Friday, January 7, 2011

Interviews with Runescape Fan Sites:

Today's interview is with _Peter_ , who is the lead tech administrator at Of course, does not need an introduction, everybody knows this site and most of us use it. My favorite section being Times (not surprisingly :)). Yet, just as many other Runescape fan sites, has a side which is "hidden" from their users - that is a team of developers who work hard to deliver services to Runescape players. I hope this interview will shed some light on that "hidden" side :) Enjoy!

Q: How many developers are working at
A: It depends what you consider to be a developer. All of the "Website Crew" team contribute and are basically who make the site what it is. If you're wanting to know who writes the code to make things work behind the scenes (as in adding features and such, while not writing the guides for example), then there's perhaps 3 or 4 actual developers, myself included, who work on this.

Q: What is your role at
A: I'm the lead tech for the website and also the forum. Basically it's my job to (as much as physically possible) ensure the smooth running of both, and to develop, or aid in development of new features for both; as well as maintaining existing code.

Q: How and when did you start writing code for the site?
A: My first project was the dynamic signatures, and this was before I was actually an administrator or even Crew. I originally started as an IRC Staff member, and it was suggested we start some of our own dynamic signatures off. I began coding them, with tripsis creating the graphics, and eventually had some running prototypes and such. It was at this point there was a bit of an internal switch around and I was given my current position, and here we are.

Q: What is your main motivation for working at
A: Great staff, great community, first RS fan site I joined, need I say more?

Q: Is the first web site you ever worked on?
A: Not the first, but by far the biggest. I've always enjoyed experimenting with my own web projects and offering to help others with their projects.

Q: What technologies were used to create the site? Were new technologies added into the mix after the original version?
A: The site was originally just HTML based with static pages, right back in the RSC days (before my time). A little later on, some PHP was used in conjunction to MySQL to create some simple databases for items and such. The newer site for "RuneScape 2" was then created using the same technologies (PHP/MySQL).

Q: Which feature/service took the most time and effort to create?
A: I wasn't around for the original creation of the website, and I can only really comment on the time taken to create features which I was a part of. Some of the Crew really need to be credited here as they've come up with a lot of the calculators/planners using just JavaScript, some of which are awfully complex, and I'd count this as part of development. I think one of the most time consuming and difficult things we did to date was to switch our forum software from phpBB to Invision Power Board. This involved a lot of staff learning the ropes again, as well as any custom features we had having to be recoded to work with the new software in order to try and make our users feel at home like they did on phpBB.

Q: Which feature/service was the most complex from the programming stand point?
A: Most complex is probably the Quest Calculator. When the initial developers first started storing data for quests, there was no idea that a Quest Calculator would be created, and so it took quite a large amount of logic and code to get around the barriers involved with something like that. In fact the Quest Calculator is occasionally under maintenance as someone discovers a bug that we didn't know existed.

Q: Are you implementing new site features alone or together with other developers? In other words is there a shared development environment set up for developers?
A: Yes and no. Some projects, I or other developers choose to code individually, and for others, there is collaboration. However I'd say that at some point or another, one of us has added to another's work in almost every case.

Q: How much time do you normally spend supporting the site? A few hours a day? A few hours a month?
A: A few hours a week probably. I spend quite a lot of time on the forum reading although I choose not to post all that much. It also depends what I'm doing with University and if I have an active project. I'm the kind of person where if I have time off from University and a project to work on, I'll spend many hours per day working on it until it's done.

Q: How do you decide which feature should be implemented and when?
A: Usually by public demand but also suggestions from staff. Occasionally there are other factors, for example the Grand Exchange Centre was created because, as a fansite, closed. They handed us their historical data that they had been using to generate their GE graphs, and so we couldn't have it sitting there doing nothing.

Q: Do you still play Runescape? If yes, how often?
A: Not any more.

Q: Are there other Runescape fan sites you personally use as a Runescape player?
A: When I used to play, I would often alternate between Tip.It, RuneHQ and Sal's for guides.

Q: Do you follow/read Runescape blogs and news papers from other sites?
A: It depends on the topic. If it's something which could be relevant to Tip.It on other sites, then yes I will keep up with it, otherwise, no.

Q: Is there something you don't mind revealing about your RL (age, country, study, hobbies etc.)?
A: I'm a 22 year old University student studying Computer Science from England.

Thank you very much, _Peter_!

P.S. Also a special thanks goes to tripsis who helped me to obtain the interview.

1 comment:

Absenm said...

This is my favorite site. When I talk about "other quality" sites on my own site, is the site that is at the top of that list. Been using them since I started, and they never let me down. They are kind of my inspiration.

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