This website was originally started in 1999, as a Freeservers roleplaying game fansite supporting D&D, Gamma World, & Traveller. The original website was built using pure HTML without cascading style sheets (CSS) and ran from November of 1999 until about August of 2002 on Freeservers.
Once it grew large than one hundred pages, manually doing the HTML updates every time I wanted to add a new article became a real chore, and I started looking at using a newfangled content management system Zope & Plone, which were custom tailored, as well as customizable to organize my pages. I rented some server space in Cartagena, Columbia in late 2002 from a dude named George, whom I’m pretty sure he was like rogue CIA IT support, or from some other government agency very similar with a three letter acronym like DEA or NSA, or whatever doing IT support for them, …anyway he was really good at running his personal server farm down in Cartagena, and I had like 100% reliable service until 2005 or so, after then he opted to start leasing server farm space and subleasing it, from a corporate player in San Francisco, so I figured he was back in the States.
I wasn’t really up for that hosting because all of the changes to the hosting agreement that the San Francisco player insisted upon which was, to put it mildly, making for an unfavorable creative environment. I also had some significant problems with Zope, which was a great content management system, however was suffering from having an extremely divisive, and discordant development environment. This was entirely the fault of the Board of Directors there and the Code Developers whom were fighting over whether to keep the Zope code open source. In the end they decided to promote a mixed source code platform where some code would be proprietary, and some code (much of the content management system, …but not all of it) would remain open source. Zope could have easily been what WordPress is today, but the Developers, Platform Coders, and Directors there spent entirely too much time infighting, so I withdrew from using Zope & Plone, and migrated to using Joomla instead…
This is a screenshot of the original Tamerthya.freeservers.com webpage. It is still up and gets about 25,000 unique hits a year from visitors not counting web crawlers and such. Most of the content has been deleted but the shell remains, over on Freeservers. Almost all of the web pages that were once there (there were over one hundred and fifty), at least the ones I archived as backups, will become available here in the near future.
Website 2.0 – E-roleplaying.com & Joomla
In 2005 I signed up with GoDaddy, right before they became one of the most dominant domain & hosting providers in the world. This was back before GoDaddy was publicly traded, and when Bob Parsons owned it. I had already known about Bob because I been setting up accounting systems for small businesses using his MoneyCounts Windows software from Parson Technology, Inc. from in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I did this right up until the time Parson Technologies, Inc. was sold in 1993-1994 to Inuit, who made Quickbooks accounting software, and who and quickly moved to kill the competition by buying out Bob, by first shelving support for his accounting software MoneyCounts, and then finally shelving the software itself later on in a classic case of embrace, extend, and then extinguish. Bob used the money from the sale of his tech company to fund GoDaddy and by 2005 GoDaddy was doing well enough to buy Superbowl commercials, …and the rest is now history.
Signed up as a GoDaddy reseller, and with SSH shell access to my servers, as well as FTP, and setup the Joomla gaming website (amongst other things), E-Roleplaying.com, and migrated what content that I could over, from the Zope site, which turned out to be not much, as the proprietary elements of Zope & Plone made scraping the website of content difficult. Lesson learned: always use open source software. Joomla was open source. however had a rather serious issue I’ll allude to in just a moment. At the time though, I soon joined the Developers and became a champion and tech support guy for them, teaching noobs there how to code using PHP templates, and CSS to build custom Joomla websites. I ran into some issues with the Joomla non-profit board and support staff though, as even though the software was open source, they weren’t really following an open source philosophy, and instead were very carefully “guiding” the development of Joomla to specifically exclude anyone they thought didn’t warrant being included in the non-profit group, regardless of whether that person had volunteered hundreds of hours (as I did) in providing technical support to people who wanted to adopt Joomla, however, who had difficulty in understanding how the implementation of the MVC framework. The folks on the Joomla board were uniquely unhelpful, because they kept extending the software, and playing coding games by isolated portions of the codebase and CSS scripting system to make it deliberately difficult to modify themes as well as setup new styles of websites. This wasn’t the only problem they had, however it was enough for me to withdraw my support of Joomla and start looking for another Content Management System (CMS) to run my websites with.
Joomla always had a problem with security issues, and from very early on was high susceptible to various cross-scripting attacks. In using unvetted MVC architecture Joomla had plenty of security holes with new ones popping up every day, and I had my websites including my gaming website E-Roleplaying.com repeatedly hacked at various times in 2007 and 2008, with the worst hack occurring in 2008 which penetrated all the way to my dev server in my office where the hard drive was completely compromised and corrupted requiring a full change of passwords for all of my tertiary internet based accounts, and I had to completely wipe the hard drive including the boot sector, and everything else for that matter, and then reinstall every bit of software from scratch. Sadly, the last time I did a full backup was in 2005 right before I switched over to Joomla. So the recovery process was extremely painful as I had lost (in some cases) three years worth of data and work, and I completely dropped my support of Joomla having this last serious hack being the straw that broke the camels back so to speak, and ended up switching to WordPress which I use now. Joomla still has security problems, and I read just a couple days ago about a zero-day vulnerable which allowed a cross-scripting attack to enable admin access into Joomla from outside, and the folks at DefCon were recommending the latest Joomla patch. Lesson Learned: Always have a current backup! I always do a hard drive backup now at least once a month to another storage drive which is both offline and air-gapped to ensure data integrity, and so I won’t lose more than a few days work, if my work systems somehow become compromised. This is just like insurance though, when you actually have backup coverage, you never end up needing it.
GameDevonline.net and WordPress
I was so disenchanted that I remained offline (at least with my gaming websites) for all of 2009 and into the spring of 2010. I still used GoDaddy, however was busy recovering from the crash of 2008 with my business (which only really took off again in 2013) and just didn’t want to put in time rebuilding my gaming website. In the spring of 2010, I re-purposed one of the gaming domains I had been sitting on gamedevonline.net and setup another dedicated GoDaddy linux server with WordPress and ran a pretty good gaming website until 2015, that never really picked up much traffic, mostly on account I was cross-posting gaming stuff to Google+ as well as Twitter and Facebook. I stopped using Facebook in 2010 because they were not respecting people’s privacy, but started again last year because it is now ubiquitous as far as social networking is concerned, and they at least are trying to help maintain people’s privacy. Ironically this only came about because of internal security breaches at Facebook, and relentless government pressure made them realize that whenever they give an inch the the security state the goons there try to drive a truck through that and extract everything that they can. I stopped using Twitter in 2012, because they made it increasingly difficult there to use data extraction tools and API’s to analyze both the web traffic and maintain the user base. Good traffic analysis is the key to driving social media growth, and Twitter was actively blocking that for (as far as I could tell) no good reason except to be able to decide traffic flow, and to ensure more traffic flow didn’t go in my direction. When I know the best times and dates to post to gather the most readership, you know I’d be posting to grow my readership, however Twitter was making deciphering that kind of traffic flow on a large scale impossible for the average user.
So, after not seeing much readership growth (but also not posting a whole lot on my own gaming website), and seeing GoDaddy cutting tools and access to web admin tools, I took about a year off again, and then restarted the RPG gaming website, this time exclusively with WordPress.
Well, here we are. I pulled the trigger and restarted my website again today. This time exclusively with WordPress, interestingly enough it was Tim Ferris that got me to decide to use WordPress, as WordPress was recommended by him in one of his recent interviews (the one with Richard Branson), and he mentioned Matt Mullenweg by name as a personal friend of his during his recent podcast, as well as endorsing WordPress.
I needed something up and running fast that would let me add in very diverse content, and on a secure website as well. Running my gaming website on the WordPress server farm seemed like a good idea, and I had resolved to get the website up and running rapidly as well as trying to figure out a good E-Commerce system to use. I have been researching Stripe and Square as well as a number of private credit card processing companies, however less than an hour after getting my website and beginning work on it, a little helper window popped up with instructions on how to setup a pay button using PayPal, and so it looks like I won’t be needing to spend any more time on trying to figure out ways to earn revenue and support the website. as now there are some real good options available, options I’ll be taking advantage of in the next couple of weeks… and in the future as well.
Plus I finally get to focus on getting good quality gaming content and articles into my website here. The plan is to migrate all of the content that I have produced and accumulated over the last twenty years on various gaming websites, and host it a here, that will feature new and used games for sale, game supplements, and gaming accessories. There will be be both historical, current and new gaming articles, gaming convention reports, and other after action reports with a section for new and used games for sale, game supplements, and gaming accessories. Finally, there will be a premium section for users that will some of my personal gaming content that I have produced over the years, content such as maps, floorplans, artwork, and adventures that I have written and published for various games over the years, that will be available for a modest annual subscription fee, with regular new content for RPG gaming becoming available on a regular basis.
My first goal is to get an investment fund established for this website, so that this website will be sustained indefinitely, paid for out of its’ own proceeds. I’m getting older now, and don’t want the RPG gaming community to lose my accumulated knowledge and resources if anything happens to me. Instead I want it to be available here for all time for RPG gamers and designers to enjoy and use, much like a library. I’ll be looking for fellow game designers and partners who would also be interested in contributing to such a resource for gamers, as well as for a few younger individuals who would be interested in maintaining such an RPG resource.
Hope you enjoy everything here, and please partake in my blessings for good times in playing games, with both friends, & family!