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rpg2knet development: can it be too complex?

Written: 11:30 on August 25, 2008  |  By: jon  |  MORE…
The development of my pet project, rpg2knet 4 is continuing very nicely. I've overcome certain problems I was having earlier (including one small issue I had with my nested set model code) meaning so far… so good. No problems that remain unsolved. One of the more esoteric problems I have been pondering over lately is this: am I making this website too involved and complex?

Looking through what is complete at the moment (and I'd say we're definitely closing on half-way done), there is a tremendous amount of interactivity. These days, with the advent of the social web and the advances in user experience and interactivity, I'd say this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Conversely, the forum element has been dubbed 4um4-lite, as layers of complexity have been removed. The use of the forums is a much more tied in experience with the rest of the site. Previously, the forum had upwards of 85% of the traffic whilst the rest of the site languished behind. Now, there will be more of a reason to visit the main site as a lot of information is available there.

My main concerns, due to the lack of problems with the codebase, are turning to two other things. The design, which I have tried and tried to perfect but doesn't come off quite right, and content. The site will inevitably feed from user participation and submissions from the users, but I think a site of this size and complexity will definitely need some very devoted people to keep it fully stocked. With the issue of design, I'm contemplating asking (very nicely) a friend and colleague of mine to see what he can come up with. Either way, these concerns are trivial — I still have a lot of motivation, regardless of the criticism and comments from certain people.
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rpg2knet development: nested set model

Written: 19:52 on July 26, 2008  |  By: jon  |  MORE…
Squirrel, the mascot of rpg2knetAs most visitors I imagine will know (since they are mainly friends), I used to run a website about game making called rpg2knet.com. The site has been down for many years now (since around about this time in 2006) and I have been trying to get it sorted and back online again. It has only been recently that I have really been pushing hard to get this all completed. I got really wrapped up with Counter-Strike: Source for several years (starting around about April 2005 and ending just recently), which caused me to struggle finding time for programming. Now that I have effectively retired from the source scene, I have had plenty of time to get on with rpg2knet.

I thought, since I'm coming up to roughly the half-way mark in terms of coding, I could start using the group blog here at dovka as a devlog as well, since posts can be filtered quite easily with our tagging system. So, today I thought I'd let people know about how things are progressing. This weekend has mainly been spent working on part of the site that I have toyfully been calling Nutforge (a play on sourceforge). It is a tool for starting a game-making project, finding your team/friends with certain skills to help you work (and rating them on how useful they've been, etc), talking about your game, showing off screenshots, and uploading/releasing your game to the masses. The 'end-game' for nutforge is to have your hard work reviewed by the panel of reviewers here that we shall (hopefully) hire for rpg2knet.com, just like it happened last time.

One of the features I have implemented is a "skill set" system. Using the excellent Hierachical (Nested) Set paradigm, I've managed to come up with a tree of skills that you can tag with different levels of proficiency. The idea being, you can search for 'free' people that have listed that they are looking for a project to help out with, and order them by their proficiency, filter them out and well… cherry pick the people you like. Obviously I can foresee a problem with trolls putting all their 'proficiencies' at maximum just to clutter up the search results. With that in mind, I've been thinking about adding in a modifier system where community members can vote a member up or down in skill level if they have been involved in a project with them. That way, if somebody is a time waster, they'll essentially be flagged as such and this will warn others about undertaking a project with them.

This tiny feature is something that I consider to be, at the time of writing, very unique. I can't see any other RPG maker based website doing anything like this, although I'm aware I may have been mildly inspired by the excellent assembla.com. This is what rpg2knet.com is all about in my eyes. Something original, that nobody else has thought of, or something that nobody else can do. If all goes to plan and we can couple this website up with the sort of community spirit the old rpg2knet.com had, I believe we are really onto a winner. And that spirit is exactly what keeps me programming every night to get it completed *hurl*. As cheesy as sounds, it's true.
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