On Local’s Mind: “Improvements”

As you may know we have a very handy anonymous survey available. Once you have been working on and with TSG as long as I have, things start to become blurred and you can’t tell what needs to be improved anymore, and sometimes you over improve things causing it to be not user-friendly. Now I count on you guys to tell us what you think we should improve, and here are my responses to some of your suggestions.

More Marathons
Our number one most requested improvement and has been fixed in 2013. If you don’t know, this was due to us only doing two big marathons in 2012. For the sake of transparency, we decided to only do two marathons for a lot of reasons. A lot of us have full time jobs, or are in our final years of college, so things are hectic and finding a date that will work for everyone to take time off is tough. Coming off of our Star Wars marathon in 2011, we decided it would probably be best to reserve ourselves to series and dates we knew would be successful, and we hoped the wait would increase the interest/hype. We also needed some recuperation. TSG has been a non-stop marathon machine since 2008, and we were all feeling the wear and tear of the constant sleepless nights and poor diets from the marathons.

More Variety of Games
Almost equally as requested as ‘more marathons.’ We still want to remain somewhat safe for our big marathons and do series that we know will draw people, but for our smaller Spring and Fall marathons we will experiment more. For spring we have Mega Man, mainly because we kind of dropped the ball on a few games last time — due to inability to practice and a player dropping halfway through — and we want to do it right this time, especially for TSG’s 5 year anniversary! Fall will bring our Halloween marathon again, which is fun because it’s not series based, just themed, so there’s lost of room for obscure and underrated games that don’t get the amount of attention they deserve. We also have some series planned for 2014 that have been so frequently requested that we have to do them! 😀

Better Way to Contact TSG
This is primarily my fault, and I apologize. When we put the gaming news portion of the blog on hiatus, I removed the link to the Contact/Tips page. I have since added a link in the footer of the blog, but I know that’s definitely not eye catching enough for most. I will correct this and make it easier to contact us. Another issue the user suggests improving is having some sort of reply back no matter what. Sometimes things get lost in the shuffle of emails; we get a lot of spam. Sometimes we don’t always have the answer or the time to reply. The user suggests we have an auto reply as sort of a confirmation. I like this idea because it helps take care of, and segue into, the next suggestion.

Advertising Ourselves Professionally
We have definitely been trying to do this a lot more while still attempting to keep our 20 year old goofy charm (e.g. Tyler) at the forefront. That is why you saw that amazingly well done Mario Marathon Trailer by our own Cameron. It pinned everything that defines TSG as well as advertised the marathon. We have also seen some phenomenal trailers and skits by Jazaaboo and DeleteandRepeat. I hope we collaborate more with all of them in the future. We started up our own dedicated marketing team, to help reach out to sites in a more professional manner. In the past we would try to contact sites while the community was promoting and our email would get lost and never replied to. This time around we get in our contacts months in advance and let you guys promote usually about a week or 2 ahead of time. I’ve also done a lot with the site to try and increase the professional look and feel, while still trying to keep it uniquely TSG. The only thing we should probably do now is increase the quality of our streaming equipment. We’ve been using the same equipment for years, but never had the money to purchase anything new. Now that you guys are helping with server and prize shipping costs, it’s likely we can finally upgrade soon.

Stream on Twitch as well as Ustream
We lost a lot of followers when we switched to Justin.tv (now Twitch), it’s true, but Ustream was like a cold business machine and Twitch was run by people like us, gamers and programmers, people who cared about what we were doing. With Ustream not only were we forced to have ads on our stream without an option to turn them off at the time, we also did not make any revenue from them. Twitch splits the ad revenue with us, and allows us to turn them off and play them whenever we want. Twitch is also more of a community for gaming, more so now than with Justin.tv, and that was a big draw for us. Ustream was the place you watched NASA streams and puppies, not games. We did try streaming on both services for one marathon recently but I can’t remember which one. The views we got we not so spectacular as to make us decrease our quality for the extra bandwidth needed to stream on both. Sorry, we are exclusively on Twitch.

Theme Entire Site to Upcoming Game Series
Only the Wiki and Store were missing from this, and I have recently themed them to match the rest of the site. Continuity between sites has always been a major goal for me, but the issues that were holding me back from finishing them earlier were that our store’s was hosted externally so I was a little tricky, i.e. awful, importing in a style and edited what was needed with their Tumblresque editor. I’m also not familiar with how Dokuwiki works, which powers our Wiki, so I had to learn and spend a lot of time dealing with those limitations.

More Personal Commentary During Marathons
Basically the issue stems from us having way to many prizes to give away and donation incentives to reach, so taking the quality time to interact with the chat gets pushed to the backburner a lot of times. This is tricky because we have new viewers filtering in all the time that need to be filled in on what they can win, how, by when, who we are, what charity the marathon benefits, etc., but we also want to ask you guys what your favorite anime is like we used to. You can probably see that there is a lot of stuff to cover while still maintaining an entertainment factor, and how we have to choose on the fly what to do and most of us default to doing stuff for donations. I know when I commentate I feel like whenever there is downtime or the chat is slow I need to do “the speech”, which consists of everything I listed before. For Mario, however, we had two commentators at once and I believe that helped alleviate any downtime. I think we are still working on this and getting better, but like I said we always have a lot of prizes to give away.

A Central Place to See Current Commentator(s), Current Game(s), and Current Contest(s)
When we used Ustream, their flash chat had a section where you could type in messages and it would be displayed at the top of the chat. Any op, or mod could edit this, and it was a handy feature. Twitch doesn’t have anything like this, and we typically can’t rely and commentators to change this information during the marathon. So what I’m proposing is we have a similar system to Ustream, where there is a message section on the marathon page somewhere that only people with login information can edit, and handing that honor over to the chat mods again.

Make TSG Present! More Visible on the Frontpage
The link for TSG Present! is pretty easy to miss in the header of the site, but we also do have the stream embedded on the Frontpage. What I’m thinking about doing is getting rid of the sidebar embed, and only when someone is live on the channel have it display somewhere. This setup would be similar to how GoNintendo does their site when they are streaming. I also agree with the theory behind this suggestions because if something is there all the time, you’re bound to stop noticing it sometime.

Allow TSG Present! to be More Mature
I would love to make this happen, however this is more of an executive decision, so Britt will have the final word. My opinion is that our fan base is growing up, and find mature games and language to be more entertaining. Now that’s not to say we don’t allow mature games. Cosmoid has streamed Demon’s Souls, and Baltes has streamed Black Ops 2, both Mature rated titles, the issue is the language. TSG has always founded itself and being a clean place mainly because our core viewership was young kids attempting to get their parents approval so they could donate. This is extremely important to us still, even though I believe our main viewership is now teens. My compromise would be to only allow occasional and natural swearing past a certain time, like an official start to TSG After Dark, but like I said this is up to Britt, and these are just my opinions.

Remove Inactive Mods, Ops, and Ambassadors
I know we haven’t been the most strict with this even though we said we would remove people. I do think it’s time we should though. In fact I honestly think the last time we pruned anyone was a few years ago. Once again this is an executive decision, but I think we should have different rules for each, considering they constitute different things. For instance Mods should be active on the forum even if lurking, so we can set an rule that if they have been inactive 3 months on the forum we remove them and replace them. Ops need to be at marathons, so if an Op misses two marathons in a row, then we need to replace them. Ambassadors need to be active on the forum and not lurking because they should be seen as the the ideal community member, so if they haven’t posted for a month then that is not ideal. I don’t want to make these into jobs because they are all voluntary and honorary titles, but we also don’t want everyone to be a Mod, Op, or Ambassador just because we don’t want to remove anyone. There needs to be restrictions.

That’s all for now, and I hope you enjoyed your glimpse into the behind the scenes and reasoning for our decisions.

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