Friday, December 24, 2010

Interviews with Runescape Fan Sites: Zybez

Today's interview is with W13. As founder, developer and long time owner of Zybez he hardly needs an introduction :)

How would you describe your site in a few words?
A: Zybez is where RuneScape players go to for quest guides, help, tips, and to talk to other players.

Q: Can you tell us about major milestones of your site? A little bit of a history?
A: Zybez was founded in early 2001, making it one of the first RuneScape fansites.

Q: What inspired you to start a Runescape fan site?
A: Andrew Gower, the founder of RuneScape, told me to make the official 'help' for RuneScape. After I had wrote some guides, he changed his mind and I ended up putting what I had online.

Q: What were your original goals for the site?
A: At first I didn't have goals, but when I did, my goal for Zybez was simple: #1 RuneScape fansite. *check*

Q: Had your goals changed over time? If yes, how and why?
A: The goal remained the same. We just kept scoring over and over.

Q: Was it the first web site you ever created?
A: I've created many websites before and during Zybez.

Q: What technologies were used to create the site? Did you add new technologies into the mix after you created the original version?
A: Zybez was based on PHP from 2001 to 2009. In 2009, we recoded the site in .NET.

Q: Is there a unique feature/service your site provides to Runescape players?
A: Zybez is the home of clans. If you're in a serious clan on RuneScape, then you're on Zybez's Clan Discussion forums. That's where it all goes down and fight results get posted. Some of our unique features that were unique until other sites copied them include RuneScape calculators. Zybez is also the home of SwiftKit, the ultimate downloadable toolkit for RuneScape. Zybez also provides really powerful quest guides that show exactly which quest requirements will be satisfied by doing a quest. We're also proud to say that we have the highest quality quest guides for RuneScape. Feel free to compare and see for yourself.

Q: Which feature/service took the most time and effort to create?
A: We recoded the entire website to modernize it, and it shows. The process took a year to do.

Q: Which feature/service was the most complex from the programming stand point?
A: The most complex part of Zybez is something nobody will ever see: our ultra-powerful staff area. This lets us manage the entire website and also track our progress and stay organized.

Q: Is there a feature/service of the site you are most proud of?
A: I was most proud of our item price database until Jagex decided to steal that idea and release it as the GE on their website. But I'm glad they stole it. It is now very useful for all players! However now, I'm most proud of our interactive commenting and screenshot system. For example, if you've got a clue scroll in RuneScape and you're trying to solve it. All you have to do is punch in the clue into the search box on and then instantly be shown maps, screenshots, and comments from other players about exactly where and how you'll find the solution!

Q: Did you start the site alone or with friends?
A: I started alone and I solely worked on it until about 2003.

Q: Are you the only developer of the site's code?
A: Nope. We have a dedicated programmer.

Q: How much time do you normally spend supporting the site? A few hours a day? A few hours a month?
A: 9 hours a day, 5 days a week. Often weekends.

Q: What is the most difficult/challenging task you have to do to maintain the site?
A: Nothing is difficult. We've got everything streamlined. The greatest challenge we face is Jagex. However, we're working hard to overcome that.

Q: How many staff members do you have? How did you find/chose them?
A: Our staff fluctuates. If you include everybody involved (including forum moderators), then we have around 200.

Q: Are there aspects of web site management you were able to completely delegate to others?
A: Yes. I don't do very much at all. Lol. The most visible part of the website that I handle are news posts. They're pretty demanding because Zybez is the most frequently updated RuneScape website when it comes to news. Many of our visitors check our main page every single day, and they're met with at least one brand new news post. :-)

Q: Did you even had to deal with hostility and/or attacks from other fan sites?
A: Yes, in the past, but I think everybody's mature enough now. We get DDoS attacked from various script kiddies all the time (a few times a week), but that's a problem we've overcome as well.

Q: Did you ever consider making money with the site or is it just a hobby?
A: Two years after keeping Zybez advert-free, it was apparent that I'd either have to give up my hobby or turn my hobby into a business. Of course, RuneScape websites aren't very great for money, and even now it's not very much of a business. It supports itself and that's good enough!

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: Jagex is eons behind when it comes to community and fansite support. When I tell other game publishers about how Jagex runs their community and fansite program, they laugh out loud. I believe Jagex will have to stop blackmailing fansites into signing advertising contracts with them if they want to have a healthy fansite support program. If you want to see what happens when a fansite doesn't want to sign a contract, log into RuneScape and type in "Zybez".

Q: Do you still play Runescape? If yes, how often?
A: I play every day. I'm an addict and the only help I need is Zybez RuneScape Help.

Q: What's you Runescape goals, if any?
A: My goal is to finally get a 99. All my friends have at least one 99 and I feel I'm making them look bad by being a newb.

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 the time-waster. I spend a lot of time standing around doing nothing. If you go to the GE and you find a bunch of guys just standing around, well, I'm one of them. Other than that, I try to live a well-balanced RuneScape life. You can see by my stats that I'm fairly well-rounded. I've done a bunch of quests. Oh yes, I also do weeklies like penguins, circus, and tears of guthix.

Q: Are there other Runescape fan sites you personally use as a Runescape player?
A: Oh boy. Now this is a tough question to be honest about! As much as I'd love to say "No way! Zybez is the only woman in my life!", it won't be true. I'm a cheater. If I don't find what I'm looking for on Zybez (which is VERY rare), then I allow myself to check RuneScape Wikia. I don't go on any other fansites because they're all outdated, too slow, or just messy looking.
Other than that, I go on for clan memberlists and I go on for my signatures. Both are excellent sites.

Q: Do you follow/read Runescape blogs and news papers from other sites?
A: Other fansites have blogs and news like Zybez does?

Q: Is there something you don't mind revealing about your RL (age, country, hobbies etc.)?
A: I'm in my 20's now, but I started Zybez in my early teen years. I'm from Canada. I love traveling to new places, cars (the expensive types that I'll never be able to afford), and experimenting with surgical objects.

Thank you very much, W13!


Anonymous said...

Seems a little suborn and self-centered to me. Another reason to stay away from Zybez.

Anonymous said...

^ +1.

Ambo100 said...

^ That's kinda what I've been thinking :/

Brandon Schmidt said...

Sad how some fansites think that they are the only ones out there. Cooperation between multiple sites creates a better community atmosphere. ;)

P.S. Hating on Jagex won't get you a better relationship.

Ben Ryfos said...

I have to say, I understand where all of the other posters are coming from. Some of the comments seem outright self-centered, and should probably not have been posted publically due to the negative representation of the site. However, you have to consider the fansite "business" is very competitive. I doubt you'd find a single fansite that doesn't keep some sort of unofficial listing of good and bad sites, even if it's just in thought.

I do agree that Jagex is behind other games, but I think the most important part is that they HAVE a fansite support program. It's an improvement.

It'd be interesting to know what caused you to decide to move to .NET after 8 years of PHP.

As for the 9 hours a day, 5 days a week, yeah, it requires a huge team to get everything done on fansites. Personally, I work 12-14 hours a day normally, although I have a team of 10 rather than 200, so we've got quite a lot more work each :P

Runescape Bits said...

W13 is a nice person from what I can tell. Shame on commentators; he's young and worked his way up to the top spot of runescape fansites. Anyway cheers everyone and merry xmas

Alex said...

He wrote that whole thing as an advert... you can see where he's shoehorning references in.


Anonymous said...

As another fansite owner W13 is realllll shady, when we released some hit stuff his site was using he basically told me we had to link to their site because it was so popular on his >.>

NeobotXP said...

haha I like how he is absolutely nothing like this in real life.

I don't use Zybez as the community is awful and calculators etc were copied off back in the olden olden olden days (2002-3?)

Anonymous said...

"As another fansite owner W13 is realllll shady, when we released some hit stuff his site was using he basically told me we had to link to their site because it was so popular on his >.>"

He did that to a site I worked for which closed down because of them. Although it was over having "similar colors" and saying to use calculators we had to link to his.

Anonymous said...

I like zybez and it does have very nifty tools, such as the coordinate helper that showed up as the first result when I typed in "Runescape clue scroll coordinates." Also, is an interesting read

2006-2009 RuneWise, all rights reserved.
Reproducing or copying any material found on this page is not allowed.
Runescape is a trademark of Jagex 2000-2009 Andrew Gower