And, even if we go by your estimation, as others noted, that's after TWO YEARS of nothing BUT paintball. (The "day" took 2-1/2 years total, but the last few months were spent at the bar.)
"A total of seven ads selling or searching for pb gear have been posted this year, down from about 14 last year.
The community has changed as well, with very little pb posts in the forum.
-This one actually has some merit, and we've been discussing it off and on on other boards. Yes, the community has changed, and considerably so.
For the Tinker's Guild specifically, fewer players are customizing their markers. That sort of thing is WAY down from the heyday back in the early 2000s- partly because the modern markers you can buy off the shelf don't necessarily need customizing (a lot of what we did back in the day could be described as "upgrades to make it functional/reliable") and partly because we lost a LOT of overall participants in the sport after the '08 recession. And even nearly a decade later we're still not back up to those peak levels, and may never be again.
I've also heard from a lot of people over the years that many players no longer even want a marker that 'stands out'. They want a marker like- if not identical to- those that their favorite "pro player" or "pro team" shoots.
As for board traffic in general, almost all discussion boards like this, from paintball to sailboats to race cars, are seeing drops in participation, or at best, no significant growth, because the people are migrating over to Facebook pages.
Signing up for a Facebook group shoots the current feed straight to your phone, you don't have to any of that tedious clicking or scanning of discussion topics. It's all spoon-fed to you, and people like that. So over the years, a bunch of our regulars have left us for FB groups, and there's little or no crossover (because FB wants to keep you on their site, not help other sites advertise.)
So yeah, with fewer tinkerers posting, and thus fewer tinkering posts, people talk about the comic.
"No Halloween party this year either."
-By deliberate choice. As noted above, I was shooting for an old-style "Schlocktoberfest" type storyline. I'd hoped I could bring it all in and have it done by the 31st, but no matter how I paced it, it felt rushed.
And I'm starting to not like interrupting storylines for holidays anymore- reading back through the archives, it starts feeling jarring to have a storyline end to have a few holiday gags, or to take the guys from on the field to at home in front of a Christmas tree, then back to the field, etc.
We'll still celebrate holidays- keeping in mind the running gag with Sandy's desk, just a few months ago, which rather loudly called attention to them - but I'm going to try a little harder to incorporate them into what's currently going on, rather than suddenly just shifting gears.
"Also, for most of the year a character who was used in many comics honoring troops- fallen, hurt, and whole- has worn the meme cap of a celebrity who openly abuses Gold Star Families- families of the fallen."
-Wait, what? If you mean the image at the top of the page, you'll note the hat is BLUE, not red, and says "Make TWB great again".
This is what's known as a parody, and is of course meant in a humorous context.
I'll also note that the "openly abuses" part is taken way out of context, and at worst, should still be compared to his predecessor who made a Marine hold a fu*king umbrella over him during a speech, and couldn't even properly pronounce "corpsman".
"However, TWB now better resembles Questionable Content- even the robot fighting."
-Sigh. The general rule of TWB- indeed, of any webcomic- is that the author can't please everybody.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, up until the very last bonus strip of the "date night" series, I had gotten no- that is, zero- complaints about the whole rom-com series. On the contrary, I had gotten more feedback, period, all of which was positive, than I'd ever gotten for any other event or storyline in TWB's 15-year history. The overall consensus was that it helped flesh out the characters more, made them seem more 'real'.
But, there was some minor grousing- like this post- about how long it'd been since we'd been on the paintball field, how long it's been since we saw Roger, etc. I'd been getting a bit tired of the rom-com bit myself, and decided to rather abruptly shift gears at the end of it.
It had indeed been all too long since we saw the shop blown up- or badly damaged, anyway- and we hadn't seen any good mayhem since either the rotary-cannon bit at the field, or possibly the jet-truck landing at Howie's.
Do I decided to throw some mayhem into the mix.
"Is that where we're at?"
-Is where where we're at? Is TWB turning into Questionable Content? No, of course not. Are you assuming that the robots will be constant antagonists, always appearing and attacking our guys, like Daleks or Cylons? Well, did we have zombies start becoming regular characters after the first Zombie Week?
No, like any other storyline in TWB, this will run it's course, and we'll move on to another one.
"What should we expect to not return?
I remember being interested in the tournament arc, but it disappeared."
-"Disappeared"? The 3-man tourney was first mentioned back in something like 2012, and was stated as being "three weeks away". The first weekend was shortly after the announcement, and was mostly practice. The second weekend was this just-past two-year day, which as you'll recall, when it started in 2014, was expected to be busier than usual because of all the teams wanting to reserve the airball fields for practice.
Remember Pirta sarcastically saying that swamps somehow bribed Bruno to let the girls use a field, with an expired Hardee's coupon and half a pound of pocket lint?
It was mentioned several times that the tourney is happening "next weekend"- and as we saw quite clearly at the beginning of this little escapade with Roger, that it's currently very early Tuesday morning.
"I remember Red's struggles as a field owner- something I enjoyed as I witnessed it in real life at my old job."
-Struggles we saw only a little over a year ago, or slightly over one day ago, in-comic time.
"I remember Pirta's first day playing ball- that was a blast."
-It was. But it can't be a new players' "first day" every day, and contrary to popular thought, no, I'm not going to have the crew drag Cara out on the field. If she shows up, it'll be to bring the guys coffee, or maybe even to run a coffee van or something.
"I guess I realized I've been checking TWB every MWF out of habit, but lately I've been forgetting."
-It happens. I've lost track of how many comics over the years that I'd been reading for a while, and at some point changed something significant- the artist, the writing, the focus of the story, the protagonist, etc. and I eventually dropped it.
TWB isn't for everyone, and I'm not going to say or assume it is. I write and draw TWB how I like it, because that's what makes it fun and interesting to me. If you like it and want to follow along, welcome aboard. If not, no worries, there's thousands of other webcomics out there for ya.
"I'm not looking for an argument, but rather thoughtful reflections on the past year. Thoughts?"
-From very early on, I've had people telling me they preferred this or that storyline. Paintball players like to see more paintball games. But even here, I've had tourney players tell me they don't bother reading, because I never show real tourney play- IE, airball fields, huge amounts of paint thrown, fast action, bonus-balling, etc. I've had woodballers tell me they don't read it because it's not "real" woodsball- IE, the players are all camoed out, carrying realistic-looking mil-sim guns, tactical harnesses, etc.
If the storyline is showing Doc in the store, people will as when we'll see more of Jinx. I do a short storyline on Jinx, people will ask when we'll see more of Sandy. I show Sandy and readers will ask whatever happened to Gino. I have Gino show up at the office and then everybody asks when we're going to get back to the paintball field.
As I said above, I can't please everyone, and even at five days a week, I can't produce enough to cover everybody. I have thirty-five characters, and produce something like two hundred and sixty comics a year. That'd be an average of not quite seven and a half days per character if I tried to squeeze them all into a year (which is actually kind of a cool idea. )
Seven strips is not really enough time to get a good storyline going- this bit with Roger has barely taken any time at all, and it's already required 24 strips.
So, years ago, I stopped even trying to please everyone. It can't be done. I've heard from people that said they don't read the strip because it's "furry". Do I morph all the characters over to being human just to pander to them? I've had people tell me they liked the characters, but had no interest in paintball. Do I ditch the paintball aspect to pander to those guys too?
No. As I said, I write and draw TWB as a comic that I myself would like to read. It's not Frank Miller, but I still enjoy it.
Again, if you like it, great, glad to have you along. If you don't like it, no worries. The internet is chock full of things that are probably more up your alley.