About The Dead Hamster
The Dead Hamster is a community website for Lionhead Studios fans and gamers, including Xbox and PC games like the Fable series, Black and White, and The Movies. This Lionhead Studios community site comes complete with forums, a chat room, community news, developer interviews, and much more. Want to get a brief look at what makes The Dead Hamster quite so amazing? Check out our full list of amazing features!
Comprised of some super dedicated and passionate gamers, this community thrives as one of the most involved and active fanbases in the industry. Every day the Lionhead team and The Dead Hamster work together to bring awesome and exciting content to the fanbase. This community has, without a doubt, some of the most amazing people you'll ever meet.
A History of the Lionhead Community
The Dead Hamster was originally called The Lionhead Pub back in 2008 and was a much smaller site when it first came out. It was comprised of a single static page with an embedded chat room that Lionhead community members regularly took part in. In addition to this, there was also the official Lionhead forums which allowed for more structured discussion.
In early 2012 the Lionhead forums were removed to make way for a redesign of the company website. During this time, The Lionhead Pub began a redesign of its own in order to help fill the role as the new community site. The goal was to expand and improve upon the old Lionhead community site while still catering to the existing fanbase. As a result, the new community would house the community forums, chat room, community news, boast full mobile support, and a slew of other features.
The new site had the theme of a traditional British pub and was given the pub-sounding name of The Dead Hamster. A peculiar name indeed, it was chosen due to the interesting tale of Lionhead the hamster. Mark Webley, co-founder of Lionhead Studios, named the company after his pet hamster, Lionhead. In a peculiar turn of events, Lionhead the hamster died right as Lionhead Studios opened for business. Thus, Lionhead the hamster lives on in the history of gaming.
Below is the full story of the Lionhead Studios community, from its humble beginnings in 1999 to the epic community it is today.
November 28th - Lionhead Studios was founded by industry veteran Peter Molyneux and brother-in-law Mark Webley. Not long after it opened its doors for business they launched their first website. The first iteration of the Lionhead community was in the form of an IRC community chat room, linked from the main website, in which interested fans could participate. Thus began the Lionhead community!
March 8th - Lionhead's IRC chat room continued to flourish as it hit its one year anniversary. Activity continued to grow as more and more fans took part in discussions regarding Lionhead's first game, Black and White.
November 7th - Lionhead Studio's website continued to prosper under the leadership of webmaster Jamie Durrant. The IRC chat room's activity grew more and more. In addition, developers stayed in touch with the community by posting regular developer diaries. A very early version of forum software was also introduced, although there was some concern from team leaders that the developers would spend all day chatting to fans and not get any actual work done.
January 23rd - With increased traffic came a need to redesign the website to keep up with the increased demand from large numbers of fans following Lionhead and their games. So a new flash site was made which allowed for a more slick and content-rich site design.
December 16th - With the launch of the new Lionhead Studios website, the Lionhead community got itself a brand new shiny discussion forum. The advent of a fully realized company forum allowed for a huge boost in community membership and activity as a small army of excited fans began to participate.
May 13th - After having a few solid game releases under their belt, Lionhead launched a brand new website, their popularity gaining momentum. With this new site came additional content for the community in the form of video dairies, regular news posts, information about their released and future games, and more.
November 25th - Along with the launch of Lionhead's new website came an extensive update to their forums. Featuring a new snazzy version of vBulletin forum software, the forums grew and prospered in very exciting ways as the Lionhead community truly began to hits its stride. Membership increased, activity grew, and a true sense of community began to grow among Lionhead's fans.
April 30th - As the community continued to grow, forum moderator Matthew Allen began working on an extension to the Lionhead community in the form of a browser toolbar (during an age when browser toolbars were a bit more relevant). During this stage in the community's history, the IRC chat room had become less used in favor of the more structured and streamlined discussion forums. All the same, the community toolbar did come with a simple pop-out chat room which toolbar users could access. In short time that small chat room grew in popularity and became extensively used by members.
July 29th - It soon became clear that one of the main reasons people were downloading the community toolbar was to use the community chat room. In fact, the toolbar's other features were seeing much fewer usage stats than just the chat room itself. It was never expected that the chat room would get so much attention. As such, it was a very basic and simple chat room. There was no registration system, no smilies, and no other main features to speak of. So Matthew began work on a new chat room called the Lionhead Studios Toolbar Chatroom, or LSTC for short. Just two months after the toolbar was released, a new version of the chat room went live.
May 18th - The chat room became very popular and was seeing consistent and regular usage. Therefore, after being up and running for a couple of years, the chat room got completely redesigned and pulled away from the toolbar entirely and thus became its own standalone website. With this change also came a rebranding. It was thus called The Lionhead Pub and was given the theme of a British pub. In many ways, the theme seemed to fit perfectly; the Lionhead community had always felt like a nice relaxing pub one goes to when they want to hang out with friends and have casual conversation.
July 3rd - In time, Lionhead launched a new website and with it switched from vBulletin software to a new forum software that supported Live ID logins. The community team spent weeks converting all the existing posts, threads, and members to the new forums and the entire transfer was quite the challenge. In the end, almost all the content had been successfully saved and placed in the new forums.
September 8th - The new forums got tweaked and adjusted. It was quite the major change with the new software which made the community team quite busy at getting things polished and working. Meanwhile, the community itself adjusted to the new site. Also during this time the Lionhead Pub went inactive. Although it was well used and popular at the time, it was taken down so that Matthew could focus on other projects in the meantime.
August 8th - Due to community demand, tentative plans to bring The Lionhead Pub back began to form. As conceptual planning and development began, a new direction for Lionhead's website began to emerge as well. The Lionhead community team was working closely with Matthew on some future plans for the chat room. In short time the chat room went in new and exciting directions, eventually culminating to development plans for a fully featured community website far beyond its original plans of a small chat room. However, it wasn't yet announced to the community what the plans were. As far as they knew it was still being developed as a supplemental community chat room. Little did they know how much larger it would be.
February 28th - The Lionhead Studios website mysteriously begins showing a countdown to a new site design (and maybe more). Meanwhile, an announcement is made that the new chat room will be going in an exciting new direction: The Dead Hamster was announced as a soon-to-be-released full community site for Lionhead Studios. Interesting changes were ahead!
March 5th - At the end of the countdown, Lionhead's new website launched and brought with it news of their latest title: Fable Heroes. However, the new site design also meant the old forums had come to a close. It was truly an end of an era as over a decade's worth of content was retired to make way for the new site design and for the new community site, The Dead Hamster. While it was certainly sad to see the old forums come to an end, there was a feel of excitement in the community as development on The Dead Hamster began ramping up for a release and, with it, the beginning of a brand new era.