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Why creating an internal wiki could do more harm than good


May 22, 2017 | By Chris Kerr




When you're working on a franchise that spans multiple games and takes place in a huge fantasy world, what's the best way to keep track of all the lore you've dreamed up? 

A lot of teams use internal Wikipedias (wikis) to keeps tabs on their seismic creations, but according to World to the West lead designer and Peter Wingaard Meldahl, that's not necessarily the perfect solution. 

During our recent Twitch stream, Meldahl explained that his team prefer to stay in the know and share ideas using good old fashioned word of mouth.

"We do write a lot of stuff down, and we do make a few documents occasionally. But a lot of it is just stuff we keep verbally around, especially the stuff that we have never used before. We have these stories that we just tell to each other on occasion," he explains. 

"We don't use a specific wiki. We gather all the information that's relevant and put it into a design document. Other than that, I guess its a lot of a stuff that I have to remember, and that other people have to remember. Although if you work on a specific game then there will be a source for that."

Design documents and notes are all well and good, but when it comes to introducing someone new to the franchise, Meldahl believes the best way to bring someone up to speed is by sitting them down and telling the story yourself.

It's an organic process that should inspire newcomers -- as it's hard to imagine anyone feeling particularly enthused after trawling through a dense wiki for hours on end -- and perhaps even highlight a few glaring flaws. 

"I guess when the company gets bigger I'll have to establish wikis and make those kind of things. But you know it's very uninspiring to actually go and read a wiki, especially when you have to read it all the way through," muses Meldahl.

"It's a very good experience to have to explain the world to someone. There's also the thing that if parts if the world feel a little bit stupid or silly when you explain them, that might be a reason to look into that. 

"People also get their own ideas when you explain it like that, rather than reading something as set-in-stone text. So yeah, the world gets to evolve"

To hear more from Meldahl be sure to check out the full stream right here. After that, why not follow the Gamasutra Twitch channel for even more developer insights and gameplay commentary.



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