Reviewed RCTPyro

Discussion in 'Community Reviews' started by bradwyatt, Apr 3, 2007.

  1. bradwyatt

    bradwyatt Participant

    Site name: RCTPyro
    Launched: May 2006
    Board Software: Invision Power Board 2.2.2
    Posts: 17,387
    Members: 1,795
    Topic: Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 fansite. Unique in the fact that we only focus on the pyrotechnic elements surrounding the game. We have a download section for people to download fireworks, shows, packs etc, a blogging system, a gallery, a free image upload system, a chat room, a shoutbox and a variety of forums to converse in. Members need 30 posts before they are automatically promoted to the "Full Members" group, this prevents leechers as users can not download unless they are in the Full Members group. The skin is a custom piece developed in-house by our development team. Please feel free to register, but if you would like a test-login please see below:

    Username: taz
    Password: tazlogin
    (Account will be removed when the review is done)

    Thank you
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2007
  2. PalePhoenix

    PalePhoenix Prince of Dorkness

    Thank you for submitting your site to be evaluated at TAZ. A full review is authorized. A member of our team should be getting a look soon.
  3. Hazel

    Hazel Forum Fanatic

    First Impressions (5/15)
    Dull, didn't like the skin. Didn't see any incentive to scroll down the page


    Guest's Outlook: Took me a minute to discover what the site was about. I felt overhelmed by the sheer length of the board, so I certainly wouldn't have joined.
    Logos and Banners: Very ordinary logo, and I wasn't keen on the positioning. Most sites have it on the left, yours has in on the right.
    Quantity of Forums: Too many, I just didn't read them all. And, as a guest, I wouldn't have known where to start posting.
    Advertisements: None, so far as I can see. Though, in my opinion, they would have made the site less monotonous!
    Color scheme: Dull, boring, black and white.
    Styles: The sub-forum look reminds me of TAZ, but the rest just strikes me as a fairly average skin. It actually makes the site look boring and chunky.
    Page and Image Sizes: Page too long, as I said.
    Favicon, Buttons, and Other Graphics: Default IPB favicon, nothing else to add.

    Feel (20/35)

    Theme: I'm still not entirely sure what the theme is, though I imagine it's obvious to the members and staff.
    Sense of Community: The general chat section has no board over 7 topics, members only seem active in the boards directly relevant to the subject matter.
    Postcount and Quality: 9 posts a member tells me that you're getting most of your activity from staff and regulars. Probably inhibiting the site from growing.
    Participation Overview: A large number of blogs seems to imply participation, though some of them seem to be a bit more spammy than i'd really approve of.
    Contests, Games, and Diversions: A lot of diversions, way too many links on the toplinks bar. The live chat and shoutbox are redundant. Have one or the other, not both!

    Management (5/15)

    Points of Registration: A highly annoying "click here to register bar" succeed in making me login. But would be more likely to make me leave, than register.
    Rules, FAQ, and Privacy Policy: A very nice rules hack, with plenty info on it. The help system is standard ipb, and I couldn't find a privacy policy.
    Quantity and Activity of Staff: I'd say that 9 admins and 7 global mods mods is overdoing it a bit. As a general rule, you want less admins the global mods.

    Overall Impressions (40/100)Poor, i'm not impressed in any way whatsoever. Has no real appeal, and seems to be surviving purely on the fact that it's a pretty unusual niche, it seems.

    Summary of Recommended Changes
    • Shorten page/reduce number of forums.
    • Make the topic more readily available.
    • Add more flavour to the skin, make it less dull.
    • Reduce number of toplinks
    • Encourage more activity in the membership
    • Demote some staff, particularly admins.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 7, 2007
  4. bradwyatt

    bradwyatt Participant

    Whoa, that's a blow. :p

    I appreciate your comments though:

    I've only recently seen what it's like as a guest. Because I've been there so long, it's familiar but it is daunting to guests, I agree. I really thought the skin was nice, looks like it needs to be re-done. There is too many forums, I agree, looks like a cut-down is in order. I've just changed the favicon.

    Valid points, I'll take them into consideration.

    I knew this would come up. :p

    Administrator = Used for things if I need help from external sources, such as a mod error.
    Brad, Dean, Fab208, Klubby = These are the only administrators. Dean is the founder, and inactive, he's just there because he founded the place.

    The rest of the admins shown only have access to the Look & Feel tab, they are the site development team and deal with the look of the site.

    We have a high number of moderators because every new post made by a new member has to be approved. This can be a lot of work, so we have alot of mods to deal with the problem.

    The activity has always been a problem. Unfortunately, the majority only want the downloads, and I'm stuck as to how to encourage more posting.

    Thanks for the review, alot of points I'd never of seen without you. :)

    Oh by the way, the TOS (no privacy policy atm) is in the board footer.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2007
  5. stormcub

    stormcub Adherent

    First Impressions

    The bright colors in the logo cauimages.ght my eye. However, the page took a very long time to load completely. The problem appears to be with the images, because the page was showing broken images, and then nothing at all. I'm not sure whether this is poor image hosting of lack of coding experience.

    The skin doesn't really draw me in. It's quite plain, and I don't do well with black text on a white background. (dark on bright bothers my eyes). Others might feel differently.


    Guest's Outlook: I play Roller Coaster Tycoon and even I couldn't quite figure out what the site was about. My tendency would have been to stay for a few minutes, get frustrated, and then leave.

    Logos and Banners:

    I like the logo, but I don't think that it works effectively for this site. My preference would be for a screen shot from out of the game itself. I used to run a Zoo Tycoon forum and I had a logo contest for members, using in-game screen shots. They came up with some amazing material! Your members might enjoy this.

    Quantity of Forums: Not at all overwhelming. I think you've got a good number here (I didn't see the site before, so I'm not sure how much you've changed, but the number seems good to me). Specifically, however, I think that I would move the "First Stop" forum into News, Announcements and Updates (as a child) and then change the title for that forum to News, Information and Introductions, or something of that nature. It will make your first category appear cleaner and that looks better to guests.

    Advertisements: N/A

    Color scheme: I like the dark grey background you've used, but otherwise, the site is difficult for me to read because of the black on white, and I agree that it's quite dull.

    The Game uses several bright colors. Why not try to make the site resemble the game?

    Styles: Unoriginal.

    Page and Image Sizes: The slightly reduced width of the forum is nice. It's never good to leave them stretching to the edge of the page. The images are a good size.

    Favicon, Buttons, and Other Graphics
    : Can't really see it. It looks like it's from Rocky Horror Picture Show?


    Theme: Hard to determine what the theme is. Maybe write out Roller Coaster Tycoon instead of RCT?

    Sense of Community: Topics appear to be active, and members and staff appear to be welcoming.

    Postcount and Quality: It doesn't seem as though members are as helpful to one another as they could be. Having been a member of similar communities in the past, I'm not seeing the support that I felt from the communities that I belonged to.

    Overall Impressions: Could be better. I think I'd like to see people being more friendly and helpful with one another in spite of the forum being quite welcoming.

    Summary of Recommended Changes

    * Combine the First Stop forum with one of the other forums in that category.
    * Try to encourage members to be more helpful towards one another.
    * Brighten up the skin.
    * Use screen shots from the game for the logo.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. bradwyatt

    bradwyatt Participant

    Thanks for the extra review :)

    We're working on a new skin now, based on this review. We do have a logo contest that is ongoing. You can see the new skin if you scroll down to the bottom of the forum, and choose StePyro.

    I'm working on guest interaction this week, they'll be a welcome box at the top of the board index that'll explain everything people need to know.

    I'm not sure how I could "encourage" members to be more helpful to one another, though.
  7. stormcub

    stormcub Adherent

    Ooops, I missed the login information! Eeek! Sorry about that! I do like the turquoise better. I think that it adds more interest to the site. And the new top layout is a lot more interesting. I'd still like to see maybe some in game coasters or something like that though ;)

    The best way that you can "convince" members to be more helpful to one another is to make sure that they know that it's okay to post links (provided that it IS okay to post links, and IMO it should be ;) ) and also to make sure that you're stopping into as many threads as you can PERSONALLY and giving your assistance to problems and your feedback on projects.

    Having done several massive projects for the original zoo tycoon, I can tell you that the feedback from administrators can REALLY keep a project going even when it's about to fail.
  8. bradwyatt

    bradwyatt Participant

    I help out members all the time, where I can, along with my other staff. We're always informal in topics outside of News & Announcements, and on important topics. RCTPyro is unique to fireworks and pyrotechnics only, we don't deal with coasters, scenery etc.
  9. lundberry

    lundberry Neophyte

    a third opinion

    Guest's Outlook: When first viewing the site is feels like your visiting a rather unorganized forum from the start. Though some of the categories are rather well defined other parts of the forum feel like they were either put in as an after or without regard to changes made to the site that would not require certain elements.
    Logos and Banners: Although not necessarily the worst logo possible it feels somewhat generic for some reason. I would reccommend at least using some screenshot from your game that shows off your (The Site Owner's) talents at RCT.
    Quantity of Forums: Adequate.
    Advertisements: N/A
    Color scheme: I do not like the blue. It feels like a color wash was done on the site rather than getting into the CSS and tying in the graphic from your logo even. Although I did not like the image you used for your logo in that context being put into use around other parts of the site would be a good improvement.
    Styles: Bland and uninspiring
    Page and Image Sizes: The use of images was sparse from what I was able to gather but what images I could find you are making a good start on sizing. Pages were adequate to allow for content to appear presentable generally at nearly any screen resolution which I have noticed can be hindered if you set your page widths at too low a percentage of page widths.
    Favicon, Buttons, and Other Graphics: Generic.


    Theme: Bland and quickly assembled.
    Sense of Community: most every topic had been replied to recently and those that were not were on parts of the forum being moved to other parts of the server. instead of feeling like members were helping it felt like many of the people were solely there to either complete the obligatory number of posts or to show off what they had done rather than
    Postcount and Quality: fairly high post count. But lacking the meat needed for a newcomer to find great value.
    Participation Overview: Not as good as it might be if the members were acting more like a community.
    Contests, Games, and Diversions: With the companies portion of the forum which is being moved to another part of the site it seems that people are offered both a way to show off accomplishments and be awwed should they so choose.


    Points of Registration: standard IPB register button at top of screen
    Rules, FAQ, and Privacy Policy: Rules are well laid out. No unique FAQ. No Privacy Policy
    Quantity and Activity of Staff: I am unsure how to take the number of staff. with the number of staff members present it seems like many people might be scared away by the staff accounting for over half of the posts on the site. Though it is needed for a site to have active staff participating in the posting to the forum this implies that the staff is acting more like support than the rallying cry behind others stepping up to offer said support.

    Overall Impressions Dissappointed great possibilities on the site. But they were not utilized in such a way that the site would see the biggest embracing it could.

    Summary of Recommended Changes

    - Use a screen shot for your logo
    - Get into your CSS and do some editing putting some custom images in instead of block color.
    - Prune your memberlists occasionally. It is unmotivating if you come in and see a large number of non-posting members in a forum. Though everyone wants many users prune your lists so that the users are legitimate.
    - Get rid of the login button that actually sits on your forum. It looks tacky.
    - although you are trying to conserve space on your server please have more screenshots on the forum it will improve return visits and overall quality.
    - with your administrators to avoid having so many visible admins put them as GM's in their primary user groups and admins in their secondary so that they can still do all the admin commands but people don't feel like you have so large a number of administrators.
    - move to a more appealing color scheme in terms of not creating eye strain ie. colors that are not overly bright.
  10. bradwyatt

    bradwyatt Participant

    We do have a privacy policy, scroll down to the bottom. I think you're being a bit too picky with that review to be honest... -_-
  11. PalePhoenix

    PalePhoenix Prince of Dorkness

    You've gotten three full reviews where many don't even get one. Official reviewers are not required to debate you on the relative merits of anything they point out, and regular TAZ members are being virtual paragons of generosity here. Play nice, please.
  12. bradwyatt

    bradwyatt Participant

    That post wasn't in an unpleasant tone. I was saying what I feel...
  13. PalePhoenix

    PalePhoenix Prince of Dorkness

    Well, so was Jonathan. And Becki. AND David. And one of my responsibilities as Review Team leader is to make sure that those who perform this service on TAZ's behalf can continue to do so without the fear of reprisal or counter-assessment. These people are doing you an enormous favor, as volunteers, and while no one's asking for your undying gratitude, I am coolly suggesting that you accept each one's input with a modicum of grace.

    Reviews are 'snapshots' of your site as it presently exists. Supporting documentation for how to address any of the issues one might mention are found all across TAZ. As such, ongoing consultation is not something any reviewer is obligated to provide, and for your own benefit I'm calmly recommending that you not attempt to dictate what sort of 'tone' you find pleasant or acceptable. Picky or not, it's all worthwhile information, if you choose to use it.