The taking AATG in a new direction thread...


Author Reply
HairyArse
Flag
Posts:6388
Comments:1774
Thread Kills:127(2%)
AATG Pts:350
Star Rating
Gold Medal
We've started touching on this in the AATG mobile thread but I figured it's time this subject got its own thread and that we all shared our thoughts on it.

Things seem to have gone a little stale recently. I don't know if that's down to the annual post-xmas quiet period or whether simply because there's only mainly Peej, and the odd article by a few others here and there, actually contributing to the site. Either way, the front page isn't really getting the attention it ought to.

As I've discussed in numerous other threads over the months, I have tons of things I'd like to do and tons of things I'm part way through, for instance, achievements, swapsies, the Word-a-like version of the forum etc. etc., but I'm really struggling for time at the moment and juggling coding with writing actual articles is proving to be difficult.

My initial thoughts were to make the site features/reviews only and do away with the news as I'm not sure anyone even reads it and in all honesty, most of you go elsewhere for that as they offer it in a much more timely manner. But as Peej rightly pointed out, news is one of the best ways of gaining favour with the people that dish out the promo copies etc. so it's a double edged sword.

Another thought going through my mind is to give the site more of a blog-like layout, which incidentally I actually did ages ago but no one uses.

But in all honesty, I'm not entirely sure what to do. I really want the site to take off and further develop and it seems that when it does do well, I get bursts of motivation and ideas but when things are really quiet like they have been recently, I often wonder why I bother. But then when I consider the time and effort I've already put into things it'd be a shame not to persevere.

AATG takes up the majority of my spare time and usually stops me from pursuing other things and so at times it's a labour of love. So I guess what I'm trying to do is either give you lot a kick up the arse to contribute more, or to give you the chance to tell me what you think I should do and where we should go next. The site's always been a collaborative effort but that sense of collaboration seems to have waned in recent weeks.

I'm not really going anywhere with this post, but hopefully it will spark a discussion and something positive will come from a bit of a brain storm.

#1 at 22:05:15 - 11/03/2009
Funkyd
Flag
Posts:323
Comments:43
Thread Kills:10(3%)
AATG Pts:90
Star Rating
Bronze Medal
Hmm, I thought the AATG forum was busier than ever.

In all honesty, I only really read the Features, Reviews etc, and not the actual news articles, although I am sure that there are people who do read them, so you should probably keep it up, especially if it does affect the number of Promo copies you get.

Personally, I would contribute with stuff, but I'm in a very busy time atm with my GCSE's :( But I plan to contribute a lot afterwards.
#2 at 22:12:17 - 11/03/2009
Micro_Explosion
Flag
Posts:3361
Comments:83
Thread Kills:129(4%)
AATG Pts:220
Star Rating
Silver Medal
I had no idea there was a blog view but I quite like it. Combine what you have there with some sort of strap line thing for news, links to older features (as headers, nothing more) and I think you've got something great there.

News shouldn't be difficult, its just having 2 or 3 people that can drop something during the day. Detail isn't that important for it and finding it is easy and if all the interesting stuff is covered then you'll start to reduce the need to go elsewhere for that.

The site name is a problem but, as an idea, you could have other entertainment news/reviews etc. I could write them more easily than I can for games. You could have some sort of art thing on the side too.

Possibly stoopid ideas but...meh.
#3 at 22:16:51 - 11/03/2009
Syrok
Flag
Posts:3720
Comments:452
Thread Kills:81(2%)
AATG Pts:155
Star Rating
Bronze Medal
I didn't know there was a blog format. It looks much better, imo. :)
#4 at 22:40:01 - 11/03/2009
Carlo
Flag
Posts:931
Comments:67
Thread Kills:39(4%)
AATG Pts:80
Star Rating
Bronze Medal
Hairy, even VG247, with it's constant spamming of the EG forum, and affiliation to EG struggles to get hits.

Getting this site up to that 'critical mass' will be very difficult, but you do have a few regs on here (I check this site maybe hourly or more if it's slow at work (which it's not been lately)).

IMO, you need to review games that no-one else has, or BEFORE they are getting released if they are big... People looking for opinions to help decide on a purchase will google, and hopefully, find this place. Reviews for thinks like Killzone were too late for the browsing googlers out there to drive hits into here.

Even EG only have around 200 users active on their forum at any given time (looking at their stats) and they are huge!

The only other way is to do things like hosting online gaming ladders and stuff like that to get the hits, and hope some stick around long enough.
#5 at 22:54:45 - 11/03/2009
Micro_Explosion
Flag
Posts:3361
Comments:83
Thread Kills:129(4%)
AATG Pts:220
Star Rating
Silver Medal
Actually, a brainwave: Syrok and/or anyone else could do a lot of the news but in evenings and weekends I could do some of the more obscure and offbeat news stuff if you wanted.

I often find something interesting but don't bother posting I don't want to bother someone with a load of emails - I would be happy to post them straight up. The news section being slightly more prominent/more history would help with that.

Straight fact like stuff I can definitely do, and minimum effort for maximum output is something I'm great at :)

Somewhere between a blog format and the current format would be something unique, functional and could help bring in punters.
#6 at 23:24:10 - 11/03/2009
kentmonkey
Flag
Posts:1703
Comments:292
Thread Kills:54(3%)
AATG Pts:150
Star Rating
Bronze Medal
Gaming competitions could be good. Not in a 'enter to win X game' style, but actual online game competitions. Such as a FIFA 09 cup. Killzone evening. I dunno. Anything where a few of the AATG 'writers' could put themselves up against other players. That could garner interest, for very little effort.

I'm happy to contribute more, but the three sites I write for don't allow me to use their review code to review it for another site (technically they wouldn't know that you hadn't sent it to me, and I know other reviewers who use it for other sites and get paid again for writing it, but I'm too honest I guess) so I rely on getting review code through AATG to review for AATG. I very rarely buy games, as I just don't have the spare cash (I work for a charity, the governments interest rate cuts have hit that sector EXTREMELY hard). I would really like to contribute more though. Perhaps I just need to be more creative and do more articles when the review code dries up.

Reference review code, I don't want to ruffle any feathers, as it's got bugger-all to do with what I think, but I do personally feel some people take the piss with how long they take to review code sent to them. Perhaps they need to provide a date of when they could have it reviewed by when applying for the code (at least an estimation) and if they go way over that, and take the piss without a valid reason, they go to the bottom of the pile in the future. Hasn't happened that often, but there have been occasions where I've thought that AATG has probably missed the boat on decent hits where the furore around a game has died down by the time the review has been put up.

I could actually do an article on a Guinness World Record Holder (Sonic 3 and 'fastest video games player in the world') that I know well. I'm sure he'd like the attention as well, and could make for an interesting and unique piece. I'll speak to him.

I have no other ideas though. It's too late for creative thinking.
#7 at 00:36:55 - 12/03/2009
NewYork
Flag
Posts:5237
Comments:1481
Thread Kills:105(2%)
AATG Pts:330
Star Rating
Gold Medal
What sucks is that I wrote a rather neat feature but it's stuck on my laptop which has no battery left and no charger. Can't write stuff from my iPod. :(
#8 at 05:50:17 - 12/03/2009
billdoor
Flag
Posts:3886
Comments:183
Thread Kills:158(4%)
AATG Pts:180
Star Rating
Bronze Medal
I'm not going to pretend I'll suddenly turn into a profilic writer because I wasn't one before I had two under 2's running around like loons. (Well one running, the other crying all night). I will try to do a few more features though.
#9 at 09:19:22 - 12/03/2009
Trip SkyWay
Flag
Posts:2048
Comments:539
Thread Kills:77(4%)
AATG Pts:175
Star Rating
Silver Medal
I'm a big fan of the more editorial like features people do like Pursuit of the E-Penis and Trials And Obfuscations. I read the titles of news stories here and on EG but only click on a few stories a day.
#10 at 09:46:02 - 12/03/2009
evilashchris
Flag
Posts:2189
Comments:592
Thread Kills:52(2%)
AATG Pts:200
Star Rating
Gold Medal
I think if the news bit had space for a little picture related to the article it's be used a lot more, I always click on new images I see over on the right, but I miss the text because it always registers as 'the same' in my head, if that makes sense.
#11 at 10:09:48 - 12/03/2009
peej
Flag
Posts:14637
Comments:4691
Thread Kills:462(3%)
AATG Pts:400
Star Rating
Gold Medal
Only thing I have against competitions is it doesn't bring in 'keepers' - just random idiots who sign up to enter the compos.

Not sure what the ideal solution is - though I think we should be aiming at keeping the rather subversive tone of AATG front and centre as it's always been part of the appeal for writing for here - knowing that you can pretty much say what you bloody well like in a review, particularly if you've spent your own cash on the game.
#12 at 10:12:04 - 12/03/2009
HairyArse
Flag
Posts:6388
Comments:1774
Thread Kills:127(2%)
AATG Pts:350
Star Rating
Gold Medal
I see your point about images evilashchris but the problem is that even though creating an image for a news story is not particularly time consuming it's just one little extra job that will likely make people less inclined to post stories.

I suspect going down a features/reviews/previews only route is the best option - and maybe have a news round up each day and as someone else suggested, have article comments appear in the forum as well in order to try and blend the two section in. I'm playing around with a few ideas and we'll see what happens.
#13 at 10:19:12 - 12/03/2009
Tiger_Walts
Flag
Posts:1599
Comments:322
Thread Kills:67(4%)
AATG Pts:190
Star Rating
Gold Medal
A link dump tool for the news would be good. Any registered user can provide a link, title and description and it gets shoved into a database which a mod can then edit and hit a Go button to create a new article.

They could then add a bit of text to the created article as a bit of commentary.

You could do separate ones for links to browser games, or videos, or screenshots.
#14 at 10:54:52 - 12/03/2009
Kay
Flag
Posts:2120
Comments:342
Thread Kills:51(2%)
AATG Pts:160
Star Rating
Silver Medal
With regards to the news articles, they can be quite useful and interesting, if only for the more obscure pieces that you wouldn't necessarily find in many other places (instead of the usual 'game x tops the charts', or 'product y is released on this date' etc.). Also, imho, I preferred it with the old site layout when the news was on the right-hand side column - it made it stand out more to me, as I could quickly glance at the stories before heading to the forum (like with EG). Especially since I browse in a smaller window (whilst at work) so I often miss the current news area. Minor issue perhaps, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

kentmonkey said:
Reference review code, I don't want to ruffle any feathers, as it's got bugger-all to do with what I think, but I do personally feel some people take the piss with how long they take to review code sent to them. Perhaps they need to provide a date of when they could have it reviewed by when applying for the code (at least an estimation) and if they go way over that, and take the piss without a valid reason, they go to the bottom of the pile in the future. Hasn't happened that often, but there have been occasions where I've thought that AATG has probably missed the boat on decent hits where the furore around a game has died down by the time the review has been put up.


Kent, not all of us write about games professionally (as you seem to do). Writing reviews especially may not come as easily to some people, me included. For one thing, I need to play a game properly before I start writing about it, and I don't always get the time for that. Secondly, there's the whole quality vs. quantity issue. If it's just about quickly jotting impressions of a game, like many people do on forums, I can easily do that in an afternoon. However, I'm of the opinion that a proper, structured critique is much better - especially for certain massively hyped games - with the obvious downside being that it will take longer.

Tbh, I'm not sure if AATG should be trying to compete with proper gaming sites in terms of quick and relevant reviews - not when these sites have guys who get review code maybe 2-3 weeks before release, and whose working day will consist of playing said game and writing about it. And, like Trip Skyway said, the articles (especially controversial ones) might be more useful for getting people to the site.
#15 at 12:00:27 - 12/03/2009
peej
Flag
Posts:14637
Comments:4691
Thread Kills:462(3%)
AATG Pts:400
Star Rating
Gold Medal
Kay said:

Tbh, I'm not sure if AATG should be trying to compete with proper gaming sites in terms of quick and relevant reviews - not when these sites have guys who get review code maybe 2-3 weeks before release, and whose working day will consist of playing said game and writing about it. And, like Trip Skyway said, the articles (especially controversial ones) might be more useful for getting people to the site.


I agree though it's nice to cover stuff you know other people will have grabbed at the same time as you, and be playing.

TBH with promo code we get a sucky amount anyway so it's pointless trying to compete as you say. It's far better to cover stuff that A) other sites won't touch with a barge pole or B) write articles that cover gaming type stuff that other sites don't deem as important, but is.

Hence the touch / XBL community game stuff of late. A lot of sites just plain don't bother with community games and they have a pretty poor showing with all but the biggest iPhone / iPod games. So I'm preferring concentrating my efforts on those. Am quite happy to leave reviews of the big stuff to people who are better writers.

I think I've learned a lesson from trying to be timely with stuff, it's just too difficult - and if you're really pushed for time (as I am most of the time) it's nigh on impossible to play a stack of games, write 'em up, then produce a review that's worth giving a shit about.
#16 at 12:24:04 - 12/03/2009
Legion
Flag
Posts:1752
Comments:18
Thread Kills:54(3%)
AATG Pts:130
Star Rating
Bronze Medal
You need a unique selling point to pull in hits. There's lost of gaming sites out there, and they all do reviews. I personally prefer the whole "games being reviewed by gamers" approach, but the big boys are paid to do this full time and are always going to get the big games before you guys do, and have more oportunity to play through them before you do to.

I'm not saying give up on reviews, they're a definite requirement and the lifeblood of AATG, but you're really going to struggle to pull new people in that way.

Unless you find a truly original USP, I think your best bet is articles. They're an easy way of creating something unique, and once word gets around about good articles you'll start to pull in new readers. One perfect example was Dirtbox's Second Life diary that he published a while back - that was gaming related, absolutely hilarious, and kept me coming back for more. Hell it even made me try out the game.

You've got some good writers here, and many funny forumites. If you can brainstorm up some good article ideas, set people off writing them, and then try and pull in more readers using the likes of Digg et al, then I really think you'd see the site grow.

Exercise your creativity when it comes to the articles I say. Mix them up between one offs and small series. If they're good enough you'll pull people in based on reputation alone. That or create your own version of the Zero Punctuation guy...

#17 at 14:21:28 - 12/03/2009
Micro_Explosion
Flag
Posts:3361
Comments:83
Thread Kills:129(4%)
AATG Pts:220
Star Rating
Silver Medal
That seems to work for RPS.
#18 at 14:33:39 - 12/03/2009
Kay
Flag
Posts:2120
Comments:342
Thread Kills:51(2%)
AATG Pts:160
Star Rating
Silver Medal
RPS?
#19 at 15:21:55 - 12/03/2009
HairyArse
Flag
Posts:6388
Comments:1774
Thread Kills:127(2%)
AATG Pts:350
Star Rating
Gold Medal
Rock Paper Shotgun.
#20 at 15:26:26 - 12/03/2009
Kay
Flag
Posts:2120
Comments:342
Thread Kills:51(2%)
AATG Pts:160
Star Rating
Silver Medal
Never heard of them before, but I notice that a couple of EG writers are contributors there so it must be a pretty big site.
#21 at 16:03:09 - 12/03/2009
peej
Flag
Posts:14637
Comments:4691
Thread Kills:462(3%)
AATG Pts:400
Star Rating
Gold Medal
Some good points there Mike - and definitely think that all of AATG's strongest articles have been the weird and the wayout.

So that's where the future lies I reckon. Cover the stuff no one else will, and write articles that do more than just review stuff
#22 at 16:11:23 - 12/03/2009
Richie
Flag
Posts:8
Comments:35
Thread Kills:0(0%)
AATG Pts:60
Star Rating
Silver Medal
Hairy, I know it's almost out of date and irrelevant now, but I'm planning to write up that House of the Dead interview for you as soon as I get a minute. I really hope I can contribute more in the future mate, but stick with it. You have a great site here that I for one love and I know a lot of others who do too.
#23 at 16:30:45 - 12/03/2009
strangeed
Flag
Posts:677
Comments:16
Thread Kills:36(5%)
AATG Pts:50
Star Rating
I have to say that I enjoy reading things such as playthrough accounts. Done creatively, they can be hugely entertaining and informative. It takes time to write them though.
#24 at 16:41:21 - 12/03/2009
peej
Flag
Posts:14637
Comments:4691
Thread Kills:462(3%)
AATG Pts:400
Star Rating
Gold Medal
I really like the 5 word review idea, I think that rocks my socks off. See, great little ideas like that are what make this site special.

#25 at 17:05:28 - 12/03/2009
billdoor
Flag
Posts:3886
Comments:183
Thread Kills:158(4%)
AATG Pts:180
Star Rating
Bronze Medal
I think you should email 10 porn stars and ask them what games they play. Plenty of chicken mcnugget action for an article there.
#26 at 17:20:06 - 12/03/2009
peej
Flag
Posts:14637
Comments:4691
Thread Kills:462(3%)
AATG Pts:400
Star Rating
Gold Medal
We can't even get a response from Ellie what makes you think Candy Thighs will write back? :)
#27 at 17:39:15 - 12/03/2009
kentmonkey
Flag
Posts:1703
Comments:292
Thread Kills:54(3%)
AATG Pts:150
Star Rating
Bronze Medal
Kay said:
Kent, not all of us write about games professionally (as you seem to do). Writing reviews especially may not come as easily to some people, me included. For one thing, I need to play a game properly before I start writing about it, and I don't always get the time for that. Secondly, there's the whole quality vs. quantity issue. If it's just about quickly jotting impressions of a game, like many people do on forums, I can easily do that in an afternoon. However, I'm of the opinion that a proper, structured critique is much better - especially for certain massively hyped games - with the obvious downside being that it will take longer.

Tbh, I'm not sure if AATG should be trying to compete with proper gaming sites in terms of quick and relevant reviews - not when these sites have guys who get review code maybe 2-3 weeks before release, and whose working day will consist of playing said game and writing about it. And, like Trip Skyway said, the articles (especially controversial ones) might be more useful for getting people to the site.


Oh no, I don't write professionally. I just write for a few sites that pay a fee for the reviews; I wouldn't call it writing professionally. I'm a web marketer by trade.

I too don't have much spare time. My point was that some people stick their hand up for review code, but don't mention how long they're going to take. This isn't my site, just my opinion, but two weeks is generally fine given that this is done around everything else. When it's turning into a month/six weeks, could someone have been in a better position to write it quicker and get the site more hits as a result? Probably.

Also we don't get much review code, but publishers won't give us review code if we a) aren't big enough and b) take too long. PR companies are notorious for trying to get reviews done in a timely manner, so if AATG took 4-6 weeks for every review, it would most likely lose access to some of the review code.

That's just my view; Hairy may not mind if reviews take ages to come in. Just if it were me, I'd rather have an estimate as to how long it was going to take for that person to review, so I could choose the best person to review it at that stage.

FWIW, most gaming sites don't get access to the code 2-3 weeks in advance. Only the REALLY big boys get that (and invariably don't even get that much notice). Most sites are in the same situation where they get the review code, at best, 1-2 days before release. Most get it at the same time or slightly after release though.
#28 at 18:34:50 - 12/03/2009
JimJam
Flag
Posts:2586
Comments:189
Thread Kills:162(6%)
AATG Pts:180
Star Rating
Bronze Medal
peej said:We can't even get a response from Ellie what makes you think Candy Thighs will write back? :)


That's piss-poor on her part actually - I can't believe she hasn't got time to answer 20 questions.
#29 at 18:36:40 - 12/03/2009
NewYork
Flag
Posts:5237
Comments:1481
Thread Kills:105(2%)
AATG Pts:330
Star Rating
Gold Medal
What the heck is up with the posts in this thread; it's like everybody's channeling JinTypeNoir, or something.
#30 at 19:29:11 - 12/03/2009

home