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BRodgers
9 January 2003, 07:09 AM
Hey...just thought I would toss this out and see where the conversation goes.

Basically, do you think that the era of smaller, campaign driven sites is dead?

With the growth of huge SWRPG mega sites (DLOS, SWAG the Network, Starwars-RPG.Net)..Is there really any room for the smaller sites?

Lord knows I have no problem with the larger sites (Being a founding father of SWAG and the AD for .Net's OJ should prove that)...it just seems that you don't really hear much about people's personal campaign sites anymore.

I remember when I first started surfing the net, coming across a lot of smaller campaign driven sites...granted, these didn't have the tons of stats the major sites did..but their flavor and uniqueness gave me something the larger sites never seemed to be able to provide and I found myself visiting them regularly.

Now, with the webmasters of those sites getting more involved in the community, it seems their own personal sites have fallen by the wayside (And yes, Raptor Squad does fall into that category..for now)...

Or, are the smaller sites the future of the SWRPG online community? Will we reach a point where the larger sites fill the same need a sourcebook would ,but interest will swing back towards well developed, smaller campign driven sites?

What do you fine folks think?

Korpil
9 January 2003, 07:48 AM
Well, I took off the focus of my campaign from my own website because I thought nobody would be that much interested in my stats and stuff... that's why I set to create another thing that would be useful to the average gamer...

Rigil Kent
9 January 2003, 07:49 AM
Interesting question. I do think that with the presence of certain sites (such as the Network) that accepts submissions, many people will submit concepts instead of creating their own site. It's really a matter of drive, I think, as it's easier to become part of something already established than to create something new.

I do think that we will see a lot more people opting to join the mega sites than do their own thing. This doesn't mean that campaign-driven sites are dead, though; in many cases (like my own site), there are things on it that either bend or flagrantly break established SW continuity and/or rules. Sites like the Network don't accept things from other genres/movies such as the creatures from Pitch Black.

As to my personal home site, it isn't that I've let it fall by the wayside but rather, we are not playing it right now. I personally have a large group and we rotate the GM duties; the more GMs, the longer the period of time between particular games. I've already started to rectify that with a few minor updates here and there (like my own version of the NCO prestige class that fits my memory of them in the Army.)

Only time will tell what will happen though...

BRodgers
9 January 2003, 08:00 AM
Very true Rigil,

I know it is a lot harder to get motivated to update my site when we aren't playing (this month will mark the end of a 3-month gaming hiatus).

Luckily we are gaming this month on the 18th..so I'm guessing that will get the juices flowing to update the site.

One of the things I do like is that StarWars-RPG.Net has it's "Featured Site" blurb on it's front page...I think this does give some needed exposure to the smaller campaign driven sites.

dgswensen
9 January 2003, 09:34 AM
An interesting question.

Make of this story what you will: Many months back I considered putting together a comprehensive site for my Star Wars campaign. Around the same time, I happened by starwars-rpg.net's Reviewed Sites. A large number of the reviews seemed to make a complete mockery of any site with content that was exclusive to a particular campaign. A lot of attention was called to the "uselessness" of such a site. I admit I could be off in my assessment, but that was my impression the last time I visited the site. Theirs isn't the only site to say such things, either; I've seen such criticisms many other places.

(Not, by the way, a criticism of how starwars-rpg.net does things; I think they do a fine job of reviewing.)

In addition, having experimented with gaming sites in the past, I found my players generally did not use it so much as a resource. They would tinker around with it a bit, say "yes it's nice," but ultimately, no matter how much work I put into it, the transfer of information almost invariably came down to them saying, just before the game, "I forgot, who was this guy and that guy and what planet were we on...?"

So, between my players being only moderately interested, and the internet at large ranging from disinterested to outright hostile, it seemed clear to me that a campaign-driven site was not worth the time I would waste putting it together.

For my own part, I have rarely found a campaign-driven site I could stand to look at for long. Too many of them are poorly designed (red text on black background; animated Death Star GIFs), and / or riddled with Geocities popup ads and bad fan art. I don't condemn anyone for putting their work online, I'm just saying that personally, I'm in no way motivated to look at such things. Maybe other people feel the same way.

I like Holonet not only for the community, but because it's clean, well-designed, and the information is presented in an organized and orderly fashion. If a campaign site existed out there with those criteria, I'd be much more interested. But I haven't found any of those that I can recall off the top of my head.

BRodgers
9 January 2003, 10:28 AM
Actually DG, 6 of the 9 sites awarded the Star Wars Reviewed Site award were campaign oriented sites..so there is some hope out there!
I agree with you about pop-up ads being annoying...I had to deal with them for about 6 months before I decidd to buckle down and get serious with Raptorsquad.Net...it costs about 12 bucks a month but it is worth it to me to have no pop ups and a clean, ad-free site.

;)

Rigil Kent
9 January 2003, 10:31 AM
Originally posted by dgswensen
For my own part, I have rarely found a campaign-driven site I could stand to look at for long. Too many of them are poorly designed (red text on black background; animated Death Star GIFs), and / or riddled with Geocities popup ads and bad fan art. I don't condemn anyone for putting their work online, I'm just saying that personally, I'm in no way motivated to look at such things. Maybe other people feel the same way.

It is specifically that reason why I decided to put up my own site. As one of my players is an amazing artist (and the guys at Steve Jackson Games agree with me since he's done some art for their Traveller books), I can avoid the bad art. Since I went ahead and paid the $5 a month (or so), I'm able to avoid the pop-ups. Ohmigod, do I hate those things.

As to PCs not being all that interested in checking out the site, I've started to sneak stuff in and then reward players who utilize the extra info gleaned from the site. Pavlov and all that. :)

I think you just haven't looked at the right sites, mi amigo. :D (CUE SHAMELESS PLUG: Hey, the Review guys thought my site was awesome and they aren't often wrong. END SHAMELESS PLUG.)

BRodgers
9 January 2003, 10:42 AM
Shameless plugs are always encouraged inthe Raptor Squad Forum Rigil!

:D

Reverend Strone
9 January 2003, 11:22 AM
I think dg has already summed up my thoughts on it fairly well. I harbour no ill will towards those folks such as yourself BR or Rigil who have spent the time and money to get their own campaign sites going, but purely by their nature they're not things that interest me as a gamer and web browser. I think you guys have both done a fine job in avoiding the pitfalls that most campaign sites I've stumbled upon are plagued with- namely those awful pop-ups and bad choices of fonts etc- just as dg said.

But unfortunately that doesn't overcome the simple fact that as a gamer, I'm less interested in other people's games (including store-bought campaigns and adventure packs) than I am in developing my own stories and campaigns. Generally when I'm web-browsing for RPG stuff, it's for resources. These tend to be more easily found at the larger sites, while the smaller campaign sites tend to be filled with characters I don't know, in-jokes, home-brewed rules and ships, and frequently munchkin-like stats (again- please don't think I'm saying you guys are guilty of this- it's a generalisation). There's very limited accessability for anyone not familiar with the campaign and it's characters- therefore little incentive to stick around or visit again.

I admire greatly anyone who has taken the time to set up their own site. I think it's a fantastic testimony to the commitment they have to their game and the obvious enjoyment they and their players have in that world, but that level of enjoyment doesn't transcend the site and infect the casual browser, so they fail to hold interest. This is more of a reflection on those casual browsers like me than it is on the quality of the sites in question (I practically never read the fan fiction either).

I think both of you guys, BR and Rigil, run nice sites- probably the best of their kind I've seen, but after popping in once or twice to look around, I rarely go back- and when I do, it's more often to see what my buddies have been up to than anything else. If I didn't know you guys through the Holonet, I wouldn't visit.

It simply comes down to familiarity in the end. A casual browser doesn't know the characters and their story, so doesn't care about them. They have no idea what flavour of campaign it is, so they may not trust the stats either, or have any reason to dig deeper to find out. Without the story hooks, those stats don't mean so much. Their usability is limited. Larger, more general sites tend to have more easily plucked game resources that don't depend on campaign familiarity quite so much.

The bigger sites also get updates more frequently due to the sheer number of contributors. Let's face it- we all like the new shiny things appearing all the time.

I sure hope the smaller campaign sites will continue to run, even if they have little to attract folks like me, because I know I only represent one slice of the gaming community. There are plenty of folks I'm sure who get much more out of them, and the gms and players in those games obvious enjoy themselves. I've been surprised when folks ahve asked me to write up my own campaign for others to read- "they're interested?" So don't take my thoughts to be indicative of the whole community by any means, because I know they're not. Campaign Sites may not be my sort of thing, but they still impress me.

Darklighter
9 January 2003, 12:22 PM
Well, I guess I'm a bit of a weirdo (STOP with the comments right there! ;) ), but I like checking out the small campaign sites every now and then. Both the good Reverend and dg have made excellent criticisms of the common problems associated with campaign sites, and these are things that have annoyed me as well. It's a real pleasure to hit sites without the pop-ups, bad fonts and poor structures.

However, I really like to read the stories people have posted - fiction, articles, and game logs (although I find I prefer game logs rendered in full prose as opposed to point form). I also get a kick out of creative NPCs and PCs alike. At the same time, I'm getting ideas for games or hooks I'd like to run. Bob, your Kadon 4, both as NPCs and a story idea, comes to mind right now.

The bottom line is, how well is it done, and is it maintained? I will also admit to having gone through sites and, once finished reading, moved on. I go back every now and then, but I can think of one or two that I liked quite a bit, but have not been updated in a year. So those sites will see less traffic and die, at least on the visitor front.

But that is ultimately the fate of a campaign site. Campaigns usually end at some point, and so will the updates. However, new ones pop up, and so on, and so on.

I don't think campaign sites (as a genre) will die, and I really hope they don't. I'm hoping that a synergistic relationship between large resource sites and smaller campaign sites is maintained, as seems to occur on RPG.net, and to a lesser extent here on the Holonet. These sites are stable and continuous, but lack the intimacy of a close group in a tightly woven story. The campaigns, when done well, can provide that, and in doing so, re-energize the larger sites in the process by drawing people in here to discuss what they've been doing, plan to do, etc.

Well, there's my rambling two cents. Salut! :)

Chris Curtis
9 January 2003, 01:15 PM
If Darklighter is a "werdo", then I must be downright bizarre.

See, I run one of the older (still existing, at least) "campaign" sites: Servais Sector (http://starwars-rpg.net/servais/) That's not strange in itself, of course, but there are a few odd things about it. First, I'm not the GM. I'm just a player in the campaign. So, there's nothing "secret" hidden in the site that the players don't know.

The really weird thing, though, is that I don't really like campaign sites all that much myself. I guess I should really say that, like Reverend Strone, I rarely find stuff in campaign sites that's useful to me. Then again, the same thing can be said for pretty much all the other sites, too. That isn't to say that I don't enjoy the material on the various sites or think that it's good, it's just that we don't really ever use anything from outside in our own campaign.

Anyway...

With Servais Sector, I've tried to organize it so that it isn't strictly tied into our own campaign or sector setting. I'd like to think that most of the material on the site can be taken and used individually if needed. Or, the material can be used together in a more coherent setting. Either way, I think it should work.

That same sort of thing is usually what I look for in campaign-oriented sites when I do reviews for Reviewed Sites. It's perfectly fine for a site to be campaign-oriented. However, if the material can't readily be used by other gamers, then it really isn't useful beyond simply as reading material.

Wow, I've rambled on a lot. I have no idea what I'm trying to say. I guess mostly just that I generally agree with what everyone else has said to at least some extent.

evan hansen
11 January 2003, 07:31 AM
Eh, what the hell... I'll jump in late. :)

Anyhow, I think that campaign sites have always -- and will always -- have their niche. All things have their niche, really. It's just a matter of mass need. As others have eluded to, campaign sites really only have a value to a certain sub-set of the SWRPG online population. A site like SWAG, however, has use to a much broader audience because, regardless of what type of campaign on what type of system you're running, it's still a valuable resource. And sites like starwars-rpg.net and swrpgnetwork.com fill very different needs. Really, starwars-rpg.net's main two functions right now are to provide hosting for other sites (including three campaign and/or sector driven sites, Elrood Sector, Servais Sector, and Kurlnova Sector) and to provide the Online Journal. We obviously hope to offer more in the near future, but that's the niche we fill. swrpgnetwork provides that central community meeting place and a big repository for submitted materials and such.

But if people are looking for ideas, campaigns, stats specific to a certain type of campaign, characters specific to certain groups of players, etc... then *good* campaign-driven sites (like Raptor Squad, Bob :D) will always have a place out there. And it's a hugely important one. Some of the first stats I ever lifted from the net were from campaign-oriented sites like Moonswing Chronicles and such.

Anyhow, in short, campaign-driven sites are small because of their inherently small "market." But they'll always have a place -- and a damn important one at that! They're a hugely valuable resource for people looking at trends in gamemastering, hints on how to move a similar adventure forward, ideas for characters, ideas for weapons, ideas for places, stats for similar items, etc... There's no end to the usefulness they can provide -- just a limit to the number of people they reach. IMHO anyhow. :)

BRodgers
11 January 2003, 09:03 AM
Originally posted by evan hansen
Eh, what the hell... I'll jump in late. :)



But...time has no meaning in the RSquad forum...




Insert spooky music....

:D

ij thompson
11 January 2003, 10:50 AM
Bob, I'm glad you've brought this up.

As my own Tales of the Freespirit campaign nears its conclusion, I'm faced with the prospect of getting the final seventeen episodes written, illustrated, and 'statted' for Elrood Sector, without the fun of actually playing anymore. Thus, I'm forced to ask myself, 'who would I be doing this for?'. Personally, I can't wait for the day when I've got the completed Tales, Sourcebook, and Space Combat Game sitting on my bookshelf in slick pdfs. But, like you, I'm forced to wonder if anyone else shares my interest!

Personally, when I surf swrpg, I actually ignore the mega-sites. I can truthfully say that I've never searched for anything on swrpgnetwork, and if not for the HoloNet (which I read faithfully, but don't tend to post in much), I'd probably never come around here at all. The fact is, I've spent a fortune on nearly every D6 and d20 book there is, and if I find my campaign in need of a giant cannon that shoots great gobs of raspberry jam, I'll sift through my books, find something similar, and adapt it. That, or just make something up myself!

Where I'm going with this is, when I see a site that is nothing more than a collection of stats, with no dramatic context to hold it together, my eyes glaze over and I get the hell out of there. I want to be inspired by what I see. And I can safely say that, to me, that only occurs in the campaign driven sites, and the Online Journal (SWAG, which of course I love, is an entirely different kind of animal, and thus not subject to my rantings!).

Now conversely, I will say this: campaign sites are harder to browse. I love Raptor Squad, Bob (and Servais and many others), but every time I go there, I say to myself, 'man, I really must come back here when I have the time to sit and give everything the attention it deserves, so that I might fully dig what these guys are doing'. Truly, it's hard to keep track of all the characters and events that come and go in a SW campaign! So I find myself moving on, saying I'll come back and fully enjoy the experience, but never finding the time. I have no doubt that gamers visiting Elrood Sector have the same problem: 'oh, I don't have time to read any fan fiction right now, and most FF's I've seen are pretty crappy anyway. I guess I'll just look at the Sourcebook... oh yeah, well that's a kinda neat looking character, but he's probably so mired in these guy's events that I couldn't do anything with him anyway...'.

Truly, for us campaign site webmasters, it's hard not to become disillusioned! And I'm not even gonna mention the whole D6/d20 business...

In the end, it's a real battle. Truly, I quite often think about closing Elrood Sector - I could certainly find uses for the extra time! But dammit, I like my website, and I like working on it. And if I have to keep doing it for my own amusement, then so be it. Of course, Bob, you know that sites like ours have their fans - it's not like no one's coming around to visit. So to all fans of campaign driven sites, I say this:

Have you hugged your webmaster today??? :p

It sounds dorky, but it's true. A brief shout-out could really help keep your favourite campaign-driven website going.

As for me, I'm gonna keep hittin' them funky, colourful, interesting, quirky, surprising and delightful campaign sites, because I like a little spice in my swrpg. The mega-sites do a fine job of providing the bread and milk...

... but tonight, I'm goin' out for szechuan... ;)

Darklighter
11 January 2003, 11:23 AM
Originally posted by ij thompson

Have you hugged your webmaster today??? :p

It sounds dorky, but it's true. A brief shout-out could really help keep your favourite campaign-driven website going.




Here ya go... <HUG>. :)

evan hansen
11 January 2003, 04:41 PM
My goodness, I just might tear up and weep in a moment. :D

In a lot of ways, I agree a lot with IJ in that there's a lot of spice and fun to be had in the campaign-driven sites. That's part of why I loved Jae's old SW-RPG mailing list so much. It had so much of everything and spawned so much -- yet it was so little and cozy. I loved it.

Anyhow, hugs to IJ and Bob. :) You should start a little holonet campaign to get hugged. ;)

BRodgers
11 January 2003, 08:13 PM
HUG FEST!!!!!!!!!!!!

ij thompson
11 January 2003, 09:53 PM
(sniff) I love you, MAN! :D

And Evan, I totally know what you mean. Jae's list was like a daily grab bag of cool ideas and wild opinions....

(singing in best Archie Bunker voice) "Thooooose were the daaaayyyys!" ;)

waza sunrider
12 January 2003, 04:38 PM
well i cant speak for the "community" at large but i second or would it be umpteenth the motion that teh campaign sites have a use to some.
if you need a umpa cannon you can go to a mega site & get one but if you want a thought out & usefull weapon small sites are where its at for me. granted there is some cheese munchkins out there but, if every gm handles things the way ours does it will get a once over befor being considered for the game, besides who wants to bleed from the eyes while searching a mega site anyway?
well i prolly make no sesne to any but those who know me so,,, i'll be off now :)

Deano
13 January 2003, 02:25 PM
I think campaign sites have a special place in my heart and I'd say in the hearts of most of the 'oldies' because its what we all grew up on. It wasn't all that long ago when there was nothing BUT campaign sites and a few stat archives. It really boils down to what you are looking for when you're surfin' - if you what some adventure ideas or a setting for an up coming adventure, I'd go to a campaign site 9 times in 10. If, however, I was looking for an item or something, I'd go to a 'megasite' by in large. Both have their uses and roles to play in the community. The only trouble with campaign sites is the quality, I've reviewed a number of sites now and I tend to find that they are either really good quality or really bad, there doesn't really seem to be an inbetween (as an aside, dgswensen we only slate sites that have no use to anyone outside of the campaign, and these tend to be online games rather than what I'd call a campaign site like Raptor Squadron, etc.)

Anyway, I think they play a key role in the community and I hope those web masters out there continue to provide us with fresh and orginal material.

Keep it up!

Deano

baal
14 January 2003, 08:49 AM
I liked the pre-mega sites. Like when the network only had 100 stats. Now it seems that most mega sites seem to focus on the d20 people and forget about the old timers with parchute pants like waza. I must agree that if you want a truely special wepon or stat it is best to start at campaign sites to get origanal ideas, so i think they still have a place. The only reson i feel mega site have become the staple is because of the frequency of updates, when you got people all over the world submitting things you should be updating every day if not twice a day. While smaller sites (Aka campaigns sites) do not enjoy this benifit and are only able to update once a month at best.


And deano just to set it straight it is raptor squad not squadron :D :D

BRodgers
15 January 2003, 05:30 AM
QUOTE]Originally posted by baal

And deano just to set it straight it is raptor squad not squadron :D :D [/QUOTE]

Oh, and all of a sudden Baal is Mr. Grammatically Correct?

:D


A lot of interesting points all. I guess it comes down to flavor and what you hope to find or what you are looking for.

Just speaking for myself, I'm happy with my site and hope to be able to invest more time in it this coming year. At the end of the day I hope the community finds it useful, if not at least entertaining. However, when I originally started my site it was for my gaming group, and I think it's important to keep that focus.

Long after we have quit playing our game I would still like for our site to remain as a "time capsule" of the fun we had and the experiences we shared. Call it hokey, but that it more important to me than making sure we have a million hits or thousands of stats.

And maybe, just maybe, when I have some little un's of my own, they will take a look at the site and look at me and go "Dad...will you teach me how to play the Star Wars game?"


And of course I'll say "Hell no! Dad's too busy doing crystal meth!!!!!!!!!"

:D