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Front page update

Hi all! For the purposes of clarity this update is written by Blechy and Sluip on behalf of the SRL moderation team. You guys have been waiting a VERY long time now for an update from us, and we're happy to finally bring you not only an update, but a huge improvement to the site as well, in the form of a completely revamped front page.

Before we get into the details of this update, we would like to thank our main developers: Esi, Stauken, and Rainbowism. It was through their hard work that this update became a reality, and we can't thank them enough.

Front page

We feel that racing will always be the primary feature of SRL. However, the front page has evolved into a significant part of the community; it has quickly become a popular resource for watching an extensive collection of speedrunning streams, and we want to accommodate that.

We’ve been listening to your feedback over the past year, and feel we have resolved the most common criticisms regarding the front page and its functionality:

Lack of transparency in front page whitelisting

The front page was originally intended to cater to speedrunners who made regular use of SRL. As such, becoming featured required either fulfilling hidden race requirements, or being a member of the Twitch team. As speedrunning took off, there were more and more streamers that our userbase wanted to see on the front page, but who did not regularly race. We began to manually whitelist many of these individuals to accommodate the requests, but it only resulted in confusion over what was required to appear on the front page.

We have decided that we would like to shift the focus of the SRL front page to make it a place where all speedrunning streams can be listed, not just those who race.

The requirements for getting on the front page will be kept public, and they are as follows:

  • Having your stream set via .setstream in #speedrunslive on IRC,
  • One hour of total race time (per account lifetime), AND
  • Visiting the site while logged in OR joining the #speedrunslive channel while being identified on IRC (each month).

With this we hope to list as many speedrunning streams as possible, and to get rid of the ambiguous whitelisting concept that has caused much confusion and frustration for the community in the past.

We will continue to whitelist individual marathons, assuming they meet the requirements listed in the FAQ.

Varying opinions on what should be featured on the front page

Not everyone will always agree on what should be featured on the front page. In order to address this level of subjectivity we have added a customizable interface, allowing you to design your own front page as you please. You will be able to log in using the same account you use on IRC. From there you may hide games or players to put them at the bottom of the list, or pin them, which will give them a special section at the top of the front page. All of this will be saved in your profile for each time you visit.

Non-speedrunning content frequently appears on the front page

Content that is not related to speedrunning should not be featured on SRL. To make it easier for the user, we've added several options in your profile that will allow you to choose whether or not you want to be featured. One of the options that we have included is called auto-detect, an idea originally conceived by pksage. Using this option, you can include particular keywords in your Twitch title to be featured, as well as certain keywords that will make you not show up. These keywords can be found on the Edit Profile page once you log in. You will also be able to set your stream options through RaceBot.

In addition to this, we have added a tool for SRL staff members which allows them to remove a stream using the following warning system. If you are removed, you will receive an e-mail reminding you to not stream casual games or channel design, and your display option will temporarily be toggled so as to not display you on SRL.

We are hoping that after a while we won't need to use the warning system very often, as people will either take advantage of the auto-detect option or set their front page preference to "Do not display me" when appropriate.

Inability to sort by game

Several sorting options have been added to the front page.

This includes a list view of games currently being streamed, and a search filter which takes Twitch title, streamer name, and game name into account. You may pin or hide streams via the game sort view as needed.


We've made a more technical article, which outlines the above features and several others we’ve added as well. You can find that article here.

Leaderboards

When the SRL leaderboards project was first conceptualized and brought to the public, the team looked to build a system to address varying community needs based on the ideas they had collected. As the project evolved, development slowed, and the project did not progress at the rate the development team or the general community expected. This was largely due to both its sheer complexity and the personal lives of the developers who volunteered to help.

As it stands, the leaderboards Pac has been working on at speedrun.com currently offer much of the functionality desired by the SRL leaderboards team. Through discussion with Pac, those involved with SRL leaderboards development have decided to offer their support to Pac in developing a centralized leaderboards resource at speedrun.com.

The SRL moderation team fully supports this decision, and is not interested in continuing development on a competing leaderboards site. Thus, as it stands, development on leaderboards at SRL has ceased for the foreseeable future. We're optimistic about where this will take the project, and look forward to seeing the leaderboards grow successfully so that the speedrunning community can have the valuable resource it has desired for so long.

Seasons

Since season 1 ended last August, the answer to whether or not it was ultimately successful was never truly clear. However from looking at the site's race stats, the 2 months in SRL’s history that saw the highest race counts were April and August of last year, the months when season 1 began and ended. So from a quantitative standpoint, season 1 was hugely successful.

However, it had three major flaws:

Duration

Season 1 ran way too long. It was scheduled to run from April - July, and then ran an additional month on top of that. 3 months would have been too long as it is, but 4 months really pushed it. If we bring back seasons, we would like to adjust the format to be:

1. Announcement and game selection
2. 1 month of practice
3. 1-2 month season
4. 1 month of downtime before next announcement

We feel that this is the appropriate amount of time to allow a given season, so that it is kept exciting for its full duration without overstaying its welcome.

Presentation on site

Currently the 4-month period where season 1 took place is its own little void on the leaderboards, which fell between the pre-season and post-season time period that’s being called Legacy. To resolve this, we'd like to have all races, regardless of whether or not they took place during a season, count towards Legacy. Season races would count not only towards legacy, but also towards their respective season.

Lack of awards

The season 1 rewards were never implemented. To put it simply, when season 2 resumes this is something we will definitely revisit, as we feel it adds a fun incentive to participating in the event.


Once we resolve these 3 issues, we believe that the adapted format from season 1 will be tremendously successful. We have not yet investigated the technical implications of our proposed solutions; before we proceed with this, we wanted to reach out to the community for your ideas. We’d like to hear what criticisms you have regarding season 1, as well as your thoughts on the format we proposed. If you believe you have a better working format, please feel free to let us know.

Racing events

One of our favorite recent initiatives has been holding scheduled races, and promoting them to make them as large as possible. After the scheduled MM2 race became so popular that it crashed RaceBot (160 entrants!), we made it a priority to fix that bug so that we could properly support races of this magnitude.

This issue has since been resolved, as we previously announced.

After seeing the popularity of the scheduled races we’ve held so far, we’ve decided to place a greater focus on hosting those types of large races for the community in the future. The next event on our list is what we hope to be a massive race of Donkey Kong Country on Saturday November 22 at 2pm EST / 7pm GMT, in honor of its 20th anniversary. To make it even more exciting, the competition between the top racers will be restreamed to the SpeedRunsLive Twitch channel, with live commentary!

We hope you all join, as we want to make this race the largest that SRL has ever seen!

Twitch team

At some point over the past couple years, the SRL Twitch team grew so big that Twitch was no longer able to support it, and we were no longer able to add new members.

Since then, we have received multiple requests from users to be added to the team, so we've decided we'd like to bring this back. We feel we have a plan in place that will be fair to everybody, while still keeping the team's size within practical limits.

We'll be looking to open up invitations to the SRL Twitch team again in the future.

FAQ reorganization

In the past our FAQ was fairly disorganized, so we have completely re-organized it to give it a better sense of structure. We’ve also added a comprehensive Getting Started section to assist newcomers.

There are no changes to rules or requirements, except regarding the front page, and experienced users should not feel the need to re-read everything.

What’s next for SRL

Front-end rewrite

Our next big focus will be on the front-end of the website. We have already started work on this, and the results we’ve seen so far tell us that overall navigation will run much more smoothly. The noticeable things will all be minor, but when combined it gives the website an overall better finish.

Season 2

We want to make races as exciting as possible, and we think bringing back seasons is the way to go about it. We previously described our ideas on how to make season 2 more compelling, and we'd love to hear your feedback to ensure its success.

Event calendar

Events and marathons are starting to occur so frequently that they often conflict with each other, simply because the organizers have no easy way to know what events are already being planned. Mike89 recently took the initiative to build and maintain an existing event calendar.

We would like to expand upon this idea by including not only marathons and events, but also scheduled races, weekly races, and whatever else might fit. Each individual type of event would be toggleable on/off.

Additional front page features

We're very excited about the new front page changes, and have a lot of ideas to improve upon it even further. Initial ideas include the option to import your Twitch follows to your SRL front page, and allowing the ability to display multiple streams at a time.

Getting involved with the indie gaming scene

In the past we have reached out to 3 separate indie game developers to hold scheduled races of their respective games. These include Noumenon Games (Nimbus), MagicalTimeBean (Escape Goat 2), and FuturLab (Velocity Ultra).

These events were all tremendously successful, fielding over 30 entrants each, and it was very exciting to work with the developers to help promote their games. We plan on keeping an eye out for promising upcoming indie titles in the future, and will be in contact with the developers in case they’d like to collaborate on more events like these.

In closing

Above all else, one of our shortcomings over the past year has been not being open and transparent with the community about our activity, plans, and progress. Now that we have published a significant update to our site, we feel we are finally in a place where we can once again be open about what we are working on.

In this announcement, we have tried to address all the loose ends that have been left hanging. If there's anything you feel is still unresolved or confusing, please ask.

We have created a thread on the SDA forums to facilitate discussion about everything we've brought up in this update today, and you can post any comments or feedback you might have in there. Outside of this thread, you should always feel free to reach out to us, either by e-mail, Twitter, or simply PMing an op on IRC.

SRL was founded four years ago by a tight-knit group of friends who were extremely passionate about speedrunning and its future, and nothing has changed in that regard. The beauty of speedrunning as a hobby is that it proves there can be a competitive and social aspect to single player gaming; we have high hopes for the future of speedrunning, and we want to do everything in our power to keep it growing.



Sluip & Blechy - November 13th, 2014