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2009 ScoreHero Plans - Happy New Year!
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JCirri  





Joined: 04 Feb 2006
Posts: 4534
Location: Baltimore, MD

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 1:51 am    Post subject: 2009 ScoreHero Plans - Happy New Year! Reply with quote

Many of you have heard me hint towards a "redesign" of the site in many different contexts, but I've yet to really explain what that means. I will attempt to do that now by starting off the new year sharing our plans for ScoreHero in 2009.

First, some background on how ScoreHero development has progressed. I opened the site late January of 2006 with very basic, limited, scoretracking (didn't even have forums back then). As the userbase grew, I've always tried to stay on top of requests adding features that were heavily demanded, while also innovating new concepts/ideas that might benefit the community (such as extended ratings which proved successful). This model of "find idea -> somehow implement it to work" has worked well for a while, but over time has really hindered maintainability of the codebase. Now with the separate/mixed database schemas (GH, RB, and GHWT, are all running on different backend designs) and code that attempts to tie them together across multiple subdomains and a global wiki, it's become a huge hassle to integrate even the simplest functionality without duplicating things in many places and even further complicating the code.

ScoreHero has obviously grown much larger than I initially designed for, and rather than continuing to tack new functionality into the underlying inflexible structure, we need to just bite the bullet and rewrite everything from scratch with the full scope in mind from the start. Especially now that many staff have the desire and technical knowledge to help, but simply can't understand and/or don't want to work with the current mess of code that's evolved over time. And I don't blame them as it's become a pain for even me to fix simple bugs nowdays when one change affects many locations and has potentially many other unknown side-effects that could introduce bugs elsewhere.

There's a ton of potential to add some great features here, and the above is the main factor holding us back. With that said, now that the GHWT launch is behind us and 2009 is ahead, we've decided to take on this significant effort to rewrite all of ScoreHero's functionality intending to fix current limitations and plan ahead for all foreseeable possibilities of growth.

Primary goals of the rewrite:

  1. Collaborative Development: this is critical to everything. Up until now, it's been very difficult for others to assist with any implementation in a shared manner. A development team with proper source control, coding standards, documentation, and various means of communication will solve this problem.

  2. Generalized Framework:

    • Flexible Schema: Create a flexible system that allows basic scoretracking to be easily deployed for any new game/series, and then configured with optional game-specific components to extend capabilities as necessary. The main goal here is to generalize scoretracking concepts beyond the scope of just GH/RB, yet still allow for all the detailed GH/RB intricicies that we love to be easily integrated without complicating anything else.

    • Layered Design: Backend application logic will be separated from the frontend design with templating to allow designers to work on new SH styles without any knowledge of how the code works. This will also allow for user-selectable styles/themes that you've probably heard me mention many times now.

    • User-Friendly Interface: We'll be evaluating the tasks users typically perform, and designing the interface accordingly to make use of the site as simple as possible. Many of you are using rkcr's menu system as a Firefox add-on to to improve SH's navigation - these are the kind of limitations we intend to remove. We also will explore Web 2.0 concepts to increase user-interactivity where it may be useful.

    • Internationalization: Basic support for multiple languages will be included to attract more members from GH/RB's growing worldwide fanbase.
To kick off the new ScoreHero development team, in addition to all current staff members who have development skills and wish to help, oorza, DarylZero, and Karmae have been added to the team!

oorza is experienced mostly in the backend database/logic realm with SQL and PHP knowledge; DarylZero is already notable here for his JSHManager program and will be primarily helpful in developing interfaces merging the backend and frontend with good background in JS/AJAX; and Karmae is an accomplished designer who created the Neversoft community event page and has an impressive portfolio otherwise. You've all been a great help so far, and I look forward to working with you further on this project. :)


"I have some programming experience, can I help with this too"?

We've got about 15 on the team that are skilled in various areas of development and I'm currently not looking for any other developers/designers. However, once the first round of design is complete and we begin implementation it's certainly possible we'll want to expand the team in places we feel are lacking. If that's the case, I will then post up any skillsets that we're seeking and recruit more help.


So when will this all be done?

I don't want to lie. This is a massive project and certainly not something we want to rush into completion to end up with the same mess we're in now. We're still in the early design phase researching all the available options for tools to use in development and a coding environment is starting to take shape.

Since we've decided to do everything the correct way from scratch, I don't expect this will be complete before Summer; towards the end of the year may be a more reasonable estimate. But I really won't know until things get going and don't want to artificially state a timeline that pressures us into sacrificing quality to meet a deadline.


Does this mean the site will stop being maintained in the meantime?

Absolutley not. Only a subset of staff are actively involved in development work towards the redesign, and even so, at the same time we're all still checking the site for reports and handling our usual moderation tasks concurrently.

The only thing that will change is a cut-off from the typical live incremental development of new features. I will still be fixing bugs since those are critical to using the site. But in terms of working on long-anticipated features or suggested new ideas, unless it's something that can be added quickly, I'll be working all of the big items on my todo list into the rewrite. This is opposed to wasting valuable time implementing them now, which will only serve to delay completion of the rewrite, that ultimately will make the efforts obsolete anyway. So my future response to many of the "why don't we have ___ yet?" questions, will be that it's coming when this is done.


What kind of new features are you talking about?

While the main purpose of the rewrite is to create a more flexible and scalable structure, we do intend to streamline functionality and integrate features that will benefit the community. In addition to the lacking features now (such as SH stat images for all games, cross-platform ranks for RB, extended ratings for RB and GHWT, etc.), we'll be developing new stuff. An example being an improved customized homepage newsfeed allowing members to keep tabs on areas of interest.

Starting with a fresh mindset, virtually nothing is out of the question here and we're brainstorming possibilities for extending SH's capabilities. If you have ideas, feel free to share and we'll gladly consider them but make no guarantees.


What will happen to all the existing user, score, forum data?

Part of the redesign will involve writing data migration scripts to move everything from the current system into the new one. This will be an integral requirement of the project and testing will be done before any live data is touched, so regardless what changes take place structurally no underlying data will be lost during the transition.


So in a nutshell, that's what will be happening behind the scenes in the coming months. I'm very excited for the future and look forward to working together to make ScoreHero an even more awesome place.

Thank you everyone, and Happy New Year!
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DrSham  





Joined: 16 Oct 2006
Posts: 1233
Location: Hallett Cove, South Australia

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Happy New Year to you as well.

As you may know I've been here a long time & been through the hell of server issues some time ago.

Will this adversely affect the site(s) & will new hardware be necessary to implement all these changes?
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benseward1  





Joined: 13 Dec 2008
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

great...cant wait...HAPPY NEW YEAR SCOREHERO
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bjwdestroyer  





Joined: 30 Jun 2007
Posts: 4779
Location: I have more posts than you, who cares where I am.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ScoreHero Development Team? Now this is hot stuff.

Happy New Year ScoreHero: my New Year's resolution will be to play at least 1 hour of plastar.

Actually, I'm also going to cut down on my life of shyness. First things first, SH-Bot:



Last edited by bjwdestroyer on Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:04 am; edited 1 time in total
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ThirstyMonkey  





Joined: 01 Dec 2007
Posts: 483

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good luck and Happy New Year!
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chemmajr  





Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 1296
Location: NJ

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WOW is all i can say. All of this sounds like an awesome plan. Hopefully there arent too many difficulties in rewriting the whole script for the site.
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schoof  





Joined: 28 Dec 2007
Posts: 654
Location: Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds awesome, I can't wait to see how all of this turns out, and thanks to everyone involved for all of your hard work.

Happy new year to all of SH as well!
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xtremecarbon  





Joined: 29 Mar 2008
Posts: 3998
Location: Columbia, SC

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't wait to see the new changes being made to the website, as long as everything I have up here stays
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Macaron11  





Joined: 14 Aug 2007
Posts: 2049
Location: I'm at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Happy New Year Scorehero! \o/

I can't wait for it to come, should be awesomes

\(_o)/
\(_o)/
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CleverTangent  





Joined: 03 Sep 2007
Posts: 965
Location: North of Atlanta, Georgia

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This sounds great! I'm excited to see the new stuff that's in the chute for future development.

As much as I'd love to help, I know that I'd be absolutely useless when it comes to interface coding, so I'll just thank the staff profusely when it's done.
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GuitarZero132  





Joined: 17 Nov 2007
Posts: 1024

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amazing how pretty much all the normal users thing everything seems so easy to add, when it's apparently just getting harder and harder with more and more stuff being added onto the site.

But anyways, happy new year. (I would type it in all caps and make every other letter a different color, but I'm really not the kind of guy to do that )
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Syphon  





Joined: 31 Aug 2007
Posts: 631

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are there any plans to move away from a phpBB based system? 'Cause phpBB isn't very friendly towards the extensors, and is kinda shoddy overall. :p

If there are... I have several suggestions.
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9001  





Joined: 03 Sep 2008
Posts: 3690
Location: North New Jersey

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't wait but I'll be patient.
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D3sr0ch3  





Joined: 26 Dec 2007
Posts: 349
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HAPPY NEW YEAR SCOREHERO!!!!!!!!!

This is going to be Awsome!
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bballkid01  





Joined: 19 Aug 2008
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This sounds like a HUGE job, im currently working on advanced web design but this sounds too much for me anyways O.o but good luck, and have an awesome new year every1!!!!!!!
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