The Evolution of Diva Chix
I can hardly believe that Diva Chix is turning 6 years old! The evolution of the site and the doll is remarkable. Take a stroll with me down memory lane, as I share DC’s timeline from my point of view.
2008 – New Beginnings
Original Site Layout and Doll
Diva Chix formed as a spin-off from the popular site Dollwar. Dollwar was owned by two men, Aaron and Paul. When Dollwar closed, Paul created Diva Chix. The concept of the game was the same, but Paul also wanted some things to be new and fresh. He started his changes with the core of the game…the doll! Paul hired designers Perry and Dave. Dave designed the very first layout of the Diva Chix site, while Perry designed the very first doll and clothing.
2009 – The Year of Change
Back to the Dollwar Doll
Because the switchover to Diva Chix was an unexpected and abrupt one, a lot of the players were nostalgic. They appreciated the fresh start but wanted to enjoy it with their beloved doll from Dollwar. Therefore, the first Diva Chix doll was scrapped and we went back to the original Dollwar doll – whom since has been named Veronica. This became Version 2 of Diva Chix.
Birth of CYO
Unfortunately, we didn’t have access to any of the old clothing for her, and also at this time the new designers, Dave and Perry decided to leave Diva Chix to pursue other endeavors. Well as the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”. CYO (Create Your Own) was born to allow members to mass produce the clothing that the site so desperately needed! There were only a handful of members on the site who already had fashion illustration skills, but they were nice enough to share tips and tricks with others. In addition, the cool new CYO feature coupled with the complimentary feature of owning your own shop was too appealing to miss out on! So, as a community, members began learning together on how to design clothes for their dolls. As I reflect on the 6 years of DC, I honestly think this moment was the one I’m most proud of. I sincerely love the Diva Chix community and have seen their talents grow. Some of our members never opened Photoshop or GIMP in their lives and now are fashion design students because of their experiences here on the site. That’s huge!
Also during this time, the Design staff team was formed and Admin’ed by yours truly. The team worked tirelessly to recreate the old Mall items from Dollwar and to also add new items to the Mall. The success of this effort is what got me promoted to Senior Admin 😛
The Rise of the Guilds
2009 was also the year of the guilds. While guilds were created very early after the site opened, there was no functionality behind them. Paul worked very hard on guild features in this second year. I was also the Guild Admin at the time and was happy to see guild life flourish. Guild battles began, Weekly Outfit Challenges (now promoted to the daily GOC), Golden Tickets (which was once only exclusive to guilds at this time), and Guild Survivor!
During this year, Paul and his fiance’ also had a baby, so Paul didn’t have as much time to work on the site as he’d like. Because of this, he empowered me to begin developing for the site. With this, I began by fixing a lot of the bugs that were there. I also added little features that now we wouldn’t even be able to live without lol. For example, I created the feature to try clothing on your doll in the Mall and CYO Shops! Can you even believe we went a year without this??? We literally used to have to buy the items and hope that it matched something in our wardrobes. Hilarious! 😀 I also made staple features like the Lottery, Gifting, “Remove All” in your wardrobe, and Voting games.
At this point, Paul saw that I was more than capable of keeping Diva Chix alive and healthy, and he desired to spend more time with his new family. Therefore, Paul retired and turned the site over to me. On September 12, 2009, I officially became the new owner of Diva Chix.
A couple weeks after my ownership, I released Version 3 of Diva Chix which contained core features such as the Bank, Shopping Cart, Wishlists, Wardrobe categories (can you believe the layers were once not filtered, and you had to look through ALL clothes to find anything lol), Doll Albums, and Shopping Districts. Also in subreleases of V3, the Magical Perfume upgrade was created, Guild Tasks were invented, the Auction House was launched, and trophies were added to the profiles. Also, the site used to rotate through the top 10 dolls on the homepage of our site, but in one of the V3 subreleases, I created the Doll of the Day (DOTD) feature, where members could vote on their favorite doll to be shown on the from page for a day.
I was a woman on a mission! Even while continuing to enhance the game in V3, I was secretly working on V4 and released it for Christmas 2009. This version included a brand new site layout!
Also in V4, Pulse magazine launched its very first issue, 10 new clothing layers were added for the dolls, and celebrity dolls and Red Carpet were introduced. User Shops were also majorly changed. Previously, users could only upload one of an item, and once that item sold, they had to upload the item again to sell it to another customer. In V4, the Warehouse and “quantities” were created. Shop owners only had to upload an item once, and then it could be sold over and over again without further hassle. The Unlimited Stock upgrade was also included in this release which allowed shop owners to sell their items without the quantity restriction.
2010 – Your Ideas
At this point, all of the major bugs of the site had been fixed, and I had rolled out lots of major changes and features that I wanted to see in the game. So, I then began to heavily focus on what else the users would like to see in the game. During this year, most of the patches were user suggested ones.
We also did a really big competition this year to promote our celebrity dolls called iTouch Stardom, where the grand prize was an Apple iPod Touch!
During 2010, I also focused on a voting issue that was very prevalent back then. No one voted! It was seriously like pulling teeth to get anyone to vote at all. Events were ending with ridiculously low numbers that made it unappealing to even enter events. We tried an array of different solutions, from voting games to making people pay with votes to enter events, to music on the voting page. None of those worked. Finally, we tried Voting Tiers, another user suggestion, and it was almost right. It gave users more perks the more they voted.
This helped a little but not to the level we needed it to. Finally, we decided to add a new stat that was tied to voting! Perception was created and was the icing on the cake to the Voting Tiers. The Voting Ladder also added some friendly competition into voting and finally we threw in Giftcards at 2500 votes. With all of this cooked into voting, it became more appealing and voila…you had a good consistent population of voters at all times.
Also in 2010, the Boutique was released! With the popularity of CYO, mall clothing was becoming a rarity on the battlefield. Therefore the Design team decided to create premium clothing – the type that they would normally make for their own shops – and add those to the Boutique instead. The Boutique also has limited quantities and therefore is semi-exclusive.
The Forum also got a big upgrade this year with a new skin, experience shop, achievements, awards, reputation, and the side view of activity.
The Outfit Info feature was also introduced in 2010. With so many clothes being released by so many shops, it became hard to find beautiful items that you saw while voting. Especially the small pieces like jewelry.
2010 also saw the introduction of News Feeds on the profiles to keep up with friends’ activities.
Guild War was created in the summer of this year.
2011 – The Year of Organization
Major Organizational Features
The first major feature of this year was the Stock Queen feature, presented as an idea by a DC Apprentice team. This allowed members to have a stake in a shop’s success and gain a nice amount of style on a weekly basis for well-performing shops.
Also implemented this year was a total game changer for the site….POSES! Before now, people were trying to force different poses by manipulating the backgrounds to hide limbs and stuff. It was bad lol. But it also was clear that people had finally grown a bit tired of good ole Veronica and wanted something fresh. As opposed to going through the whole “change the doll fiasco” that we went through in our first year, I decided to instead let people have choices! I gave access to the body layer as an uploadable and changeable layer…and well, the rest is history. We now have so many wonderful poses to choose from. Some would even say it’s overkill. I’m one for variety though, so I think it’s fabulous. 🙂 Speaking of variety, with the new poses and an abundance of CYO, the battlefield has never been so diverse! I remember a time when we’d all pretty much look the same. Everyone would be wearing the exact same dress and the only difference would be the color lol.
Our alerts also became organized in this year. Gosh, take a quick look at your alert count. I’m sure it’s well over 100. Some people’s is even over 1000. Well, this became way too much to read through and people were missing important alerts such as someone gifting them, or someone reserving something for them in their shop. Well with this patch, the alerts were filtered into the tabs you see today.
Also following the theme of organization, the new Wardrobe was rolled out. With CYO now being a very popular feature of the site, and more designers creating items everyday, our wardrobes became monstrous lol. The Wardrobe was now sectioned off into functional areas for getting dressed, sorting, searching, and selling. Closets were also created for further organizing clothes, which was desperately needed to keep items straight for the different poses.
For the forum, a few cool new additions were added, the most popular one being the Like button.
Diva Chix launched a Facebook app so that users wouldn’t have to leave Facebook to play the game. It included lots of social sharing features which highlighted your accomplishments on Diva Chix and showed off your latest doll creations.
The idea for “Top 6” DOTD candidates was introduced. DOTD winners typically were people who were big battlers and seen most often. As expected, they would get the most votes. One group of people who battle nonstop are Survivors…well, Survivors intentionally dress down to entice people to battle them. The dressed down/weird dolls making DOTD and appearing on the front page of the site for visitors kind of gave the wrong impression of what the site was really about. So, the Top 6 concept was invented to kind of balance things out and not automatically assume the person who was seen the most is indeed who the users feel should be doll of the day. People seem to like this system much better because it gives another sense of accomplishment. Even if I don’t win DOTD, it’s a pretty good feeling to know I was a finalist.
The best CYO design competition Diva Chix has ever seen was created this year by Aimee. It did not start off as an official Diva Chix content. It was Aimee’s own personal “little” contest that she thought no one would enter. Well, all the big wig designers pounced at the chance to design for such exotic and unique themes! The entries were breathtaking! Not to mention after every round, the entries were auctioned off to the public. To.die.for!
A Sad Loss
We had quite a sad moment this year as well. One of our beloved DC members, cruzin6990, had a heart attack and passed away. 🙁 The community loved her and it was very heartbreaking to lose our friend.
2012 – The Year of Expansion
By now, we were 4 years in. People’s lives had changed, particularly our younger members. Someone who started DC in middle school were now in high school. Some who were in high school were now in college or professionals. Some who started in college now were married and/or mothers. It was fitting to allow users to change their username. This was a pretty big deal seeing as it’s never been done in the history of Dollwar/Diva Chix. Members were thankful for the fresh start. Likewise, guilds were also allowed a name change this year.
DC Goes Social
We’d had a Facebook page for a few years now, made our Facebook app the previous year, and also had a Twitter page. However, we didn’t have anyone actively running these nor did we have presence on some of the other major social platforms. Diva Chix is a great game, and we wanted to make sure that we weren’t the only ones who knew it. Therefore the Social Media Team was formed. We created pages on popular sites Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.
Flash Dependency Removed
Since the days of Dollwar, our dolls have been built to run in Flash. Well, that was fine back in 2005, but since then, Apple had dominated the mobile market. Since Apple did not support Flash, our members could not play DC on their phones and tablets. Therefore, the doll was totally rebuilt to work without Flash.
By this time, we’d lost a lot of the popular designers who once stocked their shops religiously. We still had a lot of great designers here, but they weren’t particularly interested in running a shop anymore. Getting new CYO clothes was once a daily occurrence and now it was more of a weekly thing. For fashionistas who enjoyed playing with their dolls every day, this was not good. After looking at the problem, I realized that some of the most active shops were resale shops, and some of the best designers did exclusives. The lightbulb went off! Just because you can design doesn’t mean you want to run a shop, and those interested in running a shop may not be able to design! CYO Bundles were created to solve this problem. Our Design Team and even external fashion illustrators began designing clothing packages and selling them to Diva Chix, who in turn sells them to members of the site as an exclusive design. The member then typically sells them in their shop for all of DC to enjoy! This feature single-handedly breathed life back into the dressup game. Clothes now were released multiple times a day. Designers did what they loved best, which is design, without the bother of running a shop business. Savvy business-minded shop owners excelled in marketing and promotion of their items. Everyone won with this one!
With an increased number of poses, our beloved Veronica was really starting to look dated. Not only her pose, but her texture and detailing. While people wanted to support Shop and Boutique releases, it was really hard to win a battle with a pose that had been around for 7 years! So, as a Christmas gift to the site, we had Sollie design a brand new Mall pose called Carol. Carol was more modernized and up to par with the quality of our clothing now.
2013 – Easy Access
Restructuring of CYO Processing
By this time, there were poses galore! What once was like a yearly occurrence became a quarterly one.
Don’t get me wrong, variety is awesome, but our shopping system simply was not created with this in mind. Therefore I had to do a lot of refactoring of the Shop feature. Users used to be required to upload one file at a time. This was because of how the system was originally designed. Back in the early days of CYO, people made a dress, they uploaded it, and they sold it in their shops. Now people were uploading entire collections, in multiple colors. A collection could easily contain over 100 files! I changed the system to allow for multiple file uploads at a time, and streamlined the process of adding those items to your shop and warehouse.
We also desperately needed a better way to tag clothing since tagging posed items was now imperative. So this process was streamlined and improved as well.
Diva Chix launched its mobile app for the Forum! This app is truly amazing for keeping up with your DC friends and threads. If you’re in a guild, a clique, entered in a contest, etc – this app would keep you updated on any happenings in those areas. I honestly can not live without mine now!
100th Issue of Pulse
Pulse releases its 100th issue! The magazine truly flourished and remained consistent even throughout multiple administration and staff changes.
While people appreciated the organization that was built into the wardrobe feature a few years back, it was a bit *too* organized. Meaning, you might be getting dressed and run across something you no longer want. Well, you’d have to switch views to delete the file. However, if you searched for the file, there was no way to delete it from the search results. That’s just one example of the organizational makeup of the v2 wardrobe.
So, in this version of the wardrobe, no matter where you were in your wardrobe you could access wardrobe feature using a brand new context menu accessed via right-clicking.
Pulse gets a brand new fresh makeover! This took quite a lot of work, but if anyone deserves it, it’s Pulse! Read my article on the new Pulse layout here.
Hmmm, ya never know! 😛 Things were moving and changing really fast at one point, so I’ve slowed down a bit on new feature creation. Change can be exciting, but scary as well. For the remainder of the year, I’m going to look into implementing small changes and enhancements here and there, as well as fresh contest/event ideas. If there’s anything you’d love to see on Diva Chix, be sure to let us know [here]. I LOVE suggestions! 🙂
Well thanks so much for taking this little journey down memory lane with me. This wore me out all over again, LOL! Happy Anniversary, you all! Love you more than you know.