The observant amongst us will notice that GamingUnion.net now has a completely new design on both the main site and the forums. We felt that this was absolutely key to bring things up to date, as there were many things about the old version of the site that were quite restricted - plus we wanted to make it more pretty.
We're launching as a beta, because we have plenty of plans in store to make the site better in the coming months, but for now, I just want to focus on what exactly has changed about the site.
You should instantly notice that everything is now a lot more dynamic. On the homepage, you can sort between the different types of content we produce like news, features and previews. There's also a tab now for media, so whenever there's a post with videos or images, they will automatically appear in there for your convenience. Switching between the latest news, posts which have had the most views in recent times and posts which have received the most comments can all be done on the fly.
Interspersed between the news posts on the homepage, you'll find the most recent podcast episode, as well as whatever is the most recent story from either Final Fantasy Union, Kingdom Hearts Union or Tales Union.
Most of that isn't all that different to the current site though, save for it being more dynamic and user friendly. The same can be said for news posts themselves. We'll have a slightly bigger image now, so there's more focus on the actual story, but that's all pretty much the same. Reviews are also fairly similar, except the longer reviews will now span multiple pages for easier reading. There's also now a proper archive which you can sort through by things like genre or recency.
The big change comes with the new games database. Currently it has a handful of games in it, but we'll be adding more over time to try and fill it out a bit more. So if your favourite game isn't in there, don't fret, we'll get to it eventually. This will link up with all of the content around the site, so if you view news stories, you'll little info pieces about the main game that's featured. If you click through, you'll be able to see recent news for games, as well as whenever they've been featured in any articles that have been written. Reviews will also be highlighted here. The database can also be sorted by publishers, developers and there's a lovely release calendar which will become more populated over time.
We're planning to have a lot more functionality, but for now, you can follow upcoming games and add current games to your collections. Doing this will allow you to see which members are also doing the same. User ratings are also active, so you can give your own yes/no score. In future updates, much more will happen with this, so stay tuned for that.
Unfortunately, with this new update there has been some collateral damage though - all of the old comments on the site have been lost due to the transition. It simply wasn't possible to integrate them with our new (hopefully future proof) system. For older podcast episodes, it's also not possible to view comments on the main site, but you can still view them on the forums. Everything going forward will work perfectly fine, and the comments system has been brought a bit more up to date. It's now fully integrated with the forums. As a result though, commenting on the Union websites (via the websites themselves) has been deactivated. You'll still be able to comment on the forums though, and in a few weeks things will be back to normal once we upgrade the code on the Union.
So, to recap:
- New layout
- New sorting options for content
- Games database has been created, which is interactive
- New forum layout and software
- Site now has a release calendar
- Podcasts now have individual pages
- Large reviews can span multiple pages, and you can sort reviews
Plans for the next wave of updates:
- Union commenting will be back working properly
- Forum user pages will be replaced with more specific user pages
- User pages will contain information on games you own
- User pages will also generate a custom RSS feed for you, based on games you follow
- You will gain GUP (GU Points) for performing actions on the website, as well as Union Points for performing actions on the different Unions
- Achievements will be unlockable for performing special tasks on the site
- Staff members will have specific pages too, where you can find their previous work
I want to thank all the guys on the staff for putting in a lot of man-hours to make this happen and we hope you enjoy the new site.