Nov 3, 2011

Posted by in All The Galaxy's A Stage | 3 Comments

All The Galaxy’s A Stage: RP Tracker – SWTOR-RP Wiki

All The Galaxy’s A Stage is a regular column at Ask A Jedi with some lofty, creative goals.  On one hand, we will be discussing and exploring meaningful topics to support the role-play experience and community.  On the other hand, we also want to introduce the casual Role-Player to the writing-acting experience that can add so much more to an MMORPG like Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Share your perspectives and experience as we co-create magical story in that galaxy far, far away!

For this month’s RP Tracker I would like to highlight a new feature that the team at swtor-rp recently released; the new swtor-rp Wiki is now live.  From what I understand the wiki design team opted to spend several months configuring, coding, and testing the best possible Wiki they could.  In my opinion, this effort was undoubtedly worth it.  As a member of the RP community I would like to extend a big thank you to the many spies that died to bring us…Oh wait, wrong context.

Navigation And Categories

Upon landing on the wiki the first thing that struck me was the simplicity of the wiki’s navigation.  The majority of the main page is filled with a featured article section (along with a link to nominate a featured page) on left side, and a series of nifty buttons to create a page to the right.  Below are sections for SWTOR-RP News and a highlight of the 5 newest pages.  The bottom of the main page is rounded out with some useful links, the most notable of which is ‘upload link’.  I missed this when I created a wiki for my character.  This link is essential if you want to add images to your character’s wiki page (and I sincerely hope you do).

Category navigation is split into an intuitive set of groupings.  From a personal character’s standpoint you have Imperial Characters, Republic Characters, and Independent Characters to choose from.  And as would be expected Guilds get their own category as well.  However, at first glance I’ve got a feeling that the guilds category page could well benefit from some organic growth and refinement over time.

The Wiki team made an interesting category design choice by putting Lore and Events together.  Whilst this category is somewhat bare as of writing, I fully expect that this will change once the game is launched, and we can shift to an in-game focus on things like RP events and lore gathered within the game.  That said, I am curious about whether BioWare plans on making the in-game codex available through the web.

The appeal of the Starships category is that it will allow role-players to build knowledge around the in-game choices and add wider choices to inspire the creative genius.  However, on this regard I am of mixed feelings.  On one hand, I am left wondering about the overlap with Wookiepedia.  On the other hand, as any Wiki designer will tell you, selecting the relevant categories without missing what is important is a challenging decision.  The omission of other elements like equipment and droids may or may not become a gap over time.

Still, swtor-rp has in my opinion the best navigation I’ve yet to see in a wiki.  Over the years I’ve generally been underwhelmed, and I commend the design team for opting on a ‘less is more’ approach.

Page Creator

The Page Creator is hands down the most outstanding feature of this site.  It also ranks to my mind as the most compelling reason to use this Wiki.  The design team really outdid themselves in this regard.

I will confess that the efforts to align the look of the wiki to the SWTOR-RP feel were worth it.  However, other classy touches only add to a positive experience.  The templates themselves include an index card on the right hand side that has a very polished look.  The suggested elements for your character summary really do make sense.  And I particularly appreciated the subtle feature that hides a line you leave empty.  For example, if you leave the family field blank that line simply won’t show.  This is a subtle touch to be sure, but one I really appreciated.

Conclusion

If you’ve never used a Wiki before I would definitely suggest checking this one out.  Having an online home for your character sheet and background can really be useful.  The wiki team over at swtor-rp are always ready to help, and more importantly the page creator tool really does get you off to a good start.  Although, I think a ‘help me’ feature might go a long way to connecting the experts to the newcomers to the world of wiki.

If you already have a wiki for your character then I would still strongly advise giving this wiki a look.  The swtor-rp wiki team have done enough to differentiate their wiki from the competition with some fine navigation and design choices.

I did want to highlight the question I had when I first heard about this (and that may well be on your mind).  With a number of established Wiki’s for RP already in the galaxy, do we need yet one more Wiki for RP?  After all, the jaded amongst us might be of the opinion that multiple RP wikis hardly help to unify the community?  And if my Evil Wizards Wiki has done an admirable job so far why should I spent more time bringing my character over?  I will confess that as a consequence of this I was little concerned at first.  I was also led to believe that efforts had been made to reach out to the owners of other wikis and the response had been poor.  In the end though, the driving vision was to provide an absolutely top-notch Wiki.  And simply put, they succeeded.

A wish I have for wiki engines concerns how user names and passwords work.  One of the challenges of the open source world is that not much thought is paid to integration.  As a result I am forced to create a new user name and password.  I would like to be able to log into the main site, click the Wiki link, and not have to bother with yet one more password.  I appreciate that this is likely beyond the control of a wiki design team, and is really a comment directed at the developers of the engine itself.  If any wiki engine developers are reading this; think bigger and anticipate the user experience! Surely the challenge of cross application authentication is a solvable riddle?

In conclusion, I really do hope that this wiki becomes the new standard for the SWTOR RP community.  And once again, I would like to thank the swtor-rp wiki design team for making this happen.  Well done!

  1. ZarenthBriss says:

    I just hopped on over and made a page for my character. It was rather easy and the pages look great, I would recommend this to all ToR RPers out there.

  2. This was interesting. Mostly because I am fleshing out my two characters at the moment. I’ve got a couple of pages of background already.
    I know this has nothing to do with the topic but I do have a question that will help me with my characters. Will you be able to have characters on either faction on one server? For instance one Jedi Knight and one Imperial Agent?
    Cheers!

    • I did look the info up (after asking the question) silly me. And it claims you can create cross faction toons on one server. If anyone has a quote from the devs however that would be great.
      Thinking about some sibling dilemma (when choosing sides) in my characters backgrounds.

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