Year in Review: 2020

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Hi everyone,

Today, the 31st of December 2020, I would like to thank all of the Patrons who have supported the site this year. This has been an especially trying and stressful year for many of us. But we've made it through to the end, and look toward the future with new hope and enthusiasm.

Ignoring the state of the world of the past year, SFMLab and Smutbase have gone through many changes, and it's been exactly 12 months since Open3DLab launched.

A year of ups and down(time)s

SFMLab was unavailable for nearly a month at the start of the year, while I migrated it to the same codebase as Smutbase and Open3DLab launched. When SFMLab finally returned, people understandably had a difficult time with the transition to the new account system. A storage backend migration at our hosting provider caused even more issues; leading to prolonged site outages, performance issues and failing uploads. I still feel bad about this one, since I wasn't able to provide a level of service that I find acceptable, considering your generous support.

Restoring things and making them better

Luckily, in the following months, I was able to add back features in ways that were even better than they were on the old side. The Upload process was streamlined, giving creators easy to understand steps to guide them through the creation of a project on the site. The new system shows the steps required of them; adding preview images, adding files, and submitting it for approval by the mod team. The mod team can now easily approve models, and has better ways to reject models, while still providing useful feedback. Once approved, the uploader can pick a date and time to publish that's convenient for them. (or will lead to the most social media clicks😎) Finally, verified uploaders make their return. They can skip the moderation step, and straight up publish files when they feel like it. And to make it easier for the mods; verified status is granted automatically after a user has a set amount of uploads.

The hall of fame made its return. Patrons who pledge at the highest tier get their name, image and public URL on the hall of fame page. On the old site, this was a manual process. These days you can change all these yourself in your account settings. This has lead to some hilarious pictures being uploaded, which was exactly what I hoped would happen! If you pledge at the top tier, and haven't uploaded an image, definitely do so when you are able. And if you have nothing in particular that you would like to promote, just upload a funny meme. If it's too offensive, I will obviously delete it. But I'm open to jokes!

There is currently also automatic file analysis running on new uploads, meaning the contents of a file will be listed on the page automatically, and we automatically check .blend files for missing textures and resources. This speeds up the moderation process by a lot. In the future, I am going to look at providing the output of these automatic scans back to the uploader. That way, when a blend file is missing textures, this will automatically show this to the uploader before they submit it for moderation or publish it. Exciting stuff from a technological standpoint.

Comments, comment likes and dislikes are back. You can delete your own comments. Uploaders can now delete comments made by others on their uploads. Perhaps editing will make a return soon. Meanwhile, the frontpage prominently lists recent site activity, including announcements, new uploads and comments.

Tutorial Resources

Lastly, in the last two weeks, I've spent some of my spare time making tutorial videos on very basic subjects surrounding Source Filmmaker and Blender. You can check out these videos on the official Open3DLab channel. I'm still trying to figure out if this is something I want to be spending more time on in the coming year, but the first response is at least positive, and making the videos is a fun creative outlet. Watch a few videos and let me know what you think, and topics you would want me to tackle in the future.

Looking ahead

The woes of 2020 are likely going to cary on into the new year. But as far as the sites go, we start 2021 in much better shape than we started 2020. In part, that's thanks to you guys. Your support enables me to pay for the servers, and spend my time improving the site. There are many things to be done to improve the site still, especially when it comes to finding and filtering content. So that's one of the goals for 2021. Making it easier for you guys to find that one particular upload you're looking for.

Once again, thanks for your support in the past year. I've lost someone close to me in 2020. Someone who passed way too young, and who I could always depend on. And I'm far from the only one. Please keep trying your best to follow social distancing practices, even now that the finish line seems so close, with vaccines on the way. Use technology to stay in touch. And for the love of god; Tell your friends and loved ones that you appreciate being around them, or miss being close to them. Even if you think it goes without saying. It matters more than you know.

I hope 2021 will bring you happiness, love and wealth.

Best wishes for the new year,

Ganonmaster

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