The Story of the Few Good Men

Bootie

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#1


A member recently asked me where did the FGM come from and perhaps it would be a good idea to let others know the history of our club.

I thought yeah that would be good but looking back I realise the FGM has had one hell of a history!! Very few of our original members are still around but enough to fill in any blanks in the history of FGM. Take a seat and I will begin.

I joined the Blitz in 2002 after picking up CMBO in a computer shop in town. I played roughly one game against the AI before deciding it would be more fun against other people so I did a search for wargaming clubs and The Blitz was top of the heap. I joined and played a few games against a guy called Bard and another called KilRoy and got thoroughly whipped. Man, that 56k was shit looking back now but it was enough to get a few online games under my belt.

I got addicted pretty quick and entered a few tournaments. Not one of these tournaments finished which really peeved me.

FGM IS BORN

A French guy called Loic (Crazy Horse) was also in all the tournaments that didn't finish and him and I got talking and over the course of a week or two we decided to launch a site where tournaments would be played and finished. It was originally called A Few Good Men ( A Celtic War gaming Club ).... the Celtic bit was his idea as I was Irish and he was French (living in Germany) and he played Celtic music in a band, A Few Good Men was my idea. We launched a tournament from our free website (yahoo perhaps) and requested people to join to play a tournament that WOULD finish. We coupled this free site with a free phpbb message board which I set up. Looking back now it was a very amateurish affair... in fact it was so poor the home page had nothing war gaming related on it but had cut out pictures of pints of Guinness and whiskey and guitars but hey... I was only 22 or 23 years old and had no idea about making websites. (Not that much has changed HAHA!!).

A few guys joined up... 8 people I believe and we played a tournament and finished it... by the end we had 13 members so decided we should improve the website. Loic said his friend would design us a website so while he did start to design us one he walked out half way through leaving us with no website for A Few Good Men (this is a recurring theme you will find in our history).

Another message board was launched and we ditched the yahoo geocities site we had built.

Another tournament passed and players like Smashing, GreenHornet, Steve Lamb (Viking) and Antoni Chmielowski signed up. Steve Lamb then offered to build a site for us and I accepted. Its about this time that Loic and I started drifting apart in our aims and in my opinion he disliked the idea of someone else building A Few Good Men website. Loic and I finally parted with him moving back to France to sell scooters.

A FEW GOOD MEN

With Loic and me going different directions I thought that was it but Steve Lamb was up for continuing the FGM on the foundations that we had built so he designed the site and I continued to run pretty much everything single handedly. This would have been about 2004. Things went well for a year with members like 95Bravo, Kilroy, Mr Yormsha, Red Devil and Panzertwat all signing up. Our membership would have been at the max about 30 players.

We started the FGM fire team around that time playing online fps games and the banter was great. Everything was going well... the club was growing albeit slowly and the Blitz members were starting to come to the FGM for tournaments. Suddenly via ICQ Steve informed me he was shutting down the FGM website he had made as he was going of to work as a builder on mainland Europe and wouldnt have the time to maintain or run it and as I had absolutely no experience of running a website there was no point in passing it to me. Once again the FGM was without a home for about 6 months but again I kept it going by continuing the MB I had been maintaining from the early days despite the thoughts of packing it all in did cross my mind on many occasions.

To be continued......
 

Bootie

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#2
Pztwt steps up to the plate

It was in 2005 when Pztwt a professional website designer offered to get the FGM website set up again. He did a fantastic job and for a while the FGM flourished with membership going up to about 40 members. Everything was rosy in the CM community but pretty soon arguments and bickering began to contaminate the Blitz website where all of our members were from..... this spilled over onto the FGM site but was quickly nipped in the bud.

Pztwt then began to spend less and less time on the website and I was becoming more obsessed with making it the best it could be and infrequent site updates was beginning to impact on the activity and club feeling. After a particularly long period of no activity or contact with Pztwt I took the plunge and purchased web design software and paid for a hosting package etc. myself and decided to teach myself how to do it so I wouldnt have to rely on others.

I go it alone!!

I emailed all the members to say I had built a new FGM website as the old one was no longer being maintained suitably. This is the darkest period in FGM's history as no sooner had I mass emailed the FGM to advise of our new home than Pztwt came back disgusted with me for walking away from his site which he had paid the hosting for. Hands up I was guilty... I apologised but it was not accepted. Pztwt replied by mass emailing the FGM advising something along the lines that I had left FGM to set up a splinter group and I had walked from FGM and not taken FGM with me. Needless to say a lot was made of the domain name I purchased... 'thefewgoodmen' instead of 'fewgoodmen'.... adding credence that tFGM was a new club. All hogwash of course and the majority of members followed me understanding exactly why I had done what I had done. Looking back I admit it was a hard decision to make and perhaps I did 'shaft' Pztwt but the ends justified the means and I would certainly welcome Pztwt back here if he ever wished to bury the past and move on. I doubt that is likely to happen though. Still... we learn from our mistakes.

The site Pztwt had paid hosting for now become home to the miscreants who had got banned from the Blitz and was used as a mouth piece for their whining. They called themselves 'FraGMent' (smart that keeping the FGM in the name) and basically were just out to stir things up. Even then the members from Fragment emailed me advising they were unhappy that Pztwt despite letting them basically have the site was not updating it and they all soon jumped over to WaW to piggy back of their site and to this day that is where they reside. The old FGM site died and was eventually shut down and WaW became embroiled in a pathetic pissing match with the Blitz over the running of the Blitz and the banning of members. A lot of people got embroiled and looking back it really was quite sad the time people invested in deliberatley trying to piss the other side of and everyone was guilty.

I couldnt be assed with it and thankfully kept FGM as a refuge from all the shit slinging. People realised this site was different from the others and began to gravitate towards here instead of the blitz and waw knowing their every word would not be analysed and twisted and regurgitated back in their face.

I learnt about web design as I went along and worked hard on keeping the website fresh and constantly updating it... much to some members annoyance I understand but it was a learning process for me to get to grips with the concept of web design so it was not uncommon for the whole website to change completely every month or two!!

To be continued.....
 

Bootie

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#3
The Story of the Few Good Men Continued

From 2006 to 2008 I was using a programme called WebEasy to run the FGM. Raz and Enven had been assisting me when I got stuck on certain aspects of web design and hosting and kept me on the right track. As said earlier the site changed a lot and often. As my knowledge increased I was able to push the site a little bit forward looks wise each time.

With the site improving so to did the number of members and the quality and quantity of tournaments run. Rico released Domination to the community and this gobbled up QB's at a rate of knots making us one of the most active CM sites out there.

Natural Evolution

Due to hosting issues about a year ago I switched the ISP. This opened up different avenues for me in relation to what the FGM could be and become. The site switched from phpbb based forum software to its current incarnation of vbulletin. This in turn opened the door for the CMPS (Content Management Portal System) we operate today.

I realised one day that 'bloody hell, we have a great little community here and deserve to be classed as an autonomous organisation in our own right after all we are self supported financially'. Up to that point we were an offshoot of the Blitz wargaming club with only members from the Blitz being accepted although owned solely by me. I changed the rules and threw open the doors to the www community. Im glad I did because since then we have recruited some excellent members outwith our previous selection criteria who have proven themselves to be a credit to the FGM.

So basically in closing this takes us up to where we find ourselves today.

Ok.... question time... if anyone wants to know more post your questions in here.
 

Bootie

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#4
Latest News.

Just after we celebrated our first anniversary of using the vbulletin software a malicous hacker broke into the webhost server and went to town on our files here at the FGM and I was powerless to do anything as they didnt come through the web but rather through the backdoor. They basically trashed the FGM.

The site had to migrate the whole new database and start from scratch.

The old forum held a total of 21'000 posts so it was a shame to lose all that history but the members have done and are still doing a sterling job in salvaging what we can.

The future still looks bright for FGM as we prepare to install the new site software at the end of November 2009 and launch our own ladder system.

"Life isn't about getting knocked down... life is about getting back up again".
 

Bootie

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#5
I did a bit of reminiscing today and came across the very first post mentioning the FGM. I was looking to find out how long our club had been going and was surprised to find out that its been going now for 7 years. I also found a post advising I was gonna shut it down as we only had 6 members... LOL



Anyways at the bottom of the forums now we now have a little script running which tells us how long the FGM have been in existence.

 

Bootie

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#6
Another quick update on the story of FGM.

Its been nearly a year now since the FGM was attacked. I can safely say even in the space of less than a year we have come a long way. Our message count now stands at 33'000 and we were concerned about ever making the 21'000 posts from the old site.

We now have an automatic ladder here at FGM. Basic yes but it does the job and Zaraza has plans for it... personally I would like to be able to manipulate it and have it hosted on the FGM site but perhaps that is something we can look into over the winter months. We need Zaraza to assist or for us all to donate to club funds to get professional software.

FGM has now been recognised as a 'wargaming' club (before we were always looked at as the diddy club on the side but with other wargaming sites waning badly the FGM continues to grow) and has received an official seal of approval from Matrix Games who approached us and us alone in relation to setting up competitions to advertise their new products. I hope we all take a look at this and understand we have a fantastic opportunity here to advance our name even further but we do need to support these competitions and get involved. If only for the sake of the club. If this proves successful we can speak to Matrix about running future competitions which is what I would like to aspire to but we need YOUR support.

As for what the future holds... well... I dont know. We have a steady ship here at present. Our site in the last year has generated over half a million hits so we are certainly doing something right. The software is constantly being updated and I do believe despite initial reservations that it is better than the old vBulletin software we used.

On a member front we have a regular intake of new members... a lot of lurkers but real members nonetheless but we also have a steady stream of members leaving the club as they fall victim to the 3 month cut off point. We are steady at 100+ members at any time though. As for the 3 month cut off point the software auto deletes any member who has simply not logged into their account over the preceeding 3 months. No posts required, no games played... just a simple log in.

In future I hope that Rico (involving other members) can make a campaign system for CM that can be used as our basis for running campaigns so we get used to and know the rules of by heart. It means that we wont have 3 different campaigns running with different rules which is only a good thing as far as Im concerned. I will also be looking to cut down the number of tournaments... well... not so much cut down but queue them up. At present we have a lot running concurrently and it seems to put pressures on the players to finish in time. With a queued system we can get tournaments completed before moving to the next one and can concentrate 100% on it to push it through to a conclusion.

Other games is also an avenue Im actively progressing. We have recently started a CS ladder and although we are few the games and turns come thick and fast... I joined the ladder recently and already have 2 games under way. By supporting other games we expand our membership which in turn will expand our MB activity and that in turn will attract even more active members. I see no reason why we cannot aspire to better ourselves in quality and quantity. Again I would like to have a ladder system in place to support these new games so we can truly be a multi-ladder site.

We will continue to actively support CM as our bedrock... without CM this club would be a shell. It is our bread and butter and we are obviously the top CM tournie and campaign website out there... this is apparent as members join us from the Blitz and WaW amongst others to sample our unique blend.

Im always open to suggestions for anything and everything in relation to this site. It is OUR site so if you think of anything that can be improved added or taken away then please do voice your opinions.

In closing I say again.... 8 years. I just cant believe the FGM is reaching that age... it started of as a fun sideline but now chews up so much of my time I class it as my baby and it pleases me that you guys call it home and get so much enjoyment out of it. Long may it continue.
 

Bootie

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#7
Well guys we are up to 9 years old now and time for another brief update on the FGM story.

Overall the club is running at a steady pace despite taking a slight dip recently due to the work carried out on the website. I would like to thank all members who donated towards the new software which came in around the $200 mark. The response was so good that we now have an active war chest which I am considering using to fund some professional themes/add ons.

At the start of this year as you all know I became a father and to be honest I was quite worried that the FGM and being a father would be too much for me and I would have to cede ground on the FGM site and perhaps stand down passing the mantle on to someone else. Thankfully it has transpired I have a very understanding wife who realises the FGM is my hobby and allows me the spare time to do work on the site. If I honestly had no restraints it would be a full time job but I do enough to get by with my main aim to keep this place rolling steadily forward and to keep the campaigns moving.

The introduction of Fredrocker as a #2 has helped me immensely and I only realise how much help he has been when I look back over the past few weeks where he has not been available due to real life issues and personally feel the workload get ramped right up.

Both Fred and I have some things we hope to roll out later in the year which will propel the FGM forward in terms of being a 'quality' wargaming site. These have been put on hold until he gets back from his issues and we can approach the project again.

At present my main concern is getting all the members who have become 'lost' during the move to a new url back onto the boards and to try and ignite a little bit of interest in the competitions we are hosting as these too have slightly lost their way. It will take a little bit of work but it is very achievable as I have made it a personal goal for these campaigns etc to be the main pull of FGM. I will in turn be speaking to other folk running campaigns asking them to push their tournaments a little bit harder. It is a team affair after all and I certainly dont want to fall back into the pit of tournies etc dying due to lack of commitment from the organisers... and that includes me.

Anyway this was just a brief update so thanks for reading and remaining by my side as we move this club forward.

Bootie