Enjin is a guild or clan community oriented content management system made for gamers who love multiplayer games such as Minecraft, Guild Wars and World of Warcraft. Over 200,000 different gaming communities use Enjin and the principal of it is quite similar to Ning, but with a feature set oriented at gamers.
Why We Chose Enjin for our Minecraft Community
Usually we code everything ourselves, but we looked at Enjin and both myself and my colleagues agreed that this was what we were going to be aiming for as a finished product for our Minecraft server. But then we got thinking about how it was already created and that there was pretty much no real advantage to doing it ourselves because we miss out on the community of millions which Enjin offers and brings a guaranteed audience of gamers to your Minecraft server without any real efforts in promoting it. This is also hugely advantageous because you can go from having no users to having plenty due to the way that Enjin provides a centralised hub for all of their customers which means that your community can immediately start getting traffic as the Enjin website itself is the hub of a huge gaming community that brings a consistent profile across a huge spectrum of gaming communities consisting of 12,479 games of titles on all platforms; which means that users will not have to set up their profile again just for your gaming community.
Enjin Free, Enjin Advanced and Enjin Ultimate
Enjin offers a free tier to get you started with their service and give you an idea of how the service functions, when you feel like you want to commit then you can start paying and seamlessly switch to one of their premium plans without any loss of data or service interruption. The free tier allows you to create a basic community with a small advertisement on each page, but you are limited to having your community on a subdomain of enjin.com, in order to use a custom domain you need to subscribe to their service.
As well as a free plan, Enjin will also allow you to take a spin of their Advanced plan for seven days. This plan provides protection from DDoS attack. With the Advanced plan you are however limited with how many modules you can use whereas the unlimited plan allows you to use as many modules as you please.
Enjin’s client-side user interface is simple and user-friendly. We have a notable population of non-English speaking users yet they still manage to figure out how to register and do simple tasks. This is a true testament to how simple it is to use. Enjin informed me that offering support for multiple languages is on their roadmap, although almost a year down the line I’ve yet to see this implemented.
Setting up Enjin with a custom domain name was simple enough, this was accomplished by creating an A record that points at 126.96.36.199 then making the change in the Enjin account area, although alternatively, if your domain name registrar does not provide DNS management then you can point your domain at Enjin’s DNS servers.
We did things a little unusually with our Enjin setup; We wanted the Enjin website to be on a subdomain, so we had to file a support ticket for this as the hostname structure wasn’t what their system was expecting. Despite this, it was resolved within an hour; This is yet another example of fantastic support and their desire to please customers.
We also had to file another support ticket to have our custom domain fixed on my Enjin profile where it was being listed as ‘www.gaming.splitanatom.com’ instead of just ‘gaming.splitanatom.com’ which broke the URL.
The Enjin admin panel has lots of nice AJAX elements which makes editing the site an absolute joy compared to some other content management systems which involve a page load just for a minor edit. Enjin makes successful use of popunders, it would be nice to see more of these as some of their module editing happens in a separate window.
As this is a content management system, other users can access the back-end should you give them permission to do which means that setting up your community can be done much faster and future maintenance can be shared equally between community staff, so of course I added Craig and Bryan as soon as I started to configure Enjin.
White Label Branding
Ultimate plan allows white label branding which offers tighter control of your community’s appearance. Removing the Enjin branding is as simple as ticking the box next to ‘unbranded’ and then typing in your own footer in the field beneath that instead.
The new Enjin DNS panel is powered by DNS Made Easy which means that if Enjin suffers downtime, the DNS system will not go down and as such the other domains will not go down either which means we can sleep easy at night knowing our TLD is going to be up! Although Enjin doesn’t offer direct management over your DNS through their provider, they do allow extremely in-depth DNS manipulation and although you can’t use CloudFlare, all the Domains on Enjin use a more security oriented system called Incapsula which means all domains on Enjin are automatically protected, this is included in the premiums plans at no extra charge. One little gripe is that when your Enjin community is down for maintenance, they slap a giant Enjin logo up which can be confusing for your users if you’ve done your best to brand it as your own on the Enjin Ultimate plan and they figure that they must have gone to the wrong site.
Social Media Integration
Enjin allows you to add a Facebook like button to the top of every page with a custom URL along with a Google +1 button that also accepts a custom URL. This allows you to add your Facebook like page or Google+ page. It is worth nothing that you must have set a custom username for your Facebook page such ashttp://www.facebook.com/PreviousMagazine or http://www.facebook.com/SplitAnAtom in order to use this feature.
There was an issue with our Google+ button to begin with, we had to file a support ticket, the problem was quickly solved. The problem was that no matter what URL you put into the Enjin admin panel, the Google +1 button just wanted to +1 the Enjin site and not the domain you set it to, in this particular case we wanted the button to +1 the http://www.splitanatom.com domain as opposed to http://gaming.splitanatom.com. In this same support ticket I asked if it would be possible for them to add a Twitter tweet button to the admin panel to enable in Enjin in the header as we wanted to match the user interface of the main Split An Atom website, my support ticket was responded to within minutes and I was informed that my addition to the Enjin software would be made by tomorrow. Sure enough, it was made and integrated seamlessly. So if you’re wondering who to thank for the addition of the Twitter tweet button, you can buy me a cookie.
There is no coding involved with the layout editor and it provides a what you see is what you get visual system, this can be pretty limiting in a lot of ways and one of my colleagues has expressed a frustration with the modular formatting system. Enjin provides community created themes to choose from to add an aesthetic to your website which you can also edit to a reasonable extent. Rearranging modules is done by dragging and dropping in the back-end, although the container system takes a little getting your head around to begin with. You can also change your favicon to make the site seem more personal.
Premium themes are available on Ultimate which look significantly better than the themes available on the other plans, these are well worth getting Ultimate to use to put you ahead of your competitors or at least on the same level as them.
Enjin features a pretty great gallery system which allows you to create photo albums which members of the community can upload images into such as screenshots from in-game, all of these can be commented on by members of the community too.
Users can message each other just like Facebook or post on the wall of each others’ profile and of course add each other as friends. The user profiles also allow you to list what games you play and what your details are for each game. Real-time notifications happen on the website itself just like Facebook.
As well as a forum, Enjin offers a stream for users to post in, this can be useful at times, but when you take into consideration that Enjin offers a forum, a shoutbox, a stream and a real-time chatroom, it starts to feel a little overkill with a smattering of people talking in a variety of places and missing discussions elsewhere.
Enjin provides a robust and constantly improving content management system aimed at gamers and if you are a gamer wanting to run a clan or guild website, this is the content management system to go for, it is a niche service, but it fulfils that niche very well. Enjin can handle all of your community’s traffic; any sudden spikes can be dealt with which is a huge advantage over the strict rules of shared web hosts. Enjin utilises Amazon S3 for file storage so your files are served quickly. Enjin users are given 50GB of storage. Each file can be a maximum of 250MB. I’ve found this more than adequate for anything I’ve wanted to upload.
The Enjin forum system is quite simple to use and configure for usage, great for those who are more familiar with playing games rather than making them. If you are looking to create a reasonable forum system for your gaming community then Enjin Ultimate fits the bill, whereas it won’t provide anywhere near the level of customisation options or features as a dedicated forum system, it does provide what gamers are after with tight integration with the games they play such as their World of Warcraft or Minecraft character being able to act as an avatar with great ease which is a great touch to add the consistent familiarity with a player between in-game and the website.
One of the really interesting things about Enjin is the ability to find out what rank your community allows you to gauge your success/popularity against that of other users on the service, something that would have not otherwise been possible had we developed a site for ourselves, though this statistic seems to have been hidden as it is no longer available to view, but Enjin has been talking about creating a new ranking algorithm on their forums. An oddity left over from this is the Enjin thumbs up button which just adds another feature that isn’t relevant outside of Enjin, it would be better if this was deprecated or was a cumulative total of likes and tweets.
Enjin offers a stunning variety of modules on the Ultimate plan with everything from displaying who is online, recent visitors, showcasing top players or your team of staff, even birthdays!
The news system allows you to maintain a fairly basic blog on Enjin, this can be contributed to by other members of staff if desired, each of the past keeps a count on how many times they have been shared socially which is a nice touch. These news posts appear on your homepage in the place you set them to and you can customise how you want to display your news in regard to previews or full articles or how many to be displayed at a time.
You can post site announcements which users are forced to read when they visit the website, this can be anything from telling people to register or donate to telling people to vote or just a general news update about a new server opening for your community’s favourite game.
The recruitment system allows you to find members of Enjin to join your community, this can be a paid recruitment post which will get you featured on the listings, or you can opt for the free version and explain the kind of people you are after. This can be tied in with the applications system in which you can create custom application forms for people to fill in, have other members of staff comment on to talk to applicant along with accept or reject, all of these actions sends the user a notification and an email notification to tell them that something has happened.
If your community has teams representing it or you want to open a community based website for your tournament going team then Enjin has you covered with team management. You can display upcoming matches as well as information about them once you have organised them, this makes it easy for people to track them even if they aren’t participating in them.
Raid Manager (DKP)
With a lovely plugin built in Enjin for the millions of World of Warcraft guilds that are out there. The DKP or Dragon Kill Points designates a form of currency for WoW guilds to earn when they participate in endgame raids. With this users can setup a “standings” kind of page where guild members are ranked based on DKP.
Enjin Minecraft Plugin
Enjin offers an API, but there’s very few people working with it as this is such a niche content management system. This could be utilised for the massive communities, giving them a downloadable App would expand the community and make finding content more accessible.
Enjin recently released their own Minecraft plugin which allows your Minecraft server to interface with the Enjin CMS system with automation you can add yourself. For example, if a user registers on Split An Atom Gaming then they will automatically receive the permission to toggle creative mode in-game without any human intervention. Other integrations through this API include having data from your server displayed on the website such as who is currently on your server including their avatars. The Advanced plan lets you add two Minecraft servers and Ultimate allows you to add ten, this is more than enough for pretty much any community.
The character system integration allows players to verify their Minecraft.net account before being able to register on your website, this is entirely optional, but it can keep hackers out which is always a plus. You can provide in-game items and ranks to your players with the Enjin shopping system and have these purchases appear automatically in-game via the Enjin API. The shopping system only available on Ultimate plan.
Accept Donations for your Minecraft Server
The donation system is the main read you would want to use Enjin; It is easy to use and ready as soon as you order the Ultimate plan. This allows you to accept donations for things in-game on your Minecraft server, this can help to pay the bills for your server as well as give you some bonus money for your time as a member of staff on your server with some servers making tens of thousands of dollars in the space of a month.
Enjin provides a shop system that can accept credit cards and even mobile payments, this is a wonderful addition to the PayPal donation module; Both can work independently of each other and provide two completely different functions. One is more donation oriented as the name suggests and the other allows you to make purchases within the store.
Vote For Diamonds Through Enjin Plugin
One of the most desirable plugins to have on any Minecraft community seems to be the ability to have your users vote on various Minecraft server directories and receive diamonds in exchange for their efforts. Previously this was only available to those willing to pay a premium to be able to do it a developer and have it custom-coded for their site or within an iFrame on Enjin, but now Enjin has provided what is in my opinion the best Vote For Diamonds module through their own Enjin Minecraft plugin which all works through the API and can be customised to utilise a whole range of Minecraft server directories.
Enjin doesn’t just offer game specific features for Minecraft, it also offers features for Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft, Rift, EVE Online, Guild Wars 2, Final Fantasy XIV, Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and plenty of others.
Using Mumble offers some significant advantages over rivals such as Ventrilo or TeamSpeak with better quality audio, less latency and better security thanks to the CELT codec with the included advantages of volume normalising along with noise and echo cancellation. There are also integrated overlays for use in games and of course in-game positional audio.
The Enjin Ultimate plan gives you 50 slots on the Mumble server, but this is upgradeable to supply an unlimited number of slots. Advanced plan gives you 10 and is also upgradeable, but the free plan tier has no Mumble server included. A nice touch is having a hyperlinked Mumble icon in the header for users to click for quick access, but it would be nice to be able to assign a custom domain name to your Mumble server like mumble.splitanatom.com. You are also forced to use Enjin’s own Mumble server and thus forced to upgrade to more slots so this is a bit frustrating if your Minecraft server provider already given you as many Mumble slots as you have on your server or you simply want to use your own Mumble server from home, but one of the main advantages to this is that your Mumble server does feature your Enjin avatar and you can set permissions through the Enjin CMS. You can also customise sounds, skins and configure in-depth channel linking schemes.
Enjin are very eager to please, in fact it seems any request you make to them, they will gladly oblige and help you out with fixing a bug or integrating a new feature you want.
Enjin in-game client
Enjin’s in-game client acts very much like a widget, floating on your desktop but hides unless hovered over. Within the widget-like client are five options, that are the main features of this application. Letting you access your personal Enjin Dashboard, to interact with all your friends, personal page, subscriptions and other Enjin features. Also includes the Enjin Chat so you can chat with everyone while gaming. The coolest feature about Enjin’s client is the ability to screen shot, record gameplay and share it with your friends or disgrace your opponents on your profile wall, website wall and galleries. Last but not least on Enjin’s client is just a small hot key to your own community, if you run one like us over at Split An Atom Gaming. The Enjin client also supports games such as World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, League of Legends and many, many more.
I can’t help but feel like Enjin just isn’t quite there yet as I have used so many other content management systems. Although their support is great and friendly, we practically know each other by name because I’ve had so much contact with them. It lacks basic features seen in other content management systems, but Enjin is Enjin, there is nothing else quite like it. It is the best solution for a gaming community and the positives of using it are more than a handful and far outweigh the negatives and limitations of it.
Although Enjin boasts that their platform is highly secure and free of spam, I’ve had several spammers sign up on the forum attempting to sell kitchen sinks– I kid thee not. The forum gained quite a few spam threads, I ended up deleting these on three different occasions and banning the users so that it wouldn’t happen again. Three acts of spam to slip through in almost an entire year isn’t bad going, but if it was Apple Inc. saying it in a television advertisement then Ofcom would be after their heads for ‘false advertisement’.
As great as it is to have instant traffic to your community from the Enjin gaming community at large, this has at times led to a lot of jealous competing communities harassing our administrators on the website itself and on their personal profiles, sometimes I wonder if an option to run ‘stand-alone’ available in the Admin area and not have the community appear to anybody else but people who go to it would be wiser, but jealous rivals have found our community listed on various people’s profiles where it states what communities they are a member of and how many members that particular community now has which can be an issue as we’re now at over 700 registered users on the website with a throughput in the tens of thousands on the server itself per month.
We also had our Enjin community vandalised by a rogue member of staff who we have since parted company with, but Enjin lacked a changelog in the back-end or even a ‘trash’, these are fairly basic must-haves in a content management system. There wasn’t even a rollback feature available which left us having to rebuild the community website from scratch much to our frustration. Yes, we are to blame for making him able to edit the community, but the lack of being able to undo changes per user even if they were mistakes seems badly thought out. There is also a lack of history for changes on a page or news article.
Enjin had a rather curious issue in which sometimes you were sent several emails informing you of an action on the site such as a friend request being accepted. On one occasion I had six of these for one action, this was confusing to begin with and then became frustrating, but this issue appears to have been fixed now.
The email notifications that are sent out could also be greatly improved by allowing the ability to respond to the message via email just like Facebook allows users to do. Another improvement would be to include an avatar in an email similar to how Twitter and Facebook operate; To be forced to pair usernames with faces can be quite difficult at times, especially when your community starts growing. You can now change the content of your emails to some extent though.
The Future of Enjin
Enjin currently doesn’t have a mobile friendly version of any of their communities available. Enjin has something in the pipeline for this, but at present is unable to comment. They currently offer an incredibly stripped down HTML5 version, but it is clear that Enjin need to move over to responsive design with the new form factors popping up such as iPad Mini and Kindle Fire HD.
Enjin should seriously consider offering iOS apps per community as a paid upgrade or to Ultimate users. One possible solution could be to offer an Enjin iOS application which allows you to browse any community that the Enjin user is a member of, but a mobile version of each Enjin website is an absolute necessity as not everybody uses iOS apps and making a good impression when the user lands on the page is everything. I would personally be more keen to see the API offered as Xcode framework for developers to integrate into their own applications though.
Witek from Enjin informed me that they have plans to integrate an area in the admin panel for users to add Google Webmaster Tools into their sites along with meta tags and descriptions for the SERP/SEO benefits. In the meanwhile I set a TXT record in the DNS to verify my Enjin site on Google Webmaster Tools.
Don’t be expecting to rank at the top of Google through using Enjin, the SEO is fairly basic and lacks the big new OpenGraph standards like assigning a Google+ profile to an author, the offering for SEO is very slim and we hope that it is something Enjin continues to work on, but chances are that if you run a gaming community then you probably don’t care about rank on the Google SERP as your users find you predominantly through word of mouth, in-game and forums.
I would love to see Enjin offer more to their users in terms of statistics and analytics. At present there is a hit counter which doesn’t provide much information, only the numbers of visits in one day and the total number of unique visitors overall. You can integrate Google Analytics or any statistics system you like although it would be nice if Enjin supplied an area in the admin panel to just copy and paste your Google Analytics tracking ID. In order to integrate Google Analytics into Enjin then you must add the tracking script to the source of your Enjin theme; A mildly simple copy and paste job, but an unnecessary waste of time. The hit tracking module appears to work via Quantcast as there is a Quantcast tracking pixel on every page, this means that greater detail to statistics could be offered.
Like Facebook, Enjin happens to offer the ability to communicate with those ony our friends list via XMPP/Jabber from any device you have which can run an app for that protocol on it. This is a nice way of expanding the reach of Enjin, but I can’t help but feel like a ‘reply via email’ feature would be the best solution along with being able to read the whole message or conversation thread in an email. Being able to communicate with members of your community via Messages (Formerly iChat) is quite a novelty though if you don’t want to give them your Skype details or email address. This isn’t without issue though and the avatar displayed is the default one and users with over 500 friends may not see their friends, but these are acknowledged issues by Enjin and this feature is considered a beta.
Enjin has become what is expected of gaming communities and if you aren’t running Enjin, an established standard, then you are really missing out on a lot of traffic. Enjin is a great deal, not only are you getting a license to use some of the best community software ever developed, you are also getting their support and servers, despite the problems Enjin has, Enjin is still the best in its class for what it does for the gamer niche.
You can check out the Split An Atom Gaming Enjin community built on the sub-domain of gaming.splitanatom.com and you can connect to our Minecraft server right now with the IP of minecraft.splitanatom.com, you can also subscribe to Enjin here.
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