You may have noticed that Atari Chat is offline. If you go to the chat room you're greeted by an error message "There was an error connecting with the chat room. Please notify an administrator." We've run into this issue before and in the past it's always been our provider performing maintenance, and the chat would come back online pretty quickly. Unfortunately this time, this isn't the case.
What's going on with the chat room?
I received notice from Invision (the company who created and hosts IP.Board, the suite which our forums run on) that they've decided to "retire the IPS chat service to better focus their resources on the rest of the suite". In other words, they've taken away the chat room and still plan on billing me the same amount every month. Sounds great, right?
I'm now forced to find an alternative. Chat will return, hopefully in time for Summer. I kindly ask all of you to sit tight and to be understanding while I integrate a new chat system into the site.
Why the chat room is important to us
Atari Chat is a huge aspect of Atari I/O and has been a central commons area for our community. Many of us have gotten to know each other on a more personal level in the chat room. Lifetime friendships have been formed, friendly contests hosted, prizes won, late night chats and so many great times together. Atari I/O has always been like an "Atari home town" and Chat has been one of those little things I've been most proud of at the site. The idea of a chat room also seems kind of retro, something genuinely personable from the earlier days of the web that seems to have gone away with time. I'm going to ensure that the chat room continues, hopefully bigger and better.
Potential for a super duper chat room
The possibility exists here to potentially include voice, video and text chat into a new chat room, while also integrating chat to be accessible from the main area of our website. I'll be reviewing what alternatives are available at what cost and evaluating their user friendliness.
Upgrading the site to IP.Board 4 and what that means
Our forums run on IP.Board 3.4.8, their tried and true version of the suite which many of you have already experienced on other sites. Lately Invision has been pushing us towards moving to IP.Board 4.1, the new version of the suite which looks and feels different from what we have now.
I have put off moving the forums to IP.Board 4 for the time being, for multiple reasons. Mainly because the forums would look and feel entirely different from the Atari I/O we know and love and we're very happy with the site as it is. Potentially, and at great expense, I could have a custom IP theme designed which would better integrate the forums into the main area of our website, which at this point is most likely what will happen. I have not wanted to upgrade until a similar theme became available that was a good fit for us and "felt like home." The last thing I want is for our members to log into the site one day and find that it looks and feels completely alien from what you've come to know.
So much to do, so little time
Our members here are great and I love working on the site. It can be a lot of work though. I am now forced to address the chat issue while also having to address the issue with our YouTube channel being down, keeping the blog up to date, managing the daily goings on of the forums, and approving new members as they sign up - all while working a job, living life, etc. and there is only so much time in the day. I am working to address these changes and I ask for your patience and understanding.