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Lex 10/20/2015 10:56 PM

The Future of TLS
 
Hey folks, we had a bit of a staff crunch session today to discuss moving forward. Here are the main points we covered:

Announcements

Shademp is stepping down as Compilation of FFVII Editor. He will retain his writing privileges as a Site Author to finish his series. We have decided not to replace his position as with the remake we feel that it's unnecessary (everyone wants in on the action kinda thing so it doesn't really matter).

Server Upgrade

Will happen some time in the next two weeks. Yop is handling it, there may be some down time (anywhere from 1 hour to 24 depending on how smooth it goes).

Forum Upgrade

We're upgrading to Xenforo. This will take place some time in January. Skinning and adjusting may take a bit of time. Yop is responsible for the backend and the graphic design is to be handled by those willing (Pixel/Flint).

Site Design

A new wordpress theme for the front page is to be chosen by December. The restrictions are that it must be malleable based on our needs, and must come with a separate companion mobile skin for mobile browsing. Lex is responsible. Desktop design to be wider at top.

When all is upgraded, the look and feel of the front page and forums will be more symbiotic. If need be, a floating menu bar could be integrated site-wide so that front page content is available everywhere.

Structure of Content

New design will feature content based on what attracts people (i.e. popular articles) and will be less news focused (items other than news will have "the top spot"). A section for the remake was discussed as well as a complete revamp of the menu bar, featuring more site-specific content like the compendium and possibly polls. Polls which we would like to integrate with the forum. The malleable WP theme will be ideal so that we can restructure as needed ("goal-oriented design").

Essentially, the content on the front page will undergo a comprehensive overhaul with the new theme and menu bar.

Content Discussion

TLS is going to write a remake walkthrough when the game releases. Yop pointed out that this will draw in a load of people. I suggested writing a guide for the original game as a community event which I'm happy to head up/ direct. Arguments in the past have been that "the best" guides exist elsewhere (think Absolute Steve), but this doesn't need to be an in-depth mechanics guide. It just has to be a walkthrough, it's fairly weird that we don't already have one. A poll will be created to determine whether this is minimalist/ missables by section or a full walkthrough. Writing this guide will be practice for the remake.

Various parties have been contacted for interview.

Community

New software costs money. The possibility of a donation drive was discussed.

Flint is running the music contest to begin shortly as well as another "The Seven" article series.

The Creativity section is being made public again.

END MEETING

Comment below if you have anything to add folks <3

Fangu 10/20/2015 11:50 PM

Well done guys :salute:

Channy 10/21/2015 12:40 AM

Sounds sweet guys. Should definitely open up donations again. We're all responsible, employed adults, not a bunch of 16 year olds where spending 20 bucks is the end of the world. We could have new licensing purchased in a jiffy. :)

Joe 10/21/2015 01:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ruby Rose (Post 663998)
We're all responsible, employed adults

Quote:

responsible, employed adults
Quote:

employed adults
Quote:

adults
Umm...
http://www.reactiongifs.com/r/dsgstd-nrd.gif


:awesome:

'Twas a good meeting and I'm particularly interested in what forum members think of TLS coming together to write an FFVII Guide.

Kionae 10/21/2015 02:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ruby Rose (Post 663998)
Sounds sweet guys. Should definitely open up donations again. We're all responsible, employed adults, not a bunch of 16 year olds where spending 20 bucks is the end of the world. We could have new licensing purchased in a jiffy. :)

Well... employed and adult, yeah. Given I recently spent $120+ on a Reno plushie when I was supposed to be using that to replace my old as hell tv, though, I'm not sure I can claim "responsible". :awesome:

But sure, let me know where I can chip in.

Channy 10/21/2015 02:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ruby Rose (Post 663998)
We're all responsible, employed adults, not a bunch of 16 year olds where spending 20 bucks is the end of the world.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joe (Post 664006)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kionae (Post 664011)
Well... employed and adult, yeah. Given I recently spent $120+ on a Reno plushie when I was supposed to be using that to replace my old as hell tv, though, I'm not sure I can claim "responsible". :awesome:

Okay well.... some of us, anyway. :monster:

Chloe Frazer 10/21/2015 03:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ruby Rose (Post 663998)
We're all responsible, employed adults,

1/3 ain't bad.

Lex forgot to mention I'm running the TLS Awards this year.

Channy 10/21/2015 03:59 AM

Ooo awards, yay. People better vote for me otherwise I'm gonna throw a hissy bitch fit. :monster:

Flare 10/21/2015 04:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ruby Rose (Post 663998)
We're all responsible, employed adults

Does working one day a week count as employed? :awesome: (not counting this one week where I'm filling in for all five days)

Anyway, nice job guys, this looks awesome. :joy:
I'm curious though, the Creativity section was open to the public once before? Why was it closed to the public?

Channy 10/21/2015 04:04 AM

By public, that usually means not open to people not logged in?

Claymore 10/21/2015 07:30 AM

Awesome to hear that stuff is being pushed forward in the next few months.

Lex 10/21/2015 03:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flare (Post 664020)
I'm curious though, the Creativity section was open to the public once before? Why was it closed to the public?

The creativity section was publicly viewable at one time, then people were creating threads that were essentially personal blogs about their life and it was made private along with general discussion.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ruby Rose (Post 664022)
By public, that usually means not open to people not logged in?

Public means available to the public, which it currently isn't. This is bad, because of the competitions etc. that we'd like people to get involved in. If it's behind a log-in wall (which it is currently) it means people have to join to view it so sharing links to competitions on say social media just brings people to a login page.

If anyone has any private threads in there they wouldn't like the general public to see, now would be the time to request to move them to a more private section.

Flintlock 10/21/2015 04:12 PM

I think it's important to talk a little bit about our motivations. These are not just changes for change's sake.

When the remake was announced back in June, it sparked a wave of enthusiasm to work on TLS projects. Some new people have come on board and published great articles, but we've also let other attempts to produce content fall through the cracks. As and when the release date approaches, we can't afford to let that happen. We need a modern site design that we can all be proud of, that makes us want to publish content and shout about it to everyone, saying "look at this awesome thing I'm part of". And, as I brought up in the meeting, we want to maximise our chances of Square Enix looking at our site (after we contact them about it) and think, yeah, they deserve a review copy - or multiple - before the remake comes out.

I understand if some people are concerned about the changes. I've gone from being a total optimist on TLS projects ("People will totally update the 'Happening Now' bar every day when they stream or whatever" - lol) to being much more cautious, and I don't want us to bite off more than we can chew. But we do need to do something. As much as we've grown attached (or not) to our current front page and forum designs, they're not going to hold up by the time the remake comes out, when we'll have new content coming out of our eyeballs. At the moment, the front page only properly highlights four articles - I doubt many people click on anything in the "more news" or "latest from the forums" sections - and so much is hidden behind the somewhat unintuitive menu system. Our content creators deserve better than that. And our forum software, as well as feeling outdated in desktop browsers, is unsuitable for the modern mobile world, where so many of our visits are from phones and tablets.

Howl 10/21/2015 04:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flintlock (Post 664064)
Square Enix looking at our site (after we contact them about it) and think, yeah, they deserve a review copy - or multiple - before the remake comes out.

I...I.....
I.....forgot how to spoke....:faint:

And I forgot that game developers do this.



In regards to the donation drive, I'm assuming that we're aiming to gather some funds pre-January?

Doom Bunneh 10/21/2015 05:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flintlock (Post 664064)
These are not just changes for change's sake.

I must apologise profusely for this as it is a completely off-topic comment, but:

Flint, I really appreciate your correct use of apostrophes. I mean that completely sincerely, that sentence gave me a contented feeling, in this world of people who just don't understand how it works.

Carry on! :monster:

Pixel 10/21/2015 05:55 PM

Yeah, the site needs to have more of a blog style layout, like novacrystalis, etc, with images. Maybe have some highlighted stories at the top. That way we can have smaller update articles. And people can scroll through older stories.

I'm not sure what you want from the design, but I dont want anyone coming along making this place look really fucking generic. Or claiming to have a design degree and wanting to change it for no reason. If that happens, I'm out.

Lex 10/21/2015 07:20 PM

I think that was made pretty clear in the minutes Pixel. When I talk about design, it doesn't mean our colour scheme or banner (which will remain the same or at least be similar), I mean how our content is presented on the front page. And that will be based entirely on presenting our content in a better way and giving people easier/ more obvious access to featured pages. That's one of the reasons we want a wordpress theme that we can change around. Try a layout for a week, see how it goes, change if need be as time progresses.

Fangu 10/21/2015 07:51 PM

Yeah site design != graphic design. Generic confusion tharr.

Call it layout or something :monster:

Pixel 10/21/2015 08:06 PM

Yes, but I am being asked to be involved, so some redesign is being talked about on the graphics side.

Flintlock 10/21/2015 08:09 PM

Any new theme will require, at the very least, some tweaking of the graphics you have already made for us. We could also move to a more remake-oriented design, following the example of your new banner. Would you be willing to help with that sort of thing?

Pixel 10/21/2015 08:16 PM

Yes, that was always the plan. I'm just saying, there have been attempts to change everything drastically. If I hadnt put my foot down then, this place would be purple right now.

Tetsujin 10/21/2015 08:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pixel (Post 664098)
Yes, that was always the plan. I'm just saying, there have been attempts to change everything drastically. If I hadnt put my foot down then, this place would be purple right now.

*shuffles uncomfortably and looks at the purple forum skin he's using* :whistle:

Lex 10/21/2015 10:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pixel (Post 664098)
Yes, that was always the plan. I'm just saying, there have been attempts to change everything drastically. If I hadnt put my foot down then, this place would be purple right now.

Lmao, don't worry. This site will be the colour of the lifestream as long as I'm alive :monster:

(unless they make the lifestream like... orange in the remake lolololol)

The Twilight Mexican 10/22/2015 05:30 AM

Depending on how much news/how rapid an outpouring of it you expect to get as the release of the remake comes closer, Bleeding Cool may have a layout worth looking at for inspiration -- say three or four big boxes at the top with the newest articles, then a cluster of smaller, easily distinguishable boxes beneath, a sidebar with either trending news articles or site content that you want to call attention to, etc.

Flare 10/22/2015 05:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flintlock (Post 664064)
I think it's important to talk a little bit about our motivations. These are not just changes for change's sake.

When the remake was announced back in June, it sparked a wave of enthusiasm to work on TLS projects. Some new people have come on board and published great articles, but we've also let other attempts to produce content fall through the cracks. As and when the release date approaches, we can't afford to let that happen. We need a modern site design that we can all be proud of, that makes us want to publish content and shout about it to everyone, saying "look at this awesome thing I'm part of". And, as I brought up in the meeting, we want to maximise our chances of Square Enix looking at our site (after we contact them about it) and think, yeah, they deserve a review copy - or multiple - before the remake comes out.

I understand if some people are concerned about the changes. I've gone from being a total optimist on TLS projects ("People will totally update the 'Happening Now' bar every day when they stream or whatever" - lol) to being much more cautious, and I don't want us to bite off more than we can chew. But we do need to do something. As much as we've grown attached (or not) to our current front page and forum designs, they're not going to hold up by the time the remake comes out, when we'll have new content coming out of our eyeballs. At the moment, the front page only properly highlights four articles - I doubt many people click on anything in the "more news" or "latest from the forums" sections - and so much is hidden behind the somewhat unintuitive menu system. Our content creators deserve better than that. And our forum software, as well as feeling outdated in desktop browsers, is unsuitable for the modern mobile world, where so many of our visits are from phones and tablets.

I really like how you wrote this Flint.

So with the Remake on it's way, the site gets a sort of 'Remake' as well; kind of fitting.
For what it's worth, the two years before I became a member here, I used to click the 'more news' quite often, because I always loved reading the articles here. Of course a lot of people using the net nowadays are more about speed I think, and having the info right at their fingertips without having to look for it (lazy bums :awesome:) so making more than four articles visible is a good idea, I think.

Since I love this site so much, I'm really looking forward to how it evolves.

Um anyway I'm like a total noob when it comes to site designs, but yeah. :monster:

Omega 10/22/2015 07:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lex (Post 663993)
TLS is going to write a remake walkthrough when the game releases. Yop pointed out that this will draw in a load of people. I suggested writing a guide for the original game as a community event which I'm happy to head up/ direct. Arguments in the past have been that "the best" guides exist elsewhere (think Absolute Steve), but this doesn't need to be an in-depth mechanics guide. It just has to be a walkthrough, it's fairly weird that we don't already have one. A poll will be created to determine whether this is minimalist/ missables by section or a full walkthrough. Writing this guide will be practice for the remake.

Various parties have been contacted for interview.

Interesting. Very interesting.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ruby Rose (Post 664019)
I'm gonna throw a hissy bitch fit. :monster:

standard

Lex 10/22/2015 01:33 PM

That "various parties" thing isn't supposed to sound so closed-doors/secretive XD, I was just being lazy.

I've contacted teamfourstar about a possible collab/ interview for a linkshare idea for their FFVII abridged, JasonTandro has contacted a few folks, and so has Vader. And then there's Marc Papeghin (FF medleys YouTube guy) who said yes to Flint but wants to wait until his next medley is ready to go :)

Cthulhu 10/22/2015 06:53 PM

With regards to interaction design, we've basically come to the conclusion that first and foremost, we'll need Goals - what content do we want to highlight, etc. From that follows function in the form of things like clickpaths (I'm just talking out of my ass here, I know little of that shit), or, how quickly do people get to the information they need.

Say for example we want to be the primary source for things like character profiles; top priority #1 would put those right on the front page, #2 would put a list with direct links (and thumbnails) to each of them on the front page, #3 would put them behind a menu or screen, #4 would hide them away somewhere (but TBF I don't think we'll need to have a deeper level of navigation - two to three clicks to get to a page like that would have to do). Ideally, for all FFVII / remake pages/static content, you'd be able to get there with a few clicks or directly from google.

Another thing, and I think this is an important one, would be to have a comprehensive walkthrough - I've linked to Gamepressure.com's guides, which (at least the few I've seen) aren't that in-depth, but they're clear, to the point, have a few images, and probably why I like them the most, a long and prominent index on the side.

I'm imagining it to have three levels of sorts; the primary one would be to just give a to the point walkthrough, only a little more than a bullet point list. The second level, hidden behind either collapsible sections or links, would be things like spoilers, 'did-you-know' tidbits (including for example differences with the original - although at this time we won't be able to predict how big those will be), and comprehensive yet boring lists of things like character and weapon statistics. Links from the guide to other pages (character profiles, LTD analyses, etc) would be vital to promite in-site navigation and retention.

Finally, I'd like to finally bring some ads to the front page. TLS is costing me money, which I don't mind paying, but I'd still like for it to one day break even. More of a personal achievement than anything really. Alongside that would be a means to get a bit more predictable income from the site - ads get ups and downs and shit (peak month was shortly after the remake announcement where I actually made moar money off of ads than I spend on expenses!11one. So we're pretty close. I actually had a look just now, right now it's at about half to 2/3rds of expenses covered)

Pixel 10/22/2015 07:06 PM

I'm surprised you don't have ads. This place will earn money over the next few years. As long as its not intrusive, or video ads that cause lag, its fine

Omega 10/22/2015 08:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lex (Post 664174)
That "various parties" thing isn't supposed to sound so closed-doors/secretive XD, I was just being lazy.

I've contacted teamfourstar about a possible collab/ interview for a linkshare idea for their FFVII abridged, JasonTandro has contacted a few folks, and so has Vader. And then there's Marc Papeghin (FF medleys YouTube guy) who said yes to Flint but wants to wait until his next medley is ready to go :)

I thought it was TLS folk?

Lex 10/22/2015 08:20 PM

Some of them are, but when it's TLS folk it's fan works so that's the people JT's dealing with.

Claymore 10/22/2015 08:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cthulhu (Post 664197)
With regards to interaction design, we've basically come to the conclusion that first and foremost, we'll need Goals - what content do we want to highlight, etc. From that follows function in the form of things like clickpaths (I'm just talking out of my ass here, I know little of that shit), or, how quickly do people get to the information they need.

Say for example we want to be the primary source for things like character profiles; top priority #1 would put those right on the front page, #2 would put a list with direct links (and thumbnails) to each of them on the front page, #3 would put them behind a menu or screen, #4 would hide them away somewhere (but TBF I don't think we'll need to have a deeper level of navigation - two to three clicks to get to a page like that would have to do). Ideally, for all FFVII / remake pages/static content, you'd be able to get there with a few clicks or directly from google.

Another thing, and I think this is an important one, would be to have a comprehensive walkthrough - I've linked to Gamepressure.com's guides, which (at least the few I've seen) aren't that in-depth, but they're clear, to the point, have a few images, and probably why I like them the most, a long and prominent index on the side.

I'm imagining it to have three levels of sorts; the primary one would be to just give a to the point walkthrough, only a little more than a bullet point list. The second level, hidden behind either collapsible sections or links, would be things like spoilers, 'did-you-know' tidbits (including for example differences with the original - although at this time we won't be able to predict how big those will be), and comprehensive yet boring lists of things like character and weapon statistics. Links from the guide to other pages (character profiles, LTD analyses, etc) would be vital to promite in-site navigation and retention.

Finally, I'd like to finally bring some ads to the front page. TLS is costing me money, which I don't mind paying, but I'd still like for it to one day break even. More of a personal achievement than anything really. Alongside that would be a means to get a bit more predictable income from the site - ads get ups and downs and shit (peak month was shortly after the remake announcement where I actually made moar money off of ads than I spend on expenses!11one. So we're pretty close. I actually had a look just now, right now it's at about half to 2/3rds of expenses covered)

That sounds awesome, and the 'multiple levels' angle could actually easily be applied all areas of the site. It would bridge a lot of content, provide extra insight, allow for more game content to be focused, and would also allow people to delve or explore further if they wish (and by providing ease of access, this push to do so will be a lot more tempting and simpler).

Cthulhu 10/22/2015 10:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pixel (Post 664198)
I'm surprised you don't have ads. This place will earn money over the next few years. As long as its not intrusive, or video ads that cause lag, its fine

TBF, there's no ads on the front page right now because I've always been too lazy to fiddle for like an hour to cross-reference with the forums to determine if someone was a donator or not to hide ads, :monster:

I have to add to that too that the forums gets over 9000 times more page views than the front page. Off course, said page views are probably mostly made by the donators and staff that don't get ads.

Omega 10/23/2015 05:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lex (Post 664208)
Some of them are, but when it's TLS folk it's fan works so that's the people JT's dealing with.

Now I know where to direct my indignation :oscar:


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