New Panda3D Layout Proposal

Hey all,

I’m a modeler but in my spare time, I do a lot of web design. Recently I’ve been familiarizing myself with Joomla, a content management system. In an effort to keep busy whilst my Panda3D programmer doesn’t work on our game I decided to prototype a new Panda3D web layout in Joomla. This idea is based off of this post obviously. Now of course not everything is working, its not supposed to anyway… this is merely a concept at this point.

Test Site:

Let me cover some points/ideas:
Color Design - The color scheme of the site is good. Its not hard on the eyes, and green denotes a lot of friendly thoughts, so I’ve kept that.
Layout - The current Panda3D layout is good. Its simple, practical, and to the point. So the basic menu structure has been kept intact. The major changes obviously are positioning of objects. The content area of the page is now larger, the right hand screenshot content is gone I decided on this because these would be better served in a Flash module on the front page. Why? Consider other sites like Torque. Flash is pretty, Flash is an attention grabber. Its also a sign of modernity.
Forum - Joomla can integrate with PHPBB, so the forums should NOT be lost. I didn’t test that here, but it can be done. The important thing here is that the forum width be larger and readable.
Social Networking - Joomla can also be extended to resemble a social networking site, this may or may not be appropriate depending on what the general “image” is that you guys want to continue to show. I’ve created such a network for the Arts & Tech dpt. at my university, you can see it at
Screenshots This is ok, looks good, but it needs to be modernized a bit. Maybe redone in flash. Maybe add a “User submitted screenshots” section as a subtab under main screenshots tab. Again, how much of the “community” aspect do you want to persue.

I’m very interested in getting feedback on this. Again, this is all free-time ideas for me, so just my 2 cents.

Next up I want to talk about some of the challenges to overcome but later… gotta grab some food now… omg so hungry!

-Designing an API reference system that all users can read/modify without losing data. (I think Wikis are too hard to navigate/disorganized.)
-Integrating the IRC with the site so non IRCs can get in on the discussions. OR implementing a lightweight chat app.
-Others I might have missed.

This really is not my call, but I read the post and thought I may as well comment on part of it. Flash I would disagree with unless it is provided as an extra rather than a substitute, and even then I would not promote it. One thing that irks me about some sites is their dependence on Flash and my having to allow scripts on them just to see what I need to see. If you really must use it, then make it a little sideshow. Replacing the screenshots gallery with a Flash video would mean those who either do not have a Flash player plugin (would Gnash or swfdec work with it?) or do not want to enable scripts will miss out on the screenshots. (Not to mention Flash is non-free.)

Besides, even disregarding the need to enable scripts, why Flash? Isn’t Panda3D going to have a browser plugin soon? So instead of swapping out static pages for Flash movies, why not have a Panda3D applet (if that’s what it will be called) and fall back onto static pages for those who have not gotten the plugin? Of course, this is merely a possible alternative to your Flash proposal; not necessarily a significant proposal in itself.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say. I am not really for or against your proposed layout example, but I felt the need to speak out against using Flash, or worse replacing things with it. As for the way things stand now, I do not mind the current layout. If there is a change, then that’s fine. Just–yeah, try to avoid Flash dependence.

You’ve got some valid points there. I do not intend flash to be used for the image galleries. I think Flash would only be appropriate as a slideshow for the front page. Much like on sites like this one here.

The idea of using Panda for an applet in the page is brilliant though, I know both the Shiva Engine and the DXStudio engine do this on several demo pages. Once its up and running that would be a fabulous addition.

To cover one of the challenges, I know that some websites maintain a “community wiki” and an “official wiki” on the same website. Visual3D.Net is who I think of when it comes to this. Basically, the community wiki can be read/written by any community members, while the official wiki is readable by all, but restricted to edits by moderators only. This maybe a possible angle to solve that problem. The only thing that irritates me is that sometimes its hard to distinguish which one you’re looking at. Check out V3D.Net’s wikis and you’ll see what I mean.

On a philosophical level, I think its important to have the community contribute more to the general “knowledge base” of Panda rather than it be just an information book. I’m gonna be a whore and use Torque as an example again but… one of the reasons why that community still remains strong and overall successful is because of their community they’ve developed, and the developers know that. I haven’t been with Panda that long, as you can see I only have 5 measly posts here, but I can immediately see that there is a strong base behind Panda and what it needs right now is some better community infrastructure.

I think your layout suggestion is interesting and it might make for a welcome change. For my eyes though I think the tabs should be aligned to the center instead of the left side. I’ll also have to echo Xidram’s thoughts on Flash: Flash has its uses but it doesn’t make for a good wepage UI component for a number of reasons.

Although there’s nothing wrong with the current official design as such, I do think something a bit more bold and fresh would be more interesting to see especially for advertising purposes. When I want such design inspiration I usually google for some trendy and pop site listings with previews and then choose some of the more conservative ones as reference material (the top ones tend to be a bit too flashy and sacrifice clarity and usability for gimmicks).

i hope you like critiques :stuck_out_tongue:

  • your color scheme is all but consistent. you should keep a palette of colours and reuse them as often as you can (current website also isn’t very persistant with that…).
    btw, do you know deviantart? they use nearly the same background colors :frowning:

  • the design is fixed width - nothing bad with that but if you use a fixed-width, you should stay under 1024px. your header is 1138px wide, btw.

  • the header has a nice backgroud image, but its colors are way too agressive - it’s very distracting.

  • the main navigation bar is too subtle. it’s the most important part of the website - what visitors want to see first. also the grey black on dark grey is a bit hard to read.

  • the left column with Search and Login is taking very much place and is unnecessary as you would usually only login if you aim to edit or ask something (wiki, forum, blog). search function, on the other hand is a great idea and we could use google api for a site-wide search (but place the search bar somewhere else; e.g. on the nav bar).

  • the site has two footers…

  • flash, silverlight etc. are a no-go!

i’m not a professional web designer, so you musn’t take my comment too serious 8). i hope it helped, though

Oh goodness, Silverlight would be worse than Flash by far.

I wouldn’t agree with that perspective. If you use the site, then I would say you opinion of site change proposals counts. The only reason I said that it’s not my call is I’m not the final say in the site’s design. And from the look of it, I’d say your critiques in particular should be taken seriously.

I agree with Nemesis#13.

The styles skin is a bit conflicting. I tell people not to use round borders and gradients for their sites because its so cliché now. I think earthy colors, texture, grain, splatter and curvy flowery lines are the new hotness.

I think you could even find better skins here:

I recommend this collection to view examples of good design

Sorry to put you down. I cant product good designs either but i have worked with good designers before and there is really a world of difference between bad design and good one and you can tell.

PS: My new fav site design for a programming tool

Thanks for your mockup Cosmas. I agree that Panda3d does need some work on the community side, but I’m not sure that the website itself is at fault.

I think the screenshot gallery indeed needs work. The screenshot gallery itself could be modernized, but not with Flash. Why not use JS instead? Images would display a full-sized popup on rollover, while direct-link to the images. (So if scripting is disabled or broken, you can still reach the images.)

It would also be nice to have an Currently Working On or some other brag area where folks could show off what they are doing. It doesn’t have to mix with the official screenshots – Most of those 'shots are from Disney and CMU students, who are understandably wanting to prominently display what they’ve done with this fine engine. But many are old and haven’t changed in ages.

I used to hang out a lot on, and I see they’ve successfully executed this concept. There is an Image of the Day forum and you see new posts every day, demonstrating very cool and exciting games or demonstrations.

Yes, there is the Showcase forum, but it would be nice if there was a bit more of a direct link on the front page and people were encouraged to submit – Instead of it just being a bunch of forum posts with broken images.

When you say social networking site, I’m not really sure what you mean. Are you talking about some kind of integrated site where folks have developer profiles and whatnot?

I disagree on the documentation. A wiki can be a good tool, in that it allows random people who have the time to update and modify it, instead of relying upon a central authority that might take forever to update the docs.

I am an ex-Torquer myself. I’ve been with that engine for many years now, and I’ve seen their community evolve. Yes, it’s a big and active one, but there is also a TON of cruft. Resources which were years out of date and no longer worked. Lack of documentation. “Developer profiles” which had been abandoned for years. A giant list of “active” game projects with such wonderfully named games like “!!! Aaaardvark Space Adventure.” (To get at the top of the list.)

GarageGames cleaned a lot of this up when they redesigned their site a few years ago. They also have much better documentation now, but back then, there was just a handful of text files and a giant glob of mess that was auto-generated from the C++ source code. %90 of your documentation was forum posts, and most of those were outdated and no longer applied. TorqueScript iself wasn’t documentated at all… The best you could find was a function reference .DOC someone was passing around that was from the Tribes-era.

I guess my point being is that I’ve seen a community go from almost no cohesion to having a well-rounded document base. Panda3d is definitely off to a better start in this area. I think people should contribute more documentation, and maybe we need an example code area, too. Basically, the cream of the crop from Code Snippets which is integrated into the Wiki somewhere.

I think we are also do bad job at branding. I was trying to come up with a very short straight to the point feature list. Any can any one help proof read? Thanks!

Cosmas, I like your layout better than the current. It looks a lot more professional.
The slightly inconsistent color scheme, unfitting header+headertext and Joomla make it a no-go though - but it would be great if you could improve on the layout and if it’s good enough, I’d be happy to replace the current.

Ah you… guys… you make me chuckle.

Ok then, I’ll try another:

  • No Joomla: Just PHP rewrites of what currently is.
  • No Flash: Maybe an AJAX slideshow? I’d like to avoid JS.
  • Recolored: Give me some ideas on color combinations?? When I think of Panda’s I think of Earth colors.

404 error?

Cosmas, did you take the sample site down?


Doesn’t the “J” in AJAX stand for JavaScript? Not sure how you can write AJAX while avoiding JS.

But, yeah, I’ll throw in my weight with the prevailing opinion on Flash: it tends to be overused for things that would be better served by HTML, JS, or AJAX. There’s nothing more annoying to me than a Flash-heavy website that bogs my whole machine down, especially when the Flash is getting in the way of the website’s actual content, which seems to happen more often than not.

I’ve heard that Flash itself isn’t to blame, that it’s just the individual apps that may be poorly written, and that it’s perfectly possible to design a Flash-driven website that doesn’t suck. I haven’t seen it done yet, though. :slight_smile:

Of course, if we put embedded Panda3D apps on this site instead (which I think is a great idea), that will likely have the same problem with resource hogging and bloating the load times. As long as I don’t have to navigate through the embedded whatever-it-is every time I come to the forums, though, it won’t be so bad.


Also, the nice thing about JS is that it could be constructed in such a way that the website would still function without it. This is unlike Flash, where you would need two separate paths (pure HTML, pure Flash) if you wanted to support both.

And yes, the J in AJAX means JavaScript. :slight_smile:

Well, is there not a way to use JavaScript to toggle the apps? If that is the case, then it could be a simple click to enable them. I remember a heavily content-driven site on which the user could click a linked image to use Flash and another to use HTML. If Panda3D is so well integrated with JavaScript as it’s being publicised to be, then would it not be possible to make things even simpler by not requiring a link to a separate page (or worse, IFrame,) and just having a link use JavaScript to enable the app? The site utilises cookies already, so app toggle could also be a value stored in the cookie to ease the process for at least some repeat visitors.

Just tossing out a few thoughts on the matter.

Oh here is the thing i done long long time ago, feels like a year.

I am also in for a new layout, when i was searching for game engine, i stumbled upon panda3d, and luckily i was enough stubborn to look into code examples, and then i saw couple of lines animation example. … _the_Panda

IMHO, simplicity is key feature of panda3d, and that should be presented on main page.

All these screenshots at side should be replaced by higher res ones (look at c4 site and compare it)

Also, some information is outdated i believe(contact area)?

Add new categories, like launchpad and gallery (of games/apps).
When i first visited launchpad, i was amazed by amount of people working on panda3d.

Second, we need show-off!
This Screenshots section does not amaze me.
Maybe replace this with panda3d projects, and add links, high-res screenshots (linked via thumbs ofcourse), maybe even gameplay videos?

When i llok at current screenshots it looks like that projects are made only as a mean of teaching game making concepts, and it even looks like that is a limit of engine.

The main problem is that most people don’t make nice looking projects with panda3d.

Panda3d is mostly a tinkerer’s engine, that’s for sure.

Are there any published, on-the-market games using this engine outside of Disney? Even shareware indie games would be nice…