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Open threadMajor blog overhaul

 Posted by (Visited 3749 times)  Open thread  Tagged with:
Dec 182013

biglogoYou may have noticed that the site looks a little different today! It has seen a major overhaul — years of hacks in files have been overwritten by a modern customizable theme (Suffusion).

The goals were

  • Get it looking nicer, because, damn, it was dated. I usually overhaul it every few years, and it’s been overdue.
  • Get it faster and more responsive, thanks to streamlining all the cruft away. We’ll see. The database for the blog is, by the way, around 5GB of data. Yeesh. So it may be that getting it faster will require major DB surgery.
  • Cut away some of the stuff that was outright obsolete, like the links list (I’ll have to create a new one, sorry for anyone I wiped out!)
  • Give better and faster access to frequently desired material. This is being done with the nav bar up at the top. You’ll notice that this still takes you to the old site’s static pages (static pages that now date back to 1998 in some cases). Over time I expect to migrate all this into WordPress proper and redirect all the old links.
  • I also plan to add new stuff now. Like, some gallery pages for the games I have worked on. Seems silly to be a game designer with a game design site and not have a portfolio page… There’s also all the books that I have had chapters in, I ought to have those up here too. Maybe Slideshare widgets for all the presentations.

Among other things, the site is now fully responsive, so it shouldn’t take pinching and zooming to read it on a smartphone anymore. I swapped out the tag cloud widget, and the translator widget too. The old translator actually cached all the pages; this one just sends you off to Google Translate to do it yourself, so that should save a lot of space.

There are still many things that I have to sort out: whether to keep the frames on images, the weird bottom edge of the nav bar, what to do about comments (I like having the Twitter comments show up seamlessly, but I don’t think I like the reverse chronological order they show up in!), how to handle the older parts of the site, the bits of stuff left over like the blue highlighting of my comments that no longer matches the theme, the way drop caps are messing up when there’s an image in the top left, the bad headers on the right side…

Of course, feedback is welcome! Let me know what you think of stuff like the color scheme, the layout, and so on.

Mar 152012

This is post #2,342 on this blog (not counting the dozens of articles, snippets, and presentations not in the blog database)… yet more of the over a quarter-million words written here since the site started in 1997 and the blog in 1998. And I have to admit, I tend to take for granted the idea that people have read all the stuff that matters, so they understand me when I throw around terms or assume that they know what my past writing on the topic is. Which is ludicrous, of course.

So I got asked on Twitter for a list of my juiciest game design posts, to serve as a central jumping-off point.

This was hard. But here’s a list of ones that I think are my best. Many of these are actually talks, rather than posts. These are usually in sort of rough reverse chronological order, but there’s plenty of places where they are just in the order I found them in, or random cut & paste order.

Feel free to list your own favorites in the comments. And if you haven’t seen some of these before, well, this is the best way to catch up on my overall beliefs and philosophies on games.

Theory of fun (cognition and games) and game grammar overview. This covers the very highest level structure of the thinking on these two interrelated subjects.

Continue reading »

MiscOpen threadHappy birthday, blog: 10 years

 Posted by (Visited 8850 times)  Misc, Open thread
Aug 292008

The banner today

The first posts on the ancestor of this site went up ten years ago today. The site was dark blue. It used this newfangled HTML tag called frames, and I added each post by handcoding the HTML and uploading the file to the server.

I feel old. 🙂

Some of the oldest things on this site date back before the site itself, to when I was a young punk designer of 25 or 26, cocky and arrogantly sure I knew everything. I turn 37 in a week. I like to think I’m still a young turk tilting at the windmills.

Ten years ago, I started the site to archive some of the things I was telling the UO community and the LegendMUD community, things about the ways in which online communities can self-determine, things about how virtual worlds can serve as bridges, as ways to connect. To talk about how something people see as “mere games” can mean much more. I eagerly read everything I could by people like Randy Farmer & Chip Morningstar, Richard Bartle, and other pioneers. I collected aphorisms from mailing lists and gathered them into a reference source. I tried to share it back, to do my learning in public.

The previous banner, aka "the pixelly look"

In some ways, the site has become a book — most literally, in the way that A Theory of Fun was born from blog posts and snippets from MUD-Dev, but also in the over half a million words I have written here.

"Wood site #2" -- there was a wood site #1 before that one. This is where the knotwork thing came from.

I thought a good way to celebrate might be to turn things around on you. I am pretty sure that there are plenty of folks who haven’t been here that long — given that the site has gained several thousand daily readers in just the last year. So I thought I would ask some questions and use the anniversary as a chance to point people to some of the older material they might not have read.

So I want to turn it around on you! I have questions for you!

I don't seem to have that old art anymore... and there was one design older than ths, all dark blue.

I don't seem to have the old art for wood site #1anymore... and there was one design older than this, all dark blue.

I have my favorites and am thinking of showcasing some of them over the next week, but I am curious, because I suspect that to some degree I am better known to many of you for what I have said than what I have done. So many of the things I have done aren’t really there to see anymore, but the things I have written and said are still here, for better or worse. 🙂

So thanks for coming  on the journey! Here’s to another ten years, another half a million words, and more learning in public.

MiscOpen threadWordPress 2.6 upgrade

 Posted by (Visited 11560 times)  Misc, Open thread  Tagged with: , , , ,
Jul 152008

I am doing an upgrade to WordPress 2.6, don’t be surprised to see the blog broken for a bit.


OK, I think it’s done, and there seem to be no adverse effects. During the few minutes that it was defenseless, 7 spams came in. 🙂

And my Visual Editor conked out beforehand — the dreaded “visual editor just doesn’t work” bug that apparently plagues many. Sigh. Here’s what fixed it:

  • The upgrade, at least on my machine, put everything up with the wrong permissions. I set the wp_includes folder and all files under to 755.
  • I also deleted the contents of wp-content/uploads/js_cache

Apparently there are several things that cause this. So here’s some useful threads.

Oh, and you need to add captions to your existing theme if you want them styled right on the images. I found this, though I then started tweaking it. (See below).

Even later:

All my accented characters were broken, and it’s because the wp-config-sample.php file has utf8 for the DB_CHARSET, but my blog is old enough that all its tables were creates many versions ago when the default was latin1_ci_swedish. There’s no easy way to change the DB, so I fixed it by changing the DB_CHARSET in wp-config to just ”.

OK, now that caption stuff:

Continue reading »

Open threadWritingScary stats redux

 Posted by (Visited 5404 times)  Open thread, Writing  Tagged with:
Apr 192008

Back at the end of 2006, I noted that thanks to stat-tracking stuff here on the blog, I could tell that I had written 340,000 words on the blog over the years. That’s just blog posts, not counting anything in the site proper, mind you.

Well, here we are a year and quarter later, and there’s 540,000 words there now.

So I really need everyone to go back and tag them all. 🙂

MiscOpen threadBlog seems functional again

 Posted by (Visited 10359 times)  Misc, Open thread  Tagged with: ,
Mar 242008

You may have noticed the blog being partially inoperative this weekend. Well, it seems to be back. We’ll see how it goes during the day.

The background: on Friday or Saturday I attempted to log into the admin dashboard only to be told that I had to upgrade my database. I assumed it was because my host was forcing me to go from the old 2.1.x version to the newer 2.3.3 version which has a lot of security fixes. Well, I clicked the “upgrade” link, it didn’t work, and then the dashboard became inaccessible. I got stuck in the endless upgrade loop described here.

I then spent two days trying forced and manual upgrades to 2.3.3, 2.2, and every number in between. Looked like it was always timing out when trying to update things. While I wasat it, though, I also uploaded the images for the new theme that I have been messing with — so at least there was a new look. 🙂

Morgan suggested forcing a database upgrade, which I didn’t see the point of, given that said upgrade is exactly what was failing each time. But it did make me go look at the value of the db_version field in the wp_options table. Which was “1” instead of what it should be. I changed it manually to 4773, and the upgrade link succeeded, and now it’s at 5183 (which is correct since we are currently running 2.2.3). So thanks, Morgan!

Tonight perhaps, I will try finishing the job and going all the way to 2.3.3. In the meantime, you may notice that some blog functionality is missing — translation, for example. Most of it is just commented out, and I will have to dig into the PHP for the sidebars to bring it back. The new theme is supposed to have a bunch of stuff rearranged, but I suspect it makes no sense to do that until I get to the latest version.

Post here if you see any obviously broken stuff, please!

Open threadAnswer this post

 Posted by (Visited 7138 times)  Open thread
Dec 012007

…aka, the blogging dilemma…

What with all the new sites that track various sorts of virtual worlds news, it’s getting harder to figure out what to blog about. What’s more, I don’t even really know what the readership of the site is anymore (other than “largish.”) Is it people interested in UO/SWG style worldy games? Theory of Fun/Game Grammar scholarly types? Is it people following Metaplace? How many are general web folks looking for the intersection of games and social software?

I know, “write what you want.” But to some degree, I admit I am audience driven. 🙂 I also don’t want to just end up regurgitating old posts, or reblogging news from other sites. Because of this, I have been posting a little less. Of course, I am also doing a lot of work around the Metaplace alpha, so some of the reason for the decrease in posting is that my energy is just going elsewhere…

Anyway, just wanted to take the pulse.