Adventure Game Studio | Forums

Community => Adventure Related Talk & Chat => Topic started by: Hobbes on 29 May 2021, 04:30

Title: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Hobbes on 29 May 2021, 04:30
A new website is currently in development. Check out the work in progress and give your feedback:

https://new-site.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/ (https://new-site.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/)

There is a temporary link in the community drop down called "TEMP: Redesign release notes", so you can see what has been changed since you last visited the page. Please keep commenting your feedback here.






Original message:

Having used AGS many moons ago when Chris Jones was the sole developer and now returning, obviously a lot has changed since 2004/2005. I briefly tried to dabble in Godot about a year ago and was impressed with their website infrastructure/design (for lack of a better word). In short:


I fully, 100% understand that AGS is a labour of love. I am so appreciative of all the active moderators, developers, etc I see around here. The reason I'm raising this particular topic is that I'm more than willing to help out. I'm comfortable with WordPress (I know some people don't like it, but it's easy to use for non-technical people). I'm more than willing to pay for plugins, theme, etc, to help build up the main site there. It can incorporate a more streamlined approach to certain things are mentioned above. It can link more easily to the new AGS manual, etc, etc, etc.

So in essence I'm offering my help here, if it would be desired. I would be more than happy to start doing a redesign of the AGS website. I could host it on my own server for now and then it could be transferred across if/when people are happy with it? I just don't know who to speak to! :)
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Potajito on 29 May 2021, 07:52
Yeah! Some sort of Patreon would be great, I think it encourages people to donate, as you know where the money is going, you can set some sort of "goals" or something like that...
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Snarky on 29 May 2021, 09:12
EMAIL_ADDRESS_REMOVED is Berian Williams, who goes by AGA on the forums. He hosts and maintains the website and forum (including the web development).

Yeah, I agree that the web design is showing its age. I think the current design is from ca. 2008? And some parts are older than that. The issue is that it's a lot of work not just to redo everything, and then also maintain it going forward. We've had newsfeeds and stuff in the past, but it always breaks because people stop updating. And the most reliable, long-time members have moved on in their lives and have less time/energy to devote to it.

I don't mean that to be discouraging. I do agree that it would be nice to have a refresh, and there are many smaller things that could be addressed without redoing everything.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Crimson Wizard on 29 May 2021, 11:12
I hate to say this (but often have an urge to), but what this place lacks also is a real help from the community. It's impossible for a small team of developers and site maintainers to do everything. There are tasks meant for the site editor and administrator, but then there are tasks that almost anyone can do so long as they have been around for a while and have knowledge about the IDE. Like gathering the knowledge base, or organizing materials, writing tutorials, and so forth. Yet as time goes this place seem to be filled with dust and cowebs with little to no people willing to do anything about it.

To give an example, here's one problem I noticed not long ago: https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=58836.0

Just think about it: someone made a list of script modules and plugins in 2006, and it was not updated since, yet the link is on the homepage and the first thing newcomers may find. Someone was asking on tech support channel on Discord why not a single module is working for them, and then I realized they were just trying to use these ancient modules one by one. What would a new user think about the tool if they have this experience?
Even after I posted that there were no replies except one by Alan Drake. No site members, not community members have replied.

Why does this site have a Wiki? It has not been updated for ages as well. Just look here: https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/wiki/Installing_AGS
Quote
AGS doesn't utilise an installer like most Windows applications, all you need to do is extract it and you're ready to go.
Really? How old is this, probably before 2008 when Chris Jones release AGS 3.0.0 with installer?

Several years ago we kept discussing improving a manual. I suggested someone from older users could help to write better topics. No one ever responded to this request.
(Today the situation is slightly better, maybe 2-3 people are amending it)

etc, etc.

I don't know, maybe there's lack of organizational effort here, and people who otherwise could've done something don't know what's required and get discouraged to do anything?
Otherwise I'd have to think it's just that nobody cares anymore.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Snarky on 29 May 2021, 12:53
CW, have you heard of the 1% rule (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%25_rule_(Internet_culture))? (I'm more familiar with it as the 90-9-1 rule.) Basically, that's how it always is. And AGS is a relatively small community. The number of people actively contributing to these efforts is, realistically, going to be limited to a handful.

I also don't agree that some outdated pages or articles means that nothing is getting updated. It just means those pages haven't been kept up-to-date (quite possibly because hardly anybody actually uses them). One possible implication of that is that we should cut down on the number of things that need to be kept up-to-date.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Babar on 29 May 2021, 14:23
I also don't agree that some outdated pages or articles means that nothing is getting updated. It just means those pages haven't been kept up-to-date (quite possibly because hardly anybody actually uses them). One possible implication of that is that we should cut down on the number of things that need to be kept up-to-date.
I guess there's a difference between how the average AGS user interacts with AGS vs someone who comes in newly. For example, I usually directly go to the forums, and almost never visit the main site, but for someone newly introduced to AGS, they'd:
Go to the main website, maybe tap DOWNLOAD AGS or MAKE GAMES or "Find out More"
At which point they access a page (https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/site/ags/) where they can download the software. After doing that, they may want to look at some learning resources on the same page, and they'd have access to:
Literally the only usable resources on that page are the links to the AGS downloads itself, the link to the forum page for the latest version, Sylpher's insta-game pack (thankfully updated from pcx to png back in 2015), and a page of fonts.

I understand that all of these are hard to maintain and keep up to date, so my suggestion would be to get rid of all of them completely, and make the link to the forums much more prominent.
I undertstand CW's frustration at the lack of activity in keeping up the site and the community resources, and I'd love to help, but as someone who hasn't coded seriously in years (I understand it is easier now, but when I downloaded the AGS source a couple years ago, I wasn't even able to set up all the requirements) and someone not involved in the direction that AGS is going, I'm not sure how I could help, even though I may want to: I'm not qualified to rewrite the technical wiki pages. I guess I could mark or delete everything that happens to be old, but that's it.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: BarbWire on 29 May 2021, 14:28

There are some things which really don't need to change, because they are perfectly fine as they are.  As far as I'm concerned AGS is just dandy the way it is.
It is user friendly and I know just where to access everything.  I get fed up, in everyday life, when packaging on products change, not because there was anything
wrong with the original but the newer version, in their opinion, looks better.  The amount of time I have wasted scouring shelves in search of my favourite chocolate
bar, only to find it has been repackaged is ridiculous.  I am interested in the contents NOT the packaging.  The same rule goes for AGS.  :)
 
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: eri0o on 29 May 2021, 14:45
I think currently all of the website runs on PHPBB and AGA is alone doing the maintenance of it. We need one person that could "glue" to AGA and learn the internals of it, since the website source is closed (I imagine it has keys and other things that makes it hard to open source it), and hopefully we can have a second person to maintain the forums codebase. Previously this person was Peder I think... Anyway, this is a must since the forums are super valuable and the main way to build the community!

Another thing is the website Landing page could be switched out (to not depend on PHPBB anymore) and instead be open done using a static website generator or just a repository somewhere that is open source, and have a script that runs in the backend that fetches this pre-built to the servers from time to time, like a cron-job or a CI service. In this way the landing page can be maintained separately instead of relying on PHPBB that I imagine it's a harder thing to maintain.

Overall I feel the community is very participtive actually it's just that the community is very small, plus the 1% rule Snarky said. And I mean, a lot of people use the engine that aren't even registered here. This itch.io page is very telling about the size comparison of the AGS community vs other engines: https://itch.io/game-development/engines (10 times smaller than Löve or 700 times smaller than Unity)

Btw this is the wrong board to discuss this and maybe AGA won't notice it here. Hobbes, you have like... 20years of AGS? I am sure if you messaged AGA directly you could get a better picture regarding the website.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Crimson Wizard on 29 May 2021, 15:31
I also don't agree that some outdated pages or articles means that nothing is getting updated. It just means those pages haven't been kept up-to-date (quite possibly because hardly anybody actually uses them). One possible implication of that is that we should cut down on the number of things that need to be kept up-to-date.

Yes, I actually do believe that it's better to cut of obsolete stuff, links, pages etc, it's best to not have them at all rather than have a confusing set of old materials.

Like in the past it took a while to persuade that we should cut off the manual copy in the AGS Wiki, because it was not synced for many years and people kept refering to the old topics.

But at the same time, maybe there's definitely a lack of organization, in the sense that if there could be a proposed community effort sometime to clean up / update wiki, or gather a set of newer materials. You don't have to be a programmer for that, as the task could be mostly to research and organize stuff, then pass it to the site admins.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Ali on 29 May 2021, 15:40
I've got a lot out of AGS over the years and it frustrates me that I don't have the time or the skills to contribute to the site or development. I do have some experience with crowdfunding, so if there ever is a Patreon or a Kickstarter I would be happy to help set it up and create graphics.

I think the current AGS website is aimed equally at players and devs, which I think no longer makes sense. In the early 2000s I came here because fan games were the only point and clicks I could find. Now, Steam and GOG are full of them - some made using AGS. If I were a newcomer, I would not download Jessica Plunkenstein (even though I know it's hilarious). I could be wrong, but I don't think players are coming here. AGS's advantages are: a) it's the engine Wadjet Eye uses, and b) it's very easy for writers and artists who know nothing about programming to make adventure games that just work using it. Nothing I've looked at is more straight-forward for getting a point and click game going. For me, those are the people everything should be aimed at.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Darth Mandarb on 29 May 2021, 16:09
Loom and I made that design I think back in '05 (good golly!).

So I do feel a design refresh may be in order after 16 years...

I spoke with AGA awhile back (I think in 2018 or '19) about doing a redesign and he was quite receptive to the idea but, sadly, life got in the way and I no longer have enough time to give what would be needed. I would be happy to whip up some design mockups but the actual programming/maintenance there's simply no way I could give that much time! I agree with eri0o (and others) though; the main website should be disconnected from the forum software. I have no idea how the integration works or how deep it goes though but if it's a hassle to update a simple website then we're doing it wrong!

Also I own the domain adventuregame.studio which I'm happy to allow the use of if members don't mind the switch-over (AGA was, again, receptive to the idea).

I also like the idea of a Patreon (though I am not particularly fond of Patreon itself) but some kind of donation service to help fund the development of AGS.

The last time we went through this it got... aggressive. Lots of egos competing for what's "best" for AGS (and the public site/forum designs) because we made the redesign public, letting everybody take a stab at the design. I would advise against that this time. I think the way to go would be to assign one person for the front-end design and one for the back-end and just trust them to create the thing. Just my feelings on the matter!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: LimpingFish on 29 May 2021, 21:45
Nothing I've looked at is more straight-forward for getting a point and click game going. For me, those are the people everything should be aimed at.

I'm starting to lean that way myself. And, as Babar mentioned, a lot of the information intended for developers once they land on the homepage is outdated or broken. So I think a major part of any new site would ideally be access to a set of current manuals, tutorials and learning resources, along with testimonials from experienced developers, and clear, concise explanations on what AGS is/isn't, and the benefits of using it.

I think the way to go would be to assign one person for the front-end design and one for the back-end and just trust them to create the thing.

Seconded. Beyond, perhaps, deciding the basic fundamentals of how the website is going to be presented, everything else should be the domain of those who know what they're doing (ie. not me).

As for funding, I'd be more than happy to provide a few quid every month towards server/maintenance costs. It would only take a reasonably small number of us invested enough in AGS (and with the resources at hand) to be willing to keep things ticking over financially, so why not? It doesn't have to be a tiered, reward-based Patreon or anything complex; just a simple "Pay X to support AGS. Thank You! Here's your badge* (*badge not included)!"

As for the community/forums, it's been a hell of long time since the last proposal for changes (which became the basis of what we use today) was posted. I can't even find the thread I started.

Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Hobbes on 30 May 2021, 01:16
Dear all, thank you so much for responding to this topic in such detail. I have many, many thoughts in response to this which I've tried to formulate below... and please remember that, like you, I'm coming from a place of loving AGS. And I've been in-and-out of the community over the years so will have some very significant gaps in my understanding of where/how things are organised... so some of the things I mentioned might already be well and truly sorted.  :)

I think there's a few key points for me, some of which people have mentioned, that instigated this whole post in the first place:


So with those 3 things in mind, let's take a look at this diagram with my thoughts/ideas/proposals:

(https://www.jaapmarsman.com/img/AGS-Diagram.png)

And perhaps in response, people can refer to these in the same way? Or mention new ones (and I can update this diagram to help further conversation).

1. Overall Organisation

1a. Steering Group
I would want to start with this one, which might be the most contentious one... but to establish, firmly, a steering group, that will guide all other areas listed in this diagram. Members can put themselves forth to join the steering group and are voted in on a two-yearly basis. Obviously it's all volunteering so if someone falls of the radar, they can be replaced if they are non-responsive to any communication after a month. The steering group would:


I understand it's quite democratic and authoritative, but in opinion, the only way forward. I would suggest the following roles: Chairman, Community, Website, Development, Finance&PR. Five people is nice (if there's a vote, there's never a tie). The Chairman is completely the wrong title for it, since they won't be any more "in charge" of the steering group, but it's that person's responsibility to organise online meetings (Zoom, Meet, whatever) and set the calendar for the year. The Community person would look after the forum, keep in touch with the Moderators, bring forum-issues to the steering group, etc. The Website person, obviously, would lead on the website. Development is for the actual technical development of AGS (Github, setting the release calendar, etc). Finance&PR would look after Patreon/Paypal funding, engaging with Itch communities, profiling AGS on Twitter, etc etc. All the social media stuff and engagement that will help build the word on AGS further.

1b. Succession planning
Bluntly put: Right now, if Crimson Wizard hangs up his wizarding hat and steps away... who's going to set the next AGS release? How long would it take for things to be reorganised? If AGA wins the lottery and rides off into the sunset, who can pick up the website? If Darth Mandarb is convicted of breaking too many blue cups and put in prison, who takes on the Games in Production moderation?

You get my point. The steering group would have to give these matters serious thought. It's the internet. It's volunteering work. Love for AGS can only take people so far before fatigue sets in. Love wanes (a honeymoon phase is exactly that) and then there needs to be something else to keep things going. A community is the best thing (just look at how AGS has survived/thrived over the past few decades). But it can also hit some real lows.

1c. Design Principles
The first core rule, in my opinion, for the steering group is to set firm design principles. This prevents "everything and the kitchen sink" thinking and shapes a vision for the future of AGS. Some design principles can be, as an example:

1. We will refine and update the UI for AGS. But we will not move away from the core layout with the right-side menubar.
2. We seek to have AGS as accessible for all users interested. No one is more important than the other. We're an open source community where everyone can pitch in.

What I'm trying to say here is that these guiding principles relate to how AGS is designed & shaped. Good principles travel. They ensure the steering group stay on track and can also say "NO" to certain requests. Or better, say "No... not yet." since priorities will stem from good principles. Which we'll get to later on with the Roadmap.

2. Website

2a. Front pages
As Babar rightly pointed out, from a new user perspective, the website gives the impression that AGS isn't actively developed anymore. Through no fault of anyone, so much stuff is outdated. I think the problem is that so much of the site design is closed-source and needs some serious "fresh starts" to stay more nimble. And whether that's with Wordpress (the tool I'm just personally most comfortable with) or with something like Jekyll (which I like, since it's open-source and links directly to Github pages)... the more we choose an established open-source development project that's been around for a long time, the more we're likely to future-proof ourselves. And with something like Jekyll, we also make sure that the actual website content shifts into the open source domain.

2b. Wiki / Manual
Whether we call it a wiki or a manual - having one place to go to for a manual would be best. The wiki's outdated, the online manual is improving, the ags-help.chm file that comes with the installation is still my personal go-to. It would be so, so much better if all of these just went to one place and one place only. Even if that means the .chm file is taken out of the installation and all AGS does is redirect you to a web-based version of it. One thing to maintain for everyone.

2c. AGS Game Database
As much as I agree that the AGS website is a very different place now than 20 years ago, it's still so nice to have a games database. But bringing it into the modern era a bit more would perhaps be a good idea as well. The way it's linked to SMF right now is helpful though, which I'll raise some thoughts on later too...

2d. Plugins / Modules
They... live on a webpage? On the forum? Or? I propose again, it's through a wiki-like setup that the official repository is kept up. The individual pages there can link to the individual forum topics. But with a good "added on", "age" and "last updated on" area there, with an automated message saying "warning, not been updated for 6+ months" will also alert people to the fact this particular one's probably not going to work anymore... The more we can have an automated upload/managing system for this, the better. The forum can be a place for discussion, but shouldn't be the repository for plugins / modules.

2e. Donation system
I'm not partial to Patreon. Or Paypal. But having both would be great, since I honestly do feel we can draw in more people to support AGS. And we can have a think about what we do with the money. It can even be (pie in the sky thinking) similar to Godot, where we can employ people to actually write manual stuff or work on a MacOS / Linux / Android / iOS / whatever port.

2f. Main News section
I do think a friendly "hello everyone, here's an update" message on the main website every few months or so is more than enough. But as a landing page for new people (and for SEO) it will definitely help to keep things alive.

3. Community

3a. AGS Forums
I'm well aware the AGS community is active in many different places. However, "we" don't own any of the other platforms, as far as I'm aware. The forums however, are "ours". Having a look at the forum architecture, it seems to be SMF and not phpBB as someone mentioned earlier. I'm not too versed in the difference, but I see that phpBB is actively maintained (and had a plugin like BridgeDD for Wordpress to keep single-sign-on active, for example). SMF seems to be more niche so perhaps a transfer from SMF to phpBB at some point would be worth exploring.

I would also argue it'd be great to set up a "Archive" area on the forums and any topic over the active age of 1 year gets moved there. It would clean up a lot of the "old" and make space for the "new". Right now I feel the forums are an absolute treasure trove of information, but one does need to put on their spelunking hat to find anything. And whilst I love to play Indiana Jones & the Fate of Atlantis... during my actual life, archeology on a forum isn't really my hobby.  ;)

4. AGS Development

4a. Bug Fixing
AGS Development, in my opinion, at its most basic level, sits in two different areas: bug fixing & future development. Bug fixing is pretty much a "Issue tracker" thing on Github as far as I'm concerned. If people have issues with AGS, that's where they should post it. Not on the forum. Again, github is where AGS is being developed/maintained, so let's make that the place where these things go.

4b. Future development via a Roadmap
A core task for the steering group: establish a roadmap. But always be flexible depending on how things pan out. Based on the core principles set out earlier, the roadmap should be filtered out from there. This means that there's no longer that very tiring whiplash effect for core development (which I think is mainly Crimson Wizard as far as I can see?). Random suggestions pop up all over the forum and the more we can help guide these suggestions to the github Issue Tracker, again, the better. This can then be a moderator-task or stock reply. "Great idea, post it on github. We'll put it on the roadmap."

The roadmap consists of big milestones, with future version, but also minor additions / changes. And also, as decided by the steering group, fridged/shelved developments. Why? Because AGS can't be everything to all people. And it shouldn't be, since the field has changed significantly over the past few decades. By having a clear vision, guiding principles and a defined roadmap, there's clarity as to what AGS is and will be. Which can only bring a lot of peace of mind and as we work on clearer documentation / guidelines on the main website, can only help bring new people in. The whole onboarding thing for volunteers is such an important part to keep our community vital.

------------------------------------------------

I think that's my soapbox over and done with! Again, if people want to add different things to the diagram (for example, you want to discuss "3b. Some other community stuff Hobbes isn't aware of" then please do! I'll update the diagram).

I think personally speaking I would be more, more, more than happy to help out anywhere in 1-3. I just don't know how to program software, so 4 is not my area of expertise at this point in time. Gathering some more feedback on these points, at this point in time, is important. Judging by everyone's very positive engagement in this thread, I think there's so much love and life in this community that we can only improve that with these ideas.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: AGA on 30 May 2021, 12:47
I edited a couple of posts to remove my personal email address, since I'm not fond of avoidable spam!

Hobbes, much as I applaud the effort you've made in creating a potential plan, it would almost certainly fail due to same reasons every similar endeavour have: people.  Most of us have lives and work outside of AGS, and real life comes first.  You can appoint as many 'head of x'es as you like, but they will probably end up disappearing for years at a time.  This is why there are only a handful of people on both the community side and development side who've contributed consistently over the years.  Restructuring the website would be enough effort, but is at least doable by one or two people, but reorganising the whole community is far less likely to succeed.

I'm all for redesigning and reorganising the website.  One thing we do need though is a list of what needs to be fixed.  The list that Babar posted about various things being wrong with the main site, that's the first time I've seen that list!  Why wasn't it posted in the Site Feedback forum long ago, so it could be addressed?

The main site is 100% custom written by me, aside from a small amount of integration with SMF session code; the forums are SMF, the wiki is MediaWiki.

SMF is maintained just fine; there's a new patch for the current version a few times a year, and the next big version is work in progress.  Our forum has a lot of plugins and custom tweaks running in the background that may well be available in PHPBB too, but why reinvent the wheel?

The wiki exists because traditionally we've been a community first, not just a technical resource.  I agree there's probably no need for the wiki to include stuff that's also in the manual, but it'd be a great place to host dynamic content like tutorials, lists of modules, whatever.  We could also probably find archived versions of the pages that are now dead links on the main page, and recreate them in the wiki.  A wiki is a freely editable tool for a community to use to document itself, but nobody seems to really do that unfortunately.  I wrote a little proof of concept once for a way of pulling wiki page data into the main site, so dynamically editable content could be included; going forward that could be a good way of keeping the site content up to date.

The main trouble with Patreon is what rewards would we offer?  They're often tiered, so people get more back for donating more...  PayPal seemed like the easiest option, as people can just chuck some money into the pot as they choose.  It costs me about $300 a year to keep the site hosted, and while I usually make a loss that really isn't an issue.  If people were donating on a regular basis, they may feel they deserve some sort of return, whether it's their new feature request being prioritised, special treatment on the forums, whatever.  Whereas the current system offers no promises, and is up front as 100% a donation.

As for shifting the focus from game players to developers, why not just focus more on better supporting both?  What if you came to the main site landing page, and it had two big icons, 'Play Games' and 'Make Games'.  Clicking either would lead you to a section of the site that was more streamlined (Play Games would of course be driven by the games page, advertising best rates games and Awards winners etc, Make Games would be much of what we have in the AGS section currently, just more up to date and focused.  The top nav bar could then also have a big Community link (so maybe "Play Games | Community | Make Games" in the top navbar), with both Play and Make sections linking back to relevant sub-forums.  This is all stuff I could hack into the current site design, but it does feel that doing a restructure and a redesign at the same time would make more sense.

What I Think We Need
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Hobbes on 30 May 2021, 13:34
Hi AGA, thanks for taking the time to respond to this thread! I agree that my big post + diagram is probably going to be quite overwhelming with the volunteer situation around AGS. I'm well aware that people's free time can just disappear in an instant, this happens in our day jobs and easily happens in our personal lives as well. I'm just going to naïvely think that this post might be different and change may happen.  ;)

In response to your list:

What I Think We Need
  • Someone to produce a mobile-friendly (responsive) redesign of the main site.  As far as the main site is concerned, I'd need an HTML + CSS template of how the landing page, games pages, etc (essentially any page with a unique design and layout) would be structured, plus one generic template that could be used for all other pages (i.e. the free text pages with similar layout, like most other pages on the current site use).
  • Someone to produce a mobile-friendly (responsive) redesign of the forums.  This would need to work inside the SMF template system, which allows you to edit the core HTML and CSS that sits behind the dynamic forum content.
  • The community (with or without a project lead, stakeholder panel, whatever) to decide what the site (and forums if a restructuring is really wanted) content, flows, etc. should be.
  • Me to apply the site and forum content to the template pages provided.
  • Community members to take ownership of actually keeping the site up to date, whether it's through a Content Management System I build into the site, using the wiki as the data source, whatever.  I have no interest in our using WordPress; getting it to interact with our existing data, integrate with the forums etc, would be just as much effort as writing a CMS myself.


-----

That being said I would like to see more feedback on my previous post if people have any thoughts/ideas they'd like to add!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: eri0o on 30 May 2021, 13:49
Some things in my mind:
A) I don't think the forums need a redesign, just the rest of the website. I use the forums on my phone daily and I prefer it over any "mobile ready" forum alternative I tried.

B) The ags manual is a wiki too, it's in markdown and builds to both the chm manual and a website version. There's currently no API that we could use to upgrade the manual here though:
- https://github.com/adventuregamestudio/ags-manual
- https://adventuregamestudio.github.io/ags-manual/

C) I gave a try at modules in the past but only one person gave feedback, and the proposal was that I switched to a proper DB (like PyPI), but when I looked into coding it, it was really non-trivial. I did the approach of going the vcpkg/winget route of people contributing PRs, but no one did.
- https://ericoporto.github.io/agsModuleList/
- https://github.com/ericoporto/agsModuleList
- https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=57763.0

D) the wiki as content source to website parts is a good idea! Needs the right template but it's an interesting idea.

E) the donations, could maybe use a completion bar until it reaches the 300 $ mark?
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: cat on 30 May 2021, 19:50
That steering group thing won't work. We tried that in the past and it didn't work (and I'm quite sure it won't work now).
AGS is a do-ocracy. If you want a new website design (and I agree that a mobile friendly version of the website is needed) make a mock-up and post it on the forums.

I also agree that the outdated links should be removed from the page. The most active part of the AGS page is the forum, I think the link there should be more prominent (now it is somewhat hidden in a page telling you not to make useless threads).

Regarding donations: As LimpingFish wrote, I'm quite sure that we could get the server funded if AGA just made a thread every year asking for some money. There are enough community members (me included) who would happily donate a few bucks on that occasion.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Hobbes on 31 May 2021, 13:53
Thank you again all for engaging with this thread. Unless other people offer alternative suggestions, I think consensus is to shelve the "steering group" idea.

Continuing on with the website, I've sent AGA a few private messages + began a collection of broken/outdated links in the Site Report area on the forum.

As a future suggestion for the website in functionality, I think the menubar at the top should be adapted to have 5 main areas:

1. Home page: The current landing page
2. Download: The AGS page, but renamed
3. Wiki: A direct link to the AGS Wiki
4. Manual: A direct link to the Github manual (the most up-to-date one)
5. Forums: The other communities can be given a place of prominence on a wiki page, so in that way the "Community" page becomes "Forums" and immediately links here.

If this menubar is consistently "there" across all 5, then that would improve basic navigation from the start, I feel.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: eri0o on 31 May 2021, 14:31
The AGS games database is a must I think,It's useful for the AGS Awards and to help the community follow up the released games. It's useful for me to find games to test with ports too. Where does the Games DB goes in this?
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Cassiebsg on 31 May 2021, 16:52
I agree with eri0o.

Rename Download to Download AGS engine (or just AGS engine) and create a new point called AGS Games (with or without Download).
Just don't know if Games should be 2. and move all others down, or number 5 and move Forums to place 6.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: AGA on 31 May 2021, 16:55
Just to warn you all, someone is working on a mock up of a redesign, so please nobody else start on one!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Hobbes on 01 Jun 2021, 12:06
The AGS games database is a must I think,It's useful for the AGS Awards and to help the community follow up the released games. It's useful for me to find games to test with ports too. Where does the Games DB goes in this?

You are so right! I have no idea how I managed to forget that... so a whole-site menubar with 6 main items would be my proposal.  :-D
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: tampie85 on 02 Jun 2021, 20:23
Just to warn you all, someone is working on a mock up of a redesign, so please nobody else start on one!

That's me :) I didn't want to put my name down, until I was sure that I could deliver something decent. So I've made a few mock up pages in a fresh and completely responsive design:


A few remarks:

This is strictly about the basic design and lay-out, not about the content. I did my best to stay as close to the current design as possible.

One massive added value is that AGA and I can work closely together on connecting the frontend to the backend and it's very unlikely I go AWOL for a long time  :P
Spoiler: ShowHide
For the ones who don't know ... I'm his wife


Please let me know what you think. Is this a style we should go ahead with?

Edit:

You can find the latest version of the new design here:

https://new-site.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/

Release notes for the redesign can be found in the menu under community > TEMP: Redesign Release Notes.

Please keep posting your feedback and comments here, I might not respond, but I read everything and try to incorporate it in the design.

Thanks!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: heltenjon on 02 Jun 2021, 22:16
I think I should only comment on the games page, as I, like some other users here, tend to go directly here or to the forums without visiting the splash pages. What I like about the current games page is how much information is available at a glance. The redesign uses larger letters, making it easier to read, but you have to scroll more. I think some of the most vital information ought to be visible at first sight, like the ratings. How many cups the game has received may determine if I want to read more about it.

I also tend to use the links/the information in the box to the right on the current page to navigate, either to look for games or read recent comments...perhaps check out a game many others are downloading at the same time. But maybe I'm the only one. I'm sure you have some sort of click count for those. I'd be sad to see them go, but I'll live.

I like that the "Vote" button is larger and emphasized (although maybe this, too, may benefit from appearing at first glance at the webpage). More people should vote, and making it visible is a good choice. The pull-down menus on top of the screen also looks pretty useful.

Now, I'm one of those grumpy old gits that swear when the shops reorganize and I can't find my pudding where "it's supposed to be". I realize that's all a force of habit. But even so, I hope the game pages and especially the forum pages will stay as close as possible to how they are today. A designer wants everything to be parts of the same style, but I've always cared more about functionality. If I can have both, then great, if not, I'll go with functionality every time. I think it's the AGS engine pages that really needs to be cleaned up. While it's not an issue here (yet, at least), I'll also chip in that I don't agree with Hobbes' suggestion about separating older posts from the forum from newer in some kind of archive. Perhaps it makes sense in the more technical threads? But if I want to play some OROW games, then I probably also will get the urge to read about the feedback the games got in their old thread. If I'm stuck in an old game, an old thread in Hints and Tips is just dandy.

I'll let the real designers and artists be the ones to give feedback on style. (I draw like a pig.) And if I've given feedback on the entirely wrong things, then I apologize.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Snarky on 02 Jun 2021, 22:47
The first impression is good, in my opinion. There are a lot of things I might suggest tweaking, but as a first draft I think it's very promising. And it's nicely responsive and seems to work well on mobile (mostly—the splash image on the homepage should probably go above the text, or behind it, rather than below, for example, but that's details).

I'd lean towards not going too far in polishing the layout and visual appearance before working out the content and structure in more detail: thinking more in terms of what the user needs are and what the user journeys/flows should be like for different tasks, as well as current pain points we can fix. (I work as a service designer/user researcher, so that side of it is in my wheelhouse.)

To that end, I've put together some quick outlines of possible personas (user profiles), to clarify the needs of different types of visitors. These are based on my assumptions, experience and imagination, not any kind of real user research, so take them with a large pinch of salt, but they are a starting point:

Bruno — the auteur
Spoiler: ShowHide
Bruno has an idea for a game. Now he just needs to figure out how to make it. Bruno is a decent artist, but knows very little about programming or the technical side (only what he has picked up as a gamer), though he's willing to learn. His English is not great. His ambition is great, and he's thinking his game will be commercial. Bruno is browsing on his phone.

Bruno will be scared away by something that looks too difficult, and he will be put off if it looks ugly or very dated. He wants to understand the licensing terms and game distribution/platform options. He has a hard time navigating through links with non-obvious names. Bruno is going to need help from the community in order to make any progress.

If we satisfy Bruno's user needs, he will be impressed and fascinated by AGS, become a member of the AGS community, and eventually make a game.


Eden – the coder
Spoiler: ShowHide
Like Bruno, Eden wants to make games. She, however, comes at it from the technical side, and knows how to program, at least a bit. Eden is looking at a bunch of different options for gamemaking (including other engines as well as libraries to build "from scratch"), but it's all rather overwhelming, and hard to figure out the pros and cons of each. She's not an artist, so she's thinking of using borrowed graphics for her game at first, and maybe recruit someone to do graphics later. Windows is not her preferred OS.

Eden needs to be convinced that AGS is a good choice as an engine: that it is "professional," has a reasonable toolchain, is the choice of other game makers, and is actively supported. She will also value the various modules, libraries and free resources offered. Clean, informative and easy to find the engine download is what she wants.

If we can convince Eden to try AGS, she'll be at it for a while, learning on her own using tutorials and trial and error. She'll be a lurker on the forums, until maybe someday she registers in order to announce her finished game.


Omar and Nadia – the casual gamers
Spoiler: ShowHide
Omar is looking for games to play, both for himself and for his daughter Nadia (7). He's played some AGS games before (via Steam or Itch.io) without realizing, and has come here looking for "(free) games like [that game he played]." He finds a game and downloads it, but runs into some technical difficulties, and needs help. Omar is initially browsing on his phone, later on desktop.

Omar does not care about the AGS engine. He just wants to see some good game suggestions, and he wants a nice, appealing presentation of each game, with the information he needs to be able to decide whether he wants to give it a try. He wants to browse games by type (e.g. something for kids). Browsing is in itself a way to pass the time, but he would really like to be able to play the games immediately, too, or for Nadia to play on her iPad. He requires technical support at some point in the process (download/run/game crash).

If we meet Omar's needs, he'll become a regular AGS player, and will promote the games he likes on twitter or other social networks.


Sam – the AGSer
Spoiler: ShowHide
Sam has been involved in the AGS community for a long time, though they're not as active as they used to be. Sam visits the home page mainly to go to the forums, or to check out recent additions to the games db. Or, on occasion, even to add a game to the database, vote in the AGS Awards (and play the eligible games), or look up something on the wiki.

If we meet Sam's needs, they may remain active in the AGS community and contribute to the community in various ways.


There are other possible personas (more dedicated gamers, engine devs, etc.), but I think this gives a decent sampling of the primary user types. The next step would be to run up a user journey or two for each persona, and see how the (current/proposed) design fares. And it should of course be checked with real users. I could set up some tests with a tool like PlaybookUX to get live user feedback on any design we'd like to test (even if just at a sketch/prototype stage), but it's not free, so I'd like to know that the results would be used before shelling out.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Snarky on 02 Jun 2021, 22:56
Just from thinking about the personas, a few ideas suggest themselves:

1. I think the barrier to registering an account should be lower: this is of particular concern for Bruno and Omar, who might easily bounce at that point.
2. For people browsing on mobile (or any computer where they can't play the games), it would be nice if there were a way to bookmark/wishlist/save a game for later, under their account.
3. With eri0o's online AGS port, would it at all be possible to make games playable directly on the site? That would be a very cool improvement for casual gamers and those not on Windows PCs.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: AGA on 02 Jun 2021, 23:41
User accounts (and, more specifically, security) comes up all the time, as you may have noticed.  Spam is a constant battle though, and SMF apparently an easy target, so I can't promise too much!

We should definitely aim to map out some user journeys, and to design the structure of the site before I get stuck into actually coding it.  Whether we need any tooling, or could just sketch it on the back of a napkin (figuratively speaking) is a question though...

I would aim to refine what we already have, but not lose any functionality (somebody asked for every feature the site has, after all).  I think the games listings should be more like a web store, so ultimately it's a giant list, but can be dynamically searched and filtered to find exactly what you're looking for.  Rather than the current way of doing things, which is very web 1.5 and involves lots of different screens, submission of static forms, endless clicks to find what you want.  This will need a lot of input from the community for stuff like tagging games with categories, languages, platforms etc.

Discussions are going on elsewhere about moving how-tos and technical details off the main site and onto GitHub and the wiki, which I definitely agree would be better.  Helpful resources should be added to and maintained by the people doing the doing, rather than authored by people like me who haven't touched AGS itself in forever.  This would leave the main site as mainly about the games and the core info about selling the engine and editor's benefits.

Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Snarky on 03 Jun 2021, 00:17
User accounts (and, more specifically, security) comes up all the time, as you may have noticed.  Spam is a constant battle though, and SMF apparently an easy target, so I can't promise too much!

Yes, but perhaps there are ways around it. For example, what if people didn't have to jump through quite so many hoops just to register, but we put limitations on their accounts (e.g. not able to post on the forums, or posts held for moderation) until more fully vetted.

Quote
We should definitely aim to map out some user journeys, and to design the structure of the site before I get stuck into actually coding it.

Cool. Do I understand it correctly that the current site is hand-coded in PHP and CSS? Are you planning to stick with that, or move to some kind of CMS?

Quote
Whether we need any tooling, or could just sketch it on the back of a napkin (figuratively speaking) is a question though...

For my part, I have access to the tools I'd use through my job, but as you say, a rough user journey doesn't really require any very fancy tool to make. Anything that lets you put text in a grid will do.

I see that we have Hotjar and Google Analytics running on the site. Some of that data might be useful to inform the user journeys.

Quote
I would aim to refine what we already have, but not lose any functionality (somebody asked for every feature the site has, after all).

Perhaps, but not all requests are good ideas in the first place, and things also change. Some functionality should at least be hidden away pretty far back.

In particular, I think the user ratings of games are clearly not working as-is. Even games like Lamplight City, Feria d'Arles and Until I Have You don't have enough votes to show a rating. That whole form to fill in is just way too much, and hardly adds any value—the sub-ratings are pretty much useless anyway when so many of the games in the db aren't covered. Let's pare it down to a single star rating, which you can click to set directly on the game's page, and then an optional review. Maybe that way people would actually do it. And if we kept track of games that the user had downloaded (in a cookie), and showed a request for a rating/review the next time they visited, maybe we could get enough ratings that sorting/filtering by rating would make sense and not leave out major titles.

Quote
I think the games listings should be more like a web store, so ultimately it's a giant list, but can be dynamically searched and filtered to find exactly what you're looking for.  Rather than the current way of doing things, which is very web 1.5 and involves lots of different screens, submission of static forms, endless clicks to find what you want.  This will need a lot of input from the community for stuff like tagging games with categories, languages, platforms etc.

Yes, I agree completely. I think this would be a great improvement.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: eri0o on 03 Jun 2021, 00:23
Please no changes to the forums! I swear it's the best thing I use on the phone. Discourse and all similars are dreadful to use. It's 2021, phones have big screens with 4k resolution!

Now, on the rest of the website. The landing page has a prominent Download button on the new design, it needs an accompanied non-acent color button with some text like Learn More - I am assuming most people that hit the front page will do so from their phones and the Download may be a confusing Call to Action for mobile users - there's no AGS Editor for mobile phones.

I think maybe one or two actions could move out of the hamburger menu similar to how is on Zoom website, but I don't know the right words to put on the outside.

About the Web Port, if archives hadn't been killed it would be cool to integrate, I am down for helping with it in any way possible if people have ideas. Does itch.io or gamejolt allow for an embedded view of a game be placed in a different website? It also may be possible to unzip in JS and load directly from a zip to the webport, I haven't done because I was lazy, but if it helps in any way I can do it. Maybe if people want to select some free games (and AGA has the bandwidth), I could prepare them in web playable format.

About the placeholder images, I know they are placeholder, there was a design proposal from 2015 from a dude named WRK and he made some pixel art images for these, it may be cool to add things like that. If someone has photography talent, the editor maxed on a monitor debugging a game could be a photography to put - not screenshot, photography.

About the design in general, I liked we got a new color (Orange) to go along the blue.

I think it's fine to put a donation button in the landing page, paying the servers costs is important. The things people are saying in the forums is gone, is this intentional?
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: AGA on 03 Jun 2021, 00:49
Yes, but perhaps there are ways around it. For example, what if people didn't have to jump through quite so many hoops just to register, but we put limitations on their accounts (e.g. not able to post on the forums, or posts held for moderation) until more fully vetted.
I've just reenabled Bad Behavior, just in case it decides to work this time.  Let's see.  But yeah, a simpler quiz, probation period, mod authorisation of accounts, we'll find something.

Cool. Do I understand it correctly that the current site is hand-coded in PHP and CSS? Are you planning to stick with that, or move to some kind of CMS?
Handwritten in PHP and CSS, yeah.  An idea I've floated elsewhere is to maybe use the wiki as the source of less complicated pages' content, as that's access controlled and has decent editing options (including visual options nowadays).  I did a little POC of that a while ago, and it's definitely doable enough.  I'd rather not use an off the shelf CMS, I quite enjoy writing my own stuff.

I see that we have Hotjar and Google Analytics running on the site. Some of that data might be useful to inform the user journeys.
Hotjar isn't running anymore, as I think the trial licence I had expired, or the markup for including it changed or something.  Google Analytics has been running unbroken for years though.
Turns out Hotjar changed their pricing model so that you have to manually start recording on the free plan, rather than it being rolling.  So it hasn't been on in forever because I didn't tell it to.  As is it I get a 100 visit 'snapshot' that I can restart as required.  I just started one, to see what I see.

In particular, I think the user ratings of games are clearly not working as-is. Even games like Lamplight City, Feria d'Arles and Until I Have You don't have enough votes to show a rating. That whole form to fill in is just way too much, and hardly adds any value—the sub-ratings are pretty much useless anyway when so many of the games in the db aren't covered. Let's pare it down to a single star rating, which you can click to set directly on the game's page, and then an optional review. Maybe that way people would actually do it. And if we kept track of games that the user had downloaded (in a cookie), and showed a request for a rating/review the next time they visited, maybe we could get enough ratings that sorting/filtering by rating would make sense and not leave out major titles.
By 'refinement' I mean very much things like you suggest.  We should keep user rating, but trim the fat, and make it more usable and approachable.  Even a thumbs up thumbs down system like Steam has can work if you userbase is big enough.  We already track per user download stats, to avoid for instance game authors hammering their own download buttons to increase the download numbers (which again was implemented because it became necessary, not just to be mean spirited!).

Please no changes to the forums! I swear it's the best thing I use on the phone. Discourse and all similars are dreadful to use. It's 2021, phones have big screens with 4k resolution!
Don't worry, the most that would happen to the forums is a more responsive scaling on mobile devices (along with maybe some colour changes to match the main site).  The core functionality of the site wouldn't change.  You can also just do 'view as desktop' on mobile if you really hate responsible designs!  I personally hate using the forums on mobile though, and I have a Galaxy S20+ with 6"+ screen!

About the Web Port, if archives hadn't been killed it would be cool to integrate, I am down for helping with it in any way possible if people have ideas. Does itch.io or gamejolt allow for an embedded view of a game be placed in a different website? It also may be possible to unzip in JS and load directly from a zip to the webport, I haven't done because I was lazy, but if it helps in any way I can do it. Maybe if people want to select some free games (and AGA has the bandwidth), I could prepare them in web playable format.
I have all the Archives files.  I'd have to look at the feasibility of streaming them, but it's certainly not unthinkable.

I think it's fine to put a donation button in the landing page, paying the servers costs is important. The things people are saying in the forums is gone, is this intentional?
I don't think anything's been deleted by staff, so perhaps the original authors edited or deleted their own posts?

Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: eri0o on 03 Jun 2021, 01:37
Sorry AGA, I phrased badly! I meant that little blank comic bubble that has Roger (I think?) face where it appears the 5 most recent forum posts. I think having things changing in the homepage improves SEO.

About analytics, not sure if interesting or not, there's a new one called plausible.io, which has the option to publish online the analytics.

Also, forgot to mention, I like the new wiki visual, it looks more smooth.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Pax Animo on 03 Jun 2021, 03:12
I love the look of the new design. I've recently recommended AGS to a few people which commented that "it looks outdated" although they're been naïve I do understand their opinion. I personally found AGS from watching (densming) on YouTube which in around 12 years old. I do wish I found it earlier in my been.

Good luck with the plans.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: tampie85 on 03 Jun 2021, 07:30
I would like to suggest of having an agile approach and working with a small group of enthusiasts to get the new design in.

Snarky, I think it'd be amazing if you could dive into the personas, user journeys and collate all the great feedback that's already been given here. That should give an idea about flows/navigation and content.

Based on that we should have a few lists.
- What to keep and optimise.
For example the comments made on the rating system, if we can simplify, let's go for it. If it's adding a relatively large functionality let's do it after initial release. And by all means let's make sure that content is relevant and in order of importance (like on the games page voting might be more important than about, as suggested)

- What to move (e.g. to the Wiki). Let's move/copy this while the new website is being developed.

- What to remove. Just make sure that it doesn't appear anymore on the new design.

- What to add. For example, I really like Snarky's idea of favourites, and I can imagine a list of "already played " and "want to play" or something like that can help too. Those ideas can go on a list of improvements after initial release of the new site?

As a project group, I'd suggest:
- Everyone can give feedback, the more the better.
- Snarky, as mentioned I'd love you to use your experience and tools for the analysis.
- I'll do the web design and AGA will do the programming.
- It'd be great if someone could help with writing content (e.g. for the ags engine page) and someone to make relevant images. But we can work around that if noone wants to.
- It'd be great if we have some testers, AGA and I have testing experience, but I'd rather have some fresh eyes.
- If someone wants to work on something independent that can just be embedded, just propose it.

Does that make sense? I just would like to avoid that we aim for perfect and that it takes years before a first release.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: sthomannch on 03 Jun 2021, 07:31
The new design looks good and it seems that the navigation will be easier - the old design still looks good and is compact, but sometimes it is not so easy to find things. And for sure, newcomers expect a different look.

I agree with many here that the forums are still fine, form and functionality.

A few suggestions:
- On the welcome page, make sure that people see that they can scroll down, perhaps by moving content closer together or adding a down button or something.
- The new design is less compact but I don't mind scrolling, in fact it is better than jumping a lot from page to page. Looks very clean.
- The MAGS should also be easier to find than on the current AGS web site. Perhaps a pointer in the top navbar ("Community"? or "Play Games"?)
- Does AGS provide storage for games? A lot of games hosted on other services like mediafire, but these games tend to vanish after a while. Pulling them into an archive would keep them alive. But this means of course additional work (like relinking, renaming "compile.zip" to something etc.). Disk space: currently a few hundred gigabyte should suffice

I appreciate your efforts. Keeping a site like AGS up and running (and for years!) is a lot of work, and now a new design in parallel.
Best of luck!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Laura Hunt on 03 Jun 2021, 08:27
I checked out the new design both on desktop and my phone, and I agree with most comments here that it looks fantastic. Much cleaner, more modern, and easier to navigate. My only nitpicks would be that "Think you've got what it takes?" sounds a bit too aggressive, and that maybe the list of features could be arranged in a nicer-looking way, but that's about it. I'm amazed at how this project got off the ground so quickly!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: AGA on 03 Jun 2021, 08:45
I checked out the new design both on desktop and my phone, and I agree with most comments here that it looks fantastic. Much cleaner, more modern, and easier to navigate. My only nitpicks would be that "Think you've got what it takes?" sounds a bit too aggressive, and that maybe the list of features could be arranged in a nicer-looking way, but that's about it. I'm amazed at how this project got off the ground so quickly!

Indeed it's been great to get so much input from people so quickly, and huge credit goes to tampie85 for managing to get so much done while juggling care of our ten month old son!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Laura Hunt on 03 Jun 2021, 08:59
BTW, if any new texts are going to be created or the old ones updated, I'll be glad to lend a hand with proofreading.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Reiter on 03 Jun 2021, 09:13
Excellent work on the mock-ups!

I shall disclose that I find contemporary web design a detestable development. Sites these days seems to be obliged to maintain a minimum state of ugliness for its own sake. So take this as a luddite's perspective.
It is a very good mock-up. It is as 'up-to-date' as it must be without sacrificing what is important. It is an improvement, rather than an 'update'. It is very navigable now, and with clearer departments. Very well done!

One note, however, is that it may be good to include early in the Engine/Features page some concise information on licensing. Prospective users need to know if they can use AGS commercially or not, and under what conditions. I find this important, it is the sort of thing I want to sniff out quickly, at least. Oh, and it would be worth the while to emphasise that the Adventure Game Studio software is not only free but stand-alone and requires no accounts or dodgy subscriptions.

A splendid job altogether! It is far better than what one can expect in the modern website, and it is a demn'd good start! It is a spring-clean, a breath of fresh air.

There are some quibbles, of course. I imagine that the decidedly corporate illustrations here and there are place holders, and that they will be replaced. Now, they do look quite alright, and are well chosen. I do think, however, that something we produce ourselves would be better. They are very non-descript and minimalistic. In short, they fill precisely the right places, but I think that we need to replace them with our own (tea-muggy) illustrations. Something that is 'AGS-esque' while also professionally presentable.

I could contribute to that, if and when necessary, to the best of my capabilities. It is a future question, but I think it is important.
 
The text, I think, is placeholdery in places as well, but that is also more a matter of content than arrangement, which on the whole is quite excellent.

Also, I suggest that you to consider incorporating a light-blue shade to the currently white background. It is, in a way, the AGS colour, and it is much preferable to the ordinary plain white which seems to be the modern standard. It would retain the light and airy feel of the current mock-up, but it would make it a lot less searing.

The use of orange as a contrast/companion colour, meanwhile, is excellent!

As a final note, I do think that this is a design that will 'last' for quite some time, meaning that once the site has been done up, and there has been some spring cleaning and re-organising, it will not require big, recurring changes. It is effort well spent. Well done!

On the forums, I am of the opinion that they are excellent as they are. It depends, of course, whether they are practical to maintain like this, but if it is not urgently required, I strongly suggest that no significant changes are made. They work splendidly, and while perhaps a bit archaic (and thus better) as far as the internet at present stands, I do not think they are likely to cause any prospective AGS user to abandon the idea.

'SQUARE avatars?! Blasphemy! Blasphemy, I say!'

It seems to be the general opinion, and I am happy to hear that no significant changes are planned. Of course, if it becomes impractical or impossible to not change them, then it is a different matter.

Thank you once again for maintaining this site. These suggestions, while sincerely meant is and shall be secondary to what is possible and practical for you to make and run. It is the most important.

I shall see what I can contribute in the meanwhile. Stand by. This is excellent work, AGA & Tampie85. Most excellent.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Laura Hunt on 03 Jun 2021, 09:22
There are some quibbles, of course. I imagine that the decidedly corporate illustrations here and there are place holders, and that they will be replaced. Now, they do look quite alright, and are well chosen. I do think, however, that something we produce ourselves would be better. They are very non-descript and minimalistic.

  • All images and URLs are placeholders
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Potajito on 03 Jun 2021, 09:26
I checked out the new design both on desktop and my phone, and I agree with most comments here that it looks fantastic. Much cleaner, more modern, and easier to navigate. My only nitpicks would be that "Think you've got what it takes?" sounds a bit too aggressive, and that maybe the list of features could be arranged in a nicer-looking way, but that's about it. I'm amazed at how this project got off the ground so quickly!
Yeah, same. That "Think you've got what it takes?" is a bit offputting. Other than that, it looks great!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: AGA on 03 Jun 2021, 09:53
The majority of the wording used so far is copied directly from the current site. That site was written by one man 15 years ago, so could definitely do with being revised. All text, just like the images and site structure, should please be considered placeholders for now. For now we're just suggesting a basic look and feel.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: tampie85 on 03 Jun 2021, 10:00
Thanks for all the compliments on the design so far, really means a lot!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Hobbes on 03 Jun 2021, 10:03
Wow!!!

The new design looks so good. I'm trying to gather some thoughts that haven't already been shared before, but perhaps to reiterate / process for myself:


I'm keeping an overview of what I'm doing in the Wiki in this thread (https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=59186.0). And whilst it'll take quite a while I think to refresh most everything in there, it'll help with SEO and draw more people in.

I agree 100% with tampie85, good enough to ship = perfect at this stage. We can always update/change/tweak/add more graphics/etc later on. To go live with a fresh design as soon as we can, that would be great.

On the topic of Modules/Plugins, I was wondering... if we're building a Games Database, should we also build a Modules/Plugins/Template database where people can upload, categorise etc? It would be almost 100% the same kind of setup. It could hold that "Last Updated On..." bit as well as a "Last Tested On AGS Version..." bit. Could be a good way to start to "modernise" these awesome additions to AGS and present them in a more popular fashion. I think a voting system would help here immensely. Not so much from a popularity contest place, but to rate those that work really well and add a lot.

Again, I'm not a native speaker but have written plenty of formal/official/not-so-official English documents in my life. So if you'd like me to help out, let me know! Covid-19 is making sure I'm facing 7 weeks of summer holiday with nowhere to go, so, well, yeah, I'll have a significant chunk of time coming up! (Which I'll also use to actually design games, of course, but writing text is always fun!)

Oh, and updating SMF to the latest version would be most appreciated. I don't know what it is, but it manages to overheat my iPhone and iPad. And regularly crashes Safari. Which is very weird!

New site design looks great on iPhone, iPad & Mac by the way - all in Safari. But can test in any browser on MacOS / iOS / iPadOS where required.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: AGA on 03 Jun 2021, 10:27
SMF is already on the latest version, as of last night. It loads almost instantly for me, so no idea why you'd have issues!

On the cross device question, I have access to BrowserStack, which allows me to test the site in all sorts of device and browser combinations, including some very old ones.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Hobbes on 03 Jun 2021, 10:50
Weird! It could be an Apple thing perhaps? My devices just heat up A LOT on the AGS Forums (doesn't happen anywhere else on the internet) and regularly "crash to desktop". Odd!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Snarky on 03 Jun 2021, 11:16
I seem to recall that similar problems in the past have had to do with somebody's avatar or sig being hosted somewhere problematic.

Yeah, really great work on the new design mockups, tampie! Particularly impressive with such a quick turnaround.

Funny how people are now reacting to some of the text that's always been there—goes to show how little we actually visit and read the website!

I'll see what I can do with user journeys and so on. I might send out a survey and try to schedule some interviews/user tests on Zoom. (However, I'm going on vacation next week, with limited Internet service, so it might have to wait until I'm back.)

Way upthread, Darth Mandarb mentioned that he owns the adventuregame.studio domain, so I also want to remind you all that I own adventuregamestudio.org and adventuregamestudio.net, in case we want to use either of those. (I'm perfectly happy to transfer them to AGA or anybody else if desired.)
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Hobo on 03 Jun 2021, 11:29
Great work tampie85 and AGA, lots of very solid stuff in such a short time already.

I'm personally not a big fan of modern web-design trends with short slogans, big images and a huge empty space that looks like it's just waiting to be filled with ads. I feel like it just leads to endless scrolling, lot's of wasted space and makes it difficult to reach and find relevant information. But I do understand that this is probably how people prefer and like to consume their sites these days, especially on mobile devices. The current mock-up actually does seem in some ways that it's more geared towards the mobile user, so it would be interesting to know what the actual traffic stats are.

For the desktop version, I'd probably prefer it to be a bit more compact and maybe only have like one or two screen scrolls max for all the important information.

For example, the main page's Download AGS and Find Games sections could be side by side in desktop view. And instead of those big images, there could maybe be some smaller or more integrated visual aids that either guide the eye or separate the sections on mobile.

On the Games Page, I'm not sure the Awards and Ratings section needs a whole big area to itself. I'd probably move the ratings under the download button, possibly simplify them like others have suggested and perhaps get rid of the AGS panel ratings, since this feature has been dormant for years.

The the AGS Engine Features section on the other hand looks like an information overload to me and kind of hard to grasp at once. Maybe a more tighter bullet point list with little bit less information would be more suitable here? Or some other visual solution?

I'd also put some more emphasis on stylistic consistency, I feel that currently there are a fair amount of areas that implement very different size and design choices, but I guess this might simply be because the project is still in a placeholder stage.

I would like to add though that I know absolutely nothing about web design and I am an old antiquated dinosaur, whose web browsing preferences and habits do not reflect the average person that will be visiting the AGS website  :-D
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: heltenjon on 03 Jun 2021, 12:11
On the Games Page, I'm not sure the Awards and Ratings section needs a whole big area to itself. I'd probably move the ratings under the download button, possibly simplify them like others have suggested and perhaps get rid of the AGS panel ratings, since this feature has been dormant for years.

I understand this is due to Progzmax's illness and sad passing away. Perhaps it is time for the mods to elect a new head of the Review Panel? The system of the panel and the user's rating next to each other is quite informative, and I wouldn't want to get rid of it just because it's not in place for the last years' games.

Quote
I would like to add though that I know absolutely nothing about web design and I am an old antiquated dinosaur, whose web browsing preferences and habits do not reflect the average person that will be visiting the AGS website  :-D
+1
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Stupot on 03 Jun 2021, 12:59
I love the mock-ups. That’s definitely the kind of upgrade the site has been crying out for for a while now.

I agree with some of Snarky’s points about reducing scrolling, especially for mobile. I wonder how it would look if some sections were collapsible. Player comments on game pages, for example, could be hidden.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: AGA on 03 Jun 2021, 15:50
I understand this is due to Progzmax's illness and sad passing away. Perhaps it is time for the mods to elect a new head of the Review Panel? The system of the panel and the user's rating next to each other is quite informative, and I wouldn't want to get rid of it just because it's not in place for the last years' games.

Just to clarify, there's never been a head of the rating panel; there are a handful of people who do the reviews as and when they have the time and inclination.  But as with everything online, real life gets in the way, and people's availability and enthusiasm isn't always high enough to do ensure every game gets rated.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Manu on 03 Jun 2021, 16:07
Great job with the mockups! Below my feedbacks:

1) How to browse games? I don't see any games browsing section. As someone that has discovered first the AGS games, and later AGS, I really think that this part is very important. Right now it's not easy to browse the games database, so I think this is the perfect chance to redo this part. Users should be able to order the games by Popular, Top sellers, Top Rated, Most Recent, Most commented, or search by tags
2) On the games detail page, I think one screenshot is not enough. The pages should be more visual. A big screenshot/video and a screenshots slideshow would be nice (ie. humblebundle: https://www.humblebundle.com/store/borderlands-3-ultimate-edition)
3) Typography: there is a mix of open sans fonts (Nunito+Open Sans), personally I would avoid two fonts that are so similar. For what is worth, my suggestion is to use a font, at least for the titles, more similar to the traditional logo of Adventure Game Studio website. Raleway is perfect:  https://fonts.google.com/specimen/Raleway?preview.text=Adventure%20Game%20Studio&preview.text_type=custom#standard-styles. You can use Raleway Black for the titles and Raleway Light for the text

Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: AGA on 03 Jun 2021, 16:41
1) How to browse games? I don't see any games browsing section. As someone that has discovered first the AGS games, and later AGS, I really think that this part is very important. Right now it's not easy to browse the games database, so I think this is the perfect chance to redo this part. Users should be able to order the games by Popular, Top sellers, Top Rated, Most Recent, Most commented, or search by tags
Please bear in mind this isn't meant to be a completely functional site yet.  We just started off with a few pages as an overview of what the style of the new site could be.  A lot of the existing pages and functionality isn't shown yet, games lists included.

2) On the games detail page, I think one screenshot is not enough. The pages should be more visual. A big screenshot/video and a screenshots slideshow would be nice (ie. humblebundle: https://www.humblebundle.com/store/borderlands-3-ultimate-edition)
In the shown example there are three screenshots.  There are navigation arrows on the screenshot (swipable on mobile), and picker buttons at the bottom of the image to select individual screenshots.  They also rotate automatically every few seconds.  If you don't see any of that functionality, perhaps you have scripts disabled on that page?
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: heltenjon on 03 Jun 2021, 19:54
Just to clarify, there's never been a head of the rating panel; there are a handful of people who do the reviews as and when they have the time and inclination.  But as with everything online, real life gets in the way, and people's availability and enthusiasm isn't always high enough to do ensure every game gets rated.
Well, the Rating Panel Information Thread (https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=39821.0) states there is:
Quote
Who are in the Panel?
I work as coordinator and supervisor of the rating panel project. Progzmax is the current head of the panel.
The rest of the individual Rating Panel members are currently anonymous. This is to prevent coercion and abuse from game authors.

If that's incorrect, then perhaps the text ought to be changed anyway.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: AGA on 03 Jun 2021, 20:14
I think that may have been overstating things a little.  Regardless, the relevant part is "« Last Edit: Sat 28/04/2012 01:04:25", there definitely isn't anyone in charge anymore!

Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Manu on 03 Jun 2021, 20:26
In the shown example there are three screenshots.  There are navigation arrows on the screenshot (swipable on mobile), and picker buttons at the bottom of the image to select individual screenshots.  They also rotate automatically every few seconds.  If you don't see any of that functionality, perhaps you have scripts disabled on that page?

You are right, sorry I didn't notice there was a slideshow. It's very nice like this. I would add some thumbnails below the main screenshot so you can click on them to show the bigger version. Also, in the desktop version I would prefer to see the majority of the space dedicated to the images, not to the list of details (like 2/3 on the images, 1/3 on the details, now I think it's the opposite).
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: LimpingFish on 03 Jun 2021, 20:57
Loving the discussion so far, and thanks to tampie85 for the excellent mock-ups!

Well, the Rating Panel Information Thread (https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=39821.0) states there is:

As AGA says, I last updated that thread almost a decade ago, so anything in it more or less hopelessly out of date.

As far as I remember, as the last(?) of the original panelists still regularly active in the community, Andail was the original public face of the panel, it's de-facto "head" if you like, followed by ProgZmax as the most senior member. After Andail became less active in the day-to-day community, ProgZmax became the public face (along with myself, to a lesser extent).

What you have to remember about the panel was that it was always intended to be anonymous, with members rotating out on a regular basis, as we wanted to gather as wide a pool of different opinions as possible. After a while it became apparent that it was going to prove hard to keep the original half-dozen or so members consistently active, and almost impossible to find a steady stream of replacements. The bulk of those initial ratings fell to ProgZmax and myself, and we would share our findings with the rest of the panel for objections or alternate opinions, with the other members offering their own batch of ratings whenever they could.

In more recent times, a couple of users have attempted to kick-start a new round of rating activity, but, understandably, it's not so straightforward to find the time to play and rate games in a meaningful way. It's also not a job to take if you're looking for continuous feedback and discussion. People just don't have the time to dedicate, and those that do become disillusioned when they end up being the only voice still talking.

As it stands now, the panel is more or less dormant (there have been...five ratings in the three years, with the last dated 8/20), but I'd be lying if I said the idea of rejuvenating it doesn't cross my mind on a semi-regular basis. There's a few things I'd probably do differently, and it would be nice to really help make the database as informative as possible.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: cat on 03 Jun 2021, 21:32
Indeed it's been great to get so much input from people so quickly, and huge credit goes to tampie85 for managing to get so much done while juggling care of our ten month old son!

Wow, congrats for the baby! Amazing you did such a mock-up while taking care of a baby!


Quick feedback only (typing on my phone and I hate that): try to include a bit of the last 3 posts, recently added games, last AGS version released at... to show how active the community is. This is a major aspect of AGS and might influence if people decide to use the engine.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign? (Triggered by me being unable to donate due to region)
Post by: Creamy on 03 Jun 2021, 22:34
A great endeavor. I like the new design  ;-D

Homepage:
Maybe show more games to emphasize the popularity of the engine. Perhaps the description/read more button could only appear when the mouse moves over a picture of a game.

Quote
The things people are saying in the forums is gone, is this intentional?
I meant that little blank comic bubble that has Roger (I think?) face where it appears the 5 most recent forum posts. I think having things changing in the homepage improves SEO.

Quote
try to include a bit of the last 3 posts, recently added games, last AGS version released at... to show how active the community is. This is a major aspect of AGS and might influence if people decide to use the engine.

Yes. Since some common complaints about AGS seem to be that it's showing it's age (https://gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/30809/is-ags-outdated-for-point-click-adventures/30833) or that development is slow (https://www.slant.co/topics/5145/~game-engines-for-point-and-clicks), the new website should appear dynamic.

Game page:
As it's been said, it's nice but there's a lot of scrolling.
I'd suggest moving the comments up alongside "About".

Quote
How to browse games? I don't see any games browsing section. As someone that has discovered first the AGS games, and later AGS, I really think that this part is very important. Right now it's not easy to browse the games database, so I think this is the perfect chance to redo this part. Users should be able to order the games by Popular, Top sellers, Top Rated, Most Recent, Most commented, or search by tags
+1. It could suggest other games to play based on similar tags / popularity /good votes.

Community page:
Some icons /flags/ pictures to make it more lively?
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Matti on 04 Jun 2021, 01:18
Just a quick note: The big link at the top of the forums goes to the newest post in this thread, which is not intentional I guess.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Skeevy Wonder on 05 Jun 2021, 11:50
This is wonderful news and I really like what you've come up with thus far! Following is my input which hopefully reads OK. For the most part it's organised into coherent sections, but it is 3am here and my brain feels a bit melty after a long day. Oh. And now I've just noticed there is a third page of responses. Welp, here goes nothing:


DESIGN/ORGANISATION
Thank you for retaining the colours and overall look in the mockup. I second Reiter's request to use the pale blue for the background, and eriOo's photo idea (more about that later*). Design overhaul whiplash is disconcerting ('Did the site get hacked? Did I mistype? Am I hallucinating?'). It's heartening to learn that you're coding it yourself; Wordpress has brought out my murderous side on too many occasions to count.

Relieved to hear the only alteration to the forums will be responsive scaling--that'll be most welcome.

Agreed, eriOo, please do implement a donation button on the main page. And the splash of orange with the blue--mwah! Definitely liking this complimentary colour scheme.

Regarding browsers and mobile: all's well with the mock-up in Safari on an iPhone 12+ Max!

Regarding sthomannch's comments about any scrolling confusion and featuring MAGS: maybe the hamburger menu can have links to anchors (?) on the sections of the main page for those who aren't keen on scrolling, as well as a link directly to the Competitions and Activities area of the forums.


GAMES PAGE
I would prefer cups (stars) to thumbs. There are way too many games I've been on the fence about, because I really loved, for example, the UI, graphics, and characters, but found the music irritating, and was disappointed that the game had no voice acting. I'm guessing this is why you qualified the thumbs suggestion with 'if your userbase is big enough'. With the masses and masses of Steam users you get the aggregated 'Overwhelmingly positive' 'Mostly positive' 'Somewhat negative' etc. That and a glance at a few reviews you start to see patterns--lots of people loving the same thing/encountering the same bug.

Trimming out the review requirement and specifics seems like a good idea. I play a lot of games late at night and its not uncommon for me to be too tired to leave a review at that point but I want to give *some* sort of feedback to the dev(s). For my part, I feel some feedback is better than none. Invaluable, really.


MISCELLANY
This is more to do with the manual, but seeing as it is part of the site: far more examples of AGS script in action need to be employed. I have completed projects in C#, Javascript, Python, and have dabbled in a handful of other languages, but unless snippets are provided along with instruction, I've often found programming/scripting really difficult. Something to do with  learning styles, I guess. In Snarky's list of personas (which was great, BTW) I would be slotted somewhere fairly near Bruno, although my first language is English, I successfully worked as a freelance artist/graphic designer, and the game I'm poking away at isn't going to be commercial.

The registration: At least some bar to entry, please, keep out the riff-raff, haha. When I registered in 2016 I was surprised there was a test but thought it was funny. There were a few minutes of ranting from my partner when he registered, however. Maybe an 'introduce yourself/why AGS' requirement, and as has already been suggested, a brief probationary period with limited posting capabilities.

Laura Hunt, Potajito, 'Think you've got what it takes?' is one of the things that rubbed my partner up the wrong way and I never liked it either (no offence to whomever put it there).

Oh yes--I'm very much in favour of the 'want-to-play', 'games played', 'favourites' lists idea. It's 'follow' on itch, I think, something else at gamejolt, and 'wishlist' on GOG and Steam, but only the latter two have favourites, right? Anyway, yes, all three would be fabulous.


Thank you a million times over for keeping this site going strong. I know you'll do a brilliant job updating it whilst retaining that ineffable AGS quality.
 

* My partner is an excellent photographer and we have a nice looking setup here, so if you're interested in eriOo's photo idea DM me here or on Discord. Laura Hunt has offered proofreading, and one of my other jobs involved writing copy for websites and other promotional material, so if there's enough to require extra assistance I'd be happy to chip in. You probably have loads of artists to hand already but let me know if you need any more. Again, thanks, all!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Ali on 05 Jun 2021, 11:55
Well done tampie85! The new design looks great!

The registration: At least some bar to entry, please, keep out the riff-raff, haha. When I registered in 2016 I was surprised there was a test but thought it was funny. There were a few minutes of ranting from my partner when he registered, however. Maybe an 'introduce yourself/why AGS' requirement, and as has already been suggested, a brief probationary period with limited posting capabilities.

Obviously, we don't want spam on the forums. But I've never seen the value in making a niche genre any more exclusive than it already is. I think the days of people downloading AGS because they're trying to make Tomb Raider are long gone.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: tampie85 on 05 Jun 2021, 12:22
Thanks everyone for the (positively) overwhelming feedback and compliments!

You can find the ongoing frontend development (with dummy data) here:

https://new-site.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/

I won't post an update here every time something changes, but I added a temporary link to the community drop down called "TEMP: Redesign release notes", so you can see what has been changed since you last visited the page. Please keep commenting your feedback here, I might not respond, but I read all your feedback and try to incorporate it.


One thing I'd like to address now is the simplified voting system: https://new-site.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/games-detail.php .

You now see the player rating has a new section called "Your Rating".

The example shows that the player has already voted on this game. When he/she wants to update the vote for whatever reason, just click on the cup and the rating/date will be updated.
The alternative is that the player hasn't voted. All cups will be inactive and the subtitle says "You haven't voted on this game yet".

What do you think?
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: eri0o on 05 Jun 2021, 12:41
This is the quickest design to implementation I have ever seen and I am finding it amazing!  8-0

Precisely when loading it's possible that 3 arrows are too much arrows.
Spoiler: ShowHide
(https://i.imgur.com/133cpMK.jpg)
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: tampie85 on 05 Jun 2021, 13:56
:shocked: I see what you mean!

Is it better like this? Removed the arrows on mobile, kept them on tablet/desktop (not visible on the demo site yet)

https://imgur.com/a/5KrRD7D (https://imgur.com/a/5KrRD7D)
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: eri0o on 05 Jun 2021, 15:15
It is better! thanks!  ;-D
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: RickJ on 06 Jun 2021, 01:58
The landing page should highlight the three most amazing AGS features, what ever they may be.  For example:

Have two minute videos illustrating each of the three aspects.  People would rather watch than read, especially on mobile.

I found AGS while searching for something else.  It sounded interesting, so I downloaded it (DOS version ;) ) and had a demo game going in about 10 minutes.  The ease and simplicity is what hooked me and I think that's what will hook others  of all stripes.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Cassiebsg on 06 Jun 2021, 12:22
I like the front page/splash. I agree with eri0o that those arrows on the orange buttons are redundant, also on desktop not just on mobile.

But I must say that I dislike how the games page is setup/displayed. The text is too big,  once I get to the Feedback area my brain tells me "it's spam, skip" or "page has ended, now comes the spam..."... I miss the gold and blue cups. The soft blue cups don't pop-up and can almost be overlooked. Nice idea with the easy "you have voted/not voted yet" option.  (nod)

Is there anyway, that we can keep a "preferred theme" for registered users? So we can choose the old layout or the new? (Just on the games pages, I really like how compact and all the info was right there, even though it could benefit visually with some alignment on the sections.

Right now, from the forum, clicking om AGS Games takes me to a page where everything I need to know is. Newest games, links to sorting new games, newest reviews, etc. And there's virtually no scrolling. I realize that this is probably not a good design for mobile though (I wouldn't know, sine I don't own a smart phone), but works perfectly for me. The new page seems fresh and new, but like many have stated there's too much scrolling huge font and too much empty wasted space. I  guess I belong to the dinosaur class...  (laugh)

I basically just use the forum (please don't change it, it's one of the few that still works good) and the AGS Games->Game page. For the rest I agree that they need a fresh design, easiness to navigate and find resources, and of course remove all those dead links. So keep up the awesome work on those.  (nod)
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: AGA on 06 Jun 2021, 12:27
The old theme will not remain selectable.  There will need to be a lot of redesign and restructuring in the backend, and I'm not willing to double the time and effort to apply all those changes to the old version of the site, as well as maintaining it going forward.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Cassiebsg on 06 Jun 2021, 13:52
Ok, fair enough.

So my suggestion for the game page, for desktop view anyway, to split the screen into 4 "panes", the top left is just fine as is right now, with the image, I would move the video (if available) there as well. One could eventually click on it and it would replace the image space to play the video, while the screenshost become a small icon where the video was(?). The top right size is also fine as is, with the game info, just slightly smaller text. Below the image/video, on the lower left place the about, and eventually the game rating, and on the lower right the comments. And though... if there are many comments then the "pane" should either be scroll-able, or move it to under... and there there would be 5 sections, instead of 4.... it that case the lower panes could be: About, Rating and bellow the Comments? ???
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Danvzare on 06 Jun 2021, 13:54
Is there anyway, that we can keep a "preferred theme" for registered users? So we can choose the old layout or the new? (Just on the games pages, I really like how compact and all the info was right there, even though it could benefit visually with some alignment on the sections.
I still prefer the previous layout. The one before this current one that we've had for years.  (laugh)
That being said, there's probably no need to worry about the layout changing for the worse. We aren't talking about the people who work at deviantArt here (first they changed to a terrible logo, then they changed to a terrible and broken website). Chances are the new AGS website will be just as good if not slightly better.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: cat on 07 Jun 2021, 20:31
A bit more feedback:

Start page:

Games overview page:

Download page:

Game detail page:

  • Play - Hundres of free games available
  • Make - Create your first game in minutes
  • Join - Great community support
I think adding "Join" is a great idea!



I love how this is shaping up!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Ponch on 10 Jun 2021, 20:41
I think the days of people downloading AGS because they're trying to make Tomb Raider are long gone.
Still waiting for the "Make My Game" button to work properly.  :=

Nice work on this redesign so far.  :cheesy:
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Hobbes on 14 Jun 2021, 12:56
I really like the new redesign, just took a peek at the live "ongoing" development area. I think it'll be a massive step forward once it goes live and can really help to draw more people in.

I do think a "News" section (editable through the wiki perhaps, as AGS mentioned, by some select individuals) would be very valuable. It'll help with SEO as well and can be a nice area to write short articles when new AGS version are launched or there's big community news to announce.

I like the new Games page, I was wondering if it's possible to increase the size of screenshots when you go fullscreen on the viewer? Right now the viewer takes up the whole browser window but the screenshots remain quite small.

Again, perhaps a similar database under "Create" for AGS plugins/modules using the same backend as the Games database. It'll help people upload their modules/plugins, update them and for user ranking to help with sorting them.

Looking forward to what updates happen next!

And ETA on the responsive layout for the forums? I decided to go small with my iPhone 12 Mini last year and really love the fact this phone fits in my pocket without any struggle. :)

Thank you to both AGA and tampie85 to do all this work on the site - things are looking great!!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: AGA on 14 Jun 2021, 19:59
Don't hold your breath for a responsive theme.  There are a lot of custom fuctions in our forum that would need to be applied, in addition to any styling work.  I have installed a theme called "Ant's Mutant Curve", which is available to select (https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?action=profile;area=theme) now, if you really want something responsive.  But as I say, a lot of custom functionality will be gone!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: javixblack on 15 Jun 2021, 03:23
Dark mode, it's all I want.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: milkanannan on 15 Jun 2021, 05:52
Dark mode, it's all I want.

I would appreciate this, too. I think the mods could easily activate a dark theme option in the back end and then us users could get to it via Settings > Profile > Look and layout.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: AGA on 15 Jun 2021, 09:55
It's not as easy as you seem to think to create a dark theme. I could install an off the shelf version, sure, but again it wouldn't have any of the custom functionality people are used to. Creating a new theme takes quite a lot of time and effort!
Title: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Hobbes on 15 Jun 2021, 12:33
...Trying out the Ants-thingy theme... I completely get your point and absolutely no rush on this! It's working really well and saving my eyesight on my phone, but yes, it is definitely missing lots of custom stuff. Thanks for getting it started though, as I said, my eyes thank you! :)
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: AGA on 15 Jun 2021, 20:36
Dark mode, it's all I want.
I would appreciate this, too. I think the mods could easily activate a dark theme option in the back end and then us users could get to it via Settings > Profile > Look and layout.

I've installed a dark theme called UX.  But again, this will strip out all of the custom functionality you get with the normal forum theme.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: arj0n on 16 Jun 2021, 22:05
Nice stuff. One small nice-to-have:

Overview page:
As many titles are cut-off cause they are often too long for a tile, it would be nice to have a tooltip showing the full forum thread title when hovering over a tile in the 'THE LATEST FROM OUR FORUMS' section. Or have wider tiles and move the 'OTHER COMMUNITY CHANNELS' and the 'DONATE TO THE AGS COMMUNITY' sections below the 'THE LATEST FROM OUR FORUMS' tiles

Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Reiter on 16 Jun 2021, 23:21
It is looking better by the day! This is some excellent work, and once again, thank you for doing this.

I do think that the light blue and orange colours looks quite splendid together. A wise choice.

All of the information available on the /ags page looks good. I do think you can get a decent overview of the program from there. If required, I do think it would be possible to insert an FAQ link, but it is a secondary concern for now. My only quibble is if it is entirely 'fair' to claim that the program is multi-platform. A list of platforms on which you can run the editor, and a list of platforms that you can export your games to, might be prudent. That is, of course, a question for later on.

For now, a magnificent work! Well done!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: ToeKnee on 17 Jun 2021, 11:48
Great to see this happening...

My 2c.... some of the 'modules' could/should be created/grouped/indexed and made available. In UNITY adn other products I get a few FREE games/programs and MODULES I can cut-paste.
Eg: I could create a HINTS framework (Timer that counts down and pops up a screen with the next hint based on hints no longer needed/past) that people could download, look at the code and re-use entirely for their own purposes in their own games...
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: AGA on 17 Jun 2021, 12:25
Great to see this happening...

My 2c.... some of the 'modules' could/should be created/grouped/indexed and made available. In UNITY adn other products I get a few FREE games/programs and MODULES I can cut-paste.
Eg: I could create a HINTS framework (Timer that counts down and pops up a screen with the next hint based on hints no longer needed/past) that people could download, look at the code and re-use entirely for their own purposes in their own games...

That isn't really feedback on the website though.  While we could host such a thing, it would be a job for the community to create such bundles. It's certainly not something we'd build into the new site design until someone has actually made enough bundles to make them worth listing on the main site. Feel free to start a discussion in the general forum suggesting such a project though!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: eri0o on 17 Jun 2021, 23:07
Just want to say I really like the layout!

About the resources, I was thinking maybe it could come from a wiki page, like, there are Eric Matyas many songs, there's the specific AGS Treasure Trove, and it could maybe have additional links (in the wiki) for websites with free resources like OpenGameArt. Basically, things that aren't modules or plugins don't quite have a home of them...

I noticed the release notes mentions you are looking for artists, it's better to mention here too and what is needed! People may not read the release notes!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: cat on 18 Jun 2021, 08:02
Awesome progress!

Please note:
* The main page is broken when reading the page on mobile in landscape mode - the top is cut
* The screenshot widget with changing picks does not work on my phone with duckduckgo browser - there is just a white space instead
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: tampie85 on 18 Jun 2021, 11:44
* The screenshot widget with changing picks does not work on my phone with duckduckgo browser - there is just a white space instead

What page is that? And what OS? I just tried it on homepage and the play landingspage with duckduckgo browser on Android and I don't see what you mean?
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: eri0o on 18 Jun 2021, 12:15
I mean, I almost never use landscape mode on my phone, but indeed - Chrome browser on Android
Spoiler: ShowHide
(https://i.imgur.com/GGozf6m.jpg)
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Stupot on 18 Jun 2021, 13:14
I mean, I almost never use landscape mode on my phone, but indeed - Chrome browser on Android
Spoiler: ShowHide
(https://i.imgur.com/GGozf6m.jpg)

For me it does this even in portrait (Safari, iPhone SE1, so old small screen). In landscape it goes right down to the first ‘learn more’ button.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: arj0n on 18 Jun 2021, 13:50
* The screenshot widget with changing picks does not work on my phone with duckduckgo browser - there is just a white space instead
Works fine for me on Android mobile (Moto G9+) with DuckDuckGo v5.88.0

* The main page is broken when reading the page on mobile in landscape mode - the top is cut
Confirmed, on Android mobile (Moto G9+) with DuckDuckGo v5.88.0 and with Chrome v91.0.4472.101 in landscape mode.
Portrait mode works fine for both.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: tampie85 on 18 Jun 2021, 14:02
For me it does this even in portrait (Safari, iPhone SE1, so old small screen). In landscape it goes right down to the first ‘learn more’ button.

Is this what you see on your phone? Just double checking I'm looking at the right device:
https://imgur.com/a/btDPD2n

Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: cat on 18 Jun 2021, 14:09
I mean, I almost never use landscape mode on my phone, but indeed - Chrome browser on Android
Spoiler: ShowHide
(https://i.imgur.com/GGozf6m.jpg)

This is what I see on my MI Android one phone.


Regarding the missing screenshots: this might be an issue with my phone, as other people don't have problems here. Does the widget do any caching/preloading/fancy js?
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: eri0o on 18 Jun 2021, 14:30
@cat, just a curiosity, does the screenshots don't load too when using mobile data connection instead of WiFi? I know it's a bizarre question, but I noticed some android devices have trouble with some specific ways of requesting files - but only when using WiFi. I couldn't yet figure how to work around it - it's a problem for my ags web port too.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: tampie85 on 18 Jun 2021, 20:54
The splash page indeed looks odd on some devices. I'll see what I can do.

In general; keep reporting things that look odd. I'll do my best to please as many people as possible and try to make it look good on the most popular browsers/devices/resolutions.
I'm not a professional designer/developer and therefore my skills are limited.

For edge cases I have to see whether I'm able to do it without sacrificing anything for the majority of users and the effort it takes.
For example, approximately 0.02% of AGS visitors uses a mobile phone in landscape mode.

Regarding the missing screenshots: this might be an issue with my phone, as other people don't have problems here. Does the widget do any caching/preloading/fancy js?

Yes, due to the advanced requests  (video support, miniatures, zoom, expand to full screen, etc.) from the community we now use an advanced library.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: AGA on 19 Jun 2021, 10:29
This (https://www.lightgalleryjs.com/) is the library we use for the galleries.  I think at very least it preloads the following image or two before you flick over, to reduce visible loading times.  What could be causing your issue I'm not sure though, cat!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Kastchey on 19 Jun 2021, 10:58
I'm not a professional designer/developer and therefore my skills are limited.
Honestly, I would have thought you are. To my untrained eye at least, this doesn't look any less professional than what commercial engines use for their websites.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: tampie85 on 19 Jun 2021, 16:22
Honestly, I would have thought you are. To my untrained eye at least, this doesn't look any less professional than what commercial engines use for their websites.

That's a massive compliment, thank you  :-D
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Eon_Star on 19 Jun 2021, 20:34
Looks good.  :P
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Crimson Wizard on 21 Jun 2021, 01:17
Few years ago someone left couple of game database suggestions in our engine issue tracker, but I was not sure if they are worth passing to here, and if anyone would like to work on that.

Still not certain if this is something you or anyone else might do, but these suggestions were:

1. Display A) original engine's version for the game, to let know which version of AGS was the game made with, and B) whether this game contains any plugins (DLLs).

This was asked so that a person is running a non-Windows system and wants to know if the current engine port will be able to run such game.

In theory this information may be extracted from the game files, and this may be done even with a script. I or some other dev may provide a reference to the related algorithm, that alone is not a problem.
The biggest question is if such field could be added to the database, and, generally, such script run over the hosted games (idk, either dynamically on page load or beforehand).

2. If there are games which are uploaded as windows installer, would it be possible to also provide an unpacked alternative?

The reason is similar: it's not always easy to unpack such installer on a different system.

Not sure if such task is in this site's range of responsibility though. Maybe if someone is creating an alternate hosting could take a notice of this though.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: sthomannch on 21 Jun 2021, 12:33
Crimson Wizard:
Most games work on other platforms (I almost always use another platform). Problems are embedded videos or if the game does not allow to be run in windowed mode. But there are only very few games that cause problems.
Very old games are a problem also on a recent Windows platform due to the removal of 16 bit support, but then there is DOSbox, which comes to rescue.

On Linux, use the AGS Engine or wine - some programs work even better with wine than on some OEM distributions like what is provided by Lenovo or Sony. :-)
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: cat on 22 Jun 2021, 20:50
@cat, just a curiosity, does the screenshots don't load too when using mobile data connection instead of WiFi? I know it's a bizarre question, but I noticed some android devices have trouble with some specific ways of requesting files - but only when using WiFi. I couldn't yet figure how to work around it - it's a problem for my ags web port too.
No, no difference whether on WiFi or not. And yes, I also have problems with your webport on my phone.
Anyway, the pictures work with Firefox Klar on my mobile, so this seems to be some browser quirk for me  :-\


And I agree with the others, the website looks very professional. I thought you might have changed profession and are now a web designer.

Edit: I've updated the first post with the link and some information
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: tampie85 on 22 Jun 2021, 21:14
Sorry to hear it doesn't work in  the browser you want to use.

Thank you  :) I have a website to practice the PHP AGA taught me, but besides that I have no experience in web design. I guess watching professionals for years paid off.

I think I have good news too and managed to fix the splash page on mobile landscape and small devices. Fingers crossed. It'll be in the next release.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: tampie85 on 24 Jun 2021, 14:02
===== UPDATE =====

I absolutely love your ideas to improve the site (bookmarking, modules/plugin search, proactive reviews, mags, dark theme, etc.).
EDIT:
The redesign is now available in dark theme too. The paths are added in the below mentioned URL. Don't use the menu to navigate, you'll lose the dark theme.

To make sure the redesign doesn't end up in a never ending project, I decided to focus only on existing pages/functionality and put the improvements on a list that can be looked at after initial go live.

And I think I'm finished with the redesign :-D

You still should be able to navigate using the menu, but I also made a list of all pages, and the scenarios I could think of, which gives you a better image:

https://new-site.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/temp-mapping.php (https://new-site.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/temp-mapping.php)

===== HELP WANTED =====

Design Review
Please keep your feedback on the design coming. I validated every page/scenario with W3C HTML validator and looked at it in mobile, tablet and desktop view using Chrome Dev Tools.
Post it in this thread if something looks odd/doesn't work/is unclear on a certain device/browser.

Content review
We would really appreciate if you review the content on the redesign on, i.e.:
Please post your suggested changes in this thread.

Images
It would be amazing if someone can help us with creating custom images to make the site look even better. These are the ones I think we need:

Looking forward to see the feedback and can't wait to see the site with suitable images!  :-D

Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: eri0o on 24 Jun 2021, 17:01
Tampie85, amazing work! I think this last message of yours should be split into a topic of it's own so there's more focus on what's up to the community to do.

Regarding the mapping, I noticed the legal information may contain a bit of old information, basically on the license of things that comes with AGS, and what comes with AGS is changing with the new SDL based version. There's also non-current information on mp3 patents that have now expired. Is it possible to pickup the data from that page from a wiki or something ? I could update the license/legal information in this new page. The page also appears to have a mix of info from AGS was closed source there.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: AGA on 24 Jun 2021, 17:09
Tampie85, amazing work! I think this last message of yours should be split into a topic of it's own so there's more focus on what's up to the community to do.

Regarding the mapping, I noticed the legal information may contain a bit of old information, basically on the license of things that comes with AGS, and what comes with AGS is changing with the new SDL based version. There's also non-current information on mp3 patents that have now expired. Is it possible to pickup the data from that page from a wiki or something ? I could update the license/legal information in this new page. The page also appears to have a mix of info from AGS was closed source there.

Makes sense to make it editable.  I'm certainly planning to have some pages draw their content from the wiki (when I get around to implementing those pages).  I think we should keep the existing legal info as an archive, if only because we still offer the last CJ-made version as a download; we'd make it clear it's not the up to date licence though, and have a separate area for the current licence.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: tampie85 on 25 Jun 2021, 13:21
Tampie85, amazing work! I think this last message of yours should be split into a topic of it's own so there's more focus on what's up to the community to do.

Regarding the mapping, I noticed the legal information may contain a bit of old information, basically on the license of things that comes with AGS, and what comes with AGS is changing with the new SDL based version. There's also non-current information on mp3 patents that have now expired. Is it possible to pickup the data from that page from a wiki or something ? I could update the license/legal information in this new page. The page also appears to have a mix of info from AGS was closed source there.

Thanks! Yes please on creating the legal page on the Wiki, then it'll be ready to pull in. I'll change the current page to make clear it it only applicable for Chris' latest version (I wasn't aware that that was the case).
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Ali on 25 Jun 2021, 22:27
The remodelling looks great. If this is the right place for feedback - I can't get the "This site uses cookies to enhance user experience" popup to go away on Chrome/Windows 10. Clicking OK doesn't do anything.

EDIT: Sorry!
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: AGA on 25 Jun 2021, 22:36
The remodelling looks great. If this is the right place for feedback - I can't get the "This site uses cookies to enhance user experience" popup to go away on Chrome/Windows 10. Clicking OK doesn't do anything.

That hasn't been implemented yet, as so far this is just about the styling.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Crimson Wizard on 29 Jun 2021, 10:45
Something reminded me, as there's a page with Resources, here's a list of open-sourced AGS games we were gathering a while ago:
https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=50980.0
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Crimson Wizard on 06 Jul 2021, 20:37
Don't know if mentioned before, but when adding your game to the database I can only choose resolution from a very short list of presets, probably dating back to pre-open source engine era.

It would be nice if this is resolved in the new site.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: tampie85 on 06 Jul 2021, 20:42
Don't know if mentioned before, but when adding your game to the database I can only choose resolution from a very short list of presets, probably dating back to pre-open source engine era.

It would be nice if this is resolved in the new site.

That's a good point. Do you have any idea what the most common resolutions are?
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Crimson Wizard on 06 Jul 2021, 23:29
That's a good point. Do you have any idea what the most common resolutions are?

Well, there's a bunch of presets in AGS editor where you choose game resolution, but it may be virtually anything, so I think it should have an option to type arbitrary numbers too.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: tampie85 on 07 Jul 2021, 02:08
Would you mind listing the default presets here? I never used the editor. We can then make sure that those are at least added. Making it a free format will be a future step.
Title: Re: AGS Website Redesign
Post by: Crimson Wizard on 07 Jul 2021, 02:19
Here they are:
https://github.com/adventuregamestudio/ags/blob/master/Editor/AGS.Editor/GUI/CustomResolutionDialog.cs#L30

But now I realized they are missing another commonly used one 320x180. added...