Six months ago, Tamriel Foundry opened its doors to embark on a project to follow the development of The Elder Scrolls Online. The site has grown an unbelievable amount since that time, and has produced a community in which we all feel invested. The past several months have presented many challenges in adapting the vision and capabilities in response to our growing community. A major objective for me over the last two months has been to hand-design a theme specifically for Tamriel Foundry that will serve the site with a stable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing platform on which to build as we approach the release of The Elder Scrolls Online. I’m thrilled to present, after countless hours of coding and design, Tamriel Foundry’s new site theme, dubbed “Apocrypha”. The remainder of this post will detail some of the key features which the Apocrypha theme adds to Tamriel Foundry.
If you discover any bugs with the functionality of the new site design, please report them in the Site Suggestions, Bugs, and Feedback thread!
Overall Theme Approach
- New wider layout designed to take advantage of widescreen monitors (let’s face it, we’re all gamer’s here).
- The new theme is not fully responsive; however, it is smart enough to adapt perfectly to half-width browsing!
- An overall objective of the new design was to feature open spaces, clean lines, and smooth transitions between elements which rely less on rigid containers.
- From a backend perspective, the theme is very lightweight. It strips out all unnecessarily bulky external plugins, and instead incorporates the features needed for a social gaming community site directly into the Apocrypha theme as integrated extensions.
- A new admin bar at the top of every page contains overhauled login, notification, and search widgets.
- The new notifications system splits up your notifications into four more meaningful categories: activity, friends, messages, and groups.
- For each notification category, you can view or clear notifications individually.
- The notifications drop-down panels also provide convenient links to various community areas.
- Full AJAX login allows you to sign into your account without the hassle of page reloads.
- The login system now (finally) directly supports usernames containing spaces or other characters like periods.
- The registration process provides far more details regarding the purpose, intentions, and focus of Tamriel Foundry.
- This serves a two-fold purpose, firstly it informs potential community members of the niche Tamriel Foundry seeks to fill within the ESO community.
- Secondly it acts as a potential deterrent to registration from community members who are not interested in our founding principles. To summarize:
- Tamriel Foundry is a community of ESO enthusiasts, a resource for useful articles, guides, and tools, and a forum for discussing gameplay mechanics and strategies.
- Tamriel Foundry is not a general purpose gaming forum, a lore compendium or library, a dedicated roleplaying platform, or a guild recruitment listing service.
- Our guilds system has been improved some with this update, although much of the theme overhaul laid the foundation for future guild systems we want to provide!
- The home page (and any other page with a sidebar) will now list a “Featured Guild” which is drawn randomly from the set of guilds represented on Tamriel Foundry.
- This allows you to periodically get your guild some front-page exposure, it’s also a great way to become familiar with some of the other guilds that are out there.
- Guild profile pages have been separated into distinct areas, controlled with a navigation bar beneath the guild avatar. This makes it much easier to track guild activity, rosters, and tweak admin settings.
- The application process to join a private guild has been improved to force applicants to use the “request membership form” which prompts the user to provide some details regarding why he/she wishes to join. Previously membership requests could bypass this form.
Articles and Comments
- The front page article loop has been redesigned to present more information in a smaller area. It’s now much easier to get a snapshot view of what’s happening right now in the ESO community.
- Guest commenting ability has been revoked. While we were still growing, allowing guests to comment anonymously helped us invite people to get their foot in the door. However, since Tamriel Foundry has gained significant popularity, the hassle of dealing with comment spam and general stupidity just isn’t worth it.
- Comment threading has also been removed, most users did not reply to comments in a conversational manner, but simply used the reply button to quickly respond to an article. This feature was intended to make conversation about articles easier to follow, but I believe it had the opposite effect.
- Quotes have been added to article comments. As a replacement system which actually will make continuing conversation easier, our full quoting system has been adapted to work with front-page articles!
- The Tamriel Foundry forums now feature a wider, more open layout for easy reading.
- Topic titles in single forums and recent topics pages now send you to the original post in a thread.
- To quickly navigate to the last (most recent) reply to a topic, use the small arrow icon to the right of the post title.
- The quotes system (both in articles and forums) has been improved to eliminate a number of edge cases that caused quotes to be butchered. Some smooth scrolling jQuery has been added to improve your quoting experience.
It’s been both a pleasure and incredibly exhausting to work on this overhaul for the last month and a half. I’m feeling extremely optimistic about what this means for Tamriel Foundry moving forward, and can’t wait to continue building both the site and the community as we wait together for Elder Scrolls Online!