Hey Grifballers, Goosechecka here.
As many of you know, Kalbelgarion and I took a leave of absence last year to celebrate the arrival of our son.
Originally, this absence was expected to have been temporary, and Kal and I asked senior leadership to maintain the site and leagues while we adjusted to our new role as parents. Kal and I love our Grifball family, but it has become apparent in the last few months that we cannot give the site and the community the attention it deserves. Senior leadership has been working diligently to keep the site and leagues running, a challenging task as neither Kal nor I have been reliably available to provide proper support. This has been a difficult realization for us and one we likely knew months ago but could not fully come to terms with. During this time, site and league admins, moderators, and community leaders have worked tirelessly to keep the ship afloat and ensure the Hub continues to be the place for Grifball.
It’s been almost a year since Kal and I stepped back, and keeping the Hub in a holding pattern is no longer viable. It is unfair to the leadership who has been working their Grifballs off to keep the community together. It is unfair to the players who want to see the sport grow and evolve. A stagnant site is a dead site, and you all deserve better. In order to prevent the site from becoming defunct, Kal and I had two options.
I am relieved to say that Kal, I, and the Hub leadership all support Option Two.
Although I am deeply saddened to not be part of the day-to-day operations and immersed in the community which is the life-blood of the site, I am very proud of the plan site leadership has crafted and am excited to share in their vision of the GrifballHub’s future. – Goosechecka
From the Senior Staff:
There has been much discussion about how to best move the Hub forward. After a number of productive conversations, we agreed on a collaborative plan which will expand the GTS initiative and restructure site leadership into a format that best serves the community, the leagues, and the Hub’s long-term objectives.
These changes, which will be effective immediately, are as follows:
Up until now, Hub leadership has operated under a collective, committee-based style of management. While this setup has brought the Hub great success and encouraged collaboration within leadership, it often resulted in individual leaders having loosely defined responsibilities. The objective of this new structure is to bring greater leadership transparency and accountability while maintaining as much of the collaborative spirit from the previous system as possible. The end result is a revamped three-tier system with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, as follows:
New leadership structure
The revamped structure operates using three tiers. Each tier is distinct and each position has clearly defined responsibilities and a person directly accountable for executing those responsibilities.
Senior Staff is responsible for the long-term direction of the Hub. There are five directors who will oversee and manage all Hub operations going forward.
Currently, these five directors consist of SonicNachos, Bad Allikat, Sam/snickerdoodle, Rage More Nerd, and DJBluePDX.
Sonic is Director of the Development Team which focuses on the overall expansion of the Hub, including the upcoming website redesign and community expansion projects.
Bad Allikat is Director of the Expanded Play team, which will oversee and manage GrifballHub events in new games (more on this later).
Sam is Director of the Community Management team, which oversees the new “Clubs” system (more on this later) as well as site and forum moderation.
Rage is Director of the Organized Grifball Team, which oversees GGL and AGLA admins as well as other Grifball operations.
Marketing and Research
DJ is Director of the Marketing and Research Team, which manages the broadcasting, content creation, and social media teams, as well as overseeing the GTS.
The Guidance Committee consists of Hub leaders who execute the majority of day-to-day operations. The Senior Staff Directors will often be directly involved in roles on this tier that fall under their jurisdiction. Senior Staff works with the Guidance Committee to ensure the policies and procedures in place on the Hub are properly meeting the site’s objectives and facilitate the smooth running of all Hub operations. Each role in the Guidance Committee reports to one of the directors, and each director is responsible for holding the roles that report to them accountable for their respective responsibilities.
The “Community Leadership” tier has been added to help create an environment for new Hub leaders to develop leadership skills and get involved. The GTS program itself has been included in this tier as has formal broadcasting and content creator positions. We are also looking to bring back and expand the popular ambassador program which will operate at this tier on a more permanent basis to help new players and site members get acclimated within the community and leagues. This tier, particularly the GTS, operates as the “voice” of the community and allows our community members to get involved and have influence on day-to-day site operations.
Roles at the Guidance Committee and Community Leadership levels will be selected by their respective Directors from a pool of applicants. If you’re interested in being involved at one of these levels, keep an eye out for applications for these roles in the near future.
Some of the biggest problems currently facing the Hub are an out-of-date website and a failure to draw in and keep new players.
The Hub website has a wide number of functional and aesthetic problems and is in need of updating. Upon looking into solutions to redesign the site, it became apparent that this redesign is also the perfect opportunity to expand the features and functionality of our site and community. Grifball’s biggest problem, growth-wise, has always been the fact that our fate is ultimately not in our hands, and the niche “game-within-a-game” nature of Grifball also limits our potential audience. In order sustain and expand our community, we need to tap into the larger market of Xbox gamers interested in a mostly-recreational, organized play environment.
The new website offers us a perfect tool to do just that.
New website concept – home page
In recent weeks, Director of Development SonicNachos has begun work on “GrifballHub 2.0,” the website redesign that will eventually take the place of the Hub’s current look. The goal of the new site is to simplify site content/navigation and update GrifballHub to modern web design standards, which will help give the site a much cleaner look and make it considerably easier to navigate, particularly for new visitors. The redesign will also greatly expand the capabilities of the GrifballHub website and is planned to offer a number of new features to improve the community and Hub overall.
If you look at the home page concept shown above, you’ll notice that the new look is considerably different from the current Hub home page. The new home has been designed to be more of a “hub” or “landing” page that quickly tells what the Hub is all about and directs visitors to where they want to go. The “Catch the Disease” link leads to an “About the Hub” page geared toward new players, which tells them what we’re all about and how they can be a part of it. Articles and other posts have been moved to a separate page, which can be accessed through the “Latest News” link or through the navbar, and a prominent “Upcoming Events” link shows visitors the latest matches or events and also provides links to direct visitors to watch any upcoming games or to register for upcoming seasons and other events. Social media links in the bottom right also allow visitors to follow us to stay informed of Hub news and other developments. You may also notice that one of the images in the concept is from Overwatch, which is currently one of the games we’re considering for the Hub expansion. Other titles currently being considered include Smite, Rocket League, and broader (read: “shooty”) Halo events, and we’re open to other possibilities as well.
In addition to the News and Events pages, the navbar also links to “HubTV”, “Games”, “Clubs”, “Forums”, and “About” pages, and is significantly less cluttered than the current site’s navigation system.
The “HubTV” page offers a central place for official Hub videos and media, and directs visitors to any live broadcasts as well as to the latest highlights and other video content.
The “Games” page offers a landing page for all games and leagues the Hub supports, and is the center for organized play in both Grifball and other games. The landing page for each individual game shows the latest news for that game/league, the latest scores and upcoming matches/events, and also provides links to game/league rules, stats, and other important information.
Community-wise, “Clubs” is one of the major new features to come with the Hub’s expansion plan, and offers a way for teams in multiple Hub leagues/games to come together under one organization. Anyone in the community can create a club, and choose to make that club open to the public or open by invitation only. Each club has its own group forum and can form teams for Hub leagues and events if they wish. The performance of a club’s team will earn that club points, which are tracked on a site-wide club leaderboard, to encourage clubs to participate in a wide range of events and also introduce some friendly competition between clubs. All that said, clubs aren’t mandatory to create teams – if you wish to just create a team for the GGL without dealing with clubs, you can absolutely do so.
Throughout Grifball history, there have been a number of different teams that were known for their closeness and sense of community rather than their competitive skill – teams like Green Army Jr/Sr, Hard Liquor Chasers, etcetera. Clubs offer a method to help foster those “mini-communities” in a way that benefits the Hub community as a whole.
In addition to the club system, community enhancements also include better player profile integration, new user features such as journals/activity feeds, and smoother/redesigned forums and chatbox.
The “About” page will be significantly cleaned up from the current About/Info section of the site, which as of this writing has eight links beneath it, to make it easier for visitors to find the information they care about. This section will include the site Code of Conduct and Staff Directory, among other things.
As you can probably guess, this project is a rather large undertaking and as such is expected to take some time to be completed. Currently, it’s our hope to have the first draft of the new site completed within the next two months, with a beta version going live shortly after that. Sonic will be posting periodic articles going forward as development continues to showcase some of the new features and site progress.
With all of these changes, you may be wondering how the GTS, GGL, and AGLA fit into all of this. The GTS will continue to operate as a testing ground for new ideas and for community input and will be the center of our research efforts as far as Grifball is concerned. The GGL, which is likely the friendliest format for new teams/players, will continue to operate under the same system as in the past with only minor changes. The AGLA, however, especially with the reduced emphasis on the “eSports” mentality that we’ve had in the past, is much more flexible and can adapt to meet the needs of its players. Through GTS recommendations and community discussions, Grifball leadership will be able to change and adjust the format and rules of the AGLA to best suit the community, and this is something that will be discussed in more depth once the current AGLA season concludes and as the GGL progresses.
With the site redesign and greater community expansion, we’ve also made it a renewed priority to focus on regular, quality content and on clear communication. Although it’s great to have a lot of community-provided front page content as we have recently, some of this content has not met the Hub’s usual standards of quality and professionalism for the front page. It’s our hope that the content creation team under the new leadership structure will be able to better proofread and edit front page content to ensure it meets our standards. Clearer communication between the leadership teams and community is also crucial, and keeping the community informed of Hub happenings through articles, announcements, and other means is something we aim to improve upon in the coming months as this plan is carried out. Ideas such as admin round-table discussions or town hall streams have also been brought up and we’ll be looking at these and other ideas going forward to help improve this area further.
In the GTS article a month ago, a new concept was presented on how prize pools would be handled for the Hub’s Grifball leagues moving forward. At the time of writing, we are working to finalize the specifics of this new prize pool concept, ensuring that all aspects are covered legally so that all players can benefit from the efforts. Further details will be released as soon as we know more.
With all of these changes and new ideas, we’re excited to begin an era of renewed cooperation between the leadership and the community, and to propel GrifballHub to new heights. We’re all excited to see just what all these changes can bring.
If you have any questions about the upcoming changes, or any ideas to go along with the site/community redesign, please feel free to reach out to one of the new directors. Also be sure to keep an eye out in the coming weeks for information on leadership position applications, website updates, and other key details. Until then, see you on the court.