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Part One: What we are up to

It’s always been a thing near the top of the list for Squidwolf that the more active and engaged our member-base is, the better community we will have. Squidwolf is a deeply social environment at its core, and having more people to interact with gives more opportunities for organic-awesomeness to happen.

One of the major benefits to Squidwolf is the move to pool all of our resources into developing Squidwolf Minecraft and when we leave BETA with the next expansion, we are expecting a major influx of new members to Squidwolf Syndicate as a result of this, which is totally awesome! And then someone said “yea, but signing-up and figuring out how to use stuff sucks majorly.” We (the Dev Team) looked at this & realised “um, yeah…yeah it does”.

Squidwolf Syndicate was never intended for the average joe that now inhabits the internet, rewind 5 years ago and you’ll see the majority of heavy internet users were geeks like us.

ROUND ONE: ANALYSIS – FIGHT!

The first thing we did was to plan on a series of analysis for the entire network as a whole and determine where the “potholes of WTF is this” are. We crafted a series of spiderbots to crawl over the web server and determine how usable the services are at the moment. The biggest pothole at the moment is the registration process, and this is in two parts. The first is that it is currently really hard to find where the registration page even is after we removed the right-sidebar on Squidwolf Main Site which we added with Inherit Velocity and then never used it as it actually was really unhelpful and caused more problems than it solved. The second part is that once users registered, their account required verification before activation and by the time their account was approved, the new member had got bored and never bothered to sign-in.

Squidwolf Syndicate currently has 873 members, 209 of those are account on which the owner hasn’t even logged in once. We really have a big problem with this. Based on our experience with the previous NME (New Member Experience) overhaul, we came to the conclusion that rewriting the whole system from scratch wouldn’t give us satisfying outcomes and in the time given (2 weeks), it would be stupid to try & do it. So we set on this task with these conditions.

With those restrictions presented a very difficult task, so we stepped away from our computers and had a meeting over Xbox LIVE (playing Blur, if you were interested! Ask us for our GTs). After 12 races and 4 hours of fun gaming, we came to a massively simple conclusion. We have decided to make each regional general personally responsible for approving new accounts and guiding them through their first week of being a member up until the next expansion where we can make huge changes to the frameworks of the system.

For England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland (Edge); PH Squidwolf is responsible. For Wales (Flight); PH Entropy is responsible. And for North America (February); PH Blue Shadow has this mammoth of a task.

ROUND TWO: Planning – GO!

Minecraft has this hugely awesome authentication system which we want to take advantage of. We are already testing it on our Minecraft website which you can sign-in using your Minecraft ID and leave comments. There isn’t a button to tell you how to do this at the moment but if you know anything about WordPress then you’ll know if you add /wp-login to the end of the URL, you can view the login page.

We were mindful of Mohang being notorious for their authentication server going through unexpected downtime an awful lot, so we will only test your ID against their authentication server upon registration. Once registered, you will be authenticating against our user directory; not theirs.

ROUND THREE: Boss Level!

After playing Blur for four hours, we went on Halo: Reach to come up with a deployment timeline.

BOUNS ROUND: Goodluck!

Once we killed covenant and the fallout of n00bs over christmas still being n00blets, we have good solid implementation plan which will take place gradually over the coming months leading up to the next expansion.

We are really happy with this totally awesome idea. It finally gives us breathing room to allow things to drift apart organically as they were always intended to do in Project: Hazel. Squidwolf Syndicate now has a ‘leaving plan’ for them to go off into the wild and away from us to become profitable. We aren’t kicking anyone out but Project: Hazel was never intended to be a parent company as it now feels like it is.

Next Gateway – Fight!

Now we have a plan to tackle the new member problem, we set about tidying up the abomination that is the Squidwolf Wiki. It has been left to die and hasn’t seen a decent content update in almost a year. A key example of this is actually the pages on New Member Experience. We haven’t updated the content there since Red Vortex! Shock! Horror! However, now that Squidwolf is shifting towards Squidwolf Minecraft we can be really creative and build tutorials into the game environment. So we get to improve member experience AND play the game?! FUCK YEAH!!

Part Two: What we did

Summary

  • New Registrations will be shifting towards testing against Mohang’s Authentication Servers. This speeds up new account verification by 100%.
  • We will be overhauling Join Squidwolf Syndicate to reflect the look and feel of the Squidwolf Minecraft website.
  • A mandatory New Member Experience tutorial consisting of four Squidwolf Wiki Pages will be linked into the login screen on Join Squidwolf Syndicate.
  • We have a plan to go through every single article on Squidwolf Wiki and update it with the new information.
  • Squidwolf Syndicate is transitioning into a gaming company, it is no longer an internet services company.
  • We have put in place a series of automated verification systems to test the legitimacy of new account registrations. At the moment 30% of all new registrations will be done this way.

Tutorial Structure

  • At registration, we now tell members roughly how long the tutorial will take and what they’ll get out of it.
  • We will no longer teach how to use ‘core’ services such as Squidwolf File Server, Squidwolf IM, and Squidwolf Mail as they are not necessary to play Squidwolf Minecraft.
  • We have split Squidwolf Forums and Squidwolf Wiki into two sections, move it to later in the tutorial, and are no longer attempting to teach Squidwolf Forums.
  • We now teach how to download and install SpoutCraft.
  • We will, for now, still offer registration using the old system. Just in case you don’t want to play Squidwolf Minecraft.
  • We have removed the tutorial teaching Squidwolf Store, as they were making it very hard to understand that authentication for that product is self-contained.
  • We’re more careful to teach basic commands in Squidwolf IM.
  • We now teach mandatory commands which are core to Squidwolf Minecraft gameplay, such as Factions, and Gringotts.
  • Everything is now more awesome.

mmoMinecraft

What happened to it? Well the developers didn’t bother updating it to Minecraft 1.4 making it obselete. We are going to attempt to contact them and offer incentives in Flattr to get them back on the project.

Other UI changes

If you have played Squidwolf Minecraft recently you will notice that Push Notifications are now displayed in the top right corner telling you when users login and logout. This is actually being delivered to you via Squidwolf Push Notification.

Get Playing!

We hope you like our plan. Just so you aren’t panicking, none of these changes will affect existing members. The phasing out of Squidwolf Mail on the Squidwolf.com domain name is true, but not for existing members. New member registrations starting with the next expansion will not get a Squidwolf.com Mail Account, instead we will be inventing a new domain name for those services and they will come as an add-on, they are no longer free.

– PH CloudSurf

I thought we’d announce it here first, yes Squidwolf Gaming Network will make its first appearance in Red Vortex now stop bugging me on MSN about it, kay?

🙂

During the championship finals, a group of players volunteered to assist Project: Hazel in video recording and editing the event. Seven cameramen/women logged in and recorded with either Fraps or their own cameras and rigs. Two of the matches have now been placed online. We are grateful for the effort of these guys and hope we will see more of this in the future.

The videos

As several people have requested this data we decided to put it here and see if someone can make use of it. Those of you familiar with relational databases should have no trouble mangling the data. There is far more data available that we could perhaps release later if people are interested in using this, such as how everything fits together on our network.

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