Monday, January 3, 2011

Interviews with Runescape Fan Sites: Lunagang

Today's interview is with Feppie64, owner and developer of Lunagang - possibly the biggest Runescape fan site for Dutch players. It's fascinating how a clan site evolved into a fully fledged fan site over time. Enjoy!

Q: How would you describe your site in a few words?
A: Lunagang is a complete help site aimed at the Dutch speaking RuneScape community.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit of a history of your website?
A: Lunagang was actually founded as a clan by two class mates of me, because they wanted some fun. They created a forum on a website which offered free bulletin boards, but I thought I could make a better website. Within a few days, a website was created on a free host.
I quickly realized that we needed something to distinguish ourselves from the competition in order to attract members. Six years ago, there where little fan sites in Dutch. I started writing guides and this indeed attracted members. Our clan flourished, but due inactivity of my classmates, I quickly became the only clan leader. After a year we needed a very strict policy for new members. We couldn't accept every member, because the clan would grew to large. To answer the demand of help of the visitors who only used our guides, we created a second forum. This forum quickly became more important than the clan. The clan is now closed and we are fully changed into a fan site.

Q: Was it the first web site you ever created?
A: The first web site I created, was about a Pokemon-card-like game we created on primary school. I was in the last class and liked to build a website. At that time, I used Frontpage. Frontpage was a Word-like website editor. The website was very basic, as I wasn't old enough yet to fully understand the technologies needed to make a real website.

Q: What technologies were used to create the site? Did you add new technologies into the mix after you created the original version?
A: I really learned how to build websites by constantly updating Lunagang. At first, I only used HTML. After that, I slowly learnt PHP, CSS and Javascript.

Q: Is there a unique feature/service your site provides to Runescape players?
A: I think I can say that Lunagang is the most complete fansite in the Dutch language. Our language is our most unique feature. We also have some nice calculators that can calculate xp for every training activity with bonus xp items combined, like a Seers' headband, Lumberjack armour and Brawling gloves all at once. As far as I know, there is no English website that has the same level of calculators. We are also working on a house planner which is more advanced than any other house planner.

Q: Which feature/service took the most time and effort to create?
A: Building services takes a lot of time, but writing guides requires the most. You really need a lot of time to describe all quests and skills. It will really take years to achieve at the level that we now have.

Q: Which feature/service was the most complex from the programming stand point?
A: I think it is the admin panel, that enables us to update the website quickly.

Q: Is there a feature/service of the site you are most proud of?
A: Our calculators, completeness and our loyal community.

Q: Are you the only developer of the site's code?
A: Yes. I don't like reading someone else's code and I don't know many people who are able to develop the code that is needed. The forum runs on phpBB.

Q: How much time do you normally spend supporting the site? A few hours a day? A few hours a month?
A: I have a very irregular scheme. In the summer and Christmas holidays, I really spend much time working on the website. My study requires a lot of time, so I'm very busy in the rest of the year. I try to keep the website updated, but it is very difficult.

Q: How many staff members do you have? How did you find/chose them?
A: We have a database team to maintain our shop, monster and item database, although the item database isn't released yet. A few people write guides, including me. The way we pick new team members, differs from time to time. Most of the time we ask someone, but we also have solicitations.

Q: Are there aspects of web site management you were able to completely delegate to others?
A: The community is maintained by forum moderators, databases are updated by a special team.

Q: Did you even had to deal with hostility and/or attacks from other fan sites?
A: At some times, we have spammers from a competitor in our clan chat, but the relations between the staff of the two websites are very well. We do everything to get rid of the spammers.

Q: Did you ever consider making money with the site or is it just a hobby?
A: The website contains advertisements to pay our hosting provider. We don't need all of the revenue to pay the website. The profit is nice, but the website is particularly a hobby.

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 don't like the requirement to remove all advertisements for other games in order to get more support. I can understand that Jagex doesn't want advertisements for WoW or RWT on the fan sites. However, fan sites need money to survive. I see is no harm in ads for Playstation or Xbox games. Some platinum websites don't have a large buffer and I think they would be out of trouble if Jagex loosened the rules. We currently do not see many support, because I chose not to remove the advertisements. I think I can't really judge. We are a silver website on this moment.

Q: Do you still play Runescape? If yes, how often?
A: I play almost every update for the website and play Penguin Hide and Seek, but I don't train much skills anymore.

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 am a quester. I never play any PvP content.

Q: Are there other Runescape fan sites you personally use as a Runescape player?
A: I like the guides of RuneScape Wikia and use this website very often.

Q: Do you follow/read Runescape blogs and news papers from other sites?
A: No, but I think your blog is very nice. So maybe this changes in a yes :)

Q: Is there something you don't mind revealing about your RL (age, country, hobbies etc.)?
A: I am a male, live in the Netherlands and am 19 years old.

Thank you very much, Feppie64!

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