I am not going to lie to you guys, this has been the most disappointing year on record for NG with 2008 being a close second. Johnkilo has said this before in his reasons for finally leaving, but I'm mostly unsatisfied with how this year was:
1. The current design is weak.
Not to hurt the staff's feelings, but it is. A shitload of the functions that were part of the site since the beginning of the automated Flash portal are gone. For example, the drop-down box that has other submissions for various authors in the Movie, Game, and Audio sections. In addition, I also don't like how the Game and Movie sections are setup like the Art portal. To be honest, I preferred how the last design of the site handled those sections. On the other hand, the inclusion of MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, and Skype (kind of pointless) was nice, along with the RSS feed regarding favorite authors. Oh, and while I do like the streamlined search function, it would also be appreciated if they also added the ability to search by author.
2. NG is too focused on copying other sites rather than being itself.
In spite of having a Facebook account, I never liked "social" media. While the news log implemented years ago was great, I'm sick of NG trying be another MySpace/Facebook. Hell, I also see little point in the new video uploader. Seriously, you can just import a video into flash, tweak the weight/quality, add buttons/preloader, and done. Of course, it is nice for those who have potentially great stuff, but have no knowledge of how flash works (Kellz5460 and and various 3D animators) or have .swf files that can't be optimized below 35-40MB without severely compromising the audio quality (Rambojoe's rotoscope flash). But for people who get the invite to submit regular flash cartoons as video files is ostentatious, wasteful, asinine, and irresponsible. Furthermore, there's also little point in using After Effects outside of 3D animation. Regardless of how well integrated it is into the animation, the results are usually ugly and distracting. Plus, the only Flash submissions on NG that have made good use of the program are MK vs SF 3 and The Moon Guardian. Why? Take a look at the following cartoons:
Final Fantasy Last Mages
All of their effects were done with just Flash and maybe a tiny bit of photoshop. This also explains why I'm not impressed with Toon Boom. In other words, NG should let the YouTube, Social network, iNooKindexurface, HD, After Effects, Toon Boom, Steam, and Ouya things go and rediscover its roots.
3. Ad Revenue is a double-edged sword.
It may be nice to make some easy money, but the pay from that revenue is lousy. And I'm not just talking about the Flash ads, YouTube has a role in this as well. Is it really worth mere cents to post uninspired, predictable, lethargic, uncreative, unfunny material on YouTube? The only exception to the content quip is Psychicpebble, an animator who I don't always agree with.
4. Most of the frontpage material is lackluster; expert, but empty.
Don't get me wrong, there are still great stuff that has been submitted here; but most of the high-profile cartoons turned out to be "great animation, so what?" Some of them weren't even good to begin with in spite of the time and effort that went into them. (Example: Lucky Day Forever) Hell, even Harry Partridge has been disappointing, but that has been for quite a while. It makes me turn to Roger van der Weide, Aztraz, Catoblepas, WoodenSneakers, Golfinho, Peixeaquatico, Aaron Chapman (n0g0d), Evil Dave, and Dean Packis for my fix of hilarity.
5. Randy Solem's Death
This is going to be quite polarizing, but the news of his death was more distressing than Edd Gould dying from cancer. Unlike most of the people who make game spoofs, he was always finding new games to riff on and knew how to time a joke. It also didn't help that he was in the process of making a comeback with a remake of his first Flash and Zelda: A Link to Chaos.
On the other hand, it's not all incessant, inane bitching. Here's some good that has come out this year:
1. Golfinho has finally gotten some well-deserved recognition for his talent.
It saddens me that he, along with the aforementioned Aztraz & Co. are accused of lowering standards while hideously unfunny dipshits continue to get their mediocre shit put on the front page for far longer than they should. Yuri needs be put alongside Randy Solem, Ben Spurgin, Egoraptor, Krinkels, Adam Philips, and others I can't mention as one of NG's Greatest animators.
2. Abobo's Big Adventure: This has got to be the best Flash game of the year! While it does have a few kinks that could have been ironed out, I have gotten more enjoyment out of this than the vast majority of games that have submitted here. RoG and co. deserve to be commended for this gem of a game. However, many of the references at the ending were inane and had little to do with the NES. While Mega Man Next Remix is still in the works, I doubt that it will top this.
3. Double Dragon-A Dragon's Tale: This is one of those rare submissions that justify the video uploader's existence considering that Rambojoe couldn't get the .swf under 35-40 MB without compromising the sound. I just love how he mixed his brand of comedy with rotoscoping to get a result similar to what Friz Freleng did with Sports Chumpions. Oh, and the same applies to Dooumb.
4. LMMS: Even though Acid has VST support, this has much more in terms of power, versatility, and flexibility. Though I have yet to make something worthwhile, it has been enjoyable except for two things: A) third party plug-ins tend to crash with the current version I'm using (0.4.13), & B) There aren't enough tutorials on how to design sound with its standard VSTs.
Hopefully, 2013 will be a better year for NG than this one.