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The New Site is Here!

Discussion in News started by Brian, Feb 11, 2012

  1. Jun 4, 2006
    Posts
    Hello and welcome to the new Plague Fest website, BETA!
    Before you begin your experience, it is recommended you read the following.

    First, I'm sorry to the vampires in PF, but there is no dark version of this design, so get used to it. A dark version may be a possibility in the future, but it would not come until after the current one was as complete as possible, and the issues with running a dark and light skin simultaneously were figured out - one big issue being text color in posts. People on the dark skin will use light colors which will be annoying to users on the light skin, and vice versa. It would also require the maintenance of both skins at once for any core or addon / template updates. So for now, and perhaps always, turn on a light in the room you're in and enjoy! Alternatively, rope light or similar behind the monitor or TV does a wonderful job at easing the eye strain when sitting in the dark. In addition to that, I recommend ensuring your monitor(s) is calibrated. Now, with the notice about night to day out of the way let's move on.

    I must stress that this is considered a beta period. Site5 was complaining about our resource usage which caused me to rush the site launch sooner than I would have liked. That's OK though, we should be plenty stable & functional to operate (I hope), though we may see some oddities here and there, and a lot of the old posts will certainly be quite ugly.

    Now, you may have noticed your Steam ID is gone, you will have to re-add this to your account. You can find instructions on how to do this via the wiki, don't worry it's e.z.p.z.

    Note that if you're a server admin that requested a username change a few months back, your username is indeed changed to whatever it was you requested. Hopefully you can all remember what you wanted so you're able to login.

    If your account seems messed up in any way, such as you're a server admin but you aren't in the Server Admin group, please let me know. I know there's going to be some permission & group issues.

    Onto Avatars, you may notice none of them are animated. Currently XenForo does not support animated avatars, well, they do, but the issue is all avatar sizes are affected. XenForo does not ignore avatars that are under a certain dimension, thus the end result is a lot of wasted resources, and very distracting small moving icons where you can't even tell what the image is. If XenForo ever supports animated avatars on only certain sized avatars and up, then animated avatars may return. Until then we are static.

    If for some reason your password does not appear to be working, attempt to reset it via the Forgot Password link in the login form.

    Before using the new site make sure you head over to the Rules section and read the Site & Forum rules.

    Now with some of the disclaimers out of the way lets take a brief look at what's new.


    Whats New
    Thread Prefixes - Predefined tags that can be appended to threads for organization. Some prefixes may only be applied by moderators and up, where others may be used by everyone. Only applicable to certain forums.

    Alerts - Notifications pertaining to you, e.g. when someone quotes you, rates a post of yours, tags you, and so forth. Makes it easy for you to stay up to date with updates that are applicable to you.

    Tagging - Utilizes the alerts system, when you use the @ symbol in front of someones username, it will create a link to their profile and send them an alert notifying them that you have tagged them in your post. Do not abuse this, only use it when applicable.

    A good example would be getting Harvey's attention in a particular Illegal Maps thread that he hasn't responded to, if his response is indeed required. Rather than sending Harvey a PM, simply type:
    Code:
    @Harvey we all think this spot is illegal, can you add it?
    Please note though that since not everyone will be very keen on checking their alerts, you should resort to a PM if it's an important inquiry that requires a more immediate response.

    Post Ratings - Positive and neutral ratings allowing users to express a wide range of views on a post in addition to their written reply (or lack thereof). Do not abuse this, only use it when applicable.

    Trophies - You can earn trophies for reaching milestones such as a certain amount of posts, a certain amount of positive ratings, and so forth. Yay trophies...
    Current known issue with Trophies: Post Rating milestones are not awarded.

    Blogs - Community blogs which have replaced Dear Diary.

    Notices - A notice system which allows us to post notices / announcements in various sections of the site with many possible conditions and variables.

    Wiki - A new home for most of our information and guides.

    Rules - A set location for site and server rules.

    Servers - A set location for our gameservers. Hopefully this will be powered by SrvStats in the future with nice charts/graphs.

    Events - Calendar / organization area & dedicated integrated forum section for planning and scheduling community events (contests, drinkything, admin meetings, et cetera).

    Server Updates - In addition to community news we will be posting server-related updates, some more important or larger than others. Server updates will include official map additions or removals and a general change log of any changes or updates to the server itself. We'll mend this section as we go.

    Uploads / Attachments - New attachment system with unlimited storage, uploads of up to 300MB, and a wide selection of available file types.

    Auto Media Embeds - Support for media embeds from a wide range of sites - simply paste the link in the post and the rest will be done for you. For a full list of supported sites see here.

    New Admin & Donator System - Admin and donator purchases now require a validated Steam ID and a forum account before purchasing. New users will be upgraded to the appropriate forum user groups and also removed from them upon expiration. The end user can manage their subscription / account upgrade via their user control panel, where they can choose to perform an immediate downgrade which allows them to switch from Donator to Server Admin, vice versa, or to a new billing plan altogether, without having to wait for expiration. There's also no chance for multiple subscriptions at once or subscriptions overlapping each other and prematurely removing you.

    Mobile Browsing - The forum natively supports the mobile apps Tapatalk and Forumrunner. There is no built-in mobile theme for those that don't wish to use apps, but this is something planned for the future.

    You may also notice SourceBans got a make-over as well. I've also created new dynamic MOTD's which will be up soon. Everything else that's new is up to you to discover.

    Site Sections
    Here's some brief descriptions of sections you may be wondering about or find useful.

    Top Bar - This section will display quick stats about your account such as posts and ratings. The right hand side is where you receive all your notifications for conversations and alerts. It's also where you can quickly access the majority of your account related settings.

    topbar-left topbar-right

    What's New? - This section will display all new and unread threads, threads updated since your last visit as well as threads that weren't updated since your last visit but contain unread replies.

    Recent Threads - Similar to what's new, only this section displays only recently updated threads. It's the same content that the Recent Threads block displays at the top of the Forums, just with more threads listed.

    Recent Activity - Easily see all the recent happenings on the site, beyond just the messages posted. You can follow other users to get your own personalized news feed showing the content you want to see.

    Account Upgrades - Where you can obtain an Admin or Donator subscription / account upgrade. Additionally where you manage your subscription if you have obtained one via the new system.


    Quick Tips
    Some quick tips to maximize your use of the new site.

    Forum Descriptions - In order to see a description of a particular forum from the main forum index, hover over the name and the description will appear. Additionally the descriptions are at the top of each forum you enter.

    forum-descriptions

    The Footer (aka bottom of site) - This section contains useful links and can help speed up your browsing (such as reaching the end of a thread and going to a new section via the footer rather than scrolling back up to the top).

    I really expected to write more tips here but I'm having a brain fart or something, mind is elsewhere focusing on finishing this launch I guess.

    Short Term Planned Features & Ideas
    First and foremost the current forums need a cleansing from the port to the new site. Outdated stickies and other posts might need to be re-organized into the wiki with credits and/or updated or removed for being outdated.

    Status Updates - Improve overall, make new posts posted on the sidebar block appear after posting, rather than having to refresh, comments on sidebar. You should know Status Updates is not an official feature on the new forums, thus what we have going is more or less a hack which utilizes profile comments, pretty similar to IPB.
    Servers Page - Live server data with graphs / charts.
    Mumble Status - Sidebar block displaying live status of Mumble
    Conversations - Improve conversations overall, add new features such as auto-responders for those who are on leave, participant groups, and more.
    Search - Improved search allowing you to search terms under 3 characters, faster and brings back more accurate results and other site data such as member data rather than just forum threads, posts, and wiki content.

    We have many more ideas & features but these are larger and would have to be rolled out gradually. I'd rather not mention details as anything can fall through. I'll be mending this site for some time I feel.


    Why It Took So Long
    Talk of a new PF site has been around since the beginning of 2011. We were tired of Invision Power Board, and were determined to create a new site, including new backend features for managing all the gameservers, plugins, logs, admins, and so forth, code named the PFCP, or Plague Fest Control Panel. The new site and PFCP were going to be intertwined. Though this idea was in the works for some time, it eventually fell through, as did many other plans.

    In March of 2011, we purchased the license for the XenForo forum software. During the first few months of having that license, we were attempting to create a site design, or rather, Filipe was. He ended up starting on one, but due to being unfamiliar with XenForo's built in CSS layout / structure, the design became messy and difficult to work with rather quickly, thus it was scratched and a new one began. Fast forward, new one also gets dumped and months in, we still have no design and progressed virtually no where in terms of the PFCP or the new site design.

    Around summer of 2011, we still had no design, but Filipe had helped with side projects such as putting our in-game adverts in an SQL database, and he wrote SrvStats, an application which gathered data from the gameservers, displayed it on the servers page, and charted the info on graphs. The only aspect of SrvStats that didn't get finished was the front-end, or the graphs / charts. Now, I forget how this happened, but SrvStats got lost. No one had a copy of the files, not even Filipe who wrote it. This is why our servers page, as of the time of this writing, is just a bunch of GameTracker badges.

    To keep a rather long story short-ish, Filipe's reliability in terms of helping with the new site project at all was diminishing. He was online less and less, or if he was he was doing other tasks such as playing games or personal work. Eventually it got to the point where we knew nothing was going to get done if we kept relying on him. It was clear his interest in the design of the new site was slim to none. He used to do design primarily but his focus had since shifted to programming. His availability diminished even further when he landed a job as a senior developer at a local company. Thus, around July/Aug of 2011 I officially took over the new site project, from scratch. Since March to July/Aug we had virtually nothing to show for, other than progressing ideas and as mentioned previously, getting Ads in SQL and SrvStats.

    Upon taking over, I started to create what would become the Plague Fest design. However, I too was unfamiliar with XenForo's template / css structure. I was actually far less familiar with every possible aspect of website related work than Filipe was, and ended up teaching myself as I went, and thus the first theme I worked a couple months on ended up being scratched for various reasons. So now we're starting over yet again. When doing the new design, I took a rather different approach and it was much cleaner, better written, and more organized. It was finally a decent foundation to build upon. Now, designing a basic theme for XenForo takes some time, but ours is highly modified and includes many custom elements and features that other XenForo boards don't have. All of this had to be added in via XenForo's system, so I had to learn how to work with addons, callbacks, php, event code listeners and more. These development tools allowed me to pipe in my own features / elements (such as the ability to downgrade your subscription immediately if you wish to change plans).

    Aside from the front end, the server that hosts the site and its associated services needed to be setup and configured as well. A lot of the site features depend on services running on the server (such as basic email functionality), all of which had to be setup properly, tested, configured, reconfigured, tested again, and so forth. The past few months have been constant testing, debugging, configuring, designing and building. It being a learning process, having to restart multiple times, having many ideas fall through and end up not working due to various obstacles or limitations, having to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to make something function properly, having to make all the decisions and determining what to do and where, the sheer amount of work involved (various designs such as sourcebans, new motds, site itself, server & backend, in-game elements), the amount of areas I had to cover, the amount of testing and debugging that was required to ensure stability and performance, hours upon hours of reading documentation and whatever I could find on Google, filing various XenForo related bugs and so forth, is why it took as long as it did to just get to this beta stage of the site. It has been an insanely large amount of work for myself, and you'd be surprised how long it took just to get the simplest of functions / features to run properly. For the last 7 months or so I've been a complete hermit dedicating all my time, every day, to this site and what powers it. This would be why some of you may have noticed I seem to have been gone or in the shadows the past few months.

    Hope that wasn't too long, I tried to keep it brief and as summarized as possible.


    Thanks To
    Kyle - For your input, help finding and debugging bugs, the new admin system plugin, assistance with Gentoo related deeds, bitching at me to optimize constantly, and anything else I pestered you for.
    Ray - For your input, efforts with DBUS/ICE even though it was wiped in the format/os re-install, and the initial illegal maps port to the Wiki.
    Josh - For your input and identifying a few IE bugs.
    Filipe - For your help identifying some stupid server related issues and going over some of the webserver related configs/services.
    Dillinger - For providing a platform for me to rant on about whatever site issues I was having along the way.

    Now if you don't mind, I'm off to try and take a long awaited break. Though I highly doubt I'll be able to actually not do much site work, having worked on it every day all day the past 7+ months, cutting that cold turkey might feel odd, but I'm going to try to sit back and watch the new site unfold. I will still be on to fix critical issues and the like, of course. We need to break the site in and monitor it over the next couple weeks. Gradually I will make improvements, fixes, and introduce new features. For now though I'm going to let us get a little accustomed to the new home. Hopefully everything on the back-end is setup properly and can handle the load. There are a few things that could be potential issues which I will be keeping a close eye on. I'm sure none of you really expect the new site / move to go 100% without issue. With that said, go click a bunch of stuff and play around with the site already! :dance:

    R.I.P. IPB.
    • Like Like x 4
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    • Apr 9, 2007
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      Bye IPB, it was fun. :zombiekiller:


      :victory:
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      • Aug 18, 2006
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        HOOAH!!
        • Zing! Zing! x 1
        • May 27, 2008
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          Fuck yeah if you're posting here!
          • Agree Agree x 1
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          • Feb 1, 2011
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            WOOT!

            edit after having actually read it: this site is the bees knees and youre the fuckin man for puttin in the work to make it a reality. im glad i could do anything to help you out along the way
            • Like Like x 2
            • Jun 10, 2011
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              So. Much. Reading. :pain:
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              • Aug 2, 2010
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                the bright lights are hurting my eyeballs!
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                • Jun 4, 2006
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                  good lord stop the font colors :reallypissed:
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                  • Jun 10, 2011
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                    NEVER, i've always used #8AFF7A and your bias against nocturnal people SHALL NOT STOP ME xD
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                    • Jun 4, 2006
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                      2/11/2012 marks the day I forever ignore the rest of nezumi's posts. :panda:
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                      • Oct 27, 2010
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                        It's fantastic guys great work :beer:
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                        • Jun 10, 2011
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                          You say that like you ever paid attention to me in the first place :crying:
                          • Funny Funny x 2
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                          • Jun 17, 2011
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                            Brian you're awesome~!
                            and I wanna stick to my font color =((
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                            • Feb 5, 2012
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                              Geez. I was wondering what was going on. Well done.
                              • Agree Agree x 1
                              • Jun 4, 2006
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                                im sorry what did you say I really have no idea my brain immediately ignores that color :sarcastic:
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                                • Winner Winner x 1
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                                • Aug 2, 2010
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                                  lololololol
                                • Jun 10, 2011
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                                  How about this one? :devil:
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                                  • Feb 18, 2011
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                                    I thank you people for all of your hard work. The site is amazing. @Kyle
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                                    • Jun 4, 2006
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                                      • Like Like x 3
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                                      • Feb 18, 2011
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                                        It showed up as a notification like on facebook.
                                        [IMG]
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