The origin of the blockbuster
When I founded our group in 1994, we were playing on AOL chat rooms. Later, we switched to AOL email. And after that, we moved to internet email as you know it now, except for the fact that back then it was usually provided by your internet provider or your school. A sizeable portion of our community, even well into the early aughts, were playing at school (high school, or college), or at work. A great many people didn't have internet access at home for the first 10 years we were playing.
Because of that, membership often contracted in the summer months. As people weren't at school, or were just spending more time outside or on vacation, they would leave the group during summer. This made it difficult to keep ships going during the summer months. Keep in mind that no one had email on their phone until around the time the iPhone was launched in 2007. Before that, you actually had to turn on a computer and check your email to see if you had any. For people who didn't use email at work, there might not be a reason to check their email if they didn't expect anything of importance beyond sims. So we asked ourselves what we could do to increase participation during summer.
Back to those lean summer months: We decided to start creating fleet-wide events for the summer, to try and entice people to stay. Perhaps pushing them to libraries, or just to check their email more often over the summer when before they might not have. We called these events "summer blockbusters," because they usually involved joint missions between ships, and a big battle scene at some point that would bring a bunch of ships together for a really crazy few weeks.
(Joint missions between ships are where two ships would sim together on the same email list, sharing a mission. They were quite hectic, and oftentimes the slower simmers on the ship would quit in frustration at not being able to keep up. So they became less and less popular as time went on. Many people who participated still look back fondly on those missions, but we seemed to have stopped doing them altogether to avoid overstressing everyone.)
We did succeed in enticing more people to stay around over the summer, although the increasing prevalence of email in everyone's everyday lives also had something to do with it as well. --Wolf /talk page 00:24, 4 October 2015 (CDT)