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Author Topic: Reaching out to the non-Warhammer-Empire.com community  (Read 3781 times)

Offline Carlo Chaimo

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Reaching out to the non-Warhammer-Empire.com community
« on: September 28, 2005, 04:41:12 AM »
Quote from: General Helstrom
We did seem to have some trouble getting word out beyond the campaign forum


As a now current community member who was drawn to join both the Warhammer-Empire.com community and the campaign itself by the advertising for the campaign, both on site and at Bretonnia.org, I would like to start a thread addressing this issue which General Helstrom has raised. To start the discussion I would suggest that we first need to assess if this statement is in fact true.

Can anyone prove or disprove this statistically?

Anecdotally speaking, I am inclined to half agree with the good General to the extent that it seemed to me that the most active participants during the campaign were in fact members before the campaign; however, it is quite possible that the problem was not so much "trouble getting word out" as it was a problem of getting people to "buy the product".

Assuming that there was in fact a problem with attracting outside campaigners, then, I will make several suggestions which seem obvious to me to hopefully provide some possibilities for resolving the assumed problem along the lines in which I see the problem:
1)What is my motivation
None of the other armies in the Warhammer world were written into the campaign (maybe Vampire Counts might have felt some motivation via their past connections with Ostland, Martin, etc.). My team was very cordial and warm and made me feel welcome; however, the fluff while superbly written and entertaining did not make any concessions for a non-Empire player.
2)Stretching the "Reality" of the Unreal
As a Bretonnian player it did not stretch my imagination very much to join this campaign on the side of Talabecland; however, if I played Lizard Men, Druchii or Tomb Kings it most certainly would have. This detracts from the fun of the story for the player. At the end of the day this is fantasy, and concessions could be creatively worked in to include even a Tomb King.
3)Late Start Date
This ofcourse was not the campaign teams fault; nevertheless, the fact is that very few people were going to wait around and check in for months for the campaign to begin.

Off the top of my head I think these are two possible problems (and I think that three is pretty much a given) that the campaign may have run into in terms of garnering outside campaigners. I fully recognize the intention of the campaign writers to keep this campaign within a close historical reading of Imperial history, and thus the onus of writing was necessarily negligent of other armies. In the future, then, I think that we will have to ask ourselves whether we want to sacrifice fluff for external numbers or vice versa or try harder to achieve a synthesis between the two as the campaign coordinators at Druchii.net seem to have done with their campaign last winter.

Again, my post to start this analysis assumes that the problem was not on the fault of supply, as I found the advertising to be adequate and the marketing via the newsletters, fiction, external website and maps to be beautiful; consequently, I have assumed that the problem is that players of other armies were not entirely happy with the product do to the extent that it did not engage their imaginations given their various armies. Therefore, the question will be what do we really want?

Nevertheless, I am open to being convinced that it was poor advertising.
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Offline General Helstrom

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Reaching out to the non-Warhammer-Empire.com community
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2005, 07:31:04 AM »
Some very good points there, Carlo! The original post mostly concerned communications outside the campaign forum, in the context of the W-E.com forums as a whole; that is, we obviously had a lot of sign-ups to the general forum during the months we were working on the campaign, and I have always felt that we weren't reaching the general forum very well with our communications.

Involving other forums is a different matter entirely, and it was a process which went through several stages during the design phase and the run-up to "Plan B". Allow me to explain...

We had originally planned for a small-scale campaign. The "mission brief", if you will, was to see what we had available to us within the confines of our own forums. As the design progressed, we monitored the campaign forums and got worried about participation - the type of campaign we were planning required at least a half-dozen fairly active players per faction, and maybe twice that number as moderately-active participants (with no distinct upper limit, of course). We weren't sure we could get that just from our own stock.

During the spring we did make some plans for outside advertisement, and the campaign background provided for Dwarf and Dogs of War participation, and a degree of Bretonnian influence could have been grafted on without too much trouble; we had some very nice advertisment material prepared as well. Then, however, the design process came to a halt as we sat around waiting for the engine to be completed. The critical factor in putting off the advertisement effort was the lack of a solid launch date.

When we finally did switch to "Plan B" and got ourselves a date, we had been on hiatus for about four months; we had made a mockery of the term "winter campaign"; and we would be conducting the campaign through a rather crude and involved method of people posting results in a forum. Frankly, the system was entirely untested and we had no way of knowing whether it would work anywhere near as expected. We were lucky and the system worked fairly well, of course, but at the time we were looking at a "fudged" solution. The advertisment effort was therefore not revived; the hiatus had been quite embarassing, and if the system broke down half-way, we figured it would be better to keep it to ourselves this time around. Also note that the sign-up process had yielded a far higher number of participants than we had expected, and it was probable that we could pull it off with just our own members.

So, in a nutshell: The campaign was never intended to incorporate large-scale outside participation. The involvement of a limited number of other races/forums was not pursued due to the difficulties we encountered in the design process, and the fact that our in-house resources turned out to be quite sufficient.


***


What I'm interested in is how the advertisement struck you as sufficient, when we actually didn't make any organized effort to do so :-D It seems, then, that something here worked well.

In case you're interested, here's some advertisment material intended for Bretonnia.org that never made it off the drawing board:

Quote from: Campaign Team

Johannis Breytefelt looked up from his oaken field desk as sergeant Senf entered the tent. The scarred veteran raised his hand in a sloppy excuse for a salute, accompanied by a half-toothed grin.

"Som'un outside to see yer, sir," he said "Real fop-like if yer ask me."

There were, in fact, two men outside the tent. Breytefelt was briefly flabbergasted by their appearance. One was on foot, dressed in fine silks over chainmail, a long copper trumpet clasped under his arm. The other was sat on a magnificent charger, clad in plate armour with an impressive, ornate helm, the visor raised to reveal a stern face. Both were soaked by the rain that pattered down relentlessly.

The one on foot raised the trumpet to his lips and gave out a loud blare, then exclaimed at the top of his lungs: "His lordship the Baron de Villiers, lord of the Estate Villiers, loyal servant to the Roy Breton, templar of the Lady of the Lake, drinker from the Grail Sacrale, viscount of Chautre-sur-Neuf, hero of the Battle of Brionne, slayer of the Rat King of the Forest of Charlons, scourge of Greenskins and Half-Beasts alike, protector of the faithful, defender of the weak, crusader for justice!"

An uncomfortable silence settled over the small gathering. Several Imperial soldiers moved closer from their tents and watchfires, curious as to what was going on. The man on horseback - pardon, the Baron de Villiers - eyed the two men in front of him as they shuffled awkwardly under their black-oiled rain capes. Breytefelt nudged Senf in the ribs with his elbow.

"Oh, er..." began the sergeant "Uhm, 'is Lordship-Cap'n Johannis... von Breytefelt, lord an' ruler of the Breytefelt Estate, keeper of Schloss Breytefelt, victor o' the battle for Annabelle's Honour, drinker from the keg of..."

"That'll do, sergeant." muttered Breytefelt, noticing the suppressed chuckles from the men who had started to gather around. "What brings you out here, Baron?"

"Captain Von Breytefelt, word has reached fair Bretonnia that a war is afoot in these parts - a war in which a noble Empress by bloodright seeks to protect what is rightfully hers from usurpers, usurpers who would install some common wench or an uncouth Northener on a throne which belongs to one of pure blood."

Breytefelt scratched behind his ear. "Well, you're right about the war part at least. Methinks you'd better find Marshall Gernot, the whole noble bit is more his thing. You'll find his headquarters about fifteen leagues up the road."
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Offline rufus sparkfire

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Reaching out to the non-Warhammer-Empire.com community
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2005, 10:22:52 AM »
When this campaign was first begun, it was intended to be a small scale, intra-site afair (and presumably that is why we ended up with a war of Ostermark succession). We were stuck with a campaign that could really only interest Empire players, and in fact could really only involve Empire players.

In the Ostermark war, it would have been unrealisitic to have involved large numbers of Bretonnians (since there was no real reason for them to be there, and no way to even get there easily). It would have been simply insane to have written in the Tomb Kings or Lizardmen.

Now, I enjoyed the Empirocentric (!) nature of this campaign, largely because I don't much care for the other Warhammer races. But next time, we will try for a campaign storyline that, by its nature, will require the participation of other races. I don't know if it will be as pleasing fluffwise (to me anyway), but it should at least be bigger.
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Offline Carlo Chaimo

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Reaching out to the non-Warhammer-Empire.com community
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2005, 02:23:49 PM »
Quote from: General Helstrom
Some very good points there, Carlo! The original post mostly concerned communications outside the campaign forum, in the context of the W-E.com forums as a whole.


Oops... I apologize, I did not understand that you meant the "campaign forum" as opposed to the whole forum.

Quote from: General Helstrom
What I'm interested in is how the advertisement struck you as sufficient, when we actually didn't make any organized effort to do so :-D It seems, then, that something here worked well.


It must have just been word of mouth at Earl Cadfael's court, Bretonnia.org. and some of the other major sites then. I have posted at the former forever, and cruise most of the other sites. I am sure, though, that I must have noted the advertisement on the front page of this site as well. Before the campaign started I had vistied this site a few times and read some of the articles, but I had never posted and would not have considered myself a regular visitor until about March/April of this year as campaign discussion and smack was building up (I believe that I actually joined in June).

In any case, then, should we just let this thread drift into oblivion or leave it open?  Eventually we will have to tackle the technical question about other sites and the fluff question about other armies. Should we start that discussion now or later then?
I've traveled all over this world, from Alabama to Louisiana, and one thing I've found is that people always want to do good.
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Offline PygmyHippo

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Re: Reaching out to the non-Warhammer-Empire.com community
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2005, 02:42:22 PM »
Quote from: Carlo Chaimo
Anecdotally speaking, I am inclined to half agree with the good General to the extent that it seemed to me that the most active participants during the campaign were in fact members before the campaign; however, it is quite possible that the problem was not so much "trouble getting word out" as it was a problem of getting people to "buy the product".


Quite possible.  Since we don't have any hard numbers regarding the effectiveness of advertisement, we should err on the side of caution and say that perhaps people weren't thrilled with the premise of the campaign, rather than lack of effective advertisement.  This, from a business perspective, makes sense.  The campaign was "empiro-centric" as rufus said, so generating interest with other races would be the biggest hurdle.  I think one thing that works in the favor of an Empire campaign is that Empire models come with every boxed game, and by extension, every player who owns the boxed set is a potential or actual Empire general.  It would seem logical then that there should be no shortage of Empire players.  Perhaps this campaign could be the impetus to get those folks to buy the Empire armybook and finally assemble those models.

In the opposite direction, however, is the professionalism in the development of campaign materials.  The premise of the campaign was original and beautifully written, the research was first rate (vastly better than anything GW has attempted and free from those annoying and obvious inconsistencies that they are so routinely guilty of) , the published materials (newsletters) were attractive and, in my humble opinion, better than anything GW produced for their worldwide campaigns (Battle for Armageddon, SoC) based upon wealth of information upfront and being free from errors.  Oh yeah, and that they were 100% free of charge.  GW did produce a few articles which appeared in WD, and they put out the SoC book, but the ham-fisted handling of the source material forces them to take a back seat to the W-E.com campaign writers.  And of course, they charged you money for those materials.  Based upon the quality of the materials this campaign created, the opposite view would be that we (campaign crew) didn't adequately put the material in peoples' hands.

Quote
1)What is my motivation
None of the other armies in the Warhammer world were written into the campaign... the fluff while superbly written and entertaining did not make any concessions for a non-Empire player.


Agreed.  There isn't much to involve other races.  Most of that is by design; it was originally intended solely for the Empire.  Part of the hope is that there are Dark Elf players who own an Empire army, and Tomb Kings players, and Orcs, etc.  Beyond getting folks who own Empire armies in addition to other races, our interest wasn't in getting outside races.  So if we didn't manage to get non-Empire participants, we weren't really concerned since the campaign wasn't really about them anyway.  I, for one, was hoping to see more Empire players register.

Quote
2)Stretching the "Reality" of the Unreal
As a Bretonnian player it did not stretch my imagination very much to join this campaign on the side of Talabecland; however, if I played Lizard Men, Druchii or Tomb Kings it most certainly would have.


Agreed, though for my part I considered the inclusion of other races just to ensure participation was high, and even then that participation would always have to be against an Empire opponent.  That's part of the reason for the control-rating bonuses for playing versus a faction army rather than just any army.  This way we could include everyone and keep interest high, but still keep it about the Empire and reward those who kept to the campaign fluff.

Quote
3)Late Start Date
This of course was not the campaign teams fault; nevertheless, the fact is that very few people were going to wait around and check in for months for the campaign to begin.


I disagree with the first part.  The late start date is absolutely the campaign team's fault.  I can't imagine where else the blame would go.  I believe the planning was good overall, mainly because of the commitment of the heavy-lifters, but one big error that was made was lack of redundant systems.  We should have made a better effort to recruit backup programmers at the start or come up with several systems at once.  We didn't prepare in advance for the potential loss of our programmer, and we didn't switch to a different system fast enough once we did.  

The system we used in the end worked, but I feel that the battle results gathering we did (forum post) was the cause of quite a few problems.  Personally, I believe it was the cause of our biggest problems in inter-faction BS, claims of malfeasance and unrealistic commitment of forces to specific locations.  Keeping the numbers behind the curtain is crucial, it should never have been any other way.

I agree with the second part.  After what advertising we did, we kept setting back the start date.  Who would stick around through that mess?  It's understandable that interest waned (though gauging the interest in the first place is something we are still trying to determine).  The initial response for the newsletters was fantastic.  They were released on a pretty tight schedule and were packed with material.  Striking while the iron's hot sounds like the lesson here.

We did attempt to assign an official advertiser/spokesman for the campaign, but they went MIA for a while.  In any similar volunteer endeavor, there is always a certain amount of attrition, and going into it, everyone knew that many people would get weeded out.  I believe we started out with around 30 folks on the campaign team, but by the end there were only 8 or so contributors:  the heavy-lifters.  They wrote, tested, re-wrote, tested, implemented.  A great volume of quality work by volunteers.

-
A few of my additional thoughts:

Next campaign should be kept secret until 75% of all content is completed, 100% of all programming work.
The deadlines are made public only after we have already finished those pieces of the campaign that relate to deadlines.
The results-input engine needs to be out of the view of the participants.
There should be backup programmers.  
Advertisement needs to be made a top priority.
All campaign staff get free beer while working on the campaign.  Preferably Pabst.

Marcus

Offline Kernschatten

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Re: Reaching out to the non-Warhammer-Empire.com community
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2005, 03:31:43 PM »
Quote from: PygmyHippo
All campaign staff get free beer while working on the campaign.  Preferably Pabst.


I'm willing to work for PBR. :-D  I have fond memories of college.....

I have a few points to raise.

1) A significant portion of the original Campaign Team wound up MIA. There was a much more substantial list of volunteers back in November when the campaign was originally approved. Including the members that volunteered to do miscellaneous work the total was around 25. Less than half of that number reported in at the Campaign Staff forum.

2) The delay to the campaign engine did have a positive side. The Campaign Team had a lot more time to develop the background material. Actually, we were forced to do a few things to keep from losing the momentum. The Fiction Contest was one of those things and I feel it went very well.
"We finally really did it. You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you. God damn you all to hell."

Offline Calvin

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Re: Reaching out to the non-Warhammer-Empire.com community
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2005, 01:53:09 AM »
Quote from: PygmyHippo
The late start date is absolutely the campaign team's fault.  I can't imagine where else the blame would go.  I believe the planning was good overall, mainly because of the commitment of the heavy-lifters, but one big error that was made was lack of redundant systems.  We should have made a better effort to recruit backup programmers at the start or come up with several systems at once.  We didn't prepare in advance for the potential loss of our programmer, and we didn't switch to a different system fast enough once we did.  


Well, there was no one else capable of making the engine at the time, other than Timmy. And if it wasn’t for Timmy leading us on the whole time (“just a few finishing touches”, “done within the week”) we wouldn’t have made these inaccurate dates. The whole team might be a bit at fault, but it really is unfair to spread the blame evenly on us all.
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Offline RGB

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Reaching out to the non-Warhammer-Empire.com community
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2005, 02:22:00 AM »
Quote from: PygmyHippo
Next campaign should be kept secret until 75% of all content is completed, 100% of all programming work.
The deadlines are made public only after we have already finished those pieces of the campaign that relate to deadlines.
The results-input engine needs to be out of the view of the participants.
There should be backup programmers.
Advertisement needs to be made a top priority.
All campaign staff get free beer while working on the campaign. Preferably Pabst.


Hard to say anything to the contrary.

The only thing I would do is

1) have more team members

2) bother team members more if they're inactive (I for one did nothing in the months between the annoucement of the campaign and the newsletters)

3) team members not working on the campaign (i.e. not actually doing anything) get no beer.

I'll take anything by Unibroue or Big Rock personally.
[in the good of life]

Offline PygmyHippo

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Re: Reaching out to the non-Warhammer-Empire.com community
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2005, 01:48:25 PM »
Quote from: Calvin
Well, there was no one else capable of making the engine at the time, other than Timmy.


Well, we at least won't have that worry next time.  Now that you've started teaching yourself programming, we've got our very own W-E.com tech-guy.  We'll even double your ration of beer.  

In regards to Timmy dropping out, in his defense I'm pretty sure real-life issues must've gotten in the way.  That, plus it was a volunteer job.  I don't feel like it's a matter of placing blame on anyone.  Rather, since this was a team effort, I feel it's a situation of accepting responsibility as a team, that's why I say lack of planning and backups is the campaign team's fault.

Still, for a "test run" this campaign worked out acceptably.  We definitely now have an idea of what to do, and what not to do.  Now that the test is done, the real campaign is gonna be unbelievable.

Marcus

Offline Midaski

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Reaching out to the non-Warhammer-Empire.com community
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2005, 04:26:38 PM »
Good points made.

Back-up is usually pretty essential in something like this, - the problem with our 'society' is we all have other lives, jobs, and responsibilities, and who can say what will happen, a 'volunteer' suddenly has something that just takes precedence.

The other thing that struck me was that the 'delay' was compounded by the quality of the initial stuff.

The first newsletters, the peripheral tasters were so good compared to what I suspect many of us expected, that the way things dragged on with the engine, made it even more exasperating.

I noticed on the Mids/Kislev Faction sign up list that several people signed up way back, and then did not reappear, when the campaign actully got going.
I think Pygmy is right - initial secrecy, and make sure stuff is ready before you launch.
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Offline Carlo Chaimo

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Reaching out to the non-Warhammer-Empire.com community
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2005, 06:00:08 PM »
Quote from: Midaski
The other thing that struck me was that the 'delay' was compounded by the quality of the initial stuff.

The first newsletters, the peripheral tasters were so good compared to what I suspect many of us expected, that the way things dragged on with the engine, made it even more exasperating.


I think this aspect was more frustrating for those already grounded as members of the community. As someone drawn to the community by the possibility of the campaign I know that I was really drawn to want to participate in the campaign because of the high quality of the newsletters and that I lived with the delay because of the high quality of the newsletters, but as a new member I did not find that my frustration was increased because the whole site was pretty much new to me so I had other new stuff to explore. So I think this definitely applies more to grounded members.

Quote from: Midaski
I noticed on the Mids/Kislev Faction sign up list that several people signed up way back, and then did not reappear, when the campaign actully got going.
I think Pygmy is right - initial secrecy, and make sure stuff is ready before you launch.

Midaski has really hit onto something here. For instance, I know that we Talabeclanders were quite concerned everytime we looked at the usergroup lists and noted that Stirland and Middenheim were four times the size of us when combined. As it turned out this did not matter as in the end it really seemed as if in terms of individual players actually posting battles all of the factions were fairly close to being even.
To be quite frank, the fact that some of our members from various factions were able to really be the linch pins in this campaign is the real problem, and suggests that next time we will require larger numbers to offset a repeat of this, but Midaski's point still stands.
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Offline General Helstrom

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Reaching out to the non-Warhammer-Empire.com community
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2005, 09:04:15 AM »
First things first - if anyone's to blame for the delay, it is me. Timmy volunteered for this effort just like the rest of us, and he was honest in trying to get the engine done. After putting in a lot of hard work, he simply got bogged down, no doubt with real-life issues busting in as well (he's been on hiatus at Asur.org for months too). As chief campaign dude, it was my job to recognize this and make the call to switch to "Plan B", which I simply should have done sooner. It's definitely a lesson well-learned for the next time, which was the point of the whole project. My only feeling towards Timmy on this issue is that whatever forced him to drop out of his efforts - here, on Asur.org, and wherever else - works out OK for him.

Long story short - I'm taking full responsibility for all of my team members, and that's quite final.

The good news: Shooting for a "summer of 2006" campaign gives us plenty of time to get the whole thing done before we start hyping it up, and thus we'll prevent this kind of hiatus nicely :)
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Offline HoS

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Reaching out to the non-Warhammer-Empire.com community
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2005, 04:00:53 PM »
Yes, not to mention I can't do anything even resembling participating in a campaign 'till summer, so I bet it is the same for many other students.
Gave into the WoW.