The blog is being migrated and merged with multiple Imphenzia blogs so the format and content will be inconsistent for a while.

Finally I'm finished with the new site design of Imphenzia Soundtrack

[caption id="attachment_191" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Screenshot of Imphenzia Soundtrack"]Screenshot of Imphenzia Soundtrack[/caption]

I’ve worked hard into the early hours every night for the past month but I’ve launched the new Imphenzia Soundtrack site. I already had my design template finished as it uses the same design as my artist site (and spacebox4096.com and beatball2.com) but it took a lot of time creating the new filter functionality to enable easy browsing of the hundreds of music tracks and sound effects.

I’ve taken a conscious decision to not add fallback functionality for visitors without javascript enabled. It simply takes way too long and there are so few of them that it’s not worthwhile. I also had a lot of troubles with browser compatibility but the site works in the browsers I have installed Chrome 13, Firefox 3.6, IE8, and I’ve had to force fallback to IE8 for IE9 browsers as IE9 hates me and jQuery =) I’ll deal with that some other day and I just wish the browser manufacturers could decide on using the same interpretation engine for html, css, and javascript.

There are some major differences between the new soundtrack site and the old one.

The new features are:

  • Discount Vouchers flexible to offers any sort of discount automatically on non-exclusive music and sound effects =) Let’s see how generous I become but I think it’s a good start with the current 70% discount offer to celebrate the new site (voucer: NEWSITE70)

  • Free Non-Exclusive Music License of the Month allows anyone to very easily get a free license of a randomly selected track every month.

  • New dedicated Non-Exclusive music page where all tracks can be easily browsed through and previewed. The page is “AJAX”-powered which means tracks can be viewed page by page without a full page reload.

  • Advanced search and filter functionality enables visitors to quickly locate music and sound effects based on criteria such as Keyword, Duration, Price, Tempo, Music Genre, Mood, Game Genre, Volume, Loops yes/no. When changing the search criteria the music and sound effect lists are updated instantly.

  • Search Engine Optimization, also making it easy for visitors to share links, for all tracks, track variations, and sound effects, e.g. http://soundtrack.imphenzia.com/non-exclusive-music/duplicate-my-soul/ and http://soundtrack.imphenzia.com/non-exclusive-music/fog-of-war/with-drones/

  • Indie and Commercial license model means only two pricing models (compared to a multi step game budget model before). It’s simple now, if you are an indie developer with an annual revenue below $250k every year you can use Indie licenses, otherwise you have to use a commercial license that costs 5 times more. It’s not that commercial licenses are expensive, it’s the indie licenses that are very cheap =)

  • Shortcuts to properties of music and sound effects means that you can click on music genres, tags, and other words to filter only audio files of that property.

  • Sorting functionality to sort music and sound effects on all columns such as Name, Music Genre, Category, Duration, and Price etc.

  • Audio Previews are now in much higher quality but the files are instead watermarked every 5 seconds. I’ve found out that audio was “stolen” even when it was in low quality so I think watermarking is the only way to go. The audio previews can be downloaded as 190kbps MP3 files and 128kbps OGG files to ensure they fit in your game.

  • License e-mails are sent directly following purchase (like before) but the download links to original WAV file, 128kbps OGG file, 64kbps OGG file, and 190kbps MP3 file, will now only be available for 7 days.

  • Exclusive Music Price Estimation Tool is available under Frequently Asked Questions on the Exclusive music page.

  • No more adverts. Google adverts were generating less and less due to their payment scheme so I’m sparing all my visitors by removing them and making a clean site instead!

Removed features:

  • Site accounts are gone as they weren’t used very much, it was hard maintenance, and I figure people have enough accounts on too many sites already. The download links to the audio files are sent instead to allow direct download from the e-mail. No more passwords and user names to remember.

  • Exclusive music can no longer be licensed automatically from the library. There are a number of reasons for this: 1) Exclusive license for a track resulted in all variations of the track being included in the exclusive license and these may not even be needed by the licensee; It would be a shame for some tracks to never be used. 2) Exclusive licenses are most commonly custom made for a game anyway, so the new Exclusive music page contains a show reel of exclusive music, a tool to calculate the pricing of exclusive music, and the contact details to discuss exclusive music for your game.

  • The “Imphenzia Audio System” for BlitzMax is no longer offered. If you want this code, please contact me instead.

  • Links page to games using my music is removed temporarily. I plan to create a better reference and promotional method for games using my music!

So I hope you enjoy the new site! Feedback and bug reports are always welcome – there are bound to be some issues with such a huge launch.

Thanks for reading… did you make it this far? =)

Protecting the site & AJAX

It's been  a long time since I've spent so many hours on something producing such a small visible result. First of all I had to learn all about protecting PHP code and form fields that are inserted into the database when logging in with mysql_real_escape_string and the joys of some servers having magic_quotes_gpc enabled and when stripslashes should and shouldn't be used. I've finally protected the code enough from malicious visitors - I don't want to end up like the old imphenzia forums once were if you remember those days. Since I already developed the login / logout / remember me features of the new sites yesterday, the 4 hours I spent on just protecting the code was just plain boring - but not wasted as the result is good and I learned something very useful.

Originally I used a javascript called "Live Validation" to verify the contents of form fields as you type in them and the result was quite cool - what it didn't support, however, was verifying on the fly that a username already existed or if invalid characters were entered. A friend of mine advised me about AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) and this is something I find very exciting (sadly enough!). What AJAX enabled me to do (amongst a million other things) is to verify if a username exists in the database as a user is typing into the form field. If the user enters a username while registering that already exists, the web page will warn you that the name is taken - this all without submitting the form or using the tedious back button etc. Now then you might think - why waste so much time on learning this stuff as I may never have a huge amount of registered users on imphenzia.com - but my reply is that learning this stuff is extremely useful as fast and intelligent websites is the future.

I found out that when troubleshooting javascripts, FireFox with the extension 'firebug' is very useful for debugging when things go wrong. Firebug will display error messages and scripts neatly and in my case the AJAX feed that is returned. At the same time, I must admit that I very much prefer IE as a browser - mainly because it renders web pages much nicer and - and also because so many sites look incorrect in FireFox... and if you are a true FireFox fan you will probably explode now and say that all these sites look horrible because they were incorrectly developed, the fact is that they still look horrible regardless of who's fault it is hence me prefering IE :)

Well, I still have some work left to do with the validation method tomorrow and the easter weekend is nearly over. Once validation is finally taken care of I can move on to more fun stuff on the site such as the music section.