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TGTAP Downloads Database v1.0

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#1 Chris


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Posted 20 May 2007 - 04:22 PM

This announcement discusses a new download system being implemented on The GTA Place, please read through it thoroughly and leave any suggestions and comments you have. Thanks.

The downloads system here at The GTA Place which we have been using for a good 3 years now is in need of a major overhaul. We are currently using a very heavily modified (by myself) version of paFileDB 3.1, a freely available script which has since received a number of upgrades to improve its features. We of course haven't upgraded, we can't, because I've modded it so much it would just break everything. Having said that, we do need to upgrade, but we are going to move away from paFileDB, instead we're going to take out what useful code there is (not a lot tbh) and then just code the rest ourselves.

Now I refer to "we" rather than just myself... normally it would just be me doing all the coding, but I'm hoping that Jared can help us out with this project, and indeed he did start a few months ago on some coding, since then both of us have been too busy to carry on with it. By the summer I'd say we'd definitely be finished, just how soon before then I don't know.
Below is a quick summary of the new features, followed by a bit about the current system and why we need to change, and then an in depth discussion of all the shiny new features.

Summary of new features and improvements
  • Integration with the forums
  • Advanced searching options
  • Quick download
  • Author pages
  • Improved rating system
  • More detailed file pages
  • Comment system
  • Multiple screenshots for each mod
  • Report broken mod form
  • Submit your own mods
The Current System (bad)
At the moment the features we have are quite limited. So we have categories and sub-categories, and are able to add files to them, have a short and long description, author name, version number, 1 screenshot and 1 file. You can see the number of downloads it's had, the file size, and you have links to download it.

On a separate page you can rate the mod, you can also email it to a friend. It's annoying having to go to a separate page to rate the mod, and the email to a friend feature isn't used very much (I think), as most people tend to pass links around in forums and on instant messengers these days. Occasionally I would dare say some people abuse the system and send to loads of people for no reason or spam it.

When searching, you put in some text and it searches virtually every field in the file records, there's no way of narrowing down your search. Results are listed all on one page with just a category name next to them - This is not very useful at all.

That's about all I need to say for that, on to the new system...

New System (good)
The way you navigate the downloads will be largely the same, but will be significantly more intuitive and a lot easier/quicker than before.

Categories and sub-categories will all remain the same as there is nothing wrong with them. Game logo icons may be added to the main ones so it is clear which game you are browsing for (mainly useful for searches which return results for mods for more than one game).

File Listing
When viewing the list of files in a category, you'll have the option to "Quick Download" the file. A link you can click which downloads the file immediately, bypassing the file page altogether.

Clearer Dates
The current system uses American style dates and times which is confusing to most of our visitors from Europe and Australia-based regions and indeed many other countries which have the day first rather than the month. Instead we'll be using short dates (abbreviations). e.g. 6th Jan 2006, or something similar.

File Rating
The current system uses a number out of 10. We will be using a maximum rating of 5 in the new one (based on stars) and we will be halving all current ratings so that previous ratings aren't lost in the changeover. It will now be clearer how good a file is based on the number of stars it has (hovering your mouse over them will show how many ratings the file has received - So if you see it has 1 star and hover over it to find out it only has 1 rating, you know that this is just 1 person's opinion, whereas if you find it has 1 star but 20 people have rated it, you know that it is probably not a very good mod.

Searching will be far more advanced than before. Unfortunately it's the most complicated thing to code. However we are hoping for the following abilities and features:
  • Search by file name, or description (using tickboxes to select which ones, or both)
  • Search by author name
  • Advanced options will include selecting a specific category or categories
  • Sort options: by file name, rating, date added, author name, or # of comments. Ascending or Descending.
  • Flood control for guests - if you are not logged in you can only do X searches every X seconds (probably 1 search every 60 seconds)
After you've performed a search, the results will be displayed on pages (rather than one huge long list). A game icon will be displayed to the left of the file name, representing the game it is for (in the case of tools for multiple games such as IMGTool, a toolbox will be shown). The next column will be the file name itself which links to the file page and the description will be underneath. Each row will of course have a number of columns each with more details about the file, they will contain the following:
Author name with a link to their profile page. # of stars (rating). Date added. # of downloads. # of comments. (# of screenshots/files - not sure about this one)

Integration with The GTA Place Forums
As you've probably realised from some of the things I've mentioned above. We are trying to get the system implemented to the forums, i.e. to use the member database etc. Some of the features members can do are the following:
  • Leave comments on mods, just like as if you were posting on the forums. (comments will not increase your post count)
  • Upload your own mods
  • Edit your own mods (screenshots, file, description etc.) - this will come at a later date
Author Pages
Each mod author will have their own author page (and before you ask, mods with multiple authors will be able to have each author linked individually). This page will be based on their member ID on the forums, so for example, /downloads/author.php?id=2 would be the page for me (Chris) as that is my member ID on these forums. Mod authors who aren't members on the forum will also have a page but linked differently, you won't need to know about this.

Each author's page will have the following:
  • # of mods by this author (link to page of them)
  • total # of downloads this authors mods have had
  • Average file rating
  • Some forum profile data (along with link to forum profile)
  • Link to website (if available)
File Pages
Viewing a mod will be largely the same as in the old system, with a few more details, and a slightly modified layout making it all easier to read.
New features and/or improvements are:
  • # of file views.
  • Rate file directly on the page (rather than having to click through to a new one - this should mean more people decide to vote, thus giving a better indication of how good the mod is.
  • Multiple screenshots. Thumbnails will be shown of each one, linking to the full version.
  • Remove email to friend feature
  • Add 'Report this Mod' button (allows you to notify admins if it: contains a virus, file is corrupt, file doesn't exist etc.)
And I think that's just about everything you need to know. If you have any suggestions or comments about it then please leave them here. Thanks! I'll try and post updates whenever progress is made.

  • Main stuff
    • Show categories
    • Show files
    • Show rating as stars
    • View all files
    • View statistics
    • Quick download
    • View a file
    • View author profile
    • View authors files
    • View authors contributions
    • Majorly Improved Search Engine (yay finally!)
    • Rate a file (no AJAX yet)
    • Comment system (this will be added at a later date)
    • Show thumbnails of screenshots
    • Report file
    • Sort list of files by name/downloads/author/rating/date
    • Thumbnail view option when browsing files
  • User CP
    • View my files
    • Upload a file
    • Upload screenshots
    • Add a file
    • Edit my files
  • Admin CP
    • Add/Edit/delete category
    • Add/Edit/delete file
    • Add/Edit author
    • Upload file
    • Upload screenshots
    • Change settings
    • Approve/Unapprove mods
    • View/Update Reported Mods
  • Tutorials with Screenshots
    • Install a GTA3 mod (manual)
    • Install a GTAVC mod (manual)
    • Install a GTASA mod (manual)
    • Install a GTAVC mod using VCMM
    • Install a GTASA mod using SAMI
    • Install a GTA3 or GTAVC mod using GMI
    • Install a GTA3 or GTAVC or GTASA mod using GGMM

#2 DareDevilX


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Posted 20 May 2007 - 04:48 PM

Great Chris,sounds nice.
I have one question...are all mods going to be uploaded again or database is going to be empty on

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#3 Gerard



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Posted 20 May 2007 - 05:12 PM

All the existing mods will be transferred across to the new system. Hence Chris was talking about halving the existing ratings automatically to get out of 5 instead of out of 10.

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#4 Chris


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Posted 20 May 2007 - 05:30 PM

Yeah all existing mods will still be there. Only thing is that the URLs will change. so pafiledb.php? etc. etc. will be different. However, if you still click a link that goes to an old URL, you'll be automatically redirected to the new one.

#5 Urban Legend

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 05:45 PM

Good luck with this guys. It should turn out no problem though.

Can I ask about hosting video's though? What's the deal? :P

#6 Chris


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Posted 20 May 2007 - 05:56 PM

I take it you mean stunt videos and the like?

Yeah, it's something we've only ever occasionally done. We aren't a massive file host, we don't really have the capacity to do that. We can still maybe host a few videos from members here, but it's not something I'd like to make a habit of, and with most stunters belonging to dedicated communities such as gtastunting - where places like filefront, tga etc. are all used, there isn't much point in us doing it. Especially from now on, we'd have loads of new videos and barely any old ones.

Also if we hosted too many, we'd be in danger of running out of bandwidth if they all became very popular and linked everywhere. On the server TGTAP is hosted on we have a total of 2TB of bandwidth available to us, and around 1TB of that is used every month already, 1 or 2 months went as high as 1.2TB, such is the popularity of our downloads DB in comparison to the rest of the site, which of course doesn't use much bandwidth.

#7 Artur



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Posted 20 May 2007 - 08:44 PM

Yeah I can see how we would overload if we hosted stunting videos.

Although I don't use the mods since I don't have any GTAs on my PC, the whole overhaul sounds awesome. A lot more features than before and gives more details to the gamers. I think it will help a lot in the forums, maybe I'll get GTAs for PC so I can use them. :D

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#8 MrLlamaLlama


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Posted 20 May 2007 - 09:31 PM

I think the new changes may encourage those who visit to download mods to join, especially if you make a good job of the layout, productivity and practicality of it. Seems like a bit iof a big task to me, but i've never coded. well once.. i sux0r'd
But good luck with implementing all the new features.
Oh, and i especially think the date style change will be good, never really understood why the yanks do it 'backwards'... :mellow:

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#9 Dazza


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Posted 21 May 2007 - 06:28 AM

Woah, awesome Chris and Jared. Can't wait to see it. I need some mods for GTA III.

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#10 Urban Legend

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 12:26 PM

Yeah Chris, I guess that won't be neccessary. I'm gonna look through the DB and see what you guys got. But remember, people did like Animosty. :P

I need to take that ugly ass gtastunting signature anyway, bunch a lil' whining kids there.

#11 Jace



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Posted 21 May 2007 - 01:59 PM

Sound pretty good. Must be a hell of a lot of work.

A little thing: Are you able to submit multiple authors. So let's say I and [X] made something. Jace and [X] would show seperate instead of being 1 author. Hope you got what I mean..

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#12 Jared



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Posted 21 May 2007 - 02:07 PM

Sound pretty good. Must be a hell of a lot of work.

A little thing: Are you able to submit multiple authors. So let's say I and [X] made something. Jace and [X] would show seperate instead of being 1 author. Hope you got what I mean..

We could work on that, the way I planned it when an author's contributions are requested it would go by the authors name, which would use what your saying anyway. But yeah, I'll work on that if it doesn't.

#13 Ciaran


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Posted 21 May 2007 - 03:23 PM

Maybe instead of 2 names you make up a team name or something like that.

But anyway, this does sound like a brilliant feature and alot of work will be going into it.

#14 Chris


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Posted 21 May 2007 - 05:38 PM

Sound pretty good. Must be a hell of a lot of work.

A little thing: Are you able to submit multiple authors. So let's say I and [X] made something. Jace and [X] would show seperate instead of being 1 author. Hope you got what I mean..

Yes, you personally can only submit by yourself. However, on the mod submission form there will be a 'notes' text box which only an admin such as myself will see, you can just tell us who the other people involved are and we'll add them to the file, so both authors will show up separately.
If you know anything about relational databases, then the way we do it is just to put multiple user id's in the author field, comma separated of course.

I know when I explain things such as this, it makes it sound like the process is all really complicated for you guys, but we'll try and make it really user friendly so you'll find it easy to add your mods.

#15 Slayer


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Posted 21 May 2007 - 07:30 PM

Sounds pretty good, especially the new rating system and removing the e-mail mod feature. Multiple thumbnails also sound nice.
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#16 Chris


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Posted 22 May 2007 - 05:49 PM

To ensure a smoother changeover, a few of the smaller changes are first being modded into our pafiledb. I have now made file ratings out of 5, and have added the # of times viewed feature. The actual rating system remains unchanged, except for the fact it's now out of 5, it's not the new system I detailed earlier.

#17 Silberio



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Posted 22 May 2007 - 07:10 PM

Sweet Chris, very nice, got nothing more to say lol

#18 Jace



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Posted 26 May 2007 - 09:58 AM

Dunno if you already put that in the post, but since you're going to have a flood for guests, why not 'force' people to first register at the forums to be able to upload a mod.
And maybe even faster download speed for members (who are logged in). Might make the forum bigger.

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#19 Chris


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Posted 26 May 2007 - 03:01 PM

Dunno if you already put that in the post, but since you're going to have a flood for guests, why not 'force' people to first register at the forums to be able to upload a mod.
And maybe even faster download speed for members (who are logged in). Might make the forum bigger.

They are going to be forced to register to upload a mod, but to download they won't, which is maybe what you meant.

We know we could get the forum thousands of members but that way, but we feel it would also be counter-productive, and I'll explain why.
Much of the traffic to The GTA Place is people trying to find mods, having one of the largest mod databases on the Internet certainly helps us, but forcing everyone to register probably won't be good for us in the long run. We'll get known for having this requirement, and many people (who can't be bothered to register) will simply move on to other sites.
Also, we would end up with thousands of members who never ever bother to post on the forums, they just simply register to download mods.

So while we would get loads more members, we'd rather have few new members, but who actually make posts, and stay active around the place.

#20 Jace



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Posted 26 May 2007 - 07:28 PM

I didn't mean fully block. But be limited in Download Speed. Like not higher then 100 kbs.

Or Download points. By earning points in the forum you can get more downloads in a day or something like that.

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