Category Archives: Discussion
So we’ve talked a lot about NaGaDeMon on Haste recently but now it’s time for me to make it personal. November is a month for writing, growing beards, and a multitude of other noble things that go around the internet. Being an aspiring game designer/freelance writer/blogger/whatever in my spare time I’ve decided that this November I’d attempt to be doubly productive by not only refusing to shave, but by attempting to design a game.
It’s been a while since we’ve posted anything about our loyal Emissaries, and with con season about to kick into full swing I think it’s about time I remind everyone how awesome being an Emissary truly is. Started a couple years ago, the Emissary program was made to help spread the word about Obsidian Portal. We’re just a small team here so we don’t do things like booths at conventions for two reasons: money, and we’d rather be out and about getting to know people!
You may have noticed that many websites are shut down and blacked out today. We considered doing something similar but decided against it, since we didn’t want to penalize anyone who needed access to their campaigns in order to do last minute prep for their game. But, rather than sidestep the issue, we wanted to add our voice to the choir calling for action against the PIPA/SOPA bills in the U.S. Congress. Here’s a video that explains it much better than I can, but if you’re interested in how it affects Obsidian Portal directly, read on.
We’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about email notifications and why people do/don’t receive emails in certain situations. The email settings are a little confusing, so I thought I would try to clear things up a bit and ask for feedback at the same time.
The overall goal
What we’re trying to accomplish with the email notifications is pretty straightforward: If someone is making a change to their Obsidian Portal campaign, we assume they want others to know about it. One way is to make some edits, then open up their email and say, “Hey, I made some changes to X, Y, and Z. Go check them out!” Or, we can have the system do it for them. That’s our goal here, to make it simple and straightforward to notify the other members in your campaign that something has changed.
When I first started, I knew there would have to be sacrifices made. Either it would be completely neutral, and therefore useless to everyone, or it would be biased toward one system or another. There’s a wide spectrum in there, and I decided that whenever a question came up, I would bias the system toward D&D, which I was playing at the time.
The best example I can think of is that we added race and level to the character sheets. They were freeform fields, so you could type “Elf” or “Dwarf” if you wanted. Or, if you were in a totally different system you could type “Eldar” or “Metahuman” or just leave it blank. It was up to you. Still, the concept of race and level is admittedly a D&D centric concept.
The shift to neutrality
As I migrated away from D&D to other systems, so too did my views on how Obsidian Portal should work. I realized that the central elements to all RPGs were the characters, adventures, and campaign world. As such, I focused on making those entities the core of the site. We politely declined requests to add more detail and fields to the character sheets and instead added things like the quick select popup to help you more easily interweave your story and characters. When the time was right, we released the Dynamic Character Sheets, thereby saying “Make the characters what you want!” Subsequently, we removed race and level from the character sheets, instead deferring that to the DSTs where it belonged. We want characters to embody the story, not the stats.
The commitment to neutrality
I started out thinking we would bias ourselves toward D&D, but I’ve become much more committed to overall neutrality. I’m convinced that the future of RPGs does not belong to any one company, brand, or game. Likewise, the future of Obsidian Portal, in supporting the RPG community, does not belong with any one game. So, when I’m told that we’re being too D&D specific, this is a cause for concern. What do you think? Are we too biased toward one game or another? Or, on the opposite end, are we trying too hard to please everyone all the time, and therefore offering a mediocre experience? We feel like we’ve charted the correct course so far, but I’m curious to hear what others think.
Getting the Ball Rolling
So I’ve been running games using Obsidian Portal for a while now, and in the past year I’ve discovered a thing or two about players – they are lazy. Bear in mind that I’m generalizing here but, really, let’s be honest.
Obsidian Portal is this haven for creativity and sometimes implores us DM’s to pour hour after hour of work into our campaign pages, meticulously tweaking every detail until it looks just right on the page and leaving no stones unturned when it comes to adventure logs and wiki pages.