User talk:Ethereal Cereal

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Main Page design

The following discussion was moved from Talk:Main Page for archival purposes.

Well, here's my ideas for the Main Page. I think the top-level organization should be like so:

      Alien Life Forms

      Base Facilities
      Craft Armaments
           Miscellaneous Equipment

Technical Info
      Data Tables
      Game Mechanics
      Game Files

Combat Tactics
      Field Manual

Game Strategies
      Base Management
      Interception Strategies

General Info
      X-COM Game Info
      Site Info

and I'd like to implement it mostly via Category pages, which are easier to maintain. It's probably going to involve little changes (navigation/links/categories, mostly) to lots of pages, so I can't prototype it very well -- once I start experimenting with how to implement it, it'll be under way.

I think the current Main Page format looks good, it's just missing a good organizational schema, like (I hope) the one I posted above.

--Ethereal Cereal 08:57, 25 May 2006 (PDT)

I was thinking that we could have a mock main page where we can fiddle around with the structuring to our hearts content, and replace the real main page every so often.


Very cool NKF, thanks for that. That should help here. If the mock Main Page (MP) catches on, we should replace this (true MP) Discussion with something that says "Post questions for the wiki in general here. However, for comments or suggestions on main page webmastering, see [Mock Main Page]." This should help clarify that general noob questions can be asked on the MP Discussion, but "webmaster" stuff about MP should go to the mock page. (Did that make sense? Sincere noobs must always be taken into account.)

Ethereal C, I love all the work you're doing around the site. You're probably the best technical (re)writer we've ever had. I love how you've tightened up many pages, including mine.

However, I don't see your MP logic, help me here. Both newbies and hardcore must be kept in mind, with newbies always coming first if there's any gray area. What follows is comments off the top of my head about what I don't like about your version. But please keep in mind, I'm just me; your opinions are entirely as valid as mine, etc. etc. And the final call goes to, who puts in the work, assuming there are no major objections. And I have no major objections. And esp. if you do it Mock first, what's to complain about. That said,

  • General Info should be first (but not nec'ly what you include). It should be truly general info on XCOM for the newbie, not "miscellanous other" - how to run the two main versions of the game on WinXP, where one might get it, etc. This area has always needed a lot of work, since only the hardcore work on the wiki (and the front-side issues are long past for them). The very first menu item, whatever it's name is, should hold out a great big hand specifically for newbies. In short, let people who have accidentally come here (and will quickly leave) get a quick answer, and those who remember XCOM from the past and want to get into it again, have their stuff be top, front & center. (If we ever start thinking this place is only for 'us', that's what it will become! I think NKF has worried over how to handle this... it's hard for any of us hardcore players to relate and spend time on the wiki for it.)
  • "Logistics" is not a term used in the game. Of course the game has many logistical issues. But why use a word that never appears in the game, for a MP entry? MP entries should be chosen with great care, IMO. There should not be more than 12. (You have 6; currently there are 13-18, depending on how you want to count.) Terms on the MP should immediately strike anyone as something they've seen in the game. (Of course, there is no pre-defined order; these are just thoughts....)
  • Your menu is a varied mix of basic line items for newbies, and then very selected items for the hardcore. There are many things not present at your level 2 that should be for the hardcore, IMO. Like Experience, Damage, Explosion. This site should appeal to two audiences: newbies, and hardcore. Both should have most everything they need within 2 levels, no fuss no muss. Locations should be clear. If I could only see your top level 1 entries (there are 6), where is Damage in that? Not just as an L2 entry, but with a person able to reasonably guess where it is when they can only see your 6 L1 entries? See? In what I had been talking to NKF about months ago, I wanted it at the top of the Combat stuff currently on the MP. Since it's a purely volunteer effort, and I didn't do it while at the same time I asked NKF to... shrug, hehe. BTW the previous MP was starting to look like an index to everything XCOM... as with e.g. speeches, it is in truth harder to make a short speech than a long one.

The current MP structure is an approximation of that which NKF put a lot of time into. He did not work in all my suggestions and recently said he's at crossroads on what to do. I didn't help by having strong opinions without actually editing it any myself.

If you're going to use the Mock MP, do anything you'd like. But consider the balance of having both total newbies and hardcore, have every major topic within 2 levels (1 level off the MP), and it's clear where they are. In two seconds' glance, without looking under all the MP topics. That's the goal, in any event.

If interested, there's more to see in the old Discussion on the MP, before we wiped it (it got real long). Maybe Decemberish?

You've taken a shot at restructuring the MP. It's a lot to think about. We all want it to be the best it can be. All of us who care about the wiki truly appreciate that someone is seriously considering rewriting the Main Page. This wiki has gone from a few off-the-cuff comments, to some seriously deep pages... with lots of gaps in between.

---MikeTheRed 23:52, 26 May 2006 (PDT)

I did fail to mention that the above outline is not a complete one -- it's just my initial thoughts on what the top-level structure should be. A lot of the "hardcore" pages (which are of course my favorite) would be under Technical Info or Game Mechanics; I'll certainly fill it out if I start implementing it for real.

I'll concede the structure would be best if it started with an "Overview of X-COM" page. The wiki doesn't have such a page right now. The General Info page doesn't qualify, but with a rewrite, it might. Right now it's just a scattering of technical factoids: it opens with "Nomenclature", of all things. It's certainly not newbie-friendly.

To fix that, we could copy a lot of the X-COM entry from Wikipedia, with a link back to it to satisfy their copyright requirements. Links, Site Info and Contributors should remain at the bottom, IMO.

I'd like to keep first and second levels of the heirarchy on the Main Page -- the highest levels as I chose them aren't really pages in their own right, just organizational categories. The word logistics isn't a word mentioned in the game, but I want a "stuff you have to administer" category, and that's logistics. As long as the second level (soldiers|base|crafts|equipment) is on the Main Page, its meaning should be immediately obvious.

I prefer that approach to a division into Geoscape and Battlescape topics; although the game is played in those separate domains (and Geoscape is really two things, Geoscape and Base Management), all the logistical stuff exists in both domains: you buy/sell/build/plan stuff in the Geoscape, and use that stuff on the Battlescape.

As for newbies -- I was a newbie to the site quite recently, if not the game, and the first stuff I wanted to see was in-depth information. If you've played the game at all, you know the basics -- you don't need a reprint of the UFOPaedia. (If you haven't played the game at all, you need a better Intro page, as I mentioned above.)

Unfortunately, about half the pages linked to from the Main Page are stub pages in some way. Linking to a stub page from the Main Page immediately signals to me, "this site is useless". I must've come across the Main Page three times while hunting for X-COM information before I realized the site actually did have good information. (We're still lacking a lot of very specific tactical tips, although that stuff is harder to generate than a page of stats.)

The most useful ones (IMO) are pages which link to a lot of other articles. Some of the other pages are vague, obvious, or borderline fiction -- a lot of the Field Manual is this way, for instance.

Frankly, I find the Main Page frustrating in its current implementation. I'm gonna stop talking about it and just change it (via the Mock page). Hopefully you'll see my reasoning as I implement it. It's gonna be like sorting a deck of cards -- easy to do, tedious to describe.

--Ethereal Cereal 11:10, 27 May 2006 (PDT)

Sounds good, Ethereal! A lot of what I said is just so you know how things got the way they are and/or for your consideration... they're not granite rules. What you say sounds good, too. And it's a good point that actually, by now, probably few will be true newbies (although hopefully this site will have plenty of new veteran-XCOM visitors.) Anyway, the proof is in the pudding and the mock page is for testing anyway... so I'll see ya over there! (Sooner or later!)

This site has grown very organically according to volunteer interests, commonly in bursts of activity... a problem (esp. for newcomers) is that the majority of wiki-ers work on what they're interested (myself definitely included). Some spend time on overall organization, but they're the exception. NKF and Danial did quite a bit this past winter, but plenty more could be done. Anyway... please go for it! :)

---MikeTheRed 15:47, 31 May 2006 (PDT)

There are 2 sections (or subsections, whatever) that I probably could be added as well:

- Modding (with separate sections for terrains/maps/etc., probably including there the main software such as Daishiva's programs and hatfarm's editor). I have started writting a section concerning map editing but never finished it. - How To Make The Game Harder (for true veterans).

Hobbes 19:30, 31 May 2006 (PDT)

The completed prototype is at mock main page, check it out.

  • I did put the general info link first.
  • It's now an index to Everything X-COM -- but I think that's good; this is basically an encyclopedia, and the Main Page is now a Table of Contents.
  • I made no specific effort to accomodate newbies or hardcore players. I hope a sensibly-organized index can serve them both.
  • I managed to include just about everything on the MP, except for articles that are part of an obvious group (the individual Alien pages, Equipment, Field Manual, UFOs, etc.)
  • I didn't attempt to re-do the TFTD index, as I haven't tried TFTD yet.
  • I still haven't come up with a better name than "Logistics", but with the pages grouped under it, its meaning is clear.
  • "Modding" and "How to make the game harder" both sound good -- two articles, I'm guessing, which have yet to be written. If you write 'em, they can easily be added to the redesigned MP.

--Ethereal Cereal 12:14, 1 June 2006 (PDT)

I replaced the Main Page with the new design from the mock main page. Give a holler if you think it should be changed in any way -- or change it yourself.

--Ethereal Cereal 15:08, 6 June 2006 (PDT)

Mike: I did a little sorting of the subcategories according to "importance", although that's entirely subjective. For instance, I put Scouting and Reaction Fire Triggers and Sweeping the Battlescape first under Tactics because they cover really fundamental tactical points. I prefer a subjective order to something like alphabetical order -- feel free to sort things according to your own tastes.

As I've stated before, I prefer discussion to remain in place, unless it's right on the article page. This is how Wikipedia does things, and it's useful for quickly assessing what's been going on with the article. Keeping topics segregated by headers (not just lines) helps to organize the discussions. If the whole page gets too long, then it can be archived.

--Ethereal Cereal 10:10, 7 June 2006 (PDT)

Sounds good. Let me take some time to work with it and see if I have any ideas. The only other immediate thought is that a few places could probably be tightened up, e.g., Research Tips is probably largely under Research. Anyway, it's great for the time being... much more at your fingertips than with the previous version. I'll make a note or take a whack at any thoughts that arise. Meanwhile, I'm doing a little more testing on visual range. Good idea, categories here on the Discussion page will keep things organized and accessible.

---MikeTheRed 10:33, 7 June 2006 (PDT)