SAO Clan (or [SAO] Clan) is a International gaming community/Clan started in February 2008 by Colin Chambers (AKA BigC90210, from the UK) with support from Mark Scott (AKA [SAO]JI Hunter, from Australia) and David Bruce (AKA [SAO]Magpie, from the UK).
= History =
SAO first began life in February 2008 after 2 of its founding members (Magpie and JI Hunter) left the [SeXy] Battlefield Vietnam gaming clan, and were persuaded by BigC90210 to start a gaming clan of their own, based around casual play opposed to common strictness/regime associated with gaming clans. After some discussion, it was decided that the name of the clan would be SAO, standing for Strictly Adults Only, in an attempt to draw a more mature audience rather than younger immature players that often plague the gaming scene.
Shortly after this BigC90210 purchased the official domain name of SAO (www.sao-clan.com) as well as web space, and set up a basic website and forums using the Joomla 1.12 CMS system, using Fireboard for the forums, and a simple template which had been slightly modified to accommodate the SAO logo (which at the time, consisted of 4 Golden army badge style stars, on a dark green camo background). JI Hunter paid for a years subscription to a 52 Player Battlefield Vietnam server and Teamspeak server for voice communication, so SAO now had a base.
Above: Version 1, 2 and the current Version 3 of the SAO logo
= Expansion =
JI Hunter began to learn how to customise and modify the server, while Magpie would study the layouts of maps and work on methods to put new exciting spins on classic Battlefield Vietnam maps to get interest and stake our presence online. Together they painstakingly redesigned and modified every single map, making the SAO Battlefield Vietnam server a completely unique experience.
A lot of time was spent testing the maps, and it was agreed that the 3 admins would meet up (bearing in mind the 9 hour time zone difference) to discuss the map modifications, and to test run them together. During this testing public players and other clan members joined in, and by the time it came to log off, there were players wanting to know “when the next meet up was”. From here it was decided that there would be “SAO Events” advertised on the forums, which would be a time where members could meet up with each other across time zones, and play with members which would normally be in bed/at work.
Over a period of months, SAO slowly grew to have a handful of regular forum members, including that of some [SeXy] clan members of who were friends of Magpie and JI Hunter, who would come to well wish and catch up with their old friends and join in with games that SAO were playing in.
Around July 2008, BigC90210 unveiled version 2.0 of the SAO website to its members, which was a new template themed around the real life Vietnam War. The site design was based around a backdrop of a squad photo of real American soldiers, with the rest of the interface being of a similar nature. The website became a hit due to its design compared to its competitors, and new features helped bring more casual members in as the months went by.
It was agreed that the name of SAO should stand for Stand As One, as it was a more fitting name for the clan.
Around December 2008, Left 4 Dead was released, and due to its small team-play nature, it wasn’t long before BigC90210 and Magpie were recruiting L4D players, who were visiting the forums, and joining SAO despite them not playing Battlefield Vietnam or SAO not having a dedicated Left 4 Dead server to play on.
By March 2009, there was enough interest to warrant a dedicated SAO Left 4 Dead, which BigC90210 paid for, and with the help of [SAO]Boink, made it an extremely popular L4D server, due to its (at the time) unusual modifications and reputed intensity. Shortly after this SAO began to gain a lot of interest and publicity, though Left 4 Dead players were confused as to why the website wasn’t themed anything like Left 4 Dead, which prompted a re-think on the website design. Also at this time there was interest shown in SAO members playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, so this also pointed towards a website revamp.
Throughout March BigC90210 worked throughout creating a new design on the then mature Joomla 1.5 CMS (With Kunena for the forums) which would change the feel of the website from a Military theme to a more rounded “Action Gaming” theme, centered around a photoshopped montage of Zoe (from Left 4 Dead), The Soldier from the box art of Battlefield Vietnam, and a promotional image of a soldier from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, with a few zombies thrown in to boot. After this, all of the website modules needed to be re-installed with the latest version, and then migration scripts prepared to export the old CMS database to the new one.
On March 31st, the SAO website V.3 was released to an excellent reception from its members, and within a couple of weeks the website traffic had quadrupled, and the SAO member base had almost quadrupled too. Around this time JI Hunter and the other SAO Staff decided it would be more beneficial for the clan to split the 52 player Battlefield Vietnam server into a 16 Slot BFV Server and a 16 Slot Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare server. It was also at this time that the “Team SAO” branding was coined, as it reflected more on the fact that SAO was now more of a gaming community than a gaming clan.
Over the forthcoming months, servers were donated to the SAO cause by [SAO]Yo Momma, [SAO]Boink, [SAO]Viper, [SAO]Commers, [SAO]Peter,[SAO] Strider and [SAO]Mac-Van. This combined with generous donations from our memberstook the SAO server count to new heights, and SAO were now playing Battlefield Vietnam, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: World at War, Team Fortress 2 and Battlefield 2 (and expansions). New features were unveiled on the website to celebrate the also, including a “template selector” so our members can skin the main section of the website/forums to their favourite SAO game.
= SAO events =
The SAO events (which were originally just an admin meet up to test maps and mods) gained popularity, and by [SAO]2 had gained enough popularity to have silly codenames attached to them, which also helped publicity in terms of getting players to join in.
[SAO]1: Server Test! - December 2008
[SAO]2: The Big Number 2 – 3rd January 2009
[SAO]3: Growing Conflict – 21st February 2009
[SAO]4: Napalm Rising – 27th March 2009
[SAO]5: Splinter Cells – 8th May 2009
[SAO]6: Fresh Blood – 19th June 2009
[SAO]7: Blood Stained – 31st July 2009
[SAO]8: Renegade – 4th September 2009
[SAO]9: Lock n Load – 16th October 2009
[SAO]10: Omicide – Friday 4th December 2009
[SAO]11: Last Man Standing - Saturday 20th February 2010
[SAO]12: Disorder - Saturday 10th April 2010
[SAO]13: Blood, Sweat and Beers - Saturday 22nd May 2010
[SAO]14: The Summer Massacre - Saturday 21st August 2010
[SAO]15: Seasons Beatings - Friday 10th December 2010
[SAO]16: Zombie Barbecue - Saturday 11th June 2011
[SAO]17: Magpie's Chair - Saturday 3rd December 2011
= Left 4 Dead Series Addon Installer & WRMaps.com Installer =
[SAO] Peter (AKA PJUmpleby) single handedly developed the Left 4 Dead Addon Installer, as he seen that some [SAO] members were having issues installing certain mods, and seen an oppertunity to use his skills to make a tool that would make life easier for the rest of the clan, and make it easier for the rest of us to play custom maps on the SAO servers. [SAO] Binny, BigC90210 and the rest of the [SAO] crew all chipped in with providing feedback and error testing, until Peter had created a tool which was then starting to get noticed amongst the Left 4 Dead modding community.
To date, combined download statistics from the SAO website and Torrent statistics gathered since the launch of the Left 4 Dead Addon Installer (Version 1) shows there has been more than 40,000 individual downloads.
On the 28th August 2010, BigC90210 purchased www.wrmaps.com, with the aim of bringing an "Installer" for Worms Reloaded (which was released on the 26th August 2010) which would simply the process of installing maps, and to provide a resource for downloading them. BigC90210 convinced Peter to re-use and re-skin some of the code used to make the Left 4 Dead AOI to work with Worms Reloaded instead. Peter agreed, and went off to do some more research.
During this time BigC90210 developed the Worms Reloaded website and produced some of the first ever Worms Reloaded video tutorials on YouTube to encourage the modding scene and promote the new website, then Peter came back with a prototype WRInstaller of which he and BigC90210 tested until it was good enough for release.
While developing the WRMaps installer, Peter realised he could make a far better Left 4 Dead Addon Installer, though it would mean moving away from vb.net and more towards c# (in terms of programming language) but it would mean having to throw away a lot of the old code and re-write it from scratch. From around July 2010 to its premiere debut in November 2010, Peter reconstructed the new Left 4 Dead AOI V2, which featured Multiple Mod Downloading, a completely new and enhanced UI, stability increases, support for Left 4 Dead 1, seamless integration and much more.
= SAO Advertising, Media and Communication =
SAO has 2 “Steam Community Groups” which it communicates to its members via Steam (The online gaming service) with related community news, upcoming events and news releases on its supported games. One group is the “SAO Clanmember Group”, which is reserved for [SAO] tag wearing clanmembers only, and the other is the “SAO Public Group” which is for anyone to join, and is intended as a way of SAO to be able to branch out to new members, and keep casual players who like to join in SAO events informed.
BigC90210 sends out a newsletter shortly before an SAO event to everyone in the forum listings, which keeps them up to date with the latest goings on and provides a good summary of what the latest changes are to the community.
SAO has a Facebook group, where news articles written on the website will be posted on the Facebook group, where our members can easily be aware of them
The news articles on the homepage themselves are also written by BigC90210, and act as a method to keep members and non-members alike informed without them having to trawl the forums, and to stimulate new forum activity.
= SAO Recognition =
Joomla Official Website Showcase
The SAO website has been showcased on the Official Joomla Website (see references) in the community showcase, showing that SAO is proud of what it has achieved and can produce professional results using the Joomla framework.
FileFront Featured News Article
On Tuesday 16th November 2010 The SAO Left 4 Dead Series Addon Installer was a featured news article on www.filefront.com, one of the biggest gaming websites in the world. The article focused on how to use our Addon Installer, as well as some sample mods to try out using our Addon Installer.
In the "Additional Resources" section of the article, author Ross Lincoln states:
The article can be found at http://news.filefront.com/how-to-install-left-4-dead-2-mods/