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CU Updates #32 - Theme Upgrades, Rank Changes

Future of Themes/Group Styles  

1 member has voted

  1. 1. What should our future default group style be?

    • All the way baby - old school glow FX and icons!
    • Keep the glow FX away, but some modern icons would be neat.
    • To hell with icons, but I can get down with some glow FX
    • Just leave them alone - icons are SO 2012.
  2. 2. Would you be interested in seeing dark themes/multicolored versions of classic themes?

    • Dark and RGB themes sound nifty
    • Dark themes sound nice, but the classic colors are good enough
    • Keep the classic themes and have a separate multicolored theme variant
    • Screw dark mode, but multicolored sounds cool
    • Nah, the classics should only be available in their original form - no extras

1 post in this topic

Hey, everyone! We've done a few upgrades/changes to the forums as well as our Discord server.


First, let's start with the themes. We've changed the default theme to Chaotic United - 2020. You may not have noticed, as besides some minor tweaks, it's largely the same as the 2019 theme. Typically we wouldn't create a whole new theme for such a relatively minor change, but considering that these changes do make some fairly broad changes to the inner workings of the theme, we figured it's best to keep the original one separate for anyone who may wish to opt-out of the changes (because more options are always a good thing).


So, what did we change? Well, you might notice the little paintbrush icon to the left of the search box. If you click that brush, a dropdown menu will open allowing you to make some customizations to the theme, such as:


Accent Color


This is something that was suggested a long time ago - and something that, upon examining the District One theme, we realized would be fairly easy to implement into the CU theme. You can customize the accent color to any color you like. Want it a darker shade of blue? Green? Orange? Red? If you can represent it with RGB values, you can make it your accent color.


Unfortunately, due to the way that IP.Board 4 works, there's a known issue where if you open any popup dialog within the site, the color will become inconsistent and most elements will reset. We're continuing to look on a way to work around this. If you find any other issues or circumstances that cause the custom accent color to break, report it on our bug tracker.


Rank Formatting


This is something I've wanted to do for a LONG time. A way to optionally enable the classic rank formatting for users who want it - as well as be able to have it set on classic CU themes for the most immersive nostalgia possible - all without compromising the current color scheme and breaking the modern look of the forums. You can change them on the fly from the menu, or you can choose the "Change Group Formatting" link at the top of the Rank Formatting menu to view more detailed info about the various rank formatting schemes. Currently, the following formats are available:

  • Default - The default formatting
  • CU Classic - The formatting seen on the old CU forums
  • ND Classic - The formatting seen on the earlier days of the ND forums
  • ND Modern - The formatting seen on the later days of the ND forums and used here until February 8, 2020
  • CU 2015 - The formatting seen on these forums until we returned from the ND forums after their shutdown


For more details on what the schemes actually change, check out the page with full details and previews here.





So, moving on from the themes, the other "major" change has to do with our ranks, although there's a bit more that goes into it. If you don't like words you can skip all the backstory and get on with it. If you do however like words, you can find the backstory in the spoiler below.




As most of you are well aware, I have a slightly excessive obsession with historical preservation. For the most part, this doesn't stand in the way of progress or other objectively positive changes. However, that doesn't mean there haven't been some questionable decisions made by myself in the name of "staying true to the old ways". When the staff at Nuclear District decided they were going to close their doors, I was honestly a bit upset - and I'm sure I wasn't alone. Even though in retrospect I do believe that was ultimately the better outcome for CU (as it resolved the "dual branding" issues we were having), I still wanted to preserve as much from ND as humanly possible.


That desire is what led to the ND forum topics being brought over, among other things. Before they shut down, there was a period of time that we had to get our forums updated to IP.Board 4 and get everything ready for public use once again. During that time, I went through and made almost everything configured identically to ND's forums, even down the smallest of meaningless details like the order in which plugins appeared in the list of installed plugins.


One such thing of particular note - and what we'll be talking about today - was the rank configuration.


I reconfigured our ranks to match the ND ranks as closely as possible. Colors, formatting, names, all of it. However, the ranks on ND didn't exactly make the most sense for us at the time - and only continued to worsen.



The real issue was inconsistency. We'd introduced Forum Mod, Game Mod, Game Helper, and Veteran - fine additions for sure. However, in doing so, the original ranks (which realistically made more sense) were lost - Global Moderator, Minecraft Moderator, and Benefactor. Some ranks were removed that just didn't make any sense or serve any real purpose, including:

  • Server Technician - Was the original rank assigned to Collin and Michael
  • WebDev - Assigned to basically nobody
  • U.A.C. Owner - Was the original rank assigned to Alycat, before she was made a proper Owner of CU
  • Interviewing - Was conceived to be an intermediary rank for someone who was being interviewed for staff -  as interviews would be handled via forums somehow?
  • Demoria Administrator - Was given to people who were administrating for Demoria Online, a planned (and later cancelled) MMORPG (this rank still exists in the current forums as Game Admin, but is unused)
  • Demoria Staff - A more general-purpose rank assigned to those who were part of the Demoria team
  • NPC - Also part of Demoria, the idea was that characters of the game would make announcements and such on the forums in-character (or something of that sort)


However, even with these excess ranks trimmed out, the rank setup only got worse over time. With the introduction of the Advisor rank, its color was far too visually similar to that of Game Helper. For some people this was more obvious than others. For comparison, the original formats were as follows:

  • Advisor
  • Game Helper



The deep blue next to the deep purple tend to be far too similar to be instantly distinguishable. I mostly wrote this off as a nonissue - because after all, how could I dare deviate from the ND rank colors?


The other part has to do with the names. As I mentioned before, there was a serious lack of consistency in the ranks. On Discord, we had "Moderator" and "Game Moderator", which matched up with "Forum Mod" and "Game Mod" on forums respectively. On top of this, you have the Moderator rank in Minecraft which is equivalent to Game Mod on both Discord and Forums. The term "Moderator" could easily be muddled up and it's just a total clusterfuck that, quite frankly, doesn't need to exist.


So, starting today, it doesn't.


Forum Mod (and the Moderator rank on Discord) has been renamed to Global Moderator - which, frankly, is what it's always acted as since we've moved over from ND. Game Mod has been renamed to Minecraft Moderator - since we don't exactly have other gameservers anymore. Game Helper has been renamed to Helper since it isn't exclusive to helping in the gameservers.


Along with that, the color for Helper rank has been changed back to its original color from old CU - both for old time's sake as well as to help distinguish it from Advisor.


Benefactor rank has not been added to forums - yet. This is something that I plan to explore in the coming days so stay tuned. Benefactors all became Veteran after the move back over - but in retrospect, people who donate $100 or more to the community deserve more than Premium, but Veteran doesn't really work either since it's meant to distinguish those who were members of the old CU or ND.


Part of why I was comfortable with this change is the fact that now, any user can essentially opt-out of the change if they so desire. With the new CU themes (and eventually all of the themes if all goes well) having support for user-selected group styles, if you liked the previous group names/colors, you can have them. I'm a nut for preservation and I'm a nut for user choice. I want to enable members to experience the modern CU forums the same way they did at any point in CU or ND history ever.


Whether you're from the old CU, ND, or even HurricaneCraft or Tidal Wave Gaming - I try to make it a priority that you can keep on enjoying the forums designs you're already familiar with. I do encourage everyone to use the default theme, but for those of you who want something a bit more old-school, my goal is to ensure that whether it be right now, or 10 years from now - you'll still be able to take a trip down memory lane and see the community through the lenses of the past.


But to digress, that's all I've got for now. As future themes get support for the custom group formatting styles I'll let you know.





To close off, I want to present a poll. You can vote here on the forums, on Discord, or both if you wish. Your vote will only count once, so you only need to vote on one or the other. Up to you, really.


How do you guys feel about the old-school idea of rank icons and glow effects? Would you like to see those become a default for groups like Platinum (and potentially soon Benefactor) once again? Would you like to see them used in other groups? Do you not care either way? Would you be down for updated versions of the original star and heart icons for those ranks (ones that aren't like 16x16 and actually match the rest of the site design) or do you prefer they be left out?


Additionally, and this is a bit of an oddball, would you be interested in seeing color-changing support introduced in some of the classic themes that never had it? Would you like to see light/dark versions of classic themes? I can't promise any of these will happen, especially soon - but I do want to gauge if there's any demand for it. Several classic CU themes are pending a full rebuild (or at least massive reworking), and when I get time for it, these kinds of features could likely be accomplished with ease. But hey, that's just an idea.


Anyways, that's it for me folks - happy browsing!

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