Saturday, 15 April 2017

Human Sphere - a new Infinity Wiki.

I've been a little quiet on my blog of late and that's because all my free time over the last few weeks has been sucked up by an exciting, new project.

I'd like to present to you the Human-Sphere.com Wiki.

Human-Sphere aims to create a full catalogue of all the miniatures produced by Corvus Belli for Infinity, including those that are limited edition, unreleased or just long out of production. Each page brings together a lot of information that was otherwise very distributed, including:
  • Fluff text
  • A full listing of miniatures for each troop.
  • Faction and unit logos
  • Concept art
In addition I've also tried to document other accessories that might be of interest, such as books, dice, ITS packs and patches. Collectively this weighs in at over 400 individual pages and 1,800 images so I'm sure there will be at least something of interest for all players.

Let's just say I've been busy...


Creating the Human Sphere


Honestly, this was a tool that I was hoping someone else was going to make for a long time!

There have been a few occasions recently where I'd found it difficult to identify an out of print model and there has been grumbling about missing fluff text ever since the official website redesign - although much of it is now on the store. I still make use of The Stuff of Legends which is an amazing resource for Citadel miniatures and it's certainly where I took a lot of my inspiration from.

The idea was originally proposed to Corvus Belli back in December, admittedly not the best time if you want something done quickly, and received sign off in March.

As soon as I had the go ahead I rolled my sleeves up and got to work, although I was somewhat hampered by the fact that I didn't know what the heck I was doing. I'd never built a website before and never had to arrange for hosting. I'd done some research on setting up a Wiki, but everything I read talked about servers, databases and file structures that I simply had no experience with.

In the end I decided to use MediaWiki which is used both for Wikipedia and Corvus Belli's own Infinity rules Wiki. Hosting was arranged through Siteground who promised easy installation and a money back guarantee if I decided not to go ahead with the project. I have to say that I commend Siteground - their support team is really excellent and their front end was easy to use.

The vast majority of the unit pages were created by converting CSV files into ones that I could import into MediaWiki. This was achieved using the MediaWiki CSV Import tool provided by Pronique. There was then a fair bit of tidying up and formatting of the imported pages which was done manually or via regex.


Collecting Information


Trying to curate all the information scattered about the Internet was an interesting task.

A handful of diligent players have been doing a good job at collecting text and images on google drives and on forums (check out our About page) which proved to be a useful starting point. These collections weren't necessarily complete or particularly well known though and some relied largely on contributions from other members to be kept up to date. As such I had a fair few gaps to fill and much of the information came from my own investigations and knowledge of the game.

The concept art was particularly tricky as much of it has not been officially 'released' and so came from pictures taken at seminars and the like. For many of these I used a bit of image editing to clear up the pictures and enhance the colours. You can see this on the Cadmus dossiers below:

The original image.



The image on the WIki

The entire image was brightened, had its contrast increased and was then sharpened slightly. The process means that the character is much clearer with more distinct colours, but some of the finer details in the black and white weapons is lost. This was a fine line to walk, but I think I've struck a decent balance in most cases.

Content was begged, borrowed and gratefully received from a number of different sources, including forums, blogs, my own articles, directly from Corvus Belli and even from buy/sell groups for patches. Speaking of patches, I still don't have a good idea of how close I might be to documenting them all!

Some patches are definitely rarer than others.

The project is certainly an ambitious one and every time I take a look through the site I realise there is an image I've missed or a page I could improve upon. It's something that I think I could be working on forever if I was intent on having it 'perfect' on launch and I fully expect there are things that will crop up in the first few weeks that I'll be kicking myself for having excluded.

For now though I think it's 99% there and I've resigned myself to just tweaking the pages over time and adding bits as I find them.


Future Plans


The main priority will be adding new content each month as releases come out. Fortunately, outside of major book updates, this is a relatively small amount of work on a fairly regular basis. As I feel fairly comfortable maintaining it myself, the Wiki is going to remain closed to new users for the time being. This also means I can keep easy tabs on the image library being used as well as allowing me to quickly make updates as necessary without worrying about breaking or duplicating content.

Having said that if you think something is missing, have some images to add or have any kind of feedback or suggestions then you can contact me by email (admin@human-sphere.com) or just leave a comment on this post.

I'm also considering a number of ways in which the Wiki could be extended, such as the ideas below.
  • News (possibly in a blog format).
  • Badges/Pins.
  • Troop lists by sectorial.
  • Troop profiles.
  • Faction/troop guides.
  • Tactics and strategy articles.
  • RPG book lists.
  • Making everything a bit prettier (custom scheme for the Wiki).
  • Something else entirely?
My goal is to make the site as valuable as possible to the community, so please do comment or email and let me know what sort of information you'd like to see added in!

4 comments:

  1. Hello,

    I read the article of the Wiki another day and was reading the Wiki yesterday. A great work!

    I have just created an article in the spanish blog Cargad to spread the info to the fans of the game.

    Maybe the Wiki can be in the future multilanguage? For example in Spanish also?

    Thx!

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    Replies
    1. Hi exorcito, glad you are enjoying it and thank you for spreading it to other communities. I hope that the readers of Cargad like it too. :)

      I haven't considered a Spanish translation or Spanish version yet as I would have trouble translating the text I have written and do not have a good database of background text to use.

      It is definitely something for me to consider though!

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