VGMaps

Main Boards => VGMaps Social Board => Topic started by: JonLeung on July 15, 2008, 01:21:59 PM

Title: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: JonLeung on July 15, 2008, 01:21:59 PM
Loaded question: What would you like to see in a site makeover?



VGMaps.com has been adequate as it is for its purpose, but has been relatively unchanged since it started in 2002.  Sure, in 2006 I gave the site a switch from black to white, and added randomizing thumbnails (which I'm behind in making, and has sloppy code >_>), but there have always been concerns about making a more dynamic, database-driven system (as opposed to static, manually-updated HTML files as the site is now).



I personally would like a system that would be easier to update.  I would also like the site to appear more professional (though a good deal of that would come with a database conversion) - ease of use and aesthetics are my primary concerns.  A database system surely has the benefit of being faster (by not loading up anything unrequested) and would probably allow for the inclusion of a search tool, and everyone can appreciate those.



As many of you know, I'm not exactly a coder.  I admit to not even "getting" PHP.  I barely "get" HTML!  So I'm probably going to want someone (or a few people) I trust to handle the guts of a possible conversion.  And maybe a conversion is easy.  I wouldn't know.  But keep in mind that we have over 10000 maps now, and not all information is included in the filename of each map (ie. mapper and email address).



Other than "databasing" and all related to it, what else would you like to see?  Timestamps for maps?  "New Map" indicators?  Maybe mapper profiles when names are clicked?  Oh, how about ratings for maps, games, and/or mappers?  Or maybe something like better handling of foreign/alternate names of games?  Consistency in handling details like leading zeroes of numbered-stage games or a different (yet more consistent) way of distinguishing/signifying in-game maps, original maps, etc.?  Or do you have ideas on how to make the site look better?  The site could use a bit of a facelift anyway, perhaps a slight redesign of the logo (oooh, 3D rendered, maybe?) and little things like that while we're at it.



I make no promises that anything we discuss in this topic will actually come to pass, but at least we can discuss our options (who, what, and how) so that I may become more inclined to do this, or more trusting of this site in other people's hands, or overcome whatever hang-ups I have about all this, and so that we'll know what to change/add/etc. if/when we actually undertake such a task.



So, what would you like to see in a site makeover?
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Grizzly on July 15, 2008, 02:07:18 PM
Maybe using collapsing tags (like those that are used for posting spoilers on some boards) for the individual files list of a game, so that the the page itself appears much smaller until you click on a game title you are interested in.



And yeah, databasing would be great. With a search feature :)
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Revned on July 15, 2008, 03:53:41 PM
I know a bit of PHP/MySQL. Heck, I'd take time to learn it more fully if I thought you needed my help, but seeing as how other more experienced coders have offered to help in the past, I don't think that's necessary.



I don't think it would be all that hard to write a parser for the existing HTML pages. It'd only have to be done once, so it wouldn't have to be flawless. Darkwolf already has something that extracts user information for statistics.



The great thing about a database system is that you could easily change the look/layout of the site without having to wade through 1+ MB HTML files. Little things like adding a column to the tables would be a chore right now, but they could be done in <5 minutes with a dynamic content source.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: DarkWolf on July 15, 2008, 04:07:32 PM
Whatever you do make sure that you have a system to keep track of mappers.  That way you can automatically generate statistics and such.  Timestamping the maps upon upload would be a great way to implement the "New Map" indicator and even doing an auto-listing of maps that were uploaded that day.



If you design the tables correctly, you can represent and slice the data numerous ways and create all sorts features.



Whatever you decide to incorporate, make sure you get a clear plan of what you'd like, especially if you are going to bring other people in, as you'll need to convey what you really want out of your site so you don't end up with something you don't want or are unsatisfied with.



That said, I'd be willing to help.  I have experience in such things and I have some simple, but time-saving object sets I could bring to the table.



I'm not terribly great with graphics and making things look pretty, but you always get someone else to do the stylesheets. ;)
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: KingKuros on July 15, 2008, 07:22:37 PM
For those interested on when the maps were added, this should help.



http://web.archive.org/web/*/https://www.vgmaps.com



Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: marioman on July 15, 2008, 07:29:24 PM
I would not like to see ratings.  It makes it look like the mapper or site is taking credit from the game developers.  Not to mention that most people are seeking a specific map to finish a game - not just to look at them.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: KingKuros on July 15, 2008, 07:33:06 PM
How about rating on how useful or helpful the map is?
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: marioman on July 15, 2008, 07:47:42 PM
I wouldn't even think that would be beneficial.  Why would you want to know if a map for the Legend of Zelda is helpful if you are really looking for a map for Super Mario World?  You would also be implying that there are some maps on the site that are useless...
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Will on July 15, 2008, 09:53:06 PM
There maybe multiple ways of sorting out games with maps like genre (Adventure, Action, RPG etc), Year the games were made and the companies that made them, but personally I am content with the sorting by Console/Computer method and people should attempt to get used to it. Looking for the game maps you want here is no harder than looking up words in a dictionary. The adjustment I think that could be done is this. You remember I discussed US titles versus European titles, well Jon you thought about putting both titles either side of each other above the map links, you did do that with Megaman 3 Blue and Megaman 3 White, but they must be linked the same way The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages & Seasons. There isn't much else that needs doing except probably a clean up of the forum, such as completed requests or maybe topics with little or no replies, but that of course isn't up to me.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Raccoon Sam on July 16, 2008, 02:32:44 AM
'Favourites' page.

Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: snesmaster on July 16, 2008, 02:10:54 PM
It may be nice to know how many times each map was viewed.  Like e-bay auctions, it would only count each person who viewed it once, and not multiple times if the same person looks at it more then once.  Maybe have a comment section for each map so if someone wanted to make a comment on a specific map they could do that.  Just some thoughts.  Not sure how useful they would be, but thought I would throw them out there for people to consider.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Maxim on July 16, 2008, 02:36:02 PM
It'd be good to have a strong forum link, like ocremix.org for example, for discussing maps.



Thumbnails would be good.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Eggz on July 16, 2008, 04:40:58 PM
Having thumbnails for each map would make it even more picture heavy than it already is, and take up an enourmmous amount of bandwith. Does anyone remember when no maps were posted for months becuase of lack there? I don't think that would be enjoyable again.



But I definitely push for the search option. It's would be easier to directly compare maps from a series but on different consoles easier i.e. Zelda, or compare the same game on multiple platforms i.e. Prince of Persia.



A semi-easy way I can think of doing that is to have each different game that we have maps for have its own page with the list of maps found there rather than on the main console page. Keeps the page size smaller, and if the filenames were standardized to be the title of the game, setting the search function to find key words within that shouldn't be too hard.

---

This looks like a job for Science!
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: DarkWolf on July 17, 2008, 04:32:21 AM
You could have some sort of javascript mouse over function for the thumbnails.  Of course you'd want to cache the thumbnails for best results, and that would take some disk space.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Maxim on July 17, 2008, 05:13:38 AM
I make thumbnails for my maps and aim for a few KB each (with blurry JPEG); that, and a common scale between them means that the smaller images end up quite tiny. There need not be a page with 1000 thumbnails on it. I think it helps to locate the map you want without opening them in turn - which will cost more bandwidth overall.



Of course you don't generate thumbnails on the fly. But not having thumbnails for an image-based site seems odd, more so for games where seeing the "whole world" is part of the appeal of the maps.



Standardising filenames, perhaps by generating them from the metadata, seems like a good idea.



3D rendered logos are very 1990s.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: JonLeung on July 18, 2008, 06:01:40 AM
I'd comment more on what has been said but I'm already at work...  :P



Some of these possibilities sound like they'd need integration with the forums.  Even something as simple as having "Favourites".  This will certainly be interesting.  I'm sure TerraEsperZ will freak out at the thought of another forum migration...  :P



Are there any current columns we don't need?  Do we still want two columns for the area name and sub-area name, for example?  For many games, it works well.  For others, not so much.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Maxim on July 18, 2008, 06:36:50 AM
Drop: file type, ripped/original/whatever column. (Maybe drop all non-ripped maps?) Type can be indicated graphically, perhaps - icons for flash and PDF, and no icon for regular images. Merge the two area columns into one overall description and stick with a decent naming convention.



It might be interesting to offer a "view all maps for one game on one page" option, and/or a "download all maps for one game as a ZIP" option, both similar to viewing image attachments in GMail. Both could be implemented fairly easily - the ZIP can be uncompressed to avoid using server-side CPU and generated dynamically.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: TerraEsperZ on July 18, 2008, 10:30:57 AM
Forum migrations are alright, as long as the threads/members don't disappear into the night, which is what happened, what, twice?



Which I shouldn't complain about, since I wasn't involved in the actual process. It's just that we lost not only many interesting threads, but also many regular posters who didn't bother to join up again, and that sucked.



As for suggestions, I'll have to get back to you on that. So far, the only thing that really annoys me is not knowing which maps are new, and which have been updated. Personally, I'd like to have a column indicating the date when a map was added/updated.



---

Current projects: Ristar-The Shooting Star (Gen), Sonic The Hedgehog (Gen), Sonic CD (Sega CD), Mega Man Zero (GBA), Battletoads (NES), Bucky O'Hare (NES)
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: JonLeung on July 18, 2008, 10:56:20 AM
Well, as someone mentioned before, the timestamp is likely a piece of cake once a database system is set up.  The time would be taken off the file itself.  I imagine that image area and filesize could also be automatically derived.



I was thinking about having more information about each game itself.  Things like alternate names (like other regions' names) and links to the other versions.  That would be handy if someone wanted to quickly look over all the different Prince Of Persia games...or Alien Syndrome or Xevious, etc.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Maxim on July 18, 2008, 10:57:15 AM
Forum migration is easy, so long as you have someone capable of a little data massaging. Sticking with popular/well-supported forums helps too because there's likely to be migration scripts out there already. Migrating users can be more tricky, more so if their passwords are securely stored.



Certainly, it'd be nice to be able to distinguish new from updated, especially on the front page.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Maxim on July 18, 2008, 11:03:42 AM
File timestamps can be troublesome. On smspower.org's server, on a couple of occasions everything's been migrated to a new disk and all timestamps were reset to the time they were copied. It's easy enough to avoid but I can't control the host's every action.



While image libraries exist to get that information from files, they can be problematic on large images. It may be necessary to have a fallback to manually entered data.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Revned on July 18, 2008, 11:27:43 AM
I wouldn't recommend using the actual file's timestamps, as something like renaming them might end up changing the date. Instead just have a field in the database that reflects the last time Jon updated the map's metadata.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Will on July 18, 2008, 11:42:01 AM
I reckon the easy start you'd best make is to erase certain topics in the forum. For example "The Addams Family (SMS)" which considering the Addams Family map is readily there, is doing nothing and is useless. I won't mind if you get rid of it, after all I brought it up. But this is the question. Should we wipe out any Map requests and Map progresses, because that requested or progressing map is finished and put up on the site? There are many fulfilled requests and progresses but the forum could contain useful information like tips and guides hidden.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: DarkWolf on July 18, 2008, 12:29:45 PM
Store timestamps in the database.  IMO, also avoid the MySQL "timestamp" data type and have the script control the updating of the value.



Why do you want to erase legitimate forum topics?  They don't take up much space and it really doesn't hurt to have a record of things.  At some point a large forum might benefit from the archival of older posts, but I don't think this forum has even come close to that point.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: JonLeung on July 18, 2008, 12:32:28 PM
Will, I know nothing about how such a process would work, but I'm pretty sure that if we do another forum migration, we would consider automated processes, in which case deleting a few obsolete topics isn't going to make much of difference.



I could do a cleanup of topics and/or maps one day, but that could also be entirely independent of a site conversion.



(And for the record, me and bustin98 had nothing to do with the failed forum migrations in the past.)
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Maxim on July 18, 2008, 03:12:25 PM
I thought threads were moved from "maps in progress" to "map gab" when complete.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: JonLeung on July 18, 2008, 03:30:54 PM
Well, that's all in the past, bustin98 wasn't in charge at the time, and I didn't know better.  >_>  One of those was an all-around bizarre situation, anyway.  We won't get into all that...



I was thinking about making some mock-ups of how I'd like to see the site, before we go shopping around for some code we can use, or whatever.  Of course, if I go that far, it'd be hard to enforce the "no promises" I made at the beginning...maybe it's already too late?
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Revned on July 18, 2008, 06:07:06 PM
I would start by planning out your data model first. How do you want maps/games to be presented? What details should they have? How will different pages be connected? How will users work? Don't keep quiet, either. Post your ideas here and we can offer feedback.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: JonLeung on July 27, 2008, 09:04:14 PM
I haven't forgotten this topic.



It will take some time to juggle some ideas and then do a mock-up...
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Maxim on July 28, 2008, 02:11:17 AM
Mockups mean very little; presenting the data is the easy part. Getting some framework for inputting and presenting the data is the hard part.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: DarkWolf on July 28, 2008, 01:56:21 PM
Rather than do a graphical mock-up, you might want to write what you want in a sort of draft.  Generally, programs or scripts are written to solve problems.  What problems do you have now?  How would you like to fix them?  What extra information do you want to capture? From there the ball should at least start rolling.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Revned on September 25, 2008, 12:30:05 PM
*crickets*, *tumbleweed*, etc.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: JonLeung on September 25, 2008, 01:21:02 PM
Unfortunately, (as I stated in a hidden topic earlier today) real life takes priority over anything on this site.



This isn't forgotten, but I hope no one is holding their breath for revamp.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Revned on September 25, 2008, 06:57:19 PM
Sorry to keep bringing this up, I just don't want it to get forgotten. Really, it wouldn't take you long to write up a list of stuff you want. If you did that, you could get some feedback and specific ideas on how to handle it. That way you would have a clearer idea of what this redesign would entail, and how long it would take.



Frankly, I'd much rather see a redesign than another April Fools' map set. I've been holding my breath for a long, long time.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: JonLeung on September 25, 2008, 09:02:39 PM
Well, okay, one thing I was thinking of that I wasn't sure would be too clunky or not would be to somehow categorize the games themselves by series.  For example if someone wanted to just look at Mega Man maps that they could see the whole series.  Or the whole Castlevania series, or the whole Super Mario series, etc.



There must also be some better way to handle remakes/ports/compilations.  Perhaps the map tables (for lack of a better term) could have more information in the title box, like clickable links to see the whole series (as above), or quick links to other versions of the same game?



I don't want there to be too much information, but often looking at the directory as it is now, I often wonder if I make it clear enough what games are available for the expected console, etc.



I want it to be easy to find the maps one is looking for, while still being able to simply browse.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Revned on September 25, 2008, 09:39:38 PM
The series thing shouldn't be a problem. Just have a 'series name' field in the database and filter by that.



I always thought the directory was a bit too comprehensive. I think all the remakes are distracting, since they're the same font and size as everything else. It would be nice if the maps page had collapsible (or something) sections with additional information, so users don't have to see it if they don't want to.



With a database, you can have searching and sorting, and you can still show your data like a regular web page.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Will on September 26, 2008, 11:56:29 AM
What are going to be putting up for Halloween since more lodes more maps arrived from then? Last year it was small shots from Scooby Doo, Ghosts n' Goblins and so on. If I ever get Demon's Crest finished in time, that will be a reasonable shot to blend in.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: StarFighters76 on September 26, 2008, 03:08:11 PM
*yells into loudspeaker*



Goooooooooood morning VGMaps.com!



Yeah, like you didn't see this coming :)

---

Creator of over 770 maps on GameFAQs. ^_^
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: DarkWolf on September 26, 2008, 03:38:32 PM
If you want to categorize map sets, why not have the ability to apply tags to them?
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: JonLeung on September 29, 2008, 06:01:24 AM
I have Windows Vista on the new computer we bought last month...though I haven't used it much at all, maybe that's saying something...



I noticed that images' metadata (you know, subject, date, location, series, and other numbers and categories and tags and descriptions, etc.) is now more readily accessible in Vista and there are MANY fields to enter information on.  There are bound to be the fields I would want to fill in, and definitely more than enough overall.  Or at least with JPEGs...I'll have to see if PNGs do too.



(One thing I don't like is that changing metadata resaves the file, so that each time I edit it the date is brought back to the current time and date.  Though I suppose I could always use CompuPic to change the time and date back, like I did during that mass PNGGauntleting a couple years back...)



Would it make more sense to integrate the information about the file in the metadata in the file itself?  As opposed to creating a separate and bulky database file?
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Revned on September 29, 2008, 07:21:34 AM
Definitely a separate database. Easier to access and maintain, and you wouldn't have to load the metadata every time you load the image.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Rew on September 29, 2008, 07:43:59 AM
Don't know if this has been mentioned yet, but I think it'd be great if new maps were labeled as such. For instance, in the latest update, new maps were added to Yoshi's Island, but of all the many maps for that game already here, I have no idea which ones are the new ones. =P



---

"So this is what it's like..."

- Spark Mandrill
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Maxim on September 29, 2008, 08:58:50 AM
It'd also be nice to have a "complete" flag for a particular game (even if it's subjective) for those mappers who submit partial sets while they're working through a game.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: DarkWolf on September 30, 2008, 03:02:29 PM
I'm not sure how many of you know how to read an ERD, but I've created a VERY basic one based on some of the things people said already.  An ERD is basically a diagram for databases that explains the relationship between tables.  The user table isn't really filled out as I figure you'll probably want to integrate with some sort of forum software.  It's just a placeholder for now.



User posted image



Some notes:



* Width, height and size are included in the map table for caching purposes.



* Filename in the map table may not be necessary.  Ideally, you'd store the maps on disk with a file name that matches the map id.  You could also use a file type field and an alteration of the map name to generate your HTTP headers.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Maxim on October 01, 2008, 01:25:06 AM
The user_id FK in news is the wrong type. You have no real ability to link game X on platform Y to platform Z which also had game X but isn't mapped yet (if you see what I mean). However, to be honest I think it's better without that.



One thing that might be interesting would be to store topic IDs with the maps, hooked up to the relevant "topic" in these forums (eg. this is topic 777). Maps without a "topic" would have a NULL and the relevant link would go to a "create a new topic" page. That last part would be tricky because it'd require some forum modifications.



Maps need some more fields:

- Ordering number (to allow display in the right order)

- Separate area/subarea text
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: DarkWolf on October 01, 2008, 05:33:39 PM
I'll fix the FK and add the ordering field when I get moved into my new place. I think Jon asked before if the sub area part was necessary, so I'll wait on further comment on that.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Maxim on October 02, 2008, 12:27:27 AM
Of course, to be fully normalised you'd need a separate "stage" table for the 1-many relationship. This is why databases are annoying.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: JonLeung on October 02, 2008, 06:06:35 AM
Sounds like when I do get my ass in gear and figure out what I need and what I want I'll be turning to you guys for help.  Or even all of the actual coding part... :P



We'll discuss compensation if you guys want it once I'm able to sit down and get serious about this.  I feel like you guys might have given it more thought than I have!



So far, I've had like one hour of free time this week.  I'm busier at home than I am at work!  This is why you really don't want me to learn this stuff myself if there are already people here willing to help...



I still would like to make a mock-up if I can find the time.  It wouldn't strictly be a graphical mock-up.  It'd be constructed in HTML, as one you can "navigate", though obviously limited and guided.  Things like search boxes and other fill-in fields would be locked in with particular text entered, so it'd be easy to show what I want to see when things are clicked through and etc.  Or maybe I won't...we'll see how the time goes, how easy it is for us to communicate what we think, etc.



Now to get back to talking about what we want...



Do we want a lot of user-specific stuff?  By that I mean people would log on to the site to be able to rate/nominate maps and add comments and see what they've contributed and that sort of thing.  That sounds like that would involve integration of the forums.



It's not so much the revamp of how the site looks and navigates...it's the potential new features that would make it worth the effort but are infinitely more intimidating to someone like myself...though I guess I should stop worrying and start thinking about what I want.  Then maybe after I can worry, but I shouldn't if this is in the right hands.  :P
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Maxim on October 03, 2008, 03:11:14 AM
When I'm doing anything like this, I always make a "first cut" that's not using any CSS or fancy layout, just simple HTML that's easily styled later. Styling it can come later, as can moving things around and finding and fixing all the browser bugs. That way, you can worry about features first, get it actually working and then make it "pretty" later.



As for user interaction: it's always nice, but bear in mind 99% of visitors will not want to register. Anonymous comments can be protected with captchas and moderation. But all of it is sugar on the top of the basic structure, which is what you should focus on first.



The proposed schema has users linked to maps, presumably for submitting (you can always create a user account for people who just email you the maps, or for old maps where the submitter can't be contacted), which would allow the "show me my stuff" feature - or maybe just a user field in the search.



Oh, and password CHAR(32)? I hope that means a 32-character string representation of a salted MD5sum of the real password... Or, see what the forum user/pass tables look like, they may be usable for an immediate userbase fix.



On SMS Power! I made a separate, admin-post-starting-only forum for news posts and a simple query on the front page to grab the 5 newest topics. It's a nice way to (1) allow comments on news posts, (2) avoid having to code any interface for creating news posts, (3) allow news to show up in the forums (since many people have them as their site entry point) and (4) avoid having multiple systems for essentially the same thing. But then we also have a large forum archive (going back to 1999) that means we don't destroy our forums every few years :) and a long-term commitment to not lose old posts when changing forums (we still have the first post from 1999).



Oh, and I've had about 0 hours free (as in, free to actually do stuff except post on forums while at work) in the last 6 months and I have my own DB-driven site to work on even if I do get time, and a bunch of other projects too.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Will on October 04, 2008, 07:40:22 AM
Here is something I think you might find very useful and very intriguing. This Excel Spreadsheet is a complete (so far as I could research and compile) list of SMS and GG games in which I have marked the ones that are on the Website, whether they are complete, incomplete or not worth it (not all games are mappable). The list was divided into three lists. One for SMS only games, another for GG only games and the last for SMS and GG games. It also helps keep track of the map count and the Disk Space count, so I suppose you'll find it quite useful.



That document will certain help you and SMS n' GG mappers but I wonder if it'll trigger a whole swarm of Map Request on the forum, people seeing all those titles and recalling titles they may have played. If you approve of this document I can keep it up to date. I spend several weeks researching, compiling and calculating. :toast:
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: DarkWolf on October 04, 2008, 08:53:09 AM
You mean you don't store passwords in plain text? =P
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Maxim on October 07, 2008, 12:18:53 AM
Semi-OT: Will's list is missing my Cosmic Spacehead maps, probably because Jon's never added them to the site. (They were part of my initial "here, have all my maps" contribution.)
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: JonLeung on October 16, 2008, 06:10:57 AM
Oh, yeah, I should get to those Cosmic Spacehead maps one of these days if you'll still have me put them up.



I'm debating whether or not to move this topic to the hidden board, maybe not yet, but perhaps when I get around to the mock-up phase.



I'm thinking there should be another category for "game series", so that, for example, when someone does a search for "Metal Gear" that Snake's Revenge also comes up.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Maxim on October 16, 2008, 06:39:44 AM
Tags are a nice, "web 2.0" way to handle series. They need not be publicly editable.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: JonLeung on October 17, 2008, 01:27:32 PM
While I still make no promises as to how soon anything happens, my boss told me just now that he wasn't happy with me taking 10-11 hour workdays every day for the past year.  Overtime should be the exception, not the rule.



Looks like I may have 2-3 more hours of available time every weekday pretty soon...that's 10-15 more hours a week, which is pretty significant.



(But I'm still hourly, so that's 10-15 hours (or rather, 15-22.5 hours when you consider overtime is time and a half) that I'm NOT getting paid...  >_<)
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: JonLeung on March 04, 2009, 11:25:18 AM
I was disappointed to learn that JPEGs can have a billion different tags and other metadata fields (as can easily be seen if you're using Windows Vista), but PNGs don't seem to have that kind of tagability.  I was really hoping I could store all the information necessary about an image in the file itself, but that doesn't seem likely now, so we'll likely have to go with an external database as I think Maxim insisted earlier.



But of course I'll think more about this April 2 or later, as I said elsewhere.  I would like to discuss the hows and the whos at about that time.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Maxim on March 04, 2009, 12:54:29 PM
Metadata in the file is nice but you can never guarantee how much will be stripped out by whatever software you use. PNG could have metadata - it's a chunked file format, so you can store anything in it - but there's no standard.



Storing the info in the files and not having a database at all is... crazy. You'd have to load and parse every file on every page view!



One thing you might look into is using a framework. Either an existing image-oriented CMS (might be tricky, they'll be designed for photos and you might not get the listings you'd want), or a website framework like Ruby on Rails or CakePHP. All you need then is a developer.



But free developers are very hard to find. Occasionally someone will come along and volunteer but then disappear soon after. So ultimately the "whos" are the toughest part. If you have time you can learn to do it yourself...
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: DarkWolf on March 04, 2009, 02:47:24 PM
When it comes to searching for files by metadata you have to build an index (or go through each file, but that's insane), so you might as well use a database.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: magicbay on March 04, 2009, 03:10:42 PM
Here's a few of my ideas for a website update.



1. I'd like to see the contribute section updated where it would be easier for someone to post maps that they have, have found or recieved from other resources.



2. Have a website links page to post links from other websites containing maps or info about a game.



3. Keep the forums up and running so the members can post requests and other things there.



that's about it for the moment.



More later.
Title: RE: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: JonLeung on March 05, 2009, 07:55:52 AM
I guess I said I wouldn't discuss much before April but I think I should at least respond to your comments, magicbay.



For the most part the changes we're hoping for are those that would make the site more aesthetic and easier to navigate.  Also, perhaps changes that would make things more cohesive, like tying in the forums to the main site to make it easier to comment on particular maps or map sets or mappers, for example.



I'm not about to change the (admittedly still unwritten) policies regarding contributions.  Perhaps I will get around to writing out contribution guidelines (revamp or not), but I still don't believe anyone should be contributing maps they they didn't assemble themselves.  It's so much easier, not to mention proper, if people only submitted what they put together.



If you like someone else's work and think perhaps the creator doesn't know about VGMaps.com, it would be better to encourage them to submit them here themselves than for you to submit them on their behalf, because then how do I know that they actually approve, or even know, so then I have to email them for permission, and etc.  I spend enough time dealing with submissions as they are, as well as other emails regarding VGMaps, that I don't believe I should have to deal with that.



As for links?  Well, that's what the forums could be for.  But personally, I would not endorse or encourage the use of the forums for that.  Sorry, you wouldn't go into a McDonald's and show everyone the latest Wendy's menu.  So I don't really want people to come to my site to be encouraged to go somewhere else for maps.  (Yes, I know some atlas pages have links, those are old ones that I will eventually remove...  >_>)



Fear not about the forums, as I hope for increased integration with the rest of the site, they will continue to run, and at a greater capacity than before.  As I said, I hope there could be a way for someone to click a comment link that appears with each map (or map set or mapper or something) and have that automatically generate a topic on the forums (or go to an existing one if someone has commented already).  Sounds tricky.  Even if that can't be done, I would certainly be encouraging the use of the forums, so they're not likely to go away.



I encourage you to keep coming up with ideas, magicbay, but be aware that not everything that everyone suggests will make it onto the short list.



Personally, I'm dreading the revamp as much as I want one.  It would be easy to just not do one, but it would be hard to disappoint myself and others.  And with the increasing amount of time I have to dedicate to VGMaps (or perhaps the increasing time spent in my "offline/real life" which decreases my available VGMaps time), a streamlining of SOMEthing is inevitable anyway, so why not take care of it sooner, right?



I digress.  My point is, a revamp will be nice, but it's not going to have every bell and whistle imaginable, but I hope it will have some.
Title: idea to include for a website update?
Post by: magicbay on September 17, 2010, 11:39:32 AM
I had an idea while saving some maps from the site and came up with the idea of suggesting a file section for each game system which include map zips for each game for that particular system.

I don't know if this is a good idea but if it's deemed a good idea to include in a future update, then i look forward to it, but if it's a bad idea for the update, by all means, disreguard this idea and this topic.

I'd like to suggest this idea to all members and adminstratrors alike.  Maybe a poll could be put up to see what everyone thinks of this idea?


Thanks.
Title: Re: idea to include for a website update?
Post by: Peardian on September 17, 2010, 01:16:22 PM
That's an interesting idea, but there are a few problems with it. The main one is that would essentially double the amount of space taken up because of having a duplicate of everything. Second, a new zip would have to be created every time a new map for the game is submitted. Now, one could always send an email to the mapper/Jon to ask for a zipped version of all the maps, but in the time it takes to get a response, the individual maps could have already been downloaded the regular way.

It's not a bad idea, it's just probably not very practical here.
Title: Re: idea to include for a website update?
Post by: DarkWolf on September 17, 2010, 01:44:16 PM
It's possible to have a web server zip collections of files, cache them, and serve them up to the user.  It just doesn't make a lot of sense here because most of the content is made of PNG files.  These files are already compressed.  Zipping isn't going to yield a noticeable savings in bandwidth and creating the zips (at least for the first user) takes processing time.  A download manager or plug-in such as DownThemAll (http://www.downthemall.net/) would be a better choice if you want to download all the maps in a particular game.
Title: Re: idea to include for a website update?
Post by: magicbay on September 17, 2010, 05:40:32 PM
Those are all excellent points that I didn't consider before.

I didn't know the current maps were already compressed as far as they could go to save on bandwidth space.


Speaking of bandwidth space and out of curiousity, how big are the servers for the site?  I mean no harm in asking about the servers.  I'm just curious about them.
Title: Re: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: JonLeung on September 21, 2010, 09:27:57 AM
The idea of a site makeover has been tossed around for years.  I haven't mentioned it much lately because I don't want to get people's hopes up.  It'll happen when it happens, like Duke Nukem Forever.  >_<

It will have to happen, for fear of being antiquated, but whether it's soon or later is dependent on a lot of things.  Namely, the things going on in my life (as well as my own video game addiction...  >_>).

The two biggest concerns to be addressed are navigation/loading (seems "all the games on one page" format is unpopular) and the time it takes for me to update (I hope to just rename and upload the files and have them auto-sorted with all the relevent info, instead of typing it all manually).  More complicated things such as integration with the forums have been mentioned, which are very nice but probably not priority.

I don't know that I would ever allow one-click downloading of archives for my maps, but most likely not as I want people to come to my site themselves, as ultimately the site depends on the ad revenue, which is dependent on actual visitations.  Ads would also get an overhaul or rearrangement, but they would still have to be present.

More likely, I would make minor changes over time until I can find the time to implement an overhaul.

I thank everyone for their patience, and I hope no one is seriously irked at my slowness to implement things.  Truly, the person that would benefit most by upgrading is myself, as I get the feeling new visitors don't "get" the layout of the site and get turned off, and then my site doesn't grow as much or as quickly as it could.

One day, one day.
Title: Re: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: bustin98 on September 21, 2010, 09:58:46 AM
PHP can be used to create a navigation and landing pages based on a file structure. For example, have a directory called 'maps', then have 'consoles' and 'handhelds' and the other categories. Within each of those, create more directories 'nes', 'snes', and so on. And then directories for each of the games within each console. At this point you either place map files or additional directories for 'included' games, like how there are several Grand Theft Auto games for the PS2. Same idea for interiors. Name the map files what they should be listed as, and create a text file with additional information about the game and maps, like the author and ripped or original. PHP can display file sizes and document types and whatever metadata is attached to the image. The logo of each game can just be called 'logo' and the script can look for the file, if it exists then it gets displayed.

Anyway, it would be fairly to make a more intuitive way to navigate the maps. A search function can be added, too. Imagine wanting to see all maps of 'Mario' or 'Sonic' in a single list, no matter the console. The hard part would be renaming the images and making the text files. Who knows, maybe it wouldn't be too bad, take the existing tables and extract relevant data into a new file...

That would make adding new maps easier, too.
Title: Re: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Peardian on September 21, 2010, 10:31:17 AM
I know PHP can do a lot, especially combined with databases and such. I don't know enough to say how, though. You'd be able to dynamically generate pages based on the console or game the user chooses. As bustin said, this could also lead to a search feature. Adding maps to the site would be as easy as adding to the database and letting the scripts take care of the rest.
Title: Re: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: Maxim on September 22, 2010, 02:56:00 AM
It's very hard, especially if you don't have a coder with a lot of time to spend on it. I tried lots of different ways:

- writing it myself (I am a professional software developer - but it never got very far, because I have to work)
- getting help from interested third parties (they always disappear after a few months with little done)
- using "platforms" (Ruby on Rails and clones - still way too much to learn)

In the end, what I've ended up with is a wiki engine, modded to not look too much like a wiki, with a few customisations to make it a bit more seamless. There are generally various plugins/extensions/whatever to wikis to extend them if the base doesn't suit. Personally, I don't like MediaWiki and find PmWiki to be simpler (no DB) and nicer to extend.

So anyway, http://www.smspower.org/ is the result. However, it's deliberately hard to download a bunch of images :)
Title: Re: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: DarkWolf on September 22, 2010, 06:25:09 AM
I write web-applications for a living (document management and data tracking mainly).  I think I might have offered my help in the past, but lately I have been pretty busy as well.  Obviously the idea of having a site with tons of bells and whistles like allowing users to upload maps instead of e-mailing them would be cool, but I don't think anyone has that sort of time to invest.

That said, I don't think it would take too much effort to build a site based on a few core scripts and some XML files.  This is very similar to bustin's idea, but uses a better format for data storage.

You could have a directory structure like:

/webRoot
   /images
      /maps
         /nes
            /game1
            /game2
            /game3
         /genesis
            /game1
   /games
      /nes
         kidIcarus.xml
         metroid.xml
      /genesis
         kidChameleon.xml
   consoles.xml


The XML files for the games would look like:

<game>
   <logo>path/to/some/file.png</logo>
   <name>Kid Icarus</name>
   <map>
      <file>nes/kidicarus-level1-area1.png</file>
      <author>Some Guy</author>
      <width>800</width>
      <height>900</width>
      <group>Level 1</group>
      <name>Area 1</name>
   </map>
   <map>
      <file>nes/kidicarus-level1-area2.png</file>
      <author>Some Guy</author>
      <width>800</width>
      <height>900</width>
      <group>Level 1</group>
      <name>Area 2</name>
   </map>
</game>


Maybe you have an XML file that lists all the games for navigation within the console, or maybe this list is generated by a script automatically, could go either way.  I could lend some time to write something like this.  It wouldn't take too long and I think it would still make things a little easier for Jon.
Title: Re: What would you like to see in a VGMaps.com makeover?
Post by: bustin98 on September 22, 2010, 07:25:02 AM
XML files will allow an RSS feed too. Followers can see when new maps have been added without visiting the site.