Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Interviews with Runescape Fan Sites: Draynor.net

Here we go, the first interview is with Clooth (founder, owner and developer of Draynor.net). Enjoy!

Q: How would you describe your site in a few words?
A: Draynor provides cutting-edge tools and services for beginners and experienced players alike.

Q: Can you tell us about major milestones of your site? A little bit of a history?
A: I suppose the biggest milestone of the site was when I decided to make the signature system in the beginning. Since then I haven't really had time to work on innovative features or new stuff.

Q: What inspired you to start a Runescape fan site?
A: Back in 2005, when I started actively playing RuneScape, I was browsing all these fansites like Zybez and Tip.it whenever I needed something, and thought I could do better than them.

Q: What were your original goals for the site?
A: I hadn't had much experience with creating websites back then, so my goals were pretty much take what the competition is doing and do it better. I didn't create my first website myself, a friend I met on our forums was a better developer than I am and offered to help me. I was just the brains behind it.

Q: Had your goals changed over time? If yes, how and why?
A: A lot. Right now my goals are to provide the best possible help and services to the visitors of the website, listening to community feedback as a whole instead of creating something I think is just fine, I made that mistake before and the site started dying slowly cause of inactivity.

Q: Was it the first web site you ever created?
A: No, the site I've been talking about now was a RuneScape site called "Rune-Town", where we had calculators, guides and some other useless weird stuff.

Q:
What technologies were used to create the site? Did you add new technologies into the mix after you created the original version?
A: The first website was created with PHP/MySQL with no ready-made content management systems or commercial scripts (I've always been a fan of creating my own stuff). The current site is powered with the open-source PHP application framework called CodeIgniter.
The next version of the site will also include CodeIgniter, but for all of our database-handling has been moved from the raw PHP mysql functions into the full-blown object relational mapper called "Doctrine", which acts as a really robust backend for any kind of service we create.

Q:
Is there a unique feature/service your site provides to Runescape players?
A:
I suppose right now our flagship product is our dynamic signatures, but we have so many new things cooking up in our oven right now that I can't really say which will become the biggest and/or most used feature on the site.

Q: Which feature/service took the most time and effort to create?
A: I don't really know, everything on Draynor is very simple to create, I only focus on good ideas and excellent implementation, I don't see how much time or effort a certain feature takes. I enjoy pushing things out when they look good and work well.
Q: Which feature/service was the most complex from the programming stand point?
A: The main website backend has taken the most time to implement, all the integration between site features, to create a unified method of building and serving the pages on the website and everything else included.
Q: Is there a feature/service of the site you are most proud of?
A: Everything the outside can't see. The backend of the new website is pretty elegant, extendable and re-usable and I'm proud of how well everything works together. There are some new services coming along in the near future that I'm really proud of.
Q: Did you start the site alone or with friends?
A: I started Draynor completely alone, since I was afraid of people stealing everything I made (and this has happened so many times). But nowadays we have some interested content-team members, developers and moderators ready to work hard to contribute.
Q: Are you the only developer of the site's code?
A: Right now I am, I have been for multiple years but there are team members who are very interested to create features as well, so we'll see how that works.
Q: How much time do you normally spend supporting the site? A few hours a day? A few hours a month?
A: Well considering I'm working on the new website, I've been working many many hours a day to hit the deadline we're currently on. This interview is keeping me from my work! :)
Q: What is the most difficult/challenging task you have to do to maintain the site?
A: Focusing. I strongly believe I have ADD, even though it's not diagnosed I have really big trouble focusing on working on a single thing at a time, so I'm creating pieces all around the website at all times. I'm trying to get out of that habit, if I can.
Q: How many staff members do you have? How did you find/chose them?
A: I'm not sure how many we have, we have some community moderators and several community administrators. I don't have much to do with the community but we hand-pick staff from the active and helpful members of the forums.

Q: Are there aspects of web site management you were able to completely delegate to others?
A: Community management is something I chose to give away, since I enjoy doing the dirty development work in my dark basement.
Q: Did you even had to deal with hostility and/or attacks from other fan sites?
A: Well, as I mentioned before, there have been multiple other competing sites copying and pasting my content and using them in their almost identical services in the past. I know a few websites that still have my old content in their tools, doesn't make my blood boil though, I guess some people are unoriginal.

Q: Did you ever consider making money with the site or is it just a hobby?
A: I didn't have any ads on the website until when the traffic started growing too high to manage for free on a shared host. We are thinking through some minor income options to use in the future.

Q: What do you think about the current Jagex's fan sites support program? Do they do too much, too little? Is there something you'd wish would go differently?
A: I like the fact that they are trying to help, but I'm not sure about the big picture and how much they are willing to help. I must say that they have helped me quite a bit in the development of some of the new features.
Q: Do you still play Runescape? If yes, how often?
A: I started playing like a month ago, I play every day while I work on the website.

Q: What's you Runescape goals, if any?
A: Right now I'm 1.7m away from 99 Woodcutting, which after I will do both fishing and thieving. I joined a skiller clan when I came back to playing so I don't focus too much on combat.

Q: What kind of Runescape player are you? Which Runescape aspect is most appealing to you: quests, role-playing, skilling, pking, minigames etc.?
A: I'm a skiller to heart, with 14% combat experience. ^_^
Q: Are there other Runescape fan sites you personally use as a Runescape player?
A: I sometimes use other sites for calculators and skill experience reference tables, but that's about it.
Q: Do you follow/read Runescape blogs and news papers from other sites?
A: I don't have the time to really read any blogs anymore.
Q: Is there something you don't mind revealing about your RL (age, country, hobbies etc.)?
A: I'm 20 years old, 21 in like 7 months. I live in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, and I work as a web development professional for a digital solutions company. My hobbies would only include RuneScape I guess. :) I moved in together with my girlfriend a few weeks ago and am currently thinking of starting my own firm in this industry.

Thank you very much, Chooth!

4 comments:

Merch Gwyar said...

That's really interesting. Thanks for the interview both.

I think that Draynor.net was one of the first RS fansites that I went onto. So Clooth must have only been 16-17 back then. Wow!

I started with a Draynor.net signature (covers up the Runewise one that I have now). >.>

Downfall said...

Aah good ol' Clooth! I've been with Draynor since 2006, seen the highs and lows and right now the site is on a definite high! I'm so happy to be a Moderator there, and I can't wait for you all to see what's coming up in the future!

<3

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