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[GUIDE] How to Build a Better OOC Thread [CLOSED]

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Swith Witherward
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Posts: 30302
Founded: Feb 11, 2012
Democratic Socialists

[GUIDE] How to Build a Better OOC Thread [CLOSED]

Postby Swith Witherward » Wed May 14, 2014 2:57 am

Image




One of the most common questions people ask me is "What codes do you use for your OOC OP stuff?" The second is usually "How do I make an OOC thread and how do I make my OOC look sharp?"

Some people really don't care how their OOC looks. Others (particularly those who are worldbuilders) want to present a tight look that will attract players while housing pertinent game information. This guide is for people who like polished brass. I'll briefly touch upon coding and formatting in general here as well, although this Guide is more specific to fashioning your OOC.

For sake of clarity, OP here refers to Original Post. REF refers to the Original Poster (the person who "owns" the thread and runs the RP itself.) If you are unfamiliar with how to run your own RP, please visit C&M's Guide to GMing.


THE OOC THREAD - BASICS
An OOC thread is vital to your RP. It's the backstage area where all the gaming mechanisms are housed. It's where players communicate and where questions are asked. It keeps your IC Thread free of OOC comments and quibbling. These are also what advertise your RP and serve as reference for all participants.

The RP OOC's first post can tell perspective players many things. Many RP never get off the ground because players have nothing to draw them into signing up. The information is too vague or else there isn't an application form. The rules are too cumbersome or else not listed at all.


THE OOC THREAD - INITIAL PRESENTATION
There are vital elements that RP OOC should have. Things commonly found in an OOC thread:
  • A description of the setting and the RP's purpose
  • A rules list
  • A character/faction application
  • List of approved players/characters and the names of the RP's CoOPs
  • A link to the IC thread
Those are the very basics. There is no particular order in which things should be listed. Indeed, I often fashion a second post under the OP that will house world data, player lists and other vital information.


THE OOC THREAD - POLISH
An OOC should be pleasantly formatted, easy to read, and simple to understand. Formatting is a matter of personal taste but there are a few guidelines.
  • NS allows for the Dark Theme setting. Keep that in mind when using image links or colored fonts.
  • Some images look fine on a light background but show ragged "edges" when placed on a dark background. Some font that looks wonderful on the Dark Theme becomes much too faint to read on the lighter background. Hotlinking is prohibited in the images part, along with links to major image hosts such as photobucket and imgur. I personally use Photobucket to host my banners.
  • You are limited to a set amount of characters (including spaces) and to image size. The character limit is 60,000.
  • Spoiler code is your best friend. It allows you to encapsulate data in order to neaten up your OP and following posts. Spoiler code can be influenced by other coding to further neaten appearance. Too many spoilers are obnoxious!
  • Avoid Rainbow Kingdom of the Damned! Colors are very pretty. Too many colors turn an OOC OP into a garish page that detracts from the data, especially when done on a Dark Theme background. Pick a primary color palate (this Guide, for example, is done in reds and oranges) and stick with it.
  • Snip off your sig for an extremely polished look if your sig is distracting. You have the option to "unattach" your signature when posting on NS. This checkbox is located right under the Draft/Preview/Submit buttons.
  • Proofread what you post prior to publishing it. Look for grammar and spelling mistakes, and for broken links. The Preview button is your friend. Some people type their OOC text in MS Word first.

GENERAL CODING and FORMATTING
There are guides elsewhere on NS which will help you understand the basic options available to us when posting. Bold, italics, and underline are straightforward, as are font size and font colour. There are countless guides located throughout NS which will explain coding. I've only included the most common formatting things here. It's not my intention to recreate the wheel.

AVAILABLE RESOURCES

Play with code; don't fear it. Use your Preview button often to make certain you're on track. Ask for help if lost. Coding and formatting can be a rewarding hobby.



Please note. This thread is CLOSED to comments or other posts at this time
I welcome TG suggestions, however
Last edited by Swith Witherward on Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:50 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Swith Witherward
Senior P2TM RP Mentor
 
Posts: 30302
Founded: Feb 11, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Swith Witherward » Wed May 14, 2014 3:08 am

SPOILERS
Refs have a lot of info to convey to their players. Our OOC can quickly turn into a nightmarish text wall that only the most undaunted player would be willing to explore. Spoilers take all that information and encapsulate it. This neatens up your thread and places the information at your players' fingertips in a format that makes it easy to find. DON'T OVERDO IT!

A typical spoiler is very straightforward.
Yes, this text is within a spoiler.


You can give your spoiler a label by tweaking code, like so:
Code: Select all
[spoiler=Tweak]Yes, this text is withing a spoiler.[/spoiler]

becomes....
Yes, this text is within a spoiler.



SPOILER NESTING
Spoilers can be "nested" inside each other to better truncate data. Nested Spoilers can be helpful at times. To nest a spoiler, label your primary spoiler and leave all other spoilers unlabeled. Try to avoid this if possible. This is just a coding example.

This:
Code: Select all
[spoiler=Nested][spoiler]Penguins[/spoiler][spoiler]Honey Badgers[/spoiler][spoiler]Fennecs[/spoiler][/spoiler]

Becomes this:
Penguins
Honey Badgers
Fennecs



FLOATING SPOILERS
Floatleft and floatright are what keep your page looking neat.

Here's how typical spoilers look without a float code:


That long list is annoying, especially if we were to add more spoilers! Let's put them all on a line so they take up less space. To do this, each Spoiler is hugged by a Float code. No spaces are left between the each set of Float codes. This is what keeps everything on the same line. Like so:
Code: Select all
[floatleft][spoiler=Penguins][/spoiler][/floatleft][floatleft][spoiler=Honey Badgers][/spoiler][/floatleft][floatleft][spoiler=Fennecs][/spoiler][/floatleft][floatleft][spoiler=Oh My][/spoiler][/floatleft]

This becomes:




THE FRUIT OF YOUR LABORS
These tricks will come in handy if you have a lot of data to publish but don't want to take up a lot of space. Spoilers can be used to encapsulate pertinent data while not flooding your OOC with walls of text.

This is an example. We see only five simple spoilers. Each are labeled to identify the encapsulated information. Take a moment to open them all up and then scroll. You'll see that all that data, while useful, would take up too much visual space if not spoilered.


uni-
word-forming element meaning "having one only," from Latin uni-, comb. form of unus

multi-
before vowels mult-, word-forming element meaning "many, many times, much," from comb. form of Latin multus "much, many," from PIE *ml-to-, from root *mel- "strong, great, numerous" (cf. Latin melior "better," Greek mala "very, very much").

omni-
word-forming element meaning "all," from Latin omni-, combining form of omnis "all, every, the whole, of every kind," of unknown origin, perhaps literally "abundant," from *op-ni-, from PIE root *op- "to work, produce in abundance"

universe (n.)
1580s, "the whole world, cosmos," from Old French univers (12c.), from Latin universum "the universe," noun use of neuter of adj. universus "all together," literally "turned into one," from unus "one" + versus, past participle of vertere "to turn".

There are many dimensions. These multiverses are scattered and prolific. If you group them all together, you have an omniverse or a collection of like-dimensions. These omniverse are contained in the single and only Universe.
The Universe is the 10th dimension. There is only one. It's the birth and final resting spot of infinity. It's a hard physics concept that's been corrupted by science fiction and fantasy. Some refer to it with catchy terminology such as "omniverse" or "metaverse". To state, "I come from another dimension" does not mean one comes from a different Universe. It simply means one comes from a lower-ranking dimension within the 10th dimension.

In reality: Inside the 10th dimension are billions of dimensions and each of these can have billions of smaller dimensions (9th dimension can contain a billion 8th dimensions which contain a billion 7th dimensions... right on down to the 4th dimension which is time and space and gives rise to our own dimension, the 3rd.) Each 3rd dimension can have billions of alternate timelines branching off of it.
Short answer: because the general polulace can't grasp theory. 14 dimensions?

In Dr. Eric Weinstein’s theory, called Geometric Unity, he proposes a 14-dimensional "observerse" that has our familiar four-dimensional space-time continuum embedded within it. The interaction between the two is something like the relationship between the people in the stands and those on the pitch at a football stadium--the spectators (limited to their four-dimensional space) can see and are affected by the action on the pitch (representing all 14 dimensions) but are somewhat removed from it and cannot detect every detail.

Because of our limited purview--what Weinsetin calls a “handedness”--we simply can’t see things like the dark matter that we know resides in our universe. Along with that, he proposes that dark energy is a type of fundamental force that could sit alongside gravity, electromagnetism, the strong and weak nuclear forces. This force pushes space apart and its strength is variable throughout the universe. Furthermore, Weinstein’s theory predicts the existence of more than 150 new subatomic particles, most of them with exotic properties (such as electric charges that are greater than one, which is the maximum seen in nature at present).

This has been debated and debated and debated by physicists world-over. In summation: "yeah, okay, whatever." That's what our PLverse is organized the way it is. Leave dark matter to the gods. Thanks.


As stated, we exist in a 3rd dimension.

Take all these 3rd dimensions (which we live in) and start putting them in a cup. Add the next bigger dimension, right on up until you reach the 10th dimension (which is EVERYTHING in the Universe). That cup now contains ALL, including gods and mortals. We're just lukewarm coffee.

(Please note: hypothetically there are more than 10. We're keeping it as simple as possible here.
Imagine all the Universe inside one cup. Now imagine something existing outside that cup. That's a Greater Being. The GB sticks its finger in the cup and everything in the cup sees the finger as a god. The coffee/cosmic soup relates to that finger because the finger is now inside the known Universe. No one ever pauses to consider there's anything outside the Universe at all. That's why Greater Beings are so powerful.

Greater being exist outside the Universe. They don't concern themselves with mortals, invasions and so on although a few still take interest in what's going on inside the cup. Some are activly involved. Most have more important things to worry about, if they’re awake at all.

In Gameplay: Greater Beings are reserved for OP in order to fix fuck ups by god-characters. OP designates who can use a Greater Being AND it can only be used as a Deux ex Machina for the purpose of saving the thread.



Creator
    Greater Beings such as Pearlelei and Elohim (Abrahamic God) that formed the fabric of the Universe (cosmic strings). They literally created something from nothing. Christ is an offspring of a Greater being, born the Son of God but also God because that Greater Being poured some of Himself into Christ. Giovenith is a daughter of a Greater Being (born from Pearlelei) but is independent of her mother. Just two examples.

Chaotic
    These Greater Beings didn't create the fabric or cosmic strings, but they can weave it and manipulate it. (The 40K gods, in my story arc, are part of one such Greater Being. They weren't born from the GB they come from. They are a manifestation of him. Their GB is asleep and his fingers believe themselves to each be independent of him because they don't realize he exists.)

    Meanwhile, other Chaotic Greater Beings use the fabric of the universe to fashion/form gods. Lovecraft's gods were formed this way and let’s toss Zalgo in there for good measure. They will never be more powerful than they are now, and will never be as powerful as the GB that fashioned them. We can add other pantheons to this level as well since they have gods that both create and destroy within the Universe. Why? Because someone is going to come along and want to run Lovecraft or Zalgo or something from the Spagetti and when they screw up the universe, we’ll need to fall back on Greater Beings to fix it.


Devourer
    These Greater Beings destroy the cosmic strings, unraveling them. They stick a tentacle into the universe but never manifest an actual independent entity which means we won’t see ANY player characters stemming from these beings. Period. End of discussion.

The Strife
    The war between Greater Beings. This battle has eternally raged between Creator and Devourer Greater Beings. Chaos Greater beings have their hands full trying to weave what's been unraveled and keep balance. Some Chaotic Greater Beings are actually on the side of the Devourers, and are unraveling things as well. (Game note: this is OP discretion.)
Greater Beings transcend gods. They only appear to be gods due to their immense power, and only if they stick a finger into the cup. They really couldn't care less about what mortals think of them.

All gods come from Greater Beings.

God Identification
  • Born gods are born from a Greater Being. Most, but not all, retain knowledge of the Greater Being they come from. (Giovenith, Christ, etc.)
  • Finger gods are part of their Greater Being. Most, if not all, are unaware of their connection to that Greater Being.
  • Formed gods were created by a Greater Being but are totally independent from it and thus weaker than the first two. Formed gods are totally clueless.) The majority of gods are formed gods.
  • Godlings are simply young gods.

High Ones. The term is used to denote a god or godling. In some cases, "Most High" is used by certain players to denote a loose sense of hierarchy.

Demigods and Others
  • Demigods may have been formed by gods. They might simply be powerful creatures which mortals mistake for gods.
  • Demons/Daemons, Angels, Jinn. These are created by gods and/or demigods. Some, in the case of Lucifer, were created by Elohim (a Greater Being) but lack knowledge of what Elohim truly is.
  • Spirits. Blame them on the cosmos. They spring to life from a variety of methods.
  • Fae. Blame them on the cosmos, too.



Text reprinted with permission from Cerillium. All credit goes to him.
Last edited by Swith Witherward on Wed May 14, 2014 4:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Swith Witherward
Senior P2TM RP Mentor
 
Posts: 30302
Founded: Feb 11, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Swith Witherward » Wed May 14, 2014 3:19 am

BOXES, QUOTES, PRE, CODE and TABLES
Boxed information focuses the eye. You don't want to overdo it or else the purpose is lost.


"BOX" CODE
These are very basic.

This:
Code: Select all
[box]This information is in a box.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerci tation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.[/box]

Becomes this:
This information is in a box.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerci tation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.



"QUOTE" CODE
These also place information inside of a box but you're stuck with a large " prefacing it.

This:
Code: Select all
[quote]This information is in a quote box.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerci tation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.[/quote]

Becomes this:
This information is in a quote box.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerci tation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.



"PRE" CODE
What a a nifty tool! You have to be careful with it because the more you type, the more is shoved to the right. You must manually insert line breaks (use the Enter/Return key on your keyboard.) Pre allows you to use some codes such as Underline, Bold, Italics, etc.

This:
Code: Select all
[pre]This information is in a "pre" box.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy
nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi
 enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerci tation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis
nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.[/pre]

Becomes This:
This information is in a "pre" box.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy
nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi
enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerci tation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis
nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.



"CODE" CODE
These Code boxes are what many of us use when we fashion player applications. It allows the player to quickly copy the application and paste it into a new post. These are very useful if you have a lengthy application!

This:
Code: Select all
[u]CHARACTER APPLICATION[/u]
Name:
Species:
Powers:
Flaws:
URL to Character Image:
Brief Bio:
Links to RP Examples:


Becomes already-formatted text when players paste it into a new post:
CHARACTER APPLICATION
Name:
Species:
Powers:
Flaws:
URL to Character Image:
Brief Bio:
Links to RP Examples:


"TABLE" CODE
I use this as another way of making something look sleek. Tables are also tricky as hell so I recommend you take a moment to review those guides I linked above. Plenty has been said about them there.

I use Tables mainly for my OOC info boxes. It keeps the data separated and gives it an "official" feel. You can see examples here. Keep in mind that your RP might not ever become that cumbersome; PL is a megathread.

This:
Code: Select all
[table][tr][td][blocktext]This is text inside of a table. The table is being used to form the box itself. I've added a Blocktext code to pull the text away from the sides so it's easier on the eye.[/blocktext][/td][/tr][/table]

Becomes this:
This is text inside of a table. The table is being used to form the box itself. I've added a Blocktext code to pull the text away from the sides so it's easier on the eye.




NOW YOU HAVE POLISH!

    THIS:
PONYHAMMER 40K
Image
To be a Pony in such times is to be one amongst untold billions.
It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable.
This is the tale of these times.

IC LINK

THE RULES
  1. OP is GOD
  2. Don't be "that guy"
  3. See Rule #1
PREMISE
The light of the God-Emperor stands between humanity and destruction. Against myriad enemies, the Ecclesiarchy defends the faith with bolt, chain, and flame. Blood of Martyrs contains new rules, backgrounds, alternate careers and equipment for playing servants of the Adeptus Ministorum, the church of the God-Emperor of Mankind.

You are playing as part of an Inquisitor's Retinue. Each Pony is expected to be loyal to the Emperor and steadfast in their quest to purge the world of Chaos.
Adeptus Astartes
Description stuff

TechPony
Description stuff

You get the idea
THE APPLICATION
Code: Select all
[b]Nation Name:[/b]
[b]Character Name:[/b]
[b]Cutie Mark:[/b]
[b]Picture:[/b]
[b]Character Class:[/b]
[b]Description:[/b]
[b]Link to RP Example:[/b]
Please don't go out into the Multiverse and make this an actual RP. It's just an example. Good grief.
The list of players and their characters goes here. I often fashion a new post and drop this data into it.





    VS THIS:
PONYHAMMER 40K
To be a Pony in such times is to be one amongst untold billions.
It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable.
This is the tale of these times.


IC LINK

THE RULES
  1. OP is GOD
  2. Don't be "that guy"
  3. See Rule #1

PREMISE
The light of the God-Emperor stands between humanity and destruction. Against myriad enemies, the Ecclesiarchy defends the faith with bolt, chain, and flame. Blood of Martyrs contains new rules, backgrounds, alternate careers and equipment for playing servants of the Adeptus Ministorum, the church of the God-Emperor of Mankind.

You are playing as part of an Inquisitor's Retinue. Each Pony is expected to be loyal to the Emperor and steadfast in their quest to purge the world of Chaos.

Character Classes
Adeptus Astartes
Description stuff

TechPony
Description stuff

You get the idea

THE APPLICATION
Nation Name:
Character Name:
Cutie Mark:
Picture:
Character Class:
Description:
Link to RP Example:
Last edited by Swith Witherward on Wed May 14, 2014 4:22 am, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Swith Witherward
Senior P2TM RP Mentor
 
Posts: 30302
Founded: Feb 11, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Swith Witherward » Wed May 14, 2014 3:46 am

IMAGES
Pictures and banners are a nice touch to any OOC OP. They grab attention and instantaneously convey a feel. Banners are good ways to designate a thread title and make it pop on a page. Pictures spark the imagination. There are a few rules of thumb that I go by to keep my OP in balance both visually and when coupled with formatting codes (especially the Box and Table codes).


SIZING LIMITATIONS
Images are limited to 900 pixels high and 900 pixels wide. Go smaller. Keep in mind that large images can become a distraction or, worse, take up the entire screen and thus push all the text housed below it out of sight. You want an image that will attract rather than detract.

You may have other coding that will get thrown "off" by the size. It won't display properly on all smartphones or for all users (IEX vs. Firefox vs Chrome etc). It's always a good goal to have a smart-looking OOC that displays well on a variety of devices.


CONTENT
Found a nifty image you simply must have for your RP? First, make sure it isn't copyright. Pleased don't steal from others, especially those artists found on deviantART. It's rude and the artist might contact you via an NS account and ask you to remove it. Seriously.

Your image should convey the feel for your RP without overpowering the screen.

Image

Image


NS also has a PG13 rating. When in doubt, ask a Moderator.

Know the genre you're borrowing from. Everyone recognizes Applejack from the MLP franchise even if they don't know the character by name. Likewise, you might find a cool tank but not realize that it belongs to WH40K. Someone clicking on your OOC might get a good chuckle out of it should you try to tell them that your DethDriver isn't anything other than an image of a Blaneblade directly from the Games Workshop website.


RESOURCES
You can find all sorts of free online sources for banner templates.

I recommend BannerFans. This free site allows you to custom build your banner to any size, allows you to upload your own background, has a wide variety of text options, and hosts your image for a limited time on an imageshack account.

Most of my artwork (Banners, flags, seals, emblems etc) is done using a combination of MS Paint and Adobe Photoshop Elements. I drop them into Photobucket but there are other image hosting sites available to you.

Mousebumples lists image hosting sites in her Technical Forum FAQ
Free image hosting sites include:

HOTLINKING
Do NOT hotlink without artists' permission! Damn it!

Hotlinks are links which paste an image directly onto a page. It's fine to do this with your own artwork. I suggest you find a nice image hosting site. DO NOT RIP IMAGES FROM GOOGLE. Some people don't like their art taken without their permission. Some people, such as myself, will drop a goatse in that image's place just to teach you a lesson. Stealing is BAD. You're also held responsible for whatever images are in your post; if someone changes that link to something obscene, it's going to look bad for you.

Character images should be SPOILERED. No one likes a ton of anime characters splattered all over pages. Ask your players to provide a LINK to that image rather than the actual picture. Advise your players that some artists frown on even LINKS. Make sure the artist is given credit for his or her work. Don't rip the image off, tweak it and then upload it to your own image hosting site. In the case of my Ponyhammer spoof, I requested and received permission to use that clipart.
Image


The most common violations I see are those that steal from actual publishers or distributors. Marvel, Games Workshop and so on. No. Bad OP. Don't go there.

Edit:
It's also part of our site's Terms of Service:
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Last edited by Swith Witherward on Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:26 am, edited 5 times in total.


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