So first things first, I think the main two problems we often have involve accessibility of information and overhyping the project. When I say accessibility, I mean both physically finding information as well as having that information be understandable. I’m not interested in pointing fingers or saying who’s to blame, so if you want to do that, choose another thread (or better yet don’t, it’s not constructive).
One of my goals from this “campaign” we can call it, is to provide us all with content that we can link others to that provides friendly, honest, high-quality information to the reader. That way, the burden on everyone to explain the same things over and over is lessened as much as possible. And if you’re too annoyed to answer questions nicely, LINK!
You’ll notice some things sound like they’ll have repeat information in multiple places. My objective here is that people can find the information they need from multiple avenues. However my philosophy is still: Duplication of effort: BAD; Duplication of access: GOOD. This means when appropriate, linking between content is encouraged (e.g. FAQ entry on installing mods should be very brief to give a quick answer, but link to the detailed guide in our official docs to provide more help).
I believe to be most effective we have to update existing content as well as create new user friendly content, and I’ll address them in that order:
Raevol very generously helped put together our latest FAQ, but I think it’s time to revisit it to make sure we’re still comfortable with all the language in it and do some updating in anticipation for 1.0+. I’m also thinking it might be a good thing to add to the GitLab wiki so that anyone can suggest changes? (This is pending how exactly we plan to address the GitLab wiki situation, since it isn’t really a true wiki and may actually increase barrier to entry. Zini, do you have any thoughts on this matter?)
I also propose that we split the FAQ up into multiple sections so people can find what they need more easily. The vast majority of users probably don’t care about the ST3C patent, so it might be nice to have a “technical” section. Off the top of my head I’d have:
- General (e.g. What is OpenMW, info about 1.0, etc.)
- Installation (e.g. How to install MW on different platforms, installing OpenMW; these would mostly just link to relevant sections in official docs and tutorial videos)
- Modding (e.g. How to install mods, mod compatibility)
- Troubleshooting? (things like the audio problem on our current FAQ, not sure this is necessarily the most appropriate place for troubleshooting though)
- Technical questions (e.g. licensing, technology, “scary computer things”)
I’ve done quite a bit of work with our documentation so far. The essentials are mostly there in some form, but I also basically copied and pasted much of the content from their old wiki locations. Most sections are badly in need of a rewrite, especially the installation instructions. I don’t think they’re clear enough for someone who needs a step by step guide to be able to follow. Also, the whole OpenMW-CS manual/tutorials still basically needs to be written soooo…
Until now, I’ve wanted to keep our docs off the main navigation bar because I didn’t feel they were ready. But I think everything that has to be transferred from the wiki has been. This is an easy fix for lgro, but I do want everyone to be aware they should link to the “master” or “latest” version of the docs (change in their bottom left corner) to make sure people are seeing the most up to date version.
This was supposed to have moved to the GitLab “wiki”, but we’ve since discovered the GitLab wiki isn’t really a wiki as most people think of one where anyone can just come in and make edits. This has some advantages, but the whole point of separating the official docs from the wiki was to leave the wiki as something that had a very low barrier of entry. Zini, I’m curious to know your thoughts, but I also don’t want this thread to turn into a discussion on wiki migration, so let’s discuss in another thread if other people want to give input on this.
Consider this portion tabled for now.
New Marketing/PR Content
Flowchart answering “should I use OpenMW”
One of the many things that gets asked, especially on reddit, is “should I try out OpenMW” I think this is where a lot of the overhyping usually starts. Of course everyone should try OpenMW, but it’s not necessarily what they actually want to use for their next playthrough. We love that our fans are very passionate about their love of the engine, but as it currently stands, it’s intellectually dishonest to claim OpenMW is the right engine for everyone.
If instead people start linking to the flowchart, set up in a clear and honest way with the things we’re good at and with things that the original engine plus MGE and/or MWSE, MCP etc do better, I think people would look at the project as a whole more favorably. We’re not winning ourselves any fans by “tricking” users into using OpenMW. (I know we’re not, but read some comments on reddit, and it almost seems that way) I like to think of it like the Christmas movie Miracle On 34th St, where Macy’s starts directing people to other stores for things Macy’s doesn’t stock. Since we’re not trying to make any money, I think the goodwill of the community is worth much more than anything gained from overhyping. (Note, I’m not implying the dev team is doing this, or that people are doing this out of malice, it just kind of happens)
The hazard of content like this is that people will start sending around old pictures of it and people get confused. I think we can mostly avoid this by having it built into the website rather than as an image. I believe GitLab-flavored Markdown has support for flowcharts of some kind. We can also include a disclaimer about linking to the page rather than screenshotting it so that you can always see our most up-to-date recommendation depending on latest features.
I think there’s room for two of these. We currently have one on the wiki, I’m just not sure if it’s up to date. If it is, good job to whoever’s tending to it. This should be the most detailed list.
The second should be similar to the flowchart in that it helps people compare us to other MW playing tools. This would just focus on the big features that people are always asking about. This has the added benefit of being able to say whether a feature is in progress or planned etc, so users know what’s going on. I actually came up with something similar a long time ago. You can view the thread here.
Major Features Progress
Perhaps this could be combined with the complete features list above, but I think it’s very important to state the progress of highly anticipated features e.g. shadows are in progress, preferably with a little blurb about what specifically is hanging us up at present. As usual we shouldn’t give time related estimates unless we’re positive we will deliver. This comes back to overhyping and false expectations.
I believe Atahualpa was working on one? Did it ever get released? I don’t recall seeing it, just the script. This should certainly happen by 1.0. That being said, Atahualpa is one person! Videos are incredibly time consuming, it would be great to have more people making these even if you don’t make it an “official” OpenMW video.
There’s nothing quite like visually seeing how you’re supposed to install something. At a minimum, I think we should have how to install MW and OpenMW on Win, macOS, and a “typical” distro of Linux. We also need a video on how to install mods, at least the official way. It would be great if we also had videos using MO with the plugin or the like. I’m honestly not even sure what options exist out there beyond what I’ve put in the docs. As always, strongly discourage dumping everything into a single directory.
Our results are currently kept on the wiki, but we have outgrown this method with the number of entries! We’re currently discussing this with the author of Modding-OpenMW.com who has very graciously agreed to try and incorporate this into their website! We’re very excited and grateful for this collaboration so that we don’t have to build our own web app from the ground up.
You can see this discussion here.
We've had trouble in the past with journalists who missed the mark or blew something out of proportion. The easiest way of avoiding this is to issue press releases for major updates. This is pretty standard practice and should help the journalists help us.
So that’s pretty much it for my ideas. None of this includes actual outreach to other websites and forums, but I know it has been discussed before. Perhaps it’s time we revisit that as well, but maybe on a different thread.
I’d love to hear everyone’s input and please please please let us know if you’re able to volunteer some time to make it all happen!