In a much earlier post I spoke about fansite creation. I focused specifically on the process and some of the elements, including a site’s major working components to create a really great BattleTech fansite. In the months since I’ve worked with a couple of dedicated members of the BattleTech community and have come to the realization that there are similar parallels between basic unit creation and fansite development that may prove beneficial to understand, especially for you non-web guys.
First, let’s start off with some basics.
At some point you’ll want to develop a regiment, Cluster, Company and characters of your own. Play to your strengths. Doesn’t matter where it comes from or how it came about. Use the game idea as a foundational basis for figuring out the specifics. Whether it is playing a one-off game from the Clan Invasion or the recreation of the entire Sovereign Justice Campaign, inspiration can strike at any time.
Whatever it is, once you’ve figure out your unit, write it all down.
Once you’ve finished creating your unit actual web development can begin. Without delving into too much detail regarding the number of options available to bring your web presence to life, in this post I’ll focus primarily on working with a developer.
Working with a web developer is like working with any contractor – they are experts in a given field in which you are not. Now any web developer worth his salt will be able to successfully communicate with his clients in a manner benefit the client’s actual experience and knowledge base, but that’s not always the case – especially when working in such a niche market as BattleTech. This means how you communicate your ideas becomes especially important and can either hinder or facilitate the whole process.
For non-web types this can be a daunting task. It’s like going to the Doctor’s office for a check up – sometimes you’re just not sure what questions to ask, so you say nothing. This is a mistake. Developers want to get the job done right without wasting time or effort and unfortunately, can not read minds. As the contractee, it is imperative, nay crucial that you ask questions. Remember, there are no dumb questions and a good developer will work hard to provide you with an answer you can understand.
However, asking questions is only half the process and only half of your responsibility – this is your fansite after all. The second half of your responsibility is to provide information. Regardless of your web knowledge, you will have some idea of what you’d like to see in a final product. Maybe it’s some piece of particular information – a roster, history or ‘Mech design. Maybe it’s your unit’s color scheme you’d like to see incorporated. This is the type of helpful information your web developer needs to have and understand.
If you’re not sure where to start or what would be beneficial information, reference the material you wrote down. While your unit may exist solely in text or painted miniatures, a web developer is looking to create a visual representation based on said work.
Helpful information would include, but is not limited to the following: Where your unit hails from. What is the unit’s color scheme? Unit names and designations are also extremely useful. Depending on the size and importance of your unit, characters can also be key components to the visual development of a BattleTech fansite.
For argument’s sake lets assume your web developer has knowledge of BattleTech, so certain qualities can be taken into account without additional explanation. A working example would be if you told your web developer the unit you’d like to create a fansite for hails from Clan Jade Falcon. He or she will automatically know that they are a Clan of Kerensky and not an Inner Sphere or Periphery power. While that much not sound like a key piece of information in website development, it is. On the surface, this automatically cuts the number of cultural influences in half. More importantly, a developer could also infer that the unit will showcase basic shades of green and use Clan ‘Mechs in some of the imagery. Your web developer will now have a basic idea of possible site themes given what they know about the Jade Falcons.
But what information did your developer use to create that basic idea? Well for starters, colors of Clan Jade Falcon, the fact that they are Clan and what a Clan is – culture, ‘Mechs, Characters, Philosophy, etc. This is the information you should strive to provide your developer.
Remember, communication is perhaps the most important factor in the contractor-contractee relationship and the key component in building your fansite.