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Hello Eclipse!

#1
Hello!

Thanks for your patience as we finished transferring things over. As you likely already know, ownership of the site has been transferred over to me. However, apart from that, there are no other significant changes. @Link will continue as an Administrator, and the other staff will continue in their respective roles. I'm sure with this transfer you all have plenty of questions, and I'll do my best to answer them. I do want to clarify one thing though: I believe this community has something special, and has accomplish so much. Although I never posted much, I've been around and using Eclipse variants since the Eclipse Evolution days, and has been a big factor of why I got into game development and programming. I would very much like to see the community, the games you develop, and all of you to grow, thrive and prosper, and I'll do whatever I can to help move in that direction.

With that said... in terms of moving forward, I have two goals I want to accomplish in the next 2-3 months:

1) Eclipse Source Converter
2) Eclipse Exchange

Eclipse Source Converter

I would very much like to move away from VB6. It's old, unsupported, and hard to work with. To do this, I've started writing a VB6 -> C#/VB.NET converter (or transpiler) with specific customizations for Eclipse engines. The end goal is to be able to automatically convert any Eclipse Origins-based engine into either C# or VB.NET (it will be your choice). VB6-specific components, like Winsock and DirectX8 will be automatically upgraded/replaced to make the conversion as seamless as possible. One of the big benefits of this type of system is that all existing custom source edits will be automatically upgraded. There are lots of games that depend on those edits, and I'm sure many will benefit from this. Once upgraded, further development work on the games will be drastically simpler and we can start work on cooler features (cross-platform?)

Yes, it's not a new engine, but it's not realistic to promise making a full brand new engine in only a few months. This is largely a step forward in the right direction, and is only the beginning. We'll get there.

This project has already been started on, and will be developed in the open so you can all see progress (and even contribute if you want to!). You can follow along here: https://github.com/Zynato/EclipseSourceConverter

Eclipse Exchange

This one is... in a way, a continuation of some of the ideas that have been presented here before. The Eclipse Exchange (tentative name) will be a companion site to these forums that will allow you to share ideas, games, progress updates, tutorials, recruit members, and even host custom streams. You can think of it as a hybrid between IndieDB, the Unity Asset Store, and some of the existing boards on these forums. I'd like to incorporate some of the ideas that were suggested from the Eclipse Gaming threads, and whatever suggestions you may have for something like this. There's been a lot of great things that have come out of Eclipse over the years, and I'd like to build whatever tools you'll need to continue making some amazing games.

Work on this has already been started. A private beta will be started in mid-December (December 16th, specifically) to test the system, and will be invite-only for a short time. After which, it'll go public. I'll be setting up a registration form in the coming week that you can fill out if you would like to be part of this beta. I'll also be posting development updates about this as the release date approaches.

-----

Those are the "major" changes I'll be working on in the next 2-3 months. I'll also be working with the staff team to reorganize boards as appropriate, review all aspects of the forum, and going through some smaller changes (I've enabled SSL, to start with!).

I'm open to any and all suggestions. If you want to provide feedback on the site (or anything else, really), please post or PM me - I want to do whatever I can to help improve the site for everyone. I hope to better get to know you all, and work with everyone to make this a great place to be Smile
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#2
oo, hello, I notice that your account is new, do you just not remember your old account or are you intentionally starting from scratch?

Aaanyway, long post incoming. Sorry!




On the Source Converter, I think it's a neat idea, but I can't help but think that even a new engine would be less work! I'm rather curious on how you plan to be having "all existing custom source edits will be automatically upgraded", such a thing would be incredibly difficult to produce human usable/readable results for even experience programmers.

You've stated "Yes, it's not a new engine, but it's not realistic to promise making a full brand new engine in only a few months.", but is this any more realistic to promise in a few months (I know this hasn't been stated in your OP)? 

Still, it looks like you have things under control. It looks like you've made some good progress already (yet to view the source, will do so when I have a bit more time).



On the Exchange, I'm a bit more critical of this; again, another neat idea, however I recall something that tried to be like this (sans hosting custom streams) on the older IP.B forums that ultimately nobody ended up using because the already existing things that did what it offered works better.

I think that an asset-type store that can inject and compile source edits alongside hosting public domain ready-to-use assets would be a wonderful addition  (something like this was touched upon before, but nothing became of it), I fully support an integrated package for non-programmers, but as for the others:

On progress/updates/tutorials, is this not what the forum is for? The boards are dead enough, I'm not sure if actively discouriging users from posting is the best idea.

On recruiting members, what would this offer that stack exchange,  /r/gamedevclassifieds, tigsource, etc, wouldn't already offer? The provided alternatives have a much broader range of people available, so you're going to need to offer a hefty niche.

On hosting streams, are you sure? This is something that would require larger server capacity and can get expensive fast. Why would I not use Twitch or Hitbox for bigger exposure (and likely better stabiltiy) instead?



Finally, not to increase your workload, but there are two key things that I think need to be taken care to maximise your success:

1) Updating the forum to 2016/2017 standards: personally, I think myBB and the likes are dated, their decrepit board design has just never been intuitive or nice to use as an experience. 

While I'm not saying that there needs to be yet another forum conversion, per sé, the following do need to happen:
 - an updated (mobile-first) responsive theme that actually puts an emphasis on posting, as it stands, forum activity is mostly relegated to the shoutbox.
 - actual URL rewriting, showing topic IDs and post IDs isn't particularly memorable.
 - Serious pruning and deleting/hiding of old/irellevant topics and a restructure of the boards, there are still too many boards (especially considering that most are unused). Searching would also not take such a toll with the older things gone.
 - Reworking of grouping: too much colours, too much groups.

It's an oldie but a lot of it is still relevant to myBB today, this covers most of my gripes: https://community.mybb.com/thread-122216.html

2) (More of a question, really) Members: it's not exactly a secret that the forums are probably at the 2nd most inactive they've ever been, down to the fact that most members have left. Combine with the fact that indie/hobby RPG dev interest has dwindled over the last few years.

(Probably anecdotal/not a very good source, but my source is the dwindling activity of RPG Maker and the non-existence of every other Mirage community and the niche small-ish size of Intersect)

Clearly, broadening out to be general-purpose and trying to compete with the likes of Game Maker and Construct is a suicidal move. There's also the issue that a good amount of our members are...abrasive (to put it nicely), so how do you plan to perhaps recapture some of the older members and introduce new members to the forum?



Anyway, I support your current plans however, I hope you take my critical points as legitimate concerns.
I'll stick around for a bit longer and wouldn't mind helping you out if you're in need.
 
Best of luck!
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#3
I'm not going to write a long reply but just say this... Small games like these are better to be browser based. Nobody wants to download games anymore, everybody wants to play in their browsers. Why not port the client to have a browser based client and cross-platform based server.
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#4
I wish you good fortune in the wars to come.
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#5
I want to see what comes from this actually Big Grin
[Image: Lxd0ays.png]
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#6
(11-08-2016, 12:50 PM)Exception Wrote: oo, hello, I notice that your account is new, do you just not remember your old account or are you intentionally starting from scratch?

Aaanyway, long post incoming. Sorry!

Thanks for the detailed feedback! It's very much appreciated, and I'll go over your points below. And yes, I had an old account but I lost the details years ago. Besides, having that as my first post is pretty cool Smile

(11-08-2016, 12:50 PM)Exception Wrote:

On the Source Converter, I think it's a neat idea, but I can't help but think that even a new engine would be less work! I'm rather curious on how you plan to be having "all existing custom source edits will be automatically upgraded", such a thing would be incredibly difficult to produce human usable/readable results for even experience programmers.

You've stated "Yes, it's not a new engine, but it's not realistic to promise making a full brand new engine in only a few months.", but is this any more realistic to promise in a few months (I know this hasn't been stated in your OP)? 

Still, it looks like you have things under control. It looks like you've made some good progress already (yet to view the source, will do so when I have a bit more time).

I think that a new engine would actually be significantly more work as it would almost certainly require complete a rethinking of how everything is structured and handled. That process alone takes time, especially when designing an engine tailored towards a large community - after all, everyone wants many different things!

Converting the existing engines isn't actually as complex as it may seem. At a high level, it's almost like writing a converter for any other data files the engines use: maps, npcs, things like that. The process is essentially: load a model of the existing codebase, manipulate the data until it's formatted nicely, and generate new code based on that original model. Steps one and three are immensely straightforward in terms of actually building. There are toolkits that language researchers use to generate models of various programming languages, and those same tools can and have been adapted for this task. I've used ANTLR to generate a parser that can load raw VB6 code into an Abstract Syntax Tree (the in-memory model of the code). From there, it needs to be cleaned up and sent to the .NET Compiler Platform which deals with the complexities of generating valid and easy to work with C# or VB.NET code. Apart from that, there are smaller tasks like converting VB6 forms, doing some pattern matching to deal with converting some of the procedural VB6 code into more object-oriented C#/VB.NET code. Overall, I think it'll be significantly easier to start with a converter like this.



(11-08-2016, 12:50 PM)Exception Wrote: On the Exchange, I'm a bit more critical of this; again, another neat idea, however I recall something that tried to be like this (sans hosting custom streams) on the older IP.B forums that ultimately nobody ended up using because the already existing things that did what it offered works better.

I think that an asset-type store that can inject and compile source edits alongside hosting public domain ready-to-use assets would be a wonderful addition  (something like this was touched upon before, but nothing became of it), I fully support an integrated package for non-programmers, but as for the others:

On progress/updates/tutorials, is this not what the forum is for? The boards are dead enough, I'm not sure if actively discouriging users from posting is the best idea.

On recruiting members, what would this offer that stack exchange,  /r/gamedevclassifieds, tigsource, etc, wouldn't already offer? The provided alternatives have a much broader range of people available, so you're going to need to offer a hefty niche.

On hosting streams, are you sure? This is something that would require larger server capacity and can get expensive fast. Why would I not use Twitch or Hitbox for bigger exposure (and likely better stabiltiy) instead?

Injecting and compiling source edits is actually a fairly neat idea that I hadn't thought of. I'll definitely see what can be done about making that happen. You're right, this would in a way be replacing some of the forum features. However, I see this as a supplement to the forums, to aid where features on the forums are lacking. For example, with this kind of system, you'll be able to see your game information in one place rather than scattered across multiple boards. You'll be able to quickly see the game information, any updates, check if they are recruiting any staff/apply for those positions, among other features.

You're right that this may discourage users from posting on the forums, especially if done as a separate, isolated site. However, I want to integrate parts of these features with the Exchange and the forums. One big thing I want to do is allow you to login to the Exchange with your forum account (no need to make a separate account), so that you can seamlessly navigate between both systems - almost making the distinction between the two transparent. You'll be able to start threads and discussions and link them to your posts on the Exchange. Say you've made some new tilesets for your game, and you want to make them available to others: you post on the Exchange. When you do that, you'll be able to open up a discussion: essentially, creating a new thread specific for your tilesets where others can discuss. I'll be taking feedback for how all this will work from all of you. I don't want to replace the forums, I want to supplement them in places where a forum-style discussion may not be the best format for content.

Those features aren't final, but I hope you get the idea.

On recruiting members, I was more referring to recruiting members from the current community into different game projects: similar to the current recruitment board. I don't want to try to replace StackExchange/TIGSource/etc, the idea is more for the current community at the moment.

And streams, they'll be hosted on Twitch/YouTube/etc. Running a custom streaming infrastructure would be impossible here. You'll be able to embed your streams - or not, the choice will be up to people making the games.




(11-08-2016, 12:50 PM)Exception Wrote: Finally, not to increase your workload, but there are two key things that I think need to be taken care to maximise your success:

1) Updating the forum to 2016/2017 standards: personally, I think myBB and the likes are dated, their decrepit board design has just never been intuitive or nice to use as an experience. 

While I'm not saying that there needs to be yet another forum conversion, per sé, the following do need to happen:
 - an updated (mobile-first) responsive theme that actually puts an emphasis on posting, as it stands, forum activity is mostly relegated to the shoutbox.
 - actual URL rewriting, showing topic IDs and post IDs isn't particularly memorable.
 - Serious pruning and deleting/hiding of old/irellevant topics and a restructure of the boards, there are still too many boards (especially considering that most are unused). Searching would also not take such a toll with the older things gone.
 - Reworking of grouping: too much colours, too much groups.

It's an oldie but a lot of it is still relevant to myBB today, this covers most of my gripes: https://community.mybb.com/thread-122216.html

Great ideas! I've already had multiple requests for a mobile-first theme; I'll see what I can do about that.

- Actual URL rewriting: done!
- Pruning of old topics/boards: I'll be working with the staff to clean things up. PM me, or post a thread if you have any suggestions on how you want things to look.
- Same with groups: I'm open to all suggestions, and this is something I'll be working on

(11-08-2016, 12:50 PM)Exception Wrote: 2) (More of a question, really) Members: it's not exactly a secret that the forums are probably at the 2nd most inactive they've ever been, down to the fact that most members have left. Combine with the fact that indie/hobby RPG dev interest has dwindled over the last few years.

(Probably anecdotal/not a very good source, but my source is the dwindling activity of RPG Maker and the non-existence of every other Mirage community and the niche small-ish size of Intersect)

Clearly, broadening out to be general-purpose and trying to compete with the likes of Game Maker and Construct is a suicidal move. There's also the issue that a good amount of our members are...abrasive (to put it nicely), so how do you plan to perhaps recapture some of the older members and introduce new members to the forum?

In general, I'd like to start by trying to be more welcoming towards everyone. I'd like to be supportive towards whatever projects the members want to work on, and help them with whatever tools they may need to see success. I know it's fairly vague right now, but that's the general attitude I would like to see.



(11-08-2016, 12:50 PM)Exception Wrote: Anyway, I support your current plans however, I hope you take my critical points as legitimate concerns.
I'll stick around for a bit longer and wouldn't mind helping you out if you're in need.
 
Best of luck!

Thanks for your support! I hope I answered your questions sufficiently. Let me know if you have any more, or want anything cleared up
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#7
Will we get a forum rework at all or will it stay the same?
[Image: Lxd0ays.png]
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#8
(11-09-2016, 06:26 AM)PhenomenalDev Wrote: Will we get a forum rework at all or will it stay the same?

If you mean new theme/mobile support, I honestly haven't looked at how much work would be involved to get that done. Don't want to make any promises before I do, but it's something I'll take a look at. If you mean reorganizing boards, clearing old things, and in general a cleanup of things - then yes, that will be done.
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#9
My comment was a Song of Ice and Fire reference for any who didn't know.

Anyways, looking forward to seeing what's in the future for Eclipse Big Grin I wish you good luck!
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