This article is outdated.
|Fast Facts on The Sonic Stadium|
The Sonic Stadium (also referred to as the abbreviated 'TSS') is a British information resource, created by Dreadknux in 2000. Originally launched as a simple platform for the webmaster to write what he knew about the Sonic franchise, it is known today for its up-to-date coverage of new products, bustling community and inspired social online and offline events. It is considered by many to be the most popular Sonic the Hedgehog related website in the world.
The birth of The Sonic Stadium began in 1999, when Dreadknux first joined the Online Sonic Community. With his interest in the Sonic franchise rekindled by becoming a regular visitor at The Moogle Cavern, Dreadknux became aware of many other fansites that were dedicated to the series. General information websites such as Sonic HQ, The Sonic Foundation and Shadow of a Hedgehog inspired the would-be webmaster to create his own page. His goal at the time was simply to write about the games he had played and loved as a child.
Upon getting access to a home computer with limited Internet capabilities, Dreadknux started work on his then unnamed website in March 2000. It was initially planned to have a few pages online to help build momentum later, but eventually more game pages were added and the recent release of Sonic Adventure urged the webmaster to write a review on the Dreamcast classic. The site name was imagined by Dreadknux in last August 2000, when thinking of 'establishments' that would sound good with the word 'Sonic'. It was a surprising coincidence to learn some months later that the website nearly shares a working title with the canned Sonic Crackers project.
A domain name was registered for http://www.sonic-stadium.com in early October via the help of webmaster friend 'ElectroSonic Dan' (webmaster of SonicRoms.org. The domain was registered on the NameZero registration service and aimed to redirect users visiting the URL to the Angelfire account that Dreadknux was using for The Sonic Stadium.
The website was launched on 24th October 2000 with an extensive Games section and a Links page. Additional sections that appeared shortly after launch included a 'Cheat Cavern', online shop, News section and an Artwork download page. The first thing visitors saw on the homepage was a three-paragraph introduction from Dreadknux, with a light-hearted message that cemented his editorial style as friendly and approachable. Within three weeks The Sonic Stadium had received over 70 unique visits, a number that pleased Dreadknux considering the little fanfare the site enjoyed when it launched.
Despite its timely release however, The Sonic Stadium missed updating over the Christmas period due to a redesign - the first of what would become many over a mere few years. There were also problems with a lack of visitors to the newly launched music service Sonic Groove Choons FM (which later became SEGASonic Radio) and a dearth of members on its Message Board, then called 'Sonic Stadium MB'. It was believed that a change in layout would drive more visitors to the site; Dreadknux had used a free HTML template which, despite looking passable, was difficult to build a website around due to the webmaster's then fledging knowledge of design.
At the start of 2001 Dreadknux realised that it was going to take more than just running another Sonic website to capture the imagination of the online community. Although it never stopped several new designs happening throughout this year, he focused on improving his information, learning from discoveries and games that he had never heard of before, while maintaining his fresh editorial and light British twist on the Sonic and Sonic Team world. This resulted in a deft move of covering Sonic Adventure 2 at length during the height of its interest, as the coming Summer brought The Sonic Stadium a constant stream of visitors and the potential breakthrough it needed.
After a change of hosts to STAS.net in February - which consequently became a developer nightmare, ultimately ending in the liquidation of the host and the loss of half a year's work - and back to Angelfire in March, Dreadknux decided to temporarily leave The Sonic Stadium alone while he concentrated on his High School GCSE finals. On 30th June the site relaunched with a third new design, and enjoyed its 1,000th Visitor only a few days later.
New features were introduced to The Sonic Stadium as community-involved events. Sonic Groove Choons FM was rebranded and hosted on the Zone Radio Network as SEGASonic Radio, with a new website and vibe that drove a lot of people into listening to streamed video game music. Another new section, the Sonic Fan Club, was revealed as a single portal for all fan creations such as Fan Games, Artwork, Hoaxes and more. The event that perhaps made the greatest impact was an annual awards ceremony called the Sonic Site Awards, created in July 2001 to celebrate smaller Sonic fansites outside the circle of 'major' resources like Sonic HQ for their webmastering talents. Both events were crucial to expanding The Sonic Stadium's audience, as Dreadknux cunningly hosted the debut of the awards show on the main website. Subsequent 'SSA' events were hosted on minisites away from The Sonic Stadium's main pages.
Riding on the sudden surge of regular visitors, Dreadknux decided to create another new design in October - this time undecided as to which particular layout (out of two similar ones) he should stick with. Visitors were asked which they preferred out of a home page with one or two navigation bars. Thankfully, this was the last website layout in a while (despite a tweak in navigation design during a Christmas update) and focus turned in November to the still struggling Message Board. Throughout the previous 12 months the forum had undergone four different revivals and name changes in a desperate attempt to gain members, with the last iteration - a tongue-in-cheek MB called 'The Dead Sonic Forum' - a sign of Dreadknux's vented frustration at the affair. The new forum, titled 'Sega Sonic Message Board', became a success and was abbreviated SSMB for short. In a few years time, the words 'Sega Sonic' would be replaced with 'Sonic Stadium' to integrate better with the website.
The Sonic Stadium continues to go on apace, and has caught on a large following from both the site, the "SSMB" Forums and other innovative events Dreadknux has since created. TSS stands as one of the most popularwebsites for general Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Team information, and most certainly the premier British website. With content increasing every day; information, Q&A, screens, movies, music, cheats and guides, history pages, cartoons and comics and even with its own Network of hosted sites that all offer something inventive and new to the Sonic community, The Sonic Stadium has come a long way since its launch way back in 2000.
Around the start of 2005, core staff began developing a system to link sites on the Sonic Stadium, along with their member functions, together using a centralized script. This allows each site on the network to use features such as the forum-style user bar and makes creation of a new site more simple due to existing tools such as skins and existing functions. It also enables them to let members interact with the sites using their SSMB forum accounts, rather than being anonymous or having to register on another script. This project was given the title "Project Grandslam". As of October 2005, part of the Sonic Stadium uses this system, as does the whole of Sonic News, the Sonic Site Awards and FastFeet Media.
In October 2005, Svend Joscelyne (Dreadknux) approached some representatives of SEGA Europe at a low-key event. This was the first time in the online community that official sources recognised and wished to build a rapport with a fansite. This led to a relationship between official source and unofficial fansites that grows stronger by the day. In November 2005, The Sonic Stadium held a special "Shadow Week" wherein the website design changed and SEGA offered many fansites copies of the Shadow the Hedgehog game to give away as prizes.
But later in 2007, FastFeet Media, once part of The Sonic Stadium network, spun out, due to two new sites being built within FastFeet Media in itself. Six months later, a new website was created, and even when The Sonic Stadium and FastFeet Media are split, the two still play big roles in the Sonic community.
Sometime between then and March 2009, SEGASonic Radio moved from ZRN, which was largely moribund, to their own servers.
In March 2009, The Sonic Stadium was hit with severe downtime due to their host facing a large amount of debt. Unfortunately, the SSMB had no backup to resort to and five years of work was gone, forcing the board to restart from scratch. On March 4th, TSS was back up. The website was partially backed up and the forums were restarted, luckily for them their faithful memberbase quickly flocked back.
As of January 1, 2010:
Note: There is some decided overlap in this very partial list, mainly involving staff retiring and un-retiring at least once.