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The RPGWatch is 15 years old these days! The successor of RPGDot started in October 2006 and here's Myrthos' story of the beginning.
In the comments please tell us:
In the comments please tell us:
- Why do you visit the Watch?
- What is your favourite thread?
- Who do you miss?
- What's your favourite RPG?
Myrthos: Here is some of my history with RPGDot and the start of RPGWatch.
Next to running RPGDot, Rendelius was also running a hosting service on BlinkingDot, where people could get their site hosted for free, by placing some ads on their site. At the time I was operating The Locus Inn, which was focusing on Infinity Engine games (some more and some less in detail). This was the year 2000.
I'm not sure when exactly, but at some point in 2000, Rendelius was looking for people to post news for RPGDot and I applied for that position, finding myself posting news after that. I don't even recall what we used for that, but it wasn't that great, so in 2001, a guy named Stijn, Garrett and me worked on creating a new design from scratch creating our own CMS. This first version was written in PHP, but had the layout embedded in the PHP files. This actually meant that we only had one design and it would be really problematic to make design changes to it, but it was working.
The year after that I redesigned the whole thing and separated the controller part from the view part. This allowed us to create different skins, which we used a lot for the hosted sites we had, of which there were plenty. Any game of some substance had its own hosted site at RPGDot. The best known ones were the Gothic and Arx Fatalis sites. Next to that we also had a site dedicated to adventures and a site dedicated to MMORPGs. Most of these sites also had at least one person posting news and articles for that site, but news posted on RPGDot would also be automatically visible on hosted sites when it was applicable for them. So some sites only functioned as a filter of news and articles, similar to our current indie site. In any case this kept us going until 2006.
The RPGDot forums were a place that was reasonably well visited and at some time we decided that it would be a good idea to create user groups and provide those groups a space on the forums that was only visible to the members of that group. Several groups were founded, with the biggest group being the Non-flamer's Guild. These groups were one of the two main reasons that the RPGDot forums became a somewhat desolated place. What happened was that people spent more time in their dedicated group forums than they did in the rest of the forum. Some people only spent time in their group forum. This drove the number of public visible posts down.
The second reason was the moderation policy. We had quite a strict policy, even more strict than what we have now, which resulted in bans, warnings and other moderation actions that drove the number of public posts even further down. The end result was that it didn't take too long to check out the new (public available) posts for a day.
Rendelius paid the server fees and tried to earn some money by selling adverts. I don't know how well that worked, but at some point in time Jolt came into the picture. They were most interested in the MMO side of the RPGDot sites as that fitted in their business model. I don't know how much money Rendelius made of selling it to Jolt, I hope for him it was plenty, but somewhere in the first half of 2005 a deal was made. I think his biggest motivation in selling the site was that he wanted to pursue other things than running an RPG site and Jolt was willing to pay him for doing that.
Jolt wanted to make some real money of the sites and a few months later the design had changed in such a way that there were several ads on each page, but especially on the front pages of RPGDot and all the hosted sites. It slowed things down, but it also became annoying to navigate and work with, in my opinion.
So somewhere in the first half of 2006, I decided that it was time to move on and start a new site. I asked around in the team and everybody in the team wanted to move with me to that new site.
Even though the source code and designs of RPGDot were not part of the deal that was struck with Rendelius and Jolt, I decided to start from scratch again to create a new site from the ground up. Arhu took up the responsibility of designing the lay-out of the site and together we created what you see now. I don't exactly recall how we got to the name RPGWatch, but I think it was a combination of interesting names and available domain names.
Arhu and I worked on the site throughout the summer until we reached a point where we felt that we could go public in the near future. At that point I informed Jolt about the decision that I would leave RPGDot and move to a new site and that it looked like all team members would move as well. As we were all volunteers, there was not much they could do about that, but they did ask me to make sure news posts were added to RPGDot until they gathered a new team. So I implemented a way to transfer the RPGWatch news postings to RPGDot and make them visible there as well.
On the 17th of October we launched the new site, starting with a first news posting by Dhruin. In the meantime I already filled the site with the news posts of the previous months that were until that time only visible on RPGDot.
I don't recall that there was a filter implemented on the RPGDot forums that prevented to use the word RPGWatch, but we felt it was not in the interest of RPGDot to publicly advocate there was a new site named RPGWatch, where almost the whole team moved to.
Some time after that there were two new persons working on RPGDot and I severed the last tie, which was the news syndication from RPGWatch to RPGDot. After that Jolt found out, that it is really hard to find a dedicated team that would be willing to post news on a regular basis. I belief they also had issues in keeping volunteers working for RPGDot. The place never recovered from us leaving, which in the meantime also included many of the active forum forum members.
And 10 years later we are here. We are probably in need of a new design, but neither Arhu, nor I have time available to accomplish this anytime soon, so you still have to look at this design for a while.