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#62525 (In Topic #13591)


An inquiry...

Hi all! :)

This should probably be addressed to my members eventually - and it will - but I figured I wanted to bring this up with other webmasters here, to sort of get an opinion.

My new site is about to get ready for business - in the creative way! :lol: I started my first site at the end of the '90's, and it was dedicated to games such SimCity, The Sim's, Tropico and similar. I was actually encouraged by Maxis/EA Games to start up a site in order to make it easier for the community to download and use the custom content I provided through various sites. And so I did! Gothia opened up and during the following years I filled my site with litterally tons of custom content for use with mainly SimCity games, and as mentioned in another thread of mine I had - at its peak - more than 1.1 million visitors a month world wide. All custom content on Gothia was provided for free, and while I offered donation options, most of the cost involved - which was very low as I made use of those personal homepage accounts provided by my ISP at the time.

However, during the mid '00's I couldn't keep up with my site anymore as new techniques made it impossible to use, for instance Frontpage Express, which was my only option at that point. So Gothia and it's replacement CityScape was closed down.

Now, closing up to the Grand Opening of the long-awaited Simuscape, (it still amazes me how many e-mails I recieve from people asking about a re-opening of my former site, or discussions popping up both here and there on various forums online), I'v been thinking a bit about some of the new circumstances regarding a site such as mine. The basic idea is to provide a place where I can make all my previous custom content available, (a little more than 6000 files up to date), for those still playing these "older 2d-type" of games, or for those returning to these games after spending time with todays 3D graphics engines. Yes, people returns to older games all the time, simply to find how great they actually were in their simplicity. :thumbs: But there are of course bigger plans involved here, although I'm going to keep them for myself at this point… ;)

Anyways, unlike the last time I had my site up and running, involving a fairly low cost, the situation today is a bit different. I have my own domain, which generates a yearly cost, and I have my host which generates a cost each quarter. And on top of that I imagine that my current storage space may have to be increased - at a cost obviously!

While my mission is to make all these game graphics libraries available for the communities again - for whatever purposes, although I see the internets historical value of these files - I am not prepared to take all the costs inviolved on my own. Therefor I'm considering several alternatives. I need to take into account though that since my site is ALL about game graphics, it mainly focuses on younger people, (yeah, I know, we ALL play games these days, regardless of age… :lol: ), and not everyone have access to payment methods. Especially online.

An idea I have is to use the point system, meaning; each download requires a specific amount of points in order to be downloaded. The advantage of this is that anyone can gain points by participating in site activities, mostly the forum I guess. This will obviously be benefitial for those unable to make online payments. But I will also make it possible for those able to make online payments to directly purchase points to be used for downloads. This will of course mainly be benefitial for those wanting to download as much as possible at once.

Another idea is to simply make use of a subscription system, either to enter the entire site, (forum excluded as I want that particular area to always be free of charge), or use subscription system dependant on download categories. For instance, if you're into SimCity 3000 and want to download custom content for that particular game, you purchase a SimCity 3000 subscription account, which will give you access to that particlar area, but none other games.

Either way, regardless of subscription system I - in such case - intend to offer a system that encourages long-term subscriptions, (i.e. higher cost the first month which then decreases the 2nd month, the 3rd month and so on til it reaches a minimum subscription fee per month).

The purpose of even considering donations, points, and/or subscriptions is of course to ensure that files, both mine and external additions, will be kept available online for both users and for the sake of its historical value over time, for anyone to take advantage of.

Still, I'm not sure how to approach this, and it's no hurry as I haven't started the time-consuming project of uploading the files. Anyone working with stuff like this knows how much there's to it. It's not only about uploading the files to the server, but they need to be categorized, given ID's, preview images created - and if addressed to subscription - becoming subject to other installation procedures. O_o

I know there are other webmasters here, which is why I wanted to post this, both new ones opening up their first sites, and more experienced ones like myself, (and no, I'm not talking code-wise here :lol:). What's your personal opinions? How would you go about? Any inputs, ideas, suggestions?

I appreciate anything! :thumbs:
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Community saint

Just be careful with Maxis/Electronic Arts (EA) content. Even though you want to have it that anyone can get points real easily by being active on the site but also offer a subscription that earns you points faster… you'll become a "paysite" in the eyes of many Maxis/EA games (such as the sims and sim city) users. You may end up getting a lot of hate mail for it. And if any of your 6000+ content has to do with any of the Maxis/EA games that were created by someone else and they see you're offering their stuff with a "subscription" option, they may actually try and get your site shut down.

Just be very careful.

Something you could do is that on each download page, have a box (like the download now and ratings) that is a donate now type thing. You can hard code it in (pretty sure we all can try and help you with it) so it shows up on each download page rather than you having to add something to each download. Perhaps have text in the box stating if you like this download, to please donate to the site. Just an idea.

Eric DeMars . com
My electronic portfolio and personal site. Uses ocPortal!
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…which is why I really don't fancy the idea of setting a "price" on each available item to begin with. In that case I feel a general subscription could be the best option - for the sake of covering the costs of maintaining the site itself. It doesn't even have to be a large fee, more like a symbolic one. And as for donations, my experience is that people aren't that willing to donate, and if they do it's usually always the same little group that does it - which in my opinion get's a bit unfair as the vast majority takes advantage of this. Tricky question indeed!

Still, all the files, (custom content), are made by myself at this point, so I'm not worried there though. And any new content added made by other artists may have to be dealth with each artist before becoming part of Simuscapes content. And as far as I can tell EA has never interfered with so called "paysites", as they're well aware of the fact that upkeeps generate costs, so unless there's been any major illegal activities going on, EA unofficially has looked the other way!

When it comes to my site I do think it's a bit different. My content focuses on "older" games and the main purpose is actually to provide an online database of historical value as far as internet communities concerns. The content is to be preserved for future generations, and people should be able to download and use any content upon returning to any of these "older" games and start playing them again.

Yes, tricky indeed! I do feel an obligation to get this site online as I have content donated by former webmasters, and in some cases we're talking content that isn't available online anymore. For instance the only world wide library of SimCity 2000 files, (custom content), consisting of just about 1600 single files, is in my possession, and this library has a specific historical value initself as it visualizes an era on the internet as being one of the first larger active communities creating, sharing and gattering around custom content - if not the first one actually! There were other games present at the time, but most of them never offered customization abilities, thus never formed any larger communities where creation, sharing, and gattering became a basic ground.

Well, to be honest I'm not sure how to approach this at all. As mentioned I'm not willing to face the costs myself as I also expect them to increase due to the amount of content itself. Yet I aso feel obligated to get it online for reasons already mentioned.

Perhaps I may have to find a way to get site supporters by turning to real world businesses and ask for donations… :P

Another possible option could be that I'll follow your advice and add donation buttons according to your suggestions, and keep the entire site for free - but with some "cruisal" content available only as "donation gifts" or something. The point system can still be there enforcing people to actually become active on the forums - especially as I want to offer a place where artists of game graphics mainly for these older games can gather in one place and share ideas, knowledge, and whatnot…

Hmm… O_o
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