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Games List

Games List – February 10, 2009 4:00 PM (edited 2/10/09 11:02 AM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
Back when this site was still Dowdnet, I made an alternate version of it on my own computer as a sort of games tracker. Basically, I have a database of every game I own, and the ability to mark goals so I know what I've done and have to still do. (I'll be honest, the main impetus for this database was to have a solid record of games I've beaten so I'd stop replaying Final Fantasy games over and over. Square-Enix has defeated my plan by constantly re-releasing new versions of these games, but that's neither here nor there.)

Anyway, running apache on my home machine was annoying so I eventually put this site on the web, without a DNS entry, on the very server this site is on. And as this site is called The Gamer Corner I think it's time to integrate them together. The question is, exactly what should I do with this information? I'll divide this post into what it does now (and is therefore easily ported) and what I could see adding to it. If you have any further additions or suggestions, please post them!

What It Does Now
Right now the system is pretty simple. There's a table of platforms, including things like "Virtual Console" or "Xbox Live Arcade," and ways to create more platforms (which the admin, i.e. me, would be in charge of). Then there's a table of games, which basically consist of a name and a generic notes field, which I mainly use to point out any extra crap I have for the game, like strategy guides. PC games are in a separate table, but it's basically the same format.

The other major feature are game goals. Basically, you can add any number of these, and they show up as checkboxes. They have a title, a description, and a priority level. Generally things like "beat the game" are normal priority while "collect all the doodads" are low. I'm not entirely sure how this ought to work on a multi-user level, but I want to keep it since it's the reason I made this. I guess the simplest way is to let anyone add goals to a game, then mark off any you've completed. Or don't, if you don't care.

What Else It Should Do
Well the first thing is to add a flag to see which users own a game. A second flag, or some other method, would say which games a user was playing, or interested in playing online, or whatever. The generic notes field should also be per-user so you could make notes on a game. Each game would allow comments like reviews or blog entries, as well.

The more important bit would be to have a lot of filters and groupings. The same game on multiple platforms should either be linked or be the same entry. I'm leaning towards linking them because, for instance, a 360 game is likely to be entirely different than the same game on DS, and most of the features wouldn't make much sense. But on the other hand, right now the games are divided by package (So FF Chronicles instead of FF4 and Chrono Trigger), which makes a lot less sense when doing this for groups in general. And would you list those games as Final Fantasy 4 and Chrono Trigger for PS1, or SNES? What if there are two separate collections with the same game, but slightly different (as I believe is the case for Ocarina of Time on Gamecube)? To be honest, I don't know.

Anyway, a "series" grouping would also be nice, as well as perhaps a publisher so you can group by that. But what other features should this involve, that's the question.

EDIT: Oh, and links to reviews of the same game would also be nice. This would probably be done by title at first, until I come up with a better way to do it that doesn't require re-writing the reviews module. But a "review this game" link would definitely be part of it.

Re: Games List – February 10, 2009 4:39 PM (edited 2/10/09 11:39 AM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
Ok, here's how I picture this working:

Main Game List Screen
This is a high level chart of games and users. You would have the following columns:
Game Name | System | User 1 | User 2... | User N

Each row would represent a distinct game with multiplatform games rolled up under a system tag of "Multiplatform". Under each user column, the rows would have a simple game status of "N/A", "Own", "Playing", and "Finished". Then, make the User column heading and the Game Names clickable links. Clicking on the user name will link to the User Profile. Clicking on the game name will link to a new Display Game Details window. Perhaps later on you can have a way to select which users you want to show up on this screen, like a friends list. Of course, you'd need to have a way of seeing all the users on the site to do that first Wink

This screen would also have a link to an Add A New Game screen.

New Game Screen
This screen will allow users to add a new game to the master list. This should be a simple form to display non-user specific information about the game such as name, platform(s), year(s), etc..

Display Game Screen
This new window will display drill down information on a specific game. In addition to displaying all of the stats entered on the New Game Screen, this window will display user breakdowns on
- Which system people own the game for
- User entered game goals and who's completed them
- Links to reviews, blogs, forum comments about this game

This would also be the window where a user can set their game status on (as displayed in the Main Game List Window). Possibly, for people who mark the game as Finished, you can have a place where people can put in a quick score of the game and display a meta-average across all people who have finished the game.

User Profile
Edit the user profile screens to include a list of games the user has marked as "Own", "Playing", or "Finished". This list would just be:
Game Name | System | Status | Score

- Game Name would be clickable to the Display Game Screen page
- System would be the specific system indicated by the user (no Multiplatform)
- Status is the high level "Own", "Playing", "Finished" status
- Score is the quick score that can be given to the game (if you implement it)

Re: Games List – February 10, 2009 8:47 PM (edited 2/10/09 3:47 PM)
chaoscat (452 posts) Ambassador of Good Will
Rating: Not Rated
I stand by my suggestion of "game name" "system" "edition" as the defining data points. Without edition, you could have some trouble with re-release if they add content.

Talraen (11:16 AM): That, and I've learned to parse through Tozzi's contempt
Re: Games List – February 10, 2009 8:51 PM (edited 2/10/09 3:51 PM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
You can put Edition as additional information on the drill downs, but I wouldn't break out new rows on the master list for that or it's going to get confusing. I think the key on the master list should just be Game Name.

Re: Games List – February 10, 2009 9:52 PM (edited 2/10/09 4:52 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
I'm not going to have columns per user, simply because the formatting would be a nightmare. Rather, what I'm thinking is to have columns based on information pertinent to you (i.e., one for if you own it and your playing status, one for your goals progress, etc.), and then one column with names of people who own the game. If there are more than a set number, it might say "5 owners" which would be a link to show them in some way.

Despite this site being tiny and chat being just as good for this, I like the idea of having a lot of search tools. For instance, there should definitely be a button that cross-references games you're looking to play online with all other users who also want to play. To that end, I see having two status fields: one for ownership/play status (like "not owned," "owned," "playing now," and "finished") and a second for online play interest (which is basically a yes or a no, probably).

I still think entries need to be a on a per-system basis, though I'm not sure Tozzi's "edition" flag is really necessary. In the ultra-rare case that there are two different versions of the same game on one system, you should probably just add a parenthetical to one of the names. Like "Ocarina of Time (Collector's Edition)."

The problem is, goals can really go both ways. Take the case of Final Fantasy IV, for example. There are three relevant versions of the game here (PS1, DS, and GBA). All three would have a goal like "Complete the Game" and maybe stuff like "Collect All Ultimate Weapons" or whatever. Therefore, the goals should be shared among the systems, right? Well, the GBA version would also have "Clear the Bonus Dungeon" and "Defeat Zeromus-EX," neither of which applies to the other versions of the game. And then the DS version would have "Complete the Game Three Times" and "Collect All Upgrades," which in turn don't apply to the other versions of the game either. This is a problem.

I think the solution is to keep them separate, but add an "import goals" function that copies any goals that don't already exist from another version of the game, or maybe from all versions of the game. You could then add or delete them as necessary. Goals would be tracked individually for each game. Yes, this means you can't easily do cross-platform gamer cock size contests, but too bad!

Another note on the goals is that I've never bothered to make any for 360 games, since achievements serve the same purpose. I'm not really sure if I ought to change that policy. Also, I think in terms of your completion (like 1/4 goals complete) there has to be an option to "ignore" goals, so if someone adds one you don't care about, you can keep it out of your stats. I think all goals that existed when you mark the game as owned would be active by default, and any added later would be ignored until you went and checked them out (and there would be a sidebar message indicating new goals).

Finally, I like the user profile stuff, that's definitely a good idea. And I also like the quick score idea, though I'm torn between using stars, the grades from the review module, or a more limited version of those grades (i.e., A-B-C-D-F). I think of like the A-B-C-D-F idea for some reason.

Re: Games List – February 11, 2009 1:24 PM (edited 2/11/09 8:24 AM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
ABCDF works well because it directly corresponds to the review scores, but also is the same as giving stars 1-5 stars. I have a strong feeling that the goals are going to end up being way more complicated, and little used. If anything, I would keep them as a read only list that people can append to, rather than a way to keep track of who's done what. Maybe differ the goals to a phase 2 roll out? Get a feel for if people would actually like them or not first?

Let me see if I have your main screen layout pictured correctly. You'll have a table like this:

Game Name | Status | Online Interest | Quick Score | Other Owners

Where the "Other Owners" column would be a comma separated list of user name with a max of 5 people or so? And what did you think about the Game Details Page? Are you thinking of implementing something like that?

Re: Games List – February 11, 2009 1:41 PM (edited 2/11/09 8:41 AM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: /images/decepticon.gif – 1
The goals are priority 1 for two reasons. First off, like I said, they're why I created the original version, and I use them. And secondly, the sooner I can transfer them to this site, the sooner I can delete the old one. Whether anyone else uses them doesn't really interest me. Smile

Anyway, in preparation for development of this to begin, I think it's time to go live with some of the updates I've made recently. I might see if some people want to "beta test" this feature on the dev site, too. If anyone's interested, let me know.

Re: Games List – February 11, 2009 1:46 PM (edited 2/11/09 8:46 AM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
I don't know how much time I'll have, but I may give this new feature a whirl when you have it ready to test.

PS: Sorry about the negative point. It was a miss-click!

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