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Simon

HERO (Central) Reborn?

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Caveat: nothing may come of this conversation.  I'm currently of a mind to take this on, but have not decided yet.  That said...

 

I've been thinking of re-creating HC.  One of the problems that the site ran into was that it was grown somewhat organically over the years -- it started as a simple site to conglomerate the emails from a PBEM campaign I was running and kinda grew (quite a bit) from there. It worked fine in the environment that it had been developed for, but had some issues (easily attacked for DoS/DDoS) and had much greater issues when transferred to a different server/environment.

 

While I can re-use a large portion of the code for the site, there are a number of things that I think need to be done differently or re-thought...hence this thread.  I'll start a few lists below -- feel free to add your comments, thoughts, additions, etc.

 

General Purpose:

  • HC worked great as a story telling site. The best campaigns were the ones that focused on story development/role playing rather than the mechanics of combat (for example).  Online forum posting is a remarkably poor medium for rules-heavy combat. A retooling of the site should focus on the strengths - the storytelling/role-playing aspects. The idea is (in essence) to have a group write a story, with the GM taking on the roles of the NPCs/antagonist(s)/narrator.

 

Added Functionality:

  • I like the visibility settings in the old forums, but want to enhance them somewhat.  The "locking" of a thread to open up visibility to everyone always seemed clunky.  Instead, I think that there should be "private" posts that are only visible to the players specified in the visibility list...and a new "public" post which is visible to all but can only be responded to by those players in the visibility list.
  • Sort of a side feature to the visibility settings - marking of posts on the story board as either being story-progressing or mechanics/GM conversation. Story progressing posts should do just that -- either be GM posts moving the story along or player posts doing the same...or conversations between characters.  Player-generated story-progressing posts can be moved to mechanics/GM conversation posts by the GM (who is the ultimate storyteller in all of this).  Quick toggles on the screen will show/hide non-story posts so that you can simply read the story and skip over the sideline "stuff" ("I need you to make a Stealth check for me....")

 

Updates:

  • the DHTML/Javascript engine that was responsible for showing/hiding of posts and much of the dynamic interface was extremely dated.  The front-end of the site in general is due for a full re-write as part of this process...likely the majority of the work that I'll have to handle.
  • possibly moving the die-roller off onto its own -- rather than inline with a post (using the text notation), have it as a separate section in the post form...and have the rolls displayed in their own section outside of the post itself (likely immediately following the post, separated by HTML formatting)

 

Removed Functionality:

There were a number of things that proved to be more trouble than they were worth (or more easily-abused by DoSers)...

  • Search functionality.  I'm not sure on this one, honestly.  It's always the most easily-abused area of a site...but also has definite legitimate use.  I'll likely find some compromise solution for this.
  • rendering of HD character files.  I'll create an export format for use with the site - running HD on the server just wasn't a good enough idea to warrant the headache it caused.

 

Spitballing of Ideas:

  • I'd love to come up with a way to create "HC as a service" - a way to have the main functionality of HC layered onto an existing service like basic email, facebook, or something else reasonably sure to stick around for a while.  The "site" simply becomes one view into a distributed data set. No concerns over uptime or a central point of failure...
  • Moving from a database-driven structure to...something else.  A campaign _could_ be contained entirely in an XML file (for example)...replete with visibility settings and everything else that we're considering.  I'm not convinced that this would gain much beyond removing the database server as a requirement for the site, but worth pursuing.

 

You want a Drupal install.

Organic groups would help.

 

It supports various databases as well no msql with Drupal 8.

Has excellent rights system as to who can see what and what the can do with it.

For search  can be set up with varnish.

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No real news yet -- I have a full PBEM up and running with a group of entirely new players...the experience is helping me to figure out what things to change and what to keep.  Once I've run with this for a while, I'm going to revisit the code and see what can be done (and what kind of time I have to do it).

How about adding it to MeetUp? That might be a excellent way to promote HC.

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