Community Spotlight: BattleClinic
There are few names as renowned amongst the EVE Online community as BattleClinic. One of the most popular and successful EVE-related sites in existence, it offers numerous things to players. It has one of the most successful killboards, hosts the wildly popular EVEMon, provides numerous guides and fittings, and offers a robust forum for EVE discussion.
Most people might not realize Battleclinic predates EVE Online by several years. Waaaay back in the year 2000, games like Mechwarrior 4 and Deus Ex were on top of the gaming world. SghnDubh, the founder of Battleclinic, was playing a game called Starfleet Command, a multiplayer game based on a Star Trek-related boardgame. While playing it, he wondered how he could extend his enjoyment of the game beyond the game itself. Eventually, in November 2001, he put up a forum and ship fitting page for Starfleet Command.
BattleClinic was born. In the beginning, he asked people to e-mail him their loadouts and he would transcribe them into HTML by hand. This quickly became tedious, so he reached out to his burgeoning community and was answered by MrCue, who came onboard as his developer.
In late 2003 and early 2004, a large portion of the Starfleet Command community was migrating to a promising and ambitious game called EVE Online. The notorious learning curve for EVE was well known even in those days, creating demand for BattleClinic's ship loadout functionality. It was an instant hit with EVE.
Along the way, MrCue worked out a way to parse killmails into a killboard. In 2005, the site added a new player guide, regional chokepoints, and a variety of other tools. This boosted the site's popularity, also driving up costs. In 2006, they opened the BattleClinic Deep Space Supply, an official EVE GTC reseller. That small revenue stream helped them improve the site and add additional features for the community. They were also able to give EVEMon a new home after the original developer moved on.
In 2007, they purchased Griefwatch.net as a way to improve their killboard support for players, with more than 10000 Griefwatch killboards existing today. They hauled a huge trade-show booth to Fanfest in 2008, ran a booth side-by-side with EON Magazine at Fanfest 2009-10, and exhibited their own booth at the 2010 Game Developer Conference, attracting the attention of Curse.com.
In late 2009/early 2010, they invested in new site architecture with the goal to support additional games. Currently, they are working on improving their killboard design and loadout functionality with the aim of releasing it early next year.
Behind the Scenes
It might surprise people to know that BattleClinic has no full-time employees. Instead it is built and maintained by staff between their family, work, and game time.
MrCue is their lead web developer. He creates and maintains the core functionality of the site, as he has for almost 14 years. Unsurprisingly, he is also a web developer professionally.
Jimi is the head of EVEMon development, while Tonto Auri is the unsung hero supporting it.
The current community manage is Anabaric. Despite also running an alliance and an EVE-related blog, he has managed to do a fantastic job in the role.
The senior moderators are Widdershins and Reisenkaze, who have been joined by a number of volunteer moderators. They have resolved disputes, deleted trolls, and dispensed valuable advice over the years.
On top of the heap is SghnDubh, the original creator and maintainer of the site. In real life, he is a corporate learning and development executive. BattleClinic has proven to be incredibly relevant to his job, as EVE players tend to be highly motivated, deeply competitive, and thrive on complexity. He pays attention to what players use and ask for and why they're asking. Analyzing that data helps him guide better learning interventions in the real life corporate world.
BattleClinic has grown steadily for almost 14 years, much like EVE Online. It currently boasts over 277000 active users and is approaching a million posts. Players post thousands of loadouts every month, they process more killmails than any other site, and are the top PLEX reseller in partnership with CCP. By those standards, it can easily be seen how much the community uses and values BattleClinic.
But these results mean little compared to the emails and posts they receive from players all over the world who tell them they enjoy EVE Online more because of BattleClinic being around to help them out. When SghnDubh look at the quality and dedication of other fansites, the big persoanlities, the in-game organizations dedicated to player education, and even the competition from rival killboards, he is humbled to be included in such good company.
As mentioned above, BattleClinic is revamping their killboard interface and expect to release it in the first part of 2014. They're also pursuing strategic partnerships with other fansites. There are plans for a redesign of the loadouts section as well. Additionally, the EVEMon team is designing a Windows Phone mobile version of the popular tool!
SghnDubh says EVE Online is utterly remarkable, its vision and scope are breathtaking, and it redefines the definition of MMO gaming. BattleClinic is proud they've been fortunate to add their contribution to that vision and are humbled that so many use and enjoy the service. SghnDubh counts many members and associates as some of his closest friends.
And if you haven't been to BattleClinic before... Where have you been for the past decade?