The Future of the Forums

This topic relates to my post on the front page of the site. Here is relevant part:

[quote=“Solo Wing”]This brings me to my second point: the future of the forums. It is also no secret that the forums on this website are powered by very old phpBB2 software, software that I?d like to replace. The question is: replace with what? It?s also no secret that the forums have been decreasing in activity. Even with the advent of Crimson Dragon, the amount of discussion has not significantly risen. I?m not convinced that the replacing the forum software with something more modern will increase activity. The rise of social networks, particularly Facebook, have diverted much the Internet?s discussion away from forums. However, I still believe there is value in keeping some kind of separate discussion area around on The Will of the Ancients, even if activity is low. As Craymen might say, no social network should wield such power.

There are at least a couple of options for a modern replacement of the current phpBB2 forums. One option I?ve been keeping an eye on is Discourse, a progressive discussion platform from the creator of the popular Q&A website, StackOverflow. It is excepted that Discourse will reach version 1.0 in the next few months, which might be an ideal time to make the switch. Alternatively, the current Dragoon profile system, which currently just shows information about contributions to this website, could be expanded to allow people to log in to custom forums that are tightly integrated with other parts of The Will of the Ancients. Because it will be members of the Panzer Dragoon community who will be using whatever forum system is chosen, I?d like to gather feedback from the community about what kind of discussion forums you would like to use. To do this, I have a started an open discussion called The Future of the Forums.[/quote]

Please share your thoughts and ideas here.

I’ll start: the only thing I really want from these forums is a way to browse and contribute to public, flat, discussion topics with simple formatting (even more minimalistic than currently). Nothing fancy, just a little corner of the web for Panzer Dragoon fans to talk about games and post links. I don’t care for most of the other phpBB features which (IMO) just add needless complexity, including PMs which don’t offer a huge benefit over email. But I am just one user of these forums.

I’ve taken a look at the latest sandbox for Discourse. Admittedly that doesn’t look half bad. And it’s fast, which I find really important. The funny thing is that loading the page without Javascript reveals a very barebone forum, so much of the webpage is generated by Javascript. Technically it seems a lot more advanced than traditional forum software. So I’d be okay with waiting for a 1.0 release and using it for TWOTA. Any way of importing the current forums into Discourse? Or are you just going to archive it?

I don’t really see any reason to change. What we have now works perfectly well IMO.

There’s a conversion script which allows phpBB forums to be converted to Discourse.

Discourse looks like it will be a great piece of forum software. An issue with Discourse, though, is the steep system requirements, so it may not be possible to run it here. I think it is also worth discussing which forum features are actually used and liked in case custom forums are used instead.

I don’t disagree that it works, in the same way that a Windows XP computer is often sufficient for the user’s required tasks. A major problem with either is that they are unsupported legacy code. In phpBB2’s case, it’s hard to customise that codebase, for example to integrate it with the rest of the site.

They’re using Ember.js, which is a client side MVC framework written in JavaScript from one of the Rails core committers. Using Ember means that a lot of functionality is happening in the browser, rather than waiting for the server each time, hence the speedy feel to it. The downside is that you double up on the implementation of a lot of functionality, but if your priority is to have a fast application it’s probably worth it.

On doing further research, it looks like this site’s webhost won’t have enough memory to run Discourse without paying a higher web hosting fee each month. Given the low activity here, I don’t think it’s worth it. So, I’m leaning towards a minimalist custom forum that is an extension of the main site. Something like the Ghost Support forum is what I have in mind:

Simple and clean. I’d add a few extra things such as Neil’s An’jou emoticons, but keep it roughly as minimalist.

It should be able to port the old accounts and posts over too; I’ll make that a priority, since resetting the accounts would probably kill the forums at this stage!

Are the Ghost forums linked above missing any critical features? Maybe clearer read/unread messages, but otherwise they seem good to me.

I’m actually thinking of using Ghost for a new blog. Are the ghost forums actually available separately, or are they part of the platform?

As far as I’m aware, the Ghost forums aren’t open source. However, they’re quite minimalist. I doubt it would be hard to create something similar from scratch.

Not really related to the topic and I don’t know how much your paying to keep the site going (thank you for that), but I would be glad to pitch in/donate to help keep the site going if that ever becomes an issue for you. The net just wouldn’t be the same without a Panzer site.

As for the forums, I like these forums, would be happy with a simple forum selection. I don’t particularly care about all the private messaging, etc. I think that is what your profile is for. If you want private contact, include an email address or something.

Thanks. I pay US$8.50 per month. Funding is not problem right now though, but if that changes I’ll be sure to let the community know.

Yeah, that’s how I feel as well. We already have plenty of inboxes on the web, I don’t see the value in duplicating the functionality.

Whatever you do I’ll still post here. I’m sure there are many things we can discuss even if it seems esoteric to outsiders.

I’m waiting for the next big MMO to arrive but I wonder if it ever will now. Most games have become generic and politically correct. I need something darker and more mature. Maybe we can make a list of games that break the mold.

all here we are improving our life so why not we can improve the forum looks and design even forum looks good but we want more great pictures and all stuff and security wise changes in this forum…

The forums are very quiet these days. As such, it may not be worth making any drastic changes other than for archival purposes. I have been looking at Forem, which would allow the forums to be added to the existing site (same layout, design, user accounts, etc):

Project Page:
Example Forem:

Another option is to expand the scope of the forum’s content to encourage more activity (e.g. forums for other games). I think it’s fine to let it die (or rather, remain in an almost dead state) though until there is another Panzer Dragoon or Crimson Dragon game.

Don’t get discouraged by the lack of activity. There are still fans out there who appreciate your site, even if for archival purposes. Not sure how to increase forum activity other than for new Panzer games to come out. I have no complaints about the site as is. I rather like having the forums somewhat separate from the news feed/site.

Your web site is probably one of my favorites. I really would post more here, but I just really have nothing to post about. It also doesn’t help that I’m kind of shy.


Same here. I think that most of the topics that could be discussed have already been discussed. Hence my comment about keeping the forums around mostly for archival purposes (with the occasional new topic).

Judging by the rate the forum is being used I think its pretty safe to leave things as they are…

As fun as it is to update and tinker with new software, I don’t believe it will be a good use of time vs community happiness! I’ve been there before many times haha

just my 2 cents anyway

Speaking of the forums, pages have been loading either very slowly or not loading at all. So far, I haven’t had any problems with the main site.

That’s odd, I have had no problems. Anyone else? The main site and forums are separate systems, so perhaps it is an issue with the forum software.