- Getting Started
Site Outage and Coming Changes
I just realized that the site had been offline for a couple of days. My appologies for that, changes which were supposed to be made in a separate testing database rolled over into the production database.
Related to that problem, there will be significant software changes coming to this site. The existing software, Drupal 6.x, does not have a smooth upgrade path to the next version. Among other things, that means that I cannot easily make improvements to the books/wiki portion of the site. I consider the ability to easily store that kind of campaign information a critical feature. It also means that it is hard to make this a mobile-friendly site. For your players, the ability to quickly pick up necessary campaign material via their phone makes the site a lot more useful. Some of my players haven't logged in with a computer in two years, so I get to hear about that at the game table.
I'll be developing a roadmap in the near future, but I can tell you these things about the new site already:
- Wiki/Book management will become much easier.
- Customized graphics/CSS/HTML will become available
- Game master only sections of your site will become available. In my prototype I'm already using this to store records on my NPCs, and I have full adventure planning online. In fact, I don't take hard copy to my game sessions any more: all of my prep stays on the wiki and I access it via a tablet at the game table.
- More flexible input. The new software lets me create nicely formatted templates for each section of my site, but don't like me into a spacific format.
There are also things that I want, and may add depending on my own available resources and what people are looking for.
- Better integration with third party authentication methods. While lots of people use Facebook, not everybody is willing to share facebook information with outside apps, since Facebook is notorious for over-sharing. At minimum, I'd like a Google login to be considered a valid source.
- Mobile friendly. Currently I have templates available for the software which don't cause problems with mobile, but they're kind of ugly. I want something more responsive to the client, so it looks as good and is equally useful from a phone with a reasonable screen, a 7" table, a 10" tablet and a desktop. I've seen designs that work well that way, but I don't have one yet.
- Custom domains. The old URL scheme will still be available, so that rpg-campaign.com/planner/hart-security still works, but I'd like hart-security.rpg-campaign.com to also be a valid option. The new software supports that, and I have a custom script which I can run that takes all the tedium out of it. But I need a way to automate it, so that when you want your own host name, it's as simple as clicking a button and within a few minutes your browser can see mygame.rpg-campaign.com.
- Integration with Google apps. Google drive especially is a great resource for sharing things. A lot of people are starting to store characters in the Google spreadsheet application, and I'd like to integrate that with the site. It would even be nice to find a way to integrate with Google Hangouts, for those groups that have to play remotely.
- WebDAV integration. That's a complicated acronym that basically means the ability to treat part of the website as if it's just a drive on your computer. Perfect for uploading character sheets and maps.
There are a few challenges to be overcome before any of these changes take place:
- A conversion plan for existing data. I have this down conceptually, but it's still at the spherical cow stage. The details could be exciting.
- Infrastructure to let people create new campaigns.
- Tutorials. The new software is very different. It gives you a lot of freedom, but with freedom comes complexity. Without some good tutorials most of you will be frustrated, not liberated.
- A good customizable theme. There's no existing theme for the website that is fully customizable, works as well with phones as it does with laptops, and doesn't frustrate me. I'm pretty sure this is the easiest of my problems to solve, but I'm not a web UI guy, so I might need to enlist outside help for this one.
If there are other cool features you'd like to see, please feel free to comment and let me know.