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Memfis

Thoughts on the /idgames archive?

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How do you guys feel about /idgames? Obscure upload system, bothersome email confirmations, complicated process of updating files, harsh restrictions on what can be included... Is this what we want from the biggest Doom archive? Perhaps preserving wads should be a bigger concern than keeping the archive clean? How long before it goes from clean to lifeless?

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Idgames is still the de-facto doom wad archive. It is used by pretty much any finalized singleplayer project. Is there any proof of the upload process keeping people from using idgames?

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17 minutes ago, Memfis said:

harsh restrictions

 

What's harsh about them, if I may ask? They seem fairly sensible and don't stop the majority of uploads, so I really don't see the problem.

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30 minutes ago, Memfis said:

bothersome email confirmations

If you can't even respond to a simple email, you have bigger problems outside of uploading Doom mods.

 

32 minutes ago, Memfis said:

harsh restrictions

Okay what did you have rejected this time? 

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My only Real issue with /idgames is having to download some weird app and do annoying confirmation stuff just to get a single wad uploaded, wish the uploading process was linked to our DW accounts instead so we can like confirm the uploads directly from here, like, I don't even use my email anymore except for activating accounts on sites I likely won't even visit or reset passwords, last I checked it was full of garbage ads and stuff I don't even know how they ended up there lol.

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4 minutes ago, tempdecal.wad said:

some weird app

Weird... App? What is it exactly that you downloaded, because FTP managers are supposed to be quite standard. 

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I know little about the upload process, but as a 20+ year old archive of damn near every wad produced for Doom, it's pretty fantastic.

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2 minutes ago, Edward850 said:

Weird... App? What is it exactly that you downloaded, because FTP managers are supposed to be quite standard. 

Filezilla or something like that, tbh I never heard of these before I checked the /idgames FAQ thread.

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9 minutes ago, tempdecal.wad said:

Filezilla or something like that, tbh I never heard of these before I checked the /idgames FAQ thread.

Filezilla is a standard FTP management program, nothing weird about it at all. It seems more you don't know what FTP is, in which case welcome to the Internet, you've now used a part of its long standing systems.

 

Even then, Windows explorer itself would have also worked. You chuck an FTP address in its address line and it'll load it, although uploading with that is a bit unpredictable as you can't control the number of connections. 

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Eh, I didn't really care enough to use FTP outside of uploading wads, that's probably why I never really used it, I did hear a thing or two about it but I never thought i'd use it.

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I've used idgames as a whole only a couple of times (I believe I downloaded Icarus through the database here on Doomworld, and I uploaded Depths to the archive recently) and personally I don't have any outstanding issue with it. The restrictions aren't that bad, and they seem to work pretty well.

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I miss that the people who aren't registered on the forums could write reviews for a wad. Since that change I noticed that the wads are getting way less reviews compared to before. For me the archive already started to become lifeless.

Spoiler

inb4 but the "1/5 it sucks" reviews...

 

1 hour ago, Memfis said:

harsh restrictions on what can be included...

What are talking about here, more specifically? Is it about the more strict controls about ogg music and the graphical assets? Or is about the troll/terry wads and so we potentially reject silly and unusual but not malicious wads? For the latter perhaps there could be some clearer rules since now there still the "any other questionable things", which albeit it's simple and effective it's also vague.

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17 minutes ago, Linguica said:

This is your occasional post to again reiterate that the eventual plan is to allow you to upload files to Doomworld and then have Doomworld upload them to /idgames in the background (so you never touch a FTP client), but I have had other things drawing my attention away from it so far.

 

I'm especially excited for this. Having a proper web-browser powered way to manage our WAD entries, link them to our DW usernames and upload our own screenshots will make a massive difference to how easy it is to find wads. Can you imagine being able to click on (for example) Dobu's username and instantly see a list of all his maps to download? It would be incredible. 

 

If such a thing needs any manual work (assigning wads to usernames) I'm happy to volunteer my time.

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I'll be 100% honest here and this is my opinion.

While the server does the job of keeping the files safe completely, I feel that it needs a sort of alternative because, sometimes the server has problems uploading the file that we created and did with effort, resulting in a loss and that honestly sucks. The process of repeating this can be tedious and annoying. And, I also wish that the files, either rejected or approved, were shown faster as a result. I know that the people behind has some priorities but, I guess that a time taken for this should be appreciated. I hope that some issues gets improved and users will be happy about it.

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I have yet to make a submission to the archive, but quite appreciate that it's remained stable and seems to have deterred legal and technical attacks.  I think impatience with the process and protocol might overlook the efforts to assure the above, and the archive's long-term archival purpose (this isn't some passive-aggressive attack--some may simply not know, just as FTP is apparently being forgotten).  I'd look at it as secondary back-up storage vs other more immediate options like Doomworld attachments.

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This is true. People often seem to forget that the /idgames archive is intended to remain online Forever, which means it is extremely likely to outlive Doomworld (and sooner or later Doomworld will host a local copy of the archive, if for no other reason than space is so cheap that we might as well, which will it effectively impossible for the archive to *not* outlast DW).

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This isn’t of much consequence but I just want to pipe up and say that I love the new Download section so much more than the old idgames interface, I can’t wait til it’s fully functional. Even in it’s current state it’s a pleasure to use.

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I'm not really sure if this is something that can be helped, but /idgames's biggest flaw is that it isn't usable as a hosting point for work-in-progress mods. Folks have to seek other solutions for hosting alphas, betas, etc., and a lot of projects never quite reach a "completely done" state. BTSX E2 still isn't on the archives yet, for instance, despite getting Cacowarded in 2014, which is a really goofy situation TBH.

 

Again, I'm not really sure what can be done about it, but there you go.

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25 minutes ago, Xaser said:

I'm not really sure if this is something that can be helped, but /idgames's biggest flaw is that it isn't usable as a hosting point for work-in-progress mods. Folks have to seek other solutions for hosting alphas, betas, etc., and a lot of projects never quite reach a "completely done" state. BTSX E2 still isn't on the archives yet, for instance, despite getting Cacowarded in 2014, which is a really goofy situation TBH.

 

Again, I'm not really sure what can be done about it, but there you go.

 

yeah it's unfortunate that there isn't really a go-to place for gameplay mods that are in active development :(

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From my perspective uploading a file and updating a file isn't that much of an issue once the FTP client is set up accordingly, but that FTP client setup is already a hurdle that makes uploading to the archives less attractive when instead you can host the files via dropbox for example, and just "get away with whatever". Never mind that for anything WIP these filesharing services are more convenient to begin with, so I would guess some folks simply stick to what works.

 

Then there are the occasional threads on doomworld where somebody wonders why their files got rejected, which doesn't make the upload to /idgames seem very user friendly either. I get why there need to be certain standards for these uploads, but meeting these standards is not something especially people who try uploading for the first time might be able to do for lack of knowledge. I'm not saying the standards are the problem, mind, but threads about failed uploads give off an impression of their own.

I'm glad the archive exists, and clearly it still exists for the most part because of things the OP puts in question, not to mention the paradox that keeping the archive operational means preserving the uploaded WADs in the first place, and loosening the standards may joepardize them all.

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The idGames archive has lasted for a long time and remains stable and reliable, in large part due to there being a front-end process that does a few sanity checks. When Linguica gets a chance to get all of his ideas worked out, a lot of this process becomes much nicer, as Doomworld can provide some or all of these functions:

  • idGames file mirror
  • Robust search capabilities
  • Any number of additional datasets can be attached to WADs, like ratings, comments, screenshots, demos, multi-version support, automated links, etc.
  • API that allows data searching, downloading, etc.
  • Automated one-way FTP push to the real idGames archive

A lot of this functionality is already present on Doomworld. The above list may sound simple, but it's not - to properly support even the above list is a LOT of work to get it exactly right, and work out all the bugs.

 

For an example of a possible bug: It's possible to want to upload a WAD that would fail idGames' checks, but pass Doomworld's checks. This can be handled a number of ways, but if it is NOT handled, problems arise.

 

Another source of bugs is the parsing of the text files. It is *extremely* difficult to get a computer to properly parse the text files that accompany idGames entries. Even though there is a standard format for the text files, a wrong character, or carriage return/linefeed in the wrong place can create difficulties during the parse.

 

My point is that, things will be much nicer to use in the future, but it's going to take a lot of time and energy. Patience goes a long way here.

 

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7 minutes ago, kb1 said:

Another source of bugs is the parsing of the text files. It is *extremely* difficult to get a computer to properly parse the text files that accompany idGames entries. Even though there is a standard format for the text files, a wrong character, or carriage return/linefeed in the wrong place can create difficulties during the parse.

It's a pity noone thought to encourage using a very simple markup scheme in txt headers way back, say:

"

[W]ad name: WOW.WAD

[A]uthor: illusio-pit cyber

[G]ame: ...

"

Index with the bracketed letters, ignore anything preceding a colon, then sanitize and do whatever with a truncated number of characters before the next newline+tag.

 

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1 hour ago, Reiken said:

It's a pity no one thought to encourage using a very simple markup scheme in txt headers way back, say:

Good idea. Same issues, though - it requires that people comply, without them understanding the significance of complying. I imagine that no one suspected that one day, someone might want to parse the file into a database.

 

I wrote a parser a few years ago, for a WAD database project I was building. It does pretty good with most files. But it's littered with exceptions to the rule. It's probably impossible to make a tool that works 100%. This could be cured by combining the parser with an online WAD data record edit page that allows corrections to be saved to the database. But, again, it's a lot of work no matter how you approach it.

 

A big problem I had with the parsing was with WADs that required the player to include other WADs to play. For example, imagine a set of maps that require a specific texture WAD to be loaded alongside the maps. I wanted my database program to be able to launch the game from the search results, and I actually tried to get it to track down these required WADs, temporarily copy them to a folder, and launch the game, including the IWAD, the map WAD, and the required WADs. I managed to get it to work often, but it was never reliable enough to suit me.

 

This is another reason to be thankful for the "idGames restrictions" mentioned by the OP. Without these "restrictions" (let's call them "rules"), there would be even more problems with trying to build automatic launching and file archiving tools. For example, the 8.3 filename restriction: Remember the DOS DEHSUPP.EXE tools? Imagine the difficulties of using those tools with long filenames, or filenames with non-ASCII characters. It's difficult enough for people to use these tools in DOSBOX. The rules have prevented a lot of unnecessary ugliness, and continue to do so.

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10 hours ago, Bauul said:

 

I'm especially excited for this. Having a proper web-browser powered way to manage our WAD entries, link them to our DW usernames and upload our own screenshots will make a massive difference to how easy it is to find wads. Can you imagine being able to click on (for example) Dobu's username and instantly see a list of all his maps to download? It would be incredible. 

 

If such a thing needs any manual work (assigning wads to usernames) I'm happy to volunteer my time.

 

This. This is exactly what we need. I don't like the current system. It's very cumbersome and outdated.

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I miss the frequency of reviews (even if they were often hilariously bad or negative for stupid reasons) that came with anonymous reviewing, but otherwise the /idgames archive and legacy front-end does a reasonable job. Were it not for the text file issues plaguing the newer front-end and how awkward navigation (even going down the folder tree often involves more clicks than before as it keeps truncating the lists) and searching (the inability to search by WAD author, file name or... seemingly anything reliably is a bother) is, I'd be happy with the new front-end. I like the potential for more features and a streamlined uploading process, but I appreciate those will take time and effort.

 

I guess most modern projects have alternative links now anyway, as file hosting is so cheap and plentiful.

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