Thuum.org is the collision of work and hobby, and is a great example of why I’m a developer. It’s a website dedicated to the fictional dragon language featured in the video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, complete with a dictionary, live search, a chatroom, a translator, and lessons.
Thuum.org began as a simple crowd-sourced dictionary to which fans could submit new words. Over the past year and a half, I have expanded the website with forums, the aforementioned translator, a Q&A board, and much more – all written from scratch. I run the website with contests and events, and curate the fan-submitted words. Since January 2013, the dictionary has grown from 500 words to now almost 5,000 words. It has also been translated into 6 different languages. This project wasn’t just building a website, but a community.
I started Thuum.org as a side project towards the end of my time as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The idea stemmed from my passion for constructed languages and Skyrim. As I was learning, I wanted to put my skills to use and make a website that not only I would be excited about, but others would be as well.
There were a few existing online resources for the dragon language at the time that I was thinking about Thuum.org, such as wikis. They were incomplete, sometimes inaccurate, and difficult to search. Thuum.org originated from two main questions – what could I do differently, and what could I do better?
Having a website dedicated to a niche subject allowed for more features than a wiki could support. But what exactly would those features be? At the beginning, two main features were clear – a dictionary that could be searched, and a dictionary to which others could contribute. The website’s other features grew from there. The questions then became – now that there’s this dictionary, what can I do with it, and how can I get people involved?
Thuum.org gave me a huge amount of experience in developing, launching, and maintaining a website. I am constantly learning from it, whether it involves programming, writing, community management, or social networking. It has also provided valuable system administration and security experience.
To celebrate the site’s one-year anniversary with the community, I wrote The Labryinth, a text adventure roleplaying game based on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The player battles monsters, earns loot, levels up skills, solves puzzles, and hunts down the mysteries deep within The Labyrinth through its 3-6 hours of gameplay. And one more thing – the commands are all in the dragon language!
The Labyrinth was conceptualized and developed in a passion-fevered, 3-week span. To date, it is still one of my proudest development and game design accomplishments.
The idea of dragon language Scrabble® started as a joke, but slowly came to possess me with the possibilities and technical challenges involved. An early proof of concept eventually turned into Sikaav, a fully-fledged online multiplayer game.
Sikaav took around 2 months to build, and consists of an HTML/JQuery frontend and a PHP/MySQL backend. This project was all about taking the skills I had developed over the years and pushing them to their limits, from database design, efficient PHP and SQL queries, and a fun and intuitive user experience. Sikaav features a matchmaking system as well as support for custom games, as well as in-game chat and leaderboards.