At first glance, it may seem like just a grungy web site design, but the
visual look of M2 is more than that. In fact, it's a metaphorical
portrayal of something very familiar to anyone who has spent any time
playing First Person Shooters:
Zoom way out, stand back from web page and it becomes clear: The "head"
and "ground" of the website are decorated accordingly.
At this point you're probably asking "Why not red?"
My thinking was two-fold. First, I liked the headshot idea but didn't
want it to be too overpowering or gruesome. And second, my primary goal
with this re-design was to make sure that the maps (and NOT the site
itself) was the focus. The gray tones (with just a hint of blue) harkin
back to Mapraider's original color scheme without getting in the way of
the large map screenshots and videos. An added bonus is that it is
neutral enough that it looks good with any map in the database.
Monday, February 06, 2012
Although there has always been an unofficial-official logo since
Mapraider was launched, it was never worked into the existing site or
promoted simply because I've never been 100% happy with it.
Along with the completely new design and layout of 2.0, Mapraider will
sport a new logo. The new identity still plays off of the same 3-D "M"
idea, but does a better job at communicating the "room-with-doorways"
idea of first-person environments and looks less generic.
You'll also note that it is employing a tagline. In the past, the site
has switched back and forth between a couple of different ones, but this
new one has now been officially adopted. The "Expand your game" play on
words embodies the spirit of Mapraider the best--literally the site
empowers you to expand your game by adding more maps, but it also helps
you expand your "game" (playing skills) as you practice by playing
through those maps you've added.
Excited to announce that private beta testing of Mapraider 2.0 has
began! Lots of bug fixes and feature additions to go, but things are
still moving forward.
Alpha testing of Mapraider 2.0 began a couple of weeks ago and has been
progressing along at a steady pace. As I put the finishing touches on
the site's functionality and design, longtime Mapraider member and
has been helping out by pouring through the site and finding any obvious
holes before we begin our initial beta testing.
Right now I'm planning on breaking the upcoming beta test period into
two parts: an initial, short private testing period followed by a public
beta test. The public beta test will be open to all and somewhat of a
soft-launch prior to the official launch. If you're interested in
participating in the private test, please contact
me and let me know.
Prior to the public beta test I hope to have some time to start posting
details of the new site here on the blog. I'm really looking forward to
actually sharing the site after all these years of working on it.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
It's been over a year since my last major blog post and you're probably
wondering what has happened since then.
In addition to regular development on Mapraider 2.0, I've spent some
time preparing the current version for the upgrade. The rating system
was modified and video support was added among some other
Mapraider 2.0 itself has also undergone a few changes since previous
The database was re-factored a little bit to accommodate for some
design changes and addition and elimination of features.
The User Interface prototypes were re-examined and re-designed
After having stared at the new site visual look-and-feel for months,
and realizing I wasn't completely happy with it, the design was
re-examined, re-designed and re-implemented.
Some new functionality was added.
Some planned functionality was dropped.
And, a couple of decisions have been made "official:"
The site will have a similar rating system to Mapraider 1.0's new
5-value rating syste
There will be no rating moderation system
The download system has been simplified
The forums as they are now are going away, but the ability to converse
on the site has been significantly enhanced.
The site is in a mostly complete state at the moment, with a good chunk
of every piece of functionality working to some degree. I find myself
loathing having to actually use Mapraider 1.0 these days :) This means
that we're getting close to a point where it's time to start testing
I've set a preliminary launch date that I'll be scheduling testing
around in the coming weeks. A brief private testing will be happening
soon, followed by a public beta testing. Stay tuned for more information.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Finally! I have finally gotten to the point where I can blog about the
development progress of Mapraider 2.0.
You've probably noticed that I've used Blogger to edit and publish the
development blog over the last few years. I have had a Blogger account
since long before Google purchased it and was very happy with the
service and it's handy FTP publishing which allowed me to host my blogs
anywhere I liked.
With no intentions of leaving, I had a number of drafts of new blog
posts nearly ready to be posted at the end of last year when Google
that they were going to drop support for FTP publishing.
Unfortunately, with my Real-Life®, work and other responsibilities
becoming immensely consuming then, I didn't have any spare time to
research and find an alternative. The blog was essentially put on hold.
The good news, as you can see, is that I did find an
alternative and have spent the last couple of months slowly moving
over my blogs so I can continue publishing to them. The last items
remaining are that I need to integrate support for posting comments and
(maybe) choose a better page design.
I'm sure everyone has given up waiting, but progress has very much
continued on version 2.0 of Mapraider.com and I have a handful of
exciting news to post about. The most exciting news is that the site
is far enough along that I've decided on an official launch date! My
plate is currently full wrapping up the little odds and ends for a
private and public beta testing period in the next few months.
In the meantime, I'll be posting more information about what's happened
in the last year and what remains to be done.
One of the most exciting moments in developing a web site is when you
take the "bones" and apply the "skin." After working on the ugly but
functioning version of the site for so long now, I decided to do just
that, and today began implementing the visual design the I recently
From a technical standpoint, the design is completely CSS-based now, so
performing the actual integration is simple. I do need to go back
through and clean up the markup a bit, but the pieces for the
look-and-feel are essentially in place.
The home page, map browsing and map detail sections were already largely
functionally complete, so this change REALLY made a huge difference in
how the site appears to be progressing.
I also did some work on the administrative tool set — the
behind-the-scenes pages that help me manage the site. Version 1.0 never
really had a complete set of tools and unfortunately this has forced me
to do a lot of manual database work. In addition to making management
much easier, the new administrative section will also make it possible
for me to allow other staff members to help with things they've not been
able to in the past (map approvals, user-management, adding game
It's slowly becoming painful to use v1.0 of the site :) Can't wait to
show the new site to you all.
Comments ported from original blog:
At 9:06 AM, Firefly said…
And we can't wait to use it. I
noticed you posted that at nearly 4 in the morning. There's dedication
for you :D
At 3:53 PM, John said…
I have a tendency to work early
into the wee hours of the morning. Time seems to fly when I'm deep
into working on projects I love, and before I know it ... it's 4am and
I'm forcing myself to go to sleep.
Since my last post, I've crammed a bunch of development into the site
and things are moving along at a very nice pace. If I were to give an
estimate, I'd say that I'm right on the cusp of having an alpha version
of the site ready for some preliminary examination on the whole. No
promises, but perhaps in a month or so I'll be soliciting for beta
Of course, I like everything about the new site, but now that things are
actually functioning a bit, my favorite new features have to be the
revised browsing and search functionality and support for map packs and
The new browse/search system is fast, efficient and flexible. It just
simply "feels" cool to use. And after having added/edited thousands of
maps on the existing site, I can't tell you how excited I am at the fact
that multiple authors and map packs are now going to be natively
supported by the site. No more manually listing the multiple authors or
maps in the pack in the description as a "duct tape" fix!
There's still a bit more work to be done yet (the overhauled map
submission process being the biggie), but Mapraider 2.0 is quickly
becoming a working-replacement for the live site — even in its current,
unfinished and unpolished state.
I'm planning on eventually putting together a checklist of to-do items
and publishing it here on the blog so you can see exactly how things are
progressing. I'll be excited when that happens, as I'm sure you will be.
Wow, it's been a while! But don't let that fool you. I have indeed been
working on 2.0 all this time :) and wanted to post a quick status update.
As I mentioned previously, the database design has been finished. But
since then, it's actually gone through a number of refactorings. Mostly
with how the maps are stored while still accommodating for map packs. It
may sound trivial, but it's surprisingly complicated and I wanted it to
be simple for the user without being a hack like it is now.
I've spent many, many hours trying to decide on a direction for the new
visual look of the site. I even dug out some old layouts I did for
Mapraider 1.0 years ago (it'll be 7 years this November if you can
believe it) to see if they had some ideas. The site has been stuck in a
post-1999 design flavor that was "hacked-together" for so long, I really
wanted this new look to be up-to-date, well designed and thought-out.
Last week I finally had the creative energy and inspiration I needed and
was able to put together something that I feel is nearly perfect.
Best of all, the initial production work to translate my Photoshop
layout into HTML/CSS is nearly complete and awaiting integration into
the back end. No sneek-peeks, sorry ;)
In all seriousness though, getting the visual design done is an awesome
milestone to have reached! Putting the new site design and the old site
design side-by-side is both invigorating (because it looks so awesome)
and depressing (because it makes the old design look like a mess) all at
the same time.
The back-end is roughly 50% complete. Because of the refactoring of the
database I did, I had to re-work portions of the code to accommodate and
that was completed last night.
I'll be doing my best to continue the focus I've given to things over
the last couple of months and my goal is that the site will be done,
tested and live before the anniversary this fall.
It's really just a matter of cranking through it all now. More soon.