Is it really that time again, already? Today is October 24th, which means it's the Sonic Stadium's anniversary! We've now been running for 23 YEARS since we launched in the year 2000 - how mind-blowing is that?
It’s kind of hard to overstate just how much this site and our community has accomplished over the last two decades. We became the leading voice of Sonic the Hedgehog News. Our forums are world-famous for being the online water cooler for SEGA fans. We pioneered audio streaming with SEGASonic Radio, and were doing live podcasts like The Sonic Hour well before the word ‘podcast’ had even been invented. Chance meetings with SEGA Europe reps in the mid-2000s kick-started an internal process that led to the Community and Social outreach programmes that the company engages in today. And, of course, there’s Summer of Sonic.
For 23 years, this humble little webpage has been leading the charge at the forefront of the online Sonic community, and part of the reason we’re still here, I think, is because we continue to evolve as community (and broader internet user) trends change. From a static web page that connected to others via Webrings, to Wordpress news blogs and now a unified community portal covering a broad range of content.
As the guy who runs the show, I could just sit here right now and pat myself on the back all day long... but the truth is, it’s not me that has been the key to The Sonic Stadium’s impressive endurance. It’s you guys. Since the very first day on October 24, 2000 - since I saw that very first hit on my Site Counter as a 15-year-old kid - I have been eternally grateful for every single person who comes by to check out what we have here and what we have to say (even if they don’t like it!). And I simply can’t evolve a website to meet fellow Sonic fans where they are, if I never received any feedback or engagement from visitors in the first place.
So, just as I do every year, I want to dedicate this site anniversary to you guys. The Sonic fans who have found a home here, who visit every day to get their Sonic fix, or come to chat with friends about the latest stuff, or even just to complain to me about how badly I reacted to the announcement of Sonic and the Black Knight. I appreciate all of you. The Sonic Stadium is a reflection of my love for the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, but it has always been dedicated to the community. Thank you, truly, for the last 23 years of support.
To celebrate you all, and because we're nearing Halloween, here's an old-school classic.
Now, let’s get to the fun stuff.
Introducing: The Sonic Stadium Members Shop
We are bringing back a big feature that was incredibly popular in the early days of the SSMB - the Members Shop! Here, you’ll be able to buy nifty little site features and trinkets for your Sonic Stadium account using Rings - the digital currency of our community.
You can find the Member Shop menu under the ‘Browse’ navigation header on the site. To start with, there will be two kinds of item you can spend your Rings on: Sonic Stadium perks/games and what we’re calling ‘Profile Cards’.
For the Sonic Stadium perks, we tried to think of a couple of fun games that can offer the chance to significantly boost Ring count, as well as some site enhancements that can offer some entertainment without completely wrecking the place. This includes a prize that lets you Pin any topic in the forums to the top of the page for a seven-day period, and even a whole new ‘Boosted!’ usergroup promotion that offers a number of perks like more visibility, highlighted replies and Double Ring Bonuses on a daily basis. We’re always thinking of new ideas too, so watch this space.
This is where we imagine you’ll want to spend the majority of your Rings - with Profile Cards, we’re launching a special set of Collectable digital items that you can keep on your Sonic Stadium account and show off on your profile. At the moment there are two categories: ‘Sonic Collection Series 1’ and ‘SEGA Console Collection’, but I am already getting loads of ideas for new Collections to introduce over time too, and I think this feature in particular is really exciting. I had a lot of fun getting the SEGA Console Collection organised, for sure.
When you purchase an item, you have the option to either ‘Buy & Use’ immediately, or ‘Buy & Store’. If you do the latter, you can visit your ‘My Items’ page where you can opt to Sell Back the item to the Store (minus a % Sellback Charge) or Send it along to a friend if you don’t want it anymore. Once you Use the item though, it’s locked to your account.
Speaking of which, you can check your Collection via a special tab on your Profile page (illustrated below), with collected Cards filled in colour so you can see at a glance what you’re missing. Duplicates for a particular Card are illustrated with a number in a green circle above the Card (at present, these cannot be traded or sold back, but it’s something I’m hoping we can look at introducing in the future).
All logged-in members will earn Rings for posting and engaging with our community content. To avoid people from abusing the system (making posts just to boost their Ring count), we won’t be too specific as to how many Rings you get for doing what, but you will earn credit for the following:
- Posting a Topic in a Forum
- Replying to a Topic in a Forum
- Creating an Event in the Community Calendar
- Commenting on a Calendar Event
- Joining a Club (the same number of Rings are subtracted from your account if you leave or get kicked from the Club)
- More… (Coming Soon)
(You will not earn Rings for posting or replying to Status Updates, or for Reactions to content)
Topic Starters in the main community Forums will also earn Rings for each reply that is posted in your topic. So think of some good discussion ideas that can really get people chatting! We are also looking into a Registration Referral reward system, where existing members who refer a new user to sign up for a Sonic Stadium account will earn extra Rings. Look out for more details on that soon.
New registered users will also start off with 1,000 Rings to spend in the Store, and there are Bonus Ring incentives that we have set up to encourage posting and content creation across the site. As long as you create 1 post in the specified time frame, you can earn a Daily Bonus (20 Rings), a Weekly Bonus (15 Rings) and a Monthly Bonus (10 Rings).
Finally, I should mention that you can Donate Rings to other Sonic Stadium members (this option can be found in your User Menu, under ‘Content’) if you want to be generous, and you can take advantage of a Bank system where you can deposit Rings (at a 10% charge) that can accrue monthly interest (20%) if you leave it sitting there. Good for building that Scrooge McDuck Moneybin.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BONUS
To kick things off in the best possible way, I have given every member of the Sonic Stadium an Anniversary Present of 2,000 Rings. You can spend this however you want; maybe you want to try your luck and gamble it at the Shop to win more Rings? Perhaps spend it right away on a Profile Card? Or maybe even just Bank or Donate it? It’s up to you!
I honestly had a LOT more to talk about, but just bringing this Member Shop back has been an insane level of effort in terms of testing, researching the right level of Ring distribution/pricing (which may still be tweaked over time, so don’t worry), and stocking the store itself… time has really gotten away from me to talk about anything else, but that’s okay because RINGS ARE BACK, BABY!
I’ll let you all enjoy this lovely new feature, and we can talk about more new features to come later this week (if you’re balking at some of the prices in the Member Shop, just wait until these new features come in because it could be the key to really helping you earn more Rings).
Other important Member / Usergroup changes have been made in preparation for some other stuff, so I have included this below too!
Happy 23rd Anniversary to The Sonic Stadium - and to you!
Thanks, once again, for everything.
Changes to Member Usergroups
- The ’Newbie’ usergroup no longer exists. All users that were in this usergroup have been moved into ‘Member’ (formerly known as ‘Sonic Community’), and all new registrations will enter at the ‘Member’ level with no relative restrictions on posting or content.
- New members will still have their first pieces of content screened by moderators before they are visible to the community. This is just to sense-check a user’s ability to adhere to our Community Guidelines.
- Signature rules have changed to reduce the number of maximum lines of text (from 15 to now 10), links (from 15 to 10), number of images (now 5) and individual image sizes (now 400 x 100). This is to keep sigs clean and discrete and focus on the post content.
- Members can now upload various media as attachments to content, with a larger maximum storage for each user.
- You can now upload an avatar with a maximum size of 1280px width/height, with a maximum filesize of 5MB.
- There is now no limitation on the number of Clubs you can create (new Club creation may still be subject to moderator approval).
- Club owners can now add a Blog or Gallery in addition to a Forum and Calendar.