New Website 2020
If you've been following us for a while now, you've probably noticed that our website looks a bit different... Well, for the past two months, in addition to working on games, I've also been working on bringing to life this brand new version of our website!
There are a few main reasons for the update. The first is that I hadn't done anything with the site in 5 years, so it was starting to look outdated. Secondly, it would be a good project to showcase on my portfolio, to prove that I can really build a professional website. But most importantly, I wanted a back-end system that was not only easy to upload new content, but could also handle a wide variety of integrations and interesting features. Our old site was static, meaning it couldn't execute any code, but now we're running on a server, which means we can do really cool things.
There's a lot of new features, so I'll give a quick overview of what's new and what's still planned in this post. If you would rather watch me show off the website in a live demo, you can also check out this video.
The first new feature you'll notice is the addition of a user account system. You can create a Goldbar Games account in the top-right corner of the screen. Once you have created your account, you will need to verify it via e-mail. Check your inbox and click on the generated link to confirm your identity. Then you will be able to log in. Currently, the only thing you can do with an account is post comments on blog posts (unfortunately the old comments could not be carried over), but I'll explain my plans in the next section. But essentially, having accounts is necessary for a number of things I'd like to implement in the future.
Next, you'll also see that the blog posts are displayed in a better way. Each post has an author with an avatar icon on the left-hand side. So we can have more than one author writing blog posts! Actually, we used to have it set up that way -- our first website ran from 2011 to 2014, and the second site from 2014 to 2020. The posts from the first site actually were never migrated to the second one, but I've actually taken the time to migrate every single post to this new blog. So you can enjoy reading all of our posts from the past decade!
As a quick aside, you'll notice that I posted much more frequently in the early years, sometimes without much reason. As time dragged on, I'd post less and less often, partially because of the website's back-end being annoying, but also because of various real life issues and slow progress. But I plan to go back to posting more frequently, and diving into more valuable topics (more than just "we worked on the game this month" kind of stuff). Please look forward to a new and improved era of blogging!
The next page on the navigation bar is the Games page, which naturally shows a list of all of our games. Clicking on a game sends you to a page with more details and links to download/purchase the game and any related DLC. As of right now, only completed games are shown (with one exception). This is because the other "in development" games' pages became outdated, and rather than try to carry them over, it's better to just let them disappear and create them again when they're ready.
The remaining links in the navigation bar take you to our official merchandise store, a page dedicated to our business information and press kits, a page dedicated to our streaming schedule, and a page dedicated to customer support. You'll also notice the rotating banner at the top, with links to whatever is most important at the time.
Features in Testing
There are actually a number of new features that have been implemented but aren't yet visible on the website. They are currently undergoing final rounds of testing and will be available soon after. Let me go through them one by one.
The most exciting feature is the ability to purchase our games (and other digital content) directly from us. The purchase is linked to your Goldbar Games account, and, it is essentially DRM-free. It was definitely not easy getting this to work, but in the end I was able to figure it out. Not only can we offer our games here, but other digital products such as strategy guides, art books, and other bonus content.
Another feature in testing is the Events Calendar, currently to be located on the Streams page. There will be a timer counting down to the time of our next game development stream, or it will indicate we are currently live. Below the countdown will be a calendar listing all of our scheduled events -- mostly streams, but also things such as anime convention attendance, contests, and release dates for our games. That way, you can always check the calendar to see what will be happening!
These features are both still in testing phases because I want to make sure that they both work 100% correctly before rolling them out. I don't want them to become any source of confusion, but I still want to publish the new site so that we can start blogging about the progress we've made on our games. During this time I've still been streaming and working on the game engine, and there's a lot of stuff I'd love to write about. But anyway...
There are still more features I'd like to incorporate into the website, and I'll probably forget to list all of them here. But some obvious ones include third-party account integration. You should be able to link your Goldbar Games account with your favorite social media apps (Twitch, Twitter, Patreon, Discord, etc.) for an enhanced experience. Maybe the points you accumulate while watching our streams can be redeemed for some merchandise in our store? Or they could be redeemed for a virtual reward inside one of our games themselves? There are so many possibilities!
Also, I want to add various improvements all over the site in general ways. Such as adding image thumbnails to the blog posts themselves, and being able to sort through posts with tags and categories. Same with the Games -- you should be able to sort via genre and/or series, and I'd like to make it so that when you go to a game's page, you can instantly see all blog posts associated with that game. A proper image gallery / slideshow for each game would be good to have as well.
Although it isn't super important right now, the merchandise store technically uses a different account system than the main website. This is because the store is built with a totally different system. I'm sure it's possible to do away with that system and just have the merchandise store on our own back-end, but it would take too much time away from other things that are more important right now. It's a bit more complicated when dealing with physical products compared to digital ones.
Like I said, I still have lots of other ideas I'd like to implement. It'd be neat to have a fan-works page (we had one at one point) and also a page that explains our development history in more depth. It'd be cool if I could build some Twitch extensions that are synced with our user accounts, so that maybe people can interact with the stream by going to the website and clicking some buttons. And then finally publishing a proper mobile app that links everything together so you can do all of this from your phone.
Anyway, I'm getting carried away at this point. My focus really needs to be on creating actual content -- the games themselves. There's also quite a lot of demand for the game engine I've been working on, so I've been trying to get that in order too. It'd be neat if other developers could benefit from the work I've done with that. But I had to publish the new website first, it's just been long overdue.
My plans for October include just two things: finishing the testing phase of what I mentioned above, and publishing a new demo for Witch Doctor Kaneko. After that, my focus will be 100% on porting Detective Butler to Mac and Linux, as well as doing the same for the new game engine. I've still got tons of ideas for new games, and I'm super excited to be working on them again.
If you have any suggestions for the website, please let me know! I am doing my best to continue innovating and creating a better experience for everyone. Thank you for your patience and support, and look forward to much more coming soon!