Total Gaming Network

Last week I kind of detailed the process of what it took to even get the site up and running following the upgrade to vBulletin 5.4.5 from 4.2.1. Today, I'll go over some of the new features for all of you members out there, plus some of the more forward facing changes made to the site.

I'll try to make this short and a bit more concise than last week's entry.

Custom Style

The most obvious thing you will notice when visiting the site is the current site design. I worked for a long time customizing a site design from one of the default vBulletin designs. Customizations include, but are not limited to:

• "TGN" colors (blues, greys, white) - This includes altering a ton of style variables, modifying templates, and even custom CSS coding (that I essentially copy and pasted since I don't know how to code anything beyond basic HTML). There was honestly a lot done in this area. Many hours were spent trying to get everything looking good while being usable, readable, and such. This also includes the removal of the "reputation" system bar from showing, a slight increase in the avatar sizes for posts, adjusting the width of the user info area in posts to keep most custom titles to one line, etc.

• Responsive Mobile Design - On the old site, there was a separate mobile style that I never customized. With vBulletin 5, I can just make style and it will scale automatically to devices that are smaller, such as your cell phone. We all have one of those, right? You can get a little idea about how that works by squishing your desktop window to a narrow column.

• Quality of Life Tweaks - By default, vBulletin 5.4.5 has a very "short" reply box for forum threads, be they a quick reply to an existing thread, or making a new thread from scratch. I sought out a fix for this that makes the text box a bit taller by default.

I also forced the current vBulletin CKEditor to auto-open the "Add Attachment" and "Toggle Advanced Editor" settings when you go to reply. The Advanced Editor is the editor that shows you all of the formatting buttons (bold, italic, fonts, colors, quotes, links, etc.). It just saves some time when replying or making a thread.

• Main site - We now have a content slider back. I can "feature" any article with the click of a button. I can also "feature" any thread in the forums or any blog entry.

• Select text to quote - This one is a mod that has been installed. If you don't want to fully quote someone you are replying to in the forums, you can now highlight the words/sentences you are specifically replying to and you will be given an option to quote that selection. It only seems to work on the forums as things like the blogs and the main page make use of "Comments" instead of replies.

• Comments - Right, so this is a weird one. You can now "comment" on posts or main page news. These comments aren't technically "posts" but instead show up as a reply to the post you are leaving a comment on. Speaking of main page comments, you will not see the CKEditor but you can still manually use BBCode for formatting if you want.

Additionally, there is at least one new BBCode that wasn't used before. That is the "User Mention" code. Just type @ and then start typing a username. An auto-complete box will show up eventually to make sure you tag in the right user. It will end up looking a little something like this if done correctly: Shawn Zipay

We also have some new stuff that most of you probably won't care about like:

• Privacy Policy - We now have an actual privacy policy page. It's kind of needed.

• GDPR Stuff - If you live in the EU and you visit the site as a member, you may see a consent page when visiting or logging in. Logged in users can withdraw their consent at any time by unchecking the box here:

Your account will be removed after a period of three days. You can always re-consent during this grace period.

• Third-Party Registrations/Services - You can now register at TGN using your Twitter, Facebook, or Google accounts thanks to their various APIs or OAuth. If you're already registered, you can connect your account here to any of those accounts at any time. It's all voluntary.

• Quick Search - I spent many... many... MANY hours letting the search index build up from scratch for over a couple of million posts. Because of the instability this server intensive process created, I had to babysit it while awake and manually jot down the last successful "batch" of indexed terms it got done completing. This process took over a week, easily. It was worth it, I think, because there are many features of the site that utilize the search. This includes the "What's New?" section, the forum activity feed, the trending topics module, tags, and more.

• HTTPS - We should've had this a while ago. We have it now. Yay for a secure site and all that.

New and Returning Embeds

Along those lines, I also spent some additional cash to purchase a third-party vBulletin mod that provides better Open Graph metadata than what vBulletin includes by default. This now allows us to have pretty Twitter cards when you share a link from the site. You can see an example of that here:

Example: [tw]1081327936450555906[/tw]

Though this isn't new, we still have the ability to share Tweets or embed videos from services like YouTube, Vimeo, etc. Twitch streams can also be embedded, same as always.

Example: [tv]gamesdonequick[/tv]

We now also have the ability to embed Instagram thanks to another custom BB code I added. To do this, find the Instagram post you want to share, click on the 3 dots (...) at the bottom of the post and then copy and paste the part of the URL that follows /p/ from the address bar. For example, would mean you take the bolded part and put it between the new Instagram tags.

A post shared by on

Example: [IG]BsUbj2cnXn5[/IG]

You can make photo albums pretty much anywhere on the site. You can do whatever with this. Plop them in new threads, new posts, share them with others, etc. Blogs are still around. You are free to make your own blog. You are free to make use of Custom Titles or even customize your profile page just like before.

Notifications are a new section that you can make use of. If you ever subscribed to a particular topic before, you have some idea on how this works. You can now also subscribe to blogs, entire forum sections, users, the main site, or parts of the main site (Total Battlefield, for example). This can give you a customized feed of the content that you want.

In addition to sending PMs to other users, you can make use of the new chat message feature added with vB5. It's a chat. I think it's self-explanatory?

You can now Like posts if you want to do that for whatever reason.

I also moved all of the archived news to the "Gaming News (Old)" forum section. There is a bit of overlap between posts here and posts on the main page. The main page goes from now (obviously) back to October 1, 2013, while the archives go from the year 1999 (lol) to June 21, 2018.

I'm not sure how many of these features you will make use of, if any. They're there if you want them. I hope I have the permissions set up properly. If you find something that you cannot use or access and you think you should be able to, let me know.


I eventually want to make another theme. This second theme will be darker and will be based off of the old CS-Nation color scheme. I have no ETA on that. What has been done here has taken up a considerable amount of time these past couple of weeks. Also, as much as I would like for it to happen, I'm not sure there is a way right now to easily have a lightbox style viewer for attached images like we had before. For some reason the vB team enables this only for photos added via the Photo Album feature. Right now, that functionality does not work well with our main page CMS.

I also want to eventually add in other social media sharing links such as Reddit. I also need to finish updating the links on OpenCritic to our old reviews.

Finally, I'll level with you. I'm not dumb. I know the age of Total Gaming Network and CS-Nation is coming (or perhaps has already come?) to an end. I mentioned this previously. I've seen the numbers. I've seen the site hits, the (lack of) posts and comments, the social media shares, etc. It's depressing. However, I will continue to post new news and content for the foreseeable future. I will continue to try to promote the site and the content where I can. There is certainly a part of me that believes the site can make a return to form to some degree. If that wasn't the case, I would not have just spent almost $300 on this new software. After all of the work and money I and others have poured into the site over the years, it is the least that I can do.