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volume 1, issue 7

Today in loonygames:

New!! The Archives have been cleaned up, fead links fixed, and printable versions restored! Also, don't miss the new comments on the front page!

Livin' With The Sims: theAntiELVIS explores the wild and wacky world that is Will Wright's The Sims, asking the inevitable quesiton, "is The Sims the first step toward a virtual life where everyone is Swedish?"

Pixel Obscura: Josh Vasquez on Omikron: The Nomad Soul.

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The Community Summit

bwernicke: Agreed

Fargo: Next topic!

Redwood: I don't think it's as important as you all make it sound

bwernicke: Touche from Redwood. he has a point... look at his success without a domain

ChrisDay: we've all done it without a domain of our own at some point or another though

NetGuy: either hosting by a site that has a good domain, or like i said before, by his own ingenuity

Bobbi: And that throws us back to the initial question of Joe Schmo...how does he do it without the domain?

jschuur: he gets mentioned regularly on big sites based on the work he does

Aurora: ha....but "stomped"

bwernicke: Stomped?

NetGuy: i think a lot of redwood's success stems from his early involvement

Bobbi: heh I didn't even think of that...redwood.stomped.com is hardly branding

ChrisDay: Redwood, true, but can anyone here remember sCary's old URLs? before hipnotic/ritual?

jschuur: quakehole.com?

Bobbi: quakehole.com

ChrisDay: I mean the longer ones, but anyways ;)

Fargo: "Stomped" had branding.

bwernicke: What do they have besides Redwood?? Not much IMO

Redwood: but I was doing good on tamu.edu/~stm9233 :)

NetGuy: right because you had early "market share" :P

Fargo: The Stomped name has nothing to do with Quake, but it became synonymous with Quake after a point.

Aurora: i mean... redwood.stomped.com is in a simple format like a main domain would be

Redwood: with as many people that mess it up, it's not so easy :)

Aurora: we also run gamegirlz.gamestats.com, which is easy format to type too

loonyboi: well Quake2.com guys: how much of your initial traffic was a result of your domain?

blitz: Quake2.com got hits when nothing was even on the site, as soon as the domain name was put up

jschuur: heck, i was nuqneH.org/aftershock. noone could spell it. and it worked out well

Idoru: domain helps, it almost adds legitimacy to a new site

ChrisDay: agreed, Paul

Bobbi: Joost...but would it work now? Could a phenomonally successful site like aftershock exist today?

Redwood: as long as it's not on geocities, it isn't critical unless you plan on being a HUGE site like a host of course

Aurora: I would have agree with you there

jschuur: hmm

NetGuy: ya

ChrisDay: I feel that it's the legitimacy that a domain brings more than anything that makes it invaluable

NetGuy: honestly, i think domains that host sites give themselves a little too much credit. yah it's hard work and all, but if it wasn't for the hosted sites they'd have to find another angle, and that'd be real tough

bwernicke: heh, it takes alot more than a domain tho Chris, but I agree in principle

Redwood: people bookmark it after they follow the link and go to it with the bookmark. A short name may help a bit but it isn't "the thing" that keeps a site from being big

Fargo: Starting a new brand is tough, but it's not impossible. If you're trying to broaden an existing brand, then those domains become very important. But again, look at "Stomped." Built a brand from scratch.

ChrisDay: I wasn't saying a domain is all it takes, hell, lame TC groups such as ones I've participated in can get domains ;)

Aurora: a domain isn't going to give you instant success and hits, but I think it does help identify you, and makes it easier for people to return to your site

Fargo: Yes.

jschuur: i building up a brand can be tough if you're too popular. i see a bunch of sites using the planet theme for one reason or another. albeit we weren't the first to use it

bwernicke: lol, leeches Joost, leeches :)

ChrisDay: you mean like a name change in the middle of a site's existence just because they got a domain?

Bobbi: Like Quakeholio, to Shugashack?

Fargo: A site can weather a name change without any problem.

jschuur: interesting question

NetGuy: a domain helps, but choosing the community that your site supports is crucial, too. i mean anyone who starts a big site today dedicated to the Quake community has a 99.9999999% chance of failing (rough estimate ;)

ChrisDay: it can be weathered but it's tough for sure

jschuur: would we relaunch ritualistic as planetsin? probably not now

bwernicke: We changed names 3 times without any major problems

ChrisDay: exactly

jschuur: depends if it's before or after the release of a game, and if you can keep dns for the old urls

ChrisDay: it's not too tough to start a new brand

Fargo: As long as you still control your old domain/name...

Redwood: a complete name change is harder to weather but something like Blue's Quake Rag to Blue's News is much easier to do because you still have that unique identifier

blitz: at some point quake2.com will have to change names if it swithces its content

ChrisDay: but of course, Fargo/Joost :)

Aurora: joost: and when you can't do that it becomes a problem

NetGuy: yah, and we dread that day ;)

Fargo: Then you should rethink your strategy. ;)

ChrisDay: that's when you take hostages to get control of the old doman ;)

Bobbi: How do you find people you can trust to staff a website? I'm sure everyone's had problems with people not doing what they were supposed to, backing out, etc. Any ideas? Is there ANY way to successfully judge someone's character over the internet?

Fargo: Invite them to a LAN party.

NetGuy: not really over the internet

Redwood: heh, not over the internet :)

ChrisDay: Bobbi, character doesn't always show whether they can get the job done. Some of my closest friends online who seemed perfect for job X, never were

NetGuy: you've just gotta hope you pick a winner ;)

Idoru: the only way is to see them work long term. see how they interact

bwernicke: Bobbi, no way, recruiting is the toughest job there is

Fargo: Long-term commitments really show what a person can do.

Bobbi: So all you do is hope you have the right people?

Idoru: we have seen good people on irc too

ChrisDay: you can know the person and it won't help you find the right people

jschuur: have people start small and weed them out early

loonyboi: 3/4s of loonygames' staff are personal friends of mine. or relatives. ;)

Aurora: Bobbi: We no longer take "staff members", we have our core group of 5, and other people we have as our community.. they contribute on a weekly basis

blitz: most people lose steam within two weeks

ChrisDay: Bobbi, just go through a few dozen of them ;)

NetGuy: exactly

NetGuy: it's VERY hard to find dedication

ChrisDay: after a couple years you find the right handful

NetGuy: it's real easy to find staff members

Fargo: NetGuy: Bingo!

NetGuy: but then they all lose their drive after a couple of weeks

Redwood: true

Idoru: first you see that they are an alright person, then you find out they run some site, you check it out, see how long it has been up and if it has been consistent

ChrisDay: Idoru, nothing is fool proof

Idoru: chris, true

Bobbi: Would you all say something about what they think this community of our is, and where we're going? :)

loonyboi: Well...I think the community has come a long way. We started really small, and now we're in the middle of growing pains. It's going to be interesting to see what happens (from my perspective) since the larger sites are only going to get bigger, and the small ones are well...going to align with bigger sites, or disappear

Aurora: I think the community is a good thing. I have never met a nicer group of people who share the same love of games that I do. I still think, however, that it is too competitive,and too commercialized. I know I enjoyed it more when we were having *fun*.

blitz: I think I would have to second Aurora there

bwernicke: For established sites, things could not be better right now. Those trying to get into it now, are a bit late, and will need to create compelling content on a consistant basis to keep people coming back. I believe the web gaming scence will be alot like todays business world. Competing sites merging to make bigger sites, more quality content, which in turn will broaden their fan base. Those sites that actually have stamina as Fargo mentioned earlier.

ChrisDay: I think this community appears to be headed in the right direction, once again, after some detours in the last year or so. I see large sites continuing to grow larger, while a few smaller sites will break through with hard work. There will still be those who feel that we're a group of elitist bastards because they don't break through, but as long as the fun remains foremost in minds of webmasters, it will become a better community

Fargo: The PC market is growing, the Internet market is growing, games are becoming more popular, especially among adults. Nothing but growth in the future. And that's gonna scare or offend some people but it's really exciting to me -- It means sites who want to remain central to the community have to keep changing and offering more and managing things better. Every two years there's going to be a big phase shift. PlanetQuake overtook GameSpot during the first one. Now it' s because we're in the middle of a second shift. As Monolith's commitment to the gaming community shows, we're entering into a new phase with developers. A pretty exciting time for everyone. :)

Idoru: Aurora hit it on the head. I have made a slew of new friends that share similiar interests in gaming. I am also fortunate to be a part of one of the larger hosting sites and Ihave to say if it wasn't for the community and how much fun it has been that oppertunity would never have been available. I have to say I like the direction it is going. At least for now.

jschuur: i think we're slowing reaching a point where 'fan sites' are being recognized as a valid medium and are getting the kind of recognition they deserve. some amonunt of consolidation and commercialization is inevitable, but in the end the masses will still have plenty of sources of information to build their own opinion. recognition by the traditional print media and developers/publishers that is

NetGuy: I agree with loonyboi, in that it has definitely come a long way. There's no doubt that it has hit a few snags and bumps a long the way, but it's basically growing healthier. It's ironic that something which started as simply a fan hobby has grown into such a money-minded state. If anything I would like to see more support from software companies, not just to established sites but to everyone who is interested in their product. Things aren't the way they used to be, i dunno if that's a good thing or not, only time will tell ;)

QuakeGod: I think that the "community" is falling apart. It just seems that everyone is out for their own gain (fame and fortune I guess) and could care less about the so-called "community" that used to be but just isnt there anymore. People aren't seeing it as being about games anymore I think, but about profit.

Redwood: The community is going to get more diluted in size with more people becoming more dedicated to a certain game as good ones come out. What will be left are the core, dedicated fans and the new people that have just discovered the game/community. The core people have to expect change though and accpt it (i.e. Unreal community/disappearing websites is NOT how the reaction should be). I see it being harder to get a small site noticed

Thanks to everyone who attended, I think some important points were made, and hopefully everyone who reads this will learn a little something.

Check back here in six months, for loonygames issue 30. We’ll do a followup roundtable with the same people, and see if everything they predicted was right!

In the meantime, drop by our feedback page and let us know what you think about the issues discussed here. This is meant to be an ongoing discussion...not simply a one-time read. We've talked plenty...it's your turn now.




Credits: Illustration © 1998 Mike Sanzone.This interview is © 1998 Stephanie Bergman & its participants. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited and totally not cool.