The Importance of a Community
So I've talked to a few people about it, but haven't really gotten down any true details. I am a big advocate of, the community makes the game. I learned this back in the days of Armored Core 4 and Armored Core: For Answer. As small as those games are, we still had a great time and many have played for a year straight or more with no pause. Why? Because of the community that exists in the game.
After playing Armored Core 4 I moved on to Halo 3, which offered a level design tool in Forge. I was extremely interested in designing my own maps and so I went on and did it. I ran into a small group of like 4 guys and we called ourselves Forgehub. Our group grew to like 8 and we had a pretty decent size fanbase that enjoyed the maps that we created. So we moved on to a forum site where everyone could collaborate. Through this site we built friendships and relations, and because of this many of us continued to build maps for over a year getting much attention from Bungie themselves. I then left the site on the release of Armored Core For Answer. A few months later when I came back to Forgehub, it had grown to an enormous size due to the attention that Bungie gave it. I had to move on. There was no "Community" anymore. No more collaboration, no more fun. It felt like a fansite.
From there I moved on to a place we called XForgery. Where a small group had already been formed. I offered my help and suggestions around and also began paying for a dedicated server for the site. I wanted to help build a community that I once new back on Forgehub. So I slowly started to bring over some of my old friends and XForgery grew steadily. And as it grew more and more friends were coming over and new friends were being made all the time. We were one big happy family united against the forum giant that was now Forgehub.
And now Champions Online is out. I left Halo for Champions in hope of a new addiction... a new hobby. And I think I have found it. And with a new hobby comes a want for a new community.
User Community vs Company Fansite
Now Cryptic is running their own forums and while it is nice, it feels crowded with guys who don't care about the community of the game. They only care about what they want. I'm not saying this is everyone, but these are the type of people that discourage the community mentality. Communities are a family based structure of helping each other out. Currently champions-online.com is the goto for Champions Online complaints, suggestions, news, etc. So it is going to be crowded with no sort of filter on the type of people in the community.
This is why I am aspiring to creating my own forum site for Champions. Sure there are others out there, but nothing that truly emphasizes what a community is. Communities make things easier for players. Either by group collaboration or by resources. Other fansites currently don't offer those to a level that is noticeable. Other fansites I have seen are focused on just relaying the same info that can be found on the main site and offering a place ot talk about it. There needs to be more.
Key Aspects of the Community
This is probably the easiest to implement, yet the hardest to pull off efficiently due to the massive amounts of information that needs to be contained. It's easy to go out there and find resources for people to use however. Things like Crime Computer, the two Champions Wikis, the online Champion Builder, the offline Champion Builder, and many other applications are just a few of those resources. The problem is making these resources reliable and accurate.
So main first key is to provide information about the game. Be able to answer questions that a person may have just by having the information readily available.
Now another thing is to be able to ask for help and get it. Or to work as a group to achieve a goal that one would find too daunting on their own. A great example of this is filling a wiki. This requires a massive amount of group collaboration. It's always good to have a good place to gather and conversate about something and to get things done. Also if you have an idea that could help the community, say like putting together a massive database Super Groups then this is the best way to get help on that if it is something that the community deems valuable.
In CO you make an identity for yourself. You build yourself a killer build that you enjoy playing. Sometimes you want to make it better and want some suggestions on how you could go about it. A community is a great place to ask for help and not get flamed for posting something that isn't mainstream. An organized place for us to get and give help is a must have to keep our community strong.
Friendship, my friends, is what makes people comeback and play some more. Friendship is what keeps players playing into the late of the night even after hitting lvl cap. Friendship is what brings about good times for you to look back on. Friendship is what holds a community together.
As corny as that may sound it's true. We need a place where we can just chat about anything. A place to talk about politics, our favorite foods, and to share jokes. The more friendly we are to each other the easier it is to achieve that Group Collaboration. The more friendly we are to each other the easier it is to complete those daunting Resources. The more friendly we are to each other the better Help/Criticsism we both give and receive. And the more friendly we are to each other the better community we have that makes us want to keep playing.
So yeah we need a place just to all be friends.
Right now it has only been a thought in my head and a discussion and hope for the future. Right now I have a focus on getting to 40 on Champs before I go further and decide on what is actually needed for a forum site that could be used.
For the focus I wanted to focus on the Endgame of champions. Why? Because it is the endgame you strive to reach when you start playing and it is the endgame that will be the deciding factor on whether or not you keep playing. So that would be the "theme". It won't only cover the endgame content wise however. It would also cover strategies on getting to endgame. So basically it would still cover EVERYTHING CO wise, it just centered around getting to and playing endgame.
So things that I would still need to do is get a vBulletin license for the site. Come up with a site name. Get some moderators and a fellow admin or two. And then start building the site's features.
Some features for the site to draw players in would be a Champion Builder/Post Generator. Basically you fill out a form and it posts your champion in a cool formatted post so others can comment and criticsize it. Also a super group setup to encourage grouping together and friendly competition. Like forums for super groups and what nots. Simple player run tournaments and events. Things like dueling and running around with new characters all looking the same and just having fun and doing crazy things.
Setup a shopping/crafting/trading feature that allows players to be able to build stuff and request gear from others.
Offering rewards for things and slowly recruiting.
Tons of ideas that I have to make a cohesive community focused around having fun and working together to increase the value of CO.
I would love to have a pretty solid base of users by the time the XBox version of the game comes out if it actually does. The reason for this? It allows us to advertise easily on the XBox. Utilizing voice chat, if we can direct people to the site it will grow fast and be easy to convince people new to the game before they get too reliant on the main site. The problem is having a solid and active base for people to see and for people to want to participate in. So December is when I plan on having my vBulletin license to start the site. So by then I would love to have some moderators and a great name. If you actually read this whole thing and want to participate, go ahead and comment and we can start collaborating and working on it.
Well that's all I've got for now. It's a lot to read and hopefully it actually gets read by a few people lol.