Interviews have been quite scarce around here lately, and we apologize for that. We're back though, with long awaited interview with retired JKHub staff member and current co-leader of (JAWA) clan, @SiLink!
Tell us your story. When did you start playing JKA? Were you in any clans before (JAWA)?
I started JKA back in December 2004, when I was 14. I actually played Jedi Outcast before that for around 4 months, stupidly thinking that it was the sequel rather than Academy. Before JAWA, I wasn't in any other clans in JKA, but in JKO I was in a clan called (TAG) for a couple of weeks.
Circa: How did you find out about (JAWA)?
When I first started playing, I hopped between servers and eventually found one called ClanWarriors. CW was run by Gage, the idea behind it was that it hosted many clans on one server/website, making it very popular especially server slot wise.
Shortly after playing on CW, I met with one of the founders of JAWA called Matt. He was a really cool guy, he wasn't very skilled but what skills he did have, he tried to show to those new to the game. Eventually I asked for membership and was accepted
What was the clan like when you joined, compared to how it is now?
Completely different, back then you were forced to have a Jawa skin and use staff. There were also very very few ranks which you'd obtain very quickly (Usually within a month you'd have them all). Padawan -> Knight -> Full Member, compared to the 12 ranks we have now!
It was very easy to join as well, you'd simply have to ask Matt and he'd say Yes or No, there wasn't even a website/forum/server/roster, just one active leader who had everything in his mind. It was a really simple system which probably wouldn't work well today but back then it was quite common practice.
It seems like (JAWA) has been a large clan for a good portion of JKA's history. Why do you think it has been one of the most successful clans, even after all these years? What's the secret?
We're very lucky to have had so many members (past and present) who are very helpful and have contributed.
In 2005, when I began leading the clan, we were still sharing a server with a lot of other clans which were all growing rapidly, and merging with each other... in the end there was only Klan Warriors, Gods of Sith, Eternal Starwars Legends and JAWA left. Competition for success was a big thing, and eventually only JAWA and Klan Warriors (Unrelated to ClanWarriors) remained. Because of this, and the large amount of players using the server, it was like rocket fuel and took off.
Eventually we got our own website, server and player base in 2006. Thankfully we've had and still have such a huge amount of members who love helping out. I can't tell you how many selfless people we've had, because it is in the hundreds for sure. This has been the one thing that has kept us going for so long, and I'm really thankful to every member that has ever passed through our doors because without them, we wouldn't be here for sure.
I know a lot of people don't like our rules, but a lot do and it fits into its own little niche, which is attractive to a lot of people. Our server settings have remained essentially untouched since 2006 purposely so that the server that people played on 10 years ago is not unfamiliar.
And you're clearly doing something right, so why change?
What are some of the reasons one would want to join the (JAWA) clan?
We try to accomodate for every interest. For example, if someone wants to just focus on the fighting aspect of the game, then we have a HUGE amount of events such as a monthly league with 12 events, regular tournaments, really unique events such as The Valis Hunt, The Power 10, ladders, regular clan matches and specific ranks (Elite and Master) which have quite a high benchmark for ingame skill.
With that being said, we are a social clan and we do a lot of things to keep that our main focus. We have active clubs such as our ambassadors which keep us in regular contact with our allies, Event Planners, who as the name suggests, plan out huge amounts of events on the server, a regular Podcast, a videos club, arts and a monthly newsletter called the (JAWA) Post. We hold Meet and Greets often where members can sit down and get to know each other better (Which can be a problem in such large communities).
For those more focused on arts, we have a specialised club for that as well as regular contests including Signature of the Week and a huge amount of clan comics.
All of this can be found on our wiki which has over a thousand pages of actual content, we like to always keep that up to date especially with so much going on around the clan. We really feel like our clan covers a lot of interests, but we're always trying to improve and strive to be the best we can.
Lots of stuff to do. Very cool.
If there was a new Jedi Knight game released in the future, would (JAWA) move on to the new game, or stick with JKA?
It really does depend I guess... I know a lot of members wanted us to move on to The Old Republic when that came out but ... JK2/JK3 really has it's own atmosphere that can't be replaced, only improved on. I really hope that if there is a "JK4", that it keeps the game very familiar without alienating its current fan base.
I've never been a fan of clan structures that focus on more than one game, so if what I said above does happen, it'd be an "all in" situation where we'd move over entirely. That is the only way I could see us moving on from JKA, but unfortunately I don't hold to much hope for a "JK4" which meets the above description. JKA is great, and it feels like a game that doesn't really age, especially with the amazing work of the guys over at OpenJK/JACoders.
Interesting. That's true. I'm sure lots of people here on JKHub can vouch for that mindset. JKA truly is special.
Do you have any tips for smaller/newer clans on how to grow as a community and a clan in JKA?
Yes, one big tip comes to mind. Share servers! I can't tell you how many clan leaders I've met who for some reason expect their empty server to magically fill up... approach other clans and try and share resources, then split off on your own. Without a strong player base, you're going to fizzle out VERY quickly. It takes a lot of hard work to get off the ground, especially these days without a force like ClanWarriors in the background, but it's very doable. Unfortunately leaders have nobody to blame but themselves for a clans shortfalls.
Some people remember you as an original staff member here at JKHub, but some people don't realize your role in the creation and success of the startup, along with Caelum. Can you tell us a bit about your role in that?
When I first heard about JKHub, I was really skeptical but Caelum proved me wrong very quickly. He's a tremendously hard worker and built the foundations quite quickly. I was a JKFiles staff member prior to this, and I can tell you, that ship was sinking and fast, thus why JKHub was born.
It became clear to the original staff at the time (Caelum, MagSul, Raz0r, myself, The One and Only, Drako, and MaceMadunusus) that we needed files and a lot of them. I took on the role of managing this and contacted *counts* 374 authors in the Jedi Academy community past and present.
Obviously a lot of these modders had left the game many years prior, so I needed to find new contact information... this took up weeks of my time but eventually I managed to get a very high percentage of those I contacted to not only allow me to post their files on their behalf, but also join the community forums (An accidental positive byproduct!) and become active contributors. I still get the occasional reply email years later saying "Sorry just saw this email, feel free to use my files!" rofl.
The hardest part was uploading all these files, I remember when we first started we had around 30... but after I began reaching out we got to around 1,000 before launch. Unfortunately this completely killed any desire to visit JKHub that I had XD so if my memory serves me correctly, I quickly stepped down (And came back later that year for a long run).
I'm sure everyone reading this really appreciates all you (and the others) did, that's for sure.
Where do you see yourself a year from now, in the JKA community? What about three years?
Unfortunately this answer is shorter than the others: Doing the same I don't see that ever changing.
That's good to hear!
One last question! What is your favorite JKA map?
Argh so many. But oddly enough the base map mp/ffa3 I do love JK2's Bespin FFA as well! Simplicity at its best.
Good choices. I'd have to agree.
Well, that's all we've got. Thanks so much for taking the time to sit down and chat, SiLink! If you're interested in the (JAWA) clan, you can visit their website at thejawaclan.com and visit their server at jawa.jk3.in or 22.214.171.124!