For Goldie, believe me, I can understand. The "furry" genre` has a bit of a bad rep from some webcomics that have- and still do- produce outright porn, and in significant quantities. (One famous one makes north of $130K/yr just off his Patreon output.)
Personally, as I've said before, I had no idea of that rep when I started the strip, and there have been times over the years that idiocy from the fan base made me strongly regret starting it, even going as far as seriously contemplating ending it on at least two occasions.
However, that doesn't mean I have to "be a part of" the group, and I've no interest in "joining".
I do, however, find the characters in TWB are more interesting than if they were regular humans, and the animal designs cover up a whole host of artistic errors.
For TW, the problem isn't that "the furries" "took over" the Guild, it's that the regular Guilders stopped posting. Personally, I post what I can, when I can, but the Guild was based on dozens of regulars making frequent posts.
At the moment, though, it's just me, James' racer, and Hans' engine troubles. Goldie's couple of posts are the first I've seen of him in months, and I haven't seen one of your motorcycle posts in a year or more.
And it's not just the Guild. MCB has notably slowed down, and half the subforums on PBNation have only had a bare handful of posts this year.
The problem is essentially fractionalization. When the Guild started, there weren't many general-interest forums like this, mostly just "owner's groups" for specific paintball guns. Now there's an specific forum somewhere for everything from crocheting to croquet. Instead of posting your motorcycle build to a general-interest site like this, you can find a dozen motorcycle-specific boards, if not two or three specifically for that make and era of bike.
That splits the group of readers into ever smaller slices. Instead of a WARPIG Tech talk, with everybody under one banner, now you can find a board to talk specifically about a PGP, a separate one to talk about pre-'99 'Cockers, a third to discuss the Nova, a fourth to discuss Palmer's guns, a fifth to talk about air systems specifically, and so on.
Besides that, a huge number of potential readers are getting siphoned off by Facebook and other social media platforms. Boards like this are falling out of favor, in exchange for Facebook groups.
Guilders have always been talking about the strip- it was a strong reaction from the Guild at those first ever whiteboard drawings that helped launch it in the first place. But with less tech postings, it seems like there's more comic postings.
And it's not just the fractionalization that's hurt the tech- part of it is simply that there's less tech in PB these days. That is, less DIY/home-shop/custom-build tech. When's the last time you saw somebody bolt to VM-68s together? Or convert a PGP to semiauto? Or really, do much more than take the pneumatics off a 'Cocker and replace it with a store-bought pump handle?
Yes, there are a rare few still doing that sort of thing, but it's a small fraction of what it once was. Nobody adds eyes to a marker anymore- they all come with them from the factory. What happened to all the aftermarket board makers? WAS, KM2, Scenario Dreams, TAG/Predator, Virtue...?
And virtually no one mods a high-end tourney electro these days. Regs aren't even replaceable, boards aren't available- and wouldn't do much the factory board wouldn't so or the tourney rules would allow- improved bolts are supplied as options by the factory itself, and they're already so thin it's virtually impossible to mill anything more off. Back then, we modded the hell out of the guns; today we open the box, throw in a battery, go play.
As for a shift in focus, guilty as charged. I stepped up to five days a week, and thanks to the Patreon patronage, I'm basically getting paid for it now, so I'm treating it like a job. I've only missed one or two updates in two years (both times either a server glitch or I forgot to set the scheduler) and I've only used maybe three quickly-replaced filler strips in the same time period.
That's a significant change in frequency and scheduling, and has at times been quite taxing.
The big "change in tone" I suspect you mean is the "date night" bit, roughly starting "last night" when Doc met a new girl, and extending up through 'today' when we're still in the middle of what's basically a rom-com.
And as I said earlier, this is just a short storyline. This sort of thing has presumably been going on all this time (Pirta taking Jake home to "defragment her hard drive" back in 2007, Swampy carrying Sandy off to the broom closet back in 2014, Howie having hooked up with Kasi's mom back in 2010, etc.) but it hasn't been shown. Now, I have time lots to fill, and incidentally characters to flesh out a bit more than just "the office girl" and "the slacker guy", so now we see more of it.
And speaking of "showing it", yes, I said many, many times I wouldn't show it, and arguably, I still haven't. Cheesecake is one thing, but this is about as risque` as the strip will get, and even this is very unlikely to be repeated.
(It's worth noting, however, that I have, in fact, said on more than one occasion, that I'd be happy to draw whatever you want. If you're willing to pay for it. The first few times I said that, I posted a link to a large Canon telephoto lens, that at the time retailed for about $8K. The last time the subject came up, last summer, I used a link to Tormach's CNC lathe- or $16K, give or take. I'm an artist- in several senses of the word- and make my living working with my hands. If you want me to draw something I'm not all that interested in drawing, you're gonna pay shop rates for it. )
But, long story... well, not short, but wrapping up... Yes, "today's" "date night" will be over before too long (and we're not going to see much more of S&S or J&P after next week) and then we're going back to a good long stretch of the old fashioned gag-a-day shop antics.
And yes, I promise something will explode. Probably for no reason.