Sunday, January 9, 2011

Interviews with Runescape Fan Sites: Rune Village

Today's interview is with hiker, founder, owner and one of the developers of Rune Village. Rune Village is one of the oldest and most comprehensive Runescape fan sites out there. Enjoy the interview!

Q: How would you describe your site in a few words?
A: An active forum community and source of guides for quests, skills and general information as well as databases of characters and items from the Runescape world.

Q: Can you tell us about major milestones of your site? A little bit of a history?
A: The main site came online the first week of November, 2002 and the forum followed a few days later on November 13, 2002. New members were just a trickle until the following spring when it seemed that membership seemed to take off in a single day. All of the sudden we were getting 150 to 200 new members each day. This growth continued though 2003, 2004,2005 when we reached our peak forum membership of about 65,000 members.
At that time we had an active community of traders, PK's and graphic artists, but with the elimination of the Wilderness, free trade, and the Jagex policy of not only refusing to recognize fan sites, but actually telling players to stay away from them, our membership dropped dramatically during that time.
However, we have remained a close-knit community, and although we are smaller these days, we have many Villagers who have been members for 6-8 years. Recently we have redesigned the forums, and our guides team is in the midst of re-writing and updating our extensive guides library, and well as adding new material. Jagex's recent reversal in now supporting fan sites has helped a bit.

Q: What inspired you to start a Runescape fan site?
A: There were not many fan sites in existence -- only one good one, and their graphics were pretty plain. I thought we could do a good job of presenting the material in a more pleasant manner.

Q: What were your original goals for the site?
A: To be a comprehensive community for Runescape players - forums, guides, data and news.

Q: Had your goals changed over time? If yes, how and why?
A: Not really... at one time we had got a bit behind on maintaining some of the guides, but we have an ongoing program of updating going on now. Our guides team posted 28 new or updated guides on Christmas eve!

Q: Was it the first web site you ever created?
A: No. I've created 100's.

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 usual web technologies -- html, php, mysql, flash, javascript and recently a bit more java and some C/C++.

Q: Is there a unique feature/service your site provides to Runescape players?
A: We have several unique features, including a searchable world map. But probably the most unique is our items database. Individual item records are connected to the jagex computers and they display that item's current price on the Grand Exchange in real time, as well as showing a price graph for the previous 30 days. We also have our own chatroom, which is a bit unique.

Q: Which feature/service took the most time and effort to create?
A: Probably the interactive world map - which is being revamped, by the way. Although that would be a close tie with the chat room.

Q: Which feature/service was the most complex from the programming stand point?
A: Again, I'd have to say either the world map, which was/is done by our Staff Administrator, Glodenox or our custom chat, which was originally programmed by meepster, and recently updated by fantasy_guy (fire_adept).

Q: Is there a feature/service of the site you are most proud of?
A: I'm proud of it all. For the past 3-4 years, the site has been developed and maintained by teams of Villagers, and I'm proud of *all* the work each of them has done. It has all been volunteer workers doing a professional job.

Q: Did you start the site alone or with friends?
A: Started it alone.

Q: Are you the only developer of the site's code?
A: I was originally, but for the past four years or so, it's been development teams made up of members who volunteer their efforts and directed by a Staff Administrator.

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 each day.

Q: What is the most difficult/challenging task you have to do to maintain the site?
A: Keeping up with everyone and focused on their tasks.

Q: How many staff members do you have? How did you find/chose them?
A: We have about 12-15 involved in writing and editing guides and site maintenance. They were recruited or volunteered. We have another group of about 15 that are moderators and admins, and they were all selected from the members.

Q: Are there aspects of web site management you were able to completely delegate to others?
A: While "the buck stops here", I try to delegate as much as possible, so that all the staff have some personal responsibility. Our Staff Administrator generally guides the technical side of things and our Administration team directs Moderators for the forum, site chat, and clan chat.

Q: Did you even had to deal with hostility and/or attacks from other fan sites?
A: Only once or twice have we had real hostility from another site. We have had several who attempted to unlawfully reproduce our information or link to images in violation of our copyright. We have generally been successful in getting those sites closed.

Q: Did you ever consider making money with the site or is it just a hobby?
A: I'd love to make money with the site, but it's all we can do to pay the bills-- especially since we have always had a policy of limited ads to make the user experience more enjoyable.

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 think they were years late in realizing the impact that fan sites have on their business. I'm glad they have started to support us and would like to see more, but it's a new program, and both sides are pretty much feeling their way along right now.

Q: Do you still play Runescape? If yes, how often?
A: I had quit for about 3 years, and have recently started to play again.

Q: What's you Runescape goals, if any?
A: To get all my skills above 50, and hopefully a couple of them up to 99.

Q: What kind of Runescape player are you? Which Runescape aspect is most appealing to you: quests, role-playing, skilling, pking, minigames etc.?
A: Mostly enjoy questing and role-playing.

Q: Are there other Runescape fan sites you personally use as a Runescape player?
A: Well, if I absolutely had to go to another fan site, I'd probably go to, just based on the quality of their information.

Q: Do you follow/read Runescape blogs and news papers from other sites?
A: Not really. It's about all I can do to keep up with my own.

Q: Is there something you don't mind revealing about your RL (age, country, hobbies etc.)?
A: I currently live in Nashville, Tennessee, and I really have been a hiker for most of my life- ever since childhood, having hiked the entire 2200-mile Appalachian Trail in a single trip.

Thank you very much, hiker!


Anonymous said...

Incredible! I'm really enjoying the style and design of your website. Are you using a custom made template or is this readily available to all individuals? If you really don't
want to say the name of it out in the public, please make sure to e-mail me.

I'd really like to get my hands on this template! Kudos.

Stay tuned and stop by my web site at Ultimate Chipping for much more content.

Anonymous said...

RIP hiker. At least no more children will be sexually exploited by you now that you are dead.

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