Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Interviews with Stellar Dawn Fan Sites: StellarStop

Today's interview is with Kieran, owner, founder and developer of StellarStop fan site. While Stellar Dawn hasn't been released yet, there are already several well established Stellar Dawn fan sites and communities out there and StellarStop is one of the biggest among them.

Q: How would you describe your site in a few words?
A: We're a very friendly Stellar Dawn Community and Fan Site.

Q: Can you tell us about major milestones of your site? A little bit of a history?
A: Absolutely. StellarStop was founded on July 16th 2008 under our previous name of Mechstop. The name Mechstop was coined due to our goal of being "the place to stop for MechScape help".
We changed the name of our website to StellarStop on September 4th 2009, as Jagex had revealed that MechScape would now in fact be called Stellar Dawn. So now we're "the place to stop for Stellar Dawn Help" ;)
We have since grown from a small clan of 3-4 people to a forum community of well over 500 people, which isn't bad considering that Stellar Dawn isn't even out yet.
Our community has been through a lot during this time, and while we wait for Stellar Dawn we encourage community members to participate in RuneScape Events to keep our community active and strong.

Q: What inspired you to start a Stellar Dawn fan site?
A: When I first heard that Jagex was making a Sci-Fi MMORPG, I was immediately hooked on the concept - I'm a huge Sci-Fi fan. I'd been looking for an opportunity to invest my programming skills into a community website, and it immediately struck me that this was my opportunity.
Admittedly, another source of inspiration came from the realization that I could use StellarStop as an excuse to play Stellar Dawn as much as I want, without feeling like I was being unproductive :P

Q: What were your original goals for the site?
A: Our goal to this day has always been to create what will be the biggest, friendliest and most enjoyable community in Stellar Dawn. Nothing more, nothing less.

Q: Was it the first web site you ever created?
A: Not at all. I've been developing websites for years, but StellarStop is easily my all time favorite.

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 StellarStop Website is entirely custom-built with a programming language called PHP (amongst a few others), which gives us a huge amount of control with what we can do with the site. The forum software we use is called SMF.

Q: Is there a unique feature/service your site provides (or will provide) to Stellar Dawn/Runescape players?
A: A really supportive Stellar Dawn Community. No doubt we will be providing the best Stellar Dawn Guides and Calculators we can upon the game's release, but we hope that our Community will always be what really defines us as a Stellar Dawn fan site.

Q: Which feature/service was the most complex from the programming stand point?
A: From a programming standpoint, none of the features have been terribly complex to code thus far, but some require more time to create than others.
We have a great many features ready to be released as soon as Stellar Dawn goes into Beta, but we're waiting for that to happen before we flick the switch and reveal these features to the public. =)

Q: Did you start the site alone or with friends?
A: StellarStop started way back in 2008 as a small RuneScape Clan with a few of my in-game friends, although I always intended it to develop into a Stellar Dawn Fan Site.

Q: Are you the only developer of the site's code?
A: At this point in time, yes.

Q: How much time do you normally spend supporting the site? A few hours a day? A few hours a month?
A: It varies immensely. Due to my flexible working hours and the fact that I have my laptop with me everywhere I go, I'm capable of working on StellarStop anytime, anywhere.
I'd estimate I spend on average roughly 8 hours a week working with the community and programming for StellarStop.

Q: How many staff members do you have? How did you find/chose them?
A: Stellarstop has myself as Founder/Technical Administrator, a Community Administrator (Roanlo Zolo), and a Recruitment Administrator (Kate). At present we also have one Universal Moderator (Antony), and a handful of great Event Organizers.
All of our staff were chosen based on their previous contributions to the StellarStop Community, and their friendliness towards other players.
No doubt we'll be looking for many more staff members upon Stellar Dawn's release, and it is the people who have been a positive influence upon our community leading up to then who will be chosen to represent StellarStop.

Q: Did you even had to deal with hostility and/or attacks from other fan sites?
A: Not yet - we're lucky in that the Stellar Dawn Community appears to be unusually mature at the moment. One can only hope that this will continue after Stellar Dawn's release ;)

Q: Did you ever consider making money with the site or is it just a hobby?
A: Just a hobby - or rather, an obsession. StellarStop has no ads, and therefore makes no revenue.

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 hasn't made any effort to reach out to StellarStop yet, besides their Twitter support. So I can't really comment. However, it would be nice if they were supporting more than just one Stellar Dawn Fan Site.

Q: Do you still play Runescape? If yes, how often?
A: Sure do. Our brilliant event organizers host RuneScape Events at least once a week, so as often as possible I attend these.

Q: What's your Runescape goals, if any?
A: My RuneScape hobbies include meeting friendly new people, and standing in the bank. People in the StellarStop Clan Chat often joke that if standing around in the bank was a skill, I'd be ranked #1 in the world for it.

Q: Are there other Runescape fan sites you personally use as a Runescape player?
A: Oh yes, lots. I think I'd probably go insane if I attempted to do a Runescape quest without a guide! I like to use a large variety of Runescape Fan sites, as it allows me to see first-hand what works and what doesn't amongst various fan sites, and then apply those lessons to StellarStop.

Q: Do you follow/read Runescape blogs and news papers from other sites?
A: Not anymore, but I do keep a close eye on anything Stellar Dawn related. On a related note, RuneScape Reader's Digest is fascinating! I just lost an hour of my life reading through some of your past posts. *bookmarks*

Q: Is there something you don't mind revealing about your RL (age, country, hobbies etc.)?
A: Sure. Well, I live in New Zealand, and am a university student studying Game Development. I work as a programmer for an iPhone Game Studio based in Auckland, which is both fun and rewarding.
I'm a Squash player, and I like to get in at least an hour of practice a day.

Recently I started another side project to create a website which will teach newbies how to get started in Game Development with comprehensive, easy-to-follow video tutorials. I'm expecting that to be up and running by the end of January, unless Stellar Dawn is released before then (yeah right) in which case all of my attention will be diverted to that ;)

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
A: If you haven't already applied up for the Stellar Dawn Beta - do so now! You can signup at (It's an Official Jagex Website). It'll only take 30 seconds, and will spare you from potential regret later when all of your friends are playing the game, and you're sitting in the corner crying yourself to sleep.
If you use Twitter, you can follow the progress of Stellar Dawn by following @StellarDawn (It's an Official Jagex Twitter account).
If you wish, you may also follow @StellarStop for site and event updates from us.

Thank you very much, Kieran!


Alex said...

No interview with SDC! Scandalous!

Vaskor said...

Alex, there is no discrimination. I publish interviews in the order I received them. Plus I personally like each and every site featured in this series :) Some sites are more familiar to me and I have longer history with them, but every one of these sites took (and keeps taking) enormous effort from their owners and developers to build and maintain. I would do whatever I can to help them out.

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