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Notes From Gaia
Random thoughts from inside Gaia
Development Update -- 7/17
Welcome to this week's journal, in which I finally resolve not one but two of the most frequently asked questions, the ones that have been filling my mailbox. Also some pictures of life at Gaia and touch on some other topics. As always, your comments or questions are welcome below, and often turn out to be the most interesting part of the whole journal.

Most Frequently Asked Questions
These questions are currently 20% of my mail / profile comments:

Q. What is that blue box behind you? It looks just like a TARDIS!
A. It's an evolution of the "Imaginary Friend" EI

Q. There's a chain letter going around that says unless I respond that my account will get deleted.
A. Fake.

Q. Are you sure? I keep seeing it.
A. Totally fake. a) It's not from an administrator account. b) We know who logged in, why would we need to use PMs for it? c) We never delete accounts anyway.

Wow, glad we could get that taken care of.

Life At Gaia
Our development server. I thought all the contrasting colors were interesting. Our operations team keeps it running flawlessly (but don't ask me how!)


Our supply room has all the critical necessities -- paper, pens, paper clips, staples, and, of course, nerf gun ammunition


Gaia has either a very egalitarian feel or a very chaotic feel, depending on your viewpoint. Any piece of paper becomes an analog wiki, and you should be prepared to see edits and revisions.


By the watercooler is a pad of paper. Every week someone turns to a new sheet, and everyone doodles on it as they wait for the geological epochs required for the hot water to dispense.


Animated Items
There's been some misunderstanding about the way that animated items work, so I wanted to clarify it a bit.

The animated item flag is a per-user flag. Basically, when you use Stellarite on your character, it sets a flag on your user data that says, "go ahead and animate." It doesn't set any flags on the objects themselves. So:

- Gifted an animated item? It will be animated (or not) based on whether you've had Stellarite in the past 30 days
- Buy one off the marketplace? Ditto
- Buy one from cash shop? Ditto, but you'll also be granted Stellarite so you can animate immediately if you like

Why did we do this way instead of a per-item (Updated: fixed typo) flag? Basically, it was the way that added the least amount of load to the servers. Accessing user information is for the most part quick, whereas accessing inventory information is slow. Since the canonical forum thread will have 15 different users on it, we wanted to choose a method that was very quick. Also, if we added a per-item flag (i.e., the item itself is animated for 30 days), we'd have to change marketplace to make item properties visible, and there are all sorts of interesting questions that raises: do you have 30 different typs of Baron the Owl, for 0 - 30 days left on animation? How do you figure out what the average marketplace value should be?

Spring Cleaning / User Communication
So, Spring Cleaning finished up, although there are still lots of projects ongoing that need to be finished up:
- Towns 2.0 needs to be resolved
- Need to figure out what we're doing with fishing
- Jigsaw is still pending
- the trade window needs to be updated
- there is are new preview options for marketplace/stores that still need to get out
- new guild look and feel is in testing

Although, all in all, it was kind of fun to just spend a concentrated amount of effort on fixing stuff in the site. Internally, we cleaned up a lot of code -- made it easier to work with, and also sped it up quite a bit. It should make adding features and fixing bugs easier in the future.

For communication during the event proper, we used PMs to anyone that had voted or posted in the main Spring Cleaning forum. This worked okay, but it would have been nice to get the word out to more people. Unfortunately, there is not a good mechanism right now for system level messages. As forms of communication we currently have:

- announcements -- which spams everyone, and are tightly restricted, since they are used for sponsorships
- system alert -- very transient and easy to miss if you're not online when the message is shown
- Gaia News / Dev Notices -- which almost no one knows about and weren't read, even when they were being updated regularly

It seems like we need something that is perhaps below the intrusiveness level of announcements but about that of a system alert. We have been talking about a number of possibiliteis, including taking over one of the three modules along the bottom of the home page and repurposing it for system alert messages, which might work -- although I wonder if a below-the-fold item on the home page is going to be obvious enough that people will feel like they are being informed.






User Comments: [26] [add]
love luna
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commentCommented on: Sat Jul 17, 2010 @ 11:45pm
gaia headquarters look like a really fun place xD
i think i'd like to be a programmer when i grow up :3

thank you for all your hard work!


commentCommented on: Sat Jul 17, 2010 @ 11:47pm
Regarding System level messages.

On the homepage, sometimes there are little movies/sponsorship ads that appear, in full, the first time you log on for the day - why not utilize this for such announcements? It would appear only the first time you log on for the day, noticeable but not spammy. Don't put them at the bottom of the home page - I know I rarely scroll down that far and I'm not sure that other people do either.

Personally, I don't mind system announcements as I'd rather know about these things instead of blindly finding about them from GCD or from friends.

/two cents

I am looking forward to seeing what happens with the new Arena, will you be involved or has the Arena been a bit of a pain smilies/icon_xd.gif



Deazy
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Panagrammic
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commentCommented on: Sat Jul 17, 2010 @ 11:54pm
@Deazy: that space is reserve for sponsorships -- so it would mean we couldn't have system messages if there was a sponsorship active. Also, I think probably only 10% of the user base is interested in messages about system status and whatnot.


commentCommented on: Sun Jul 18, 2010 @ 12:18am
Why not create a new one between the "What's Hot" and the Spotlighted threads/avatars? Just a one liner that appears when needed, that links to the full announcement. Create a new Announcement subforum, just for these types of announcements - one that doesn't immediately create a bubble next to your avatar.

I've never understood why people get so uptight about announcements, particularly ones that are informative. I know people get fed up with constant CS item updates, so you'd think that system announcements would be a welcome change XD

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.



Deazy
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Miss-dark8607
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commentCommented on: Sun Jul 18, 2010 @ 12:18am
For the Spring Cleaning how about E-mail? Also one more site wide notice would have been helpful. I mean that's how the majority of us found out about it. Also the front page! Don't underestimate the front page. People notice it if you have one of the favorite NPC's pointing it out. smilies/icon_3nodding.gif

All in all thank you so much Mr. Pan. As you probably notice this Spring Cleaning event meant the whole Gaian world to me as well as other users new and old. I look forward to more updates and revamps. Psst. After Fishing is fix can you dust off Word Bump, Cards, and Slots too? I know they don't seem like fan favorites but trust me a few of us still play them. Honest.

Keep up the great work.


commentCommented on: Sun Jul 18, 2010 @ 12:31am
I'm probably not making much sense, but I wanna try helping, so~

Why not have it in our feeds? On our account settings, maybe we can have an option to keep it or not? smilies/icon_sweatdrop.gif That way, if something happened, it would be on our My Gaia page, as if one of our subscribed topics got a new post or something. xP

*sneaks back to lurking*



Anguished
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OMFG Taylor
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commentCommented on: Sun Jul 18, 2010 @ 01:34am
Urgh, so zOMG! didn't even show up on the radar of the Spring Cleaning event? smilies/icon_cry.gif That's really sad... That game has so much potential, yet it's been nearly abandoned.

If Towns 2.0 is created, I hope it is very tightly integrated with zOMG! >.<


commentCommented on: Sun Jul 18, 2010 @ 03:03am
Quote:
The animated item flag is a per-user flag. Basically, when you use Stellarite on your character, it sets a flag on your user data that says, "go ahead and animate." It doesn't set any flags on the objects themselves. So:

- Gifted an animated item? It will be animated (or not) based on whether you've had Stellarite in the past 30 days
- Buy one off the marketplace? Ditto
- Buy one from cash shop? Ditto, but you'll also be granted Stellarite so you can animate immediately if you like

Why did we do this way instead of a per-user flag? Basically, it was the way that added the least amount of load to the servers. Accessing user information is for the most part quick, whereas accessing inventory information is slow. Since the canonical forum thread will have 15 different users on it, we wanted to choose a method that was very quick. Also, if we added a per-item flag (i.e., the item itself is animated for 30 days), we'd have to change marketplace to make item properties visible, and there are all sorts of interesting questions that raises: do you have 30 different typs of Baron the Owl, for 0 - 30 days left on animation? How do you figure out what the average marketplace value should be?


Is it per-user or not? Based on the context, I think it's per-user so the text should be changed to "Why did we do this way instead of a per-item flag?"

Otherwise, thanks for all the work you do for us and the pictures, they were funny ^^


Questing 100+ signatures / / /

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Old School Hip Hop Clothing Petition

'Jesus loves me' this I know ^.^

Saronei
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Chocobo Princess
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commentCommented on: Sun Jul 18, 2010 @ 03:17am
Thanks so much for hosting the Spring Cleaning fix-a-thon! smilies/icon_blaugh.gif It was really cool to check it each day and see what was new. smilies/icon_whee.gif The construction-themed header was a great reminder to click on the sign and see Devs at Work. smilies/icon_3nodding.gif My favorites of the already-available updates are the fixed Unfriending (That sounds really unfriendly, but I'm pretty sure you know what I mean. smilies/icon_sweatdrop.gif ) and the ability to report Profile Comments directly if needed. Of course, I am eagerly anticipating the remaining updates that will roll out later; I always suspected that Towns 2.0 and the guild overhaul would be a larger projects than the allotted 2 weeks, despite the amazing talent level of the current team. smilies/icon_xd.gif I'm especially keeping an eye out for that fantastic new widget for previews and the shiny new Trades page. smilies/icon_mrgreen.gif Good luck with the remaining fixes for the classic Gaia games, too. Fishing doesn't work well on this old computer of mine, but I know a bunch of Gaians really love it. The Puzzles update sounds good, too; I hope that Word Bump can get a similar dust-off in the future.

Regarding communication during the event: It was great to receive the PMs with the updates. I made sure to post them in a couple of my large guilds where I thought other users would be interested in getting a glimpse of Gaia behind the scenes.

Regarding future communication about system updates: I do still check the GN&U forum (although I don't always remember it every single day); Narumi Misuhara's been great at updating information about the sponsorships there. If there were an ongoing system changes Sticky there where devs could post about these updates, interested Gaians could subscribe and would receive a Notice after each new post. That would involve having other threads if you wanted to collect user feedback about any particular update or proposed update. On the other hand, we do have the Feeds system now; would it be possible to create a new type of Announcement that would be opt-in? Then Gaians could self-select whether or not to receive that type of update.

Thanks again to you and your team for the extra effort involved in the Fix-a-thon. smilies/icon_heart.gif And thanks for another informative and entertaining journal update. smilies/icon_blaugh.gif


commentCommented on: Sun Jul 18, 2010 @ 05:15am

      For the user communication, how about using My Gaia alerts? People can opt out of ones they don't want to see and what not. Also, they stay visible until you click it, doing away with the system alert issue.
      ẙpḩɛr



Digital Puppetry
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nanieru
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commentCommented on: Sun Jul 18, 2010 @ 05:30am
hmmm...if those servers were an active bomb, could be easily to find the purple cable. smilies/icon_xd.gif

*ehem*

The new changes about the srping cleaning were quite awesome and the best of all is that weren't "sensed" at all.
And also most say that really like the way, you updated the clean progress because it didn't stay in we already did that, but tempt to see more and vote more for others proposals.

Now, about the user communication... 9_9?? How about if you use the home page below the main bar (( also could be another utility for the footer)). I think there is enough space to put a run banner (( matrix green letters ^.^ )) (as Zomg server page) when something like, want to be informed with option bottoms of repeat,stop and hide, in the way that users do not get annoy for the "movement" or slow loading or bad flash and many reasons.


commentCommented on: Sun Jul 18, 2010 @ 05:58am
I thought the PMs were a fine way of doing it, I thought you guys had at least one announcement regarding spring cleaning announcing the forums. especially with the PMs because then it kinda meant that the only ones that wanted to get the feedback and know what was going on were people that were there that might've been lost in the tons of threads and liked seeing what got through and what was being worked on.



Bardic Inspiration
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Dlen Isolde
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commentCommented on: Sun Jul 18, 2010 @ 06:05am
I just wanted to say that Spring Cleaning was a brilliant move. The involvement of both Devs and Users made it an awesome accomplishment. This should become an annual or even a biannual event. What a community effort. Everyone working together. And the Devs did a fantastic job of listening to the users.

As for a way to communicate better, for me I use to always visit the Gaia News / Dev Notices. The only reason I don't visit as much anymore is because they're NOT being updated regularly. Narumi Misuhara is the best at keeping us up to date on special events and such. So I always look for posts by him and have subscribed to his journal as well as yours.

Those little system alerts would be ok if they'd stick around long enough to read. I mean really, I see a little something from the corner of my eye and by the time I focus on the spot, it's gone. Fix those to stick around till a person decides to get rid of them and your problem is solved. Leave it up, let me read it, have an X on it so I can get rid of it.


commentCommented on: Sun Jul 18, 2010 @ 04:06pm
Spring Cleaning / User Communication

You can use twitter and email .I love Spring Cleaning I was so glad you guys did it.Thanks for the hard work

Also I thought of it. You can have news and update announcements for some people.

In labs you can have it where you get announcements for News and update only those who activate it will get the announcements therefor less spam.



MrsrachaelSnape
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PHARA0H
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commentCommented on: Sun Jul 18, 2010 @ 06:52pm
Quote:
Saronei says, "I think it's per-user so the text should be changed to "Why did we do this way instead of a per-item flag?""


It is per-user NOT per-item. (The sentence should say what you have written above, but it incorrectly states per-user, again. Oops!)


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Stalk My Bro's Tank
BUMP Here When Glowing
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commentCommented on: Sun Jul 18, 2010 @ 09:13pm
thank you guys for your work (:

hey, as for the news distributment methods! o/
i'm totally in favour of a news ticker, right between the header and the page content.
news tickers are stylish, easy to integrate into a layout without being intrusive, and are eyecatching - especially if you make it rollover like the forum pulse or something (but with not as manly lines. maybe three max)

i have a thread for this in the SF somewhere...

but i did appreciate the PM that i did get, anyway



panoptes
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pirhan
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commentCommented on: Sun Jul 18, 2010 @ 10:40pm
I concur with the person who wrote bring your mug. Not only would your water stay hotter/cooler longer and not only save cups and money but it'll make Craigs salary bigger too! smilies/icon_xd.gif smilies/icon_heart.gif smilies/icon_heart.gif

And I my OCD will never be able to step foot in your server room. I'm twitchy just looking at it.


commentCommented on: Mon Jul 19, 2010 @ 04:48am
That is a beautiful server room. I hope those patch cables are actually color coded smilies/icon_wink.gif Either way, *drool*

Nice ammo reserve too. I'll go with the staples though smilies/icon_razz.gif

You just won an internet for the citation needed. Granted it was formatted wrong. I'd go with a mug by the way. Especially since I have one from Apple XD.

And now on to seriousness. I haven't gotten that chain letter yet, which is a bit surprising with all the PM spam I get. In regards to animated items, I have no interest in them but based on what you said about them, I can see why there was a bit of confusion. I also think the per-user flag was a smart idea.

On to Spring Cleaning... I don't think I've seen anything major yet, but plenty of minor stuff for sure. Important minor stuff that I very much welcome. I'll certainly be interested in seeing what becomes of Towns with 2.0 considering Towns right now is a bit dry. As for fishing, did it a few times. Bored me pretty quickly. I would've rather watched paint dry. That said, the revamp doesn't thrill me too much. Sorry. On the other hand, I'm eagerly awaiting the Jigsaw updates. I've played that a couple times. Got a couple hours out of it. I'm also looking forward to those MP/store preview updates, even though I wasn't too thrilled with the icons shown in the concept preview. As for trades and guilds, I don't use them much, but I will welcome the UI update. They needed it.


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Former zETA.

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France Hopper
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Absol - Ruler of Chaos
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commentCommented on: Mon Jul 19, 2010 @ 03:16pm

bet that makes tracing a wire a pain

It seems like we need something that is perhaps below the intrusiveness level of announcements but about that of a system alert.
maybe something that run via the my gaia page (like notices)
named something like dev alerts
you could make it look like this
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please do not merge with notices


commentCommented on: Mon Jul 19, 2010 @ 11:31pm
Pan, will there be another Spring Cleaning event soon?



Kain-Senpai
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Cosmic Remnant
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commentCommented on: Tue Jul 20, 2010 @ 01:29pm
Pan, glad to hear about the ideas being thrown around for better communication with the userbase. Best of luck with that.

Edit: Apparently you also have a journal glitch on your hands. I submited this comment and it said it was saved in my journal though it was not.


commentCommented on: Tue Jul 20, 2010 @ 08:12pm
@ Skittles

Wow, yeah, that happened to me to when I submitted my other comment up above. It said it was submitted to MY journal. I didn't think anything of it because afterward when I went to edit it to see what happened, it was ok.

But if it's happening to other people, I wonder about it.

EDIT: I might add, that it didn't happen with this post though.



Dlen Isolde
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commentCommented on: Wed Jul 21, 2010 @ 11:21pm
Good lord, the development server. I don't see tags on those wires or anything - maintenance must be a nightmare. smilies/icon_gonk.gif


commentCommented on: Sat Jul 24, 2010 @ 12:50am
A lot of people cannot play Booty Grab since Dolphin Mania stopped. The screen lets you play with the fishes but in the background the owners tank is visibly empty. Thats on Firefox; Internet Explorer; and Windows 7. Lag on other programmes is so slow the game is also un-usable too.

Totally unacceptible and Gaia hasn't bothered to fix it or tell its users if they are ever going to be able to play again. I for one am useless at the small games and as for zOMG thats a nightmare to play. I spend most of my time being healed because I cannot play it. Some word from Gaia about sorting Booty Grab would be thankfully accepted. Hopefully yours Enigma.



pulchramen
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Soondereise
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commentCommented on: Tue Sep 28, 2010 @ 10:29pm
Wait a second, woah, woah, WOAH.......

You shoot each other with Nerf guns? O -O


commentCommented on: Thu Nov 25, 2010 @ 08:26pm
ok then:?:


MONKey

Blindethan
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User Comments: [26] [add]
 
 
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