It’s been awhile since our last update on the progress towards Step v3.0. With this update we want to provide more insight into the current state of development and progress towards our goals for Step. Our small team of three has been working hard for most of the past year to develop a new website around a revised paradigm for creating and maintaining modding guides and other resources for applicable games. It’s a lofty goal, so we are focusing on Skyrim Legendary Edition (Skyrim LE) as usual to start, but we’ll also address Skyrim Special Edition Guide (Skyrim SE).
New Server, Old Site
First, lets address where the current site is sitting. Most readers will have either experienced or heard about our website failure in October 2018, which brought the site totally offline for about 10 days. This forced us to switch gears from development into maintenance mode for the better part of a month. However, this turned out to be a healthy challenge that forced us to revisit some long-standing, and frankly, untenable server and software issues. We lost our main server guru, stoppingby4now in mid to late 2017, so the site down-age was both a great learning experience and an opportunity to fast-track some important upgrades towards Step v3.0.
While the current production website remains unchanged, the behind-the-scenes hosting and server setup are completely revised, which provides the scalability and extensibility required to move forward. Since moving the server, we have had some relatively minor unplanned downtime, but we believe we have resolved the problem … a ‘good’ problem likely related to increased traffic that required altering some request handlers. Since the October down-age, we have also increased our activity on Facebook in communicating with the community during the extended maintenance. If you are on social media and would like to support us, and you haven’t liked us on Facebook yet, now is great time to do so!
The the current site is running on the new server. After some minor adjustments to handle increased traffic, the community should be enjoying a more stable experience while we continue development toward Step v3.0.
We currently have IPS Community Forum v4 installed and running on our development server. At present, we are redesigning forum themes and structure. The themes will allow visitors to choose between a re-implementation of our current forum theme (classic), as well as, a new light and dark theme. See the previews below:
Step Classic >> Step Dark >> Step Light
Another of our goals is a forum structure change. We realize that our current layout is specific to Skyrim LE, and that will not work moving forward. We need a generalized structure that is easily maintained across replicated forums by game, so to keep game-specific resources logically separate. Therefore, expect some things to be moved around on the forums in addition to a theme choice after the site upgrade to v3.0.
As mentioned in previous communications, Step v3.0 will probably not utilize a wiki beyond an initial transition period where we’ll continue to host the current wiki minus content related to our guides, but the community should prepare for its removal during this time in order to allow us some time to port and/or reorganize select content with input from the community. We currently have the wiki running in a development environment, but we don’t plan on supporting any additional upgrades or content development on the wiki.
Our custom content management system (CMS) is currently under development with Mator’s assistance. As a drop-in replacement for the wiki, the CMS will provide functional tools more specifically designed towards our intended purposes for v3.0. We will continue to encourage member contributions to content but under slightly more selective conditions on the CMS, relative to the current ‘open’ wiki. For example, being a forum member alone won’t open up access to content management on the CMS, as is the case today on the wiki.
We have built the gist of the CMS structure and functionality, and the latest development on the CMS has been mainly focused on getting a custom editor configured so we can start porting content from the wiki. However, we discovered after much work that it would be simpler to use CKEditor with some custom functions for our proposes. This has the added benefit of being the same editor used on the forums so we’ll end up with a consistent editor across platforms.
In the last update we told the community that both the new STEP:Core and STEP:Extended Pack were basically complete and ready to roll out. This is still the case beside some minor fine tuning once we get the Guides on our CMS and some small updates to the patches.
Skyrim Legendary Edition
The current STEP Guide for Skyrim LE has been updated for the latest mod versions as well as a few new mods. Nevertheless, we’d like to announce that the STEP v3.0 launch will be both a beginning and an end. It will be the beginning of our Skyrim Special Edition Guide, however, it will also be the end of our releases for the Skyrim LE Guide.
We have officially decided to retire the Skyrim Legendary Edition Guide. This means, after the initial launch, we will no longer be providing updates for the STEP:LE Guide beyond bug/hotfixes. We feel the modding community around Skyrim Special Edition has matured enough to support us shifting our focus to it. With this move, we are following behind several of the leaders and big name authors in the community who have already made this same decision.
Skyrim Special Edition
Step will be supporting Skyrim Special Edition (SSE) with the launch of STEP v3.0! Going forward, this support will be in the form of a “Core” guide only. There will not be an official “Extended” Pack for SSE, at least not at launch. However, we will roll out “Tech’s Skyrim Special Edition
Guide Packv3” -- a preliminary official Pack for SSE that will launch with STEP:SE Core v1.0; . Tech is converting his Skyrim SE guide into the first official pack using the STEP:SE Core Guide. His pack will ramp up the baseline that the STEP:SE Core Guide provides by offering extra adventuring for players and a step up in visuals, while staying true to lore and realism.
The STEP:SE Core mod list is now fully set up on Mod Picker. Several decisions were made in regards to supporting Skyrim Special Edition. One is that it will consist of both LE and SE mods, however, no mods are included that require porting. This decision was made to keep the Guide as user friendly as possible. Another decision was the attempt to use a SSE equivalent mod where possible. What this means is if a Skyrim LE mod that is in the STEP Guide hasn’t been officially ported to Skyrim SE, then an alternative mod built for SE was sought out. When a match was found, we included these mods rather than sticking to the LE version of a similar mod. Therefore, users should expect to see several LE mods being replaced with SE-equivalent mods throughout the Guide.
And that wraps up our announce. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, etc. below.