Public Character List

Micah
Micah
edited July 2013 in General Archive
*Update*: Here's "a video":https://vimeo.com/70423248 showing the character list as of July 16. Pretty nice looking, imho :)

We're working on the redesigned character list page (the "characters tab":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/kensing/characters). It occurs to me that it's a pretty simple page right now, and I don't really want to change that too much, as simple is a good thing.

However, if there's ever been anything where you thought, "If only this page did..." please let me know. My gut feeling is that there are probably 1 or 2 small (SMALL!) enhancements that could be done here to make things easier. For example, I'm thinking of adding some kind of search/filter box that allows you to insta-filter the displayed characters by name or tag as you type. We're already doing this with the search bar at the top, but on this page it would make sense to have another one limited just to characters.

As a reminder, we're focusing on enhancements that make it easier to navigate around or quickly find what you're looking for. So whiz-bang new features are of less importance than providing a better navigation experience for the features we already have.
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Comments

  • Langy
    Langy
    Posts: 364 edited July 2013
    The two main things that'd be excellent:

    1. Display the character's 'Quick Description' next to their name/picture. I'm not entirely sure what the point of the Quick Description is if it's not shown in the Characters tab, honestly, and it'd make it easier to get a quick look at what a character is/does.
    2. Allow people to create their own Characters groups, rather than having just a single small group of PCs and a single huge group of NPCs. Characters should only be allowed in a single group, to simplify things (or perhaps be marked as PCs or not as well as being in a group). This would enable much, _much_ easier navigation of the character list!
    Post edited by Langy on
  • StoryMaster
    Posts: 12
    I second both of Langy's points. I include quite a few historical and legendary NPCs and having the quick description so I know that Ivan Obyacedin was the First King of all the Kinzhala Marka is more useful than knowing I have tagged him with "Kinzhala Marka" and "High Kianmar". It would also be very nice to be able to sort out the ones that are real world NPCs and the ones that are legends. (Mind you ideally I'd like to be able to sort them by two or three factors but just one layer of grouping would make things so much more manageable.)
  • GamingMegaverse
    GamingMegaverse
    Posts: 2,962
    I will second Langy's 1st comment- an excellent idea.
    I think the 2nd point is awesome as well- having the GM's being able to create sections of Gods, Rulers, etc would be awesome!!

    Just trying to help out.

  • crimsonknave
    crimsonknave
    Posts: 28
    An alternate to Langy's second point would be to allow for dynamic filtering of characters based on tags. Ideally this would be javascript filtering and/or sorting to allow for quick response times. I'd much prefer to use the already implemented tag system and allow you to narrow down to just the particular tags you want to see on the fly.
  • StoryMaster
    Posts: 12
    I don't think I'm following, Crimsonknave... isn't that what we already have? I'm also not following how this would better organize the default character page? I fear I've missed something. Are you suggesting perhaps, a default sort based on tags for the main display? If so, I definitely like the idea.
  • ReverseG
    ReverseG
    Posts: 17
    I want Langy's second point to happen. We've got a rather large cast of characters to keep track of and being able to organise them would be a big boon.
  • crimsonknave
    crimsonknave
    Posts: 28
    Hmm, let me try and clear it up.

    I don't really see the need for a new way of grouping characters when we already have tags. What I'd like to see is the ability to filter down which characters are viewed by tag. Ideally all in the client side so it's lightning fast (example of what I'm talking about is the search box above the table here: https://datatables.net/release-datatables/examples/basic_init/table_sorting.html , except probably not paginating to 10 results). Also, I would love to be able to filter on more than one tag, but I suppose that's not really a Need to Have. In my head got a 'quick filter' input that displays tags that match what you've typed and you can click (or tab) to select one. It would then only display characters that have that tag.

    What we currently have is a quite long list (my campaign has probably 50 tags) that I can scroll through and select one and then wait for a reload of the page.
  • Langy
    Langy
    Posts: 364 edited July 2013
    I explicitly do *not* want just the ability to filter characters by tags; we can already do that now, and it's honestly not very helpful. I don't want to have to type things or know what I'm looking for in order to browse the list. Organizing them on the actual main character page would be much, much more useful.
    Post edited by Langy on
  • Maesenko
    Maesenko
    Posts: 325 edited July 2013
    I definitely agree about displaying the Quick Description on the main Characters page, but I'm not so positive or certain about the regrouping ideas discussed thus far. I feel the tags already do a fine job of sorting out characters, if implemented correctly. I would like to see perhaps an option to display multiple tag filters on the same page so I don't have to tab back and forth.

    As for the whole Categories discussion going on, what I see with my page is that we currently have three main groups: PC, NPC, GM-only NPC. I really don't know what other "main block" dividers would be needed that can't be made through the tagging system already. If someone would be able to better explain the idea to me, I would appreciate it.

    Now to throw in my two bits:
    I would like to see larger thumbnail images on the main characters page. At current size it just seems too tiny to make out any detail.
    I would also like to re-mention the idea of "GM-only tags" here. Specifically, being able to tag public characters (PCs and known NPCs) with tags only the GM can see.
    Post edited by Maesenko on

    ~Mae

    CotM Selection Committee

  • Langy
    Langy
    Posts: 364 edited July 2013
    Sure, the other dividers *can* be made through the tagging system, but that doesn't mean that we should just use the tagging system. The tagging system is only useful if you know what you're looking for and you have a small number of tags; it's not very useful at all for browsing the list generally or giving the user information, and if you already know what you want then why do you even need the tagging system instead of just typing in the character's name?
    Post edited by Langy on
  • StoryMaster
    Posts: 12 edited July 2013
    Thank you for the clarification, Crimsonknave. I wasn't seeing the difference between what we have now and what you were suggesting, and I do now. I would, personally, still prefer the ability to group NPCs, but enhancing the ability to use tags would also be quite useful.

    For the discussion of why groups rather than tags. I currently have a list of around 200 NPCs I need to add to the site, but I haven't gotten them up yet. Some are recurring villains. Some are allies. Some are legends. Some are non-PC heroes. 16 are archangels. Others are ordinary (relatively speaking) people in the various towns and locations my players have visited. This list is only going to grow as I am running around 8 campaigns in this particular world. There are times I NEED to be able to see, at a glance, who's who and 'where the heck did I put that NPC and what did I call them?' Right now you get a block of NPCs, it's just a solid wall. When I get them in I'm going to have a list of tags that is unmanageable. At the very least I'd like to be able to have one tag decreed 'primary' and the ability to sort all NPCs by primary tag. Which would achieve an affect similar to what Langy is discussing. That way I could scroll through all my NPCs at once and get a broad view of where I stand and what I need to fill in.
    Post edited by StoryMaster on
  • ketherian
    ketherian
    Posts: 203
    I really like the character tab, and I try to fill it with as many of the named NPCs the party meets or hears about.

    But being able to filter the list by tag (or some other classification mechanism) would be truly awesome. What a great idea.

    Displaying the quick description in the character page would be very helpful.
    Could this be something that is configurable via CSS/default templates?

    Other ideas:
    * First encounter (much like quick description) that accepts either text and/or a link to an adventure log entry?
    * I would like a touch more control on the character page's content (like maybe one or more small boxes under description that I can name myself, set to be PC or GM only and then fill with relevant content). Quotes, Plot hooks, Inspirations, copyright/sources, etc.
  • Micah
    Micah
    Posts: 894
    Okay, we've been working on it a while and a few things have shaken out:

    * The PC/NPC top-level grouping distinction is going away. It's not all that useful, and definitely not worthy of the massive partitioning of the existing view.
    * The filter-by-tag feature that Crimsonknave suggested is something we added, and it's really slick. It's all done with javascript and you're able to filter extremely quickly by typing a tag or name. No more of the "click the link on the sidebar and wait for it to load" The new way is much, much nicer.

    I hadn't considered the quick description, but I actually really like that idea too, and I think we can probably fit it in. I'll talk to Drew about it.

    For organizing by category, I'm not against it, I'm just trying to think how to do it in a way that's not contradictory or confusing with the existing tagging. Tagging and categories (taxonomies) are different ways of organization, and so far we've been going down the tag road. I like categories too, but I'm worried that people will get confused about which to use where. They can be used together, but it can be confusing.

    For now, I think we're going to stick with the tags and focus on making them super-quick to search and filter. That will cover a good chunk of what people want with the categories and we can do it right away. Categories is something we might explore in the future for the site as a whole, since it could also be used to create things like breadcrumbs for wiki pages.

    Anyways, thanks for all the ideas.
  • Micah
    Micah
    Posts: 894
    Here's "a video":https://vimeo.com/70423248 showing the character list as it currently stands. I'll see about adding the quick descriptions, because they should fit without cluttering things and would be a great addition.
  • ketherian
    ketherian
    Posts: 203
    Just watched the video.
    Wow. It looks terrific. I especially like the little "bonhomme behind the screen" for the GM-only marker. At first I thought it looked like a chess piece (a pawn to be exact); both images work incredibly well here.

    I love the search feature. That will save me a metric-tonne of time!
  • ReverseG
    ReverseG
    Posts: 17
    We have a ton of characters in various factions that interact with each other - this is going to be pretty awesome to play with.
  • Maesenko
    Maesenko
    Posts: 325 edited July 2013
    So, I just watched the video and I like the way this is going. The responsiveness of the search is great, and I absolutely love the multi-tag search option. Making the tag list into a collapsible menu to save space was a very nice touch, I feel. No complaints from me.

    I can certainly see room for the quick description, assuming it doesn't scrunch too tightly with the tags.
    Post edited by Maesenko on

    ~Mae

    CotM Selection Committee

  • Laslo
    Laslo
    Posts: 7
    Watched the video, it looks nice.

    Have you thought about allowing a query string in the url so that a page opens with the filter already applied?

    In this case I could have a link on a wiki page that goes to a character list for perhaps all the inhabitants of a particular town, or whatever tag I wanted. I use the site more as a library for my players and I'd like to be able to have things organized in a way that they could just go to the "shelf" where NewTown inhabitants are or PCs are or whatever I want, it would be nice to have this feature for items too or any other types of lists you have planned.
  • Langy
    Langy
    Posts: 364
    Agreed, Laslo, though a pie-in-the-sky wish would be for the ability to insert a list of characters/items with a specific tag into a wiki page, so no leaving of the wiki page would be required in order to check them out.
  • Matrissa_The_Enchant
    Matrissa_The_Enchant
    Posts: 18 edited July 2013
    Ooo. I like Laslo's idea of being able to link directly to a view of characters filtered by a specific tag.

    Also, anyone who might be concerned about the removal of PC vs. NPC - if you really feel the need for that distinction add PC or NPC as a tag!

    One comment - from the video it seems it will only be possible to do a Boolean "OR" of tag filters. I can see value in also offering the opportunity to AND filters (e.g. Maybe I want to find all characters tagged as a "noble" and as being in the city of "Thestral" rather than finding all characters who are "nobel" OR are in "Thestral"). You could use two radio buttons at the top of the tag panel to allow the user to choose which Boolean operator to use. Example UI text: "Find characters with one or more of the selected tags." (Boolean OR) and "Find characters with all of the selected tags." (Boolean AND). Default to the Boolean "OR" option.
    Post edited by Matrissa_The_Enchant on
  • GamingMegaverse
    GamingMegaverse
    Posts: 2,962
    While I still wish that Langy's idea was chosen instead (as the current solution still means separate wiki pages for characters) I agree with Matrissa's suggestion- an "and" filter would be huge...

    Just trying to help out.

  • Maesenko
    Maesenko
    Posts: 325
    I also agree with Matrissa, if people are worried about PCs getting mixed in, a PC tag looks to be the simplest answer.
    It's not much of a priority to me, but I can definitely see the value in an "and" option.
    I do believe that it might be easiest for visitors and less-active players if PCs were still at the top, but I have no problem with a couple extra clicks to get them to display there. The PC vs. NPC thing is an obsolete barrier in my mind now.

    Laslo's idea of a filtered list display link does sound useful, and it is something I would learn to use if implemented. I love making organizations and the characters associated with them.
    Right now, though, I'm content with the tag system for that, especially as the improvements we're already seeing cover a lot of what I was looking/hoping for.

    I can't wait to tool around with this new setup once it drops.

    ~Mae

    CotM Selection Committee

  • Micah
    Micah
    Posts: 894
    Thanks for the tip about putting the character quick description in there. It was a great idea. Take a look!

    !https://www.evernote.com/shard/s245/sh/72d4250f-8509-4142-b40e-7be8869d72fb/0a8c32cf6589ccd19f3e9015c2c1f4d5/deep/0/Obsidian%20Portal%20Dashboard.png!
  • crimsonknave
    crimsonknave
    Posts: 28 edited July 2013
    Looking awesome! The tag filtering is exactly what I had in mind! Also really liking the larger thumbnails for the character pictures. Any chance we can add untagged as an option in the list of tags? I have a some characters that don't have any tags currently, due to either not really fitting into any or because the players aren't supposed to know yet.

    One way to help distinguish PCs vs NPCs would be to add an icon like the GM only icon (and possibly a different background as well). Not sure what the behavior would be if the character was both, but I certainly have never had a GM only PC before.
    Post edited by crimsonknave on
  • GamingMegaverse
    GamingMegaverse
    Posts: 2,962
    Love the quick description! Nice work!

    Just trying to help out.

  • Maesenko
    Maesenko
    Posts: 325
    So, I love the quick description. The fact that it doesn't text-wrap (from the Boneyard example) makes me wonder how characters with a particularly long set of tags will work, though. None of the examples shown really reach the end of the box.

    ~Mae

    CotM Selection Committee

  • Micah
    Micah
    Posts: 894
    We're still trying to figure out how to handle wrapping. We can have it just wrap around normally, but that really makes the page quite ugly as the character sections become sized differently and it goes from a nice 2-column layout to looking more just like a jumble. On the other hand, we can only show the first few tags and have it look nice, but then it gets confusing.

    So, the short answer: we're playing with things to see what we like.
  • Langy
    Langy
    Posts: 364 edited July 2013
    Suggestion: Make it so things wrap, but the box doesn't resize. Instead, if the text in the box doesn't fit in the default size, have the text scroll upon mouse-over. EDIT: Actually, that might work better if it still doesn't wrap, but maintains the single-line format. Not sure.
    Post edited by Langy on
  • berdman
    berdman
    Posts: 46
    Really liking the changes to character page. I like the tag filtering, but I agree with others that an and option would be very useful as well.

    Can't wait to get a chance to try all this out.
  • Maesenko
    Maesenko
    Posts: 325 edited July 2013
    I think Langy has a good idea about a mouse-over scrolling option.

    Have you tried using a marquis code to have it auto-scroll through the text and tags? It might seem a bit "busy" having anything on the longer end continuously moving, but it would allow everything to be seen without worrying about a box size increase. Alternatively, it could only move when the mouse rolls over it.
    Post edited by Maesenko on

    ~Mae

    CotM Selection Committee

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