TSS Timeline: The Year 2002

This is part of an ongoing series of features that looks back on the history of The Sonic Stadium, written by Dreadknux. You can find out more about how this website changed the Sonic community, what it looked like back in the day, and even special images and update notes from the archive.

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Sonic Stadium News Group

TSS’ 2002 can largely be summed up by the launch (and subsequent un-launch) of the Sonic Stadium News Group. SSNG was a merger of the Sonic Stadium and another fansite, Sonic News. The idea was, that I would provide the information pages and web design and Sonic_Hedgehogs (Sonic News’ owner) would provide the rolling daily updates and news.

We went through a number of designs before we landed on the right one – the home page in particular would undergo a couple of format alterations, as you can see below. For SSNG, we wanted to give our merged site its own colourful-yet-atmospheric feel. The Sonic Stadium would end up hosting the project, with a lot of content from Sonic News moved across. The SSMB Forums also got design and name changes, which were not well received from long-time users.

The site was launched close to Sonic the Hedgehog’s 11th Anniversary, in June – and lasted approximately two weeks before the entire thing was shut down and thrown in the proverbial bin. One of the major reasons for this involved allegations of plagiarism from users of another Sonic fansite, Sonic HQ. It turned out that the source of some of the Sonic News material had been called into question. It didn’t help that many of the pages on SSNG used backgrounds that were already being used by, or were created by, Sonic HQ as well – a design snafu on my part.

On top of this, Sonic_Hedgehogs had been absent throughout the ordeal, and updates were not as frequent as originally planned. Having dealt with the fallout almost on my own, there was little that I could do to salvage the project other than kill it entirely. I took a short break due to the exhaustion, and later decided to revive The Sonic Stadium instead of letting the story end on such a low note. I changed the SSNG design slightly, making sure to remove all the offending content, before starting work on a proper reboot of the site.

The Sonic Stadium Reboot

Before the launch of SSNG, The Sonic Stadium saw another design change, with a rounded content area and navy-blue corners and a three-column design on the homepage. The second image above is what TSS looked like during the aftermath of SSNG, with various hijacked elements of the merged site design and a removal of various other things.

But, things started picking up after SSNG’s demise which led to a reboot and complete design refresh in October. Zifei, the founder of Sonic HQ, offered to host the reborn TSS on his personal server, telling me that he believed in my vision for this site to become the best resource for Sonic the Hedgehog online. That’s some high praise indeed. After officially quitting and retiring Sonic News, Sonic_Hedgehogs came back and offered to write for the new Sonic Stadium, and I found a renewed focus to make the best site I possibly could.

Below was the result.

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This was the point where I started to build a team to work on the site, to assist me in creating content – although I would still end up doing the editorial content, the Sonic Fan Club segment got some assistance in the form of Fastfeet (Fan Games reporter) and Biafra Republic (Fan Art maintainer). With Sonic_Hedgehogs on news, the presence of the team allowed me to broaden the site and cover other high profile Sonic Team games, as well as go full pelt on Sonic Advance 2 and Sonic Mega Collection coverage.

Ultimately, the redesign did the trick – TSS’ reputation went up massively upon the relaunch and with a steady stream of content, there was a huge surge in visits and popularity from November onwards.

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Unofficial SEGA Magazine

This year saw the introduction of the Unofficial SEGA Magazine, which was a digital fanzine created by SonicVerse Team. It was originally exclusive to the fansite Sonic News, but since the launch of SSNG became a part of The Sonic Stadium. It was a valiant attempt at re-igniting the fire of SEGA fans, but due to the huge task of building each issue with limited resources the project only last for three (and a half) issues.

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Sonic Battle Stadium

The SSMB Forums saw the start of a brand new interactive game, called the Sonic Battle Stadium. I created a basic ruleset for a text-based battle adventure, where forum users could create characters and pick an ‘element’ (similar to Pokemon) as well as a set of moves that they could assign damage points to. Battles would be manually moderated, with referees taking hit points away based on the various conditions that affected play throughout the topic.

Ultimately, players would fight one another and obtain points, with the ultimate goal being the ability to challenge ‘Grandmaster Dreadknux’ at the end of the Season and become the true winner by defeating him. Awards were given out to the overall winner and runner-ups. The Sonic Battle Stadium ran for two years/seasons, with the second season introducing changes to the gameplay in order to make moderating easier – these changes weren’t well received and the lack of activity brought the game to an eventual and early close.

Other Notable Developments

  • We may have ended up discovering something new in Sonic 2 – some remnants of Wood Zone that can be found on any retail cartridge.
  • It was the year of fan creations for sure: TSS was the official home of coverage for the Sonic Amateur Games Expo (which led to our first ever contest), as well as the Sonic Comic Con in late 2002; the Sonic Hoaxers Club brought about many doctored images of classic Sonic games; we went big on fan game reviews and previews; and there were even fan animations in New Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Fight 4 Freedom to talk about.
  • The SSMB Forums moved away from its old ezBoard home and onto a specialist forum software. It was initially moved to YaBB, before making a permanent home with Invision Power Board.
  • The Sonic Site Awards returned for a second year following the success of the 2001 online event. More awards were on offer and the reception was even greater.
  • The Sonic Stadium announced a ‘partnership’ with fellow fansite and creative portal SonicVerse Team this year. SVT’s upcoming online event Sonic Comic Con would be covered by TSS, and we would also have the exclusive on publishing new pages from flagship comic Sonic Shadows.

Old Template Images

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