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Welcome to the latest Joystiq (we call it 'Futurestiq')

Welcome to the new Joystiq (or, as we've lovingly called it for the last year, Futurestiq). This represents our biggest upgrade ever, with a whole host of new features you'll see, and even more that you won't. With all this change going on, it only seemed right to spruce up the branding – you'll notice we've got a whole new look, designed to make things cleaner and easier to read.

That goal of making Joystiq easier to use informed much of the work we did and resulted in dramatic improvements to nearly every aspect of the site. From comments to searching to video to image galleries to navigation, we've torn the experience down, and rebuilt it with how you use the site in mind. The end result is something much more than just a "blog" – it's a more organized, more structured experience that's part news, part magazine, part blog, and part video site. And we're excited for you to check it out!

We're going to walk you through some of the major new features but, before we get started, we want to ask you to take note of the little badge under our new logo in the upper left: "beta." Just like Gmail and Halo Reach before us, we're appropriating the "beta" label to let you know that there may be some inconsistencies over the next several weeks, as we iron things out.

Let's start at the top: the design. We worked closely with the talented Dan Sormaz to rethink how users use Joystiq. Dan distilled a mountain of ideas and ambitions into a sleek design that remains backwards compatible with the Oldstiq experience many of you want, but scalable enough to grow with us as we introduce more and more new features to the site. For the first time, we've got a design that serves us as a platform, and we can't wait to grow into it.

I mentioned a lot of design work you won't see – thanks to the tireless efforts of our crack development team of Justin Glow and Dan Chilton, we've finally realized our years-long goal of pairing a structured database with blog content. Coupled with Dan's design, we've created "game pages" which house not only all the news on any given title, but the screenshots and videos as well. Looking for a specific video? Want to find that one news story? It's as easy as going to that game page.

We've collapsed our console "spokes" directly into Joystiq. Some of you will remember these as the subdomain-housed sites that were formerly our "Fanboy" sites. Those sites repurposed much of the relevant content from Joystiq Main, but they also contained a lot of unique stories you'd only see if you were on that subdomain. If you were just saying to yourself, "Huh, I didn't know there was unique content on those sites" then you understand exactly why we're flattening it.

The spoke system also appeared to devalue much of the work we do reporting on PC games and iPhone games and, well, all games that aren't on a platform made by The Big 3. Our navigation icons up top serve to filter the content directly into the area you're interested in, and that now includes PC (and Macs!) and mobile (like iPhones and Android phones!).

We've also introduced a new sourcing system. Below each post, you'll be able to find our regular Via and Source links, but we've added the ability to include the name of the link. While it might seem minor, we're excited to make this process more transparent and easier to navigate. Even better: More Coverage links will take you to other angles on the story from our peers in the space.

An improved comment system is, undoubtedly, the single most requested feature we've added. We've done away with the old system and, in its place, we've added something you're all likely to be a little more familiar with: persistent logins. You login up top in the header, choose a unique username (this is PERMANENT), and you maintain that session, commenting all the while. We've added the ability to leave replies inside a nested comment, and the person you're replying to is now indicated in the body of your reply. This is the same commenting system Engadget introduced last year to great effect

If you've been commenting on Engadget, you'll notice that ID is carried over here. If you've got a Joystiq account, but have never set a username, here's how you get started: When you login with your current account, you'll be asked to set a username (letters and numbers only, folks). If your old cookie is logging you in without the option of selecting a username, you'll want to go to and logout. Then log back in with your current credentials, pick a new username, and you're off to the races.

Joystiq put off adding scores to its reviews for so long that when we finally decided to include them, we wanted to make sure it would provide a real value to you, our dear reader, rather than just an arbitrary number.

When you read a review on Joystiq, know that we're less concerned with the game itself than the experience of playing the game. The phrase we use internally is "telling the story of the experience," and our review scores endeavor to do the same thing. While most review scores advise you on how to spend your money, we believe that the much more valuable commodity is your time, and our scoring system reflects that.

We use a 5-star rating system. When you look at our review scores, pretend that you've just asked the author if playing the game is an experience you should have. Not "should I buy it" but "should I play it." The number translates to some variation of the following answers.

- Yes.
- If you like this type of game at all, you'll want to play it.
- Maybe, but only if you like this type of game and are able to forgive some problems.
- No, unless this is your favorite type of game and you're starved for more.
- No.

As you can see, this scale asks that you bring something of yourself to it. If you see a 2-star review on a game in your favorite genre from your favorite developer, we're not necessarily saying you shouldn't buy it, just that you should proceed with caution. If you see a half-star, assume it's between both positions and read the review for further context.

Now, if you buy a one-star game, well ... don't say we didn't warn you.

We know you've been asking for it and, while it's not quite ready for download today, we're happy to report that you won't need to ask for it anymore. Development of our iPhone app is well underway and we'll be bringing you an early look as soon as we can. In the interim, we'll share the above screen. Pretty incredible, eh?

It goes without saying that a project of this magnitude couldn't have been done without a lot of help from a lot of people. I want to thank our designers, Dan Sormaz and Erik Sagen, who've worked to conceive of, and build, much of what you see. I want to thank our developers Dan Chilton, Paul Heuts, and Brett Terpstra, for lending their coding skills to the substantial task at hand. I need to thank Felicia Perez and Rick Garner for proving much-needed project management support. I need to thank Brad Hill and Marty Moe for supporting this project from the beginning. Of course, without the support and understanding of Greg Mills and John Benyamine at AOL Games, much of this wouldn't be happening. And a major thanks goes out to Mr. Justin Glow for pushing this entire project through, and for figuring out how to actually do everything we imagined. And lastly, Team Joystiq, for always going the extra mile even when – like in this case – that extra mile was a marathon.

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