Lunaran.com Matthew Breit Level Designer | Texture Artist
Wed, Mar 28th, 2007 | 7:36pm
Remember that time I said the site's appearance wasn't supposed to change? I lied.
It always bothered me that the site content was formatted in a presentation-specific way, despite the times I'd rewritten the whole thing to fix that, and by November it bothered me enough to decide it was worth rewriting the whole thing again. This time, spurred by things I'd seen under the hood of mutton basher, I was going to lay the killing blow and write a full-on CMS. No special tables for maps or news, no special code for updating and displaying different parts of the site, just content and templates.
I then proceeded to write something truly horrible, bridging the yawning chasm between theory and application with liberal hacks and bandaids, then rolled it out anyway. A month later I tried to post something, and couldn't even remember how it worked. Back to the drawing board.
It was back to the drawing board a dozen times, really. I expressly reevaluated the entire system over every problem I encountered rather than code around it, and while the core philosophy didn't change - a node tree with page ID's aliased in at branches and typeless content ID's aliased out at leaves - it took a while before I finally hit on something that didn't suffer from subtle logical flaws or require fourteen SQL queries per page. The same chunk of code now produces everything on the site, and only the queries and the rendering templates differ. There's also room for a cacheing system to be squeezed in, which I intend to do, as well as comment threads that also run on the same system, just as soon as I (of course) write my own captcha.
Oh, and somewhere along the line I decided I didn't like the sloppy-looking ragged right so I redesigned the entire site without any. I also, you know, wanted the content to make itself as present and accessible to the reader as possible, rather than sit behind a tiny menu and make you come get it like it used to, but really, it was the text thing that did it.
Mapping still took place, and while the result isn't the next CPM23 it represents a number of technical achievements that make me excited to think about Byzantine again. (I can be so brief because of the fancy 'latest project' thingie at the top of the front page now - see? accessible!)
Speaking of such, the whole greater accessiblity of content thing makes it terrifyingly easy to go back and read old news posts, and a lot of them make me regret having gone to the bother of porting them from previous hosts. The very earliest update there is the first one ever, written for Lunaran's Deathmatch Encyclopedia announcing the site's existence in 1999. I was 15. The timeline since then is kind of pathetic, marking the beginnings and ends of projects and mods that never went anywhere, and continually peppered with promises of something new coming soon which never did.
It's awfully tempting to "lose" the first oh I dunno six or seven years of the site's history. It would be over quick, and lunaran.com wouldn't feel a thing ... but without the reminder there would be nothing to stop me from filling this column with more of the same.
Edit: I should point out that the pages for a lot of my maps have been drastically overhauled. I replaced and improved a lot of old screenshots and threw out the old copy'n'paste stuff from the readmes, rewriting most of the descriptions with tons of insight into my goals, challenges, and regrets with each map. Reccomended reading.