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Author Topic: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.  (Read 18228 times)

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Offline Colyn

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    • SC4D BSC LEX ... where the good stuff is.
BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« on: January 10, 2007, 02:42:58 PM »
Well as has been rumoured for the past few weeks ... we are working on a custom designed LEX for this site.

Over the past 3 years or so we have seen Lot Exchanges come and go ... some better than other and some worse than most. The best Exchange in its various generations is the one used on Simtropolis. However ... the ST Exchange do have some features that is cause for much unhealthy debate and it does have some shortcomings from a technical point of view.

One big difference between this LEX and the STEX is in the material that will be hosted. SC4Devotion was born after Jeronij realised that SC4 is getting long in the teeth and there is a real possibility that most of the fansites may disappear at some stage because of dwindling visitor numbers. He discussed some of his ideas with me and in principle I agreed that we need to get a site up that is controlled by committed SC4 Enthusiasts and we need to make sure we provide a home for the fantastic talent that exists.

You may have noticed that the general content in the forums are mostly strictly quality SC4 stuff and lots of questions and answers goes around.

We felt that we needed to get our hands on a decent file download management system and Jeronij started testing various offerings. I on the otherhand started designing a custom sollution. Now over the years we have seen lots of issues that developed as the custom content grew in volume and in technical proficiency.

Let me highlight a few of the issues that we considered as core issues.

1. The LEX must be able to assist in the management of the dependencies.
2. The LEX must assist users with recording their downloads and make it visible to them.
3. Only quality objects will be allowed onto the LEX. This was important because our main goal is to provide a safe haven for real game assets.
4. User - Creator interaction must be managed properly.

Ad 1. ...

No matter what some people preach on other forums ... it is not possible to develope the vast volumes of custom content that the BSC specifically develops and not make use of a structured dependency policy. So our LEX must help with it.

Wouanagaine developed a good tool that will be used on the USER side in conjunction with information and templets generated by the LEX and hosted on the LEX for easy access of users. This tool will be able to scan your plugins for outdated objects and move them out to an archive. This is vital to make sure that UPDATES and UPGRADES to existing material does not contribute to cluttering up the plugins folders.

The LEX will track all your downloads. The UPLOADERS will be able to physically LINK their upload to existing DEPENDENCIES and the LEX will tell you which ones you have not downloaded from here. Currently dependencies are hosted on 3 or 4 locations around the web. It is our goal to eventually get all of them here under one roof. That does not mean they will disappear from the other sites.

Now to structure this DEPENDENCY control properly will take a while and although the core has been written we will not surface it immediately. We need to give developers some time to select their creations for the LEX and then decide which dependencies will be hosted here.

So this will be for a later version but we are also busy structuring the system so that you as a user could UPDATE your own DEPENDENCY Profile history and add in the Dependencies that you have collected form other sites.

Ad 2. ... This LEX will track your activities here and you will have access to a list of what you have downloaded. The list will include details about the status of the lot and if it has been updated since your last download you will be able to see it and UPDATE directly from that list. I have around 300 or so lots on the STEX and I have wondered many times how the people that use my stuff manage to stay updated.

PS ... Because we are tracking your downloads for this feature it also means that we will be able to see if anybody tries to boost download figures on certain lots. This is a bonus for us as Administrators and was not a design goal. We all know that BANDWIDTH does not come for free and if anybody makes him or her guilty of BOOSTING Downloads then their accounts will be closed on the LEX. It is stupid to steal bandwidth purely for the sake of getting your download numbers up.

Ad 3. ... Uploaders will be by invitation only. This does not mean that the LEX will be elitist or exclusive ... it only means that the Siteowner will have full control over who he allows to contribute to the LEX. This was decided on after we saw some antics on the STEX in which certain users tried to get their names into the UPLOADER Records and turns out one piece of rubbish after the other and posting it. Then they went further and BOOSTED the downloads. Now that type of conduct will not be tollerated at all. It makes it hard for serious players to find the stuff that is good and it wastes space and bandwidth. I sincerely hope that you do understand that this feature is in place for your own benefit as a serious player.

Ad 4. ... On this point there are a few sub sections.

a. The UPLOADER will find that he has control over his lot and he can edit the files easily. The UPLOADER will also be able to LOCK his lot if he gets information about a bug or whatever. This will be shown to USERS as a Creator LOCK. This lock only disables the DOWNLOAD and the Lot Details and Comments will still be open. The UPLOADER can UNLOCK this lot at will. There is a second type of lock and that is a LOCK applied by an Administrator. Now a Admin LOCK cannot be unlocked by the UPLOADER. We provided this lock for situations where we find a dangerous technical flaw in a lot and needs to make sure a new update is clean before we unlock it.

b. We have seen how users abused the RATING system on Simtropolis and lots of cries has gone to Dirk to remove that feature or to open it up so the community can see who rated what. Nothing was done about it and up today the system is abused by some malicious users and downrating of lots happens daily. Now many of the creators does not care about things like this and merely looks at the download figures and comments. However this malicious downrating do upset a large number of creators.

On this LEX the user has three simple choices if he wants to "Evaluate" a lot. I personally think it is just good manners to say thank you but that is just me. So there is no STARS and VALUES in the Evaluation and a simple indication of the level of appreciation.

A user can also comment and comments can only be deleted by Admin and not by the UPLOADER. We did this because we have seen that UPLOADERS on Simtropolis did delete negative comments even if it is the truth.

c. This LEX makes provision for something we felt that many users will appreciate a lot. The LEX will appoint a number of Official RATERS and these RATERS will be selected on the Technical abilities aroud the Game. They are the people that will NUMBER and VALUE rate every lot. They will review the lot on 4 clearly defined aspects ...

I am quoting here from the discussion on our private board.

Quote
RATERS ... These are specially APPOINTED people that will have a better and more enhanced Voting and Commenting interface.

Uploads will be Evaluated on ...

1. Technical (Here the guts of the lot will opened by the RATER)
2. Look and Feel (Here the RATER can give a EYECANDY rating)
3. Gameplay (Here the RATER will look at how the upload interacts with the original game parameters and if it brings more or less to the PLAYING side as such.)
4. BAT Quality

Then each RATER will have a Comments ENTRY for this UPLOAD and this comment can be edited by the RATER. ONE Comment per RATER per UPLOAD.

Users will get access to this section by clicking a link ... we will present the content on a PER RATER and an OVERALL AVERAGED view.

The main aim of this is to allow the more serious players the opportunity to get a genuine and kind of objective review of the upload.

Entries in this section will result in a STAR Rating for an UPLOAD and label it as CERTIFIED.

Because so many things we do is not open for pure objectivity I foresee that users will learn which RATERS are more or less in their class and as such respond more towards that RATER's opinion when making a Download choice.

A RATER can also choose to only RATE some of the ASPECTS and not all ... a 0 will be seen as UNRATED and as such be excluded from the average count.


From this you can see that the LEX aims to include a decent REVIEW section to allow users to make more informed choices.

Please try and think about this carefully before you just twist your knickers into a knot and bitch about the "RATERS". In my country the newspapers have a group of people that reviews the movies. If you follow the reviews you learn very quickly which reviewer covers your preferences and then you tend to give more weight to his or her reviews. Same will happen here ... the criteria we selected is two on TECHNICAL and here objectivity is simple and then there are two EYE CANDY criteria ... on this personal taste will play a role. Only the Technical criteria counts towards the CERTIFICATION label. The end goal is that if a lot is CERTIFIED any user can take it without fear that it will corrupt his or her game.

It is important to note that a lot wil loose it's certification if it is updated.

Finally ... the LEX will run as an INDEPENDANT Add On to the existing Forum. As such you will have to REGISTER seperately on the LEX. We do not have the time to integrate the LEX with the forum.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment.

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Offline wouanagaine

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2007, 04:14:54 PM »
Very well written and clear Colyn!

Some questions regarding the BOOST download part:
I have recently redownload everything that interest me at STEX/PLEX and sometimes I redownload stuff because I accidently erase the zip and want to get the readme ( for those that do not provide installers and so on ).
So may I suggest that user can download the LEX content multiple time, but he can vote/comment only one time and that further downloads won't be summed ?

And obviously a user may have to wait maybe at least one day to redownload the same lot ( if it has not been updated by the author ) to prevent overusage of the bandwidth

And how the RATERS will be choosed and from where ( teams ?  )

And you have talk only about bat/lots, does it means that maps won't be available on LEX ? ( ok LEX stands for Lot Exchange :) )

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Offline Vandy

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2007, 05:59:07 PM »
Hello, Colyn.

I would like to add my thanks to you and whomever has helped in putting together this proposal.  It not only has much merit on its own, it will revoluntionize the way exchanges are approached in the future.  Bravo!

I would like to echo Wouanagaine's comment concerning maps and their place on the LEX (understanding that the acronym stands for Lot Exchange).  I am very close to a decision to start hosting my own maps and (with the permission of the NHP team) my maps produced under the NHP banner here at SC4D.  Also, I am seriously thinking of either mirroring or completely moving my "Terraforming Your World" Tutorial CJ to SC4D.

I truely believe that SimCity 4 Devotion is going to become the SimCity "place to be" as time goes on.

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Offline jplumbley

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2007, 06:13:10 PM »
This sounds awesome.  Very good work to all who are involved.

Obviously since these 3 consecutive posts are from NHP origin, maps from our organization are going to be uploaded here.  One already has been and more on the way.  I am going to assume that there is a place for the mapping realm on the LEX, since there are many places that have both maps and lots.  And it is obviously not an intention to close a door to a big part of our amazing game.  But we still have to ask that question, will maps be allowed?  Same thing would go for modds and programs.

I like the no overall rating system and just individual ones.  The review section sounds like it will be a great addition.

Now, as for the dependancies, it will be an awesome thing to be ableto track which ones I have installed and which ones I need to get.  I cant wait for this tool to become available.  A question about this tool though.  If the user is adept enough with the Reader, or used wouanagaine's DAT packer and put all the prop dependancies files into one DAT file will the Dependancies Scanner be able to determine which prop packs were merged?
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Offline Colyn

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2007, 11:16:14 PM »
Ok let me answer what I can ...

LEX was used because of a lack of anything better and it is known community wide as an EXCHANGE or FILE Repository.  ::)

We will have a broad list of Categories available and each catagory will have a TYPE to ... so Category may be MAPS and TYPE = Fantasy or REALISTIC or whatever is needed by the MAP MAKERS.

As for the RATERS ... these will be invited from the community ... here will be looking for people that are seriously playing the game and that are willing to actually post their experiences with objects downloaded. So it will NOT be BSC members only.  :satisfied:

As for the DOWNLOAD BOOST issue ... with what we are doing it would be easy to RESTRICT downloads but we will not implement that ... there can be many reasons why a person downloads a lot 2 or 3 times ... line failures, playing at home an at work on two different machines etc. The main reason for the tracking is to construct the USER History and the tracking has automatic advantages for the Admin. WHat will happen is that the Admin will get alerted when the same person downloads the same lot more than a certain number of times in a specific period. This is mainly to allow Admin to make sure our bandwidth is not being wasted.

After posting here I realised that we need to add another feature to the OBJECT Edit function ... the UPLOADER must indicate if the UPDATE is a core object update or merely eyecandy like a new picture or a better readme etc. If it is a CORE UPDATE the LAST UPDATE FIELD will be updated otherwise it will not change. This will prevent the need for users to see the UPDATE as NEEDED and show that it was just a eye candy update.

I have also seen the NHP request about the size of the description ... well that was one of the things that we have been discussing a lot ... I have not finalised the design on this and currently the issue is open ... what I have played with is to modify the UPLOAD interface to provide for an ONLINE README .... This will then allow UPLOADERS to make a proper HTML Readme that is uploaded as an appendix to the OBJECT ... the system will then look if there is such a document and then include a "More Information ..." link in the Details screen. I will work on that issue today because I can see this to be needed for things like technical maps and game mods. This is something that can work for the reward chains ... if we implement this it would be easy to make the "More Info" documents available in the forums too. Let me see how we will handle that.

We will work with Wouana ... hell that is a difficult nick for me ....  %wrd ... but ok ... we will work with him and we will host TEMPLETS for his Cleanitol tool that users can get and apply to their systems. He is a capable young man and I am sure he will sort out the ways and means of how we will incorporate his creations ... I wanted to say tools but that would sound very suspicious  &hlp ... with the dependency management feature.

Hope this clears up a few more issues for you all.




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Offline Colyn

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2007, 11:35:56 PM »
Now for another matter ...

Yes ... we do believe that this forum will become THE PLACE for SC4 lovers and junkies. I am really happy with Jeroni's "ZERO TOLLERANCE" policy. Both him and me wants this forum to be a place where enthusiasts can move freely and without fear of being ambushed or flamed. We have decided that there will not be long discussions with troublemakers ... the forum rules are clear ... Play nice and you are welcome ... be rude or nasty and you are gone. We will not allow a small number of loudmouthed people spoil it for the silent majority and Jeroni is willing to draw the SWORD OF WRATH when needed.  %BUd%

So I want you all to be relaxed and comfortable ... there are eyes and ears all over the board and if someone starts anything remotely hostile he will get a visit ...  %plc/& ... or more than likely his PROFILE will get the visit.

As many must have noticed ... we do not have a "STAFF" present currently ... this is for a good reason but there are many "undercover" Moderators around. We want the community to regulate itself mostly but we as Admin will keep an eye out for users that really only wants to stir fights.

So forum users must beware ... %BUd% is riding the picket and will get those that want to spoil it for others. There is no APPEAL process, no REVIEW BOARD and no FORUM RIGHTS commission ... just a lonely %BUd% on patrol. We as Admin have a serious and strong commitment to give every SC4 enthusiast a safe place to share his or here passion for this game.
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Offline jplumbley

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2007, 12:04:02 AM »
Thanks for the clarifications Colyn.  We are happy to be a part of this community and we are very grateful you are allowing us to give our little bit of input into this project.  Now, do your magic  &hlp And we can all have the SC4 site for all SC4 sites!!
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Offline Colyn

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2007, 12:43:28 AM »
Ok ... UPDATE ...

The UPLOADER's EDIT function has been modified ... the LAST UPDATE field will only be modified if a new ZIP is uploaded ... cosmetics like description and pictures will not update the LAST UPDATE field.
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Offline moganite

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2007, 03:02:56 PM »
Sounds great I think the idea to curb download boosing is a good one.
However I think that there needs to be a tiny bit of leeway as things can get lost or erased in system reinstalls. I know as I have had to reinstall several times due to hardware  problems causing corrupt OSes and lost data no matter how careful I was.

I plan on uploading all of my current lots at some point and possibly revaluating some of them
to function better.  They might not be pretty but they do what they are meant to do and work as advertised.

New projects will be uploaded close to their appearnce on the STEX.

Maps will also be uploaded but mostly 16 bit expect for larger files 46x46 tiles appears to be the limit for 10 MB in the SCM format. Maps larger than this look like they will stay just on the STEX and are expected to be few in number. Standard sizes I use are multiples of 4 mostly around 36 - 40  tiles. I dont expect maps to be uploaded more often than 2 a month as there is little demand for maps. I might even reduce the sizes I commonly use in favour of a smaller size.

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Offline Colyn

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2007, 03:14:08 PM »
Tracking the number of downloads are done to help with the USER's Records ... this was not done for catching BOOSTERS but it so happens that we will see it. Nobody will be harrassed for downloading a thing more than once a day ... and I am talking per day but when you start seeing unreal numbers like 4 or 5 per day then you will obviously wonder what is this guy up to.

So it is not done to police the downloads but it will leave tracks if a user is up to mischief.
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Offline Colyn

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2007, 07:18:55 AM »
Ok I am glad to say that we are happy with the BETA Trials ... things are working ... a few NICE TO HAVE Addons will come in the next week or so but now we are busy loading content before we will open it up.
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Offline Shadow Assassin

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2007, 06:00:49 AM »
Quote
Please try and think about this carefully before you just twist your knickers into a knot and bitch about the "RATERS". In my country the newspapers have a group of people that reviews the movies. If you follow the reviews you learn very quickly which reviewer covers your preferences and then you tend to give more weight to his or her reviews.

Reviews can be manipulated, though. They're a good idea, you just have to be a little careful. There's nothing quite like trying it out yourself, though.

Quote
4 or 5 per day then you will obviously wonder what is this guy up to.

True... :P Or he could just have a really bad internet connection. :P

I look forward to seeing what you make of the LEX. It should be an useful, nifty piece of software.
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Offline jeronij

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2007, 08:49:47 AM »
Quick question: How can I link a file ?
I need to link a dependency, and as far as the dependencies links is completed, I wanted to add a link. But I just see javascript and any URL.

Help is welcome  :thumbsup:
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Offline Bluebeard

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2007, 11:17:22 AM »
If someone has question on a certain Lot where can we ask it and is it allowed?.Thanx

Offline Colyn

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2007, 11:39:53 AM »
I assume that every designer should maintain a Support thread here ... so you go ahead and open a thread with that designer's name in the title.

JR ... we will get that sorted out on Monday ...
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Offline moganite

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2007, 12:43:09 AM »
The NHP support thread and troubleshoting thread has been opened by myself and will cover all NHP product.
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Offline wild_horse_in_the_sky

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2007, 07:10:48 PM »
Colyn and Jeronij ,
All I can say is you are to be commend for the way you've paid attention to the details when you set this site up. Simtropolis is nothing compared to SC4devotion. I'm very proud to be a member here thank you so much.


Offline Shadow Assassin

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2007, 11:19:30 PM »
Er, I'm just wondering where the link to the LEX is... I can't find it. I've done everything jeronij's suggested (using a different browser, etc) and the link (wherever it may be) is nowhere to be.
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Offline CabraBuitre

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #18 on: January 17, 2007, 11:48:21 PM »
I can no longer find it either... I just upgraded to IE 7.0, and now, no linky!
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Offline Shadow Assassin

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Re: BSC LEX ... FAQ and some more.
« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2007, 11:56:34 PM »
The odd thing is, when I checked it in IE just then, it appeared, but why isn't it appearing in Firefox?

I find that very odd... the menu should appear in Firefox, not just IE. I've got the direct link to the LEX, and am bookmarking it so I don't have to open up IE every time I want to visit the LEX.

I'm wondering: is it at all possible to add it to the top menu? Also: it seems Special is missing from the top menu (that's the download for the NAM)... can it be fixed?
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