On Saturday morning, January 30th 2010, I sat down on my lazy boy and popped in Mass Effect 2 for PC and prepared myself for an all-day gaming session. I got as far as the Character Creation screen and noticed the never-seen before Character Code feature and thought to myself "Hey Cool! That's a great new feature. Now I'll be able to find some attractive character already created by someone else and use it in my game!". Because I, like many others, am horrible at creating beautiful characters by tweaking the sliders for eyes, mouth, chin and so on. But I sure do enjoy downloading characters from the web and using them instead!
So off the lazy boy and onto the computer chair I went and started looking for a pretty character code I could use. The problem was the game had only been out for 3 days and there weren't any codes to be found yet! So for the following 15 minutes I had an intense inner fight with myself. I thought I could be the one to create a "character code database" but I knew very well if I got started on that it would take me the whole week end and I wouldn't get to game... instead I'd have to work!! The gamer in me almost got the better of me but after some long deliberation with myself I decided that it was a pretty innovative idea and it would probably mean a pretty successful website if I went along and created it!
So for the next 48 hours I programmed and created masseffect2faces.com! Somewhere around Sunday evening I launched the site live and posted about it on the Bioware Social Network as well as on Gamespot. My thread on Gamespot didn't get a lot of attention but luckily for me some nice moderator on BSN saw my website, loved it and stickied my thread! And so my thread remained stickied for a long long time and grew to more than 100 pages of posts! This provided immediate publicity for the site and I hit some pretty big records on the first 2 weeks of going live! A real webmaster's dream!
It wasn't long before I started imagining many improvements and so I coded many of them in. Some very nice fan created a skin for the website which I applied and gave credit to... the site grew in popularity over time as more and more articles were written about it and people linked back to my site on various forums.
About 6 months later I started imagining the next step. I wanted to create a website similar to masseffect2faces.com but that would apply to ALL games that allowed for any kind of character creation. Of course the big obstacle would be that these other games don't have the nifty "character code" to make it easy to share your character. But I also quickly realized that while it was a nice feature to be able to share your character, a lot of users submitting their characters were doing it above all for the joy of sharing their beautiful characters. I saw that there was a demand for a place where one could easily share his characters for others to comment on and if it's possible to share the character via a save game, a file or a code then great! But this didn't have to be a requirement, just a really nice added bonus.
So in the winter of 2012 I worked feverishly on Faces of Gaming and I was hoping to launch by the time Mass Effect 3 came out. Alas... I was over-ambitious and the workload was just enormous. And then... life happened and someone very dear to me passed away and the launch of ME3 came and went and I lost some of my drive and put the project on the back-burner.
It's hard finding the time to work on this project with a full-time job and other websites to maintain as well. In early 2013 I also got a little lucky with another one of my websites and made a little money. That was enough to help me pay off some long-standing debts and I decided that later that year I would quit my day job as a backend developer and finish my big gaming project! Well sure enough in November 2013 I followed through with my plan and resumed work on the site. I had learned a lot of new things since I last worked on FOG so the site underwent some major changes in the back-end and the intended use.
In early 2014 I got the chance to participate in the Alpha of Everquest Next Landmark and this gave me some new ideas. I decided I would soft-launch my new character sharing platform with a site for Everquest Landmark as the concept of sharing charcters led itself perfectly to sharing architectural buildings made in "builder" games. I decided I would make sure the site was running smoothly with a smaller audience and then go ahead and launch the real site a few weeks later.
To be concluded