The second edition of the Roundtable Discussion here on CNCNZ.com is special one covering the 10th Anniversary of CNCNZ.com. Listed below are the people participating this month.
- Sonic – CNCNZ.com Webmaster
- Saracen – CNCNZ.com Co-Webmaster
- Zee Hypnotist – CNCNZ.com Creative Content
- APOC – EA’s C&C Community Manager
- Lion – Webmaster of CNC Den
- Banshee – Webmaster of Project Perfect Mod
- Chickendippers – Webmaster of CNC World
- Luk3us – Long time C&C fan
Question 1) Casting your mind back, how did you get involved in the C&C Community and then discover CNCNZ.com?
Sonic: I first got involved in the early days of the C&C community back in 1997, the year I started the Original Red Alert Zone. The community back then was not how see it today so I wasn’t really aware of what was happening until we moved to the pre-release hype period for Tiberian Sun in 1998, this were Original Red Alert Zone became the Tiberian Sun Zone, later to become TiberianSun.Net.NZ. Back then I was always searching for an identity. So to cut a long story short I guess I’ve been in the community since 1997. And how did I discover CNCNZ.com? Well I built it!
Saracen: When I got the internet in the Christmas of 1996. I was overjoyed. I had been playing the original C&C and the Covert Operations for over a year and a half. After seeing the C&C 2 & Red Alert trailers my first mission was to find some C&C websites. I soon came across a site called “The Temple” who also had just put the finishing touches to a network site called “The Vortex” for the up and coming C&C game, Red Alert. I spent most of 1997 there, and also created some skirmish maps for The Vortex. In late November a news post appeared on The Vortex that it, as well as The Temple was being shut down. The following day, it was gone. I decided to move on, and soon came across a site in a search engine called The Original Red Alert Zone. It wasn’t much to look at, at the time, but it had some cool pictures and information on the Aftermath Expansion that I had never seen at The Vortex before. So I disregarded the other results, and I wrote the web-address on a post-it note. Since then I continued to watch Sonic update and build the site with more cool information, and some interesting stuff on the long awaited Tiberian Sun. The rest is history.
Zee Hypnotist: Funnily enough, and, it’s almost embarrassing to say this, I joined the C&C community while looking for cheats for the game. I had just gotten rid of Dial-Up internet, so I finally could search more openly, and I was looking for editing tools. Thus, I got taken to the TibEd website, and the TibEd website led me to the CNCNZ.com forums. Although I made a fool of myself in the beginning, after some time, I finally became a recognized (and responsible) member. CNCNZ.com, ironically, is where I learned that cheating is a bad thing, and I wound up enjoying hanging around, and getting more involved with the community as a whole.
APOC: Most people in the C&C community don’t know about the uprising of APOC, and how I came to be in this honorable seat of community power (and nobody knows the mystery behind my handle as well, not yet at least). I think some think I came in and invaded Delphi’s office, stealing documents and framing him in a deep dark conspiracy with Kane (surprise surprise), thus forcing him to move to Petroglyph, this is absolutely not the case! Delphi was actually a mentor to me before he departed, and someone I still stay in touch with from time to time. We have the utmost respect for each other.
The long and short of my story is EA Los Angeles offered me a contract position back in March 2004 to be the Marketing Assistant on The Battle for Middle-earth, with no guarantee. I have to pinch myself sometimes when I think about the adventure. The EALA studio was just building up and thus there were only a number of permanent spots available at the time. So it was up to me to prove my worth to the company! I then started to plan community events for The Lord of the Rings RTS franchise and assimilate myself as the “quasi-community EA LOTR community manager” on the message boards, it wasn’t an official title but it was a role I naturally started to take on, nobody else was. Of course, that is also when the C&C community would start e-mailing me and asking for support, and I could not accommodate at the time, primarily because we were not working on any Command & Conquer projects and as I said, my primary role was being the Marketing Assistant. To this day, I’m still juggling many multiple roles.
Then I got the dream job and was the official Assistant Producer / Community Manager for The Lord of the Rings and Command & Conquer. I moved over from the marketing spectrum over to the development team and thus started to carve out my path. Since February 2005 I’ve evolved in to your official Command & Conquer Community Manager as my primary role, helping you guys in bringing this community back to its growing roots. You’d have to live under a pile of Tiberium to not know about CNCNZ.com. Along with the Den, Planet C&C, and C&C Saga, CNCNZ.com was one of the first sites I became affiliated with. I think it was Saracen who sent me a love letter in the mail initially, it’s a bit blurry, but I think I have that in my files somewhere. For his sake, I will keep it hidden.
Lion: I became aware of the C&C community soon after purchasing C&C Dawn in 1995. There wasn’t much of an online community to speak of back then. After Red Alert was released I tried my hand at webmastering, and The Lion’s DEN was born in early 1997. Just a small site dedicated to C&C games. Never garnished much attention though, probably cause it was on one of those free hosting sites with a url about a mile long. My first major C&C site was TSDEN.com in 1998 when I purchased the domain name. The C&C community started to grow about this time due to the anticipation of the release of Tiberian Sun. If I recall correctly I learned about CNCNZ.com sometime in 1999, maybe 1998. It’s been a while, and my memory may not be 100% accurate. It was known then as TSNNZ. I do recall that TSNNZ, BattlegroundTS, and TiberiumSun.com were considered to be among the largest and more well known websites in the community at the time. I kinda miss those early years where there seemed to be a more competitive spirit between webmasters and websites. Everyone strived to be the best and took pride in their work.
Banshee: To be honest, I don’t remember the day I got to know CNCNZ.com. It was a long time before I start modding C&C games. The site was probably called TSNNZ and I hardly checked any C&C fan sites in that time. I was a young casual RTS gamer who usually look out for cheats to use offline (I’ve never cheated online) for my favourite games at that moment (Starcraft, Age Of Empires II and Tiberian Sun). Once I learned that TD could be modded, I’ve started to get closer to C&C and I didn’t took a long time to find out that Tiberian Sun allowed me to create new units… actually, new factions. I saw the opportunity to make my own game with a mod and that’s what got me into the C&C community in 2000. I got to visit CNCNZ.com more often few years later, once I got to know the other webmasters and look out for C&C news on friendly sites. The news coverage really attracted me at first and then, the constant goodies that the site offered, from the C&C 10th Anniversary celebration to the Tiberium Lego series really made CNCNZ.com a ‘must visit it daily’ site for me.
Chickendippers: I was introduced to the community by Clazzy (of savagewar.co.uk) looking for extra things for Tib Sun. Initially I only knew about T-MW but then I discovered there were numerous other sites as well, and CNCNZ.com was definitely one of them!
Luk3us: C&C community – I made a few mission style maps for Yuri’s Revenge and submitted them to a few C&C sites, which I think have all died off now, but you can still see two I think on CNCGames.com, haha :P. As for CNCNZ.com, funnily enough I have absolutely no idea how I came to find CNCNZ.com, probably through CNCGames, as it was the big RA2 site at the time. But I can remember the first time I posted, it was about how there were images from RA2 in Renegade and I was like OMFG at the time. Of course no one else really cared that much, and I still remember feeling so very noobish. 😛 Anyway I wasn’t really all that active, hiding away in some of the game forums for a while, then we switched to the PHPBB boards, and I got more active. And then the flamerz zone was set up because some silly peoples were bitching a lot, lol those were weird times. Anyway been here ever since.
Question 2) In your own words, what would you say has been CNCNZ.com’s biggest contribution to the long running C&C Community?
Sonic: I honestly can’t pick out one thing as our biggest contribution because over 10 years we have done so much. But I guess we will always be remembered for spearheading the C&C 10th Anniversary events in August and September 2005. I always like to think that CNCNZ.com has carved out a unique name for it self over the years, so when some new upstart sites come along promising to change the community people will always know that CNCNZ.com is still around keeping it old school and still providing quality C&C coverage.
Saracen: The biggest contribution to the community is the dedication of 10 years of work that Sonic has put into CNCNZ.com. It has evolved so much over the time and has given all it’s visitors something great along the way. Be it news, downloads or other content, it’s been here, standing strong, and isn’t going anywhere fast. If there’s another thing, then it’s “C&C 10”. CNCNZ.com being the Launching pad for the event. The celebration brought the community together in a rather uncertain time in the community, and it strengthened the links and relationships between everyone involved. It was pretty amazing for CNCNZ.com to be the centre of it all.
Zee Hypnotist: Personally, I think a lot of contributions have been made that are worth noting. The 10th Anniversary of Command & Conquer itself was definitely worthwhile, that brought the whole community together for the time being, whether people were around for good intentions or other wise. There was a lot of fun during those times, and even though it was around the time we were expecting an announcement of Red Alert 3, we still got somewhat of a reward, due to the fact that I’m rather sure it inspired EA to create the First Decade pack.
APOC: Honesty, personality, and consistency…and Tiberium Legos! Alright, Hypnotist, you’re an amazing guy, but I have to say, the first 3 traits I spoke of here take the cake. If you ask me this question again in 1-2 years, Tiberium Legos will move up in the ranks, probably right next to personality. Keep it up! What I’ve always loved about CNCNZ.com is the transparency, honesty, and constructiveness of the site-admins opinions and the way they report on C&C official and community news. I appreciate their way of reporting the news, and letting the news speak for itself, but doing so in a personable way that still allows them to share their opinion. It also helps me understand the community vibe better. By consistency, I simply mean, you guys always have had the latest beat on the hottest news in the community and I can always expect to come to this site and know what is going on. It’s tough for me in my position to have a beat on every single thing in the C&C community, but when I come to CNCNZ.com, it’s easy to tell what the current highlight is. I like that a lot.
Lion: I don’t know if I can point to any one particular contribution that stands out, but rather the fact CNCNZ.com and it’s webmaster Sonic has been around for a decade (yes, he’s a merry old English chap), and has set an example of professionalism and dedication for all C&C webmasters to follow. His site has been a major anchor in the C&C community from day one.
[Webmaster’s Note: Sorry Lion, I’m a New Zealander, Saracen would be the “merry old English chap”]
Banshee: While I love the Tiberium Legos, I must say that the biggest contribution was the C&C 10th Anniversary celebration that CNCNZ.com organized with the rest of the community. It made the community get closer and a festival of contests and prizes being distributed. The consequence of the event was The First Decade compilation. The influence of the event was so big that EA tried to ‘recreate’ something similar in this year with the 12th anniversary to sell C&C Saga, but it definitely didn’t work in the same way the event CNCNZ.com organized did. It was an astonishing accomplishment for a fan site. Congrats, guys!
Chickendippers: Without a shadow of a doubt the 10th anniversary celebrations. Whilst I’m sure it would have been commemorated by each site in its own small way, nothing on the scale that we saw would have happened without CNCNZ.com’s organization. I may even dare to go as far as saying it was pivotal in getting The First Decade made.
Luk3us: I think the 10th C&C Anniversary was perhaps the biggest thing CNCNZ.com has been involved in, as pretty much the entire C&C community got in on the act. Which was really cool indeed. Moving ahead now, I think the podcasts Hypno used to do were pretty cool too, and now with the Tiberium Legos. Just a few things to set CNCNZ.com apart from the rest of the community.
Question 3) 10 years is along time, is there anything, CNCNZ.com or community related, you would rather forget?
Sonic: There are many things. I wish I could back in time and grab copies of the data and site layout I’ve lost over the years. CNCNZ.com maybe 10 years old but I wish our archives reflected that. I’ve lost count at the number of times we have lost data and files by not maintaining a decent backup system. The small war we had 2002 with C&CUniverse.com over layout designs, it got ugly, really ugly. Back in 2001 when our hosting was just terminated for no reason. I came online one day to discover that our host had pulled the plug on us, his only message to me was “Sorry”. And even earlier this year, shortly after the release of C&C 3, the senior staff here at CNCNZ.com all their differences of opinion. Things got a bit heated, emotions ran high, we all said things we regretted later. But what was most embarrassing was the fact that it spilled over into the public view of our forums. But the good thing is we moved on and resolved our differences. But I’m sure Saracen and Zee will admitted we acted rather stupid during that tension fulled few days.
Saracen: A couple come to mind. Firstly the webmaster wars of 2002, where CNCNZ.com and a site I’ll keep un-named, argued over rights to the layout and colour scheme. It wasn’t pleasant, as it spilled over into our forums, resulting in staff and members alike heading over there and flaming, and vice versa. We all knew Sonic was the first, but it didn’t stop them being arrogant and un-necessarily flamboyant with every one of us. It’s something that still annoys me to this day. Another was shortly after the Zero Hour pack was released. News and content seemed to have ground to a halt almost overnight. From that point on until the C&C 10 celebrations and onwards until late 2006 a dark shadow seemed to hang over the community. Conflict grew between community members and us webmasters almost felt like calling Marshal law. It was horrible to say the least. All we seemed to have was modding news holding us together. In Hindsight it wasn’t really EA’s fault, but by then, most of us had caught the negativity bug. EA of course were in the firing line, as well as the whole community. The worst thing about it is that we lost a lot of Veterans and other community members alike over those few years. It’s something I hope we’ll never have to go through again.
Zee Hypnotist: To be honest, even though I’ve only been around for about 2 and a half years, quite a lot has happened, and I have to honestly say I’ve enjoyed the memories. Probably the worst event I noticed was when we got hacked by the Arab Security Team, which probably realistically consisted of a couple punk teenagers who had nothing better to do, but I digress. That was a rather quick fix problem, and other than that, everything has gone fine… maybe with the exception of a few members who pop in here or there.
APOC: There truly isn’t anything I’d like to forget. No matter how good or bad any moments of the past 10 years have been for Command & Conquer and this community, they’ve all helped in some way to sustain it. Forget nothing, remember everything.
Lion: The closing of Westwood Studios…not something I’d rather forget, just something I wished never happened. The hard times I had breaking into the C&C community is something I’d rather forget. Peeps don’t see what goes on behind the scenes between other webmasters. It was an uphill battle to get established and accepted by other websites in the community. I don’t believe it’s as hard today as it was back 8-10 years ago though as I don’t see that ‘competitive’ spirit that use to be around. There’s more cooperation and collaboration between webmasters now than in past years.
Banshee: I usually tend to forget hacking events or these days where sites have to move hosting, because these problems are over. From the CNCNZ.com events, sometimes we forget things due to the excessive amount of content delivered by the site during these 10 years. So, some CNCNZ.com Podcasts from Hypnotist and videos made before the Tiberium Legos might be forgotten by some people, but most of them were cool. Also, some of Saracen’s articles, specially the recent ones I’d rather forget, no offense…
Chickendippers: Back in the day when I was new to webmastering I decided to start reviewing some of the big community sites (I think I gave CNCNZ.com a glowing review) however I was less than generous on some of the other community behemoths. Needless to say I felt pretty stupid, but I have learnt to be much more tolerant and forgiving to new webbies as a result.
Luk3us: That I would rather forget? As far as the C&C community goes, I can’t think of anything really. As for CNCNZ.com, the Flamerz Zone brings back horrible memories of how I use to act and be, I’m thankful Sonic ended up deleting that entire forum and all traces of it, cause damn that stuff was just so stupid, and idiotic… Not now of course completely mature and well reasoned. 😛
Question 4) Not really a question, but more of an opportunity for you to leave any comments about 10 years of CNCNZ.com. Sonic: What can I say about 10 years of CNCNZ.com, other than where has all the time gone. Honestly, it only feels like a couple of years have past since I started this site and back in 1997/1998 did I never imagined it lasting this long or becoming so big. So how much longer will CNCNZ.com last? Well that depends on our friends at EALA.
Saracen: Any site that can survive 10 years through the good and bad, and come out unscathed with the same Webmaster running the show is a great achievement. I’m not going to try and take Sonic’s glory, but the faith, strength and advice of his co-webmasters and staff over the years has gone a long way to making sure CNCNZ.com has gone from strength to strength. Whether it’s been adding extra content, or his staff giving Sonic a proverbial e-slap around the face during the site’s darkest times. The team spirit has made sure CNCNZ.com keeps on going. So here’s to another 10 years!
Zee Hypnotist: I gotta say, a lot of my life revolves around this site. I’ve spent a lot of time here in the past two years, and I gotta say, Sonic, ya did a great job making this site happen, and keeping it going for as long as you did. I’m happy that you and Saracen (King at the time) took me in as your staff, and I’m glad to be a part of the CNCNZ.com team. You guys rock! And as for the community… wouldn’t be here without you guys either… obviously.
APOC: Well Sonic, you’re uprising and growth should inspire the C&C community to greater heights. Not many video game fan-sites can say they’ve stood the test of time for 10 years, and especially in such a decade where the internet has gone from the most archaic form of communication to the infinitely most popular. Looking back at your Site History page, it’s amazing how far you’ve come and the team you’ve had along the way. I look forward to another 10 years of CNCNZ.com and hope to be participating in a 20th anniversary round-table edition 10 years from now. Keep up the amazing work, myself and the entire Command & Conquer development team are always watching and listening.
Lion: CNCNZ.com’s webmaster Sonic has been an inspiration to me personally throughout the years. Many of the ideas I’ve used for RADEN and CNCDEN came from Sonic and his website. Even after a decade Sonic continues to bring new features to his site on a regular basis. The dude just never sleeps! Of course I’m jealous, I’ve got my eye on him, and will steal what I can when he’s not looking.
Banshee: I’d like to congratulate Sonic, Saracen and Zee Hypnotist, but specially Sonic. Running a site like CNCNZ.com during 10 years is a hard job that demands a lot of dedication. Specially a well presented site, full of contents about all C&C games, constantly updated with news and with fresh layouts every year and, with a high popularity, such as CNCNZ.com. As webmaster of PPM, I’m used to use some hours per day to keep the site updated and new features coming, so it is not as easy as it seems like ‘you have a site and it self sustains. It really demands a lot of dedication. Also, kudos for Hypnotist, the source of many creative goodies that come out of CNCNZ.com, specially the recently successful and awesome Tiberium Legos. And congratulations for Saracen, not only for organizing the great C&C 10th Anniversary, which was really damn awesome, but also for helping CNCNZ.com during all these years and Petro Gamers as well.
Chickendippers: 10 years is certainly an achievement for any website, here’s to another decade!
Luk3us: Obviously CNCNZ.com is an absolute kick ass C&C community site, which is a reflection of the awesome staff that CNCNZ.com has. Though some how Sonic has managed to keep it all together for 10 years, which I find highly impressive considering some of the dry spouts we have gone through in recent years, but still. Awesome job Sonic!
Disclaimer: The views expressed by each individual in the Roundtable Discussion are their own, and do not reflect the official view of CNCNZ.com, unless otherwise stated.