We currently have IPS Community Forum v4 installed and running on our development server. Forum themes and structure on the new forums is about 95% complete. The themes will allow visitors to choose between a re-implementation of our current forum theme (classic), as well as, new light and dark themes. See the previews below:
Classic Theme > Dark Theme > Light Theme
Another of our goals was a forum structure change. We realize that our current layout is specific to Skyrim LE, and that won’t work moving forward. We needed a generalized structure that is easily maintained across replicated forums by game, to keep game-specific resources logically separate. Therefore, expect some things to be moved around on the new forums in addition to a theme choice at release.
Our custom content management system (CMS) is currently under development with Mator’s assistance. 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 currently on the wiki. As a drop-in replacement for the wiki, the CMS will provide functional tools more specifically designed towards our intended purposes for v3.0.
Specifically, we have long wanted a better methodology for maintaining mod information, mod list information, and tools to construct modding guides around all of that. Furthermore, we need to parse all of this data by game, which would be a fairly monumental and inefficient undertaking using the software available for the wiki. A custom solution constructed around our specific needs makes the most sense, and we will rely on an external tool, Mod Picker, to maintain mods and mod lists so that we can focus on the STEP CMS as the place where all of this information comes together in the form of modding guides and other related content. Mod Picker, LLC is a separate entity from Step. Mator owns and operates Mod Picker and has agreed to allow STEP access and use of the platform for the foreseeable future. Mod Picker provides a platform for all users to upload mod information and create mod lists, and provides a public API which can be consumed by anyone interested in leveraging the data available on the platform. A special API route has been created for the STEP CMS to provide the information required for building out mod-list guides using a slick interface provided by the CMS. Mator will provide support and changes to Mod Picker as necessary to support STEP’s workflow. STEP's guide authors will be granted a administrative “helper” role on Mod Picker as needed to maintain mod level information and mod-list level analyses.
The CMS is currently in an advanced 'beta' state and includes some great guide-building tools. We've had a team of beta testers helping us to refine these tools into what we think is now a convenient working solution for content contributors and our staff. We are very close now to launching the new website with implementation of a theme switcher to match the forums, refinement of a smoother development pipeline, server tweaks to optimize uptime during maintenance, and hardening the server into a production state being the only remaining hurdles.
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. For now and into the foreseeable future, the wiki will remain available for all members, but it is ultimately redundant with our new CMS, and access will be closed once the CMS is completely finalized with all needed bells & whistles --as well as input from the community concerning content. We'll have a better timeline once we go live with the new site and get the CMS refined according to feedback from the community.
Going forward, STEP will provide a single guide for each game supported, using a naming scheme of "STEP GameName Guide". These guides will be akin to previous STEP:Extended Guides in their scope. With v3.0, two of these guides will be available on launch: STEP Skyrim LE Guide and STEP Skyrim SE Guide. The SE Guide is currently available as a beta pre-release on the wiki and is the latest official version of the STEP Guide.
STEP Skyrim LE Guide
The current STEP mod list and Guide for Skyrim LE has been updated with the latest mod versions and some additional mods added. Nevertheless, we’d like to announce that the v3.0 launch will be both a beginning and an end. It will be the beginning of our Skyrim SE Guide, but it will mark the end of our release pipeline with respect to the STEP Skyrim LE Guide. This means that, after the initial launch, we will no longer support the LE guide beyond bug fixes. We think that the modding community around Skyrim Special Edition has matured enough to support this shift and are following the examples of many modding leaders and big name authors in the community who have already made this same decision.
STEP Skyrim SE Guide
Several decisions were made in regards to supporting Skyrim Special Edition. One is that it will consist of both LE and SE mods, and we will see to it that no LE mods will require porting by our Guide users in order to keep things as user friendly as possible. The STEP Skyrim SE mod list will use a SE-equivalent mod wherever applicable, so the mod list could eventually be composed entirely of SE mods at some future point.
STEP Core Builds
So what's happening with the previous STEP:Core Guides? Well, we've decided to tweak this a bit in favor of "STEP Core Builds". We've provided details in a wiki article, and the STEP Mandate remains essentially unchanged but for some terminology and workflow changes. 'Core' is no longer being considered as a stripped-down STEP Guide but rather as a modder's resource situated as a base component(s) in a mod-list lineup for the applicable game. As such, it'll only contain the most fundamental and recommended mods and associated compatibility patches that apply to any mod build for that game. The STEP Core Builds can be utilized as a foundation to create new mod lists and guides. Qualifying members will be able to utilize STEP Core as a convenient resource and create their custom mod-list builds on the new STEP 3.0 website. With the release of STEP 3.0, TechAngel85 will roll out “Tech’s Skyrim Special Edition Guide v3” as one such STEP-hosted custom build for Skyrim SE.
That's it for this update, but look for more in the near future ... were almost there!