The History of Lake Valor [2012-2018] Many of you know the story behind LV. It was founded by Satix with the help of me back in November 21st, 2012. But did you know that LV existed several months BEFORE that date? LV has a long history and since many in the Discord server wanted me to do this, I'm here to shed some light on the history and lore of this website. Strap in. Some details will be missed, this is definite. But I wish to provide you with some interesting need-to-know information that I believe will set a good scene for the history of this site. So let's do it! Lake Valor was a concept birthed around March, 2012. This concept was headed by Satix with the help of another small Pokémon site owner, Hazzard. The two messaged me shortly after creating the first version of Lake Valor, which was hosted on vBulletin. At this point, Satix, Hazzard and myself had already run several small but fun Pokémon communities of our own, mostly on free sites like webs.com, so Lake Valor was a big change. Not only was it hosted and funded by Satix and Hazzard, it was our first semi-professional forum, as-in not made via webs.com. The potential was massive. Shortly after the birth of the site, I was promoted to moderator. It was unsure what the actual focus of the site was at this point, but it seems that it was mostly about competitive Pokémon. We even had an actual website where pages and information about competitive battling could be found. This focus was likely due to Satix's and Hazzard's previous websites being based around the competitive scene, so it was something they knew well. For the most part, the forums were just a free for all. From this point onwards we had one clear goal: get members onto the site. We recruited people via a site called Omegle and Yahoo answers, this is where most original LV users came from, as in the very first. Among them were Nate and Fizzysoda, two users who are still active today (hi guys!). We had a good time, and in no time at all I became an admin. However, things started to become a bit... let's say, tense. Without slandering anyone, Satix and I found much frustration growing and working on LV with Hazzard. It was at this point that something with the site went wrong, and we made our very first move to a software I'm sure many of you are familiar with - IPB, Invision Power Board. This was a new slate. All old posts gone, all old users gone. We made sure to alert the oldies that we had moved and of course, some of them came back. Ultimately the vBulletin version was glitchy and limited, so IPB was a fresh breath of air. We had a lot to do, but it started to really come into place. A lot of people started signing up around this time, especially ones that could help us with activity and even help us recruit new users too. Lake Valor version 2 was a success, and we were having fun. We continued to develop our main site, even adding a section for the upcoming games Black 2 and White 2, LV's first official Pokémon game release. We were overjoyed and so excited and proud of all of our work. Then came the problems, again. This time, Hazzard had added a Wordpress to our main site. This seemed fantastic, it was a great opportunity for us and had a lot of great widgets. Problem? It had been pirated. Therefore, LV received a very nasty virus and to avoid causing our users problems, we had to close the site temporarily. But, did that stop us? Of course not. Satix and I were determined. We saw the success of version two and knew that IPB could provide a good opportunity for us. So, whilst Hazzard disappeared we chose to recreate the site together, on our own. We had the help of some previous users and we created the LV that you are using today (at least the database, it looked very different). This was November 21st, 2012. The day we officially recognise as LV's birth date. It was also a fresh slate, so apart from the people we pulled over from version 2, we had no posts and very few users. Once more, we got recruiting. We got posting. We made the site active and started attracting the attention of people from sites like DeviantArt. Artists were a huge part of LV at this time, and it's fair to say we messaged literally thousands of them in the space of a few months. It was pretty crazy. The site was active, fun and people really liked it. We continued to grow and expand. 2012 ended on a good note, and 2013 was shaping up to be an even better year for LV. We started to have a pretty big, capable staff team and we saw decent activity throughout. Events such as Signature of the Week were hugely popular amongst our users. Competitive Pokémon was in the back of our minds. We keep the main site too, but yet again it was rarely used. Users mostly liked LV because of the tight knit community. We often had Skype calls together, or chatted in our long gone Shoutbox - a little chatroom on the index of the site. Did you know we even had a messaging bar, similar to Facebook Messenger attached to the bottom of every page? Entering 2014, we had a pretty big mass staff exodus. Forum drama is inevitable, but rest assured that down the line most of this blew over. Needless to say, Satix and I needed a new strategy to help get LV into better shape this 2014. Little did we know, 2014 would be one of LV's best years ever, activity wise and in terms of how we progressed the site. Recruiting once again using DeviantArt, Fanfiction.Net and Pokémon Showdown also joined the roster. Why the latter, you ask? We had started our own league! This had been a goal of ours back before this version of LV even existed, so the LV League with special gym leaders who gave out special gym badges to the users who beat them was founded. This was a huge hit. Hundreds of people joined from Showdown, DA and FF, many of which are still here and active today. Some of our finest and most active contributors came from these settings. The site itself became more professional in 2014. We got proper site skins and cool additions thanks to our coder, Sanctuary. We got awesome custom artwork for LV from Deltheor. Our staff team grew and we produced many, many events that proved to be popular and generated a lot of activity on the site. LV was in fantastic shape, and despite a few hiccups (like the time we moved the sites server and people got stuck on the old version!!) it was a very successful time for us. Our anniversary was celebrated the same day Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire came out! 2015 was a bit different. Activity was still impressive, but we had some rough patches. We introduced many cool concepts and new ideas, but I can't speak too much for 2015 myself as I quit the site for quite some time. Satix and I had argued a fair bit and strained our own personal relationship, as can happen when you're in our situation. So, it seemed like my chapter of LV had ended there... but it didn't! In 2016, Satix and I got back into contact and became great friends again, like we always were. From here, I helped provide him some insight for where to take LV next. Activity wasn't too great in 2016, in fact at some points it was poorer than we had ever seen. Therefore, LV gained a new niche - Art. For a short amount of time, artwork and art resources was the focus of LV. LV had a downloads section for special resources, and art was one of the main categories of the site. Unfortunately, the idea gained very little traction. It seemed good, but many of LV's artists had moved on or just didn't have the interest. LV's activity was suffering. In December 2016 I returned to the staff team. We worked together to help get LV back on its feet. We toyed with a few ideas, and for a while the idea of having LV as a Pokémon trading and giveaways site was HEAVILY considered. Not only was a special GTS system in place, we were working on a new usergroup - a giveaway team who would giveaway cool Pokémon frequently. Unfortunately, these plans were halted and due to some major staff shakeups, we were back to square one. It was me, Satix and Cadbberry who was recently promoted to admin. We had no idea what to do at this rate. Our staff team was fairly small and activity wasn't great. We had to do something about this, so with the help of some users recruiting begun again. This time, people decided to take to Fanfiction.net as their main focus, and boy did folks come. An insane amount of you came from FF.net thanks to someone you might know as Zformtapu (don't ask, we don't know!) and the sites activity was looking fantastic. Our Discord server was incredibly active and this helped many users get familiar with the site and truly become active. With all we had to offer, people were starting to really enjoy LV again. A whole new generation of users arrived in 2017 and we couldn't have been happier about what was happening. Still, despite all the fun we lacked a certain something... our niche. We didn't have one. We toyed with more ideas, but nothing felt right... we put this thought on hold for a while, but it's about to get REAL. Now, we had used IPB since 2012 at this point. That's almost 5 years - but we had grown tired of it. It was limited and due to all the plugins and additions, it didn't really feel like OUR site anymore. Satix, Cad and I wanted to change this, so the three of us began our first major move since 2012, our move to Xenforo, the site you are on as I write this post. This move was HUGE, but thankfully we didn't have to start from square 0! Aside from the user accounts, posts, threads and images though, we had to rebuild everything from scratch. Our pages. Our themes. We had to get new plugins and more. Still, it felt worth it and for the first time in a long time LV felt completely right to us. We were now ready to think about that niche. Satix had an idea. What if you could catch Pokémon as you explored LV? It was fantastic and we knew it had to be done. The idea was very basic at this point, all you'd do is catch Pokémon and post to level them up as your buddy. Satix worked on the entire idea and the fine details, whilst I did the design and concept design for the catcher. After finding a fantastic coder to work on this for us, the Catcher was born. This was a HUGE success, LV began to see more activity than we had ever seen, literally ever. The Catcher became LV's main focus, and with it came a lot of new events, new users and many new Pokémon. That sums up 2017. 2018 is the next chaper, and it's still being written by all of you. Where will LV go next?