Author Topic: TWCON 2011 ...well...sorta...  (Read 609 times)

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Offline Shadowwolf

TWCON 2011 ...well...sorta...
« on: November 06, 2011, 08:31:22 PM »
Since Blizzcon just recently passed and is usually the spot to announce new products, etc etc from Blizzard, here is TWCON 2011 sorta. I dont have the money to rent out Anaheim Convention Center nor a huge staff to organize and present stuff, plus all I have to present can be basically said here, so thats what im doing =)

For starters, some of you may have noticed some changes going on with the site here and there. Most recently was the move of blogs to *.twpack.net and the recent appearance of email reminders for raids you signed up for. These are a small start of a lot of new improvements coming for the site in the near future. Sadly, like Blizzard I dont like to give dates for releases, not for the same reasons they do, but mainly because all of this stuff is done in spare time and not a full time job, so its hard to say with life schedules when myself and Koth will have time to work on them and get them done. Some days after a hard workday, its not appealing to jump back into "work" which essentially a lot of what the website is could be considered.

Im going to attempt to outline some of the proposed and in development features we are working on (Koth and I) and this will hopefully get you jazzed up and maybe even give us some more feedback in what we should aim for next for improvement. Like WoW, this website will never be "done" as that is a finite definitive term and nothing that works well and stays with the times can ever be considered finished.

So, without further adieu...

Website Design Overhaul

This is a bigun. For most of you, understanding what is involved in such a thing probably goes unnoticed or even beyond caring, which is fine. The importance of design and layout is critical in how often and well a site is used, similar to feng shui in your home, or ergonomics in your car or everyday products. If a site looks like garbage or is difficult to understand or use, it wont be. While this latest revision of the Twilight site is good, I never felt it was perfect. Much of the main page is packed full of information that seldom if at all gets viewed due to the complex nature of how some of it is delivered. While for an avid web user it seems easy and available, for those who dont navigate websites much, finding things may not come so second nature. This is evident by the fact that on release I had to basically create a "How to" guide to the main site =(. Again, my fault but the improvements from the older version to the new were vast and I had and still do have many ambitious plans in the works, however sometimes I dont deliver them quite the proper way for ease of use.

At any rate, I am planning an overhaul of the design for more pleasant and interactive experiences and while much of the site will stay similar to how it is (Forum, Wiki, etc), much of it will change and ALL of it will flow together in a similar design concept and scheme instead of how it was kind of piecemeal. Ive taken steps over this last year in fixing much of that compartmentalized feel, but now its time to dive in and redo it all.

Back-end Updates and Functionality

Again, like with design, many of you probably dont realize how much takes place behind the scenes on this site to fully understand how much work goes into it. You just see it "work" and how that all gets done you dont care till it doesnt work anymore =) . Well, sometimes technology changes and much of the site is custom coded but to save time and headache we tend to look for open source solutions to what we want to do (less coding that way and less time). Unfortunately sometimes those open solutions change or cease to exist and then we are stuck at a point where we either have to change or write/continue on our own with it. A key example of this is the signup system. The version we run is OLD, literally from 2007 or so and has since been modified and hacked to bits by Koth and I so much that it can essentially be called our own. Unfortunately, the code its based off is shoddy and poor and moving forward this leaves us with a lot of gaps to fill and roadblocks to circumvent. Because of this, Koth has undertaken his own project to code a signup and schedule system from the ground up since we couldnt really find any out there paid and free that did what we want or would allow us to easily modify it. So, you are going to see some VAST improvements to both the site. The things on the list atm are:

Main Site
  • Main Site Core
  • Download Section
  • Video Section

Forum
  • Forum Core
  • Signup and Schedule System

Blogs
  • Social Network Creation
  • Easier Interactivity

Thats a large list which encompasses about 80% or more of the site overall. As much as it is, we need to do it since a large majority of what you all do on this site day to day involves multiple parts of that list. We'll detail more on each part as we start/finish the project to outline any improvements from the way they work now to how they will work and so on. At the moment there is WAAAAAAY too much to talk about on all of them and I think its better broken into parts as we complete them and release them for your use.

Twilight Social Network

Now I probably piqued a raised eyebrow on some in mention of this above and so I will detail it some more to clarify. The intent here is to eventually integrate the forum with the blog system and create a Google+/Facebook like system for our own use where you can easily post things like status updates, like things on other member's profiles, add photos right to your profile, etc. The way of the web seems to be moving in this direction but as I have expressed numerous times in game, on here, on my blog and to anyone foolish enough to ask or unfortunate enough to be present when a rant hits me I dislike a lot of the privacy issues that come with Social Networking in the modern era. The main reason for these privacy faux pas is due to them needing to make money as a company, and so you only do that as a company by encouraging people to freely part with their info so you can sell it or use it to personalize selling things to them. Thankfully I have no interest in profiting off your data unlike some young CEO's who are arrogant and jerks (Im looking at you Zuckerberg). This also means that eventually we will probably be making an App for phones to keep the TW site with you everywhere you go and allow you to be more interactive with it on the go to stay in touch with guildys even when you arent in the game.

Newsletter / Guides

Ive toyed with the idea of having a newsletter of sorts, exactly how frequently it would go out or what it would contain is still up in the air at the moment. The idea is to allow for a more informed and tightly knit membership core of the guild so that even if you dont play for months and come back, you still know whats going on in the guild as if you never left. In addition to that, I have tried to get guides and how-tos off the ground for some time now only to find myself doing most of them and when I do, they have gone well received (I think) and so I thought maybe it would be good to make it a regular thing once most of the overhauling is complete as well as open it up to other guild members to contribute. This type of thing will go from stuff about WoW to other games or even real life situations. Again, things to better your life in and out of the game.

Comic Strip

As well as the above, I have toyed with the idea of basing a limited release comic strip off the guild and the things that go on within it. Much of what takes place on raids and in chat and even on the forum or wherever involving guildys is humorous and deserves to be told to others in and out of the guild who may not have been present to experience them. As such, being I need to improve my art skills for my own personal plans, I have toyed with creating a strip based off all of you and what you do. I have also enlisted some assistance from a few web comic creators I know and am friends with to aid me till my art can hold on its own =)

Logo / Branding

For a long while now the guild has lacked a logo of sorts. I've managed to fake my way through much of that with some makeshift ones and word logos with our name, but I think being as old as we are now as a group of folks, we need something that marks us for us. Something we can put on our endeavors, videos, screenshots, guides, etc that will be easily recognizable as Twilight the guild. Because of that I have undertaken seriously an effort to create a sort of "brand" for the guild which I hope to have done within the next week or so. I want it to embody what we are and be something you can be proud of (and looks good on tshirts and stuff), hehe.

Finally, Why?

Well you may be asking why all this effort and work into a site for a gaming guild? Simple. The main thing I believe that has helped us endure the changing times of WoW, especially with the cataclysmic Cataclysm expansion is the website. The fact that we can all come here regularly and still interact with one another without necessarily having to log into WoW is what I believe is the glue that holds the guild together. Without it, once you logged off each night, that would be it till the next time you logged on and you wouldnt know what was going on between that time. Because I view the site as such an important asset to our continued existence and to our future, I feel its important to devote a lot of time in getting things right so to speak and make it a site that is something you want to use everyday and becomes as habitual as your morning coffee or dare I say breathing. Where you can pop on anywhere in the world at any time and see whats going on with your friends without the need of a computer and UI between you.

As usual, comments, suggestions and criticisms are welcome and this site is all about YOU and what YOU want. Feedback you give to us only helps us make it better and cooler and the envy of other guilds everywhere, or at least guilds who dont have corporate sponsors ;)

In addition, if you want to help, just let me know. Over the last year Koth and I have made steps to improve how we work together on a lot of stuff (before it was "Did you do this?") type of stuff. We now have a Project system, a Code repository, etc so adding others to the mix of help is a lot easier now if you want. In addition, I always accept donations as yes, this server and site costs me money to run and while I do it without demand or holding my hand out for charity, I do accept it graciously now more easily than I did in the past. In the end, helping with just using and providing feedback works as well too, so the option is yours.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2011, 10:23:59 PM by Shadowwolf »
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Offline Lynette

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Re: TWCON 2011 ...well...sorta...
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2011, 09:52:35 PM »
Awesome stuff, Shadow.  Definitely lots to implement, but I have no doubt it'll all look great once complete.

I spend some of my time frequenting the Fires of Heaven website.  Even though they started out as an Everquest guild, their website has morphed into more of a discussion of all things MMO. In fact, most of the posters there have nothing to do with the guild.  Curt Schilling, ex-baseball player and owner of 38 Studios, posts there all the time (Ngruk).

I'd love to see this site expand in the vision you are describing.  Knowing that WoW will be for a long time, it's great to know that the Twilight community will have a place to visit for many years to come - even those of us currently not gaming.