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Welcome to the new Speedrun

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We're excited to launch the new Speedrun website! Read on to learn more about what's new, how we got here, and what's coming next.

Welcome to the new Speedrun
Published 2 months ago

Today is a major milestone for us, both in our efforts to deliver on long-held promises to the community, and to enable major new updates due later this year and beyond.

In this post we're going to cover what's new with today's launch, the recent history of the site, detail some work left to do, and preview what's coming later this year.

Major changes

We had two main objectives with the new site:

  1. Better serve the communities and users on Speedrun
  2. Make it easier and faster for us to continue delivering on goal 1.

In order to meet these objectives, we rebuilt the whole site, back-end and front. Our release date was "when it's ready", which... just so happens to be today!

There's too much change to go into everything, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Fresh look and feel. You may have noticed, but things look a bit different. We tried to keep the original spirit of Speedrun, but update it to look and feel like a website should in 2023. It's faster, prettier, and more reliable. Give it a try, we think you'll like it.
  • Game pages and leaderboards. Leaderboards are now wider, faster, and have a variety of new features. You can easily see the world record history, filter by more details (including verification status), and more! Check out a game page to see it in action.
  • Individual level support. Level navigation is now built into the main leaderboard, and game pages now have a new separate Levels tab where you can see an interactive summary of level record holders. This view can be filtered in the same way as the main leaderboard, including by subcategory!
  • Game management. Game management has been completely overhauled. Speedrun is a complicated platform with a lot of configuration options for game moderators. We rebuilt it all with the primary goal of making sure that moderators felt confident when making changes. The site now explains every single option, warns about dangerous changes, and exposes new options to customize your communities.
  • Moderation tools. We released the Moderator Hub feature almost 2 years ago to mixed reactions. We've been listening and taking notes, and are happy to say that we've rebuilt it from the ground up to address major points of feedback. The pending run list is now more dense, it's easy to search, you can assign runs to moderators, and the run review interface has been much improved.
  • Search. Search is now faster, more accurate, and finds more content across the site. There's a new dedicated search results page where you can filter results. You can also easily bring up the search box with your keyboard, just press /.
  • Game Discovery. We've improved the Games page to show popular new games and help you discover new games on different platforms and decades. We also standardized game cover image sizes (you may need to update them for the games you moderate.)
  • User pages. User pages got a fresh look and new features, including the ability to embed your Twitch stream when live, and improved access to various types of content like threads, comments, followers, and pending actions.
  • User following. You can now follow users (in addition to games), and their runs will show up in your feed on the home page. User pages have Followers and Following tabs to help you discover new friends. We hope this will help you keep tabs on old friends and discover new game communities.
  • Group messaging. We've overhauled direct messaging so you can make plans with the whole squad.
  • Guides and Resources. We've given guides and resources a minor facelift, with more improvements planned in the future. You'll be happy to know that you can now drag and drop images and videos to upload them directly into guides, resources, news posts, etc.
  • New text editor. The old Speedrun supported a weird markdown-ish text format, but didn't have an easy way to use it. We now have a new text editor with multiple modes (rich text, markdown, preview), which should make it a bit more pleasant to contribute guides, resources, news posts, or just express yourself when submitting a run or comment.
  • Internationalization. Accessibility is important, and there's nothing more inaccessible than a webpage that you can't read. Speedrun is now fully translated into 17 different languages. The current translations are machine-generated, and their quality can best be described as "usable". Despite this, we see this as an important step forward for speedrunners who don't speak English, and we plan to make improvements.
  • Single sign-on and verified social connections. You can now sign in with Discord, Google, or Twitch. Additionally you can verify your Discord and Twitch accounts, giving your visitors confidence that they're talking to the real you.
  • ... and lots more!

It really should simply be "more, better, faster".

We tried to make sure that all major existing functionality of the old site has been preserved or accounted for, but please let us know if we missed anything. The best place to do so is either in The Site forums, or by creating a Bug Report.

History and lessons learned

Elo (the company that owns and operates Speedrun) acquired and began operating the site in 2020. Back then the site was struggling just to stay online. You may or not remember the famous "Under Pressure" error message that used to appear on nearly 40% of page loads.

After we took over, the first task was stabilizing the site and solving some of the most obvious problems. Then we went and started adding features - some went over well, others most certainly did not (sorry). Through it all we experienced a lot of growth (site traffic more than doubled in a year), and learned some important lessons.

The biggest thing we learned? We needed to slow down, communicate thoughtfully, and deliver on the promise and potential of the site.

Making big improvements

In mid-2022 we recognized that it was simply too hard to make progress on the features that users cared the most about, and we struggled to resolve complex bugs. Under the covers, Speedrun is actually an incredibly complex platform (you wouldn't believe the nuance involved in determining the place of a run!), but the software wasn't scaling in the way it needed to. The old site (PHP) was really showing its, and making improvements was both difficult and dangerous - not a good combination.

... we had to rebuild it ...

Rebuilding a complex piece of software is a last resort. It's especially difficult and complex when you need to do it at the same time as you keep the existing site up and running. Still, we think it was a necessary step to making the major improvements the site needed. It took a while, but we're happy with the result! Even more importantly, we now have the ability to iterate on the site (introduce features, fix bugs) much faster and more thoughtfully than before.

For the curious: the old site was written in PHP, and the new site is Go (backend) and TypeScript (frontend) - just over 300,000 lines of code. We store data in MySQL and Redis.

We're not done yet

As with any big migration, there are bound to be limitations and loose threads. The biggest limitation with the new release is that we were not able to make any changes to the mappings between categories, levels, and variables. The reason is simple: so long as the old site was involved, it'd be nearly impossible to correctly introduce new mapping logic. We did manage to make some improvements in this area, but it's far from our true goal of arbitrary custom mapping. So, this remains on our todo list - we hope to accomplish it later this year.

Another area for improvement is internationalization. As described above, it works, but the translations are not very good. We plan to improve them in the coming weeks and months.

Looking toward the future

We're incredibly excited to launch the new Speedrun, and are already hard at work on making more improvements. Once the dust settles, we're confident you'll enjoy using the site.

Additionally, we have a few areas of focus that we'll be working on this year:

  • Make it easier to improve your PB. We plan to introduce new features that will help you understand your runs, learn from other runners in the community, and improve your times. It's going to get fast in here!
  • Discover new communities and friends. The Speedrun community is social by nature, but it can be hard to find new activities. We plan to make it easier to stay connected with existing friends, meet new ones, and improve all of our game communities.
  • Encourage the spirit of competition. Speedrunning is competitive by nature, but it's far from organized. We think we can help bring some excitement and order to the chaos. Buckle up!

Big updates aside, you can expect a fairly steady stream of minor improvements over the coming months.

Closing thoughts

We hope that you're pleased with today's update. It's been a long time coming!

I'd like to offer a special THANK YOU to our Speedrun Supporter subscribers. For those who aren't aware, Supporter helps you contribute directly to the development and growth of Speedrun. It offers a variety of features to improve your experience on the site, including making the site faster and more enjoyable to use by removing all advertisements.

For those who aren't subscribed to Supporter but like what you see here, please consider it! Your support means a lot to us, and it really does provide us with the resources needed to continue making major improvements.

Now, where was I in Tears of the Kingdom...

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