Tag: gamemaker community forums

YoYoGames’ GameMaker Community Forums seemingly in limbo; promised upgrade overdue more than 2 weeks

Back in April, I posted about an upcoming transition with the GameMaker Community Forums. YoYoGames had announced that they were going to start a new forum, move off of IPBoard as its forum software, and give the community something fresh and modern that would be better. The old forums were to briefly become unavailable, and then would be restored in a read-only format, to preserve the history and knowledge they contain.

This was to have taken about two weeks. It’s over a month later now, and we still haven’t seen a new GMC forum. The old forums have been archived, and are available now at gmc.yoyogames.com, after being completely offline for over two weeks. YYG have not spoken much about the new forums since they announced their original plan, which has left me wondering what’s going on.

At this point, it’s difficult to characterize the transition as anything but a failure. But as to why the failure, and when things will be coming back, we’re left to speculate. I will, however, offer a few criticisms:

Archiving the old forums should have taken place instantly, not taken more than two weeks

I don’t have any insider information to justify why the transition from an active state to a read-only, logins disabled state took more than two weeks to accomplish, and I’ve never managed an IP board site before, but for this to require the site be completely offline for more than two weeks, it must have been quite a broken implementation design. It should have been very simple, and possible to achieve nearly instantaneously: disable login for non-administrator accounts. Demote non-essential administrator accounts, such that only YYG Staff directly involved in the forum migration can still log in and manage things.

Boom. Done. No one can post anymore; the site is in a read-only state for all users but the administrators. No downtime need be incurred.

So why did this take more than two weeks? I’d love to know.

Taking the old forum down should not have been done until the new forum was ready to go

Again, I don’t know why YYG did things the way they did, and it’s possible there’s reasonable explanations for it, but I just can’t imagine any. Normally, web development is done by having a production environment, which is the live web site exposed to the world, and a development environment, which is accessible to developers and operations folks. Development takes place in the development environment until all systems are go, at which point the site is migrated to the production server. Normally this migration is something that can be accomplished within minutes, or seconds. It might well take weeks or months to get to the point where the migration is ready to happen, but the actual migration doesn’t have to take longer than a few minutes if planned properly, unless the migration is truly massive, which I cannot imagine the GMC forums new software qualifying, since they had announced that the new forums would start off empty. I understand they need time to test and configure the new forum software, test it for security vulnerabilities, and so forth but all of that could have been — and should have — been done in a test environment well before the old forums were taken down.

Remaining quiet when previously-announced deadlines slipped disrespects GM:S users

When it became apparent that the transition was not happening according to plan, and this impacted the publicly announced timetable, someone at YYG should have handled communicating the news to the user community. To date, I have not seen any announcements explaining what’s going on. No explanation of why the release date has slipped, no announcement of a new date. Even if they have no idea how long it will be, there should have been some kind of communication. Without this, it creates an impression that YYG does not value the forums or the community that uses it. This is surely not true, but the lack of transparency here is inexplicable and harms YYG’s reputation. Considering the huge efforts they had made over the last 5 years with branding GameMaker: Studio as a professional-caliber development tool, and making numerous improvements to give that branding credibility, this is a serious stumble on their part.

Because of these failures, GameMaker users have been left without an official community for over a month, and have had to make do with alternatives such as gamedev.net, Reddit and Facebook. This can’t be good for YoYoGames’ reputation or the GameMaker brand. The community’s self-support for GameMaker has long been one of it’s greatest assets, and YoYoGames seems to be acting as though they do not understand this. I only hope that they can fix whatever problems have been preventing them from moving forward and complete the release of the new forums.

GMC forums upgrade

YoYoGames recently decided to overhaul the GameMaker Community Forums. Formerly run on IPBoard, they are moving to a new solution.

YYG did the right thing, by asking the community for feedback on how they’d like to preserve the historic threads in the old forum system. The old forum will be retained, frozen in read-only mode, with no sign-in allowed. I’m a bit concerned about not being able to log in any more, since it was easier to find content that I had posted or replied to that way. It would be nice if the forums could be read-only but still allow existing users to log in. But, as I understand it, the IPBoard has had many security problems, and so disabling login probably helps mitigate privilege escalation attacks.

When the new forum goes live, users will need to re-register their username. I had suggested that YYG reserve the user IDs of all existing users and send an invite email to them, to claim their old username. I don’t believe that this suggestion was adopted, however. It would have been a good thing, though, as there’s been concern that pranksters might claim famous user names from the old forums and impersonate users. Hopefully this will not be a big problem, but a way to either carry over the old user accounts or else reserve the account names and send invites to users to claim their old username would have been a great way to avoid the problem altogether.

Currently the old boards are down while the upgrade is happening. The migration is taking several days, during which the boards will continue to remain down. I don’t understand why it should take such a long time and having the boards unavailable for an extended time is disappointing; I would think that YYG could have the new forum software staged in a testing environment that could be moved to the live server with a simple press of a button to trigger an elevate script. Likewise, I would think that putting the old forums into read-only mode could be achieved without taking the forums offline at all. Why this wasn’t possible, or wasn’t the best way to take on the migration, I don’t know. There was a very active thread discussing this, but… it was on the old forums, which are currently down.

Based on what I read, it’s unclear at this time whether the url of the old forums will continue to be gmc.yoyogames.com, and the new boards take a new domain name, or if the old forums will be moving to a redirected url. My hope is that the old URL will be preserved, so deep links to old threads will not be disrupted, and the new forums will have a new domain name. However, my guess is that the new forums will use the existing gmc.yoyogames.com domain, and the old forums will probably be redirected, or simply moved.

It will be interesting to see the new forums, how they are organized and curated. Hopefully YYG have learned from the years they maintained the old forums, and will have many improvements. The biggest item on my wish list is to allow file uploads and hosting, so that project files no longer have to be hosted on external services, which tend to fall victim to link rot over time.

The developer community surrounding GameMaker has long been a valuable asset to YYG. In a lot of ways, it’s probably their best asset — the community has always been very helpful for helping new users solve problems and turn into seasoned, experienced programmers. Hopefully the new forums will continue this tradition for many years to come.

GameMaker community forum gripe

Ok, I realize that GameMaker isn’t a hard core developer environment. It does serve a purpose though: to provide a more accessible means for aspiring game designers who are not primarily programmers to be able to give life to their ideas. This is a truly noble purpose, in my view and I will never say anything bad about GameMaker’s technical limitations as long as they’re limitations which must exist in order to achieve that goal.

That said, I am really starting to get frustrated with the GameMaker community. Not its members, mind you — the handful of interactions that I’ve had with GamMaker devs have been helpful and positive. But what is really driving me nuts in the community forums is the way people will post links to filehosting sites, and the link is dead because it’s a few months later. This is totally counterproductive to the goal of making a game dev environment that’s welcoming and forgiving to newbie programmers and non-techie types.

The forum thread is there, the tantalizing discussion about how awesome a solution is to just the exact problem I needed to solve is there, but the .gmk or .gex file that would make my day is gone. And not enough discussion around the gaping hole to figure out what the solution was that was demonstrated in the downloadable file.

But it’s not just an everyday occurrence. It’s damn near mandatory. And super frustrating.

.gmk files *usually* take up very little space, and if you don’t need all the resources embedded to create a full-fledged game, you can make *extremely* lean .gmk files that can provide a reference implementation of your nifty solution…. AND, we live in an age where 2TB hard drives cost under $100.

So, WTF? The GameMaker community would be so much better serving its users if it provided permanent hosting space so that discussion threads could remain relevant.

I really don’t understand it, I mean if you go to yoyogames they have graphic and sound resource packs that you can download. They’re of poor quality, and searching for anything in them is atrocious, but they at least have links that still point to extant resources. They even host all the games that people submit to the site.

Clearly they have the technology, why are they not using it in this way?