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What to expect - The LANBox Roadmap 2017

Many of you have noticed change is afoot and have been asking what my plans are for The LANBox in 2017. Rather than having another year where I'm head down, arse up writing code and going with the flow regarding community affairs, I have distinct goals that are unusually not-code. Strap yourselves in and get ready for awesome because this year is the year of content!

Over the past two years I've spent most of my time perfecting the platform LB runs on. Making it user friendly, fast and attractive were the goals I had set out for myself. Above all it had to be a tool to let me run communities the way I like - content and conversation is paramount.

There was only one problem - I forgot about the content. That's changed. What follows is an outline of what you can expect over the next three months with plans to evaluate what works and continue the good things after that.

Instructables on YouTube

I've been hinting at OpenRA instructables on YouTube for a couple of weeks now which are starting to come together. You've all seen the title scene and some of you have even had a sneak peek of what to expect.

Going forward I will release one of these every week for about 10 weeks, but it won't end there. I have plans for some in Kerbal Space Program and Assetto Corsa - maybe even Civilization and Minecraft!

Long-form Tutorials

To tie those instructables back to the site I will be writing complementary long-form tutorials on the same games. You can already read what I have written for OpenRA, Kerbal Space Program and Garry's Mod in the tutorials section.

Quick looks at related games, new and old

Sitting around and relying on the same old games for content won't help us grow so I'll be bringing the games I try and/or love out of the shadows by writing quick posts and publishing videos. In these I'll outline what they are, their pros and cons and whether I'll continue playing it. You could call it a review but it's purpose is less generic mainstream review and a bit more personal opinion and critique. My Homeworld story is a good example.

Events

Events will start becoming complementary to the content in a drive to provide focus and consistency.

The main weeks in each cycle of Friday Night Games will centre around providing events and activities that tie into tie into the content being produced at the time. Rather than being the traditional attempt at organising a big event within a week they'll be nights dedicated to playing games that are part of our core focus. Over the coming weeks you can expect a fair bit of OpenRA, Assetto Corsa, Civ and, most importantly, Garry's Mod.

The off-weeks of the cycle are where you guys can run events for games that you love and are outside the scope of the main weeks. The upcoming Rainbow Six: Siege and For Honor events are good examples of these but casual pick-up-games are great as well.

Tying it all together

As you can probably gather I'm moving the focus away from having 'game sessions' as the main product of LB to a system that touches on all my strengths and brings them together. As parts of this succeed and fail over the coming months we'll get a better idea of what it all looks like. The end goal is to be able to branch out from the games that have proven success and trying new things.

I will continue to operate with a heavy focus on real-time, turn-based and grand strategy games as well as simulation and sandbox games for the foreseeable future. Though that doesn't mean we won't pick up something casual for a fun night of bants! Gotta pick a thing and do it well, this is my thing.

The older among you might see some similarity to The LANBox of five years back; you'd be correct - the things achieved during that time are still attracting people to this site today. If the strategy worked then, it's going to work again!

I hope you're all as excited as I am for the coming year. There's a lot of work ahead but it's going to be great fun!

More Stories by blaknite

There are 46 replies. write your own.

For a long time i have being considering doing tutorial style videos based on some of my Minecraft builds, and other build ideas I'm yet to flesh out. Would you (@blaknite) consider it adding to the content of the site or competing with it if your looking at similar things too? Just trying to work out if I give it a go or not.

@Nelly_2202 let's have a chat on steam or Facebook about it.

I'll continue pretending to be smart about anime.

To have a brief continuation of the events part of the article, events will be changing in appearance. There's going to be a quick shift away from things that require an exact, or minimum number of participants towards things that work independent of numbers. What's planned so far will run as usual but these will probably be the last events of that type across all genres.

As an example, in the coming weeks you can expect:

  • Garry's Mod build and learn nights - you come along for a night with our most talented builders and we teach and help you.
  • Assetto Corsa race nights - join us for about two hours of racing fun complete with practice, qualifying and a 20-lap race.
  • OpenRA FFA and vs AI matches - it's the same thing we've been doing for ages and it works

The idea is to make Fridays the night to be on discord; not because there's some kind of tournament but because there's something fun with positive vibes and no stress. There's a lot of great things ahead!

I'm two weeks into my plan to get us heading in an exciting content-driven direction and a lot has happened. Some things have worked, some things have failed and some are yet to happen. Here's my reflection.

Let's start with the negative.

Events that need a set number of people on at a set time to work are hard and prone to leaving a sour taste in people's mouths. Going forward we won't be doing any more beyond the ones planned. Future events will be much more flexible in their requirements.

Now onto the positives!

I released the first of my OpenRA tactics videos and have a script and recorded footage for the second. Getting some of things up and running has meant I haven't kept to my goal of one a week but I've not lost momentum or interest. I'm still super excited for the release of the next one in the coming week. I also reckon we're coming due for another big night of OpenRA.

I grabbed us a new Garry's Mod server and set it up with all the best build tools and one of our old maps for a bit of added nostalgia. So far it has been a blast and has confirmed my observations that we lacked that certain bit of glue that tied us together. Most of the long-term members fondly remember the old sandbox days and the community at large is still active. Bringing this back is going to provide @KustoM with a purpose once again and give us something we can obsess over. We'll be releasing E2 scripts, tutorials and holding build and learn nights in the near future. You'll see a lot more of @KustoM in the coming weeks.

Last on the list of positives is that we're due to run our first of many Assetto Corsa races. Interest has surpassed my expectations and I am super keen to add this to the line-up of core games that give us some glue. This is going to be great!

One thing the past two weeks has made me realise is that we need to focus on something and do it well. That's going to mean we push some things to the background over the coming weeks and months and focus heavily on others. One thing we all seem to have in common is getting hooked on games that have us trying to perfect skills and strategies. To that end strategy, simulation and building games are going to be our core focus from now on. For some of you that might not be great, but it is the service I can offer the best.

Thanks for all of your continuing support and especially thank you to those who have been the sounding board for ideas and provided feedback. You're the best!

does that mean large scale lanbox eu4 games?

Walshy

does that mean large scale lanbox eu4 games?

Yes.

i think you summed everything up perfectly

blaknite
To that end strategy, simulation and building games are going to be our core focus from now on.
War Thunder is simulation... Arma is simulation... I have no problems with this.

yeah nope.

Maybe war thunder or wot on occasion.

Another week on and I'm feeling like I'm on the right path. I'm back to enjoying what I do which is going to have a knock-on effect for the whole community.

The race night went swimmingly and was one of the best games nights I've run in a long time. Those who attended will surely agree we're onto a winner. I'll continue to host them every few weeks and build on the success of the first one. I'm hoping this will add some fresh faces into the mix.

We've had a couple of casual games of OpenRA and I now have all the footage I need for the next installment of the YouTube series. I'll be recording the narration this weekend which I am looking forward to.

The Garry's Mod server has seen some old faces return which has been awesome. It has been great reconnecting with some older members and finding out they still love what I do. @KustoM and I will be putting a heavy focus on rebuilding The LANBox as a great place to come for Garry's Mod sandbox and building. We've got an event this Sunday which is going to be great for teaching new players and bringing old players up to speed with new tools and techniques. I hope to see a few of you attend.

This coming week I'll organise a game of Civilization for the main event which should be great. Given that I am now enjoying things without feeling stressed I'll also be running some casual nights throughout the week. I'm thinking some racing, another OpenRA and more Garry's Mod. You can also catch @KustoM and @leadmax on the Garry's Mod server pretty often so feel free to join them and pick their brains.

Looking forward to the coming week. Thanks guys!

Another month has passed and it has been a pretty eventful one to say the least.

Regarding content I've been working hard to makes sure that I'm at least building a backlog of ideas and drafts to publish as stories. I am working on a story that has tips for learning new tracks which will complement our ongoing events nicely - I'll be co-authoring with @KustoM. I also have a piece about programming and user experience that I haven't got a better place to put but I do think you'll still enjoy it.

As it turns out it's pretty hard to be a community manager, participate in events, write stories and create videos and that's meant I've not finished anything else for the OpenRA series. I've recorded a lot of audio but editing is something I haven't had time for this month. It sucks but all the rest has to keep moving.

The second race night was just as good as the first and I'm really looking forward to the third one tonight. It's an absolute blast to finally have a great bunch of skilled drivers to do this with. I hope you are loving it just as much.

We also gained a new admin, @Furcas, to help keep on top of moderation and guiding people to participate in game sessions together. He's done a great job of organising nights of Viscera Cleanup Detail and leading the way to have us carve out our spot on /r/place. We had an LB logo in about 75% of the timelapse video which was a bit of fun.

And let's not forget the events that led up to @Furcas's nomination which, despite their obvious pain-points, has proven to be a calming and uniting factor for the community. Things have been easy and calm and we're continuing to move forward together. It's for the best.

For now my aim is to continue on the same path and work in some events run by some other members that are showing interest and initiative. You've all been giving great suggestions and feedback which is awesome. Thanks guys!

blaknite
And let's not forget the events that led up to @Furcas's nomination which, despite their obvious pain-points, has proven to be a calming and uniting factor for the community. Things have been easy and calm and we're continuing to move forward together. It's for the best.
*maniacal laughter*

I wrote some more weeb-shit and will continue writing weeb shit until i ran out of weeb shit to write about.

I would like to thank @lordrefired for being the driving force behind the /r/place battle. We would never be able to have stood as long as we did without you

This time around I've learned that a fortnight goes really, really fast.

On the games and events front we had another successful race night and a Garry's Mod mixed-mode night. Both went exceptionally well and those who attended reported having a great time - that's what I like to hear. Because of this I can only declare that we're on the right track.

Taking a step back and only running things I can guarantee will go well has been the right call, and what we've run in the past few months has been received well. The next step is adding some variety back in. In the coming weeks you'll start seeing more nights run by other admins centred around games such as Garry's Mod and Grand Theft Auto V. Both are on high rotation with you guys so it's important to me that we take advantage of it. @Mini_Jebus and @Furcas have shown initiative in this area and I'll be leaning on them in the future.

On the content front I published an insight into how I go about learning new tracks which I hope helps get more of you involved in our ongoing championship. While Assetto Corsa is a sim we do have participants of varying skill levels and we're always open to helping you get a point where you feel you can participate. Many have had success with mouse steering but if you have a wheel that's even better.

I've been working on improving my writing by adding in a bit more humour and hopefully that's going to translate into better voiceovers for YouTube (yes, that's still a thing). Let me know what you think after reading my last story.

One thing I would like to embrace next is enabling more of you to write content for the community to consume. @Walshy and @Furcas have been pretty good in this regard. If you have an idea for a contribution but don't know where to start, want an editor, or even just some writing tips please hit me up; I'll be glad to help.

That's this week's review, and as always, feedback is welcome.

Edited: Thursday, 20th April 2017 at 3:03pm

Oh and I almost forgot, I rolled out badges for backers on Patreon! If you've been kind enough to back me you get a badge that matches your reward tier. This adds to the already exist badge for buying me a beer which applies to anyone who gives a once-off donation.

Thanks again!

I have two assignments due in a few weeks, time to write another article so i can feel good about my procrastination.

@blaknite crap no dont rely on me, i cant take the pressure!

Mini_Jebus

@blaknite crap no dont rely on me, i cant take the pressure!

Too late, initiative never goes unpunished.

Fortnightly review time has come up again!

Most of my work this fortnight has been focussed on enabling you guys to easily invite your mates to join us here at The LANBox. You can now head over to the invite page and send an invite via Facebook or email. It'd be great to see some more new faces around here so get inviting.

Following up on my promise to add games to the rotation that aren't what I'd usually play, we've had @crazymuffins run a GTA5 night which was a hit as well as a mixed mode night in Garry's Mod.

We've continued to have regular RTS nights and chucked StarCraft into the mix with OpenRA. We've been playing more team matches which has been great fun.

This coming Friday is our next race night. These events continue to get strong participation and I'm thouroughly enjoying them. I'm pretty excited.

In just over a week @KustoM and @crazymuffins will be joining me in Adelaide for a weekend of fun, bonding and a bit of planning. This year is a special year because we'll be having our 10th birthday. The official date is the 27th July but these guys are coming down a tad early to help me celebrate both the LB birthday and my own. It's gonna be great. I'll be sure to let you all know what the outcome of our brain-melding is and what great things we've cooked up.

That's it for this fortnight. o/

Edited: Thursday, 4th May 2017 at 4:21pm

This fortnight I've learned that drama, while stressful and a bit of a pain in the arse, creates traffic, that @crazymuffins is a top bloke and @KustoM is just as much of drunkard as last time I saw him.

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of hanging out with the two admins that have been with me for most of the life of The LANBox. @KustoM and @crazymuffins have been a huge support over the years and have put in a lot of time running servers and events for us all to enjoy. We ate and drank and played many a board game. All-in-all it was a fantastic weekend. Thanks guys!

But yeah, as it turns out drama creates a lot of traffic - about 25% of the traffic apprantly. In reality though I'm unsure whether losing that traffic was a good or a bad thing. It's a matter of perspective, and while the numbers have gone down, my enjoyment and mood have gone up.

What do we do about that discrepency in the numbers then? Post more stuff of course!

One of the hardest parts of sustaining a community website like The LANBox is ensuring there is something for you to engage with when you open it up. Because engagement is key, I share pretty much everything that makes me go "NEAT". I'd like to invite more of you to do even more of the same.

Having people share more of what they like means fewer of you are going to assume the role of fun police and others are going to have to try and keep what they share to the general topic of the website. Healthy disagreement is also an important part of life. Please tell me I'm shit so long as you can handle being told you're shit.

Also, I like relevant memes!

Yes, really. Just keep them tied to the topic of conversation or start a new one. Oh and, if you want to post and talk shit, just post and talk shit in a single shout. Go your hardest.

Edited: Thursday, 18th May 2017 at 3:34pm

Does this mean i can shitpost, but only in the shitpost certified thread?

Also Anime review thing soon, maybe.

Walshy

Does this mean i can shitpost, but only in the shitpost certified thread?

Also Anime review thing soon, maybe.

Yep, so long as you can make your shitposts relevant. No "mewtwo arigato" and a pic with no context or whatever it is weebs do this week.

Also, fantastic! Hit me up if you need edits.

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