Is There any Hope for Feature Improvements, or is this Campaign Portal Now Just in Maintenance Mode?


I'm new to Obsidian Portal as an Ascendant member and have to be honest that I often ask myself why I continue doing so. I do like some of the features, but after using it for about 3 months I and my players still find the UI awkward. My biggest beef though is the size and format restrictions on maps. I'm a big fan of campaign mapping and have gotten quite skilled with tools like Campaign Cartographer and Dundjinni. My maps that look very attractive when PDF published or printed out though, look like crap when dpi reduced and resized to fit through the pathetically tight 5MB upload window of OP.

When I subscribed I wasn't aware of all the negligence and failing service quality that happened about a year ago - honestly wouldn't have sub'd if I had. From my browsing of the forums, it seems that some subcribers are content with this service running in maintenance mode, just as long as it's stable. I however want to see it advance to be more on par with what's being offered by other campaign portals on the Internet.

I personally have experience with business web portals, both from a development and deployment perspective and know that portals can be tricky to design, run and maintain. So I can appreciate the required effort. That said, I still have the impression that this site is running with some feature restrictions that are more reflective of an earlier era when data bandwidth and storage costs were far steeper.

I'd appreciate some honest feedback from anyone in the know, if there's any hope that such restriction might be alleviated in the future, or is it more likely this site will just continue on in maintenance mode?


  • Kallak
    Posts: 1,090

    Hi @kronovan, you raise a few points here, so let me try to go one by one.

    [1] I'd be interested in hearing more about your experiences with the UI, and what causes it to feel awkward for you. There are certainly things that I personally feel could use some tweaking, but getting additional user perspective would be great also. The more easy and intuitive using the site is, the better off we'll all be, so this is an area I'd love discussion on.

    [2] Since I'm not on the dev side at the moment, most of my experience with the map interface relates to working with/on map marker sets - which is admittedly only peripheral to the actual map itself. I'll need to do a bit of checking around before I can fully address this subject, but I do think you're onto something with the upload.

    [3] The site has had its periods of problems to be sure (I'd say a year ago is a bit off in terms of estimation, but the point stands). That aside, I can say that the people who are working on it now are driven and passionate about gaming, and improving this site to make it the best option out there. We have challenges (and challengers) on that front absolutely, but we're committed to raising to the meet them.

    [4] In terms of being in maintenance mode, I can say 100% this is not the case - though admittedly our movement forward is a bit slower than I'd like. I'd be interested in seeing a "top X" list of what people feel should be addressed sooner rather than later. We're working on the next phase of the roadmap, so now would be a good time for input from the user base.

    All the best,
    - Kallak
  • twiggyleaf
    Posts: 2,014 edited June 2019

    Thanks for your dedicated answer, @Kallak.

    @kronovan, I can understand your frustration with maps.  The basic restrictions on uploading have always been a bit irritating, and hopefully, that will one day be addressed.  I looked at your map on "Kim's Tales": and it suffers from the same squishiness as my own "Map of Zobeck":  in my campaign, Mysteria; however I have been able to make great use of the symbols and linking features of the interactive map, which I'm sure would serve your own campaign well, if you wished to add such things.

    I hope you will continue to remain an Ascended member, because this platform really does have such amazing tools for most campaigns, and I would urge you to keep at it and use whatever you can.

    Always good to hear from other members!





    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

  • kronovan
    Posts: 7

    Sorry for the late reply back and thanks for the reply to my question Kallak. It's good to hear there is some plans to advance the portal.

    As to UI...

    Not in my campaign, but one of the areas my fellow players struggled with was editing profile settings - in particular the time zone setting. Firstly, when you access your profile the clickable link to edit settings is over in the far right and listed in a light yellow font and immediately located above large green buttons that are highly visible. It looked to some of the players that the Edit your Profile was just highlight text referring to the buttons below and they struggled with locating the actual link.

    Then on the actual profile editing page, the time zone drop-down is situated to the lower left, some ways from where the Time Format and Date Format drop-downs are located. With it not being located next to those other 2 drop-downs, a few players missed it. An incorrect time zone setting was a big problem for that campaign -also hosted by an ascendant member- because players have the right to create and edit calendar appointments. Not having correct time zone settings caused time slots on the calendar to shift around when edits were made, making the calendar useless as a tool. I recently deployed a web portal that could read the local PC's time zone setting and set it as the default for the user's profile - I'm wondering if such a tool is available in the development tools OP uses?

    I also find it a bit disorienting that the profile page and the actual editing page are so different in appearance. As a web portal OP is by no means alone with that, but I've always found it easier if the 2 are  similar in appearance. That's no doubt partly due to using PC applications for decades where the app settings are typically displayed on a single form with edits just made by changing existing settings and clicking [OK] or [Save]. I have seen web portals where a similar GUI approach was implemented and they were notably easier to navigate and edit.

    I've also been frustrated at time with the calendar who's "Going" pop-up when viewing the portal from the Android-Chrome browser on my tablet. Occasionally that pop-up won't trigger and since it's the only way to view booked attendees, I'm left without a clue.

    I'm also perplexed as to why the wiki's I create aren't automatically listed by default on the Wiki-Main Page. They're only viewable if the player bothers to click the [See All Pages] button. That seems to be violating some fundamental principle about ease of information accessibility and visibility. IMO at a minimum adding a new wiki should create a hyperlink on the Wiki-Main Page, with an option for a Host to toggle that off if they so desire. I put 99.99% of my time and effort in developing my homebrewed settings and creating contents for wikis, so it's frustrating that by default the title of wiki's I add are secluded off in some other page on your portal

    Since I made my original post, I haven't gamed with my players that are playing in an OP hosted campaign. I will be this weekend, so I'll solicit some feedback from the players as to the experiences with the UI. 

    looked at your map on "Kim's Tales": and it suffers from the same squishiness as my own "Map of Zobeck":  in my campaign, Mysteria; however I have been able to make great use of the symbols and linking features of the interactive map, which I'm sure would serve your own campaign well, if you wished to add such things.

    Thanks for the feedback. The map you're referring to isn't my map. That was just a portion of some Greyhawk map I uploaded as a joke, as a nudge to have the GM set the campaign in the WoG. That campaign ended up being hosted with Epic Words, because the GM and players were already familiar with it and at the time the freebie Obsidian Portal didn't offer a calendar. The campaign I'm currently running -Nankaina Kukusa- is private, so the maps aren't visible. Not to blow my horn too loud, but most of my maps are better looking than that map you referenced.  ;)

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