Make It So: The World Archive

When I last posted about the Abandonment Archive, a place to leave fan works anonymously, I was focusing on fan works. But a few comments on “Recording your World” by newcomer Marek Tarnawski got me thinking that this basic idea of a “dumping ground” (in the good sense) should be expanded.  Let’s face it there’s probably a lot more things we should be saving with the power of the internet, easy technology, and fan power.

In this case, I’m realizing that we need an archive for abandoned, unused, and previously used worlds.

Many a gamer, writer, and so on has a few worlds in their back pockets. They have the game they never made, or the RPG campaign they haven’t played in fifteen years. There’s that Livejournal RPG that everyone loved but which then faded away, or the wiki that you set up and never used for your novel. There’s plenty of unused worlds out there.

People love good worlds. Settings are important, and though we love to build them, some are so intriguing we want to play with them.  Also sometimes we need new ideas.

So let’s put all those unused worlds to use.

The World Archive

Imagine a world archive for half-done, abandoned, previously used, or unused worlds. People could leave behind their creations for others to use, along with notes, historical documents, and contact information. This way their creations would live on and could inspire and be used for others.

The benefits I see are:

  • People are able to let their creations live on – and maybe even get comments on them and sync up with other enthusiasts.
  • Other people can get ideas or whole settings from the “donated worlds.”
  • Even if people don’t use a whole world, they’ll be able to use ideas (I suspect many people wouldn’t use entire worlds).
  • It would provide some interesting historical records of games, game systems, writing plans, and more.  Think of what these worldbuilding efforts say about the people and their times.
  • It may help remind people of past games and gaming systems – and would be great as a supplement to those beloved systems and what can be done with them.

The Methods To Get A World Archive

On the other hand this gets to be a bit challenging because people’s notes, worlds, and so forth are in a variety of formats. Some may be in a wiki, some may be a text document, others may be in a dead RPG system, etc.  Many are just on paper.  It’s not like it’s going to be straightforward.

I think the only way to do this is:

  • Have a basic upload system to just store raw files.
  • The upload system should have some basic viral scanning for the sake of sanity.
  • Over time get members to work out formats and conversion tools (that could make the site great for career skill development).
  • Post resources like character sheets and the like to help people convert information over – and post them on the site as well (anything to help out).
  • Accept uploads as JPGs so people can scan. If you can get any cheap OCR software or point people at things it’d be a godsend.

On top of a standard posting, credit, and combination system, it should be reasonably easy, as long as it’s allowed to evolve.

There would, however, need to be a pretty extensive search and classification system so people can mark their creations for easy access.  People amy search for game system, era, theme, etc.  Your tags are going to need to be extensive enough to classify things, and organized (and limited enough) to keep them from being overwhelming.

Likely there’d need to be feedback as well to catch misclassified works.  Some works may be tagged wrong, others may be falsely tagged, and there’s always the concern of people playing pranks.  A simple feedback system for review would probably be easy.

In time I see such project evolving – and probably sharing its formats and technology. A good wiki converter, a character sheet parsing macro, etc. would all be useful.

Of course there are challenges . .

The Challenges of The World Archive

There’s going to be a few challenges facing any ambitious archivists.  They’ll need to deal with:

  • Who owns what. Like the Abandonment Archive, it probably needs some way to do ownership checks.  A passive “alert us if this is inappropriate” system would probably work.
  • Stability. If a site like this gets lots of uploads and downloads It should be very carefully written for stability’s sake.
  • Backup.  Seems obvious, but seriously, this thing needs to be well backed up or the point quickly becomes moot.
  • Ensuring that entires are actually useful. There;s dumping grounds and dumping grounds, if you get my drift.
  • Updating. If it’s just a place to add things and it doesn’t adapt and grow, if new features aren’t added to make it easier to use, it could become useless. The site needs to evolve to meet people’s needs – which may not be apparent until running it.
  • Paying for it. Pretty obvious, though I imagine ad sales and such may work out, and there’s a chance for merchandise. It might work as part of a larger initiative or supported by certain companies (who get a nice promotional out of it).
  • Long-term existence. Something like this sound great but might peter out – it should probably have Death Of Site plans built in just in case.

Worlds For All

I think there’s potential here – if not on a large scale perhaps on a small scale for specific worlds, or settings, or types of game systems. It could even evolve as a series of specific sites coming together.  People would get a lot out of it – and it’d be fun.

It might even branch out into more world building resources and archives, collaborative works and the like.

Anyone feel up for it?

– Steven Savage