SSN has a slightly long history, dating back to 2004. See below for a site history and it’s achievements.
Roareye Black had been in he community since 2000, starting his spriting skills in MS Paint (Which he still uses to this day). He is a self-taught artist and in constantly trying to find ways of refining his artwork and improve on his skills. During the early 2000s, he had asked many better artists if they would teach him some basic skills or techniques to help him improve. He found that these artists were often very much against helping new artists, some even saying they didn’t want anyone new to try and steal their thunder. This is where the concept of SSN began.
Throughout 2004 Roareye had begun to develop a website idea called Sonic Spriters Network. It was a small site focussed on helping teach others with the skills he had learnt. By this point his skills had improved to the state where he had begun making artwork from scratch, and his name was well known in the pixel art community, despite his art being far from the best. Roareye built the concept and showed it to Dreadknux of The Sonic Stadium, knowing that Dreadknux was always open to new ideas so long as they were unique. He was given the green light and a small allocation of server space and Roareye began his development of SSN by late December.
SSN launched as Sonic Spriters Network in July 2005, with a very bright website design and only three Staff members – Roareye Black, Speedla and CyberBlade. Focussed on the pure basics of spriting and pixel art, SSN came into acclaim for helping to develop the skills of the budding new starters to the artform. This boom was already gaining momentum as the Sonic Advance series was still being released and fans jumped at the chance to experiment with new official pixel arts and sprites.
The site also came under critcisms early on for it’s bright design, the striking blend of colours making it difficult to make out text. Regardless this design held for at least six months when Dreadknux, of The Sonic Stadium, created a more user-friendly site design that was nicknamed the “Lego Design”. Due to the ease of use, more people flocked to SSN during this period and the design held up for over a year.
Updates came and went, increasing the array of knowledge available on the site, but after the site underwent a second redesign (Changing the palette to more blues and greens) it came under attack for it’s content. Many other art sites shot verbal snipes at SSN for being too basic, and not offering them any help at all. Roareye began creating texture tutorials to the colouring ones already available and focussed on creating more mid-skilled content. This benefitted the people who had also joined the site early on and would help to improve their skills even more.
Regardless of the attempt, the other art sites continued their sniping of SSN, and it was decided to ignore them and try not to cater for the snobbier side of art. SSN was created, after all, to help the new artist keen to learn to increase their skills until they began developing their own style.
Sonic Wrecks Awards
Due to the update in the Site Design as well as the increased tutorial selection focussing on mid-range skills, SSN won two awards at the Sonic Wrecks Awards in 2007. The awards were as Best Specialist Website and Most Improved. SSN was faring well in the Sonic community, with it’s forums beginning to overfill with a high amount of artists. This increase in artists forced the Sonic Stadium Message Board (Where SSN’s forums are housed) to double the size of the topic lists in that forum in order to stop people’s freshly posted topics sliding quickly into Page 2. The high traffic SSN commanded forced alternatives to be found, and so the Gallery system was implemented.
The Gallery was a considerable failure, not due to the efforts of those involved, but due to the stubborn nature of the message board coding. Roareye stuck by the decision to hold the Gallery over the original forum layout due to the high influx SSN was getting. This ended up being something of a mistake as numbers dwindled leaving a clumsy and baren Gallery in their midst. In order to accomodate more artforms Sonic Spriters Network changed it’s name to Sonic Showcase Network, and work began on a new site design with tutorials pages already being built to support the new influx of artforms.
Art Tutoring also came to the site, but due to the fact the idea was created by someone who was on the team at the time and therefore they owned it, a charge was placed on the tutoring lessons. This was an idea Roareye defended, but didn’t really approve of. It ended up doing exactly what was thought would happen and driving away people from learning about the artwork. However by the latter half of that year, that Staff member had left and Roareye had free reign to do with Art Tutoring as he pleased. His first step was to remove the charge and make it a free service, unfortunately by this point the damage had been done. All those interested in Art Tutoring were pushed away from the thought they may be asked for money, and so nothing really became of it.
In 2009 a long-developed redesign was finally in a state where it could be updated. The site closed for a short period of time as information was transferred across from the old layout to the new. When work was nearly at a close and the site was about ready to be launched, the Sonic Stadium servers erased all information on the server (Including SSN and all of it’s coding) and also shut down TSS, SSMB and The Sonic Show temporarily while Dreadknux set out to discover what had happened and set things right.
A new server was chosen, and the TSS Network was re-uploaded except for SSN. The coding had not seemed to be backed up and while the imagery and pages from the old layout were stored, there was no way to recover the new design. Dreadknux set to work on SSN again a while after he had stabilised his own site and the rest of the Network, until late 2009 when a backup was discovered lurking in the dark of his external hard-drive. The coding was viewed, approved and re-uploaded where Roareye began working on updating all the pages the next day. Due to the extended amount of downtime, Roareye made the decision to quietly launch SSN from the start and update the pages live to allow keen artists to find the site, but would not then announce it until the updating work had been completed.