Single Player Website Network

24th October 2006

Introduction

I believe webmasters of websites that focus on or at least contain content relating to Single Player FPS games should form a new network. We are both competitors and allies. We compete for viewer’s attention and time but also support each other through the dissemination of information.

The Corner Shop

Small fan sites like PlanetPhillip are constantly fighting the larger commercial sites. Clearly we can’t compete with the number of visitors but we provide our dedicated readers with a valuable service. We are like the corner shop facing the hypermarkets. When was the last time that a little independent site got a preview of a AAA game? Probably never. If you knew how many emails I’ve sent to the PR companies asking for preview copies to review on my site you would be amazed. 99.9% go unanswered. What if we could offer them a ten-fold increase in our potential readership by syndicating the review to all the other sites in the network? May be as a group we could gain some attention!

The Nay Sayers!

I’ve little doubt that some people will just dismiss the idea out of hand, saying that there is no need for this, or that they are happy as they are. Well, I won’t be wasting my energy trying to convince them. If they can’t see the benefits that’s fine.

You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours

I think it’s far to say that PlanetPhillip is becoming more and more popular. I have sent a lot of visitors to lots of other websites (and vice versa). Some sites have links back to me others don’t. In general I don’t have problem with that and have never included sites on my list only if they include me. However, if we all were able to send potential visitors to each other then everybody would benefit.

The Website

Here is my starting idea. Create a new, simple that website that has three functions:

  • To provide central point for access to all the websites within the network. (Member Directory)
  • To provide a central point of RSS feeds that a viewer can read. (RSS Feeds)
  • To promote and encourage players to play SP instead of MP games. (General)
The Member Directory

The site would also include a member directory. This would be a simple screenshot of the site, along with some descriptive text about the content etc.

The RSS Feeds

One of my favourite games news site is GameTab. A quick visit (don’t forget to come back!) shows you that it is very different from most news sites. It is simply a central location for many news sites. Why bother visiting 12 sites to see what’s new when you can do it on one site?

The SPN could feature something like this. Now, not all the sites have RSS feeds but it is certainly becoming more and more accepted.

The General Section

The last section could feature articles or pieces specifically designed to expound the virtues of SP gaming. Maybe even a help section or simple “How To” articles.

Promotion

Each Member site would feature a highly visible logo and link to the network and help promote it in any way they see fit.

Joint Ventures

There could be many ways we could work together. For example perhaps run a network-wide competition or possible some other type of event. Co-op Days or something. Use your imagination! I’m sure you’ll agree that when people get together some interesting ideas emerge.

The Name

I’ve called this post the Single Player Network but it can easily be called something else. SP Nexus, SP Core, Sp Axis, SP Hub, or SP Oracle. Got any good ideas?

Longer Term

I can’t help myself from thinking longer term and I believe that a domain name should be bought. The site can be hosted by any of the members because is so small and the site could even feature some sort of revenue generating advertising. Any money raised would obviously be used to pay for the domain name and perhaps separate hosting costs.
Perhaps there could even be a paid membership of $5. This would cover domain, hosting , software (mainly to do with the syndication scripts) and design costs. I think it’s really important to try and make the site look a professional as possible. Any profit made (unlikely) could used to purchase prizes for competitions etc.

Any Takers

So, does anybody else out there think it’s a good idea? Anybody prepared to put in a little time and effort to see the concept grow?

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24 Comments

  1. Al3xand3r

    Sounds like a good idea though I don’t have any time left myself I’m afraid, working on a project like this would only limit the time I can put on my own website and I care more about having it be the best it can be rather than getting more hits for it (love those too though…). But either way, I’m not fit for it as I mostly cover multiplayer stuff (not because I want to but because it’s the majority of HL2 mods etc).

    Anyway I’m just posting here to say this. I think there’s a fine line between something like gametab and something like metacritic that you should be careful to not cross.

    Gametab seems to be providing enough credit to the original source since you have to go to it to see the actual news (though it seems to open in-site via Gametab again, would that limit the “unique users” of those sites? If so, that’s bad too).

    Metacritic on the other hand has all the information most people will want to see right on the game pages. A nice little quote from the reviews and the score awarded from that source. It seems to me that they are simply getting users (and money, with the ads) from the work of others that way. Maybe I’m wrong?

  2. That’s the problem, most webmasters are already busy with their own sites, but maybe somebody is looking for a project to work on over the summer. I don’t think it would take long to get working well.

    I agree with your points about GameTab and MetaCritic but all the feeds on the SPn would be from member sites and l9ink directly to the site itself. It’s just for the benefit of the members (plus hopefully the readers!)

    I suppose there’s nothing stopping me just setting up a page of RSS feeds that my readers can browse (That of course is one of the reasons for RSS!) but I think that would be wasting an opportunity. IF after the same nobody has picked up the idea I might ry and create a new page to match my new theme (Due Septmeber 2006 – PP 3rd birthday!)

  3. Al3xand3r

    Thought of another potential problem (it’s 9am and I haven’t slept yet so it could be the lack of sleep typing!). Perhaps the hits of the member websites will actually reduce because people will do all the random browsing and searching on the hub website instead of those. That’s probably nitpicking since if it is a very succesful attempt then there will be many many members which should increase the hits of each other by directing users to that hub website… In theory atleast…

  4. You make a good point about the traffic. And maybe you are right. Perhaps one solution is to limit the number of RSS feed items to , say 6. This would encourage readers to visit the sites.

    The counter arguement could be that by visiting the hub site the website is saving bandwidth from having to display graphics and other items only for the reader to leave almost immediately.

    I’m not saying tha’s always good but you are right it does need to be considered.

    I suppose the other question is way supply RSS if you don’t want people to use them?

  5. dougjp

    I think it depends on what the majority of people have in mind when they go to sites, and how much time they are willing to spend on their focus, that has to be determined first.

    The general concept – sites that ” focus on or at least contain content relating to Single Player FPS games” is fine, but is it latest news and rss that are most important? Is it the games themselves, or add ons by category (maps, mods, utilities)? For example, I looked at Gametab and left, nothing for me there and too muddled looking. However no doubt it would be perfect for those looking for the latest all around news, and willing to spend the time investigating.

    A thought. Can you get onto Gametab with a heading “Single Player FPS Add-Ons, Planet Phillip”?

  6. Passerbywhoplayshalflife

    Meister Phillipo,

    You know you can count on me to give frank and honest feedback 😉

    The refocussing ideas were great, why suddenly focus on this? If it is so easy to make an aggregator site, it will be even easier to copycat it – so it’s value strikes me as pretty low. Getting on to an aggregator that already has a name like dougjp suggests is probably better.

    You should build on the two great strengths this site has: 1) regularly updated content and news that draws people and has them coming back, and 2) the beginnings of a community.

    If I were you, I’d particularly focus on the latter. Why don’t you make it even easier to post comments and follow the flow of the discussion (the 100 latest comments page is somewhat rudementry). The reason nobody posted on the forum is because we were all posting here!

    With a good community a cornershop can survive and outshine a hypermarket.

  7. Thanks for you comments, I’d like to answer them individually, sorry if it seems I am picking a fight!

    “why suddenly focus on this?”
    I’m not focusing on it. PlanetPhillip is not only for SP maps and mods but also a place for me to publish my thoughts and ideas. This happens to be one of them. All I’ve done is post the idea and make a crappy concept website (Which I will remove after I have finished typing this reply).

    The SPN idea was not just an aggregator for RSS feeds but an idea for a webmaster community. A place where all the SP webmasters can help each other.
    Of course anybody can start a feed collection but it’s the combination of collections that count. I’m not too worried about getting my feed on other aggregators because those readers are probably not interested in my content.

    “You should build on the two great strengths this site has: 1) regularly updated content and news that draws people and has them coming back, and 2) the beginnings of a community.”
    That’s what I am trying to do, the SPN idea comes under the heading of new content.

    “If I were you, I’d particularly focus on the latter. Why don’t you make it even easier to post comments and follow the flow of the discussion (the 100 latest comments page is somewhat rudimentary).”
    What exactly do you mean by make it easier? The problem I am aware of is the comment moderation, which means that I have to approve EVERY single comment BEFORE they appear to the other readers. (IF you are logged in I think you see your comment, even if others don’t). I am very hesitant to change that because of the spam I get everyday. I wanted to allow registered users to be able to post comments without them being held in a queue but I can’t seem to get that working. Also I often edit comments, maybe just for spelling or something trivial and I would prefer to continue to do that.

    What changes would you like to see to the recent Comments? I have increased the word count from 8 to 24. This means you get a better sense of what the commenter is saying. Is that enough or are there others things you would like to see?

    “The reason nobody posted on the forum is because we were all posting here!”
    I think you are wrong about this. Nothing of the forum was duplicated on the main site. The forum consisted of Gaming news, discussion and off topic posts.

    “With a good community a corner shop can survive and outshine a hypermarket.”
    Agreed, but imagine a group of corner shops working together. How much better would that be?

    What do other readers think about Passerbywhoplayshalflife’s comments?

  8. In reply to dougjp’s comments:

    ” but is it latest news and rss that are most important? Is it the games themselves, or add ons by category (maps, mods, utilities)?”

    I personally think both. Most players who are interested in HL2 add-ons are also interested in HL2 Ep 2. Don’t you agree?

    ” For example, I looked at Gametab and left, nothing for me there and too muddled looking.”
    I agree, it is way more complicated than it needs to be. But imagine if the news was exactly what you wanted. It would be perfect for daily browsing. OF course there’s nothing to stop you using an RSS feed reader application to have the feeds delivered to you but that assumes you know the site and feed exist. Many reader of PP do so with the RSS feed and only visit the actual site when they see something they like. I do it with other site. The aggregator idea was just one way of the SP dedicated sites (Non-commercial) of helping each other and interested readers.
    “A thought. Can you get onto Gametab with a heading “Single Player FPS Add-Ons, Planet Phillip”?”
    That’s an excellent idea. However I would only want to be on an aggregator site that I knew its readers would be interested in my content. Does anybody know of any?

  9. dougjp

    Keep in mind the whole thing is a broad concept, perhaps difficult to grasp for those of us not in your position, and we are throwing ideas out there. This is an idea generating thread and by expanding on an idea doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be happy if you don’t agree.

    Regarding your 1rst reply, yes I do agree most players are interested in both. I wonder how many come here for a core reason, and elsewhere for others.

    Regarding the 3rd reply, I really don’t know the answer to the question which I would rephrase; How many visiting GameTab are largely or fairly interested in SP FPS, and haven’t already found PlanetPhillip? I just thought that as this thread already in a way promotes GameTab, if they read it, they in turn would be interested in adding PlanetPhillip. That’s why the wording of the title I suggested is specific to focus on SP FPS.

    A couple of comments in your reply one above your latest one also caught my eye.

    First, nobody posted in the Forum where its content was gaming news, discussion and off topic. That suggests to me those aren’t the primary reasons why people come here, maybe they do that elsewhere, or not at all.

    Second thing I noticed, “an idea for a webmaster community. A place where all the SP webmasters can help each other.” Yes I think that concept is solid. If its activities could be narrowed down and defined first, recognizing that webmasters might not spend the time at it unless there were areas of benefit, then at that point the approach could be made directly to all such webmasters for their opinion? In other words, our opinions on that aren’t as important. I think it should fly. 🙂

  10. “First, nobody posted in the Forum where its content was gaming news, discussion and off topic. That suggests to me those aren’t the primary reasons why people come here, maybe they do that elsewhere, or not at all.”

    I agree, which is what promoted mt to think about the focus.

    I honestly think I’m too small-fry for somebody like Gametab.

  11. AI

    I got turned off on the forum thing from the other sites (Filefront for one)account of the constant putdowns,bad language,and name calling just to name a few!! I haven’t seen that here, more control —-> good

  12. Al3xand3r

    It doesn’t hurt to try so go ahead. Sometimes you earn things you don’t expect. Every time I log on Steam and see it’s a press account I remember that 🙂

  13. I like to think I keep tight control of the comments made here. Fortunately I rarely have to edit anything.

    I won’t be starting this, that’s the point about the re-focusing. It the past I would have set-up a proper websites, eamil websmaster, posted on other froums etc. Now, I just post the idea, discuss it if readers want to and let somebody say”Hey, that’s a good idea. I’m going to try that”.

    Wish I had a press account for Steam 😉

  14. Passerbywhoplayshalflife

    Sorry PP, didn’t want to diss the aggregator idea so much as urge you to focus on the existing strengths of the current site.

    My point on the comments system is that the latest comments page only provides a very summary overview of what is going on. You cannot see to which post the comment is referring (without looking at the url in the taskbar, that is). It is not possible to see the posts where the most discussion is taking place as the posts are soon bumped off the front page into the archieves etc. I stand by my observation that the reason people didn’t post on the forum was because they were used to (and enjoy) posting here, Making the commenting process even more transparant will enhance the community aspect of this site and with that its popularity….

    Keep up the good work!

  15. Never let it be said that I don’t listen to my readers. The sidebar now includes a new link under the Archives section called “Most Commented Posts”. I know it’s not perfect and I promise to look at the comments section in more details after I return from holiday.

    One thing I will definitey add is an obvious RSS feed for the comments.

    I didn’t feel you were dissing the aggregator idea. I think it’s unlikely I will be doing it anyway. I do have another post brewing about that and other duplication.

    I’m happy to here any other suggestions anybody may have.

  16. Phillip:

    I stumbled on your site during a search for good HL2 single-player mods, and I have found some very good ones from here; thank you.

    I like your site because it seems to be one that is most active in providing *QUALITY* mods and maps. One of the problems I have encountered is finding decent stuff: Google returns a whole lot of junk, and the bigger sites typically require a subscription just to look at things; couple that with poorly-organized sites (how the big pay-to-play sites gete away with this, I will NEVER know) and sites that plug mods/maps that are just plain junk… well, you see where this is going.

    On the surface, I like the idea of a centralized network, but it really brings to mind the old concept of “WebRings”, where a group of sites that typically complement each other band together in a ring, with that little link at the bottom that takes you to the next one in the ring. I’ve noticed that webrings seem to have gone away, for the most part; so maybe the next best thing is what you suggest.

    Either way, whatever you do, do NOT let this site bite the dust. I registered just so I could comment, and thank you; I plan on relying on you and your site for maps, mods, and other technical issues related to HL2 and other games.

    Take it easy, keep up the good work!

  17. Thank you for your kind words about the site. I’m afraid you are in for a bit of a shock because I list every SP map and mod I can find (Yes, I know I am missing some!) which means there are plenty of very poor maps to be found!

    Hopefully the recent introduction of the ratings system will help sort the wheat from the chaf (spelling?).

    Yes, you are right about the webrings. they seem to have dissapeared. Maybe my idea is the next best thing?

    Lastly, there was no need to register to make comments, although I’m glad you decided to join my ever growing community. I hate sites that force you to join before you can contribute. The only advantage of being a member is being able to rate maps and mods.

  18. It’s cool; when I feel stongly enough about a place, I typically will lend what paltry support I can. I hope the ratings system takes off soon, because digging thru each and every listing is a major pain, and just going with the comments or the blurbs can lead to real heartache.

    Is there a way to get the listings to sort based on rating or downloads?

  19. Yes there is.

    The first one (ratings) can be found on the sidebar (right) called most rated posts. But beware the ratings system was only introduce a few days ago so currently isn’t much use.

    The downloads one can be found on my file server (Again on the righthand side bar). There is a selection list on the right hand side. Just above the images of the folders is the text: Sort Items By. You can make your selection from there. FYI above that should be the top ten downlaoded files.

    Hope that helps.

    PS. please avoid putting the “http://” in the website field because I only have to delete it. It can be left blank, thanks.

  20. Um, I *am* leaving it blank. 🙁 I just put in my name and email addy. 🙁

  21. My apologies. It’s the first time that this has happened. In all other cases people are entering something in the field.

  22. Ol Scratch

    No worries; got a couple of suggestions, if you don’t mind. Hit me up on Yahoo Messenger, same ID as the email. Thanks

  23. Ezequielhl

    SP is great! No AWP whores, no CS gamers that says “Go play Solitary.”

    MP is for casual gamers.
    Hardcore gaming owns casual gaming.

    A little thing we all can do for help to find the good stuff is is reviewing it, or just put a number like 4/5.

  24. Your site your own businessand in this fact you have to act like most of majour companies recenter yourself at your core business so like it is and not more (except if you have help (but people will promise you a entire harm and you will just recieve a nail…(translate from french but not shure you understand.

    So just try to improve this site and don’t forget to focus on 1 think don’t put to much detail in comment review or else (example 10/4: review are so up to date and detail…but most of de time and don’t read them till the end). A good way to improve is your poll so you know what people want.

    Perhaps but you do it sometimes add some in front page comment on for ex: if you put a comment with a reference site you name will be put in yellow and could be clicked to access the site (just notice this today).

    I started a blog according review in french ( I got feedback from http://www.planetduke.com/amc, where I am a moderator, telling me it was better to do this in your mother language) then went to vossey.com and took part in the forum to publish some news according new mods and maps put a link to my site when I make a review. I have till today put 20 reviews with a lot of detail (taken here mostly) to give really a good review and I have never got in 3month any reply or comment (even if I know that people come to my site) How much registered people at Vossey’s forum 45 000 !!!! quite frustrating. So people like your site and come everyday don’t loose them by given them to much.

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