September 30, 2008

Stepping into the Obsidian Portal and Stepping Out

September ends and so as the blog carnival which I have dedicated the entire month's worth of blog post for. 5 posts is a bit too little than I had expected but writing each and every one of them really took alot more effort than I thought I needed.

Oh well,

So after watching World Building with Obsidian Portal at DungeonMastering, I gave myself a chance to take a whirl with the future of the web; wikis.

I was quite impressed with what I saw in the video as it really made me consider checking out the website and see how it could be a real boon in campaign management. To say the least, the simplicity of the wiki is really on the friendly side, which is a good thing as I'm still finding directions to wade through Web 2.0.

I like it very much as an organizational tool and I'm really regretting that I wouldn't be able to post most of my old stuff there before they got stolen last year.

But before I considered making this the site of choice for its endless potential in saving me endless pages of notes and designs, I was dissapointed to realise its limitations as well.

The features for the free account are too restricted; only allowing one map to be uploaded for one campaign and only allowing one account to maintain 2 campaigns at any given time.

It must be really expensive to maintain such a site and an ever increasing database, so I really don't blame them for giving unlimited campaign slots to members who pay for it but the map feature is still most utterly lacking even for paid members. We could certainly use more spaces for more maps.

While I was really excited to learn about this great tool and would have loved to use it for it's ease of use, I don't think I would be able to get the best out of it with the limited functions that I'm allowed to use.

But Obsidian Portal has made me looking forward to using wikis as a great means of organizing all the fluff for campaign use and I'll definately be on the lookout for other personal wiki sites.


Jonathan Jacobs said...

there are lots of options - but as a rabid Google fan - I might suggest that you look into using Google's tools. For my campaign I use the following google aps:
1) Google Documents - to keep my own DM notes.
2) Google Sites - a wiki that each player has a membership on and can edit/update as they see fit
3) Google Spreadsheets - experience tracker, monster tracker, etc
4) Google Presentations - online version of powerpoint. I use it for maps, and when I want to turn the laptop around and present a pix of something to the players "THIS is what the Uberlchangle monster looks like.. " etc

i tried Obsidian - thought it was promising, but not flexible enough for me.

Alex Schroeder said...

I run my own campaign wiki site. It's very, very basic. But it's good enough, and it's free. You're free to give it a try as well.

brandon karlis said...

If I may make a suggestion, the Campaign Builders' Guild has a fully-functioning wiki, and is also currently working on a completely original campaign hosting solution that we believe a lot of people are going to find very interesting. You may want to check the site out and watch for future soon-to-be announcements.

Anonymous said...


This is Micah, one of the co-founders of Obsidian Portal.

Just to set the record straight a bit, map hosting and processing is our biggest expense. Without getting too technical, we pay out of pocket for each map that is uploaded, and therefore have to pass those costs on.

We're always trying to improve the site, so I'd like to hear more about what you found inflexible about the maps. What sort of features would you like to see? We get our best ideas directly from user feedback, and pride ourselves on being responsive to suggestions from our community.

Questing GM said...

Thanks, jonathan for the list.

But I was really looking forward to a one-stop have it all wiki to help me organize a bit better.

Hey, alex schroeder! And welcome to the blog!

I've been to your campaign wiki site once but I got a little intimidate at the homepage. I probably should give it another try.

Thanks ishmayl, I'll definately look it up. The Campaign Builder's Guild is one the new spots I'm trying to hang out more often and would definately find it appropriate that they would start a campaign wiki hosting.

Hey micah!

Wow, I'm honored that you chimed in here.

Noted about the expenses bit and I really appreciate that you are paying all these from your pockets.

First of all, if my post came to you as offensive or ranting, then I will apologise as that was not my intention. I was really amazed by your functions just that I've felt it personally lacking. To be fair, it's merely an opinion.

Well to be honest, I feel that only allowing 10 maps for paid users is still probably on the low side of things. I think most people would have more than 10 maps in an entire campaign lifespan, so I was hoping that there should be at least a higher number than 10. Afterall, they are also paying for it. Why not charge a fair amount to let them support their own map hosting?

Back to my opinion in this post, I've felt that having a free account only gives us a glimpse at the full functionality of the wiki. It's a real tease when I was hoping, after watching the video from Geek Dad, that it would have a fair amount of function of maintaining a good number of campaigns and maps while paid members were entitled to some sort of extra features.