Look and Feel of Neo

Bill Loguidice's picture

One thing that has been playing on my mind as I've been going to other Websites is that we must take great pains to make the look of the new Armchair Arcade as distinctive as possible. Blog/news sites are a dime a dozen and we must truly differentiate ourselves from them. Again, while the current Armchair Arcade is broken from a functionality standpoint, in its favor, to the outside world everything looks just about right as rain and it has a unique look that's not quite like anything else out there. We need something distinctive, bold and yes, still intuitive on Neo. I hope we all keep that in mind as we generate graphics and think about layout and content. It makes people think we're the real thing and not just "another" Website/magazine. That thinking is very clear with the reaction to the current Website...

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Matt Barton
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Distinction

I couldn't possibly agree more. I think we should commit ourselves to working on this until we come up with a design that really stuns people. We should set a goal here to set the standard.

I really liked the idea before about having themes based on popular game consoles, though now I'm wondering if that might be too kitschy. I'd be happy if we just had one really icy-cool theme that had a "whoa" effect on people.

I've been fishing around for various Drupal layouts we could adapt for our purposes.

* Goofy : I like the shadowed windows on this one.
* friends electric I like the shaded effects on the left and right margins
* of and by for : A bit text-heavy, but everything seems well organized.

Still, none of these themes seem "perfect."

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Matt Barton
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another cool template

this one's not Drupal-specific, but I'm sure we could make something like it (scroll down for screenshot). I like the colors and effects on the side panels and especially like the big windows where our articles would be.

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Mark Vergeer
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those templates look nice

Yes, those templates look nice. But also a bit standard, I have seen sites actually using these. Sites using the same theme look awfully similar.

I have been eperimenting with blogging, my blog at http://www.markvergeer.nl click the link to my blok blog uses a standard not-changable template which makes it look very much like other blogs out there. Despite using your own photo's etc.

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Matt Barton
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No Standard Templates

I agree with you, Mark. We don't want AA to look like all the other websites. I just wanted to find some good templates we could use to start thinking about how we want our site to look--I hope no one thought I was suggesting we just take one of these templates and paste it here without changing it to suit our own needs!

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Bill Loguidice
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A must read?

First off, I think discussing looks are very important. I think it's firmly established now that we're all on the same page that we really need to focus - when the time is right - on making our site look unique and as far from any other site as possible. Done.

Now, I think what we REALLY need to focus on - ALL OF US - is functionality, which is the real hard part. I happen to agree with Mark about the way comments are structured on here in regards to blogs and in finding what's new/in listing what's new. It's simply NOT intuitive. Matt, are you aware of any enhancements to this setup, any modules that we can use to make this FUNCTION better? I can see us coming up with awesome articles and blog/news posts, but then users having trouble navigating to and through "what's news", sort of defeating our purpose. Also, I'd love some type of formal e-mail notification of new stuff if at all possible. It would make administration and my visits more productive.

Also, I realize we're all not technical when it comes to inner workings of these content management systems like Drupal, but we ALL really need to be able to do basic maintenance and tweaks, so please, as your time permits, I implore you to poke around and tweak things. There's not much set now, so if something were to break, it's better to do it now while it's still simple to reset the whole thing back to factory settings.

[I don't know who beyond Matt or Mark will see this, but here goes...] Also, I'd LOVE to see some of you other guys really get into this as much as possible. I'm going to be very honest here and say Matt and I will not be doing a lot of pushing this time around. If we have to carry the whole Website ourselves, we will. If you need a kick in the ass or a reminder to do something, we simply won't have the time for it this time around. I want everyone to stay and participate and take part in all the good things that will happen, but no one is going to "carry" anyone else. If you really want to do some things over another - for instance, Mark has indicated a preference for keeping a forum community going - go for it, but let us know. I don't want to make decisions or do things without some of you guys, but if we're forced to, we will. It's all a matter of keeping this going forward and having the ambition to constantly make it better. That's obviously a very personal drive and not everyone is going to want to be a part of that.
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Bill Loguidice - Armchair Arcade Co-Founder and Editor
www.billandchristina.com (includes Videogame and Computer Collection)
www.mythcore.com (creative development company)

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Mark Vergeer
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moderating the forum

I would be willing to be a constant factor in the forum department,that is something I could easily manage. It's the community side of AA and a vital part that I like very much.

But I am actually trying to gear up and consistently donate time (which I now actually have) to some professional writing. I am under the impression that my English language skills are sufficient to be able to do this, please correct me if I am wrong. ;)

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Bill Loguidice
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Front page

What is perhaps throwing me off with each of those three examples is that they still look like blogs. Perhaps we can come up with a clever way of having an article index in the top (quarter-sized) of the Website with the blogs/latest posts under it. I think that would take the edge off of a "just another blog site". I think it's still key that we sell our content and don't give anyone the impression that we're a "blog", which will cause us to be overlooked very quickly. I'd like people to be hooked on the content without realizing they're reading a blog, if that makes sense. Blogging is just the "tool" we'll be using, not the point.

Anyway, the point is, while the blog-based stuff needs to be on the front page and immediately readable, I'd like something clearly above it that provides access to the articles and archives.
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Bill Loguidice - Armchair Arcade Co-Founder and Editor
www.billandchristina.com (includes Videogame and Computer Collection)
www.mythcore.com (creative development company)

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Mark Vergeer
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arggh wierd sql error and my comment is lost forever

I don't know if making our website look like a blog is a good thing. Of course blogs are very 'hot' right now. But using a 'template' from Drupal might be a wrong decision.

The way the comments work on this testsite is a bit ofputting to me, there's no clear overview and it is not that intuitive.

I don't want to sound conservative here, but in my opinion the old website's exterior is a very cool, clearcut design. Very specific and very recognizable. What is underneath is utter crap according to some who have been batteling with it.

I think it would be a good idea to create our own themes and make us look distinctly different from other websites and not like some webshop/blog that uses a standard drupal template picked from the pile.

There's this nagging sensation in the back of my head that makes me think this drupal thing is not the best software for us. Perhaps we should try something else that has more or less standard integrated forum functionality. Adding comments to Drupal posts and using another forum as some sort of 'plugin' might require people to have to log in twice. I don't think that anonymous comments on articles is a thing we'd want.

Had my first Drupal error btw, posted a comment very similar to this one wanted to edit it and lo and behold a wierd sql error and everything was gone.... :(

Whatever we decide on in the end as a group, I'm cool with. Just want to have a very lively discussion on everything! :)

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Matt Barton
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Forums

Yes, Bill and I are well aware how much you guys are into the forums. My idea was to setup a separate phpbb site and let you guys administer and moderate it. That's what you guys love; that's what you're good at; that's probably the best way you can help AA. I could easily transfer all the usernames and passwords from the old site to a new phpbb site, so there wouldn't be a need for the old group to re-register.

Meanwhile, Bill and I can focus on blogging news and drafting articles--our strong suit. What are your thoughts on this, Mark?

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Mark Vergeer
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Blogging news and drafting articles....

Writing good articles is something that we have proof of being more than capable of, just look at some of the gems that are on the old site.
Matt, of course you and Bill should focus on those articles. I am cool with just being a moderator for a forum but I also would be interested in doing something more than just moderate. I think the stuff I did was ok, but I can do a lot better. In Dutch I am a pretty good writer, but in English it's a lot harder for me to get a certain style going and exactly formulate what I want with all the finesses and nuances AND humor. But it is something I would like to continue to do and get better at, even as a non-native speaker. Give it an internation spin. See it as a personal challenge and goal.
Since last october I work considerably less crazy hours, cut back my weekly work by as much as 8 hours because of my Crohn's disease. But this gives me loads more time to actually play games, participate in AA and I am dying to create pieces, AND I will be able to contineously and consistently put in an efford. Perhaps co-authoring pieces is something I would like. And I am dying to use my increasing knowlegde of human behaviour, psychiatry and all these various psychological schools of thought on the matter of our favourite electronic recreational activities.

Cheers

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