It’s strange – I feel strongly that I’m not getting any WORG work done, yet the update messages keep getting crammed full of goodness. Oh well. Roll call:
- THIS HERE PAGE HAS MUTATED. The “New” page was suffering from several shortcomings. It has been recoded using the WordPress engine – many thanks to Greg for his technical advice – so that:
- All the update messages are now available, whereas max file size limitations previously destroyed information. People interested in WORG history can now see everything back to 2002, when update messages started after the release of WORG v2. Everything is conveniently organised into a standard blog-type archive.
- Only the more recent message are displayed live, and the layout now has even more whitespace.
- Folks can leave comments to show their unwavering support toward WORG. We’re considering doing more with comments, but this page is a good test to see the amount of spam and stuff.
- We’ve briefly experimented with newsfeeds to get an idea of what to do ; this version of the page has the release version of the newsfeeds to receive alerts or content when update messages occur.
- Blog owners can now link directly to specific posts, add us to their blogroll, etc. Just a suggestion, of course !
- TWO C-LIST MARVEL VILLAINS. We like minor, useful villains GMs can use anywhere, so Gareth has written up a pair of such, who’ve worked together on occasion. They’re more medium-level than street-level, and they are :
- GREAT TEN. We’re starting Gareth’s arc about this criminally underselling series, featuring the PRC’s superhuman elite of the DC Universe. As per current methodology there’s a anchor article explaining all the stuff that would otherwise get repeated, and we’ll start with it. It explains most of what you need to know about the Great Ten.
- ART. I’m starting to sell off my old RPG books since I’m changing countries yet again, and I’ve found some of the Updates to the Gamer’s Handbook of the Marvel Universe from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Those books were, twenty years ago, the greatest thing ever. Pre-Internet, the thought of having, every year, this big pack of glossy white paper with tons of Marvel Universe stats and illustrations and background was fantastic. The Gamer’s Handbook was in fact a major part of the inspiration behind WORG. Here are a number of illos from the Updates (plus a few from a OHOTMU Update issue that was packed with them) – either new shots, or crisper versions of old illustrations. I’m happy to see this art again ! Roll call :
- The “Parse” page got its title bar, and thus its dignity, back.
- THUNDERBOLTS. Likewise, Gareth wrote an article about the Thunderbolts to facilitate and lighten all of our future Thunderbolts entries. It explains all the shared characteristics and history of the sundry versions of the T-bolts and is a great place to get an overview of team.
- STREET FIGHTERS. More of Tom’s older entries. In this batch:
- OBSCURE MARVEL STUFF. Mikas the Soulfather (Lord of Earth and the Inner Mind, lest you forget) had his History section rewritten to stop quoting from Marvunapp – plus various lil’ fixes.
- DYNAMO FIVE. Continuing Bryan’s D5 arc – Myriad, the half-alien kung-fu shapeshifter.
- The big “New”, “Random”, etc. areas at the bottom centre of the home page have *finally* been restored to their proper alignment, now that I have some basic .css skills and tools. The right-hand column has also been structured a bit more clearly, and there’s improved visibility for the random searching tips.
- REVIEW AND UPGRADE OF RANDOM ENTRIES. The usual drill has been applied to the following:
- And closing with a whimper, not a bang – Roy gives clownshoe villain Steel-Fist Feeny, who doesn’t actually have steel fists.
All this material takes us to 4,433 entries. That’s easy to remember.
The long march toward 4,500 entries can now resume, with a number of improvements having been tackled at long last in the previous batch. Of course, we’ll continue improving older material given the usage patterns – this batch has a fair bit of that on top of the standard ten-entries pack.
The server has been upgraded in terms of disk and RAM (high-end search engines have something of a footprint, and the traffic and content increases are rather steady). Which reminds me that I’ve been supposed to add a “donate” button for, oh, four years now.
We’re also continuing to work on features of the site – more about that in the next batch, hopefully.
Anyway, roll call:
- DC ADVENTURES / M&M 3rd EDITION. A link had been added to our not-a-conversion-system between the two games, pointing at the beta version of the current iteration on the Atomic Think Tank. Said beta is more powerful than the previous version of the OMACS. Tests using M&M writeups for characters on WORG have also started in another Atomic Think Tank thread. If you’re a M&M 3rd edition/DCA player as well as a WORG reader, please join the discussion to help us improve quickly and release high-quality M&M material.
Minor, obscure DC character Vicious has also been dual-statted (the stats are not very well-designed, though – it was just to get an idea of what a dual-statted page would look like.)
- SEARCH ENGINE. A glitch has been fixed for searches using multiple filters (category, subcategory, type, etc.) ; such searches now correctly produce far more results. Protip – when your way to set field values has been through five different solutions, variance ensues.
Anyway, if you had been searching during the last few weeks for all heroes in the DCU, or all video game villains, or somesuch, you probably want to try again.
- IMAGES TAGGING. The images for the entries now have an img_alt field. This change nothings for most readers (only folks using screen readers will notice) but this should greatly help with referencing with Google Images and similar image-search solutions. At least when they pop up in the Google index. Eventually. Some of them.
- STREET FIGHTERS. Three of Tom’s older entries have been carefully extruded from the backlog using a rocket-powered sledgehammer, so we can broaden our coverage for some of the more famous characters. Namely:
- Speaking of folks named Masters – Peter introduces Nick Master the post-apocalyptic courier, from Boom! Studio’s Dead Run Limited Series.
- 2000AD. As implied in a recent batch, more material from the British SF magazine of reference. Gareth introduces Nikolai Dante to WORG with a very detailed entry. He’s too cool to kill !
- DREAMBOUND. From the DC event of a few years back, Trinity, comes an unlikely quartet of crime-fighters. They’re wild, they’re wooly, they’re Dreambound!
- GREEN LANTERNS. A number of changes and additions to our generic Green Lantern I (Alan Scott) entry. Not a v2 by any mean, and it still quotes texts that aren’t ours, but it’s better than it was.
- TEXTUAL HEALING. Multiple reviews and edits for the following :
- DYNAMO FIVE. This batch has Bryan’s entry on Scatterbrain, the telepathic jock.
As I said, it’s more a long march than a great leap forward, but that’s still 4424 entries.
This is the batch where the WORG Crew kills a lot of loose ends so we can resume the slow progression toward our 4,500th entry. As per tradition, we are of course doing that naked, painted blue and with an axe. And it gives pretty good results, actually – the headcount may not have progressed but that’s a ton of material, improvements and tedious work that lays bloody upon yonder battlefield. Roll call:
- We now have Twitter and RSS feeds to warn people of new stuff coming to WORG – as you probably saw when you opened this page. The Facebook stuff will come later (probably a group), with the some functionality – being warned when something occurs on this page and thus on WORG in general. Also this page now also has its own little green title bar on the top, which had somehow been overlooked during the main development. Every detail counts !
- SEARCH ENGINE. We’ve deployed and tested the last bit of tech we had in mind for now after n-grams and edge n-grams ; the shinglers will now allow people for are looking for, say, “batwing” to find “bat-wing”. This will remove the need for those entry titles with variant orthographies (such as “Spider-Man aka Spiderman”), though I’m not simplifying those right now. Just in case some unforeseen issue pop up, for instance with the sheer size of the n-grams data files or unacceptable slow-downs of our VM.
- ART. The vagaries of life have delayed some of the art work, but we can now overhaul some of these entries. Roll call:
- The Filipino mythology article – because any good monster manual must be illustrated
- Captain Canuck (yay ! Captain Canuck !)
- Durham Red
- Mike Donovan (original V)
- Heroes: we’ve filled out Peter, Claire, Sylar, Matt, Eden, Hiro
- Fighting games characters : more stuff for Shingo Yabuki, Mike Bison (alternate), Gen, Rugal Bernstein, Krauser von Stroheim, Juli, Rolento Sugerg, Birdie, Rose, Sakura Kasugano, Thunder Hawk, E. Honda (basic and alternate takes)
- Bethany Cabe, Pavane, Question (Ditko), Argus (New Olympians) – descreening of the illustrations
- OBSCURE MARVEL STUFF. Two fewer entries quoting marvunapp, though those are painfully minor guys – Slasher I, and Demitrius. Both are from the old Mister Kline Marvel storyline, and both have entirely rewritten History sections.
- BATGIRL III. The very popular entry for Cassandra Cain was done very early on, since I’m a fan. Which of course perversely results in a favourite character having a mediocre writeup done using our standards from years ago. Further complicating the situation were technical issues around the management of Schticks, recently solved with the revised versions of Fists of Fury and Goonbane. Anyway, Cass now has a completely revised entry with most things having been rewritten, sharper stats, entirely revised art, the works.
- TEXTUAL HEALING. Multiple reviews and rewrites for :
- Nomad (E. Ferbel)
- Deadeye (DCU). Rewritten texts, technical fixes, new art. Like with the other minor Batgirl villains, basically a v2.
- Vincenzo the Undying Don (Seven Soldiers)
- Harpi (from the Hybrid)
- Expensive techno-enhanced SPB agent
- Scrap (textual revisions by the author)
- Pavane, the panther trainer
- Peacemaker (Charlton)
- One round of review and editing for our three Spitfire writeups, the Puck I entry, Cannon (DCU), the Question (Ditko), Catwoman (Stan Lee Elseworld), OMAC (Kirby), Scott James as Schticks were being streamlined
- Argus (the New Olympians one)
- Nuklon (1980s)
- Tsui Chiao Shang Chi
- We’ve been working for some time on *finally* revisiting Green Lanterns – you may have noted that we have very little GL material. Here’s the first publishable version of our thoughts about Hal Jordan, green power rings, user-linked willpower, those sorts of think. Also, more exploration of the ‘iconic take’ approach.
- Work on the DC Adventures to DC Heroes equivalencies system also hit its first release, which you can follow at the Atomic Think Tank. Please do not hesitate to comment and join the discussion there if you speak M&M 3rd edition.
- DYNAMO 5. Beyond the textual revisions to Scrap, there have been thorough changes to the Slingshot aka Menagerie entries following a versioning mistake. The revised entry is now a Slingshot entry, and all the art has been redone (yum).
- SCHTICKS AROUND. We’ve been working on improving and streamlining some of our Schticks material. Specifically:
- Nuclear punch – completely revised, but no impact (he he) on the characters who already had it
- Speed-shooting and Sweeping Autofire – minor streamlining
- Bladebreaker and Gunbane have been deleted and replaced by Disarmer. The half dozen characters who had something along those lines have been reviewed and edited.
- Bullet Placement has been added, though the character who will use it is stuck in development hell
- Stance assessment has been nerfed a bit a streamlined into a specialised Expertise
- The Schticks facilitating multi-attacks in melee have all been replaced by a streamline Schtick called Fists of Fury, and a thorough characters review has been conducted
- Goonbane has been completely rewritten to focus on its core job and be smarter-designed. The impacted characters have been reviewed.
- Tom and the rest of the crew are still reviewing how these changes should affect the beat ‘em up video games characters.
Not bad, eh ? WORG lives so that man may live !
This update is mostly heavy on features and improvements. Specifically:
- SEARCH ENGINE. We’ve switched the search box in the upper right corner of every page from basic SQL queries to an Open Search Server engine. The main object of this switch it to facilitate searches for people not using the exact orthographies. For instance under the old solution, searching “She Hulk” didn’t work because she’s referenced as She-Hulk” on WORG. Now everything works – she hulk, she-hulk, hulk, he lk*… not “shulkie” or “hubba hubba”, though, the AI is not that sophisticated. Yet. We’re using n-grams to facilitate that, though we’re still experimenting with the stupid shingle filters to beat some common variant orthographies.
It also draws results from he Notes field, for those people who just want to type something in the box and automagically get results.
Hopefully it will drastically reduce the number of people not finding an entry that is actually there. Still, remember the first law of search engines everyone — use short and distinctive search strings.
- SEARCH ENGINE (AGAIN). Our Parse page has long suffered from Google only knowing a fraction of WORG – and being very reluctant to find pages it had missed. Well, we now offer on that page both our old Google search and a brand-new Open Search Server search, which has every single page indexed and can plow through every single word on writeups.org.
There are still various tweaks to be done (snippet centring, smaller slop values from using quotes, that sort of exciting things) but right now it is way, way more useful than the old parse page ever was. And of course, writeups.org thanks its partners at http://www.open-search-server.com/ for letting us play with their toys (and hopefully not break anything).
- SHANG-CHI IS ICONIC. “Iconic take” is a new qualifier we’re hammering out (inspired by DC Adventures) to make it clearer which writeups are super-detailed and specific, and which writeups are more sweeping and concerned with providing a gisted version of a character. The Shang-Chi entry being both very popular and in the second category, it’s the first one to get the ‘iconic take’ tag. That way people don’t come to streamlined entries expecting tons of research, or to detailed entries expecting a quick read.
- MINOR CLEANUPS. A few antislashes remaining in Notes fields due to an encoding issue have been eliminated, and all mentions of actors in the Names fields should now use the revised format. Those people who did not have the proper “JLA” tag in the notes have had that fixed. Other thrilling database maintenance things.
- TEXTUAL HEALING. The usual multi-staged reviewing and editing process. In this batch:
- Shang-Chi, of course
- Doctor Faustus. This entry was full of huge, quite complex sentences. This is now fixed and reading it has become a less suffocating experience. A few bits of art got descreened, too.
- Cyblade (will have to be redone one day, but in the meanwhile the text looks much better)
- Henri Ducard
- Stallion (DCU). Reviews and fixes, but also additional material (text and material both) after also checking the primary sources.
- Ezra – mostly rewritten since it lacked focus, more better art
- Meta – ditto
Entries count remains unchanged, of course.
* though I have no idea why anybody would search for “he lk”, honestly, but that’s how n-grams search works.