[Announcement] Obsidian Portal - management team update (Aug 2015)



  • Unknown
    Wow, so much stuff, let me get right at it:

    @RaseCidraen - I agree, and personally I am highly hopeful for the future of OP.

    @killervp - I am about to post on the thread you mentioned (thanks for resurfacing that). I will also say (since I know you have been at this for awhile now), if you know of any other older threads that have been tucked away in here that should be brought back to the focus please do so. In fairness, that applies to everyone, but you already started on the process. I see you also do that over on the Support Forums, and I request that you keep that up as well since you have a few issues even up on page one that have been outstanding for some time now. Please expect me to be accountable to all of you. Don't be afraid to even get to a point where you feel like you are nearly harassing me. If I forget to touch on something like I said I would, call me out on it sooner rather than later. I know I will make mistakes as we all move along, I am only human after all, but I am highly committed to getting this place back to where it should be (and then see about pushing it to a place that it really could be). Like Andrew said as well, don't feel a need to censor yourself with me (again, this goes for everyone). I can take it, raw feedback (if that is how you feel at any given time) is just as important as any other kind as it lets me also know how impassioned you are about different things (which in turn lets me establish priorities).

    @jeremy_langill - Thanks so much for expressing the interest in helping out. I kind of figured people would clamor to do so, and so far it looks like I was right. This really is an amazing community of people.

    @SkidAce - I appreciate that folks like yourselves have stuck with the community. You and killervp really are invaluable resources around here and have been for an increasingly long period of time. I absolutely understand your apprehension, and I do hope that I am able to start building some trust back in this community once again. Responding to you all like this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what I am working on. I have every intent of seeing that workload sitting on the Support Page pushed through to completion, and need to still dig through a lot of details on here as well. I am working out a line of accountability, as it were, so I can make sure tasks are being detailed, handed to development folks, setting deadlines and expectations, and then pushed out to the community. I know it is going to take me some time, and I expect to have to earn every ounce of respect out of this community by making sure that is the case.

    @Belrathius - I am starting to see some consistent patterns here! I think those are all very good names to throw into the bucket for consideration for sure, and that each of those had crossed my mind. I am going to be getting the list of interested parties aggregated up here tonight (along with a few other things), and then find out exactly how many folks I might be able to pull for this. You have a good point there as well, we were a little vague about what this council would be for, but keep in mind we are still fleshing this out (and we will have a more detailed post about this when we are fully ready to move forward with it). These folks would be granted access to a Beta Testing site that we want to get in place where we can do a little more live field testing with some developments before we push them to production. As Beta Testers this would give these folks a chance to interact and provide early feedback on upcoming developments. You had also mentioned (when bringing up Wolfhound) tutorials, and this is another area that we are also considering doing with this group of folks. I clearly have some skills in certain areas, but when we start getting down into some of the more advanced things I am by no means the best show in town around here (though I certainly do my best). This would of course come with some potential benefits, but we are also working out the details on that as well so I don't want to go into that here with speculation and all that. Of course this is also something that may end up expanding over time too, as we keep moving forward. Oh, and real quick, I do appreciate the vote of confidence in me, but I am still going to work to bring those trust levels up regardless.
  • Unknown
    Too many characters for a single posting!

    @pencilneckgeek - Well, we didn't mean to cause you such emotional duress! In seriousness though, I totally get where you are coming from there and I am glad that my announcement as the new Community Manager was able to bring a level of ease and confidence back to you. Please do remain cautiously optimistic, I expect to work to earn back some trust around here (I don't think I can say that enough). Lets try to get everything back on track now and see about growing the community here so we see constantly daily activity with our fellow gamers!

    Again, everyone, don't be afraid to give me your raw and honest feedback at all times. Don't be afraid to borderline harass me. My intent is to be here for you guys every step of the way as we move forward. I do still sleep, eat, and things like that, but you can pretty well expect to still see me around here daily getting at things.
  • Saabi
    Posts: 20
    Well I found this tool fairly recently. It seemed cool and useful for the campaign I'm working on right now. Then, outta curiosity I checked all the lines of communications a company usually keeps. Very dead, such that I nearly stepped away if it weren't for the more recent tweets or the like. After all why join a site that is dead/dying? Yet, I decided to do more research. Heard about the kickstarter debacle. Almost left, but thought I could still "use" the site for at least a little. Lo and behold all this new stuff happens. I must say I've joined at an interesting time. I already like the looks of the community, which must have become strong after what has been an obvious downwards trend. That's admirable. New faces that are already active are inspiring too. I'd rattle on for a while longer, but sadly I'm outta time. Anyways, I hope for the best! I know I'll stick around for at least my next campaign.
  • Unknown
    @Saabi - Hey, popping in on my own personal time to hit this one (but like I said, I still use the site too), but wanted to thank you for popping in and dropping your sentiments and perspective on the situation. You are certainly correct in your assessment of this community, it is one of the greatest ones I have had the honor to consider myself a part of. It is also certainly a very interesting time, and one I think that we all hope works out for the absolute best because this really is one of the best gaming sites I have ever seen. Please never think twice about reaching out to me - I do a lot of things on the side as well because I believe in this place, so regardless of what it is I am available.
  • GamingMegaverse
    Posts: 3,001
    @pencilneckgeek- Wow, been a long time since we seen you in these parts- nice to know you are still hanging around.
    @alex_redeye- There has been this offer as well for a while "here":http://help.obsidianportal.com/discussions/suggestions/935-update-faq-knowledge-base-tutorial-pages-to-pertain-to-post-reforge-op
    Updating the kickstarter page, which has not been done since December 2013 would also be a good idea.

    Just trying to help out.

  • GamingMegaverse
    Posts: 3,001
    As far as the council, Andrew mentions Arsheesh- who would be my first choice. He is a great teacher, and OP never would have made it without him helping the early community. Chainsaw would be my second, as he is the master of the custom sheets. Third would be Wolfhound, as his tutorials helped more people than anyone when the Reforge hit. Belrathius and Langy would round it out.
    So many I did not list, but I wanted some pre-reforge and post in the group, so it was balanced.

    Just trying to help out.

  • UselessTriviaMan
    Posts: 546
    Holy cow!

    I got sidetracked by real life for a few days, but MAN am I a happy camper tonight. This is incredibly wonderful news guys, and I'm gonna add my own congratulations to the heap threatening to bury Alex's desk.

    Welcome Andrew, and thank you for your frank and open discussion of the challenges ahead. This is exactly what I wanted to see from Kaleidoscope, and I for one welcome our insect overlords... err, I mean, I'm excited for the future! Yeah!

    Ptolus, City by the Spire - 2016 Campaign of the Year

    "Please pay attention very carefully, because this is the truest thing a stranger will ever say to you: In the face of such hopelessness as our eventual, unavoidable death, there is little sense in not at least TRYING to accomplish all your wildest dreams in life."  - - Kevin Smith

  • twiggyleaf
    Posts: 2,011 edited August 2015
    Thanks, andreww38, for the forthrightness of your post. I certainly look forward to some of the improvements you are talking about and am heartily encouraged by your preference of these forums as OP communication vehicle over other social media. This is a big planar shift in attitude, as far as I can tell, so thank you for that.

    I look forward to continual activity on Obsidian Portal and will be excited to see any new improvements. The appointment of Alex Redeye is already a great leap forward and I totally agree with Bortas's post regarding Alex's involvement, so congratulations from me as well, Alex.

    On the other side of the Atlantic from most here, I guess, I come in a bit later to this conversation but it is already great to see such engagement from "old timers" like Langy and RaseCidraen. My thanks also to those who seem to have put their faith in me as well (e.g. Belrathius and pencilneckgeek).

    I think Arsheesh, killervp, wolfhound and Chainsaw would all be excellent ambassadors should they be involved in the new mix in any way.

    I was particularly moved by the post of a newcomer, Saabi, who epitomised how important the whole POST REFORGE debacle is to all potential newcomers to the site. Saabi, I am glad you have elected to stay with us and hope you stick around longer. You are absolutely right to perceive that the Obsidian Portal community has been fantastic over the years.

    I feel that andreww38's post and the appointment of Alex Redeye is actuallly going to be a game changer and sincerely hope that the communication channels are REALLY opening up this time.

    As a last note, I just wanted to add that Jerry and Travis have both contributed in a massively positive way in such extreme turbulence and wish them both all the best in whatever path they choose to continue.

    For those that remain on THIS path, I say: "To infinity and beyond......"

    (Edit purely grammatical)

    Post edited by twiggyleaf on

    "I met a traveller from an antique land....."

    CotM May 2016: Mysteria: set in Wolfgang Baur’s MIDGARD.

    Previous CotM Aug 2012: Shimring: High Level Multiplanar Campaign

    Inner Council Member

  • DreadGazebo
    Posts: 218
    Arsheeth, Twiggyleaf, Killervp, Wolfhound, and Chainsaw need to be people that have a voice here. I'm tossing my hat in the ring for them.
  • andreww38
    Posts: 239
    Thanks everyone, including Jerry, for chiming in with your suggestions.
    I check in at least once a day and read the feedback and factor it into our planning.

    Alex and I are talking just about every day on planning out the next steps for the site, including continuing with the OP T-shirt contest which Jerry had been running.

    He's working out the gaps in the deliverables in the reforge as well as existing issues before the reforge. We'll be bringing these issues up with the tech team, lead by Adam (schwing) and will post an update here once we have figured out what's happening.

    On the "small council" (let's just go with the GoT ref for that for now), we're working out
    1) How the council members could help bring the voice of the community to shaping the direction of OP
    2) What their commitment might be
    3) How they can get beta access to new features, test them, break them, give suggestions for improvement
    This still in planning mode for now, so we might be able to give an update on this sometime next week.

    One last note on site improvements and changes... it might have been mentioned before, but here it is again...

    OP is a pretty big ball of code, so there's lot of opportunities for breakages to occur as we patch stuff or put in new features.
    Generally, we'd like to test stuff internally to make sure it's as stable as we can get it before rolling it out.
    Sometimes the problems are due to legacy decisions that were made as the site was being designed that has led to some bottlenecks, sometimes it's due to updates in Ruby on Rails or one of the other frameworks that is site is built on, that causes these errors.

    With more than 100k users, we're doing our best to balance our fixing stuff that we know or have been told is broken, vs keeping the rest of the site up.
    As mentioned previously, we'll flag an existing bug report thread or create a new one, then fix them, starting with the "green slime" level bugs and working our way up to the Bahamut-level bugs.

    The plan is for Alex to be posting weekly updates on bug fixes, new features in a thread, so that will go some way to keeping everyone up-to-date on what's happening.

    If you've any other feedback or suggestions, you can post here, or feel free to DM Alex or myself.
  • RaseCidraen
    Posts: 890
    On a completely non-serious note, any time Adam's name is mentioned, I am completely getting a Waynes World vibe. Was that intentional, do you think?
  • jeremy_langill
    Posts: 23 edited August 2015

    Grateful to hear about your planning for implementing bug fixes. I am curious (without needing an answer) about what the level of engagement is of OP's 100k users. I know from my own system (13th Age), that very few of the hundreds of campaigns are active--and 13th age is a relatively small system. In my professional life, one of my work responsibilities is to move people into deeper engagement, which is to say, we are always trying to move people from the periphery of engagement to the center. With OP, this picture seems more complicated, as part of the deeper level of engagement is to some degree based on the level of enthusiasm that a GM (or their players) have for the game they are playing--a poor story or poor management on the part of a GM could quickly see a campaign fall away.

    My other thought (on engagement, at least) is that as things like the podcast, campaign of the month, campaign of the year, etc. begin to disappear that the user like me who is completely uninterested in coding, bugs and CSS has fewer ways to remain connected to the community (I do have an advanced graduate degree, but I'm one of those suckers who stayed in the humanities...oh well...)

    Please know that I'm not trying to be critical--on the contrary, I think I enjoy OP about as much as I do 13th age, and I really love 13th age...so I'm hoping to stick around for awhile, and OP being around is extremely important to me.
    Post edited by jeremy_langill on
  • Abersade
    Posts: 421

    I totally agree in regards to the campaign-of-the-whatever disappearing. It was a fantastic way of spotlighting campaigns and sites that were really well done, when it basically stopped I felt more disconnected from OP. Those sites are inspiring to say the least and I would think they'd serve as a great selling tool for the Ascendant feature set. While I have never been one for Podcasts I did find the blog interesting as well.

    GM of Rise of the Durnskald: Wrath of the Fallen Goddess - February 2016 CotM

    GM of Core: The Ashes of Alcarna - April 2020 CotM

    GM of Stream of Kairos

    Need CSS Help? It may be covered here: Abersade's CSS Hub

  • twiggyleaf
    Posts: 2,011
    For what it's worth, I agree totally with jeremy_langhill's comments. (Definitely things to think about)


    "I met a traveller from an antique land....."

    CotM May 2016: Mysteria: set in Wolfgang Baur’s MIDGARD.

    Previous CotM Aug 2012: Shimring: High Level Multiplanar Campaign

    Inner Council Member

  • Keryth987
    Posts: 1,047
    I already nominated KillerVP and I would second the motions for Twiggyleaf and Wolfhound.
    As for the nomination for myself, thanks. Don;t know if I'm a good fir for this council, but I will continue to help when and where I can.

    I just want to see some progress made, rather than things being left as they are or breaking (such as the Media Embedding issue).
    I finally have gotten my group won around to the idea of using the site for our campaigns and don't wanna see it all broken now.

    Keelah Se'lai,
    "Shadows Over New York":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/shadows-over-new-york
    "2013 Campaign of The Year":http://blog.obsidianportal.com/2013-coty-shadows-over-new-york/
    "Campaign of the Month July 2013":http://blog.obsidianportal.com/shadows-over-new-york-julys-campaign-of-the-month/

  • Belrathius
    Posts: 206
    Just to throw my two cents in, I also completely agree with jeremy_langill. Seeing those sites highlighted, even just the ones recently changed, helped me feel less like an island and more like a community of gamers. I appreciate the idea of highlighting the sites with the most fans, but honestly after the first few times of the exact same sites it feels very stale. The constant churn of sites being promoted not only gave me new sites to check out and get inspiration from, but it also meant that the more I was engaged, the more I was exposed for others to see and leverage (hopefully) what I had done for their inspiration as well. As it is, there is no point in the campaigns page. It doesn't change and doesn't really expose more than a handful of sites - great campaign sites, to be sure, but it feels more like a spotlight of a few OP celebrities rather than an opportunity to be a part of a community of campaigns.
  • Unknown
    Hey everyone, just catching up on some of the items in here since I was last in. A general sweeping thanks to all who kicked up additional congratulations, I am very glad to be here and moving things forward. Some really great names being kicked up for suggestions, I honestly think the hardest part about getting that setup completed will be narrowing the candidates to the final selection. We have so much talent and insight in this community after all.

    I want everyone to know as well, the CotM/CotY is something I have actually already brought up in my conversations with Andrew. I agree that this was a great feature of the site, and I certainly have every intention to get it back up and running. Give me a little time to get it all streamlined so we can get it all back into place, but know that is on my radar. The blog will also continue on, I have that on my radar as well and will be working on coming up with a bit of a content schedule for it here so we can have stuff rolling out over there as well. My intent will be to have a little more cross between the blog and the forums if I can get something working nicely for that as well. Tutorials are also another focus that we want to get back up to speed with the reforge (I see killervp linked me to something about that in another thread I believe). Of course, I am also curating through the bugs and questions and suggestions as you all have seen as well. It is a lot on the plate, but that is why I will be keeping you guys up to date with status of things.
  • Saabi
    Posts: 20
    I wish I could give suggestions on people. This is what being new feels like, haha. I do say that from my new perspective, however that finding the campaign feature was a mixed bag. At first of course I thought it was cool. Then, it was hard to really try and see what was well liked and more importantly ongoing or declared finished. A lot just seemed incomplete or abandoned. Then, the fact that there hadn't been updates also made me wonder as into the site's livelihood. Keeping a blog is a good general way to get announcements and updates that are general. Especially for those that see forums and blog as links. I would imagine more check the blogs for info direct from the team without clutter like in the forums where there'd be all kinds of stuff. Also, I agree completely with @jeremy_langill and especially about the bit for those that aren't css versed nor overly interested. Trying to check the forums at first led me to realizing that one of the most recent things was the surprising CSS Thread. (I hadn't known there was that level of theme control in OP when I found it.) Potentially even spotlights on content or interesting lore. I wouldn't be surprised if some GMs keep mini-bestiaries. Or potentially highlights on interesting ways that a GM stays engaged to try and spread creativity for new ways of engagement. Community involvement could clue in with voting, but then again that'd be a nightmare to coordinate. Lots of potential ideas, but I'll stop here for now.
  • Unknown
    Feel free to keep the coming Saabi, and everyone else for that matter. We have a lot of backlog, but new ideas are always welcome as are sentiments on how to approach engagement with the community. We need a good mix of new and old alike on this, because the more perspectives on the situation the more data I have to work with to try and make things better. To address a couple of the points here:

    The blog is certainly going to be sticking around. I am actively working on some ideas for a content release schedule, and reviewing details on past content that has been done to see what is what. I think we all firmly agree that the site itself should be the primary source of site related news for sure. I am personally open to putting site related news on multiple channels, allowing for people to ingest the information in what ever way they see fit to some degree, but the site itself must come first in this regard (blog and forum and anything new we might decide to roll out). Campaign exposure is another thing very much on my radar, and in my time looking into it already I see that there were some good things previously in place that would be good to get rolled back out as well as some new ideas that could really help enhance that.

    Some really great ideas about ways to put some focus on the community there as well! I had considered some, but certainly not all, of these ideas. Know that these are on my radar now.
  • ChainsawXIV
    Posts: 530
    Looks like I'm a couple of days late the party here, but I'll just put in that KillerVP captured my reaction here pretty well. I've got great respect for Jerry and all the old guard here, and I'm sad to see them go, but I'm happy to see all the renewed support for the site.
  • Unknown
    Got your message ChainsawXIV, I sent you a private message over on the main OP page. Thanks for reaching out and for chiming in your sentiments on things here as well.
  • Saabi
    Posts: 20
    @Alex Thanks for...well liking some of my ideas. If I can churn up anymore between planning my next campaign and school I'll drop 'em here. In the meanwhile I'm keeping the coming by dropping a post in the "Introduce Yourself Section" to hopefully generate response/inspire other new people that the site lives as well as maybe encourage them to leave an introduction as well. Now if I can get me some more campaign fiddly bits figure out I could add more to mine on here than an intro. Alas, when I eventually get to the point of the first session I expect that to start expanding far more quickly haha.
  • Unknown
    No thanks needed, Saabi!
  • Kallak
    Posts: 1,090
    Woah, man there's a ton going on lately. Great to see that. As has been posted by some others, I'll also chime in and say that Dread/Jerry was never rude to me, so I'm hoping that statement wasn't in relation to him specifically/individually.

    That said, the Small Council idea sounds awesome, definitely some rock solid names on the candidacy list (color me jealous). Alex is definitely on point with keeping in touch and communicating with people so I can't think of anyone better to do that job. In all, exciting times.
    All the best,
    - Kallak
  • Unknown
    There has been progress with the Council idea as well, getting pretty excited to post details but need all my ducks in a row on it first.
  • Stygianheart
    Posts: 6
    Wow... I must say this has been quite a rough storm to sail into. I hadn't used the site in some time due to being a player in several games (not using OP) over the last year or so and being involved with other hobbies.

    When I started using it again recently to get on with prepping one of my games I found out about all the issues with the site, the kaleidoscope purchase, Micah and Jerry leaving (yeah I've been out of touch for a while).

    I must admit that for the last couple of weeks checking out the forum and the support site to find out what was happening and to fix some problems, I was getting worried.

    I've been a member since the start of 2011, I was one of the kickstarter backers and with everything I was reading recently I thought this was the end of a great site.

    I'm feeling a little more secure now that there is some communication opening up.

    Andrew and Alex, thank you for some clarity on what is actually happening, I'm now waiting with bated breath for the updates.
  • Unknown
    Happy to get some things into perspective for everyone. We have a lot of ground to cover still, but the path is being taken.
  • Unknown
    As this is now a week old announcement I will drop it from the Sticky list. Please feel free to continue to add your sentiments and comments to the thread, it isn't going away.
  • bluesguy
    Posts: 127
    First of all I want to say I am still a big supporter of OP. I was a contributor to the Kickstarter Reforge. In the last two years I have looked at other options to replace OP (RealmWorks being at the top of the list followed by rolling my own using Joomla). I haven't done that because I am busy with work, family, running a campaign, and developing an application for the Hero Gaming community. AND because OP still meets my needs.

    Secondly I am very disappointed by the progress of the Kickstarter Reforge. I have been a project manager/scrum master for almost 15 years. I have been in the software development business since graduating from college in 1984. Over the years I have gotten two nicknames as a PM - Gladiator (think the movie) and The Wolf (I just don't drop f-bombs).

    This project is a FAILURE. Why?

    1. Lack of progress against the goals of the project.
    2. Lack of transparency.
    3. Lack of communication.

    Do you want to fix this? My specialty is rescuing failed projects. I will again make my services available to OP (no charge) in a consulting role to help this out.

    If you do the following things you can win back people in this community and gain NEW customers.

    There needs to be one place to get information about how the Reforge project is going. That one place needs to be visible and regularly updated. What it can't be is a blog or forum/twitter/Facebook/Google+ post. All of those communication vehicles should be used to post links when the information is updated.

    My recommendation is a webpage. I do this with my clients all the time.

    What goes on that page:

    1. A complete list of the backlog of work to be done. This would include Reforge items, bugs, everything! I highly recommend using Agile stories to describe the backlog. The items in the backlog should be small enough so they can be designed, coded, tested and ready for beta testing in 2 week periods (sprints).
    2. The backlog should be sized (story pointing works best - see planning poker)
    3. Each item on the backlog should be stack ranked 1 to n, where no item can have the same number (you can't have two #1 items)
    4. Use a burndown chart to show progress against the backlog over time so we can see how long it will take to get everything done.
    5. At the beginning of a two week cycle plan what will be done in two weeks and publish that list of items so everyone sees your commitment to getting something done in two weeks.
    6. At the end of the two weeks do a demo for the council to prove it is done. If they approve they will follow up and tell the community.

    Who decides what is what in that backlog?
    1. Employees of OP
    2. The council you posted an announcement about. The council should represent ACTIVE users of various types (GM, Players, technical, non-technical) who help in sizing and stack ranking.

    I am waiting to see what you do with my advice. Last time I gave this advice I was ignored (two years ago) - I was gentler then. I have no patience to be gentle anymore.
  • Unknown
    You have a lot of things you bring up here, bluesguy, give me a bit to actually get a response together for you concerning your points. You deserve a valid answer to this.
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