Tuesday, January 29, 2013

[TechTuesday] Gaming Wiki Review

This week on TechTuesday, I will focus on the importance of community, and how it translates to both a narrow focus (a single groups game) and that on a global scale (multiple GM's running a living campaign).

My hope is that when I finish developing Valanas, that I will be able to distribute it via an Open Licence (Public Domain) so that game masters across the world can enjoy it's content. With that in mind, I will now discuss the pros and cons of Obsidian Portal and that of a more traditional Wiki like Wikispaces.

Dark Portal to the Gaming Tabletop!

Obsidian Portal

Now for those not familiar, Obsidian Portal is a very powerful tool for putting together a Wiki Database where players and game masters alike can put together character sheets, items, notable places, and a collection of logs that revolve around a specific home-brewed campaign. Being one of the very few that provide substantial options for this, and doing so quite well, the site itself works wonders for what it was intended.

Not to mention, the community tends to be very supportive most times, especially when using it as a means of finding players in one's local, or even global, community. Obsidian Portal as such is wonderful for getting the campaign out there and getting the players involved.

The problem? More times than not, the conventions for putting together appropriate formatting to make any of my campaigns presentable required a level of experience with web design that I just not available with. I can work around most problems, though more times than not I was limited to putting together my wiki by using unconventional round about to get what I wanted.

If I wanted a character sheet to look pleasantly formatted, I either had to force it into a code format or take an image of the sheet and share it as a file. Which ends up taking a rather large chunk out of my data. Now arguably I could use the tools as is, and it look moderately OK. Though given the reputation the site had, I was fairly disappointed.

There are those out there who do wonders with page design and coding, and it is very very clear to me who they are. Every week Obsidian Portal shares with the community the top campaigns as voted by the community. More times than not, these pages have so many bells and whistles that go way beyond the provided default tools.

Wikis for Everyone! Yup, gamers included!


Now that brings us to Wikispaces. Wikispaces was something I came across not too long ago. The site revolves around mostly educational wiki's, but not limited to these topics. I have found a large number of Role Playing communities that revolve around this site alone, and it is a very good resource for a bustling role playing community.

Note that I say community here. I say that because of the fact that Wikispaces does a lot better revolving around a community putting together knowledge to help create a knowledge base. It also does so by providing a basic set of tools that allow myself as an author the ability to format the page to what I like and want. Additionally, there isn't a limitation on map sizes as well for the free version, though you are indeed limited to how much file space the wiki takes up.

Additionally, depending on how large the community is, it is fairly easy to establish specific permissions to members or even groups of members to different parts of the community. With Obsidian Portal, there was an option for this as well, though it was limited to Game Master, Player, and Owner. Wikispaces spreads this out a bit more, though if you are willing to pay the monthly fee, it can provide a lot more customization.

Drawbacks? Although it does a really good job with the "What you see is what you get" it is still very limited. Not to mention, being that it is mostly an educational resource, unless there is a level of publication available, the site will only gain more of a community through word of mouth and invitation.


Looking down the road and putting together the ideal community for Valanas, Obsidian Portal will no doubt be a great place to put together one's home game, I have found that Valanas would be better suited for a growing knowledge base that I hope many people will come to share in.

I hope you enjoyed this review of the two products, and if you happen to have any other thoughts or recommendations, please feel free to share!