Holy smokes, it looks incredible.
Yes, and I think it gives them a lot of attention and credibility. Our non-logged in home page is static and pretty busy by comparison, and I think it hurts us near the top of the funnel. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purchase_funnel
However, it can be difficult to jam all the functionality the Zero-K site has into the sexy little dress BAR has. The forum, user profile, replays, commander configurations, planetwars, etc. bring a lot of design challenges with them.
The landing page and related pages are the important ones for conversion. The forums, replay lists, etc... don't really need to be put into the flashy BAR style. Bitrot is also a concern.
BAR has pages showing off the maps as well as pages for unit stats. I think this effort is well placed, as people who are a bit interested get to click around and see what the game has to offer in a frictionless way. The tricky part is that such lists need to be maintained, and we've barely got anyone updating the current wiki for stats changes. Running a website properly requires a powerful active web developer to be on the core team.
Can anyone put a figure on what it would cost to buy in a web development to put together an animated, polished website like this?
The BAR website is the result of the skills of an active core developer. This is someone with the knowledge and trust to follow their initiative, who is active enough to take on and complete significant subprojects in a timely fashion, and who is likely to stick around and maintain their projects in the foreseeable future. You can't just buy such a website. You would have to hire and retain a web developer to make the site and then fix or extend it when needed.
You would probably also have to hire a core developer to oversee the project, as the web developer would have no familiarity with Zero-K and no idea what the requirements are. A core developer who is also a web developer can just trust their knowledgeable and intuition to guide the design as it happens, but an external dev would require a lot of time consuming back-and-forth to produce anything.
Take the top of this page
as an example. How did the animated windmills get there? Whoever made that type of page knew that the game was a good source of such animated images and knew that adding an animated image to the page was feasible. They had to have knowledge of the game and of web development floating around in their head for the idea to occur to them. If the relevant knowledge were spread across two or more people, then the design would be significantly harder. People who have to message back-and-forth to check up on what seems reasonable to implement or what sort of things are desired.
I think the most feasible option is some sort of explicit work exchange with BAR, the issues being:
we've already got maackey,
Zero-K and BAR are sufficiently different in design philosophy that some back-and-forth would still be required,
the Zero-K website does a lot more than the BAR website, and
we would still just end up with a static, unmaintainable, website.
BAR already has these kinds of issues with adapting chobby (the ZK main menu).
The graphics look really nice, I didn't know the Sping engine was capable of such nice graphics although I guess it's partly because the models and textures are much higher quality. However, there seem to be some effects and shaders that could be applied to the existing Zero-K assets, no?
Not sure if you're still talking about the site, but a lot of the units on the sites are not rendered in Spring. The maps may even be worldmachine renders (I'm unsure).