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Author Topic: AGS Website Redesign  (Read 8854 times)

Hobbes

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AGS Website Redesign
« 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/

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:

  • Patreon as a donation system seems to be a good idea. I just tried to donate to AGS, for example, and got refused. I can't donate from/to my/the country. I also don't know who EMAIL_ADDRESS_REMOVED person is (I trust that it works, since it's on the website, but it doesn't come across as professional as it could.)
  • A more streamlined way of proposing new features might be useful, though I'm not sure if Godot's own 2019 idea really took off?
  • A centralised News page on the main website
  • Positive, open-source and free marketing and explanation on the front page

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! :)
« Last Edit: 22 Jun 2021, 20:55 by cat »

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...

Snarky

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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.
« Last Edit: 30 May 2021, 10:11 by AGA »

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.
« Last Edit: 29 May 2021, 12:24 by Crimson Wizard »

Snarky

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CW, have you heard of the 1% rule? (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.

Babar

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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 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:
  • A broken link to a set of video tutorials from 2008 (I think youtube changed how linking to playlists worked since it was posted)
  • A tutorial focused on AGS 3.0
  • A broken link to the bugs and suggestion tracker
  • A broken link to the Beginner's FAQ (although it redirects to the main AGS wiki page, which has a link to the beginner's FAQ, which was last updated in 2014
  • A link to SSH's blog, the last entry of which was in 2014
  • A non-technical FAQ that is from the perspective of an unnamed Chris Jones "Why don't you reply to my mail? I have a life outside of AGS" "Have you made any games? Only demo quest"
  • A link to MrColossal's kafkaskoffee art tutorials, which don't exist anymore
  • A page on engine and editor plugins that is too advanced for me to understand, but says it is from r4 oct 2009
  • An archive of AGS resources from 2006
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.
« Last Edit: 29 May 2021, 14:27 by Babar »
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BarbWire

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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.  :)
 

eri0o

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.
« Last Edit: 29 May 2021, 14:56 by eri0o »

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.
« Last Edit: 29 May 2021, 15:33 by Crimson Wizard »

Ali

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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.

Darth Mandarb

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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!

LimpingFish

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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.

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Hobbes

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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:

  • The incredible value of AGS vs the current state of online resources for newcomers.
  • Having AGS's online presence reflect how alive & current the actual development on the software still is.
  • To put to bed, once and for all, this nonsensical notion that AGS is for hobbyists only.

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



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:

  • Make decisions on all matters related to what is listed on this diagram.
  • Have final say in what happens.

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.

AGA

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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
  • 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.

Hobbes

  • Swashbuckler
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.

  • Responsive Site Design: I'm more, more than willing to help pay for this. The simple fact is that I can modify existing stuff quite well (with a lot of swearing and trial & error) but to build responsive templates from scratch is beyond my capacity. Would something like ThemeForest be an option instead? As I said, I'd happily buy two or three templates that look good and you can then see if that might work?
  • Having thoughts around the site from a community point of view is absolutely what I hoped to trigger with this post. I think the core questions should be around "what does the site want to be?". Having just gone through the Wiki a bit more, for example, there's games listed in there, but only a select few. And then there's the actual Games Database, which I feel should be much more of a focal point, rather than games also being listed in the Wiki. To me, the Wiki should be about tutorials and FAQs. There's some really good stuff there that should probably live in the AGS Manual instead, in my opinion. It's about design principles for me here: Wiki for FAQ/Tutorial/Lists, Manual for the technical stuff and scripting, Forum for community discussion.
  • Patreon: I know I've mentioned Godot before, but their Patreon page gives quite a clear overview of what the different tiers mean and what impact the money will have on future developments. We can do this in a similar way and have a community-voted option for certain tasks that are just "too large" for our current contributors.
  • A CMS would be great and I'd be more than happy to help maintain the site with that. Again, I'm not partial to Wordpress (any CMS will do) it's just that I'm most familiar with that one.
  • Is it OK then if I just dive into the Wiki and start to have a ponder about how to improve/change things? And perhaps modify things here and there a bit? (If I have the rights? The front page seems locked for admins only)

-----

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!

eri0o

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?
« Last Edit: 30 May 2021, 13:51 by eri0o »

cat

  • Local Moderator
  • AGS Baker
    • cat worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • cat worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
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.

Hobbes

  • Swashbuckler
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.

eri0o

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?

Cassiebsg

  • Cavefish
  • Fleeing the Cylon tyrrany...
    • Cassiebsg worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Cassiebsg worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
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.
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