Encyclopaedia Piratica: Some of Piratical Knowledge
If you have explored burningsea.com beyond the forums, you have probably noticed the assorted list of guides in the Game Guide section of this site. With this section, we have tried to give players a little bit more information about some of the more complicated game mechanics.
That said, as that section filled up with more and more guides, the section became less and less usable for a few different reasons:
- Searchability—when we had only a few guides, players could easily find their way around. But the more guides we released, the bigger the section became, and the more difficult navigation became.
- Editing—history, built in areas for discussion, and built in WYSIWYG features are extremely useful when trying to keep guides up to date. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any of these features built into the Game Guides section.
- Placement—many types of guides could fit under the title of Game Guides. We could have guides about game mechanics, mission walkthroughs, the API, or even live events. Putting all these guides under one drop-down would make the list confusing.
Let’s Make a Wiki
The solution to all of these difficulties was obvious: a wiki. A wiki would not only solve all of the problems mentioned above, but we could eventually expand the scope of the wiki to cover much more than the Game Guides section had. Here we could essentially create an online encyclopedia about Pirates of the Burning Sea (hence the name, Encyclopædia Piratica).
With a wiki we could make all guides searchable (with a search box), categorized (through categories and subcategories), easily editable (the main strength of a wiki), and we could use a variety of other features to make the guides much more usable.
Fan-Run vs. Official
Most players know about the fan-run wiki. According to the front page of the fan-run wiki, that wiki already has 5,306 articles, which is quite a lot of content to try to duplicate. So the obvious question is why didn’t we decide to contribute to that wiki.
The answer is to this question is two parts: functionality and control. The wiki software we used to create the Ecyclopædia Piratica is MediaWiki. MediaWiki software is the same software that runs Wikipedia and many other popular wikis. This software is incredibly customizable, and expandable (through extensions).
The software is so customizable, that we were able to integrate the Ecyclopædia Piratica (EP) into our site. To get the EP to work with the rest of burningsea.com we only needed to manipulate a few areas:
- Talk Pages—if you have used Wikipedia, you may have noticed that there is a Talk page associated with every page. This page allows a place for users to discuss the content. In the same way, we incorporated Discuss links on every page of EP, which create a forum thread for players to ask questions and discuss the page.
- Skin—the term “skin” refers to a wiki’s appearance. Using MediaWiki, we were able to change the skin of EP to match burningsea.com.
- Navigation—while this is part of the skin, navigation deserves special mention. When players use EP they will notice that in addition to the normal navigation of burningsea.com, there are new options for navigating EP specifically.
Besides this functionality, we also chose to create an official wiki because we wanted control over the content. Basically, if we have control over the content, then we can be more confident that the information is completely accurate.
Encyclopædia Piratica Team
Of course maintaining the wiki is not something we wanted to take on all by ourselves. So in secret, we contacted a few players who impressed us with their dedication to the community. These players helped us build up EP, and they are the first members of the Encyclopædia Piratica team.
The EP team is a group of volunteer players who will be the only players able to edit the wiki. These elite masters of the wiki are in charge of adding new content and updating the old content. Of course, any player with forum login can suggest changes using the Discuss links on every page. We will constantly be recruiting new members to this team, so read our Join the EP Team page if you’re interested.
Much like Wikipedia (and most other wikis) Encyclopædia Piratica is constantly under construction (hence the pun, “Some of Piratical Knowledge”). By under construction, we mean that we will constantly be adding new guides, pages, images, updates, etc. If you see a red link, then that link indicates a future page. Meaning, we have plans to create a page explaining the details of that link.
Currently EP has the contents of the Game Guides section, some extra mission walkthroughs, more guides contributed by the EP team, and the details of the Live Events plotline. This is enough content to keep you reading for a while, and we will continue working on more.