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Future Ad Program

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questccg
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In the event that some of you have been noticing strange behavior of BGDF, I have been working on making a "Future Ad Program". Currently the existing implementation only allows for "alternating" banners (cyclical but random).

The problem is that there is currently no support for URLs to click and follow the ad to the desired website. I've racked my brain, searched the Internet a thousand times, tried so many combinations nothing is working as normal PHP would have it.

The caching module on BGDF (Drupal 6) is very "fragile". It probably works to boost performance but it produces questionable navigation for us Admins.

In any event, I plan to re-write the banner routines over the weekend. When this is done and working, I will update BGDF with additional links to details about the "Ad Program". Trust me, it will be very reasonable and not like Google Ads which pops up all kinds of non-board game ads that are of no interest to most members.

I plan to pitch this "Ad Program" to conventions, kickstarters and indie board and card game designers, people who have a website (a designer with an off-site blog, etc.) Ergo for this program to exist... To enrich our lives not bog them down with flashy ads... We will only support JPEGs and nothing animated (No Flash, no animated GIFs, etc.)

And of course, for those needing temporary relief from ads, our standard banners will continue to function and serve as "quiet moments of tranquility" between the raging ads of the next great game or RPG to play.

So sorry for the bit of instability today ... Was racking my brains out trying to figure what I was doing wrong. A days worth means that I need a "fresh" approach.

Lastly why I am interested in this "Ad Program" is to generate a small amount of revenue to pay for domains, privacy, backup space, server hosting, etc. ... Such that BGDF can continue to thrive ... While we wait for the "Next Big Thing" (I'm sure Rich will be working hard on that).

I'm a simple person, I'd just like some "revenue stream" to pay for all the "out-of-pocket" expenses that I am currently assuming.

Thank you for visiting BGDF and rest assured, we will have a professional "Ad Program" to help differ the costs of running BGDF such that the site doesn't become a casualty of insufficient funding!

Cheers,

Kristopher
Aka QuestCCG
"Indie" Game Designer
BGDF Moderator/Administrator

JewellGames
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I code primarily in PHP. Odd

I code primarily in PHP. Odd about the click redirect issue. Curious about details and final resolution.

let-off studios
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Contributions

I was wondering how BGDF is paid for and maintained.

Is there some way that someone (as in, an average user like me) can contribute to the maintenance fees at this point?

questccg
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Indeed ... That's what I thought

JewellGames wrote:
I code primarily in PHP. Odd about the click redirect issue. Curious about details and final resolution.

I thought it would be SIMPLE to just add a $_SESSION[variable] to the server superglobal for each user and recover the value once in the decoding of the web page (which ever one you are on, they all have a banner)...

But I found two (2) things: since the PHP page to "load" the banner files is NOT part of Drupal, using session_start() to init the $_SESSION superglobal did only create an empty Array ( ).

So I searched low and high, and eventually found that Drupal could DRUPAL_BOOTSTRAP_SESSION and initialize the Drupal system for sessions to be permissible.

Again this didn't do ANYTHING. The $_SESSION superglobal was always an empty Array ( ). I fought with this for an ENTIRE DAY ... Getting real super frustrated because it should be as SIMPLE as $_SESSION["current_ad"] = $URL; and $URL = $_SESSION["current_ad"]; to retrieve it.

But again nothing is SIMPLE with Drupal. The caching mechanic is so messed up that it create a real POOR User-Experience for admins. It causes all kinds of "Permission Denied" when login off, since it doesn't flush the cache for the pages we (or I) have visited as Admin.

Bottom line, I'm going to use File System with a CACHE and INFO (2 files) to manage the loading of the correct banners... That should all be standard PHP code and I'll even make it a bit "fancy" with JSON files and Arrays. Honestly I don't want to waste time TRYING to figure out WHY the cache is messing with the $_SESSION superglobal, all I know is that with so many attempts, it plainly just does NOT work.

That's the technical response.

questccg
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Let me PM you some details (for now)

let-off studios wrote:
I was wondering how BGDF is paid for and maintained.

I am the current NEW web-host of BGDF. We switched to my server this past Wednesday (13 May 2020). Currently I have paid "out-of-pocket" for the server and associated expenses.

let-off studios wrote:
Is there some way that someone (as in, an average user like me) can contribute to the maintenance fees at this point?

The Future "Ad Program" will be the method to help us out (BGDF). I will send you a "PM" explaining some of the details. I'm not ready to publicly release the program's details since the "banner URLs" are not completed and working. When they will be... Then I will release to the remainder of the public the information associated with how you can A> Help yourself and B> Help us TOO (in the process).

Regards.

questccg
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Update the caching system is IN-PLACE

I have been monitoring the website ... And had to disable some of Drupal's Caching because it was interfering with my own "File" Cache for the persistent storage of ad information.

But it seems to be working ... More testing to be done. I will UPDATE this comment ... when I see how the cache performs!

Note #1: I am playing around with the Cache settings because they seem to affect how the File System works and what gets called. It's quite frankly really STRANGE. I will continue to test and post up my progress soon enough. STAY TUNED!

Note #2: It is working ... But I re-enabled all the Cache settings, because the site seems more responsive with them ENABLED. And oddly enough the perform with the my own "File" Caching mechanism seem to be BETTER. IDK "Drupal" is freaken simple but a bit hard to get something STABLE...

Note #3: Although I tested the code fully OFF-SITE, it seems like with Drupal running ... it yields partially good results. And it seems like the Background Banner images load AFTER so you may get a Banner page with an AD but it doesn't show the URL/Anchor until you visit another page... Again, weird behavior.

Note #4: I disabled the CSS caching ... because it seems to lead to some "instability". With the CSS caching disabled, the ad mods seem to be running BETTER. I will continue to monitor the site.

Note #5: The odd behavior can be attributed to the ORDER of the loading. My guess is that Chrome LOADS CSS background images LATER than when the page is being loaded. So it results in the info file not to exist the first time a banner appears. Sure you can visit another page and the LINK/URL will appear... So I think this is an issue with TIMING.

questccg
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I'm letting the Banner Ad module run ...

It can't do any harm... It just results in poor caching (and sometimes some off timing). The off timing worries me a bit because the URL can be stale due to the performance of the site. The poor caching doesn't really matter it just means a banner may appear for longer than expected. At least it doesn't "under-run" which would mean LESS impressions per ad (which is not the case). That's at least a bit of GOOD NEWS.

questccg
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Some more technical details

The ads cache works such that a banner is SHARED across all users according to a CACHE TIMEOUT which can be tuned based on the amount of traffic for the website. Currently the timeout has been set to "5". So basically a banner should LIVE "5+" links per all users on the website concurrently. As I have been watching the performance, it seems like this is rather REASONABLE... If we start to get more users, the banners will cycle more quickly.

Jay103
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Is there a cap on the number

Is there a cap on the number of "raffle ticket" slots sold in a month?

questccg
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Not per se

Jay103 wrote:
Is there a cap on the number of "raffle ticket" slots sold in a month?

Not per se, but "Lifetime" Banner Ads occupy one (1) slot (or more) and contribute towards the total number of available slots. So both Monthly and Lifetime Banner Ads compete for the same "space".

But you understand, investing $50.00 USD for 5 slots because you want to be prime real estate during that month ... Is half the price of a "Lifetime" Banner Ad which only counts as 1 slot.

Some people have "deeper pockets" and can afford to advertise with more monies than small "Indie" Game Designers.

However right now, since we are "starting", any ads bought will get a LOT of promotion. Currently I only have the TradeWorlds Banner Ad which is running 1 Banner Ad in 3 Slots (so like $300.00 USD worthwhile of ad space)... I already got 1 "Lifetime" Banner Ad sold (out-of-the-gate) ... But I need to discuss further with the person in question, since he is not sure what he would like to use as a banner. Maybe his Blog or maybe something else...

This is so far a good start!

questccg
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What I mean is that...

Monthly Ads can go HIGH VOLUME (many slots) for the purpose of getting a ton of impressions. So buying those in BULK makes sense. Shorter time span and more likely that their banner is displayed.

But overall, I expect more "Lifetime" Banner Ads because there is a greater POOL of people in this "category". And those banners compete with the "space" available to all.

The way I see it, is that currently there aren't too many "Lifetime" Ads but as the pool grows, the number of "Monthly" Ads will be slightly diluted.

Now if you buy FIVE (5) slots (Monthly) your ads will be account for 1/3 of the ad space. That's only $50.00 USD.

questccg
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Also I did not dilute my own ad

I reserved 3 slots for "TradeWorlds" Lifetime Banner Ad. I was using it for testing purposes also... I'm not a jerk, I thought it was fair given the investment I have put in time and effort to get this program running. I don't want to over-promote the TW ad. Like I said, something reasonable.

I didn't go over-board and use like 5 slots ($500.00 USD), I went more modest with only 3.

Jay103
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Just as a suggestion, it

Just as a suggestion, it might be worthwhile to have a way to change a lifetime banner. Maybe just a $10 fee to switch images and retarget. Or a limitation like "one change per calendar year allowed".

Because maybe I want to point to my KS or something one month, rather than my main website, or just update a stale image.

questccg
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I understand your predicament

But for sake of "Administration", I don't want to have to TRACK who's "changed" their banner and who hasn't and on what day (to serve as proof), etc. Just not "clean" nor simple. I want to minimize the amount of editing to the live script as possible. So the rules are there to ensure that IF there is a EDIT, it's because it is ABSOLUTELY necessary. Not playing around with the banners, one month "like this", next month "like that"...

I appreciate your interest. But you've got to realize that this program is a BENEFIT to our sponsors. You're helping us maintain the costs for running this website... So there is a charitable-component to this "service".

No pressure... I'm going to be working more on building the repertoire of businesses that may be interested in advertising with us.

Cheers!

Jay103
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Sure.. but a "lifetime" ad

Sure.. but a "lifetime" ad that can't be changed is literally a lifetime AD, not a lifetime purchase of an ad SLOT.

That's probably fine for many potential purchasers, if they just want a link to their website or something, but not as fine for someone who might want to change the image or link within the next year.

A $10 "change fee" would probably be the best of both worlds. It means the lifetime purchase is never a complete waste, doesn't require you to track history, and charges the same amount you'd charge to set up an entirely new one-month ad from scratch anyway.

questccg
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You understood 100%

Indeed, the "Lifetime" Banner Ad is for people who want to promote their "Business" that is most of the time in relation to our industry. "stale" content is simple to manage and requires minimal effort.

Adding NEW Banner Ads is bothersome, but at least I know it's an addition of records. Not EDITING. So if an ad becomes "stale", that will be handled and if someone wants a NEW one, they pay the amount as prescribed by the Ad Program.

If you need too much "variability" it's probably best to use Monthly Banner Ads when necessary and a "Lifetime" ad for say a "Homepage"... Something like that...

Jay103
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Banner size in pixels? Any

Banner size in pixels? Any hard limit on file size in KB?

questccg
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If you're serious, I can send you the Photoshop Template

The size should be limited by the JPEG compression Image format. We only accept JPEG files. No PNGs, and no GIFs... It's just much easier to handle with one universal format.

Like I said I can send you the Template Photoshop file, it gives some relative positioning on the various tabs and such. And where to place Text too...

Obviously you are welcome to design the banner however you like. The Template is just meant as a general guide...

questccg
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Because of STABILITY issues with the cache...

I am being forced to RE-THINK the banner module. I need to RE-CODE the module ... Currently I have set-up a PLACEHOLDER ad (my own) ... And it will not CHANGE ... Until the NEW code is in place. And I will need to alter the "blank" images too ... To fix the proper size.

Part of the problem was that the banner was using a "Background Image". This was a roadblock because the module did not run in the Template Files used by Drupal.

Now I have EDITED the "correct" Drupal file and added the ANCHOR (< a >) with the default URL ... Which is to TableTopia.

Basically it should work in this manner. Now I realize that the BANNER is smaller... Unfortunately I am NOT a CSS3 guru ... And could not figure out a way to use a LARGER Banner with a Z-Index smaller that the other DIVs in the page.

I did TRY. It didn't work. So now we will have a SMALLER banner ... I think it looks okay too. Mind you it's not AS LARGE as the previous ones... But hey... This is a World of compromises.

I also discussed the matter with Rich and he said that he would "prefer" a STABLE Ad module over a PRETTIER one. So this is all in the spirit of compromising.

PLEASE bare with me, as I code the new Ad Module and ensure that the other BLANK images are CONVERTED to a more COMPATIBLE format (as you see with the current banner).

Thank you for your understand and patience as I work to fix the Module.

questccg
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Update #1: the coding of the new module is 90% done

I've managed to code the NEW Banner Ad module... I just need to remove some extraneous "test" records (in the directory) and the extra "debugging" info.

Lastly I will need to add the resulting DATA that is to be merged within the HTML page being rendered.

But no more CACHING, no more FILE manipulation, everything is done IN-MEMORY... So it should be super-fast (unlike the earlier version which was doing a LOT of File-IO).

I'm going to take a short break and then CONVERT the OLD "Banners" (no ads) to the new format ... Ya, I know they won't look AS PRETTY. But we're aiming for STABILITY (and willing to do some compromises)!

Keep you all posted on my progress... Rest assured the Module is ALMOST done! Cheers.

questccg
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Update #2: Some typos and wrong paths later ... and

We've got a FULLY functioning Banner Ad module! Again no CACHING and no FILE-IO... It's super-fast and VERY STABLE! (Thankfully). I also had to "re-format" the default images and added the name for a Familiar Feel!

Again thank you for all your patience. I know sometimes the site seemed to be a bit "unstable" and the banners were messy (at times).

But NOW everything is GREAT!

questccg
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I also verified the MOBILE version

I checked to ensure that the Banners were sufficiently big (as possible) and still be compatible with the mobile version...

And after doing some testing to get the RIGHT size... Everything looks FABULOUS!

larienna
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I might be a bit late to

I might be a bit late to contribute, but I always thought that a banner network for board game designer could have been cool when I learned that kickstarter projects paid thousands of dollars to advertise their project.

I used to participate in one on Allegro.cc website where you could put a limited number of ads on the network then you added a portion of code on your own website which displayed a banner from the ad network at every loading.

So it's the advertise me and I'll advertise you system. I like the idea because it helps me promote board game projects. I currently have Google Ads on my site that earn me like 5$ per year.

On allegro.cc, the system was free. I am not sure if people would be willing to buy a certain amount of slots if they have to put it also on their website. Or instead, You could get a rebate, or a free slot if you have a website to publish.

Still, the advantage of a network is that it gets much more traction than a banner ad on a single site that is only visited by us.

On the other hand, it might be more complicated to implement. It's possible that such solutions already exists, there could be ready to use code to manage banner networks.

Not sure what others think about it.

let-off studios
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Old Skool

Reminds me of the old "webrings" concept that I first saw in like the mid-90's. Like-minded website managers would all post a linked banner on their website in a prominent area, promoting their webring and the sites of their "ring neighbors."

I'm almost certain that a contemporary version of this exists somewhere out there: if not to earn money, then to at least broaden reach.

larienna
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Yes, webrings were cool.

Yes, webrings were cool.

questccg
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Just a quick notice to BGDF.com members

Thanks to the Ad Program, we have been able to SECURE a better "Backup Strategy". Our previous "Backup Strategy" only accounted for 10gb of space and would ONLY allow two (2) copies (or backups) to be saved. Thanks to a generous Banner Contribution, I was able to add +4x the amount of space (or 50gb) and now "based on the filesize of the backup", we currently have NINE (9) copies (or backups).

My target was actually five (5) copies... But as the site grows, this amount of data will increase ultimately and so with the current configuration it should be sufficient.

I thank you all who participate in the BGDF.com Ad Program ... Because it helps ensure the proper running of BGDF.com especially to offset costs involved in the hosting... And in this particular case, the NEED to improve the Backup Frequency (to now Daily) and to increase the amount of copies that can be available (in the event we need to go back to an older copy).

Cheers,

Kristopher
Aka QuestCCG
"Indie" Game Designer
BGDF Moderator/Administrator

JewellGames
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Awesome news

That is some awesome news.

I'd pay for an ad to help this site but have no idea what I'd even advertise.

questccg
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Hmm... I understand what you mean

You can choose to advertise a "personal" blog (external site) or a monthly newsletter (join free), an Online Store (extra buyers), a Game website (your own creations) or even a charitable association (like the Cancer Society or some support program for kids), etc.

I have a lead "thanks to your posts" (can't tell you the details - but) I'm working on it... An older member who is running a NEW "website" and I figured I'd reach out to him...

Anyways we'll see if they are interested.

The bottom line, is that the Ad Program is meant to do GOOD. Aside from helping to pay-off expenses incurred in running BGDF.com, it also offers the members and anonymous visitors Banners to "all-kinds of Game-related Businesses and individuals". And I know that doing "research" you can FIND these people... But when it's ONLY one-click away... That's even more impressive...

Cheers!

Note #1: I also forgot "Kickstarters"! Our Monthly offer is a dirt cheap way to get some extra visibility. We're not trying to bleed anyone with high costs of advertising. Within reason and for the Monthly offer 30 days is what MOST "KS" need...

let-off studios
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Contributing Now

JewellGames wrote:
I'd pay for an ad to help this site but have no idea what I'd even advertise.
(I post this not as a way to "call you out" or whatever, but because the comment came to mind as I read yours)

I ended up contributing without any idea of what I'd like to promote. As soon as I come up with something, I'll submit it.

But I contributed as soon as I was able, because I'm lucky enough to currently be in the position to do so and I think BGDF is an awesome resource. I want it to stick around. :)

questccg
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Not only about monies... It's also about awareness too!

let-off studios wrote:
...I think BGDF is an awesome resource. I want it to stick around. :)

I agree with this 100%. That's why I agreed to hosting BGDF.com because it seemed like a good fit ... and when I talked to Rich about the Ad Program, he was like: "I understand, it's an investment but at the same time, you want to be able to re-coup on the investment."

And I think the key is for BGDF.com to become "self-funding"... And the Ad Program is the easiest way to do so, once I came up with some basic numbers and the costs of running BGDF.com over a period of say, the next five (5) years.

Ideally if we "attract" a lot of Kickstarters (which I'm really not sure but we do offer a GREAT deal for a super amount of impressions/views) and maybe we might see some cool games looking for more exposure.

I don't want to be full out on making monies for BGDF.com ... So I won't be creating a Patreon. It's nice for someone to say, "I'll contribute $5 per month..." And that works out to $60 per year. And maybe get a few people willing to do this... I understand. But we're not going to pursue all avenues to "income generation" ... This is a Forum and for most part, it is ran as a "Free service" (to the bettering of society and its members).

But the Ad Program isn't just about advertising... It's about Gaming in general and contributes to awareness too. Like I said, if we manage to get some "traction" ... The Banners won't be irrelevant ... I'm sure many of them would be HELPFUL to would be Game Designers... If we get that far, I'm sure you all will understand. It will help bolster the community's awareness not only of Kickstarters but also connecting businesses involved in "making games a reality"... And behind the businesses are people working to help Game Designers bring to fruition their designs.

evansmind244
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Block Chain

I've been fascinated by Bitcoin and the block chain tech industry for a long time now. My idea is really a Forum that protects everyones Intellectual property for all innovative design projects. A place where people can share their ideas protected with Block Chain to prove IP for all contributions........ but BGDF could create tokens for contributors. Contributions to others projects can be rewarded with tokens. Rewarding contributing members can increase quality, and help incentive new members to contribute. Perhaps designers can issue tokens to contributors to be used as rewards for Kickstarters, or maybe even partnership in projects. If you contribute to my Blog etc... then I can reward your feedback with a number of tokens (similar to a 5 star rating system) BGDF could issue Tokens to members at its discretion, and members earn tokens from other members. Members can build up their rating with the number of tokens they own (meaning they help out a lot, and their advice is worth listening to). Anyway.............................

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