Thursday, January 6, 2011

Interviews with Runescape Fan Sites: Runescape Bits and Bytes

Today's interview is with Shane and Mike, founders, owners and developers of Runescape Bits and Bytes (or RSBandB). RSBandB is one of my favorite fan sites, largely because of their outstanding Runescape newspaper (the Informer!). In my opinion the Informer! and Times are the best Runescape editorials out there and they maintained their elite status for several years now. Also RSBandB blogging community helped me a lot during the early days of Runescape Reader's Digest and I am grateful for that. And, of course, there is RuneWire - totally unique micro-blogging service for Runescape players, I used to have a lot of fun with it (when I played more often...). Anyway, here goes the interview. Enjoy!

Q: How would you describe your site in a few words?
Shane and Mike: Innovative, unique, and tight knit.

Q: Can you tell us about major milestones of your site? A little bit of a history?
Shane and Mike: We started the website in August 2004 with launch features including dynamic signatures and skill calculators. In 2005 we added RSBANDBUpdate! which is our podcast, currently the longest running active podcast. Later in 2005 we released our first goal signature system, a first for the Runescape community. Later we added RSBANDBInformer! in 2006 which is our Runescape newspaper with a variety of types of articles. In 2007 we added RuneWire which is our RS based micro-blogging service. You can find a full account of our history here.

Q: What inspired you to start a Runescape fan site?
Mike: I made some RS2 calculators for personal use since other sites were getting out of date. I had also made myself a dynamic stat signature for use on another fan sites forums. It was Shane's idea to make a fan site out of those tools.

Q: What were your original goals for the site?
Shane and Mike: To continue to release exciting and innovative features.

Q: Had your goals changed over time? If yes, how and why?
Shane and Mike: Our goals have remained the same. At any time either of us have at least one project in development. No secrets today ;)

Q: Was it the first web site you ever created?
Shane: No. I started making HTML websites when I was 13. I gradually progressed to PHP and made a website or two for a gaming clan.
Mike: Yes.

Q: What technologies were used to create the site? Did you add new technologies into the mix after you created the original version?
Shane and Mike: We use a traditional LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) setup on CentOS. Over time we have moved from more managed hosting to less managed hosting and now to the point where we fully manage our server ourselves. We also implement our own frameworks for administering the website.

Q: Is there a unique feature/service your site provides to Runescape players?
Shane and Mike: A large variety of features one finds at RSBandB were unique to RSBandB. Many of these features were later also implemented by other fansites. We are continuing to implement unique features as is in line with our goals for our website.

Q: Which feature/service took the most time and effort to create?
Shane and Mike: With only two of us developing maintenance becomes an issue. Maintenance is something that takes the largest proportion of our time.

Q: Which feature/service was the most complex from the programming stand point?
Shane: RuneWire.
Mike: Website administration and moderation tools.

Q: Is there a feature/service of the site you are most proud of?
Mike: Community High Scores but there are still more features planned for them.
Shane: RSBANDBUpdate! (podcast)

Q: Did you start the site alone (meaning you and Mike) or with other friends?
Shane and Mike: Just Mike and Shane

Q: Are you the only developer of the site's code?
Shane and Mike: Just Mike and Shane

Q: How much time do you normally spend supporting the site? A few hours a day? A few hours a month?
Shane and Mike: Oh god, too much.

Q: How many staff members do you have? How did you find/chose them?
Shane and Mike: 17. They were members of our community who showed initiative.

Q: Did you ever consider making money with the site or is it just a hobby?
Shane and Mike: Our dream is that someday the site will pay for itself, but we have never planned to make a profit off it.

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?
Shane and Mike: We'd like to point you to a guest article written by one of our former staff members for RSBANDBInformer!
We have also discussed fansite support on our forums with our members. That discussion can be found here.

Q: Do you still play Runescape? If yes, how often?
Shane: I try to play for fun as much as I can. I try to farm daily. I do check out the updates weekly for the podcast.
Mike: Rarely. When I feel like I have the time for it, I'd rather be working on RSBandB.

Q: What's your Runescape goals, if any?
Shane: 40m Farming XP. Possibly top 100.
Mike: I was working on raising all my skills above certain levels. Right now my goal is all above 80. Someday in the far future I'll try and get all 99s on the same day.

Q: What kind of Runescape player are you? Which Runescape aspect is most appealing to you: quests, role-playing, skilling, pking, minigames etc.?
Shane: Skilling/questing.
Mike: I like to be efficient. I'll find the best way to do something and use that to train my skills.

Q: Do you follow/read Runescape blogs and news papers from other sites?
Shane: RuneScape Readers Digest (serious)
Mike: Some of our community members have their own RuneScape blogs and I follow the ones I know about.

Q: Is there something you don't mind revealing about your RL (age, country, hobbies etc.)?
Shane: Currently, 23. Canada. STAR TREK!!!
Mike: I am currently 22, live in the same city as Shane, and enjoy playing lots of video games.

Thank you very much, Shane and Mike!


IVIilitarus said...

I had quite a backlog of posts to through when I got back to your blog. Best part were the interviews, even though I only read the questions first and read the answers if it seemed like an interesting question.

I'd also like to add that Musings of a Small Mind died ages ago and the new blog is at

Yeah, it's Boombaye. Been a while, right?

NeobotXP said...

Good luck to Shane on top 100, I just left it :(

Vaskor said...

Boombaye, thanks! Added your blog and subscribed to it.

Neo, all maxed out and out of 100... ouch :(

NeobotXP said...

I retired the moment I got 120 dungeoneering :P, I think I was 5th on overall at that point

Vaskor said...

Ah, I see. In any case very impressive achievement.

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