- Freelance Traveller: The Electronic Fan-Supported Traveller® Resource
This website was reviewed on 15 Feb 2004.
Jeff Zeitlin's Freelance Traveller describes itself as "The Electronic Fan-Supported Traveller® Resource" and this is pretty accurate. It falls into the category of a general resource rather than having a specific focus. The site is divided up into 15 major sections plus it has a search facility and a site index.
- What's New is simply a history of the site in reverse chronological order.
- The Information Center includes submission guidelines, a copy of the D20 Open Game License, an FAQ, sections for feedback, computer software, and links to other Traveller web sites.
- Author Profiles provides capsule descriptions of several of the site's more regular contributors.
- Active Measures has a dozen adventures and adventurettes, plus some handouts for players new to Traveller (or at least new to the OTU).
- The Critics' Corner lists reviews of a number of Traveller products, and even has a subsection entitled LinkLooks that contains an archive of past Website Reviews.
- Doing It My Way is a personal favourite that holds numerous articles detailing everything from alternative tasks systems, reconciling the GURPS TL scale with the original Traveller TL scale, planetary assault operations, legal psionics, and other goodies.
- In A Store Near You does not, as you might expect, list new and upcoming releases of Traveller products, instead it has seven different products that might be found in-game (including "Everfresh Sandwiches" and "Smart Fabric").
- Kurishdam is a slightly unusual section: it primarily covers culture and leisure activities, "from Aslan opera to Zero-G ballet". Actually, I didn't find the Zero-G ballet but I did find some odd additions (like Jump physics).
- The Lab Ship is another personal favourite. Here there are authoritative articles on medicine, planetology, xenobiology, and others.
- The Multimedia Gallery contains some CGI art ... mostly of starships and things, but the company logos are worth a closer look (some might make good Windows wallpaper).
- In Other Roads you will find a selection of non-canon Traveller universes. There's one where the Ancients never were, or where Strephon regains the Iridium Throne, or ...
- Raconteur's Rest is a collection of short (and some not so short) stories. Bed time reading for Traveller fans by Traveller fans.
- The RICE Archives mirrors some of the material in ... er ... the RICE Archives. Some of the information can also be found in Doing It My Way, but there are 4 planetary write-ups (think of them as mini Landgrabs).
- Given the propensity of Traveller fans to build starships, no Traveller site would be complete without a selection. That's what you'll find in The Shipyard. For all systems. There are a few shipbuilding articles too.
- Finally, Up Close And Personal provides a good number of detailed NPCs for use in your campaigns (or not, considering Ditzie is included).
Summary: This site meets my first two requirements for a great site ... (1) content is king, and (2) frequent updates (with a "what's new" section). The navigation within the site is also fairly straight forward. So, definitely one of the top Traveller sites.
Improvements: Okay, so its not perfect. There are some problems and some areas that could be improved upon. First some errors:
- Planetology (in Lab Ship) is credited to Robert O'Connor on the Lab Ship page but to Thad Coons inside.
- Missile Magazines in High Guard by Joseph Kimball is listed in The Shipyard twice.
- The Candles Against the Night review (in LinkLooks) has a missing graphic at the top.
- Inconsistency: To start with every page has a black top and left style. But there are numerous examples that break this and instead just having a black left (The Lab Ship, Multimedia Gallery, Other Roads, The RICE Archives, The Shipyard, and Up Close And Personal), or no black at all (Candles Against the Night LinkLook).
- Marc Miller's required Site-wide Disclaimer is missing.
On a more general note, there are two areas that I think could be improved:
- The front page doesn't really say anything. It should be more enticing. There should be a bit more blurb (perhaps some news about the site or Traveller in general) that's changed monthly, maybe a picture for colour (something Travelleresque), and the last update mentioned on the "What's New" page should be here also (make new content obvious). The front page is where any casual passing visitors are drawn in, its the 'shop window'.
- There should be a general admin section (either with its own sub-index or with links off the front page itself). This would have the FAQ, submission guidelines, feedback forms, what's new, author profiles, etc. Then the "Information Center" would be more focused on software and utilities, and on links to other Traveller resources.
- Some of the articles are mis-classified. The jump physics article in "Kurishdam" might make more sense in the "Lab Ship", the general articles in the "Shipyard" might be better in "Doing It My Way", etc. I'm undecided whether "Other Roads" should be merged into "Doing It My Way" or not.
- The "RICE Archives" section should include a link to the full RICE archives.
- As a rule of thumb text with small font sizes are more readable with a sans-serif font. So body text should be in Arial or something similar.
- Also for body text try ALIGN=JUSTIFY on the P tags. For those browsers that don't support that it'll just default in effect to ALIGN=LEFT which is what you have now anyway.
- Many of the pages have a black top and left side ... but this doesn't go to the edge. Try adding TOPMARGIN=0 LEFTMARGIN=0 RIGHTMARGIN=0 to the BODY tag.
Editor's Note: Some of the flaws that Peter has noted were corrected for this update; others will be corrected subsequently over time, and a few represent philosophical differences. Freelance Traveller acknowledges that the site was, at the time of the writing of this review, as described here, regardless of any "inaccuracies" in the review that readers may perceive at a later date.