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 Post subject: The State of MFGG
PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 5:57 pm 
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MFGG is turning 16 years old today! We've reached the point where MFGG is older than quite a few of our members. Over the years, our site has appeared on TV and in magazines, and our games have been featured in videos from some of the most prominent YouTubers. We've accumulated thousands of mainsite submissions, thousands of members, and millions of forum posts. Many of our members have hit the big leagues - they've gone on to become professional game developers. We've been a major part of daily life for our members, many of whom have been on the community for the better part of their lives.

16 years is a long time in real life, but it's practically an eternity in Internet time. The rapid - and hard-to-predict - pace of technological change tends to distort the flow of time in the online world, and many prominent sites have fallen by the wayside. MFGG isn't as active as it was at its peak, but it's still very much alive and kicking thanks to all the members who have given generously of their time and talent to make MFGG a vibrant community.

That said, we have noticed some worrisome trends over the past couple of years, and it's important that we take corrective action. First, let's take a look at where we really are:



Activity

Forums
I'm pleased to report that any reports of MFGG's demise have been greatly exaggerated. One common misconception is that MFGG has been on a steady decline since The Split in 2010. This is not the case. MFGG's mainsite and forums are certainly not as active as they were in 2007 or 2008, but people are still making games and are still posting on the forums. The past couple of years have been relatively slow for MFGG, which is a bit of a concern, but we're looking to reverse this decline. More on that later.

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Activity on the MFGG forums during the second phpBB era has had its ups and downs. Not surprisingly, total activity increased after we brought back the General Chat forum at the end of 2012. The return of Gaming and Forum Games had a lesser effect on total activity, since those two forums were added to better organize the GC. Activity has been down in 2017 - forum posts have fallen 14% compared to 2016 numbers.

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That said, some forums have seen an increase in activity - Gaming has been doing well, and the Suggestions board has been a welcome source of fresh ideas.

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Surprisingly, the ratio of board warnings to number of posts has remained fairly constant over the years. Reconstructing the numbers for the first phpBB board was a little iffy, since it no longer exists (but board warning data survived the original purge, interestingly enough). Also, a big chunk of warnings came from me banning spambots (apparently I thought it was fun to give spambots huge warnings before permabanning them). Some anecedotal reports (including my own experience) suggest that MFGG feels more dramatic than it did 3-4 years ago, although I have no way to quantify that.

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The average age of MFGG users has increased from 17.5 in 2011 to 20.5 in 2017. This number is considerably higher than it's ever been (if you want to view the numbers that also include the old IPB forums, click here). The standard deviation of user ages is also increasing, which suggests that MFGG's age distribution is becoming more diverse.

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Similarly, the average age of user accounts - the different between the user's registration date and the date of each post - is also increasing. This is not a surprise.

Mainsite

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2007 was the strongest year for the MFGG mainsite. Back then, MFGG had a sparkling new mainsite system, the Wii was at its height of popularity, and the re-release of various Mario platformers for the GBA probably sparked an interest in the older Mario games (since many fangames are based on those). Mainsite activity dropped a lot between 2007 and 2010. Fortunately, mainsite activity has been fairly steady since 2011 - in fact, 2014 and 2016 had exactly the same number of mainsite submissions accepted. We've also seen some of our most polished fangames appear on the mainsite during this time. 2017 has been pretty slow on the mainsite, though.

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If you break it down by category, games submissions have been especially slow lately. Since making Mario fangames is the primary reason MFGG exists, let's get working on this!

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It's also been a slow year for mainsite comments. If you see a game or sprite that hasn't received feedback, go and leave a word of encouragement or a tip for improving it. (Saying "FIRST!!!!!" doesn't count, though.)

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What factors affect MFGG's activity? There are certainly some steps we can take to help make MFGG more active, and we'll be discussing proposals for increasing activity later. However, one factor is outside of our control - the relative popularity of official Nintendo games. I've had a hunch that MFGG was most popular when Nintendo was doing well, and my analysis indicates that this was much more than a hunch! If there's one variable that best measures Nintendo's success in a given year, it's probably sales revenue - when Nintendo is doing well, people buy lots of their game systems and buy lots of cool new games. If you plot Nintendo's annual global sales revenue against the number of MFGG submissions for each year, you can find a very strong correlation - an R² of 0.68, for those who like fancy statistics talk. Nintendo and MFGG were at their most successful points in the second half of the previous decade, although MFGG having a newer mainsite also probably helped. The recent success of the Nintendo Switch - especially compared to the relatively unsuccessful Wii U - is good news for MFGG, and we should find ways to ride this wave.



Our next steps
We've already taken some steps designed to increase activity and make MFGG a better place:

  • A Suggestions forum for discussing new ideas for improving MFGG's site and community
  • Reviving a CCC-like board to encourage activity and engagement
  • Updated staff
  • Updated forum rules

However, there's still a lot more we plan to accomplish this summer:

  • Better use of social media to promote MFGG
  • More engagement with related communities
  • More consistent mainsite updates
  • More competitions run more consistently
  • More additions to the staff - including the mainsite, forums, and Wiki
  • Ongoing development of new mainsite system



You can help!
Fake John F. Kennedy wrote:
Ask not what MFGG can do for you; ask what you can do for MFGG.


MFGG's administrators play a vital role in shaping MFGG's strategy and taking care of operational matters ("putting out fires"), but ultimately, MFGG is a site run by its community for its community. Some of our previous admins advocated a more top-down approach to leadership, and while I totally understand where they're coming from, making games and graphics and managing a community is a job much too large for one person - or for the 10-12 staff members we usually have active at any given time. You don't have to be a staff member to make a difference on MFGG. Many of our most important contributions have come from people with regular-colored names! Here are just a few of the things you can do to make MFGG a better place:

  • Submit quality games, graphics, and other resources to the mainsite - this includes cool older games that you never submitted
  • Report broken or redundant sprites on the mainsite
  • Help a new user become better at making games, graphics, and such
  • Review games that haven't been reviewed yet
  • Set up a fun forum event
  • Suggest ways to make MFGG even awesomer
  • Update outdated/incomplete pages on the Wiki, or add new articles (tutorials about how to make games or graphics are especially nice)
  • Share cool MFGG-related things on social media
  • Invite cool people you know to join MFGG
  • Send brownies to the home of an admin, preferably VinnyVideo

Finally, since MFGG is celebrating its birthday today, this is a very appropriate time to Do the Mario.

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Want to help make Career Fantasy a reality? I'm still looking for sprite help and a few more compositions for the soundtrack. If you're interested, please shoot me a PM.
 
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 Post subject: Re: The State of MFGG
PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 6:05 pm 
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Very interesting and informative post, as usual, Vinny!

I have a theory: the spike of MFGG activity vs Nintendo revenue in 2013 might be related to the Year of Luigi, though who knows.

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 Post subject: Re: The State of MFGG
PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 6:40 pm 
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I think that a fun thing to do is to make each month a thematic, both for the forum and for the mainsite. Every month, we give a theme to inspire people to create related content, whether it be a game, sprite, drawing, etc. Think of it as a competition, without the competition aspect.

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