing page. But then it would also be cool if some AGS characters would be featured in the pixelart icons.

We argued this (almost) exact point five years ago. It didn't go well. Personally, I'm not a fan of characters being tied to the site design. We settled on Larry Vales poking out from the banner.

He seems even less relevant today then he did in 2010.

...but the presentation could be nicer.

I'd phrase it more as "freshened a little". But I agree.

Maybe we could publish a small annual pdf-mag with writings about adventure gaming and community reviews.

The "AGS Annual" used to be a thing. Only available at Mittens, if I recall.

On topic, and as others have said, I don't believe a cutting-edge site redesign is needed, especially as a means to "attract" new people to the community (AGS games enjoy frequent coverage on a number of heavy-hitting websites, as do various AGS alumni, so we're quite visible already).

What makes the AGS community attractive to potential members is our openness, friendliness, and general lack of typical internet behaviour, not our solid gold shirt and diamond pants.
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With the current website it's not so much the design that needs work, it's the code imo. As it is there are stuff just not out right working atm, though there probably are some design choices that could do with being done differently. (Like imo the screenshot zoom function just doesn't look great, it let's you zoom the picture bigger than your screen etc..)
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WRK's initiative is good, I support it. @PederJohnsen, how's AGSArchives doing? For me, your ambitious project is 'teh way of the future'.
« Last Edit: 23 Aug 2016, 04:34 by Amy »

AGS Archives is still in development yes, sadly rather slowly as I'm just way too busy with work and other things in life, but I'm doing my best to push out a barebones version as soon as possible so at least people can start uploading their games etc instead of having to have me do it manually..
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Monsieur OUXX

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WRK's mockup is just perfect. Do it.
(yes, that's all I'm gonna say)

Add spoiler tag for Hidden:

 

BarbWire

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Hi Fellow AGSers

Don't you just hate it when you go into your Supermarket of choice, because you know exactly where to lay your hands on your fave foods, only to find that everything has been moved. You then spend time and energy aimlessly wandering up and down the aisles until you finally locate your tasty treats, by which time you've lost interest in them. Apply this example to the AGS site, we all know and love, and I doubt it would be popular with the community.
Isn't it a case of IF IT AINT BROKE DON'T FIX IT. 
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Isn't it a case of IF IT AINT BROKE DON'T FIX IT.

As much as I love the redesign, I agree essentially with the "ain't broke, don't fix approach" as the average visitor is surely going to be a developer. Just look at the description from Google: AGS is an Adventure Engine to create graphical point-and-click adventure games - Adventure Game Studio. So by making it all pretty and new in the current 2015 style (which will only change again in 2016) isn't going to affect much, developers won't give a crap about what the website looks like, they want an engine to make games.

If I do some quick searches for "adventure game engine" or "adventure game creator" then up pops AGS, however, if I search for "indie adventure games" it's no where to be seen. Which is obviously correct as AGS is an engine not a forum to showcase adventure games, or is it? I feel this is where the line in a lot of peoples arguments is getting blurred.

I do feel it misses the mark when you consider that players might be coming onto the site but isn't that the type of visitor that AGS Archives is trying to accommodate?

Out of interest, does anyone know what sort of traffic the main site gets, and things like the bounce rate and search terms? Maybe the AGS site should have a sister site that focuses on a games showcase, which I would welcome a design like WRK's, as I think the current games database hasn't aged quite as well as the main site and it feels a little 'clunky' in comparison to some newer sites like Game Jolt or itch.io for example.

I also quite dislike the fact that for a player to provide a rating or comment they have to go through what is quite frankly, an arduous signup process which will only serve to put off casual players from commenting and rating. I am about 5 years out of the loop though so I might be wrong on that account now?
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Monsieur OUXX

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I think the "ain't broken, don't fix" thinking doesn't apply here.

Why do the community members (not the newcomers!) go on the AGS website? --> Essentially, for 3 things :
1) Download AGS
2) Download a game
3) Go to the forums

1 --> That happens less than once every year, when there is a version change. And it would be the home page of the site anyways.
2 --> 50% of the times, I reach the download page from a link in the forums. And you don't go looking up games so often anyways
3 --> I never use the forums link on the AGS website. I always type "AGS forums" in Google (and that's for people who don't even have a bookmark).

As a conclusion: that wouldn't change anything for the community members. Yet, it would be a big improvement for newcomers. I think the forums are too "hidden" withing the site. That would actually be an enhancement.
Oh, and I'm not grabbing WRK's enhancements just because he suggested them. It's just that they are exactly what I had on mind for the website for the last several years.
 
« Last Edit: 26 Mar 2015, 16:38 by Monsieur OUXX »
 

BarbWire

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I agree with a lot that Xil said. As existing members we are aware that games are showcased in the
GAMES IN PRODUCTION and COMPLETED GAMES sections, but I suppose non members would only know this if they actually
knew the title of a game, looked it up on Google, and were directed to the Adventure GAME STUDIO site. Another valid point
Xil made is the arduous process of signing up to give a rating or make a comment. This could put people off, but even those
in the community seem to find it hard to do either of these things. Gamejolt is an alternative to showcasing games and reaching a wider audience.
However, the sheer amount of games, many of them fan based, which appear at an alarming rate means a game drops from page 1 to 101 in no time.
So unless someone is prepared to carefully scrutinise all 900 odd pages there is little chance  your game would be noticed.





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straydogstrut

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As a conclusion: that wouldn't change anything for the community members. Yet, it would be a big improvement for newcomers. I think the forums are too "hidden" withing the site. That would actually be an enhancement.
Oh, and I'm not grabbing WRK's enhancements just because he suggested them. It's just that they are exactly what I had on mind for the website for the last several years.

While I think the forums are easy enough to reach from the main website, they could be quicker to get to and I agree with what Monsieur OUXX said. I never visit the main site unless I need to download the client again. I have the 'view recent posts on the forum' link bookmarked and I reach the games from links in the relevant thread.

A complete overhaul is probably not necessary but it wouldn't put me off as I spend most of my time in the forums anyway. As it stands some thought into the usability of the current homepage could only help the newcomer and may be beneficial for developers:

  • Home and AGS serve very similar purposes at the moment - I think features should be more prominent
  • It's not clear you have to go to AGS to find the help section or features
  • The Resources links go off site and - visually at least - appear to be outdated
  • For developers, adding a game seems to be very low priority given where the link is
  • I really like the news link which pulls in from the blog (why not a link to the Blog proper?) and think more could be done to highlight these community activities like the competitions and the podcast (while still keeping them in the forums)

I really like the mockup as it looks very clean and enticing like a lot of other development tool landing pages i've been on. Yes, it's a style i've seen before and i'd say there are lots of other examples we could also use as inspiration, but it's very easy on the eyes. Only thing i'd say with this style is to prioritise what is above the fold as items will inevitably disappear below the scroll bars and/or beyond the viewing area of mobile devices.

EDIT: Not saying it's the best example, or even better than what we have depending on your preferences, but this is the homepage of another dev tool i've dabbled with. I like that the key elements prospective developers would be interested in - Features, Tools, Help, Download - are immediately accessible and there's good use of whitespace.
« Last Edit: 26 Mar 2015, 19:17 by straydogstrut »

Gamejolt is an alternative to showcasing games and reaching a wider audience.
However, the sheer amount of games, many of them fan based, which appear at an alarming rate means a game drops from page 1 to 101 in no time.
So unless someone is prepared to carefully scrutinise all 900 odd pages there is little chance  your game would be noticed.

Yea I completely agree, there is never going to be a perfect solution but it does seem a shame that there are so many games in the AGS database and so little activity in regards to comments and ratings.

I think the "ain't broken, don't fix" thinking doesn't apply here.

Why do the community members (not the newcomers!) go on the AGS website? --> Essentially, for 3 things :
1) Download AGS
2) Download a game
3) Go to the forums

1 --> That happens less than once every year, when there is a version change. And it would be the home page of the site anyways.
2 --> 50% of the times, I reach the download page from a link in the forums. And you don't go looking up games so often anyways
3 --> I never use the forums link on the AGS website. I always type "AGS forums" in Google (and that's for people who don't even have a bookmark).

As a conclusion: that wouldn't change anything for the community members. Yet, it would be a big improvement for newcomers. I think the forums are too "hidden" withing the site. That would actually be an enhancement.
Oh, and I'm not grabbing WRK's enhancements just because he suggested them. It's just that they are exactly what I had on mind for the website for the last several years.

I think this highlights exactly my point about blurring the lines between what WRK's mock up is trying to achieve. On one hand I agree completely, as a community member I have almost zero need for the front-end website. As a developer I don't play many AGS games as I'm busy trying to make them and I never use the forum link on the website, I always get here through a bookmark or straight from Google.

But why then do you say it would be a big improvement for a newcomer? The forums are hardly hidden, it's one of 4 link at the top of the page. Yes, you could maybe have the 'enter the forums' link as a button but it's not rocket science getting to them. I'd go as far to say for a new developer it would be a minor improvement but not a big one.

However, if you are meaning newcomer as a new player/interested party then yes, it would be a big improvement, however, it still does not address the fact that the games page is a bit outdated and very hard to actually sign up to give a rating or comment. I think it would be an utter waste of everyone's time if you just made the homepage nice and pretty with an updated look but then completely disregarded the fact that perhaps AGS on a whole should be changing the way it works to be more of a community like Game Jolt where we mix players and developers?

I would love to have an attempt at doing some sort of "AGS Game Jolt" but like I've said before it would clash directly with the current games database (and possibly even what AGS Archives is trying to achieve?).

Again, don't get me wrong, I really do love WRK's mock up but website looks are very fickle. They twist and change every year, if not every 6 months and then just look outdated again no matter how 'fresh' you think it looks right now.
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Ali

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I'm very grateful to the members who designed and maintain the site, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be better. We shouldn't say, "but we just updated the site several years ago!" The thing about updating is you have to keep doing it.

The site would benefit from being focused on new users. Not just developers (who may not care about aesthetics, though I suspect they do) but also artists, writers, voice actors, composers and other superficial people like me. I think the same should apply to the engine and we ought to replace the default Roger/interface with something less ugly.

For an object lesson, look at Blender3D. An incredibly powerful open source tool which is GRADUALLY becoming more user friendly. But by default you still have to right-click to select objects. Why? Because that's the way it's always been!

It's silly because old users can adapt easily. New designs should be geared towards new users. I enjoyed this discussion last time around, and I'm going to end by say the same thing. I hate Larry Vales in the banner! Get rid of him!

Monsieur OUXX

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Additionally to what Ali just said (which is all true), the strongest asset of AGS is its community. Yet, it's not obvious to the newcomer that unlike some other engines, with AGS you'll get immediate help about just about anything you ask. And it'll be fun. How many others can say that?
 

Scavenger

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I think the same should apply to the engine and we ought to replace the default Roger/interface with something less ugly.

If it comes to making a new default character/assets to beautify AGS' default suite, I can lend a hand! We could make assets for every facet of AGS, such as creating sierra style lip sync portraits to show that bit off, LA speaking and thinking animations, and so on. It'll really let new developers see what can be done in the engine as-is.