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Alright, so I'd like to offer up some of the modifications we've made on EpicAdvice.com to the Gaming SE if the community would be interested. Most of our modifications are pure JavaScript modifications to the SE Engine (1.0) that should easily carry over to the new 2.0.

The primary one, if the community is interested, would be a "Level Bar", a common Video Game concept. Lots of games that involve character progression include levels, or "Reputation Levels", which is what we've implemented on our StackExchange. It fits perfectly with our World of Warcraft theme, but could easily apply to a generic video game site. Basically we took the reputation needed to earn the highest level of moderation powers on our site (10k), and made that the "Max Level", the last obtainable level, and created a scale of reputation required to earn each level.

The reason I propose this, is we believe (at EpicAdvice) that integrating more "Video Game Themed" elements into the site (less programmer-ish) with the goal of increased interest and involvement. On sites like SO, reputation earned is a sign of accomplishment within the field. For video games, the common sign of accomplishment is Levels, which is why we choose that route. It's all about catering to your audience and making them feel at home :)

Here's a quick screenshot I took as an example, with my current level being displayed.

If you'd like to view it in action, simply register for an account on EpicAdvice and login. You will see the "Level Bar" appear embedded within the logo, stating your current "Level" as well as how much reputation you need to advance to the next level. We have a few other things we plan on implementing with this, but haven't gotten around to completing yet.

I realize the design for this site hasn't been completed, nor has it even left Private Beta, but something to consider for the future of the site. If there's something else we've done in the past on EpicAdvice that may benefit the Gaming SE's success, we are more than willing to share the code.

So the final question is, would something like this be applicable/desirable for the Gaming Community we are building here at the yet unnamed Gaming SE? If not, no harm in asking. :)

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    Only if we get to incorporate Epic Advice into this site ;-) – Ivo Flipse Jul 12 '10 at 17:25
  • Actually even Gametrailers.com uses it, so your not alone in these ideas – Ivo Flipse Jul 12 '10 at 18:34
  • Yeah GameTrailers.com has some really cool stuff implemented into it. Good spot to look. – Jesta Jul 12 '10 at 20:34
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It's a great idea that I think we should avoid :)

Great idea - because it's very cool and really understandable and likable by gamers.

We should avoid - because it breaks consistency with the other SE sites, and I think consistency - especially at this early stage - is very important. That is why I also think "badges" should not be changed to "achievements", even though it's also a very nice idea which is relevant to gaming.

However, if it requires just pure JavaScript to set it up, then it could be done with GreaseMonkey externally, being completely optional and without changing the site. I would love to see such script available somewhere - especially if it would help drawing users from Epic Advice ;)

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    True enough, if the primary goal behind all of the SE sites is to teach users how to ask and answer questions across any topic, then I totally agree. However, when trying to drive traffic and get community involvement are at hand, each site may want those customizations to fit the specific community. I'd say its all about implementing what you see fit on a community-by-community basis, but make sure to keep all of the common elements the same. – Jesta Jul 12 '10 at 18:10
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There can be value in this kind of interface, but I really recommend this kind of thing being an optional component for the user to setup, not unlike the wealth of GreaseMonkey scripts that are on the Trilogy's Meta. Like this Commander Keen one.

We're gamers, which is an excellent reason to do this. Even people who focus on genres other than RPGs will understand it, and probably be encouraged by it. It very closely links our reputation system with the audience of the site.

But we need to be careful that we don't end up alienating some of our audience, and there are two camps of users who can be alienated by this, depending on the implementation. The element works great on EpicAdvice because there's only one game being discussed there, so you can tailor the design to match it thematically. We can't do anything like that, because that would risk painting our site to focus on that game. Basically, we'd be branding every gamer as enjoying a specific game, when there is most definitely a camp of gamers who does not like said game and want nothing to do with it. Personally speaking, I wouldn't mind having the Level Bar be themed to a specific game, but it will definitely be a continual disappointment to me if I didn't like the particular game I'm being labelled with.

Note that I am not saying you're suggesting we use the WoW Level Bar specifically - and once again personally speaking I like yours a lot because it still says "Reputation to next level" and not experience. But I want to assert that there is a strong importance that we keep anything like this as generic as possible. This may consist of nothing more than color changes in the end, of course.

The second camp of gamers, naturally, are the people who do not care for these kinds of games in the slightest. There are gamers who are bored by RPGs, and that in itself doesn't make them less of a good user than people who enjoy them. Satisfying these users is best served by allowing them to opt out of this feature - just like they can opt out of seeing any undesired question content through good use of the tagging system. Because while at heart people can always see how game-like the Reputation system is, it still isn't as in-your-face as a required interface element would be.

I think it will greatly enhance the experience for some users to have things like this, but I really recommend that we keep it as something the user gets to set up. Include some main FAQ post on Meta to aid installing any of these features, probably also make said post a repository for all of these elements. This way, as well, we each can see what others might customize their own HUD to behave based on each individual's gaming preferences.

  • It's true, but then again, would both camps of gamers have a closer relationship to something like "Levels" or "Stages" more so than just a generic "Reputation" (being an online arbitrary number)? "Level" may not be the best tacks, but I'd love to see the theme molded more towards gaming in general. – Jesta Jul 12 '10 at 18:15
  • @Jesta I love the idea of molding themes towards gaming. I just strongly believe it is an element that should not be forced across all users. And by allowing it to be optionally installed, we allow greater customization (I mean, just to fit with my name, I wouldn't mind something that mirrored the R-Type charge levels, since there are just about as many tiers). – Grace Note Jul 12 '10 at 18:26
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    Importantly, and this is the important point in my mind, we are better suited, especially in this early stage, to be thinking not about adding new features as we should be focused on tailoring the things that remain to be designed (logo, site design, layout, etc.). – Grace Note Jul 12 '10 at 18:30
  • That would be phenomenal as well! Who knows, it could even have a "User Contributed Themes" section like SO has and you linked above :) – Jesta Jul 12 '10 at 20:35
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I 'fear' that the team won't allow this heavy level of customizing of the site's UI, though I completely agree that given the target audience, I feel it would be appropriate.

However I personally like your tweaks, especially those with the tags, which I think shouldn't be too hard to deploy, since they're basically sponsored tags.

  • Probably true, probably also depends on the success of the site. Just offereing up ideas ;) – Jesta Jul 12 '10 at 18:15
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A level bar would be a nice touch, but it needs to be far less "in your face" imho. I for one am not a fan of EpicAdvice's busy homepage.

A subtler but nicer touch would be a customization that polled the API and showed cute floating "1UP"s adding to your reputation in quasi real time :D

  • I like the 1UP idea. – McKay Sep 8 '10 at 17:57

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