Hello everyone, old Members and new!
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. On Friday 4th March, this website was shared by the official Life Is Strange Facebook and Twitter. I was making some small adjustments to the site when I noticed things were running a little slow. I checked my Google Analytics dashboard to see how many Users were online and the graphs were going insane. The tweet was seen over 18,000 times and the Facebook post had been shared over 5000 times. All of this was pre-arranged and I have Toby Palm, the Community Manager at Square Enix Europe, to thank for that and for bringing the majority of you here.
We had some problems initially. Firstly, the site legit crashed. My servers simply weren’t ready to handle that many requests. I quickly got on the phone to my hosting provider, panicked and frustrated, and within half an hour the site was back up and people had begun signing up. Over the next few hours my mobile phone didn’t stop vibrating with notifications of User Signups (300 in less than an hour!), Twitter Followers, Facebook Page Fans and YouTube Subscribers. It was an exciting time, but it was marred by a really glaring issue: the site was hella slow.
Well, naturally, I blamed the servers again of course. I got back on the phone to the hosting provider and multiple emails were exchanged. ‘Give me more power! More memory! I want it all!” or something to that effect. Surely 10GB of RAM and 6 CPU cores was enough for a niche community site right? Even if it did allow for user-generated content? I was confused and angry. I’d spent a year building this site and the general consensus seemed to be: ‘Looks like an amazing site. Shame I can’t actually use it…’
The weekend was a similar concoction of excitement and sadness as I navigated a laggy admin backend trying to make sense of it all. Then one of the engineers at the hosting company emailed me. He’d noticed something:
‘Every time a User does something on your site it opens a ‘session’, and when they leave the page or the site those sessions should close. Your sessions aren’t closing. Like, ever.’
Well that would explain why my site’s memory had a taken a sh*t…
They said it couldn’t be a server issue and it was some code, most likely in a plugin, that was causing this. The only problem was figuring out which plugin was being naughty and needed binning.
After some experimentation I finally discovered that it was the Video plugin. Bummer. I liked the plugin and I liked its features too, with Channels for each Character and the ability to allow front-end uploads. But as soon as I deactivated the plugin the site was suddenly faster. A lot faster. It was actually usable. People could finally see and enjoy what I had worked hard to create. Well, it’s safe to say I don’t think I’ve ever clicked the ‘Delete Plugin’ button so quickly…
After a few days of searching for a suitable replacement plugin for videos and performing some tests, I’ve finally found a plugin I’m happy with. It looks great, will allow commenting directly to Youtube from this site and I can still have separate ‘Channels’ for each Character with their own videos. Actually, in this case, these Character Video Channels are actually just Playlists on the Life Is Strange Fans YouTube Channel. Front-end uploading will no longer be possible. However, since all videos on these ‘Channels’ are simply part of a Playlist, all you have to do is fill out a simple form which will ask for YouTube URL’s and what Channel/s you want the videos to appear on. The form will always be available on the Videos page, but if you want to do submit some videos right now, here’s the form for that:
Then all I have to do is visit that link to view the video and add the video to a specific playlist, e.g. the ‘Max’s Channel’ playlist. Because it’s that easy you could even message me while I’m online with a link to a Youtube vid and just ask for it to be added to Max’s Channel or Chloe’s Channel and I can have it up on the site in about 30 seconds or less.
You can view the Videos page here:
Just use the drop-down menu to switch between Channels. As well as the 22 Character Channels, the list also includes Official Life Is Strange videos, a Fan Trailers Channel, Movie Channel, Music Channel and Art Channel, with more coming soon:
Clicking a video thumbnail will allow you to watch the video right here on this site:
You can even Log In with your YouTube account and comment on the video directly, which means it will also be added to the video on YouTube:
Do you have your own YouTube Channel with regular content that you think might appeal to Users of the site? Then you can apply to have your Channel appear on Life Is Strange Fans. Just fill out the second form on the Videos page, providing your Username, Email, URL link to your Channel on YouTube and tell us why you think it should be featured on this site. Here’s the form if you’d like to apply right now:
Featured Video Channel Application
I’ve always wanted to say that… now, technically this isn’t a full staff recruitment drive, but I am looking for Mods to moderate content on the site. Your duties would include:
- Deleting inappropriate/irrelevant Media.
- Deleting inappropriate/spam Comments.
- Deleting inappropriate/spam Groups.
- Deleting inappropriate/spam Topics in the Forums.
- Handing out ‘Written Warnings’ to Users for minor offences.
- Deleting spamming/trolling Users.
- Tagging/retagging untagged/incorrectly tagged Media.
- Answering questions from other Users, and engaging with new Users to ensure they’re getting around the site okay.
The Warning System works like this:
STAGE 1: WARNED – Your Member Type on your Profile will be changed to ‘WARNED’. You will receive a Private Message informing you of your offense and warning you against further offences.
STAGE 2: IN DETENTION – Your Member Type on your Profile will be changed to ‘IN DETENTION’. While in detention you will have limited use of the site for a period of time as specified by the Moderator or Admin.
STAGE 3: SUSPENDED – Your Member Type on your Profile will be changed to ‘SUSPENDED’. Your will be temporarily banned from accessing the site for a period of time as specified by the Moderator or Admin.
STAGE 4: EXPELLED – You will be permanently banned from the site. Soz.
I hope we never have to use the Expel feature. It’s only for the most serious offenses – the kind that wouldn’t be allowed any site.
Please Note: I am not accepting ‘applications’ for Mods. The best thing you can do is to be an active and friendly member who is also enthusiastic about the site and its future, and I may contact you directly. I’m always keeping an eye on things, looking out for potential trustworthy members who I expect to be long-term users of the site. I am looking for Mods to cover all timezones so that the site can be looked after while I’m asleep or in work. Remember, I’m on UK time or GMT. We already have our first Mod from West Coast USA. Everyone, meet…
Yes… please excuse the… disturbing cover picture. FireWalkWithMe, also known affectionately as just Fire, hails from Louisiana in Central/Southern US.
As the first User to report an inappropriate image to me and a regular user with a good understanding of the site’s content and structure, Fire was naturally my first choice for a Moderator role. If you have a problem and I’m not around on the site but he is, open up the chat and talk to him or send him a Private Message. He’ll be happy to help you in any way he can.
I am now looking for Mods in the following areas:
- West Coast USA
- East Coast USA
- South America
- Eastern Europe
So, be active, be cool, and you may just get a PM.
Notes About Nudity
I just want to take this opportunity to inform/remind all Users that explicit nudity isn’t allowed on this site in any way. This applies not just to actual nude photos, but Fan Art and manipulated Screenshots too. Square Enix have been kind enough to promote and support this site, so we must be respectful and keep this place clean and responsible. It’s up to you guys what you share privately but please do not post any such images in the public galleries. Any images containing nudity or anything else that might be considered offensive will be removed without warning. If you spot any images like this or anything you consider offensive, you can click the Report button and we’ll try to deal with it right away. Thank you.
New Feature: Roleplaying
Well, this came around really fast. A small selection of Users, led by User Maxine Caulfield, requested to have a space for roleplaying. In less than a week I have managed to add the following features to accommodate this great new idea:
- A Roleplaying Chatroom: This is a private chatroom for chatting in character. Only those with a Member Type of Roleplayer can see and use this chatroom. Find it here:
- Member Types: As mentioned above, you need to be a Member Type of ‘Roleplayer’ to access the Roleplaying Chatroom. There are 4 main Member Types:
MODERATOR: A User with more powers than a Student but less powers than an Admin
ROLEPLAYER: A User who participates in roleplaying chats/activities.
STUDENT: The default Member Type when registering.
Your Member Type will be displayed in the header on your Profile. As you can see from mine, it says ADMINISTRATOR:
- A Roleplaying Forum: For planning upcoming Roleplaying sessions and posting logs of the recent ones. Find that here:
- A Roleplaying Group: A Group for containing Roleplayer Users and their updates related to Roleplaying. Find it in the Groups directory but please note you need to Request Membership.
In order to become a Roleplayer you first need to apply by sending a Private Message to Maxine, detailing why you want to be a Roleplayer and which character you want to take on the persona of. While many of the main Roleplayers will be the main characters of Life Is Strange, you can also take on the characteristics of an original character that you think would fit in the Life Is Strange universe. For example User Alex Marsh has created a backstory for his original character, who he sees as Kate’s cousin.
If you’re accepted, I will then set your Member Type as Roleplayer and you will have access to the Roleplaying Chatroom. You should also then Request Membership of the Roleplaying Group. Be sure to read the Roleplaying Rules in the forum here:
New Feature: Clear All Notifications
You may sometimes get a lot of Notifications that build up, especially if you haven’t visited the site for a while. It can be a little annoying and time-consuming having to click each Notification to clear it, so there’s now a way to simply clear them all at once. Just hover over the red box with the number of Notifications and select the option ‘Clear All Notifications’.
Please Note: This only works from the Notification box in the orange bar at the very top. It doesn’t work from the dropdown arrow next to your Profile Pic just yet.
Golden Hour Photo Contest
We’ve had lots of amazing entries to the Golden Hour Photo Contest so far so thank you all for those. Just remember: your photo has to fit in with the theme to be eligible. So, if it’s taken in broad daylight it probably won’t be right. A photo taken during the ‘golden hour’ should have an orange hue to it, as it’s usually taken just before sunset or sunrise. The Competition continues until 25th March.
Fan Art Contest – March 2016
Some of you may not even know there is a Fan Art Contest running as well and this is my own fault. I haven’t got it prominently featured on the front page and I haven’t mentioned it on Twitter like the Golden Hour Photo Contest. Because of this there haven’t been that many entries, even though there is obviously a lot of Fan Art out there by some very talented people. If enough people knew they could win Amazon vouchers of $100, $50 and $25 there would probably have been a lot more entries. So, I will take steps to make this Contest just as prominent and the Fan Art Competition will be extended for the last time until the same date as the Golden Hour Photo Contest: 25th March.
We’ve had some issues with some Users trying to cheat the system. Or rather, one particularly persistent User who has now been banned. They created multiple accounts and used all those accounts to ‘Like’ their own photos. This is obviously completely against the Rules and anyone else caught doing the same will be removed from the Competition and may have their images removed from the site too.
We also have the ability to check whether certain images are not your own and have been sourced from elsewhere on the web, such as on stock photo websites. It goes without saying but only your own personal photos are eligible for the Competition.
New Competition Rules
This is the most important part so please read carefully if you have entered or intend to enter either of the Competitions.
The number of ‘Likes’ will no longer determine the Winner. It will only get you onto a Shortlist of 10 entries. The Winner/s will then be picked from this Shortlist by myself and 2 other people still to be decided. This will help ensure a fairer Competition where the best entry wins, and not just the entrant with the most friends/persistence.
- A maximum of 3 entries allowed per User
- For photo entries, only minimal touching up in photo editing software is allowed
- The photo/artwork MUST be your own. If you are found to be claiming someone else’s work you will removed from the Competition immediately
- Only on-site Likes (with the orange Like button) count. Social Likes such as Facebook Likes do not count
- You can however share your photos/artwork on all social media channels to try and get others to come here to Like them
- Only registered Users can Upload and Like photos/artwork
Video Tutorials are taking longer than expected. But they will be up very soon. Most people are getting the hang of the site now, but new content/features are being added all the time so I figure it’s still worth having them.
A FAQ will probably be up before the video tutorials although some Video Tutorials will be incorporated into the FAQ. The FAQ will cover everything from how to use the site to how it was created and everything else in between.
Another Dollar For The Swear Jar!
Some Users have asked about donating to the site. I didn’t want to add a Donate button to the site early on because this site was and continues to be a labour of love for me. I didn’t create it to get rich from revenue, I created it to bring Life Is Strange fans together in one community.
However, the fact remains that the site does cost money to run: server costs, Content Delivery Network costs and the cost of prizes for the Competitions. So, a Donate button will be added sometime next week for those that want to help. And I will break down exactly what costs you are helping towards on the Donation page.
Finally, I just want to say Thank You to all the Members who have joined so far, particularly the regular visitors who come here every day and have helped to prove that I was right when I convinced myself over a year ago that it was a good idea to create a fansite for Life Is Strange.
No other game has inspired me enough to learn a new skill and embark on such a big project and it’s a testament to how special this game is; how greatly it has touched all our lives, and in many cases changed them for the better. We’re all here because of this one game and even though the game may be over, I hope we’ll all continue to be here and be good friends for a very long time.
There’s lots of content and features still to come. So let’s follow the railroad together and see what’s at the other end.
Chris Anderson is the creator of Life Is Strange Fans. He is interested in all things creative, be that Film Making, Digital Art, 3D Art, Graphic Design and Video Game Development.
He is also an aspiring Writer and has been developing a fantasy series for over 10 years.