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Week of December 24, 2001

State Of The Site.'s staff is going to take a much-needed holiday break next week, and while there'll still be new stuff to read, it was locked down far in advance. Also next week, instead of the usual page, you'll find "The Best Of," a collection of news stories, editorials, and obituaries that have appeared over the past year on this site. The regular news pages will resume in January.

In the meantime, I thought I'd offer some thoughts on "the state of the site." Overall, despite recent historical events which were predicted to seal the doom of e-commerce, has managed to keep its head above water. The site will continue to thrive for the forseeable future. And the only thing that really seemed to drive people away from the site in any significant numbers in the second half of the year was, paradoxically enough, a five-week stretch devoted to Star Trek in nearly every section of the site. This was a move that was designed to show anyone looking for the new Enterprise episode guide the fun stuff that can be found in the site's other sections, but it seemed to have the opposite effect of driving some of the site's regular readers - who are more accustomed to a wider spectrum of subject matter - away for the duration of the all-Trek month. Theme weeks seem to go down well for the most part, but we'll likely be doing fewer of them in the future. In fact, there are really only two such weeks on the drawing board for 2002.

In episode guides, our goals for 2002 are to continue to cover Enterprise and other ongoing shows (Witchblade and the Dalek Empire audio series), introduce a small number of new guides (the new Babylon 5 spinoff, Jeremiah and, if it ever actually gets in front of a camera, Left Behind), and finish off some dangling threads (Space: Above And Beyond and Buck Rogers, to name a couple). At least that's the intention. With Big Finish, the makers of the new Doctor Who audio series and the Dalek Empire spinoff, having announced even more spinoff audios based on characters from the Doctor Who TV series and novels, we're finding that we have to be a little choosy with which of these we're going to cover. Regrettably, unless someone else steps up to the plate to write reviews for them, we'll be unable to cover the Iris Wyldthyme and Sarah Jane Smith audio series. Big Finish is not currently sending free review copies out, and so we actually have to buy them like everyone else, and with the Doctor Who series itself splintering off into multi-disc adventures that run outside of the monthly releases, this part of our Doctor Who guide is rapidly becoming prohibitively expensive. We are budgeting for Doctor Who and Dalek Empire audios, but cannot afford more than that. If anyone in our readership plans on collecting the other spinoffs and would like to write reviews of them, that would be lovely (and, of course, they'll get full credit).

Phosphor Dot Fossils remains's other major export (so to speak), and 2002 will mark something of a change in direction for our well-loved video game museum. 2002 will be the Year of the Console in Phosphor Dot Fossils. We'll still review arcade games, of course, but the emphasis in the video game collecting hobby is now focused on home video games. We're hoping to open an entirely new section for reviews of NES titles, while also significantly increasing the amount of material in our Atari 5200, Intellivision and ColecoVision sections. We also hope to have the Odyssey2 section completely finished in the next year, chronicling every game released in North America for that machine. So expect plenty of console game reviews, and hopefully we'll slip at least one arcade game review into the mix each month as a special treat.

Some gamers have asked if we're planning on adding sections on the Atari 8-bit computers, the Commodore 64, Bally Astrocade, or Emerson Arcadia 2001. Truthfully, at the moment, we simply aren't budgeted to go after these systems and their games. They may appear in the future, but 2002 will probably only see the addition of the NES. At the moment, Phosphor Dot Fossils is not being opened to reader submissions.

Two of our other game sections - Retro Revival Reviews and Pixel Fiction are truly at the mercy of whatever's released. There is new content planned and being prepared for both sections; however, we can't even promise that these areas will receive even a monthly update. The shift of new releases from the Playstation, N64 and Dreamcast to PS2, Game Cube and Xbox complicates matters since we simply haven't budgeted for any of those systems and don't plan to for the forseeable future. Pixel Fiction is open to reader submissions, however, so if you have any of these systems and the means to capture screen shots from them, we're all ears for any SF-related titles you might have. The Arcade Artwork Archive has been dormant for many months, but it's not going to stay that way - expect to see some new activity, and maybe some things you weren't expecting, in that area.

Musically speaking, we feel SongBook and SongBook Soundtracks maintained an even balance of mainstream and soundtrack-oriented titles through 2001, and they will continue to provide weekly updates in 2001. Another music-related section, the Babylon 5 CD Cover Construction Kit, is being closed down in 2002 to make way for something new. Since no new Babylon 5 CD releases have hit the shelves since 1999, that section has really outlived its usefulness. We do have something specific in mind to replace it, and we're looking at a likely February launch for that section. The prospect of a DVD review section has been thrown around for quite a while, especially with regards to titles that don't easily fit into our Movie Reviews area, and so that has also been added with this week's debut review, Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director's Edition.

BookBag has been one of the areas of fastest growth for the site, providing a truly eclectic mix of material and an easy way to get it, and that trend will hopefully continue throughout 2001. (BookBag, by the way, is also open for reader submissions - if you've read something and want to write a review of it, you know where to find us.) ToyBox has been fairly quiet in 2001, but with Star Wars Episode II on the way, this is going to change. ToyBox will be waking up and offering retrospectives on Star Wars toys past and - come May - present.

In 2001, we also premiered the Elf Zone much sooner than usual, and it seems to have paid off. Due to the popularity of this section, we're pleased to announce that it'll be kept on year-round as Store v2.0 (minus the elves and Christmas graphics, mind you). It will also be a repository of links to CDs, books, games, videos and DVDs that have been mentioned in, so you don't have to go hunting these things down; they'll be presented in a neat alphabetical order. Since readers buying stuff is what makes's world go round, we want to make it easier for you to buy stuff - and we appreciate your support throughout the past year.

Overall, we're pleased with the progress has made in 2001, with the biggest leap really being the new look of the site. The four-month effort to remodel everything has paid off, making everything easier on the eye and a lot easier to maintain. There are no major redesign plans on the horizon for the site at all - we're that happy with it, and we're happy with the traffic and feedback we've seen from the readers. Thanks for sticking around - we hope we can continue to make it worth your while.

Earl Green webmaster / editor-in-chief

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