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NATURE OF LIONS is a AU historical rp set in the mid-Elizabethan era. Step foot into a sixteenth-century version of England, Ireland, and Scotland as NoL explores the fraught relationship between these three countries. Although grounded in history, we have plenty of opportunities for both familiar names and OC characters alike to have large impacts on the world.
So I'm new to the world of opening forums. As it is I've found I have an affinity and specific love for the JCink forums, I've accustomed myself to the coding of them, can do most things within reason without aid, and have over 17 years of RP experience under my belt. Therefore I feel confident in my ability to both provide great storyline and offer wonderful support in a forum ownership position. That being said my only real experience is opening forums that were hosted on another social media site (with the initials VF if anyone knows where I'm coming from, if not don't worry. Lol ), and thus am falling under the category of teaching an old dog new tricks. I've recently come into the knowledge that some forums, if not the vast majority of them, perform what is called a soft opening. From what I've gathered so far this is basically where you gather your friends and such to RP on the site, test things out, find bugs and typos, etc. However, for someone like myself who is only just getting back hardcore into the world of RP, my friend list is relatively short. I'm not sure how to go about doing this when I've not got the filled list of friends that it requires to do so. So here are my questions in full: 001. How important do you feel a soft opening is to a forum? Does it make or break it? Will it aid in getting it off the ground faster? What are some pros and cons to doing this. I'm not just asking people whom have done it, but anyone whom has thought about doing it, or just plain old has an opinion of it. 002. How do you go about doing these sort of things? Especially when your friend list of 'beta testers' is about as pathetic looking as when you open your wallet for spending money and a moth flutters haplessly on passed your face. Are there places to post a link just for a soft opening? Or do you just advertise a couple of places? I find putting your forum up in any actual directories constitutes a full fledged opening, so that can't possibly count. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Beta Testing vs. Soft Openings What are they and when do I use them? The phrases "beta testing" and "soft opening" get tossed around a lot like they're the same thing- but they're not! This guide is here to clarify the difference, and explain how to reap the benefits of each. Beta Testing What is it? If you're familiar with video games, then you've probably heard of beta tests before. The same can apply to a forum. A beta test is a test run of an unfinished product or project to test its capabilities, the direction it's going in, stress test, and find bugs, errors, and things that need fixing. A beta test happens before the official release of the alpha (completed) game and lasts for a specified amount of time. What are the benefits of it? Beta tests allow you to see if the systems you had in mind for the game work as planned. If they don't, the beta test has the benefit of allowing you to correct course while things are still in development. Making edits to core features of the game is generally easier before things open because: You don't have to go through and apply the changes to tons of profiles, applications, documentation, etc. You generate some activity on the forum before it opens, so that you don't start off with lots of empty forums. This can make it easier to gain members when you do finally open. You gain experience in working with your own game systems and can help develop a routine on when and how to do things before the forum opens up. Beta testing allows you to advertise for your game and generate hype before it's opened. What kind of sites can make the most use of beta testing? If your forum takes a long time to set up- many months, instead of just a few weeks. If your forum is making use of ideas and systems that you've not used before. For example, if you've never made an RP that uses XP before, a beta test would be a good idea. In general, if you're in unfamiliar territory. If you're on a software you've never used before, for example. Sites with lots of content that needs to be looked through. How do I beta test? Beta testing works best if you have about 50 - 60% of your forum idea completed already. So, have at least that much of your game done already. Pick a time frame you want the beta test to take place within. How long the test lasts should depend on the activity of the people helping you test the forum. A very active group likely won't need as much time to test things as a slower group will. However, take into consideration the fact that you will possibly need to be making edits to things while the test is underway, so give yourself some extra time to test out any changes you might have to make as well. My beta tests tend to run in the 4 - 6 month time frame. Find beta testers. Friends are good people to ask, and you can find folks on resource forums as well. Beta testers don't have to be permanent members, just folks who are willing to poke around a little and give you a hand. Beta testing can be open or closed, meaning that people can join in on testing without being invited, or only by invitation. Have a message set up for your testers to let them know specific areas you need them to look at, as well as giving them a quick run-down of things. Ask for regular feedback, and keep an eye on things. Make changes as needed and continue to build onto your site. Soft Openings What is it? A soft opening is opening a completed site for anyone to join, but only passively advertise it. This means that you might put a link to it in your signature on a directory and submit the site to directories, but you don't go around advertising it on other forums and generally do not do anything to reach out to individuals (in sections where people make threads about looking for a certain kind of RPG, for example) to try and get them to join. Soft openings only "end" once the site owners decide to go out and actively advertise the site, which may or may not be an official event (versus with beta testing, where the test lasts for a pre-determined amount of time). Unlike a beta test, this requires minimal effort on the staff's end. What are the benefits of it? It's a more relaxed start to the forum and can help build a core member base, as well as give the staff more time to play on the site. You don't have to stress about advertising and finding people, but instead let them come to you. Generates posts and activity before you go out on a hardcore advertising spree, which means you don't have a lot of empty forums when you start getting traffic. What kind of sites can make the most use of soft openings? Any and all sites. This has more to do with an admin's personal preferences than it does fulfilling any sort of need. However, soft openings may be more effective for sites that make use of hyping up the forum's release and opening beforehand. For example, a tumblr buzz blog can create interest in the site as it is built up and give you a number of people who are lined up and waiting to join. Once you're ready to open, just drop a link to the site on the blog and you're off. How do I do a soft opening? Open your forum. List your forum in directories and/or in places you were generating buzz. Put the forum in your signature on any applicable areas of high traffic (such as resource sites). Tell your friends. In Conclusion Beta testing and soft openings are two different things! One requires a lot of effort from the staff team, and the other requires very little effort. It is very possible to do a beta test and soft open a site once the beta testing is through. They're not mutually exclusive! Is there something you would like to see a guide for? Reply to this topic with your request! Have something you need advice on? Contact me privately and I'll respond to it in my blog!