Your software choice

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Daenelia, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. Most roleplays are played out on forum software, either self-hosted or free-hosted. But someone mentioned using wikimedia for roleplaying purposes, other than using it to store lore and bits of info. And for our site we use Nova2 which is specifically created for online roleplay management. Other peopel swear by things like Yahoo Groups or just simple email lists.

    What software did you choose and why, as an admin? And as member, does it matter on what format the roleplay is played out, or are you up for using software you don't necessarily like, if the site seems worthwhile?

    Is your choice influenced by how well you can code html/php/js?
  2. Shriker

    Shriker Shadowlack Owner RPGfix Admin Patron Game Owner

    It's an interesting thing to think about. When I first started out, I was running my first site with Perl (yet another programming language) and a flat file database. It's absolutely horrifying to think about that now. Data corruption could have happened at any time, and I could have lost everything... yet I was strangely lucky.

    I have a lot of experience with programming, and I'm not just limited to one language. I first learned Java, but I also know Python and PHP, and dabble in a few others. If you ask me what my (current) favourite is, it would be Python. Yet I still do a lot of PHP development because many servers support it (popularity vote!), and it's improved quite a bit over the years (you cannot pay me enough these days to write awful procedural PHP code).

    As for what I'd recommend? I'm not going to get into any of the free hosted ones, as I'm sure there are people more familiar with them than me. For straight up forums:
    • XenForo - PHP-based and built off of the Zend Framework. It's what RPGfix & Shadowlack are currently using. I've also written a bunch of add-ons for it. While it's paid software, it's actually pretty reasonable. Zend also isn't my favourite PHP Framework, but it does some awesome stuff. (vBulletin and Invision Power Board are similar, but XenForo currently outperforms them both.)
    • myBB - PHP-based. Not too shabby.
    • phpBB - PHP-based, and it's getting up in there in age. Still seems fairly stable. I know it inside and out, and have been really unimpressed with how terrible the system is to mod. I have a character account mod that I wrote for phpBB, that I later ported to XenForo. Gaia Online is also an insanely mutated version of phpBB.
    I will physically slap anyone who uses Invision Power Board 1.3 Final. Two slaps if it's un-patched. Three if it's actually running (which is unlikely due to server specs, and if your server is that old, you have probably already been hacked).

    For something more alternative:
    • MediaWiki - If you have extreme organizational skills like @Kitsufox, then MediaWiki is hard to beat. It's robust (Wikipedia), and has more plugins than you can shake a stick at.
    • Nova - Nova, Nova, Nova! While i'm not a huge fan of their current incarnation (Nova2), I'm really looking forward to Nova3. Nova3 uses Laravel, which has been my PHP framework of choice for quite some time now. I've created many Laravel sites, and my Black Shuck Engine (what was running RPGfix before, as well as a few other sites) also uses it.
    • Google Docs
    • Drupal
    • Write it yourself. ;)
    Kitsufox likes this.
  3. Drupal was a nightmare, last time I tried to implement it. Of course, I am not a developer, but there are kinder and user-friendlier systems out there, like Drupal and WordPress (which is well on its way to being an allround cms in itself, rather than just blogging software).

    Oh yes, I am looking forward to Nova 3 too :) But there is something about the limitations on nova 2 that make it interesting to use, right now.

    I think write it yourself would be awesome! But unless one is as skilled as you are, @Iversia, it is probably out of reach for many admins.
    Looking at it from a non-coder perspective, writing it yourself seems to be a security hazard for yourself. your server and your members if you don't know what you're doing. You'd still want it to be userfriendly, or people won't register and post.

    I have seen a couple of rps on WordPress, but I am not sure if that really is a good medium for roleplay. The same way that I see MediaWiki as a confusing way to tell a coherent story. But I am a very straightforward storyteller: I like linear stuff. Which is what attracted me to Nova in the first place!

    How do you use mediawiki for roleplay?
    Xexes255 likes this.
  4. Lady B

    Lady B Guest

    Frankly... if it's simple for me to use, very user friendly, VERY easy for me to set up and get going in 15 mins... without worrying about working with a lot of codes... that won't interfere with my daily life... then I will use it.

    I just went to to look at moving an RP there from Yahoogroups and... well, NOT impressed! It's a lot like InvisionFree which I didn't like when they changed years ago! They were all about codes and not all that super simple. I know most prefer codes... but really, been there, done that... and it takes TOO long to worry and work with codes! Unless I'm paid for doing all this (it's not my career), then I won't do it! I need something that is quick and easy for me to set up with templates and easier access and more user friendly than to worry about and sift through all these obnoxious codes. I started to give up on codes when CSS came out.

    ~Lady B
  5. If I could figure out a way to set up wordpress in such a way that it would be close to a Yahoo group, I'd recommend that, LadyB. Wordpress is the most userfriendly and easy software I have ever worked with. Even my father who is in his 70s can use it, it is that easy.

    Just not sure how to go about roleplaying on it, yet...
  6. Lady B

    Lady B Guest

    We use wordpress for the website of the radio station I work at. My mother is using it for the website of where she works, a local YMCA/YWCA. But she's finding it to be a pain in the arse. :) At least it works all the time for me at the station though. :)
    I'd imagine as long as there is a forum, it should be possible. I try to look at the whole thing - what features are offered, is it user-friendly for myself, other admins and members? etc.
    Hmm... but that is a good question. Don't know. Will have to look into it now that you have me curious. I never thought about wordpress.

    ~Lady B
  7. Kitsufox
    Caffeine Fix

    Kitsufox Resident Game Owner

    I'm a huge supporter of Mediawiki for RP. Specifically with Semantic Mediawiki's Form tool, the AWC Forum extension, and 3rd Party DPL installed ;) Though clever use of that combination, you can use templates to do amazing things to manage your characters.

    We use the Wiki part of the site for CoSC's Rules and Game Information and Character management, but then have an attached and integrated traditional forum. You can poke around at CoSC and let me know if you want more details.
  8. But the actual roleplay is still forum based? You just use the wiki the same way we do: for lore and background, and in your case rules and guides as well.
  9. Kitsufox
    Caffeine Fix

    Kitsufox Resident Game Owner

    Sort of, though our site is all one site. It just has a section that functions as a forum. And I use Mediawiki tools like DPL that are vastly superior to forums for managing things like characters. As long as users keep the characters updated, they stay accurate on the various rosters and listings about the character. We even have functions built into our character templates that make automated character aging possible. Our forum is 100% integrated and uses the same login as the wiki (I think you run with two separate logins).

    The only thing that happens on the actual forum section of the site is the RP threads. Characters, Lore, Rules, etc are all on the wiki section. Though they're not actually separated. You never leave our main wrapper (it appears that Steamhawke is essentially 3 independent sites: A character management site, a Wiki, and the Forum...)

    At one point we used PHP Nuke, but then only I could program. With the Wikimedia based site anyone who learns Wikicode doesn't need special access to the site to do programing to benefit us all.
    Shriker likes this.
  10. We do have separate logins. Bridging nova and wiki seemed a bad idea. And i really wanted to use nova, for its rp features. thw mediawiki was a sort of afterthought, because the inbuilt nova wiki was temporarily unavailable to members.
    For me, just the actual roleplay is what it is about. So to me, your site would still be a forum rp. The best forum rp, too. Because info topics on forums are harder to navigate than wiki articles.
  11. Kitsufox
    Caffeine Fix

    Kitsufox Resident Game Owner

    I do consider CoSC a forum-based RP. So you have no arguments there.

    Is there no extension that lets you do the authentication from your forum software to you wiki? I know to all forum software has an authentication merging extension.

    Oh! Slightly unrelated question: Do you have much trouble with advertising? I've noticed a growing trend towards "pro boards or invasion free only" in rules for advertising. I tend to ignore the rule and include an addiction that asks that we not be punished for picking functionality over commonality and stating if they post there ad to our advertising forum we will translate it on there behalf to work with our coding quirks.
  12. KieranMobius

    KieranMobius Fresh Blood

    I started out with phpBB, but currently use a custom board made for my site itself. Never cared for proboards or their like, too much red tape to get your boards the way you want them. As for the wiki, a quick and simple script replaced that. If you do go for wikimedia, make sure to tell us how it goes.
  13. Heeeh. 'Souls was on Ezboard for a long time until they basically forced us out by changing to Yuku. After that, we migrated briefly to IPB 2.2.2, which definitely did not work out because it was halfway transitioning to paid software and was just a pain in the ass all around to work with, so we went down to IPB 1.3.1 Final, which got patched and heavily, heavily modded over the last...fiveish years. We finally moved to phpBB when our host upgraded our server.

    I'm still not really fond of phpBB because a lot of what I'd consider pretty basic functionality is not native and it has the most obnoxious skin/template system I've dealt with yet AND it's a butt to mod. But I hate changing things around and so if we don't have to move from phpBB any time soon then we damn well aren't. :|
  14. Xexes255

    Xexes255 Newcomer Game Owner

    Ezboard was the thing, but they drooped and then were turned into Yuku which is pretty abysmal. There are very few people who are still using this platform, so it is hard to find players for games. Modded: N/A Skinned: Yes is a popular website for certain niches (like animals), and I feel it is only popular out of familiarity. It lacks any real sort of "user" concept and its forums depend on iFrames which are a nuisance. Modded: N/A Skinned No

    Wetpaint is a wiki software that has some forum and commenting capabilities. Users primarily use a chatbox to conduct the roleplay in. They have a questionable ToS in regards to who owns what (last I read, all your stuff belongs to them). Wetpaint is seen as a laughing stock by many roleplayers because wetpaint sites tend to do things that are a known no-no like auto-playing music. Wetpaint carries the stigma of younger and less-experienced roleplayers. Modded: N/A Skinned: No

    Weebly is pretty easy to put together website wise and i'ts become popular with roleplayers for that reason. I read somewhere they do not want roleplays on their platform so there's been a migration away from it. The forum is slow and riddled with bugs and nuances that make it horrible to use (like time outs). The site / domain / user management system is clunky and confusing. Modded n/a Skinned yes

    Drupal is a pain in the ass to mod. There are only two ways to mod Drupal : their way, and not at all. At the time I started, Community support and the information available was quite rancid, and Drupal still feels like "Oh, you want XYZ? Go freakin' do it yourself. Looser." You really, really have to buy the Drupal books in order to get anywhere with modding. In fact, you really have to be a pro to mod at all. There are hooks and such, however, it feels entrenching. However, I do really, really appreciate the leaps and bounds they've made to make it easier - at least in some regards. You can now add a mod by simply by URL - no need for FTP or anything else. Modded: yes Skinned : yes

    PhpBB is the forum software that's given me the most headaches. I'm completely unimpressed by their modding system and their skinning system was a headache, at best. Some of the most popular mods are also the buggiest and least friendly to use. Modded : no Skinned :yes

    IPB 1.3 is a dilapidated old building. It's licensing issues are silly and confusing. But it's like playdough. There are better things out there, and playdough sucks in some regards, but with enough attention, you can still mod it and make it do whatever you want. It's worth a note that it is so old that there are more webhosting companies that it is incompatible with than vice versa- HostGator is one of the few that it does work with, but it can be hard to find one that works. It's also worth a note that IPB 1.3 is quite insecure and it is known for being hacked into - the tutorials for which are disgustingly easy to find. Modded yes Skinned yes

    IPB 3.X I don't know much about the 3.X system except that it is expensive. Modded: no Skinned: no

    IF is built off of IPB 1.3 with the security holes patched. IF's support is abysmal. It's popular with roleplayers. Modded: no Skinned: no

    JCInk is built of off IPB 1.3 and is highly modified. They have some sort of user-modding system in the works but for the most part, "mods" consist of javascript, which is confined to aesthetic effects. They have some nice mods that JCInk built and integrated like the shop, however, there are very few roleplays that actually use it. JCInk had many DDoS attacks in the past despite their expensive DDoS protection services and recently upgraded to a better one. I want to mention that the vast majority of DDoS attacks are caused by a single person DDoSing a single site (and hence the whole network). Modded: n/a Skinned: yes

    ZetaBoards I've never seen a 'pretty' ZetaBoards skin and their functionality is pretty awful, lacking things that I would think basic like searching for a user's posts via their profile. It's uncommonly popular. Modded: n/a Skinned: no

    PB is known for how easy they are to put forums together. They've gotten better functionality wise. They are known as Nazi's for their stringent content rating requirements. PB has the stigma that its users are younger and less experienced, and some roleplayers are outright boycotting the platform. Modded: n/a Skinned: yes

    Xenforo is what this software currently rests on as well as another popular roleplay directory giant. It's nice, it works well. It's not blazing fast, but it's fast enough and it has a wealth of great features and mods available. It's also expensive. Modded: n/a Skinned No

    MyBB is a modding system quite like Drupal, the difference being that if you don't want to do things the MyBB way, you don't have to. I had an easy time latching onto it, thoroughly enjoyed it, and I have a lot of knowledge modding it and have put up many tutorials and even a few skins. MyBB is pleasant to skin, it's quite like the Invision line. It has a wide variety of mods, but it really sucks when it comes to keeping guest-enabled ad areas free from spambot ads. I think this is its only weakness. Modded: yes Skinned yes
  15. Zozma

    Zozma Spider Demon Game Owner

    SMF for me all the way. I suppose Jcink has now implemented the editing which account a post is written with but back when I was on it, that wasn't a thing. I also highly dislike the fact that you have to create the account and THEN link it. For me, it's much easier on SMF. I can just make it from my parent account and edit the profile accordingly. I also like that SMF itself is actually free (although we do pay to be in the DzinerStudio theme club, it's so worth it--I think they make the best SMF themes and we then are allowed to make all the edits we want, using their themes as a base, as long as we keep their credit intact).

    I also prefer SMF because I can automate some of the boring admin work that made me intensely hate being an admin: face claim list is automated. Closing threads is automated. Statistics are automatically updated. I love, love using the actual character accounts as profiles. I mean, the custom profile fields are there and they look decent/orderly enough on the actual character account, so why not? That means less forums cluttering the page and no dumb application to code. The only boring admin work left is advertising and auditioning new members but with my system, I only audition a new member once and then they're in, free to make as many characters as they want.

    I know a lot of people are down on SMF because it's "hard to theme" and it's a little tricky, I'll admit. But once you get used to digging around back there, it's actually much neater and easier to find everything (in my opinion). I also love the ability to set members as moderators of their own little forums. I tried doing that on Jcink but didn't see an option for it (but I might be blind). (And I'm not bashing Jcink, I promise, it's just the last alternate software I used.)

    Some people don't like SMF's aesthetics. I do. I'm a biased fangirl. I love how powerful SMF is. Anything I want to do with it, I can do. I actually toyed with a stat system (it was very, very basic, but I wanted to see if it could work) and it worked like a charm. People running Naruto, Bleach, video game based sites? SMF would be a DREAM to them because all you have to do is write a simple program to automatically raise stats per your level system!

    With custom forms, you can also make nifty things like a thread calendar. One of my older games used this and it was awesome. Basically, whenever a member made a new thread, they would fill out this form and it would automatically post in the designated forum with their thread date, location, etc.

    So yeah, when somebody asks, I always say SMF.
  16. It's been several years since my games haven't been self-hosted, so I honestly can't speak to any of the non self-hosted software like IF and Jcink. For many years I used IPB 1.3 for my games, and despite it's numerous flaws, I owe that insecure, old piece of software a massive thanks. In my need to customize many aspects of my games, I really grew as a developer and learned how to make IPB work how I needed it to.

    Not soon enough, I moved my game to myBB. It was kind of luck of the draw as to how we picked that one over other forum software, but I've really liked it. My biggest issue with it is the templating and some of the plugins - there's well over 500 individual html templates and going through them all to completely customize a theme is a pain and sometimes there are no hooks where you need them to be so you have to add them yourself. The software itself is quite solid and pretty easy to understand and work with, no matter your range of experience. The only other concern I have with it is the development community, which has really rubbed me the wrong way a few times. You can get help, but if you ask a "dumb" question, you're going to hear about it, and heaven forbid if you suggest that the next version of myBB come with a responsive theme.
  17. VirusZero

    VirusZero Resident Game Owner

    For self-hosted software, I really like MyBB. I think it looks pretty good and it isn't terribly difficult to change the skin and add mods. (Well, skinning isn't bad until you get heavy into template editing. Then it can become a lot harder.)

    I've never had the option to try IPB 3.x, vBulletin or Xenforo so I can't really talk about them. But I've tried SMF and phpBB and didn't care much for them.

    For remote hosted, I like Jcink. It works pretty well. Easy to use/skin, has lots of nice features (even if there are some of them that I don't use... Still I'd rather have them and not use them than need them and not have them.)
  18. Morrigan

    Morrigan Resident Game Owner

    I love IPB. I'm a bit of a fan girl and have been using it for 6 years now? I know how to code and mod for it (a big plus) but it's also got the mods that you would need for it. The only downfall is I haven't completed my Character Mod so it doesn't have a decent (free) sub accounts type mod.
  19. I use Simple Machines Forum for the RPing and a simple Wikia site to document our RP adventures. I really love SMF so far, though honestly I don't have all that much to compare it to. I've dabbled in Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress, and PhpBB. I really didn't like Drupal at all, Joomla and Wordpress were frustrating(Though I expect I may have been able to come up with something decent if I'd kept at it, but still, no regrets with going to SMF). PhpBB I've just used a bit as I was an admin for a time on someone else's non-RP site.
  20. Helixagon

    Helixagon Resident Game Owner

    I currently use PHPBB as, when I launched my site, the large modding community meant that the mods I needed for my RPG were already in place. For me it's been very easy to learn using it because there's so much established content that I can pretty much find whatever I want when it comes to coding. It's really helped me progress from a total noob to barely competent at this kind of stuff. If I were to switch in the future, my top candidate would be MyBB. The sites I've seen that use it have really impressed me, and it seems to be the most new and up-to-date all-in-one forum solution that I've seen.