OGA month in review: March 2014
Particularly since we started doing funding on Patreon, I thought it might be a good idea to take look at what all I've been doing in the past month now that, thanks to your generous contributions, I've had some real time to work on the site. :)
Here's what we've done so far:
- Better collection browsing -- You can now sort collections by the number of items in them and how recently they've been updated. People can also mark them as "unlisted", which allows us to keep general public collections separate from collections saved for personal projects.
- Artist patreon links -- If you submit art on OGA, you can now edit your user profile and add your patreon username. A link to your patreon page will be added automatically. This is pretty easy for me to do, so if you have suggestions for other funding sources for artists that OGA can tie into, let me know and I'll see about supporting them if there's enough interest. (Note that it's always fine to add a donate link to your art descriptions).
- Fixed download counters -- I took them down because they were part of our server overload crisis back in February. Now I've rewritten them and brought them back. If you run a drupal site, you can find my download counter module here.
- The Procedural Death Jam -- This game jam that I co-ran with Lars Doucet of Level Up Labs was a lot of fun and a huge success, and will get its own blog post. If you haven't already seen it, definitely check it out. We got some really amazing entries. :)
- Minor bugfixes and updates under the hood -- I updated a few things under the hood to allow for some more changes on down the line, and recoded a couple of things (people may have noticed that the top submitters box was missing for a few days as I was rewriting it. It's back now.)
- Minor bugfixes and changes above the hood -- Our user registration page looked terrible. Now it looks less terrible. :)
- Fixed an issue in advanced art searches -- When people searched for art using the search box, all licenses and art types were deselected by default, which often meant that very few or no results showed up. This issue has been fixed, although art searching is still far from perfect.
Plans for next month:
- More collections improvements -- For users who are using collections to track the art in their projects, I'd like to be able to generate a CREDITS.TXT file on the fly that will list all of the art along with licenses and attribution instructions. The user may need to hand-edit the file at the moment, but it should contain everything needed to properly track and credit the art that you're using.
- Popular This Week -> What's Hot? -- The "popular this week" box works fairly well, but in general, assets tend to rise to the top of it and then just disappear once they've been there for a week. Next month, I'm planning to change it to a "what's hot" box, that gives more weight to newer items and ages things off gradually. This should give more submissions a shot to be on the front page for a little while, particularly during weeks where there are already a lot of really good submissions. Also, a hotness score will take into account not only the number of favorites, but also the number of downloads and possible page views as well.
- Latest Submissions -- A frequent complaint we get abot the latest submissions box is that sometimes people will post large amounts of small submissions that should be grouped together, knocking larger submissions off of the front page before anyone gets to see them. I'm working on a way to make sure that a single person can't dominate the latest submissions box on the front page.
- Art Sets -- Not to be confused with collections, art sets are another way of allowing administrators to better organize content coming in. Returning to the latest submissions issue above, some groups of small submissions by the same author would be better served in the archive if they were grouped together into a single submission. Right now, administrators have to do this manually, and favorites and comments for submissions that are grouped together are lost. By grouping art into a "set", we'll be able to make it so that that set of art only takes up one spot in the archive, and for users downloading it, there will be links there to all of the other pieces of art in that particular set.
- RSS Feed improvements -- We've had some good feedback about the RSS feeds, and they can be improved upon. I'll try to tackle those this month as well.
Important note: These plans are not a guarantee that I'll be able to implement all or even most of these features in a month. I can afford now to take about 8 hours a week away from my regular job to work on OGA. A lot of this work is just going to be maintenance and community management, so that means I'm not going to be able to spend the entire time writing code. This last month I probably took a good 80 hours away from work to make the changes that I did, which I can't keep up over the long term at our current funding level (although about a third to half of that was working on the PDJ, with the intention of promoting the funding campaign). I chose to do that myself, but I want to make sure people are aware that last month shouldn't necessarily color expectations of what I'll be able to do every month. I will, however, keep coding as I'm able to do so. :)
Also, should we get to the point that I have more OGA funding than I have work to do, I'll use the remaining funds to commission CC-BY art for OGA users. Note that all of OGA's CC-BY licensed official commissions waive the anti-technical-measures portion of the CC-BY license, which means that you have permission to use them in places like the iOS App Store. (Disclaimer: I don't like DRM or Apple, but I do like game developers.)
Plans for later:
- The feedback queue -- I'm going through the feedback forum to find low hanging fruit -- that is, things that will only take a few hours to do, but will be a major improvement to the site.
- Gamification (that is, Fake Internet Points) -- We really need this so we can get going on letting users help keep our content organized, but I need to get input from the community on how to best approach it. Watch the forums for a discussion.
- Digital Assets Managed Neatly (DAMN) integration -- This is still in the very early planning stages. In the short term, it could mean automatic generation of previews for 3D art (perhaps even webGL previews). In the long term, we're looking at ways to hook OGA directly into a digital art assets management application, so that game project developers and artists can use OGA as a specialized version control and collaboration platform for working on their art.
- Better curation and searching -- Before we meet the $1000 funding goal, I'm planning on putting together a proof of concept site with a few pieces of art to demonstrate what people will be gettting from this. The reason that it'll have to wait to be activated on the production site is that isn't that it's necessarily going to take a while to code (it might, it might not), but that it's going to involve a continuous time commitment for curating the art. Even if it's gamified and other users take on part of the work (which is part of the plan), the user curation will need to be managed for consistency, and that will take time out of every week.
- Open sourcing OGA -- Again, I could toss the code out into the wild, but without the (sanitized) underlying data, it would be useless, and I would just be committing myself to spending a lot of time that I don't have. Even if I come up with an automated way of sanitizing OGA's data, managing a large open source project correctly is a time commitment, and making the entire site open source isn't going to be useful until I can actually commit the time to curating code contributions and helping people get local copies of the site up and running.
So that's all for now. I'd be interested to hear from people what they think of the changes, and what direction they'd like things to ake. I can't promise I'll be able to do everything for everyone, but I'll do my absolute best to read and respond to all of the comments I get here.
Thanks for your support!