tumea site update news

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Ok, I used to regularly post website updates and since I've been working heavily on the site for these past few weeks, I thought I'd continue doing just that in this new thread. For the major updates (such as the upcoming new game section), I'll make a more thorough journal post under my other tsumea account, but here's some things I've completed lately...

The Member's Dashboard

I moved all the member's menus (post jobs, post journals, etc) that were cluttering the main page to a new handy Dashboard page made for members. When you log in, you'll see additional links in the menu on the top of the page to access the dashboard as well as some other common member functions (unread messages count and logging out). The dashboard is really cool, it's got all the links to find all your posts, jobs, favourited work, bookmarks, and private messages. And if you've been following other members on tsumea, you'll get a wall of their latest work, job, and forum posts on your dashboard. If you haven't followed anyone yet, then you'll just see who I'm following. In the very near future, I'll make an rss feed available for your dashboard so that you can hook up your rss reader and see updates from who you're following without needing to log into tsumea.

It would be cool to have another column in there to see what the member's you're following have favourited recently - I'll have to look into how I can implement that.

The Gallery

The member's dashboard wall uses the new gallery framework I've implemented throughout the site which resizes the layout nicely depending on your browser size. It's everywhere now, in the main gallery section, and all the other pages (programmer, 2D artist, 3D artist etc). Members who have more than nine posts with art get their own gallery section which have it as well. Hover over the image in the gallery and you'll get the title and the avatar of the member who uploaded that work which is much nicer than just having their name under the picture, and it makes the gallery more compact this way too. There was some additional work getting the new gallery framework to work with the site (making it update it's layout whenever a new ajax call was made for the next page or section), but that's all sorted now.

The Media Section

The media section is/was a pretty popular section of the site, but as part of our move away from aggregating content from other sites and focussing on the content from our own members, it is going away as well. I have plans to bring it back when members post more of their own media in greater numbers to warrant a media section to replace the old one with. We'll see, it might happen with the new changes coming on the site.

Just some brief words on the new games section - it's pretty much near finished. There was a point where I had to rip out and redo what I had already implemented because I had thought of a much different and better solution (from a usability point of view). It's simply better to get it right from the get go than having to adjust things later around the old implementation. I can't wait to get it completed and start using it myself. There's also something else I have planned to implement for the games section which I'll need to research and see if I can even implement it, but I think it'll be an incredibly useful feature for our members who make games. More about that later.

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For those who didn't notice, the site looks very different at the moment. I've thrown away all the old CSS I've added and maintained over the years, and I've started again with the purpose of making the site adapt to various screen sizes (from phone and tablets, right up to desktop). The standard way of building web pages has changed drastically over the years to accommodate changing and emerging technologies, and it's very much time to get on board with latest way of doing things.

Back in the 00's, you'd use tables to layout your web pages, then as the rise and benefits of CSS became apparent, you'd use that to layout everything. Then you'd make it a liquid design so that pages would stretch when visitor's screens ranged from the lowest (800 pixels wide) to the largest (1200 to 1400 pixels wide). This was good until after 2007 with the rise of mobiles, tablets, and larger resolutions, so responsive/adaptive design was the solution. tsumea had a liquid design which did fall back to very small screen widths, but it wasn't a completely responsive/adaptive solution. It is now, however.

It's still a work in progress - a whole lot of fine-tuning is needed to make sure it looks perfectly right on smartphones, and I've got to re-add back some of the features I had implemented previously with the old site, but it's getting there slowly! Give it a few weeks of more work and polish, and it'll be great.

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Currently working on a few things. The new responsive design is still very much a work in progress, and I'm adjusting a few ways in the backend to optimise how the site runs or to make to it a lot more efficient for maintaining and updating, but in between that work, I'm also changing how member's avatars appear on the site.

For members who have been registered on tsumea for more than 2 years, they'll get a coloured ring around their picture, starting off with red. Every two years after, it changes to another colour, so the next would be pink, then orange, yellow, lime, green, and so on right up to blue. So, a quick way to know how long someone's been registered : no colour = under 2 years, and the spectrum from red to blue is 2 to 16+ years. tsumea has been around for 13 years, so no one has blue just yet.

An additional plan is to have some more information on the user as you hover their avatar like amount of pictures they've uploaded to their gallery, how many favourites overall they've had, how many followers etc. The general idea is to give some more information about members at a glance than going to their profile page for it.

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I've provided members more options when they list themselves as available for projects. Previously, it was a simple checkbox to select when you edit your profile and you'd be listed in the appropriate talent section (2D Artist etc) as available for projects.

But since there are many ways you could be available for projects, like full-time work, freelance / contract, or maybe you want to be listed as available for collaborations instead (commercial ventures or unpaid like game jams)), those options are now available too. Best of all, in the talent sections (2D artists, 3D artists etc), others can find members based on their specific availability. So if I were to find a programmer who was up for a game jam collaboration, that'd be easy to find.

So, since these options are now available, I highly recommend members updating their profiles to list their availabilities more accurately!

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I've implemented colour swatch palettes for images, so if you go enter anyone's journal post that has pictures, like this:

http://www.tsumea.com/journal/230215/fan-art

you'll see that a nifty palette swatch under each picture that shows eight of the most dominant colours used. Pretty cool!

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I've noticed a few people posting their games in the games section, so I thought I'd post a status on things, particularly since it's still heavily in development. Some quick notes:

- Games page look and functionality (slideshow etc) back to where it was before we changed over to the new responsive design. Looks good on mobile screens
- Devlog portion for games is nearly complete. Contains a gallery (sorted by latest, popular etc), journal posts, and latest comments (to be implemented) related to work-in-progress content
- The server had to be updated and a whole bunch of things installed to get webm implemented for journal posts. The purpose of webm videos will be to provide short, low bandwidth but fast loading, quality animation to show off the game in devlogs and the games listing. Was gonna go with gifs, but chose webm instead.

There's a whole bunch of things left to do, including

- listing the games in the games section and the main page in a better way (really haven't touched this yet)
- providing an infograph or a set of instructions on how the games section works. It's pretty straight forward - first, you create a game page with all the relevant details. To get content associated to that game page, you have to make a journal post and select the game in question from the dropdown. Select the checkbox for 'work-in-progress' if you want this to appear in the Devlog portion of the games page, otherwise it will appear in the main game page

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Ok, apart from a few tiny little things I need to fix and implement here and there, the new games section is complete. You can use it to post your complete or work-in-progress games, have it listed in the games section.If it is a work-in-progress game, you can post devlogs to it for others to follow. The instructions are available on how you do that when you post a journal, but it's all pretty straight forward.

My plan was to promote this new section once it was completed, but having thought more about it, I want to finish two other major features related to the games section that I had in mind before doing so. While that's being worked on, I'm planning to work on some game prototypes and use the new games section myself to iron out anything or discover improvements I can make with it.

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When you favourite games from the games section, you'll be able to follow all the devlogs associated with that game on your "followed devlogs" page. Just log in, visit your dashboard, and you'll see the link to that page.

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Some additional site updates. Not sure why it wasn't installed earlier, but the server finally has OPcache installed which greatly improves PHP performance. So, in addition to this, and pages/scripts being gzipped before they're sent, and most images being lazyloaded (they only load when they're in the browser's view), it all means that the site should be blistering fast. I've also done additional design changes on journal pages and on the main page, just tightening up the design a bit.

There were two additional main features related to the games section that I had been working on, but I'm postponing them for the time being. I don't think anyone would use those features until far into development anyway, and not many people are using the devlogs yet and I want to get onto making games myself and using the devlog on here as an example of how they work to encourage others to start using them too.